Burden of proving facts especially in the knowledge of accused does not rest on prosecution: SC

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Supreme Court on 25th July, reiterating the principles of burden of proof u/Sec 106 of the Evidence Act, has held that when very strong incriminating circumstance is proved in evidence, burden of proving facts that may be known only to the accused does not lie on the prosecution. A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, dismissed the appeal arising out of Sikkim High Court’s ruling in Ranjit Kumar Haldar v State of Sikkim, upholding the convictions in the case.

Court has observed that:

“The general rule is that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Section 106 of the Act was introduced not to relieve the prosecution of their duty but it is designed to meet the situation in which it would be impossible or difficult for the prosecution to establish facts which are especially within the knowledge of the accused.”

Brief facts of the case are:

Ranjit Haldar, Puran Haldar and Mamta Mohanta(wife of deceased) murdered Netai Mohanta by strangulating with a rope, stuffed him in a gunny bag and buried the body in the house under wooden flooring. When the brother of deceased initiated a police investigation, the body was discovered with the help of wife’s disclosure statement about the dead body. The Supreme Court has strongly relied upon its 2014 judgement of State of Rajasthan v. Thakur Singh wherein the principle underlying Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act was reiterated in the following words: “The law, therefore, is quite well settled that the burden of proving the guilt of an accused is on the prosecution, but there may be certain facts pertaining to a crime that can be known only to the accused, or are virtually impossible for the prosecution to prove. These facts need to be explained by the accused and if he does not do so, then it is a strong circumstance pointing to his guilt based on those facts.” The Court further relied upon Ram Gulab Chaudhary & Ors. v. State of Bihar(2001) wherein it was held that: “…the section would apply to cases like the present, where the prosecution has succeeded in proving facts from which a reasonable inference can be drawn regarding death. The appellants by virtue of their special knowledge must offer an explanation which might lead the Court to draw a different inference.” SC thus found no error in the judgment passed by the Courts below which would warrant any interference.

- India Legal Bureau