Suspicion, however, grave it might be, cannot be a substitute for proof, the Supreme Court has held while setting aside the death sentence imposed on a man charged with murdering his newly married wife.
A bench comprising Justice SB Sinha and Justice Markandeya Katju rejected the reliance placed by Punjab and Haryana High Court on the circumstantial evidence collected by the investigating agency while affirming the death sentence passed by the sessions court against Vikramjit Singh.
According to the prosecution in July 2002, accused Singh allegedly took his wife Meena Rani in his Maruti car and got her murdered with the help of some persons on Bukan Wala bridge in Punjab.
Rani suffered as many as 23 stab wounds, but in his defence, Singh demonstrated some injuries on his self to claim that the attack was engineered by a gang of robbers in which he managed to survive.
The sessions court sentenced Singh to death on the basis of statements made by some witnesses, including the mother of the accused mother Amarjit Kaur, who supported the prosecution theory, though she subsequently retracted.
Despite the witnesses turning hostile, the High Court confirmed the death sentence by relying on the circumstantial evidence including the injuries on Singh, which the court believed, was self-inflicted to divert the prosecution's attention.