Navas @ Mulanavas vs State Of Kerala 2024 INSC 215 – Criminal Trial – Sentencing – S 106 Evidence Act

Criminal Trial -Sentencing – In the process of arriving at the number of years which the convict will have to undergo before which the remission powers could be invoked, some of the relevant factors that the courts bear in mind are:- (a) the number of deceased who are victims of that crime and their age and gender; (b) the nature of injuries including sexual assault if any; (c) the motive for which the offence was committed; (d) whether the offence was committed when the convict was on bail in another case; (e) the premeditated nature of the offence; (f) the relationship between the offender and the victim; (g) the abuse of trust if any; (h) the criminal antecedents; and whether the convict, if released, would be a menace to the society. Some of the positive factors have been, (1) age of the convict; (2) the probability of reformation of convict; (3) 62 the convict not being a professional killer; (4) the socioeconomic condition of the accused; (5) the composition of the family of the accused and (6) conduct expressing remorse. These were some of the relevant factors that were kept in mind in the cases noticed above while weighing the pros and cons of the matter. The Court would be additionally justified in considering the conduct of the convict in jail; and the period already undergone to arrive at the number of years which the Court feels the convict should, serve as part of the sentence of life imprisonment and before which he cannot apply for remission. These are not meant to be exhaustive but illustrative and each case would depend on the facts and circumstances therein. (Para 57) [In this case, the sentence under Section 302 imposed by the High Court modified from a period of 30 years imprisonment without remission to that of a period of 25 years imprisonment without remission, including the period already undergone ]

Criminal Trial – Circumstantial Evidence – Panchsheel or the five principles essential to be kept in mind while convicting an accused in a case based on circumstantial evidence- Referred to Sharad Birdhichand Sarda vs. State of Maharashtra (1984) 4 SCC 116. (Para 14)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 106 -Section 106 is not intended to relieve the prosecution of its duty – In exceptional cases where it could be impossible or at any rate disproportionately difficult for the prosecution to establish the facts which are especially within the knowledge of the accused, the burden will be on the accused since he could prove as to what transpired in such scenario, without difficulty or inconvenience. In this case, when an offence like multiple murders is committed inside a house in secrecy, the initial burden has to be discharged by the prosecution. Once the prosecution successfully discharged the burden cast upon it, the burden did shift upon the appellant being the only other person inside the four corners of the house to offer a cogent and plausible explanation as to how the offences came to be committed – Referred to Shambhu Nath Mehra vs. The State of Ajmer, 1956 SCR 199. (Para 12)

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