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 42, 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]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Abhay Manohar Sapre, J. delivered the judgment for himself and Uday U. Lalit, J. wherein the appeal filed by the convict under Sections 294, 353, 504 read with Section 34 IPC, was allowed in part. The appeal was filed against the judgment of the Bombay High Court which  upheld his conviction and sentence awarded by the trial court.

As per the prosecution case, the appellant (Sarpanch of the village) along with the co-accused (Member of Gram Panchayat) reached the Zilla Parishad primary school. They asked PW-1, the teacher, as to why he was not regular and punctual. The explanation given by PW-1 did not satisfy the appellant. PW-1 was asked to bring the book of circle-in-charge which  was refused by PW-1. Thereafter, PW-1 was held from the collar of his shirt and beatings were given to him. The appellant along with the co-accused was tried and convicted for the charges as mentioned above by the trial court. An appeal was preferred to the High Court which acquitted the co-accused but the appeal so far it concerned the appellant herein was dismissed. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the present appeal.

The Supreme Court considered the factual matrix and was of the opinion that the sentence awarded to the appellant deserved to be modified. For reaching such conclusion, the Court gave relevance to four facts which are enumerated hereinafter:

  • Firstly, the appellant had already undergone a sentence of one month in prison out of three months imprisonment awarded to him.
  • Secondly, the appellant was old and the incident seemed to have occurred at spur of the moment.
  • Thirdly, he had no criminal antecedents.
  • Lastly, fairly, he did not deny the commission of the act and did not challenge his conviction.

The appeal was, thus, allowed in part. The punishment of imprisonment awarded by the trial court and upheld by the High Court was altered. The sentence of imprisonment was reduced to the period already undergone by the appellant. However, the fine of Rs 800 was increased to Rs 15,000. [Haribhau v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1337, dated 04-09-2018]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising Mir Alfaz Ali, J., allowed an appeal as it was unable to persuade itself to sustain the conviction and sentence of the appellant.

The petition was filed by the appellant who was charged under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 for rape of the respondent.

The respondent’s claim that she was tied and raped in the same room where the other family members were also sleeping appeared to be absurd and unbelievable. Also, there were discrepancies in the oral testimony of the respondent’s family which further failed to secure their claim.

What was evident from the two medical documents submitted was that they were contradictory, as the first issued at the time of discharge of the victim did not disclose any injury on the private part whereas the subsequent report explained the reason of injuries to be a self-inflicted one with no marks of violence in addition to the fact that the clothing of the respondent was intact at the time of medical examination.

The Court highlighted that when the offence alleged to have been committed by the appellant was serious and grave one, providing for severe punishment, prosecution must provide greater assurance to the court by the strictest degree of proof that the case has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

Hence the conviction and sentence of the appellant were set aside.[Ganesh Das v. State of Assam, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 949, order dated 16-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel, JJ. dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was alleged to have murdered his wife. It was proved that the deceased was last seen with the appellant. The prosecution examined 45 witnesses before the trial court. Based on the testimonies of witnesses and findings of the court, the appellant was convicted for murder of his wife under Section 302 and sentenced accordingly. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

The High Court perused the record and took note of the findings as made by the trial court. The Court noted that mother of the appellant (PW 1) deposed that the appellant and the deceased slept together and also that she saw the appellant with the deceased on night of the incident. Further, the post-mortem report clearly showed that death of the deceased was a result of serious injuries which were caused by the sharp-edged weapon, maybe a farsa. In Court’s opinion, the prosecution proved that the death was homicidal. Moreover, the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) Report proved that the death was caused inside the jhuggi where the deceased was sleeping with the appellant. The Court observed that there was no alternative theory to suggest how the deceased may have suffered the injuries in the facts and circumstances of the case. For the reasons aforestated, the Court was unable to reach to a conclusion different from that of the trial court. Resultantly, the conviction of the appellant was upheld and the appeal was dismissed. [Rajesh v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10497, dated 13-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of R. Banumathi and Vineet Saran, JJ., ordered for refusal of modification in quantum of sentence as sought for by the appellant; on the reasoning that the conviction of the appellant under Section 498-A and 306 IPC as given by the High Court is to be maintained and any leniency in the same would be a misplaced one.

The facts of the case clearly draw the picture towards mental agony leading to the act of suicide committed by the deceased. Appellant was convicted under Section 498-A and 306 IPC as the wife of the appellant had committed suicide due to being subjected to cruelty and alleged dowry demand along with one of the significant factors in all the allegations being an illicit relationship of the appellant with another woman.

After the conviction from Trial Court, the High Court had further convicted the appellant under Sections 498-A and 306 IPC on consideration of the facts and evidence which constituted that the appellant even after agreeing on not continuing his relationship with another woman continued to do so, which definitely caused mental agony to the deceased-wife. Reliance on Randhir Singh v. State of Punjab, (2004) 13 SCC 129 was placed in regard to “abetment involving a mental process of instigating a person or in any manner aiding that person in doing of the thing.”

Therefore, it was held that the High Court’s order of conviction is to be maintained as leniency in the same as appealed would be a misplaced one. Hence, the appeal was dismissed. [Siddaling v. State,2018 SCC OnLine SC 958, decided on 09-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Manish Pitale, J., acquitted the appellant-husband who was convicted by the trial court Section 498-A and other sections of IPC.

The appellant was married to the deceased and within one year of marriage she set herself on fire and committed suicide. It was alleged that the appellant and other co-accused demanded Rs 20,000 from her for treatment of appellant’s father. The trial court convicted the appellant but acquitted the co-accused.

The High Court observed, inter alia, that there were no separate or specific allegations made against the appellant. The trial court had found that the evidence on record was not sufficient to prove that case against the co-accused persons but the same evidence, the appellant was convicted. Moreover, the said demand of Rs 20,000 for treatment of his father such as to bring it under cruelty mentioned in Section 498-A IPC. In such circumstances, the High Court was of the view that conviction of the appellant, even when the co-accused were acquitted on the same evidence, was liable to be set aside. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted of the charges framed against him. [Balaji v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1955, dated 02-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: N.V. Ramana, J., delivered the judgment for himself and S. Abdul Nazeer, J., dismissing the appeal filed against the decision of Patna High Court affirming the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court.

The appellant along with other co-accused was convicted under Section 396 IPC. Allegations against them were that they committed dacoity in the house of Kamdeo Singh and assaulting his family members while committing the act. One Kameshwar Singh, father-in-law of Kamdeo, succumbed to such injuries. The judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed by the trial court was affirmed by the High Court. Aggrieved thus, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court heard the parties and perused the record. The appellant had contended, inter alia, that there was no test identification parade which vitiated the prosecution case. Rejecting the contention, the Court, observed that test identification parade is not a substantive evidence. Its purpose is only to help the investigating agency ascertain as to whether the investigation in the case is heading in the right direction or not. There is no provision in CrPC which obliges the investigating agency to hold or confer a right on the accused to claim a test identification parade. Absence to hold it would not make inadmissible the evidence of identification in court. For such and other reasons, the Court dismissed the appeal filed by the convict-appellant. The impugned order was upheld. [Raju Manjhi v. State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 778, decided on 02-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Navin Sinha, J. delivered the judgment for the Full Court comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, R. Banumathi, JJ. and himself, wherein the appeal filed by a murder convict against his conviction was partly allowed.

The appellant was convicted for murdering his neighbor. The facts were that the appellant had an altercation with the deceased due to loud playing of tape recorder. The appellant was irked by the loud noise. A verbal argument ensued. The appellant rushed across to his house, came back with a sword and delivered a single blow to the deceased in the rib cage area and then ran away threatening to see him later. The deceased succumbed to the injury the same day. The trial court acquitted the appellant but he was convicted by the Uttaranchal High Court for the offence punishable under Section 302. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court considered the factual matrix of the case and held that in the entirety of the evidence, the conviction of the appellant under Section 302 was liable to be modified. The Court reached a conclusion that the occurrence took place in the heat of the moment. It was noted that genesis of the occurrence was a single assault. Moreover, duration of the entire episode was less than 2 minutes, which lends credence to the view that the assault was made without pre-meditation at the spur of time. Thus, it was not safe to convict the appellant for murder. However, he had knowledge that such assault was likely to cause death. In such circumstances, the Court was of the view that the conviction of the appellant was liable to be modified from Section 302 to Section 304 Part II. The appeal was, thus, partly allowed. [Deepak v. State of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 770, decided on 01-08-2018]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhushan Barowalia, J., allowed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 20 of NDPS Act, 1985.

The case against the appellant was that while the police was on patrol duty, the appellant saw the police and started to run. He was apprehended by the police. The appellant was carrying a bag which was searched and it was found that the appellant was carrying charas. Thereafter, the person of the appellant was searched by the police personnel without informing him about his right under Section 50 to get searched before a Magistrate or a Gazetted Officer. He was tried by the trial court and convicted under the section mentioned above. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The High Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in State of Rajasthan v. Parmanand, (2014) 5 SCC 345, wherein it was laid down that compliance with the condition of Section 50 NDPS Act, was a mandatory provision. The purpose of the section is to inform the person to be searched about his right to get searched before a Magistrate or a Gazetted Officer. However, in the present case, there was no compliance with the mandatory provision. The High Court was of the view that such failure on part of the police, vitiated the case against the appellant due to not following the procedure laid by the law. In such circumstances, the High Court held that the appellant could not have been convicted by the trial court. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the impugned judgment was set aside. [Joginder Singh v. State of H.P.,  2018 SCC OnLine HP 836, dated 03-07-2018]