We find that the evidence tendered by the eyewitnesses suffer from serious lacunae. Thus, their evidence cannot be said to be credible. That apart, material witnesses have not been examined. On the whole, the evidence tendered on behalf of the prosecution cannot be said to be full proof so much so that non-recovery of the weapon of offence, non-obtaining of ballistic opinion and nonexamination of ballistic expert would be immaterial.

In such circumstances, it cannot be said that the prosecution could prove the accusation against the appellant beyond all reasonable doubt. As a matter of fact, on the same set of evidence, the trial court gave the benefit of doubt to the other accused Lala Ram primarily on the ground that there was a grudge between the accused and PW-1.

This Court in the case of Javed Shaukat Ali Qureshi, has held that when there is similar or identical evidence of eyewitnesses against two accused by ascribing them the same or similar role, the court cannot convict one accused and acquit the other. This Court clarified as under: 15. When there is similar or identical evidence of eyewitnesses against two accused by 26 ascribing them the same or similar role, the court cannot convict one accused and acquit the other. In such a case, the cases of both the accused will be governed by the principle of parity. This principle means that the criminal court should decide like cases alike, and in such cases, the court cannot make a distinction between the two accused, which will amount to discrimination.

Conclusion

Thus, on a careful analysis of the evidence on record, we are of the view that the appellant should be given the benefit of doubt as according to us, the prosecution could not prove his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. Any lingering doubt about the involvement of an accused in the crime he is accused of committing, must weigh on the mind of the court and in such a situation, the benefit of doubt must be given to the accused. This is more so when the co-accused is acquitted by the trial court on the same set of evidence. 34. That being the position, we set aside the conviction and sentence of the accused. The judgment and order of the Additional Sessions Court dated 28.05.1983 as well as the judgment and order of the High Court dated 05.02.2018 are hereby set aside and 27 quashed. Consequently, the appellant is directed to be released from jail forthwith, if not required in any other case.

RAM SINGH APPELLANT(S) VERSUS THE STATE OF U.P. RESPONDENT(S)

By aor.sanjivnarang@gmail.com

Sanjiv Narang Adv. is an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India. His qualifications include an LLB from University of Delhi and a Masters degree in Personnel Management from Panjab University,Chandigarh.In his more than 3 decades of experience, he has practiced law at the District, High Court and Supreme Court levels.He also has more than a decade of experience in the field of Management. He is the author of two books namely Laws for Women in India and Innovation, Why What and How.