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[Landmark Judgement] Gangadhar Behera v/s State of Orissa (2002)

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Landmark Judgment Law Insider (1)

Published on: 08 November 2022 at 13:13 IST

Court  –  Supreme Court of India

Citation – Gangadhar Behera v/s State of Orissa (2002) 8 SCC 381

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India 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.

It is held that a reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or merely possible doubt, but a fair doubt based upon reason and common sense.

Para – 17

Exaggerated devotion to the rule of benefit of doubt must not nurture fanciful doubts or lingering suspicion and thereby destroy social defence. Justice cannot be made sterile on the plea that it is better to let a hundred guilty escape than punish an innocent. Letting the guilty escape is not doing justice according to law. Prosecution is not required to meet any and every hypothesis put forward by the accused.

A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or merely possible doubt, but a fair doubt based upon reason and common sense. It must grow out of the evidence in the case. If a case is proved perfectly, it is argued that it is artificial; if a case has some flaws inevitable because human beings are prone to err, it is argued that it is too imperfect.

One wonders whether in the meticulous hypersensitivity to eliminate a rare innocent from being punished, many guilty persons must be allowed to escape. Proof beyond reasonable doubt is a guideline, not a fetish.

Vague hunches cannot take the place of judicial evaluation. Doubts would be called reasonable if they are free from a zest for abstract speculation. Law cannot afford any favourite other than truth.

Drafted By Abhijit Mishra

Key Words – Criminal Trial, Prosecution, Reasonable Doubt.