AJITSINGH HARNAMSINGH GUJRAL
V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA
BENCH- JUSTICE MARKANDEY KATJU & JUSTICE CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD
ROLL NO. 147
The accused was married with deceased Kanwalijeet kaur and was father of deceased
daughter and son. The accused was with his family at their their flat on the night of
incident. Around 4:00AM-4:30AM, the servant sleeping outside the flat heard the
sound of bursting and people crying in pain.
The servants saw flames coming out of the flat. The fire was extinguished and four
burnt dead bodies of family members of accused was found. The accused and his car
was not present on Crime Scene. On 14.4.2003, the accused was arrested in Rajasthan
along with the cash and bag full of clothes.
The accused plead alibi. The Case was proved beyond reasonable doubt and the court
convicted the accused and imposed death penalty. The appellant filed an appeal before
the Bombay High Court, which upheld the decision of Session Judge thus the appeal
was filed before the honourable Supreme Court.
Circumstantial Evidence as a ground for Conviction
This is a case relying entirely on circumstantial evidence, as there are no eye witnesses of the crime. It is true that motive is
important in cases of circumstantial evidence, but that does not mean that in all cases of circumstantial evidence if the
prosecution has been unable to satisfactorily prove a motive its case must fail.
the accused was last seen with his wife and the fire broke out about 4 hours thereafter it was for him to properly explain
how this incident happened, which he has not done. Hence this is one of the strong links in the chain connecting the
accused with the crime.
The High Court had applied last seen theory as the accused was with his wife before the incident took place and the servant
sleeping outside the home were witness of this thus rejecting the plea Alibi and establishing strong link to connect him to
the crime. Another link in the chain of circumstances connecting the accused with the crime is his sudden disappearance
from the scene after the incident. The plea of alibi was totally false and bogus. Thus, the decision of High Court to reject the
plea of Alibi on the ground of Last Seen Theory was correct.
Many precedent have settles the law in this regards, it says that for the accused to be convicted of a crime based on
circumstantial evidence the entire series of events should be established. In the case in hand the prosecution had proved
beyond the doubt the series of events connecting the accused to the crime. Thus it is difficult to disagree with Bench that
the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. lt against the appellant. Thus the judgement by the Additional Sessions Judge
was correct as reflects the wider interpretation of Circumstantial Evidence as a ground to convict the accused.
Circumstantial evidence is direct evidence of a fact from which a person may reasonably infer the
existence or nonexistence of another fact. A person's guilt of a charged crime may be proven by
circumstantial evidence, if that evidence, while not directly establishing guilt, gives rise to an
inference of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Circumstantial evidence is based largely on inference and uses inductive reasoning.
The law draws no distinction between circumstantial evidence and direct evidence in terms of
weight or importance. Either type of evidence may be enough to establish guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt, depending on the facts of the case as the jury finds them to be.
Human agency may be faulty in expressing picturization of actual incident but the
circumstances cannot fail. Therefore, many a times, it is aptly said that “men may tell lies,
but circumstances do not”. there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave
any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must
show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.
Chain of Evidence
There were strained relations between the accused and his family members including his wife. The accused came to his flat
on 9th April, 2003 at midnight, and was last seen with his wife in his flat where his children also lived.
The accused had quarrel with his wife for five or ten minutes on the night of the incident. Ten litre can with petrol residue
was found in the house.
The incident happened in the flat of the accused where there was no one else inside except his family members. It was a pre-
planned murder, because the accused had brought sufficient petrol into his flat to kill everyone.
The accused absconded from the scene of the offence immediately thereafter, and did not disclose to his family members or
servants about his departure.
The incident occurred between 4 to 4.30 A.M., and the accused was the person last seen with his wife before the incident.
The accused was arrested in Ajmer District (Rajasthan) four days thereafter with huge cash of Rs.7,60,080/-, with clothes
and 24 silver coins etc..
The accused pointed out the bucket in his statement under Section 27 of the Evidence Act
He raised false defence of alibi
There was full opportunity for the accused to kill all the four persons. No one else was present in the flat.
The apex court has dismissed the appeal on the basis of merit and upheld that
death penalty imposed by the Additional Session Judge, which was earlier upheld
by the Bombay High Court. The court was of opinion that the crime committed by
the appeallant is gruesome and comes under the category of Rarest of the Rare
and thus the decision to impose the death penalty by Additional Session Judge
Two question arise before us (a) is the appellant guilty of murder? (b) if he is,
should he be given the death sentence?
Though the circumstantial evidence was the ground for the conviction of the accused stand
firm, there exist certain flaws with bench arguing that most heinous and barbaric murders also
comes under Rarest of the Rare case and call for Death Penalty. In the landmark judgment
Satishbhushan Bariyar v State of Maharashtra bench gave great importance to rehabilitation,
and ask state to prove that the same is not possible; only after this the court can award death
Sadly the case doesn’t find its place in the case in hand. In the paragraph 99, the court has
failed to refer the State’s duty to prove that accused can’t be rehabilitated and opined that the
person who can kill his family in barbaric manner can’t be rehabilitated. Also in the same para
the bench is cited para 24 of Mohd. Mannan v. State of Bihar which says “The courts must
further investigate and conclude that the offender convicted can't be changed or redeemed and
must continue to engage in illegal crimes.”
No similar exercise was done by this court. Also the court has failed to define the expression of
“Rarest of the rare case”, which is necessary as failing to which we might be unjustly be taking
away the life of convict.
The judgment is accurate as the interpretation of law to convict the accused is
correct. From the cited judgements it pretty obvious that the accused can be
convict on the solely basis of Circumtantial Evidence. The reasoning of the court is
consistent and logical with the precedents. But the punishment awarded to the
convict was not appropriate as the pre-requisites of imposing death punishment
was not fulfilled. Also the Judgment has failed to fill the lacuna of definition of
“rarest of the rare case”, that might further take away the life of the convict.