New Delhi: Relying on circumstantial evidence, the Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence of a doctor who murdered his wife, also a doctor, 16 years ago in Punjab's Ludhiana district.
"As the appellant had a strained relationship with his wife, he no doubt wanted to get rid of her. Although he has claimed that the petitions for divorce by mutual consent were pending before the court, he has never submitted any documents with respect to this before the court," a bench of justices B S Chauhan and Ibrahim Kalifullah said.
"Thus, inference may be drawn that the appellant did in fact wish to get rid of his wife.
"As the recoveries of the blood stained gunny bag, dumb bell, tie etc. were made on the basis of the disclosure statement of the appellant himself, the chain of circumstances is therefore, complete," the apex court said.
The bench passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal of Dr Sunil Clifford Daniel who murdered his wife Dr Loyalla Shagoufta on March 9, 1996.
According to the prosecution, the couple were working in the Christian Medical College Hospital, Ludhiana, but owing to strained relationship Daniel strangulated her after a scuffle.
The sessions court in Ludhiana awarded Daniel life term and the Punjab and Haryana High Court affirmed it upon which he appealed in the apex court claiming that he was innocent and the two courts had solely relied on circumstantial evidence in arriving at the conclusion of his guilt.

The apex court said, "Undoubtedly, suspicion, however grave it may be, can never be treated as a substitute for proof.
"While dealing with a case of circumstantial evidence, the court must take utmost precaution whilst finding an accused guilty, solely on the basis of the circumstances proved before it."
But in the present case, the bench said the convict in his statement, under Section 313 CrPC had changed the version of his story, from the one given to Dr B Pawar, stating that blood stained clothes handed over by him, were found in the balcony, interconnecting various rooms, as against his original statement wherein he had disclosed that he had found them in his room.
"He could not furnish any explanation with respect to how the blood stained clothes were found in his room.
"The nature of the injuries mentioned in the post-mortem report makes it crystal clear that the deceased died of strangulation i.e. asphyxia, and she also had several injuries to her head, which could have been caused by a dumb bell, which was one of the materials recovered and found to have blood stains on it.
"We do not find any reason to interfere with the concurrent findings recorded by the courts below. The appeal lacks merit and is therefore, dismissed accordingly," the bench observed while dismissing the appeal.


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