Supreme Court Acquits Accused in 1995 Murder Case, Stresses Presumption of Innocence as a Fundamental Right

Supreme Court LAW INSIDER

LI Network

Published on: 23 August 2023 at 12:30 IST

The Supreme Court has acquitted individuals accused in a murder case dating back to 1995, while emphasizing the vital nature of the presumption of innocence.

The Court overturned the concurrent convictions in the case, highlighting that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental human right that cannot be undermined.

The apex court underscored the importance of upholding the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused and the Prosecution’s obligation to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court deemed these principles more than mere formalities and emphasized that life and liberty are not subjects to be treated lightly.

The case revolved around Suresh Thipmppa Shetty and Sadashiv Seena Salian, who had been convicted by the Trial Court for their alleged involvement in a murder conspiracy.

The Bombay High Court had subsequently dismissed their appeals.

The prosecution’s contention was that the accused were part of a criminal conspiracy to abduct and murder Mahendra Pratap Singh between September 23, 1994, and May 12, 1995.

The Supreme Court bench, comprised of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, noted that the main conspirators implicated in the prosecution’s story had been acquitted. With regards to the conspiracy aspect not linked to these main conspirators, the Court held that it had not been established beyond reasonable doubt.

Furthermore, as the appellants were not present at the scene of the crime, nor directly involved in its execution, their convictions could not stand.

The Court’s verdict highlighted its commitment to leaning in favor of the Defense in instances of reasonable doubt concerning the prosecution’s version.

It reemphasized the significance of the principle that life and liberty are of utmost importance and should not be taken lightly.

The Court emphasized that the presumption of innocence is rooted in Articles 21 and 14 of the Indian Constitution and is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system.

While recognizing that certain offenses impose a reverse onus on the accused to prove innocence, this does not detract from the overarching principle of “innocent until proven guilty” for other criminal offenses.

The judgment, marked by its recognition of the primacy of the presumption of innocence, serves as a reminder of the bedrock principles that underpin the justice system’s fairness and integrity.

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