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A man sentenced to life imprisonment twenty years ago for murder has been acquitted by the Bombay High Court, which refused to accept the extra judicial confession made by the accused to a witness. A division bench of Justices A S Oka and S S Jadhav refused to consider the confession made by the accused, Chandrakant Salunkhe, to prosecution witness Subhash Bhoir allegedly accepting that he had murdered the victim Pandhari Pandharkar due to rivalry.

“The entire prosecution case rests upon the extra judicial confession allegedly made by the accused to Bhoir. This is a weak piece of evidence. The witness has himself said that the accused at the time of the alleged incident was under the influence of alcohol. In these circumstances, the confession cannot be considered as it is shrouded with mystery,” the bench observed.

According to the prosecution, in October 1990, Salunkhe had assaulted the victim on a road in Pune. Bhoir had later seen Salunkhe with the sword. Since the victim was in an inebriated state, Bhoir took the sword from his hand. Bhoir and the accused then took the victim to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead. Bhoir then went to the police station and lodged a case and handed over the sword to the police following which Salunkhe was arrested.

After trial, Salunkhe was convicted and sentenced to life by a sessions court in Pune in 1991 following which he approached the High Court. While acquitting Salunkhe recently, the High Court observed the prosecution has to prove that the accused is the perpetrator of the crime.

“The prosecution has failed to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt,” the bench said. It further said that the conduct of the accused soon after the alleged incident also needs to be considered.

“The very fact that the accused accompanied the injured to the hospital and then had not fled away from the spot is sufficient to infer that the accused was not nurturing a sense of guilt at that time,” the court said.

(Source : PTI)

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