26 October 2020


Supreme Court

State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. v. Sunil and Ors.




Direction to give foot-prints for corroboration of evidence is not violative of protection guaranteed under Article 20 (3) of Constitution

Present appeals is against judgment passed by High Court, whereby judgment passed by Additional Sessions Judge, was set aside and Accused-Respondent was acquitted of offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code,1860. Capital Sentence Reference for confirmation of death sentence was consequently rejected. Question involved in present case is whether compelling an Accused to provide his fingerprints or footprints etc. would come within purview of Article 20(3) of Constitution of India i.e. compelling an Accused of an offence to be a "witness" against himself.

Article 20 of Constitution, provides for protection in respect of conviction for offences. Article 20(3) provides that, no person Accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. In State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad and Ors., it was held that, to be a witness' may be equivalent to 'furnishing evidence' in sense of making oral or written statements, but not in larger sense of expression so as to include giving of thumb impression or impression of palm or foot or fingers or specimen writing or exposing a part of body. Taking of impressions or parts of body of an Accused person very often becomes necessary to help investigation of a crime. It person against being compelled to incriminate himself, as to arm agents of law and law courts with legitimate is as much necessary to protect an Accused powers to bring offenders to justice. Further, it was observed that, giving of finger impressions or of specimen writing or of signatures by an Accused person, though it may amount to furnishing evidence in larger sense, is not included within expression 'to be a witness. Any person can be directed to give his foot-prints for corroboration of evidence but same cannot be considered as violation of protection guaranteed under Article 20 (3) of Constitution of India. It may, however, be noted that, non-compliance of such direction of Court may lead to adverse inference, nevertheless, same cannot be entertained as sole basis of conviction.

In a case, where there is no direct witness to prove prosecution case, conviction of Accused can be made on basis of circumstantial evidence provided chain of the circumstances is complete beyond all reasonable doubt. It was observed by this Court in case of Prakash v. State of Karnataka, Relevant circumstances should not be looked at in a disaggregated manner but collectively. Still, this does not absolve the prosecution from proving each relevant fact. In a case of circumstantial evidence, each circumstance must be proved beyond reasonable doubt by independent evidence and the circumstances so proved, must form a complete chain without giving room to any other hypotheses and should be consistent with only the guilt of the accused.

It has also been the observation of this Court in Musheer Khan v. State of M.P., apropos the admissibility of evidence in a case solely based upon circumstantial evidence that Section 27 of Evidence Act starts with the word 'provided'. Therefore, it is a proviso by way of an exception to Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act. If the facts deposed under Section 27 are not voluntary, then it will not be admissible, and will be hit by Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. Privy Council in Pulukuri Kottaya v. King Emperor held that Section 27 of the Evidence Act is not artistically worded but it provides an exception to the prohibition imposed under the preceding sections. However, the extent of discovery admissible pursuant to the facts deposed by Accused depends only to the nature of the facts discovered to which the information precisely relates.

Basic foundation of prosecution had crumbled down in present case by not connecting Respondent with incident in question. When basic foundation in criminal cases is so collapsed, circumstantial evidence becomes inconsequential. In such circumstances, it is difficult for Court to hold that, a judgment of conviction could be founded on sole circumstance that, recovery of weapon and other articles have been made. Prosecution has miserably failed to connect occurrence with Respondent herein. Resultantly, judgment passed by High Court setting aside of conviction order passed by trial Court is hereby upheld.


State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad and Ors. MANU/SC/0134/1961
, Prakash v. State of Karnataka MANU/SC/0313/2014
, Lakhjit Singh v. State of Punjab MANU/SC/0905/1994
, Pulukuri Kottaya v. King Emperor MANU/PR/0049/1946
, Musheer Khan v. State of M.P. MANU/SC/0065/2010

Tags : Acquittal Validity Circumstantial evidence

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