The Bombay High Court recently acquitted Chandrakant Salunkhe,who was convicted by a Pune court 22 years ago for murder due to old enmity. The HC refused to accept the confessional statement of the accused as he was under the influence of liquor when he reportedly confessed to the crime to a friend.
Salunkhe,a labourer,had allegedly assaulted Pandhari Pandharkar due to rivalry on October 16,1990,in Chinchwad. According to prosecution,Subhash Bhoir,another labourer,had later seen him with a sword and since the accused was in an inebriated state he took the sword from him. The two then took the victim to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead on arrival,after which Bhoir lodged a complaint with the police and handed them over the sword,following which Salunkhe was arrested.
Bhoir told the police that Salunkhe had under the influence of alcohol made a confession before him about the murder. He was made a prosecution witness in the case.
After trial,a sessions court in Pune sentenced Salunkhe to life imprisonment in 1991 after which he filed an appeal in the HC.
Acquitting Salunkhe,the HC Divisional Bench of Justice A S Oka and S S Jadha said the prosecution had to prove that the accused was the perpetrator of the crime.
The entire prosecution case rests upon the extrajudicial confession allegedly made by the accused to Bhoir. This is a weak piece of evidence. The witness himself said the accused was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the alleged incident. A confession in such circumstances cannot be considered, the Bench observed.
It added that the prosecution had failed to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It said the conduct of the accused soon after the alleged incident needed to be considered.