The Patna High Court overturned a murder conviction, ruling that the verdict could not be recorded entirely on the basis of evidence from a police sniffer dog.
A lady accused of killing a two-year-old child was acquitted by the Division Bench of Ashwani Kumar Singh and Anil Kumar Sinha. The appellant was accused of murdering the defendant’s two-year-old child, whose body was discovered wrapped in a gendra (a locally manufactured textile mattress in Bihar) and a plastic bag.
The entire prosecution case was founded on circumstantial evidence, such as the gendra in issue belonging to the accused, frequent quarrels between the accused and the deceased’s parents, sniffer dog travelling to the accused’s residence, and so on.
The Trial Court found the accused guilty and sentenced him to prison for the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 201 of the Penal Code of 1860.
Noticing that the Trial Court had convicted the appellant on the basis of evidence gathered by a sniffer dog, the Bench opined that, while the police were permitted to use the services of a sniffer dog for investigation, the dog simply entering the appellant’s house in her absence could not be treated as evidence sufficient to establish the appellant’s guilt, and the appellant could not be convicted solely on the basis of evidence gathered by the police snifter dog.
Furthermore, the fact that the sniffer dog entered the appellant’s residence after smelling the location where the deceased’s body was dumped was not brought to the appellant’s attention by the Trial Court during her examination under Section 313 of the CrPC.
As a result, the aforementioned circumstance could not have been considered because the accused was not given the opportunity to explain the circumstances.
The Bench noted that the gendra, which was seized by the police, was never brought before the Magistrate for an identification parade, arguing that in order to sustain a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, the factual circumstances must be established and the only inference to the said circumstances must be that of the accused’s guilt, which is incompatible with any other hypothesis.
Furthermore, the Bench stated that “gendra is a common commodity that is found in every house.” As a result, the Bench concluded that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the gendra in which the deceased’s body was rolled belonged to the appellant, and that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove each link in the chain of circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt against the appellant.
As a result, the Trial Court’s order was reversed, and the appellant was cleared of the allegations brought against her.