Kalinga @ Kushal vs State Of Karnataka 2024 INSC 124 :: [2024] 2 S.C.R. 391 – Extra Judicial Confession – Appeal Against Acquittal- Circumstantial Evidence

Criminal Trial – Extra Judicial Confession – A weak type of evidence and is generally used as a corroborative link to lend credibility to the other evidence on record – Extra judicial confession must be accepted with great care and caution. If it is not supported by other evidence on record, it fails to inspire confidence and in such a case, it shall not be treated as a strong piece of evidence for the purpose of arriving at the conclusion of guilt. Furthermore, the extent of acceptability of an extra judicial confession depends on the trustworthiness of the witness before whom it is given and the circumstances in which it was given. The prosecution must establish that a confession was indeed made by the accused, that it was voluntary in nature and that the contents of the confession were true. The standard required for proving an extra judicial confession to the satisfaction of the Court is on the higher side and these essential ingredients must be established beyond any reasonable doubt. The standard becomes even higher when the entire case of the prosecution necessarily rests on the extra judicial confession.- Referred to Chandrapal v. State of Chattisgarh (2022) SCC On Line SC 705. (Para 14-15)

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 378,386– The High Court, in exercise of appellate powers, may reappreciate the entire evidence. However, reversal of an order of acquittal is not to be based on mere existence of a different view or a mere difference of opinion. To permit so would be in violation of the two views theory – In order to reverse an order of acquittal in appeal, it is essential to arrive at a finding that the order of the Trial Court was perverse or illegal; or that the Trial Court did not fully appreciate the evidence on record; or that the view of the Trial Court was not a possible view- The anomaly of having two reasonably possible viewsin a matter isto be resolved in favour of the accused. For, after acquittal, the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused gets reinforced – Referred to Sanjeev v. State of H.P. (2022) 6 SCC 294 (Para 25)

Criminal Trial – Circumstantial Evidence – “Panchsheel” principles – Essentially, circumstantial evidence comes into picture when there is absence of direct evidence. For proving a case on the basis of circumstantial evidence, it must be established that the chain of circumstances is complete. It must also be established that the chain of circumstances is consistent with the only conclusion of guilt. The margin of error in a case based on circumstantial evidence is minimal. For, the chain of circumstantial evidence is essentially meant to enable the court in drawing an inference. The task of fixing criminal liability upon a person on the strength of an inference must be approached with abundant caution. (Para 27)

Criminal Trial -A reasonable doubt is essentially a serious doubt in the case of the prosecution and minor inconsistencies are not to be elevated to the status of a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is one which renders the possibility of guilt as highly doubtful. It is also noteworthy that the purpose of criminal trial is not only to ensure that an innocent person is not punished, but it is also to ensure that the guilty does not escape unpunished. A judge owes this duty to the society and effective performance of this duty plays a crucial role in securing the faith of the common public in rule of law. Every case, wherein a guilty person goes unpunished due to any lacuna on the part of the investigating agency, prosecution or otherwise, shakes the conscience of the society at large and diminishes the value of the rule of law. (Para 29)

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