Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J., for the reason of procedural lapses, quashed an order passed by the trial court wherein the Magistrate had convicted the petitioner (accused) after recording the plea of guilt voluntarily made by him.

The petitioner was convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 454 and 380 read with 34 IPC. Darshan Singh, Advocate representing the petitioner submitted that the Magistrate erred in convicting the petitioner by recording his plea of guilt as the trial court had not then reached the stage of framing of charges. Contravention of Section 240 and 241 CrPC contended.

After discussing Sections 238, 239 and 240 CrPC, the High Court was of the view that the conviction of the petitioner could not be sustained. Moreover, at the time when the petitioner was produced before the Magistrate and his plea of guilt was recorded, neither there was no legal counsel representing him, nor any amicus was appointed by the Magistrate. It was observed: “In the present case there is apparently no compliance with Sections 239 and 240 i.e. consideration by the Magistrate of the police report and the material submitted before it and an opinion formed that charge should be framed. Further, no legal counsel apparently has been provided to the petitioner before recording his plea of guilt.” As for non-framing of charges, the Court held: “As no charge was framed there was no question of the Magistrate at that stage to record the plea of guilt or otherwise of the accused, even if voluntarily made.” Holding that failure of justice had been questioned in the present case, the Court quashed the petitioner’s conviction and remitted the matter back to the trial court. [Adi Malik v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8204, dated 24-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge bench comprising of Sanjay Kumar Gupta, J. dismissed the petitions filed by the accused petitioner and his brother under Section 561-A CrPC, seeking quashing of charges filed against them under Sections 304-B and 498-A of the RPC.

The accused petitioner Rohit Singh married one Radha Sharma, according to Hindu rites and ceremonies on 07-03-2014. Within one year of their marriage, there arose matrimonial disputes which resulted in Radha (hereinafter referred to as the “deceased”) committing suicide by hanging herself at her in-laws’ house on 18-03-2016. Proceedings were initiated and after investigation, chargesheet was filed under Sections 304-B, 306 and 498 of RPC. The basis for filing of the aforesaid petitions was that pursuant to a deed of disinheritance executed by the accused’s father, the accused petitioner and the deceased had been living separately from her in-laws and therefore, there was no proximity between the demand of dowry and cause of death of the deceased.

The Court observed that the death in case at hand had taken place “otherwise than under normal circumstances” within two years of the deceased’s marriage at her in-laws’ house. There was evidence that the accused were demanding dowry in the form of plot and other articles from the deceased; her dead body was found hanging at her in-laws’ house; there were witness accounts seeing the accused entering and leaving the house where dead body was found; post-mortem report of deceased suggested death by asphyxia due to hanging, and ligature mark was found around her neck.

The High Court, relying on Umesh Kumar v State of Andhra Pradesh, (2013) 10 SCC 591, held that while framing of charges, the Court has to evaluate as to whether on the basis of materials and documents on record, there is a prima facie case to proceed against the accused. At this stage, the Court is not required to appreciate whether the material produced is sufficient or not for convicting the accused.

In view of the incriminating circumstances, the Court refused to quash the charges against accused. [Rohit Singh v State of Jammu & Kashmir, CRMC No. 607 of 2017, dated 14-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While passing the order in a criminal petition filed under Section 438 of CrPC praying to enlarge the petitioners on bail in the event of their arrest, a Single Judge Bench of Rathnakala, J. held that any erroneous edit in the charge-sheet would not come in the way of the trial court in framing proper charges.

The petitioners 1 and 2 were arraigned as co-accused for the offences punishable under Section 498 (A), 304 (B), 302 and 114 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. The case of the prosecution was that the first accused who was the son of the 1st petitioner and brother of the 2nd petitioner was married to the deceased. The accused tortured the deceased for demand of dowry and they incited the deceased to commit suicide. Consequent to the said abetment, the deceased set herself ablaze.

The Court perused the charge-sheet and observed that there was nothing in the charge-sheet to show that it was a case of suicidal death. As per the statement of witness, the accused persons fled away from the house carrying the charred body of the deceased in a bed sheet. There were clinching circumstantial evidence in support of the offence under Sections 302, 304 (B) of IPC. However in the charge-sheet the prosecution case was compiled as if it was a suicidal death.

The Court while holding that such erroneous edit in the charge-sheet could not come in the way of the trial court in framing proper charges, dismissed the petition. The trial court was directed to expedite the trial and take it to its logical end. [Duggamma v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 5163/2017, decided on  August 16, 2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While deciding a  criminal revision petition, a Single Judge Bench held that it is not necessary that charges framed based on the statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 coincide with allegations made in the FIR for them to be valid.

The facts were that the petitioner was charged under Sections 376, 506 and 384 of the Penal Code, 1860 but the rape charges were not levelled against the petitioner in the FIR. It was only, in the later stage of recording of statement under Section 164 of the CrPC that the allegation surfaced. However, the allegation was not supported by date, time or exact place except a comment that it was committed around 8-10 years ago.

The main contention of the petitioner was that an anticipatory bail had already been granted to the petitioner observing the fact that the date, month or the year when the rape was committed has not been mentioned and no reason has been given as to why no police complaint was filed after the incident. The Court rejected this contention as irrelevant and inapplicable to the present issue. Further, the Court held that charges can be framed on the basis of strong suspicion as appreciation of evidence is not in the domain of the court in the pre-trial stage.

The Court relied on the judgment of Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar, 1979 (3) SCC 4 to lay down that where the material placed before the court discloses grave suspicion against the accused but no proper explanation has been given in relation to it, the court will be fully justified in framing such charges. Any decision as to guilt or innocence can only be passed upon conclusion of trial. Further, the petitioner failed to point out any error of law or error of jurisdiction and hence, the impugned order does not require any interference or modification. The petition was therefore dismissed. [Mohsin Khan v. State, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 9315, decided on 14.07.2017]