11 September 2020

When an offence is committed in secrecy inside a house, then a corresponding burden will be on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed

In the instant case, the appellant does not deny her presence at the scene of crime (the house where deceased and accused lived). Except the appellant and her child, no other persons were present at the scene of crime and she was the inmate of the house where the offence is committed in secrecy inside the house. The initial burden to establish the case would undoubtedly be upon the prosecution, but the nature and amount of evidence to be led by prosecution to establish the charge cannot be of the same degree as is required in other cases of circumstantial evidence. The burden would be comparatively lighter in character. In view of Section 106 of Evidence Act, there will be corresponding burden on the inmates of the house to give cogent explanation as to how crime was committed.[Para No.26]

When an offence is committed in secrecy inside a house, then a corresponding burden will be on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed
    As observed herein above, appellant being the only inmate of the house, did not offer any explanation as to how the incident took place. Further she has not explained in her statement recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C the circumstances in which deceased had sustained injuries except denying every question by answering 'do not know' or 'false'. It is the duty of the accused to furnish an explanation in her statement recorded under Section 313 Cr.P.C. regarding incriminating material that has been produced against her. Accused has been given freedom to remain silent during the investigation, as well as before the Court, then, the appellant/accused may choose to maintain silence or even deny entire prosecution case. In the present case, as observed above, the appellant in her statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C except saying 'false' and 'do not know', has not explained how the incident took place or who had committed the offence (if known) or the reason for her husband sustaining head injury and lying in a pool of blood. In such circumstances, we will have to draw an adverse inference against the appellant for not furnishing the explanation in her statement recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C.[Para no.27]

   Where an accused is alleged to have committed the murder of her husband and the prosecution succeeded in leading the evidence to show that shortly before the commission of crime, they were seen together and the offence had taken place in the house where husband and wife normally resides, then, it is for the accused to explain. For this proposition, we place reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in TRIMUKH MAROTI KIRKAN V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA reported in (2006) 10 SCC 681 wherein it came to be held:

"14. If an offence takes place inside the privacy of a house and in such circumstances where the assailants have all the opportunity to plan and commit the offence at the time and in circumstances of their choice, it will be extremely difficult for the prosecution to lead evidence to establish the guilt of the accused if the strict principle of circumstantial evidence, as noticed above, is insisted upon by the Courts. A Judge does not preside over a criminal trial merely to see that no innocent man is punished. A Judge also presides to see that a guilty man does not escape. Both are public duties. (See Stirland v. Director of Public Prosecution quotend with approval by Arijit Pasayat, J. in State of Punjab vs. Karnail Singh) The law does not enjoin a duty on the prosecution to lead evidence of such character which is almost impossible to be led or at any rate extremely difficult to be led. The duty on the prosecution is to lead such evidence which it is capable of leading, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case. Here it is necessary to keep in mind Section 106 of the Evidence Act which says that when any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. Illustration (b) appended to this section throws some light on the content and scope of this provision and it reads:
"(b) A is charged with traveling on a railway without ticket. The burden of proving that he had a ticket is on him."
15. Where an offence like murder is committed in secrecy inside a house, the initial burden to establish the case would undoubtedly be upon the prosecution, but the nature and amount of evidence to be led by it to establish the charge cannot be of the same degree as is required in other cases of circumstantial evidence. The burden would be of a comparatively lighter character. In view of Section 106 of the Evidence Act there will be a corresponding burden on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed. The inmates of the house cannot get away by simply keeping quiet and offering no explanation on the supposed premise that the burden to establish its case lies entirely upon the prosecution and there is no duty at all on an accused to offer any explanation. 
22. Where an accused is alleged to have committed the murder of his wife and the prosecution succeeds in leading evidence to show that shortly before the commission of crime they were seen together or the offence takes placed in the dwelling home where the husband also normally resided, it has been consistently held that if the accused does not offer any explanation how the wife received injuries or offers an explanation which is found to be false, it is a strong circumstance which indicates that he is responsible for commission of the crime. In Nika Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh. it was observed that the fact that the accused alone was with his wife in the house when she was murdered there with 'khokhri' and the fact that the relations of the accused with her were strained would, in the absence of any cogent explanation by him, point to his guilt. In Ganeshlal v. State of Maharashtra (1992) 3 SCC 106 the appellant was prosecuted for the murder of his wife which took place inside his house. It was observed that when the death had occurred in his custody, the appellant is under an obligation to give a plausible explanation for the cause of her death in his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. The mere denial of the prosecution case coupled with absence of any explanation was held to be inconsistent with the innocence of the accused, but consistent with the hypothesis that the appellant is a prime accused in the commission of murder of his wife. In State of U.P. v. Dr. Ravindra Prakash Mittal the medical evidence disclosed that the wife died of strangulation during late night hours or early morning and her body was set on fire after sprinkling kerosene. The defence of the husband was that wife had committed suicide by burning herself and that he was not at home at that time. The letters written by the wife to her relatives showed that the husband ill-treated her and their relations were strained and further the evidence showed that both of them were in one room in the night. It was held that the chain of circumstances was complete and it was the husband who committed the murder of his wife by strangulation and accordingly this Court reversed the judgment of the High Court acquitting the accused and convicted him under Section 302 IPC. In State of Tamil Nadu v. Rajendran (1999) 8 SCC 679 the wife was found dead in a hut which had caught fire. The evidence showed that the accused and his wife were seen together in the hut at about 9.00 p.m. and the accused came out in the morning through the roof when the hut had caught fire. His explanation was that it was a case of accidental fire which resulted in the death of his wife and a daughter. The medical evidence showed that the wife died due to asphyxia as a result of strangulation and not on account of burn injuries. It was held that there cannot be any hesitation to come to the conclusion that it was the accused (husband) who was the perpetrator of the crime."[Para No.28]

Karnataka High Court

Smt Shashirekha
Vs.
State Of Karnataka

Decided on 09/09/2020





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