Summary of Recent judgment

Case: Balvir Singh v. State of Uttarakhand



Date of Order / Judgment: 6th October 2023.

The Matter Heard by Bench: Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Prashant Mishra

Facts:

In this case, the deceased Sudha was married to Balvir Singh since 12.12.1997 had died under suspicious circumstances. The father of the deceased had preferred an application in the court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Kotdwar, Garhwal under Section 156(3) Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 seeking a direction to the Police to register an FIR in connection with the death of his daughter in suspicious circumstances. The father of the deceased had alleged that his daughter was subjected to cruelty after marriage for dowry of Rs 1 lac by her husband and her mother-in-law. Pursuant to the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate First Class, the FIR came to be registered at the Kotdwar Police Station on 09.06.2007 for the offence punishable under Sections 302, 498A read with Section 34 of the IPC and Sections 3 and 4 respectively of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
The trial court after appreciating the oral and documentary evidence found the husband guilty of murder under Section 302 of the IPC as well as harassment under Section 498A of the IPC. The husband was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 10,000. The mother-in-law was found not guilty of murder by the trial court, but was found guilty of the offence under Section 498A of the IPC and was sentenced to two and half year prison sentence.
The appellants filed an appeal before the High Court against the judgment and order of conviction passed by the trial court. The High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the judgment passed by the trial court. Aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, the appellants approached the Supreme Court.

Issues:

Whether Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act cast burden upon accused in a criminal trial?

Observation of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court after analyzing the facts of the case said that Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act is an exception section 101 of the Indian evidence Act. The Supreme Court observed that “ We consider the true rule to be that Section 106 does not cast any burden upon an accused in a criminal trial, but that, where the accused throws no light at all upon the facts which ought to be especially within his knowledge, and which could support any theory of hypothesis compatible with his innocence.” The Supreme court also noted that “The role of courts in such circumstances assumes greater importance, and it is expected that the courts would deal with such cases in a more realistic manner and not allow the criminals to escape on account of procedural technicalities, perfunctory investigation or insignificant lacunas in the evidence as otherwise the criminals would receive encouragement and the victims of crime would be totally discouraged by the crime going unpunished. The courts are expected to be sensitive in cases involving crime against women.”


Decision

After giving the above observation, the court upheld the order of the High Court.