The Article ‘The Benefit of Doubt: All you need to know’ is a thorough analysis of the judicial system which gives paramount significance to the lives of innocent people.

The Article ‘The Benefit of Doubt: All you need to know’ is a thorough analysis of the judicial system which gives paramount significance to the lives of innocent people. Thus, if there occurs reasonable doubt, the accused gets acquitted. Reasonable doubt must be fair and it evolves out of the pieces of evidence in any case.

The idea of the legislative enactment is always to punish the guilty and can be reflected through landmark judgments of both High Courts and the Supreme Court. The Author also explains precisely the manner in which the benefit of the doubt acts as an exception to the general rule in the United States. The author has also elucidated the possibility of conviction based on the testimony of the complainant. The Article covers various case laws so as to deal with every aspect of reasonable doubt.

Introduction: The Benefit of Doubt

The consensus is that no one is guilty until proven guilty. Similarly, no one is guilty until a court of law declares them so. In legal terms, this is known as the “benefit of doubt“. If the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to convict a defendant, the court will find the defendant not guilty. For a claim to be proven in court, it must be established beyond a reasonable doubt in the view of the typical jury. Is it possible to challenge the guilt or innocence of a person? If there is even a trace of uncertainty, the accused has the upper hand.

When you first meet someone, it is difficult to determine whether you can trust them. Even though they appear kind, you do not know what they want. Is their generosity motivated by a desire to obtain something from you? Or, are they telling the truth when they claim their desire to be your friend? In many cases, giving someone the benefit of the doubt might assist you to avoid making poor decisions.

There must have been a reason why things transpired as they did, and to give someone the benefit of the doubt is to assume that they did not intend to hurt you or do something evil. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt implies that you have faith in them despite lacking sufficient information to make a sound judgement. Whether or whether you give someone the benefit of the doubt relies on a variety of factors, including your personality and the circumstances.

Is it essential to presume the best about others?

People you can rely on who does what is best for you and what you expect fr0m them. When you have faith in someone, you offer them the opportunity to disprove you. You disregard any red flags or warning indicators because you believe others will act in your best interest. If you give someone the benefit of the doubt, you may avoid making a poor decision. You can give them the benefit of the doubt if you do not know what they want or believe they can be entirely trusted.

When is it acceptable to give the benefit of doubt to someone?

You should not always give the benefit of the doubt to others. There are occasions when one should not. No one deserves the benefit of the doubt when they have harmed you or another individual. If you suspect someone of lying or deceiving you, you should not trust them. You should not give someone the benefit of the doubt if they have done anything to you that is obviously cruel or violates your personal limits. Never give someone the benefit of the doubt after they have harmed you or someone else. If someone has committed a wrongdoing, it is unwise to deny them a second chance.

Those who merit a second chance should be granted one. Even if you believe someone does not merit another chance, offer them one nevertheless. This is a way to provide the benefit of the doubt to someone when you ordinarily wouldn’t. You may choose to offer the individual a second opportunity if you believe they have learnt from their error and will not repeat it. This is an excellent method to give someone a second chance, particularly if they are important to you. If you believe that someone wants to change but has been unsuccessful thus far, you may wish to give them another chance.

If a person has been declared not guilty but has been accused of horrific crimes, they must be evaluated to determine if they are eligible for government employment. This was decided in the landmark case of the State of Rajasthan v. Love Kush Meena[1].

In the United States, a benefit of the doubt is an exception to the general rule that in criminal cases, it is presumed that the accused person did not commit a crime. This means that if there are two possibilities for what happened and one possibility is more likely than another, then you can use this as evidence to prove your innocence.

In other words, if you have been charged with murder but there are two possible explanations for how someone died—one being accidental and one being intentional—then you may be able to argue that the second explanation should be considered because it is more likely than the first.

Excessive adherence to the rule of benefit of the doubt must not breed irrational doubts or lingering distrust, destroying social defence. Justice cannot be rendered sterile on the grounds that it is preferable to let a hundred guilty people go free than to punish one innocent person. Allowing the guilty to flee is not following the law. (See, for example, Gurbachan Singh v. Satpal Singh and other cases, AIR 1990 SC 209). The prosecution is not obligated to respond to every and all of the accused’s theories (State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, AIR 1992 SC 840).

Reasonable doubt is a fair doubt based on reason and common sense, not a fictitious, minor, or just probable doubt. It must emerge from the case’s evidence.

It is said that if a case is proved perfectly, it is artificial; if a case contains some flaws that are unavoidable since humans are prone to error, it is suggested that it is too imperfect. One might ask if, in order to prevent a single innocent person from being punished, several guilty people must be allowed to escape.[2]

Given the benefit of the doubt, a POCSO order was overturned. Arindam Lodh J. threw out Case No. Special (POCSO) 21 of 2018, which was issued by the special judge (POCSO) in West Tripura Agartala, on July 8, 2020.

She had resided with her aunt Rakhal Saha in Agartala’s Granduse Para since she was a toddler. During this time, they were acquainted, which led to the development of romantic impulses. During her stay, he repeatedly attempted to impose himself against her will. On March 8, 2017, it was resolved amicably at the residence of Rakhal Saha. The victim alleged that instead of being moved to East Agartala Women’s P.S., she was escorted to a Jogendra Nagar residence. These amenities will make a guest’s stay unforgettable.

The victim was sent to the doctor as soon as she became ill, who verified her pregnancy. The informant’s mother asked the accused’s parents for permission to marry the victim, but they refused. On October 26, 2017, the West Agartala Women P.S. received an official report from the expectant woman who was six months along.

Mr Lodh, the well-known defence attorney for the appellant, stated that the prosecution had failed to prove the components of Section 90 of the Indian Penal Code in this case. He argued that both parties consented to the development of a physical relationship and that the convict made no promises in furtherance of having bad faith or intents; rather, both the accused and the victim created consenting adult physical relationships out of love and passion. His reasoning was persuasive.

Judge P.P. Ghosh questioned the intentions of the appellant, asking why he did not marry the girl if he had no ill intent or malice. According to the Assistant Public Defender, all of the requirements of Section 90 were met in this instance.

The Court of Appeal reversed Special (POCSO) Case No. 21 of 2018 based on Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 608, and acquitted Priyangan Saha based on the presumption of innocence.[3]

Is it possible to obtain a conviction based solely on the testimony of the complainant?

Due to anomalies in the evidence, the DSR Sri Lankan Court of Appeal Division of Devika Abeyratne and P. Kumararatnam, JJ., granted an appeal, reversed the appellant’s conviction and sentence, and exonerated him of bribery allegations.

Under Sections 19(b) and 19(c) of the Bribery Act, a High Court indictment was filed against the accused-appellant, who was the Principal of Mahanama Navodya School in Panadura, at the direction of the Director-General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption.

According to the appellant’s attorney, the evidence of solicitation was insufficient because the date, location, and time of the alleged offence were not established, and the trial judge failed to notice this.

The Court ruled that there was no minimum number of witnesses required to prove a fact. This was hardly a surprise to anyone. In Sunil v. AG, 1999 (3) SLR p. 191, the prosecution was forced to corroborate the evidence if the court was not convinced by the witness’s solo testimony’s cogency and persuasiveness.

The testimony of an uncorroborated complainant can be used to convict someone of solicitation under the Bribery Act, according to Liyanage v. Attorney, 2 SLR 111 CA (1978-79).

The evidence of PW 1 and PW 3 contained contradictions that the court could not dismiss as minor inconsistencies. The Court deemed it risky to rely entirely on PW 1’s evidence due to the gravity of the charge against the appellant and the absence of a convincing explanation for why Hansani was not called as a prosecution witness.

In 2009, the Supreme Court stated in K Padmathillake v. Director-General of the Commission to investigate allegations of bribery or corruption that allegations of bribery and corruption are not actionable.

“Regarding evidence evaluation, there are no hard and fast guidelines. In the end, it’s a fact, and each case must be decided based on the current facts. It is impossible to believe a witness who contradicts himself or herself regarding a vital event or scenario.”

It was thought hazardous to let PW 1’s uncorroborated testimony serve as the only foundation for the conviction. A defendant is entitled to be not guilty by reason of evidence defence if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were not soliciting on the day specified in the indictment.[4]


[1] Civil Appeal No.3894 of 2020

[2] Lawcommissionofindia One Hundred Eightieth Report, Available Here

[3] Nupur Thapliyal, Conviction of accused only on the basis of Presumption under POCSO Act would Offend Article 20(3), 21 of the Constitution: Tripura High Court, Available Here

[4] Case Briefs, Available Here

Updated On 10 July 2023 11:24 AM GMT
Vartika Kulshrestha

Vartika Kulshrestha

Content Writer and Research Intern

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