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Is jail possible?

delhi Updated: Feb 10, 2011 00:26 IST
Harish V Nair
Harish V Nair
Hindustan Times
Harish V Nair

As questions are being raised if Talwars can be proved guilty with the available circumstantial evidence, legal experts, including former judges say courts have convicted thousands of persons made accused in similar situations.

At the same time, they agree the CBI faces a tall order as after filing a closure report citing insufficient evidence, they have to now prove Talwars guilty after the court made them an accused.

“An accused or a witness may lie but circumstances do not — goes the legal parlance,” said former additional solicitor general Amarendra Sharan, who had argued for the CBI and secured conviction of lawyer Santosh Kumar Singh for rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo largely on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

In that case too there were no eyewitness and crucial forensic evidence had been tampered. But there was strong DNA evidence against the accused in that case

The high court in October 2006, while sentencing Santosh to death, took into consideration as major circumstantial evidence Santosh’s conduct and constant stalking of Mattoo, his being seen in Mattoo’s college on the day of murder, a neighbour seeing him standing outside her home with a helmet in hand, his coming late to law college on the day of the murder in January 1996 and Mattoo’s mother suspecting Santosh after the murder.

“Seen in this context, if the CBI could prove that there was no third person inside the house and an outsider entry was impossible and that it was Talwars who destroyed evidence, a conviction is possible,” said former Delhi high court judge RS Sodhi who sentenced Santosh to death.

He was the judge who convicted Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lall case too.

In the Jessica Lall case, the court had overwhelmingly considered circumstantial evidence in the absence of eyewitness who had turned hostile in hundreds and tampering of forensic evidence.

They were conduct of Manu and his friends after the murder at Qutub Colonnade restaurant on April 29, 1999.

Despite witnesses turning hostile, the judge had culled out incriminating portions of their statement and linked them with each other, largely based on circumstances, to prove Manu guilty

Says justice Sodhi and another former high court judge JD Kapoor: “Accused in lots of cases have been convicted solely on the basis of circumstantial evidence. But each evidence needs to be proved separately and they should collectively form a chain.”

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi said, “The Court has done the right thing. There was overwhelming circumstantial evidence in the closure report against the Talwar couple.”