Nasir Javaid & Anr v. State (2016 SCMR 1144)

Witness testimony will be viewed suspiciously if it is not logical, and is inconsistent with other evidence produced. Circumstantial evidence can only be used to uphold a conviction, where the only reasonable explanation is that of the accused’s guilt.

The accused were convicted and sentenced to death under PPC 302(b) for the kidnap and murder of a very young child. The Lahore High Court confirmed the sentence.

The Supreme Court found the evidence to be inadequate and suspicious. Witnesses allegedly saw the accused carrying the deceased’s body on a motorbike, yet remained silent for three days before coming over. Moreover the court noted that the evidence was doubtful because it was beyond comprehension that the accused would have transported the dead body so openly. Another witness allegedly saw the accused disposing of the body while he was visiting a workshop at 11:00pm – again the Court noted how unnatural it would be for someone to visit a workshop at such a time, without any further evidence explaining why. Extra-judicial confessions were introduced but the Court stated clearly that “evidence of this type because of its being concocted easily is always looked at with doubt and suspicion. It could be taken as corroborative of the charge if it, in the first instance, rings true and then finds support from other evidence of unimpeachable character. If the other evidence lacks such attribute, it has to be excluded from consideration.” The accused were alleged to have confessed to a close relative of the complainant, which the Court found did not ring true.

The physical evidence was also suspicious – medical evidence did not support the prosecution’s story and the chemical examiner’s first report as withheld. Alleged recoveries appeared “contrived and conjured up” because the police recovered nothing on a first raid of the accused’s home, but claimed to have made many recoveries during a second raid 15 days later. The Court concluded that, “where circumstances so reported are tinkered and tampered with, or contrived and conjured up, they cannot be accepted without careful and critical analysis. Circumstantial evidence can form the basis of conviction if it is incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of this guilt.” Finding too many suspicions in the evidence, the Court acquitted the accused.