Mumbai: 'Last seen theory' not enough to convict in absence of corelation with time of death, says Bombay HC

A division bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and Milind Jadhav acquitted a 32-year-old man and a 19-year-old student accused of assaulting and killing a mentally ill man

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, June 12, 2022, 11:20 PM IST
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Bombay HC | Photo: Representative Image

The Bombay High Court has held that the “last seen theory”, where the accused is the last person to be seen with the victim, is not enough to hold him guilty of the crime in the absence of a correlation with the time of the victim's death.

A division bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and Milind Jadhav acquitted a 32-year-old man and a 19-year-old student accused of assaulting and killing a mentally ill man observing: “In fact, the prosecution has to establish the time when the deceased was lastly seen in the company of the accused and the time of death. Unless there is proximity in the time of last seen and the time of death, the evidence cannot be taken into consideration to convict the accused.”

According to the prosecution, Gautam Pardeshi and Rahul Jadhav allegedly bumped into the man and beat him up under the pretext of giving food in 2013. After the incident, the accused had allegedly told one of their acquaintances that the victim had a "devil" in him and they had disposed of the body in the well.

They were convicted by the sessions court in February 2018 and sentenced to life imprisonment. They had challenged this order before the HC.

The duo was arrested following an investigation into an abandoned nude body found in the local village well on January 1, 2014.

The prosecution had examined 13 witnesses including an eye witness who saw the victim with the accused last, another person to whom a third accused had given an extra-judicial confession and a panch witness who was present when the victim’s clothes were recovered from Pardeshi.

The witness who allegedly saw the duo with the victim together last said that on the fate full night his friend received a call from another friend, Pravin, who asked them to come behind a bar where a mentally ill person had dashed into Pardeshi.

Then under the pretext of giving food to the said person, Pravin, Gautam and Rahul led him to pump house and started assaulting him. The accused then denuded the said person of his clothes, claimed the witness.

The prosecution claimed that the next day, the accused informed their friends that the mentally ill person was a demon and that he has assaulted him, killed him and threw his body in the well. It was revealed during the cross examination that the witness was an alcoholic and was under severe influence of liquor when he was arrested. He also denied saying his friends assaulted the man.

The court disbelieved the statement of the eye witness considering the quantity of alcohol consumed by him. The court also disbelieved the recovery of clothes as the formal witnesses said they had not seen the accused with the deceased.

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