Mere absconding does not prove guilt: SC

The Supreme Court has in a judgment said a suspect’s decision to abscond to avoid arrest does not necessarily imply guilty conscience.

The tendency of a person to escape the clutches of the police on hearing that an FIR has been filed against him is not so out of the ordinary, a three-judge Bench led by Justice B.R. Gavai reasoned.

“The abscondence by a person against whom an FIR has been lodged and who is under expectation of being apprehended is not very unnatural. Mere absconding by the appellant after alleged commission of crime and remaining untraceable for such a long time itself cannot establish his guilt or his guilty conscience,” Justice Dipankar Datta, one of the three judges on the Bench, wrote in the verdict.

The fact that a suspect evaded arrest “could constitute a relevant piece of evidence”.

“But its evidentiary value depends on the surrounding circumstances. This sole circumstance, therefore, does not endure to the benefit of the prosecution,” Justice Datta observed.

Bench acquits man

The Bench acquitted a man, originally found guilty of murder by the trial court, on the ground that the prosecution failed to establish its charges beyond reasonable doubt.

The Madras High Court had changed the charge of murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In 1996, the appellant, Sekaran, provoked by the abusive language used by the victim on him, attacked him with a stick. The victim later died in a hospital near Kanniyakumari.

The appellant was absconding for three years before he was caught in Kerala.

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