A conviction cannot be based solely on a confessional statement especially when circumstantial evidence is doubtful, said the Bombay high court while acquitting a convict of charges of murder, 20 years after he was convicted by the sessions court in Mumbai.
The court noted that the prosecution’s case, rests only on circumstantial evidence, and is not free from doubt. The court held that “it is very unsafe to base the conviction on such confessional statement especially when the appellant (accused) was not warned that the statement may be used against him.” A division bench of justice AS Oka and justice Shrihari Davare was hearing an appeal filed by Andhra Pradesh resident Laxman Gangaram who was convicted for the murder of his son at Charkop in 1989.
The prosecution argued that apart from the confession, circumstantial evidence of the last seen together as well as the chain of circumstances point to the guilt of the accused. The defence, however, pointed out that a conviction cannot be based solely on inculpatory statement and that the confessional statement of the accused under Section 313 of CrPC can lend support to the evidence led by the prosecution.
The court considered remanding the case for re-examination, however, since the incident happened 23 years back, the court observed that it will be unfair to the accused to explain the evidence after a span of 20 years.