Onus is on Residents to Offer an Explanation for the Death which took place within the Privacy of the Home: SC

Onus is on residents to offer an explanation for the death which took place within the privacy of the home: SC

The Supreme Court has upheld the judgment of High Court; the Court convicted the husband for the murder of his wife after observing that he had not offered an explanation for the death which took place within the privacy of the home.

“If the death took place within the privacy of the home, the accused is under an obligation to give a plausible explanation regarding the cause of the death in the statement recorded under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. and mere denial could not be the answer in such a situation”.

A division bench of the Apex Court dismissed the appeal Jayantilal Verma vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (now Chattisgarh) and approved the verdict of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Brief Facts of the Case

  • One Sahodara Bai, was found dead on a cot in her matrimonial home in 1999.
  • The cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation and the doctor who conducted post mortem opined that the death was homicidal.
  • The trial court convicted Sahodara Bai’s husband, father-in-law and mother-law for her murder.
  • The brother of deceased submitted that, there was a history of animosity between the deceased and her husband and in-laws.
  •  The High Court sustained the conviction of the husband but acquitted the mother-in-law. The father-in-law died during the pendency of the appeal.

Observation made by the Court

  • The High Court noted that since the incident had taken place inside the privacy of the house; the onus was on the persons residing in the house, to give an explanation. In such situations, it was noted that it is difficult for the prosecution to lead any direct evidence to establish the guilt of the accused. In this regard, the High Court referred to Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, which states that the burden of proving a fact within the special knowledge of a person is upon him.
  • The High Court ruled that in such cases, while the initial burden to establish the case would be upon the prosecution, it would be of a relatively light char acter. There would be a corresponding a burden on the inmates of the house to give cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed. They could not get away by keeping quiet and offering no explanation.
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  • Conforming the reasoning given by the High Court the Supreme Court ruled that, “In our view, the most important aspect is where the death was caused and the body found. It was in the precincts of the house of the appellant herein where there were only family members staying. The High Court also found that the location of the house and the surrounding buildings was such that there was no possibility of somebody from outside coming and strangulating the deceased and that too without any commotion being caused or any valuable/jewellery missing”.
  • “No explanation has been given as to how the wife could have received the injuries. This is a strong circumstance indicating that he is responsible for the commission of the crime. The appellant herein was under an obligation to give a plausible explanation regarding the cause of the death in the statement recorded under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. and mere denial could not be the answer in such a situation,” the Apex Court added.
  • The Supreme Court held that to examine whether the appellant has completed 14 years of the actual sentence or not and if it is so, his case should be examined within a maximum period of two months for release in accordance with norms and thus dismissed the appeal.

Case Name: JAYANTILAL VERMA V. STATE OF M.P. (Now Chhattisgarh)

Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 590 OF 2015

Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy 

Onus is on residents to offer an explanation for the death which took place within the privacy of the home: SC

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