Will the police probe in the sensational Mamita murder case stand the legal scrutiny? And with the extra-judicial confession of the key accused Gobinda Sahu, can the Odisha police get the maximum punishment (life imprisonment/death sentence) in the much-hyped case?
These are the big posers that are haunting the legal watchers sixty hours after the arrest of the prime accused Gobinda Sahu, who happens to be the President of the Sunshine School Managing Committee.
There is even a clamour in the public space and by the opposition parties in the State. Congress and BJP have today demanded maximum punishment (death sentence) for the accused in the case. They demand the punishment as a deterrent for others.
A study of the case details shows that the Odisha police could lay on the prosecutable pieces of evidence like the exhumed body of the late lady teacher and close aides of Sahu. Though police have gathered some key evidence, legal experts are of the opinion that they are not enough to derive a maximum sentence (life imprisonment to a death sentence) for the key culprit.
"Since this is a case of homicide, IPC section 302 is applicable here. And the section attracts maximum punishment of life imprisonment or death sentence. For getting maximum punishment, the prosecution has to prove this case as rarest of the rare," explained senior advocate Nishikant Mahapatra.
Moreover, there is even apprehension over the admissibility of extra-judicial confession made by Gobind Sahu in the courts of law.
The Legal Voice
As per the Indian Evidence Act, the evidence of extra-judicial confessions is considered a weak piece of evidence in the court of law.
Consider sections 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. "No confession made by any person whilst he is in the custody of a police officer unless it is made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate, shall be proved as against such person."
As per senior advocate Nishikant Mahapatra, "An extra-judicial confession, there are 3 things the prosecution must establish. First, a confession was made. Second, the accused confessed to the crime voluntarily. And third is, the evidence is true."
He further added that such a confession must be proved by independent or satisfactory evidence.
"As there is a fear of retraction of confession during the trial stage, the police have a challenging task to gather corroborative evidence. Though the detection of crime spot on the basis of Sahu's statement is good evidence, to award maximum punishment the police have to prove the cruelty of Sahu with corroborative evidence, Mahapatra explained.
Loopholes In The Case
As of today, the Odisha police have arrested two persons - the key accused and his aide, and made to other partners in crime, the government approver.
The statement to the media by Radhe's wife gives an indication of what is coming in the trial stage. And the mention of 'ladies clothes, mobile', which she claimed was whisked away by police, in her allegations shows high chances of retraction of confession during the trial stage. Therefore, legal experts are of the opinion that it is a challenge for the police to collect independent evidence, including the criminal profiling inputs like the mobile phone of the victim and the suspect.
"While recovering mobile of the victim is very essential in the case, the cops have to gather prosecutable evidence with regard to motive of the murder crime," emphasised Mahapatra.
He explained that in order to attract minimum punishment the accused may bring in the blackmail angle during the trial stage and project the crime done in an anguished mental state.
As per the official police statement, the motive behind the murder is fear of exposing extra-marital affairs.
According to senior advocates, extramarital affair with whom? What is the locus standi of the victim in the so-called affairs? What is the loss there that he decided to kill her?