Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. modified the order of sentence imposed on petitioner and directed that the sentences shall run concurrently and not consecutively.

Petitioner was alleged to have snatched a chain from a lade and threatening her with a weapon while fleeing. He was convicted under Section 382 read with Section 34 IPC and sentences to undergo 4 years rigorous imprisonment. He was also convicted under Section 25(1-B)(a) of the Arms Act and sentenced to undergo 1-year rigorous imprisonment. By the order on sentence, trial court directed both sentences to run one after the other, i.e. consecutively. This order was challenged in the present petition.

Archit Upadhyay, Advocate for the petitioner contended that the impugned order was erroneous and contrary to the settled position of law. He relied on Manoj v. State of Haryana, (2014) 2 SCC 153, wherein the Supreme Court interpreted Section 31 CrPC which relates ‘sentences in cases of conviction of several offences at one trial.’

The High Court noted that the offences committed by petitioner were part of the same transaction. The Court discussed the Manoj case while referring to Nagaraja Rao v. CBI, (2015) 4 SCC 302V.K. Bansal v. State of Haryana, (2013)  7 SCC 211Sharad Hiru Kolambe v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1581. It was observed by the High Court that “if the accused convicted of separate offences under IPC as also the Arms Act but they are part of the same transactions, the sentences shall run concurrently and not consecutively.” As such, the impugned order of the sentence was modified to run concurrently. Furthermore, it was found that the petitioner had already undergone the substantive sentence and was therefore directed to be released forthwith. [Irfan v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6908, decided on 05-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed a petition filed against the judgment of Metropolitan Magistrate acquitting the respondent for the offence punishable under Sections 468 and 471 IPC.

Petitioner and respondent were real brothers involved in a dispute over the subject property. Respondent had filed a suit for permanent injunction in capacity of his mother’s attorney. He filed a copy of Power of Attorney purportedly executed by his mother by which he was authorised to file the suit and also a Sale Agreement to show ownership of his mother. However, this suit was dismissed. Subsequently, respondent filed another suit, this time claiming the subject property was owned by his father.

The petitioner submitted that by taking contradictory stands in two suits, respondent demonstrated that he filed forged and fabricated documents before the Court. Per Contra, respondent contended that there was nothing on record to show that the documents were forged.

The High Court held that the trial court was right in acquitting respondent of the charges of forgery for purpose of cheating. It was stated, “taking two contradictory stands in two separate suits regarding ownership of the same property does raise a presumption that the averments in one of the suits are false but, mere presumption is not sufficient for convicting the respondent for an offence of forgery.” It was observed that mere non-production of original documents or not producing the mother in Court would not lead to proof beyond reasonable doubt of the alleged forgery. In such view of the matter, the petition was dismissed. [Harish Chander Verma v. Mohinder Kumar Verma, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6752, decided on 09-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of M.G. Giratkar, J. dismissed a revision petition against the judgment of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) whereby the petitioner was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 380 and 457 IPC.

The petitioner was charge-sheeted for committing theft of gold ornaments and cash at night. As per the prosecution, after lodging of complaint in the matter, the petitioner was immediately arrested and was found in possession of gold ornaments and cash of Rs 2500 complained to be stolen. The matter went to trial and the petitioner was convicted as mentioned above.

N.M. Gaidhane, Advocate for the petitioner submitted that there was no evidence against the petitioner to convict him. On the other hand, V.P. Gangane, Additional Public Prosecutor representing the State supported the judgment of the trial court.

The High Court noted that as per the independent witness, at the time of petitioner’s arrest gold articles and cash were seized from him and he was unable to explain the possession of those articles. The Court referred to Section 114 of the Evidence Act which provides that the court may presume the existence of certain facts. Illustration (a) of this section states that “a man who is in possession of stolen goods soon after the theft is either the thief or has received the goods knowing them to be stolen, unless he can account for his possession.” As in the present case, the petitioner was not able to rebut the presumption under Section 114 as he failed to account for the articles found in his possession immediately after the theft. Hence, his conviction was upheld while the sentence was modified for the period of imprisonment already undergone by him. [Imran Khan v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 46, dated 14-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The criminal revision was filed before a Bench of Aniruddha Singh, J., against the judgment and order passed by the Sessions Judge, Mathura where revisionist were convicted under Sections 325 read with 34 of the Penal Code.

Facts of the case were that FIR was filed against the revisionist alleging that they committed assault on one Lakshman who received only two injuries which were serious and the rest were simple injuries. The trial court had found the case to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt, thus by the impugned judgment and order, the sentence was awarded and the appeal was dismissed. Hence, this revision was filed. Revisionist submitted that the impugned order passed by the appellate court was illegal, arbitrary and without application of mind. High Court found no illegality or infirmity in the conviction by the appellant court which had given concurrent finding as trial court on the conviction.

High Court while considering the point of sentence observed the age, their belonging to rural areas and social and economic status of the revisionists, held that end of justice would be served if the revisionists are punished for the period of imprisonment already undergone with a fine of Rs 500. Therefore, impugned order passed by session judge was set aside. [Ganeshi v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine All 3365, order dated 01-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: A Bench of Lanusungkum Jamir, J. set aside petitioner’s suspension order and held him to be entitled to full back wages from the date of suspension.

The petitioner was a peon in Chandel Treasury under Finance Department, Government of Manipur. While in service, he was convicted in a criminal case and sentenced to 2 years of rigorous imprisonment. Subsequently, the Director, Treasuries and Accounts, Manipur issued an order suspending him under sub-rule (2)(a) of Rule 10 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965 in contemplation of disciplinary proceedings. Also, the petitioner was not paid even subsistence allowance since the date o his suspension. The present petition was filed in 2013 and till date, no counter affidavit was filed by the State.

The High Court noted that the suspicion order in contemplation of disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner was issued in view of his conviction as mentioned above. However, no disciplinary proceedings were initiated till date. The Court relied on Union of India v. Tulsiram Patel, (1985) 3 SCC 398 and observed, “It is also a settled principle of law that the conviction on criminal charge does not automatically entail dismissal, removal or reduction in the rank of the concerned Government servant.” It was noted that the petitioner was lingering in the state of suspension for 15 years and that too without any subsistence allowance. Opining that the State could not be permitted to treat the petitioner in such manner, the Court set aside the suspension order. The petitioner was held entitled to full back wages from the date of his suspension along with all consequential service benefits. [L. Ango Anal v. State of Manipur, 2018 SCC OnLine Mani 180, Order dated 13-12-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by Dawn, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, who was awarded 10 years imprisonment in the Avenfield case, was awarded 7 years imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills/ Hill Metal Establishment reference by the accountability court.

It has also been stated that Sharif has also been imposed with a fine of Rs 1.5 billion and $25 million, along with an acquittal in the Flagship Investment case.

According to the sources, it has been stated that the decision stated that in the Al-Azizia reference, “the accused has failed to discharge the burden of proof, therefore, convicted under Section 9(a) (5) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.”

Furthermore, the court barred him from holding public office for 10 years after completing the sentence.

[Source: Dawn]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge bench comprising of M.G. Giratkar, J. dismissed a revision petition filed against the judgment of Judicial Magistrate and confirmed by Additional Sessions Judge, Nagpur whereby the petitioner was convicted for offence punishable under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

The petitioner and the complainant were businessmen. They entered into a transaction whereby the complainant provided a hand loan of Rs 50,000 to the petitioner. The petitioner issued a cheque which was presented to the bank by the complainant on default of repayment of the amount. It was returned by the bank with remark “insufficient fund”. The complainant initiated legal proceedings which culminated in petitioner’s conviction as mentioned above.

Notably, the complainant did not adduce any evidence to show that the advanced Rs 50,000 to the petitioner. However, he held a cheque and an acknowledgment slip. The petitioner did not dispute his signatures on the documents.

The High Court relied on K. Bhaskaran v. Sankaran Vaidhyan Balan, (1999) 7 SCC 510 for the proposition that where signature on the cheque is admitted to be that of accused, the presumption envisaged in Section 118 of the Negotiable Instruments Act can legally be inferred that cheque was drawn for consideration on the date which it bears. Furthermore, Section 139 enjoins on the Court to presume that holder of the cheque received it for discharge of debt or liability and burden is on the accused to rebut this presumption. In the present case, nothing was brought on record to show that the accused did not receive Rs 50,000. Also, he did not deny his signatures on the cheque and acknowledgment. As such, the Court held that there was no illegality in the impugned judgment. Th revision petition was dismissed. [Amol v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 6682, dated 22-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of M.G. Giratkar, J. allowed revision petition and set aside appellant’s conviction under Section 497 IPC in light of Supreme Court decision in Joseph Shine v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1676.

The applicant was alleged to have had sexual relations with complainant’s wife. He was tried and convicted by the trial court for committing the offence of adultery under Section 497 IPC. His appeal thereagainst before the Additional Session Judge was dismissed. Hence, then he filed the present application for revision. It was prayed that in light decision in Joseph Shine where Supreme Court had held Section 497 to be unconstitutional, the present application ought to be allowed.

The High Court relied on A.S. Gauraya v. S.N. Thakur, (1986) 2 SCC 709 wherein it was held that a law declared by Supreme Court applies even to pending proceedings with retrospective effect. Hence, the Court gave retrospective effect to the law laid down in Joseph Shine to the proceeding pending before it. The Supreme Court in Joseph Shine held Section 497 IPC and Section 198 (2) CrPC to be violative of Articles 14, 15(1) and 21 and therefore unconstitutional. Therefore, in view of Joseph Shine, the conviction and punishment awarded to the applicant under Section 497 was quashed and set aside. [Rupesh v. Charandas,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 6292, dated 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed by the State of U.P. against the judgment of Allahabad High Court whereby it had reversed the decision the decision of trial court and acquitted the accused of charges under Sections 302 and 307 read with 149, Section 148 IPC and Section 7 of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1932.

The accused persons were alleged to have participated in rioting and injuring the deceased (a senior official) with fire shots which resulted in his death. The accused were tried and convicted by the trial court for the offences mentioned above. However, on appeal by the accused persons, the High Court reversed the conviction and acquitted them. Aggrieved thereby, State of U.P. filed the instant appeal.

On perusal of the record, the Supreme Court was of the view that the judgment of the High Court needs no interference. The Court noted several laches in the investigation which went to root of the matter and resulted in acquittal:

  • Unexplained delay of 55 days in conducting Test Identification Parade.
  • Suspicion over post-mortem report and FSL report being incompatible with each other.
  • Doubtful recovery of pistol from accused.
  • Prosecution’s failure to ascertain with precision the place of incidence.
  • Non-examination of crucial witness (the other injured person in the incident) and failure of adducing independent witness.

Observing that suspicion however grave, cannot take place of proof, the Court gave benefit of doubt to the accused and upheld the High Court’s judgment of acquittal. The appeal filed by the State was dismissed. [State of U.P. v. Wasif Haider,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2740, decided on 10-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of R.K. Gauba, J. directed partial retrial of a case while disposing of an appeal filed against the order of conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court.

The appellant was alleged to have committed an offence of penetrative sexual assault on a ten-year-old child. He was sentenced and convicted by the trial court under Section 376(i)(2) IPC and Section of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. This was challenged by the appellant pleading that he was falsely implicated in the case and the charge against him was not proved.

The High Court perused the record and noted that a crucial witness in the case—- Dr Pallavi, the medical examiner who prepared MLC report of the victim– was not examined by the prosecution. It was noted that summons were sent for Dr Pallavi to appear in Court as a witness but in the summons, the court itself gave liberty to the hospital concerned to send some other doctor in place of Dr Pallavi in case she had left services of the hospital. Subsequently, some other doctor appeared before the court only for the purpose of proving Dr Pallavi’s handwriting and signature. As a matter of fact, there was no examination or cross-examination of the crucial witness. This course was not approved by the High Court as it may lead to a serious miscarriage of justice. It was held,

“No doubt, the prosecution may rely on the evidence of an alternative witness if the witness earlier cited has become unavailable or her presence cannot be secured without unreasonable delay. But the suggestion for alternative witness cannot come from the Court on assumption that the witness may not be readily available, not the least without an attempt being made to reach out to such witness.”

Consequently, the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant was set aside and the case was remanded back to the trial court directing that Dr Pallavi shall be summoned for examination. [Santosh Kumar v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 12727, decided on 19-11-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Canada: A five-judge Bench comprising of Wagner CJ and Abella, Côté, Rowe and Martin , JJ. while hearing Crown’s appeal against the decision of Court of Appeals, ruled that in the presence of admitted incriminating evidence on record, Court’s failure to compel a witness to answer a question related to such evidence would not have a bearing on conviction of the accused.

Respondent was convicted at trial of attempting to commit murder, uttering a threat to cause death, breaking and entering a place and committing attempted murder. The trial judge had relied on a few notes found in respondent’s residence, along with other evidence, to find him guilty of these offences. However, in an appeal to the Court of Appeals, the trial court order was set aside. Hence, the instant appeal was preferred by the Crown as a matter of right.

In the trial court, the defence counsel had raised a question to a witness in an attempt to find out as to who had written the two notes found in respondent’s residence. But the witness refused to answer this question. The main submission advanced on behalf of respondent was that the trial judge had erred in the way he addressed witness’ refusal to answer a vital question, and as such his conviction was liable to be set aside.

The Supreme Court, after appreciating the materials on record, noted that since the respondent had subsequently admitted to writing most of the incriminating statements in the notes found in his residence, therefore the trial judge’s failure to take further steps to compel the witness to answer the question put to him did not have an effect on the verdict. It was a proper exercise of the trial court’s discretion in continuing with the main proceedings and leaving the issue of potential contempt proceedings, against the aforesaid witness, for being taken up later in time.

It was observed that even if one assumed that the trial judge had committed an error in his addressal of witness’ refusal to answer the question put to him, any such error did not result in a substantial wrong or miscarriage of justice, and therefore respondent’s convictions were upheld as per Section 686(1) (b)(iii) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46. The Crown’s appeal was allowed and respondent’s conviction was restored. [Queen v. Alex Normore, 2018 SCC OnLine Can SC 37, decided on 19-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, Chander Bhusan Barowalia, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of conviction passed by the trial court, whereby accused was convicted under Section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the trial court was justified in holding that the prosecution had successfully proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

The Court observed that if the statement of official witnesses are confidence inspiring, conviction of the accused can be based upon their un-shattered testimony. There were several discrepancies in the statements of the IO and other official witnesses such as- independent witnesses were available on the spot but they were not called, one official was not sure whether the option of being searched before a police officer was given to the accused or not whereas the IO stated that he had given options to the accused of being searched before a magistrate but he volunteered to get searched before the police. Hence, it can be reasonably concluded that there were several discrepancies in the statements of the official witnesses and those statements were not backed by any other evidence.

The Court held that after analyzing the statements of the officials vis-à-vis the evidence produced, it can be said that the prosecution had failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The statement of police witnesses were not confidence inspiring and were found to be full of contradictions, at the same point of time, independent witnesses, which were abundantly available were not associated and seal was not produced in the Court. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and the order of conviction passed by the trial court was set aside.[Neer v. State of H.P.,2018 SCC OnLine HP 1572, order dated 05-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single judge Bench comprising of K.L. Wadane, J. partly allowed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Sections 450 and 354-A IPC along with Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2000.

The appellant was accused of committing sexual assault on a minor victim on the pretext of giving her chocolate. the accusation and charges against the appellant stood proved in the trial court. Consequently, he was convicted as aforesaid and sentenced accordingly. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court, after perusal of the record, partly affirmed the judgment of the trial court to the extent it convicted the appellant under Section 354-A IPC and Section 8 POCSO Act. However, regarding Section 450 IPC, it was observed that an accused can be convicted for the offence punishable under the said Section only if another offence for which he has been convicted is punishable with imprisonment for life; otherwise, the conviction under Section 450 IPC is bad in the eyes of law. Since in the instant case, the other offences for which the appellant was convicted were not punishable with imprisonment for life, the Court acquitted him from the offence punishable under Section 450 IPC. The appeal was disposed of in the terms above. [Hanumant v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12142, dated 29-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of Rohinton F. Nariman and Navin Sinha, JJ. allowed criminal appeal filed against the judgment of Gauhati High Court whereby trial court’s decision convicting the appellant under Section 302 IPC was upheld.

The appellant was accused of murdering her husband. She was convicted by the trial court which was affirmed by the High Court holding that the present was a case of circumstantial evidence. The last seen theory established the presence of the appellant with the deceased at night. She was assailant of the deceased. Aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court, the instant appeal was filed.

The Supreme Court observed that mere invocation of the last seen theory, sans the facts and evidence in a case, will not suffice to shift the onus upon the accused under Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872 unless the prosecution first establishes a prima facie case. It was noticed that the courts below did not notice defence of the appellant under Section 313 CrPC. It was observed that Section 313 cannot be seen simply as part of audi alteram partem. It confers a valuable right upon an accused to establish his innocence and can well be considered beyond a statutory right as a constitutional right to a fair trial under Article 21 of the Constitution, even if it is not to be considered as a piece of substantive evidence, not being on oath under Section 313 (2). If the accused takes a defence after the prosecution evidence is closed, under Section 313 (1)(b) the Court is duty bound under Section 313(4) to consider the same. It was held that unfortunately in the instant case, complete non-consideration of the appellant’s defence caused prejudice to her. In facts and circumstances, the Court held that the guilt of the appellant was proved beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted. [Reena Hazarika v. State of Assam,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2281, decided on 31-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of M.G. Giratkar, J. partly allowed an appeal filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 20(b)(i)(A) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The case against the appellant was that 24 small packets containing ganja along with some currency notes were seized from his hotel. Thereafter, he was taken to the police station and a case was registered against him. The sample of seized material was sent to chemical analyser and it was proved that the material was ganja. Charges were framed against the appellantHe was tried and convicted by the trial court as mentioned above. Aggrieved thereby, the instant appeal was filed.

On perusal of the facts, the High Court found that the conviction of the appellant was based on proper appreciation of facts and the trial court gave a well-reasoned judgment. Therefore, on the issue of conviction, the Court held that no interference with the judgment impugned was warranted. However, on the issue of quantum of sentence, the High Court considered the fact that the appellant was aged about 68 years and was facing prosecution since 2006. In such circumstances, the Court held that the ends of justice would be met if the sentence of imprisonment (3 months) which was imposed on the appellant would be reduced to the period already undergone by him, i.e., 16 days. the appeal was, thus, partly allowed. [Vitthal v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 3707, dated 20-10-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Pakistan: A 3-Judge Bench comprising of Gulzar Ahmed, Qazi Faez Isa, and Sajjad Ali Shah, JJ. while hearing a criminal appeal against conviction of a minor, pulled up the Trial Court and High Court for indulging the prosecution despite its failure to establish case beyond reasonable doubt.

The instant appeal was directed against the judgment of Lahore High Court convicting appellant under Section 9(c) of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997. Police recovered narcotic drugs from the vehicle of appellant and his brother and arrested the appellant, but his brother absconded. At that time, appellant was not even a teenager. The Trial Court found him guilty and High Court confirmed his conviction. Aggrieved by these orders, the appeal was preferred before the  Supreme Court.

It was observed that as a Juvenile Court under Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance, 2000, trial court was obliged to protect the interests of the appellant. However, questions for determination of relevant factual issues were not formulated. Despite submission of police report after two years, Trial Court did release the appellant on bail as per Section 10(7) of the Ordinance. The High Court, while exercising appellate jurisdiction, perpetuated these errors.

The Bench noted several loopholes in the prosecution case such as poor investigation, prosecution’s admission of spoiling the case, no arrest warrant for the co-accused and incomplete witness accounts. The prosecution, having completely failed to establish its case against the appellant, let alone having established it beyond a reasonable doubt, appeal was allowed directing the appellant to be released.

The Court expressed anguish over the fact that due to inept investigation, a child remained incarcerated for over eleven years and attained majority in jail. Though the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance did not stipulate the period within which trials/ appeals should be concluded, but its stated purpose is to ‘provide for protection of children’. Considering the provisions of the Ordinance and Article 25(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which envisages ‘protection of women and children’, the Court directed that trial of juveniles be concluded without delay and appeals against their conviction be prioritized and expeditiously decided. [Muhammad Adnan v. State, Criminal Appeal No. 90-L of 2017, decided on 13-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed by the accused-appellant for his conviction under Section 376 IPC for a sentence of 7 years.

The facts of the case as presented in the appeal are that the accused was convicted for raping a 16-year-old girl. The victim’s family was neighbors and friends with the accused’s family. The incident of rape happened in January 1996 but was discovered by the mother of prosecutrix only in May-June when the victim missed her cycle that she was 5 months pregnant.

The FIR in this regard was filed in the month of July 1996 stating that prosecutrix and her family did not want to spoil the reputation or bring disharmony in the family of the accused and later the complaint was filed only on the basis that the accused had denied providing funds for the victims’ abortion.

The Supreme Court Bench in the present case focused on the cardinal issue that has to be decided whether the initial act was consensual or a forcible act. Further, the Court stated that the close relations between the families and that being the reason for the delay in lodging an FIR cannot be brushed aside. Court also took notice of the facts that there was a solitary incident and was not followed by repeated acts which lead us to this act being non-consensual.

Therefore, the prosecution was successful in proving that it was a forcible act and not consensual which failed the present appeal by upholding the conviction and sentence of the accused-appellant. [P.J. Mathew v. State of Kerala,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2044, Order dated 04-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of Bombay High Court whereby the appellant’s conviction under Section 302 IPC was upheld.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of his father. The occurrence was stated to have taken place in the night of  01-12-2003. The police report was lodged next morning by PW-­2 Ratanchand, another son of the deceased. The appellant was stated to be a wayward, addicted to alcohol, and nursed a grudge against his father with regard to his claim to a share in the lands of the deceased. There was no eye witness to the occurrence and the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. He was convicted by the trial court under Section 302 IPC which was upheld by the High Court. Aggrieved thereby, he had filed the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court perused the record and noted that the High Court has rightly held that motive stood established because of the grudge that the appellant nursed against his father with regard to agricultural lands. The evidence of the witnesses cumulatively established that the appellant had gone to the agricultural fields where the deceased had gone at night. The lands of PW-­8 were adjacent to that of the deceased. The evidence of the witness conclusively established the presence of the appellant in the agricultural fields.   No explanation was offered by the appellant with regard to the presence of blood on his clothes. It was not the case of the appellant that he had suffered injuries in any other manner leading to the presence of blood. The recovery was at his instance. The conduct of the appellant in absconding till he was arrested, and abstaining during the funeral rites of his father, was completely contrary to normal human conduct and was therefore considered an additional incriminating factor against the appellant. In the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court saw no reason to interfere with the conviction of the appellant. The appeal was dismissed. [Basavaraj v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1720, decided on 01-10-2012]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Each criminal trial is but a quest for search of the truth.

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph, JJ. disposed of a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of Delhi High Court whereby the order of the trial court acquitting the appellant was reversed and she was convicted under Sections 302, 307 and 34 IPC.

The appellant, along with other co-accused, was alleged to have murdered the family (brother, sister, and mother) of her son-in-law (PW 1). As per prosecution case, the motive for the crime being that the accused were not happy with the marriage of her daughter with PW 1. The trial court, after appreciation of evidence, convicted four out of seven accused;  the appellant and two others were acquitted. However, the High Court, on an appeal, reversed the order of acquittal as far as the appellant was concerned. She was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment. Further, she was denied any remission in sentence until she completed 25 years in custody. Aggrieved thereby, the present appeal was filed by the appellant.

While adjudicating, the Supreme Court discussed the weightage of evidence by different witnesses, the duty of a Judge, and the proportionality of sentence in a criminal trial. A few of the important points as discussed and reiterated by the Court are delineated hereinafter:

  • In a criminal trial, normally the evidence of wife, husband, son or daughter is given great weightage on the principle that there is no reason for them not to speak the truth and shield the real culprit.
  • There is no reason why the same principle cannot be applied when such a witness deposes against a closely related accused.
  • It would require great courage of conviction and moral strength for a daughter to depose against her mother.
  • While appreciating the evidence of a witness, the approach must be whether the evidence of the witness read as a whole inspires confidence.
  • The prosecution evidence may suffer from inconsistencies here and discrepancies there, but that is a shortcoming from which no criminal case is free. The main thing to be seen is whether those inconsistencies go to the root of the matter or pertain to insignificant aspects thereof.
  • The duty of a Judge presiding over a criminal trial is not merely to see that no innocent person is punished, but also to see that a guilty person does not escape. One is as important as the other. Both are public duties which a Judge has to perform.
  • Sentencing has always been a vexed question as part of the principle of proportionality. Once the appellant has been convicted with the aid of Section 34 IPC, there appears no justification to single out that convict for differential treatment in sentencing.

In the facts and circumstances of the present case, the Court held that the judgment impugned whereby the order of appellant’s acquittal passed by the trial court was reversed by the High Court, did not require interference. However, on the basis of the last point as delineated hereinabove, the direction given by the High Court for denial of remission in sentence to the appellant for 25 years was set aside. The appeal was disposed of in terms above. [Shamim v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1559, decided on 19-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Muralidhar and V. Kameswar Rao, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was charged for murdering his wife by stabbing her with a knife. In medical examination of the deceased, as many as 11 incised wounds were noticed all over the body. The knife recovered on disclosure of the appellant was produced before the medical expert who opined that commission of the crime was possible with such weapon. The trial court tried the appellant under Section 302. He was found guilty and sentenced accordingly. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the entire record of the case. The Court noted that the prosecution relied heavily on evidence of PW-2, daughter of the appellant and deceased. PW-2 in her statement had said that she along with her mother was separating junk near Jain Mandir when her father came with a knife and asked her mother about one Rafiq. Exchange of words ensued, after which the appellant was stated to stab the deceased and run away. On basis of the testimony of 12 years old daughter of the appellant and deceased, the Court was of the opinion that the order impugned does not require interference. There was no reason for the daughter to falsely implicate her father for commission of the crime. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Jameel v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10986, dated 04-09-2018]