In yet another judgment delivered on Tuesday, the Supreme Court acquitted two men whose death sentence was confirmed by the Chhattisgarh High Court.
The bench comprising Justice AK Sikri, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice MR Shah, acquitted Digamber Vaishnav and Girdhari Vaishnav who were accused of robbery and murder of five women.
Perusing the evidence on record, the bench noted that the case of prosecution mainly relied on the deposition made by the child witness. The court said that it is clear from the testimony of the child witness that she was not an eyewitness to the incident and that her evidence is fraught with inconsistencies. The bench said:
“This Court has consistently held that evidence of a child witness must be evaluated carefully as the child may be swayed by what others tell him and he is an easy prey to tutoring. Therefore, the evidence of a child witness must find adequate corroboration before it can be relied upon. It is more a rule of practical wisdom than law.”
The court also observed that there was an unexplained delay in reporting the crime. The examination of expert is crucial especially if reliance is placed on the finger print report to suspect the guilt of the accused, the bench said as it noted that the person who took the sample finger prints was not examined by the prosecution.
The court also noted that, even in FIR, there is no averment of any article or money being stolen or lost. Therefore, when the money allegedly recovered is being sought to be relied upon as stolen from the house of the deceased, the same is unreliable when there is nothing on record to support the claim of theft or robbery from the scene of crime, the court added.
On ‘last seen together’ aspect, the bench said that, to constitute the last seen together factor as an incriminating circumstance, there must be close proximity between the time of seeing and recovery of dead body.
Holding that it is difficult to draw an inference that the accused had committed the crime, the bench acquitted them and ordered their release.