"There is no eyewitness in this matter and the case is based on circumstantial evidence. The only circumstance against appellant, Ravindra Kamble, is that there is recovery of blood stained knife and clothes at his instance," observed justices V K Tahilramani and S S Jadhav in a recent judgement.
According to prosecution, the blood-stained knife and clothes were sent to a chemical analyst and the articles were found to bear stains of the blood group of victim, Adesh.
"It is pertinent to note that under section 313 of CrPc, at the end of the trial, no question has been put to the appellant about finding of blood stains on the knife and the clothes recovered at his instance.
Except the circumstance of recovery, there is no other credible and reliable material which connects the appellant with the crime," the bench noted.
As far as recovery of articles - knife and clothes - is concerned, no witness has identified that the very same knife was used by the appellant during the incident or that the very same clothes were worn by the appellant at that time, the judges observed.
The only way in which these articles are sought to be connected with the incident by the prosecution is that the blood stains of deceased were found on the knife and clothes recovered at the instance of the appellant, they noted.
"As stated earlier, question in relation to finding of blood stains has not been put to the appellant. In such case, the circumstance cannot be taken into consideration against the appellant," the bench remarked.
The judges referred to Supreme Court decisions in cases of Sharad Birdhi Chand Sarda v/s State of Maharashtra and Shaikh Maqsood v/s State of Maharashtra, saying even the apex court had held that a circumstance not put to an accused has to be excluded from consideration because he did not get a chance to explain the same.
In the present case also, the circumstance that the weapon and clothes were stained with the blood group of the deceased, has not been put to the appellant, hence, this circumstance will have to be excluded from consideration, the bench said.
"If we exclude this circumstance, then there is no other circumstance which connects the appellant with the crime.
In this view of the matter, the appellant deserves to be given the benefit of doubt," the judges ruled.
The bench quashed and set aside the conviction of the appellant and set him free.
The judges ordered that Kamble should be released forthwith unless he was required in any other case. The court further directed that this order of acquittal may be forwarded to the Superintendent of Yerwada Central Prison, where the appellant is currently lodged.
Kamble was convicted for the offence of murder (section 302 IPC) by a sessions court in Pune on February 28, 2007. He stabbed Adesh to death with a knife and was arrested on the same day.
Kamble preferred an appeal in the High Court. The appellant pleaded not guilty to the said charge and was tried for the offence of murder.
His defence is that of total denial and false implication. The sessions court found him guilty of murder but he was acquitted by the High Court.