Stating that an accused cannot be convicted on the basis of suspicion, the Bombay high court pulled up the trial court for changing the abetment to suicide charges to murder.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by Solapur resident Sachin Satpute who was accused of abetting his wife’s suicide in 2005 as well as for cruelty.
During the initial hearing, the prosecution examined the doctor who had performed the post-mortem. In his evidence, the doctor said that asphyxia due to smothering was the cause of the death.
He added that if the patient is set on fire when he is alive, the smoke particles are found in the nostril, trachea and stomach. However, no such smoke particles were noticed in this case. The doctor concluded that it was a case of homicidal death. The trial court then modified the charge to murder.
The accused’s lawyer, DG Khamkar, said that after the modification of the charge, the investigating officer should have been given an opportunity to probe the case further. However, no such opportunity was provided in this case.
The prosecution maintained that the trial court had correctly assessed the evidence and convicted the accused for murder.
A division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice PD Kode held that the prosecution has failed to establish the evidence against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Pulling up the trial court, the high court said: “The trial court convicted the appellant though there was no direct or circumstantial evidence to establish the guilt of the accused.”
“The sessions judge ought to have asked the investigating officer whether he would like to make further investigation. But, the trial court proceeded without doing so. As a result, no other witness could be examined to establish that the accused has committed the offence,” the court said.
The court has now put aside the murder charges.