Citing benefit of doubt the Bombay High Court acquitted three persons, who were granted life imprisonment for the murder of two persons by a sessions court.
The court observed that “there is no evidence on the basis of which the prosecution can claim to have proved the offence against the accused beyond reasonable doubt”.
The accused were convicted for the murder of two bothers in Thane. One of the accused had disputes with the deceased over shops owned by them. Allowing the criminal appeals, the court has set aside their conviction and sentence.
According to the court, the prosecution has only been able to establish a dispute between the deceased and one of the accused. “At the most, it can be said that one of the accused had a motive for commission of the crime. Mere motive by itself, in the absence of evidence to establish that it was him, who had committed the crime cannot be held sufficient to prove the offence against the accused.”
Justices P V Hardas and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi while hearing the matter further said that the “ the accused are entitled to be given the benefit of doubt.”
“Fine if paid by the accused is to be refunded to them. Since the accused are in jail, they should be released if not required in any other case,” said the court. The accused had denied their guilt in the sessions court and had sought to be tried. Prosecution, in support of its case, examined 41 witnesses. The trial court upon appreciation of the evidence on record, convicted and sentenced the appellants to life imprisonment. The accused then approached the High Court.