A dog barking at an accused is in itself not a substantive piece of evidence to nail him for murder, the Bombay High Court has ruled in an important judgment. Ten years after a man was arrested for double murder in Solapur, a division bench of Justice P V Hardas and Justice Ajay Gadkari acquitted the accused Rajaram Babar saying there was no evidence to prove that he committed the killings. The judges ordered that Babar who was serving a life term be released immediately from prison if he was not wanted in any other case.
One of the crucial piece of evidence that the police had produced before the trial court was a tracker dog barking at Babar from a line up of suspects. The police said that the dog had been given some blood stained stones from the site of incident to smell. "The evidence of the tracker dog is not substantive piece of evidence and in the absence of proof of the dog barking at accused as well as proof of the article which was given to the dog for sniffing, no reliance whatsoever can be placed on the evidence of dog tracking. We find that there is no other evidence of corroborative nature which would corroborate the evidence of dog tracking.," said the judges.
"It is unimaginable that after the scene of incident panchanama was drawn and the inquest panchanama had already been drawn, the stone which was given to the dog for sniffing could be said to have been the stone which was last handled by Babar," the judges added.
The incident dates back to September 2004, when the bodies of one Subhadrabai and her paramour Nivrutti were found lying in front of their house. Police investigations revealed that there was a dispute between Babar and Subhadrabai over laying of pipes. The police called in the dog squad and the tracker dog barked at Babar who was arrested for the murders.
A trial court in 2005 held Babar guilty of murder, while acquitting a co-accused and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Babar then approached the High Court.
The court said that in cases resting on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution has to prove each and every circumstance, which should be of a conclusive nature that should have definite tendency of implicating the accused. "Having examined evidence against the appellant, we find that there is no evidence which would conclusively prove the offence against Babar beyond reasonable doubt," the judges ruled while setting aside the trial court order holding him guilty of double murder.