Does the missing body of the victim directly make the accused not guilty? written by Shatakshi Kakkar student of Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA
SANJAY RAJAK V. THE STATE OF BIHAR
The instant case is an appeal made by the appellant Sanjay Rajak in the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the decision of the High Court. The appellant questions his conviction under Section 364 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 i.e. the offense of kidnapping for the purpose of obtaining a ransom having punishment of either death punishment or life imprisonment and fine as well. A child of about 5 or 6 years was kidnapped after school by the appellant and his co-accused, Balram. Balram had been acquitted by the High Court and thereby acquitting the appellant of the charges of criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B of IPC. But as the appellant had not been acquitted of any other charges and has been convicted for the punishment of rigorous imprisonment for life, he has moved this appeal to the Supreme Court.
The victim in the following case is a child of about 5-6 years old. He is a school-going boy and was kidnapped from the school by the co-accused Balram who also made the ransom calls to his parents. There have been various witnesses in the case that have given statements against the accused and the co-accused. The only bone of contention was that no body of the child had been recovered and the case of the appellant is based on this sole fact, stating that since there has been a failure to recover the dead body it leaves open space for doubt regarding that whether any incident of kidnapping had even occurred or not.
The issue in the above case is that can the case be dismissed on the basis of a missing ‘corpus delecti’ i.e. the body of the crime?
After analyzing all the facts, issues, and circumstances of the case the Court dismissed the appeal. The Hon’ble Supreme Court took the help of various precedents such as Rama Nand and Others vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, Sevaka Perumal and another vs. State of Tamil Nadu, Iqbal and another vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Lohit Kaushal vs. the State of Haryana and reinstated the already decided principles in these previous cases that the ‘corpus delecti’ or the body of the crime is not the absolute necessity to prove the crime. If all the other facts and circumstances are proved in the court of law against the accused and the only thing missing is the body of the victim, the case cannot be closed altogether neither the accused can be set free. Hence, keeping in mind these precedents, the witnesses, and all the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court upheld the conviction of the appellant under Section 364 A of the IPC.
The following case of Sanjay Rajak v. The State of Bihar reinstated the fact that the adherence to the doctrine of the old ‘body’ doctrine i.e. it is essential to have the body of the victim to establish crime should be done away with. This doctrine gives rise to a wide loophole through which the people who can destroy the body will roam free even after attempting heinous crimes. Hence, the body of the victim should not be treated as the sole and primary evidence and even if the body is not available or recoverable, if the other facts are sufficient to prove the crime, the accused should be convicted despite the missing corpus.