The court noted even though it is not necessary that corpus delicti be found, still the prosecution must prove that the child had died. (File photo)
There were no eyewitnesses of the alleged death of the child except for the man’s wife. No dead body was also found, the high court said
The Gauhati High Court recently acquitted a man in the murder case of his newborn son. The man allegedly first tried selling his child immediately after his birth, however, after failing do so, he strangulated him around a month later.
The bench of Justice Lanusungkum Jamir and Justice Malasri Nandi said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges under Section 302/201 of the Indian Penal Code against the accused beyond all reasonable doubt.
Therefore, on ground of benefit of doubt, the court set aside the conviction order. “…we find that on the basis of the evidence led by the prosecution, it can be said the prosecution has not been able to prove the place of occurrence, manner of occurrence and participation of the accused/appellant in the crime,” the division bench observed.
The FIR in the case was filed by the wife of the accused. She said she and the accused got married in 2010, and after three months into the marriage, he started allegedly torturing her. She further alleged that when their son was born, the accused tried to sell him, but the medical staff at the hospital prevented him from doing so.
Thereafter, when the couple got home along with the child, a month later, the man assaulted her and killed the child by strangulating him and burying his body at an unknown location.
The Sessions Court convicted the man under Sections 302/201, IPC in 2017.
In the appeal against the decision of the Sessions Judge, the counsel representing the man argued before the high court that there was no proof that any child of the couple had died. He contended that the body of the child had not been found and also there was no medical evidence of the child’s death.
He further argued that the FIR was registered after three months of the alleged incident and there was no explanation from the side of the prosecution regarding such delay.
The Additional Public Prosecutor also did not rebut the contentions raised by the man’s counsel rather he apprised the court that the man’s wife had no objection if the accused is acquitted due to the failure on the part of the prosecution to prove the case against him beyond a reasonable doubt.
The court, relying on various case laws on the subject matter, noted, “Based on the principles laid down in the authorities, even though, it is not necessary that corpus delicti be found, still the prosecution must prove that the child of the informant had died”.
“Undoubtedly, in the absence of the corpus delicti there must be direct or circumstantial evidence leading to the inescapable conclusion that the person had died and that the accused is the person who had committed the murder,” court added.
However, on perusal of the statement of the witnesses, the court observed that though it was clear that a male child was born out of the wedlock of the couple but they all stated that they all got to know about the death of the child through man’s wife only.
Further, while highlighting that no body had been found as well, the division bench said the law is well settled in the absence of corpus delicti, if clinching evidence, direct or circumstantial, is produced during trial, only then conviction of an accused under Section 302, IPC can be recorded.
The court said in the case at hand, no such evidence was produced.
Accordingly, the court held, “Though the circumstances proved on the basis of the evidence on record gave rise to a suspicion against the accused but suspicion howsoever strong was not enough to justify the conviction of the accused for murder”.
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