Can Accused Be Convicted If Weapon Not Recovered? What Supreme Court Said

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The Supreme Court on Friday said an accused in a murder case can be convicted even in the absence of recovery of the crime weapon, if there is direct evidence in the form of an eyewitness.
The Supreme Court set aside the June 2018 verdict of the Madras High Court which had acquitted three accused in a murder case.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and Krishna Murari said the submission by the counsel for the accused that the original informant and other independent witnesses have not been examined and recovery of weapon not been proved, and so the accused should be acquitted cannot be accepted.

“Similarly, assuming that the recovery of the weapon used is not established or proved also cannot be a ground to acquit the accused when there is a direct evidence of the eyewitness,” the bench said.

“Recovery of the weapon used in the commission of the offence is not a sine qua non to convict the accused. If there is a direct evidence in the form of eyewitness, even in the absence of recovery of weapon, the accused can be convicted,” it said.

The bench noted that one of the prosecution witnesses was an eyewitness and he fully supported the case.

“As per settled position of law, there can be a conviction on the basis of the deposition of the sole eyewitness, if the said witness is found to be trustworthy and/or reliable,” it said, adding, there is no reason to doubt the credibility or reliability of the eyewitness in the case.

Setting aside the high court judgement which had acquitted the accused, the bench restored the trial court verdict that convicted and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

The bench noted that the accused, who were arrested in August 2013, were tried for committing murder of a man.

According to the prosecution, the accused had obstructed the car, in which the victim and others were travelling, and assaulted him due to which he sustained injuries and died on the spot.

After the trial court convicted the three accused, they approached the high court which acquitted them.

While allowing the appeals filed by the state, the Supreme Court directed the accused to surrender within six weeks before the court concerned or jail authorities to undergo the sentence.

The bench directed that if the accused do not surrender within the time stipulated, the court concerned or superintendent of police will take them into custody to serve out the sentence.

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