Tag Archives: doubt

Residual Doubt

“Residual Doubt” is a mitigating circumstance, sometimes used and urged before the jury in the United States and, generally, not found favour by the various courts in the United States. In Franklin v. Lynaugh, 101 L Ed 2d 155: 487 US 164 (1988), while dealing with the death sentence, the Court held as follows:
“The petitioner also contends that the sentencing procedures followed in his case prevented the jury from considering, in mitigation of sentence, any ‘residual doubts’ it might have had about his guilt. The petitioner uses the phrase ‘residual doubts’ to refer to doubts that may have lingered in the minds of jurors who were convinced of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but who were not absolutely certain of his guilt.”
In California v. Brown, 93 L Ed 2d 934 : 479 US 538 (1987), and other cases, the US courts took the view, “residual doubt” is not a fact about the defendant or the circumstances of the crime, but a lingering uncertainty about facts, a state of mind that exists somewhere between “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “absolute certainty”. Ashok Debbarma v. State of Tripura, (2014) 4 SCC 747.

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Alienation of Affection

Alienation of affection by a stranger, if proved, is an intentional tort i.e. interference in the marital relationship with intent to alienate one spouse from the other. Alienation of affection is known as “Heart Balm” action. Anglo-Saxon common law on alienation of affection has not much roots in the country, the law is still in its nascent stage. Anglo-Saxon based action against the third parties involving tortious interference with the marital relationship was mainly compensatory in nature which was earlier available to the husband, but, of late, a wife could also lay such a claim complaining of alienation of affection. The object is to preserve marital harmony by deterring wrongful interference, thereby to save the institution of marriage. Both the spouses have a valuable interest in the married relationship, including its intimacy, companionship, support, duties, affection, welfare of children, etc.
Action for alienation lies for all improper intrusions or assaults on the marriage relationship by another, whether or not associated with “extramarital sex”, his or her continued overtures or sexual liaisons can be construed as something akin to an assumption of risk that his/her conduct will injure the marriage and give rise to an action. But all the same, a person is not liable for alienation of affection for merely becoming a passive object of affection. The liability arises only if there is any active participation, initiation or encouragement on the part of the defendant. Act which lead to loss of affection must be wrongful, intentional, calculated to entice the affection of one spouse away from the other, in order to support a cause of action for alienation of affection. For proving a claim for alienation of affection it is not necessary for a party to prove an adulterous relationship. Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal v. State of Gujarat, (2013) 10 SCC 48.

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Suspicion – Cannot take place of Proof

Suspicion, however grave it may be, cannot take the place of proof, and there is a large difference between something that “may be” proved and “will be proved”. In a criminal trial, suspicion no matter how strong, cannot and must not be permitted to take place of proof. This is for the reason that the mental distance between “may be” and “must be” is quite large and divided vague conjectures from sure conclusions. In a criminal case, the court has a duty to ensure that mere conjectures or suspicion do not take the place of legal proof. The large distance between “may be” true and “must be” true, must be covered by way of clear, cogent and unimpeachable evidence produced by the prosecution, before an accused is condemned as a convict, and the basic and golden rule must be applied. In such cases, while keeping in mind the distance between “may be” true and “must be” true, the Court must maintain the vital distance between conjectures and sure conclusions to be arrived at, on the touchstone of dispassionate judicial scrutiny based upon a complete and comprehensive appreciation of all features of the case, as well as the quality and credibility of the evidence brought on record. The court must ensure that miscarriage of justice is avoided and if the facts and circumstances of a case so demand, keeping in mind that a reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or a merely probable doubt, but a fair doubt that is based upon reason and common sense. Raj Kumar Singh v. State of Rajasthan, (2013) 5 SCC 722

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Filed under Criminal Law, Suspicion, Uncategorized