General points of law arising in a criminal case discussed

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J., decided a criminal revision petition filed under Sections 397 and 401 IPC, wherein the order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court against the petitioners was upheld.

The petitioners were convicted and sentenced by the trial court under Sections 323, 325 and 342 IPC. Having failed in an appeal before the appellate court against the order of the trial court, the petitioners filed the instant revision petition. The petitioners raised threefold contention before the High Court; and the Court based its decision of upholding the order of trial court on discussing the following three points-

1. Delay in lodging FIR: The Court referring to various Supreme Court decisions observed that it is more than settled that delay in lodging of FIR by itself cannot be a ground to doubt the prosecution case and discarding the delay in lodging FIR would put the Court on its guard to search if any plausible explanation has been offered for the delay and if offered whether it is satisfactory or not. There can be no hard and fast rule that any delay in lodging FIR would automatically render the prosecution case doubtful.

2. No independent witness: On this point, the Court observed that it is more than settled that a witness is normally to be considered as independent unless he springs from sources which are likely to be tainted and that usually means unless the witness has cause, such as enmity against the accused, to implicate him falsely. Ordinarily a close relative would be the last to screen the real culprits and falsely implicate an innocent person.

3. Contradictions in witnesses’ statement: The Court held it to be well settled that in every case there was bound to be some exaggerations, embellishments or improvements, which at time could even be deliberate. There was bound to be slight exaggeration but then the Court is required to sift the chaff from the grain and find out the truth from the testimonies of the witnesses. Total repulsion of evidence is unnecessary. The evidence is to be considered from the point of view of trustworthiness.

In light of the above discussion, and considering the fact finding by the courts below, the High Court concluded that the judgment and order passed by the courts below could not be termed as perverse so as to require any interference of the High Court in the instant revision petition. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Madan Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh,  2018 SCC OnLine HP 256, decided on 19.3.2018]

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