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Missing MBBS student case: Case hinges on rare Evidence Act section

Updated on: 31 March,2023 06:09 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan |

As they prepare to file charge sheet in MBBS student’s murder case based on just circumstantial evidence, crime branch to put burden of proof on the accused

Missing MBBS student case: Case hinges on rare Evidence Act section

Mithu Singh, the main accused who was last seen with the missing woman; (right) his friend Abdul Jabbar Ansari, co-accused in the case

The crime branch of the Mumbai police is in the process of filing the charge sheet in connection with the alleged murder of an MBBS student, who was reported missing in November 2021. Officers will invoke rarely used Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act, which means the accused will have to prove their innocence in court, said officers. The case will rely solely on the “last seen together” theory. The charge sheet will be based on circumstantial evidence, as the bloodstains found on the buoy ring, belonging to main accused Mithu Singh, did not match with the DNA samples taken from the woman’s father, officers told mid-day.

Missing since

The MBBS student, a resident of Boisar who was 22 at the time, has been missing since November 29, 2021. She had left for her exams in Byculla; however, she disembarked at Andheri station and took a train to Bandra, where she arrived at 12.46 pm. She took an auto-rickshaw to Bandstand and switched off her phone. She was last seen at approximately 2.30 am, when Singh clicked two selfies with her. Before that, she went to his eatery, Meeth’s Kitchen, for a meal.

The woman met Mithu Singh at his eatery, Meeth’s Kitchen, at this location, at Bandstand in Bandra West. Pic/Atul KambleThe woman met Mithu Singh at his eatery, Meeth’s Kitchen, at this location, at Bandstand in Bandra West. Pic/Atul Kamble

Crime branch convinced

Unit 09 of the crime branch is convinced that Singh and his friend Abdul Jabbar Ansari are responsible for the murder of the MBBS student and are withholding information. “We are confident that there is sufficient strong circumstantial evidence to support our case, and we will file the charge sheet accordingly,” said a senior Mumbai police officer. They are expected to file it in April. Another officer said, “We believe that the accused is not revealing the true sequence of events and has given false theories, particularly in regards to the location where the body was disposed of at Bandstand.” Police had earlier said that Singh confessed to killing the student and dumping her body in the sea with the help of Ansari.

Also read: Lawyer accused of rape absconding

The circumstantial evidence

Singh was with the victim before she went missing. The two selfies, which he clicked with her at the rocks on the shore, are believed to be the woman’s last photos. Singh has provided multiple explanations for leaving after that, but the police have been unable to find any other individual who may have been present at the time of the alleged murder.

The police also checked Google images, but did not find anyone on the day of the incident. They also have testimony from a witness who claimed to have found the student’s ID card at the location of the alleged crime, but destroyed it on the instruction of Singh and his family. They also have CCTV camera footage of the woman entering Meeth’s Kitchen, but not exiting the area. They also have CCTV footage of an individual, suspected to be Singh, carrying a buoy ring and entering the sea late at night.

After the alleged murder, Singh attempted to establish an alibi by sending a request to the woman on Instagram and calling her on the phone 15 times. He told police that he was worried about her and searching for her. The police took the help of private and Indian navy divers, conducted a hydrographic survey and employed the electromagnetic spectrum technique to search her remains in the seabed, but in vain.

Expert Speak

“This provision (the Evidence Act) only applies once the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the accused must prove a fact within his specific knowledge to establish his innocence. The burden of proof is discharged if the accused person establishes his case by a preponderance of probability. It is not essential for him to establish his case beyond a reasonable doubt. It is generally established that the burden of proof lies on the accused under Section 106 of the Act only when the prosecution presents evidence that, if believed, would support a conviction,” Advocate Ali Kaashif Khan told mid-day.

What Section 106 of Evidence Act says

When any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him.

(a) When a person does an act with some intention other than that which the character and circumstances of the act suggest, the burden of proving that intention is upon him.
(b) ‘A’ is charged with travelling on a railway without a ticket. The burden of proving that he had a ticket is on him.
The Supreme Court has noted that Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act is applicable in cases where the prosecution has successfully established a chain of events, from which a reasonable inference can be made against the accused.

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