Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Vipin Sinha and Ifaqat Ali Khan, JJ. dismissed the appeal as the applicant failed to prove the alleged charges against the accused.

The applicant through his counsel Afzal Ahmad Khan Durrani has filed an application seeking leave to appeal against the judgment by means of which all the accused persons have been acquitted for the offence punishable under Sections 394/34, 302/34, 201, 120B and 411 IPC along with Section 25/5/35 Arms Act. He has stated that along with the body of the deceased silver ornaments were also found at the spot.

It was important to note that the silver ornaments costed about Rs 5,000 which was a very meagre amount to commit murder plus neither the court could find a reason as to why the accused would commit the murder along with the fact that no active participation of the accused could be proved.

The High Court stated that a witness could lie but not the circumstances and in this case chain of pieces of evidence furnished by those circumstances were far from complete which failed to prove the guilt of the accused. Here the Court reiterated the basic rule of criminal jurisprudence according to which if two views were possible on the evidence adduced in a case of circumstantial evidence, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the Court should adopt a view which is favorable to the accused. Hence as the applicant failed to prove the charges against the accused the appeal was dismissed. [Mira Devi v. State of U.P., 2018 SCC OnLine All 3307, Order dated 04-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

“It took me quite a long time develop the voice and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

-Madeleine Albright

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ranjit V. More and Bharati H. Dangre, JJ. confirmed the death sentence awarded to the accused in the gruesome case of rape and murder of a 23 year old software engineer in Mumbai.

The incident

The victim was a software engineer working in Mumbai. She took a leave in December 2013 went to meet her parents in Andhra Pradesh. She was returning on 4 January 2014. Next morning, when her train was scheduled to reach Mumbai, her father attempted to contact her but without success. On the same day, a missing complaint was lodged with police. Thus began a frantic search for the victim. After 11 days, on 16 January, her half-burnt body was traced in the bushes on express highway.

The investigation

An FIR under Section 302 and 201 was registered. CCTV footage from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus was obtained which revealed that the victim walked out of the railway station on 5 January along with a stranger who was carrying her trolley bag. The man was identified as one Chandrabhan Sanap (accused) and was arrested. On his disclosure, articles belonging to the victim as well motorcycle on which she was driven to the crime spot was seized.

Prosecution case and the trial court decision

The accused was charged for abducting the victim on 5 January 2014 at 5.30 am from LTT Station on the pretext of dropping her at the hostel and thereafter he drove her on his bike to crime spot and committed rape on her. He was charged with Sections 364, 366, 376(2)(m), 376-A, 392 read with Section 397, 302 and 201 IPC. After the conclusion of the trial, the trial court convicted the accused and sentenced him to be hanged by neck till he is dead.

Confirmation case and appeal to the High Court

As per Section 28(2) CrPC, on imposition of death sentence, the matter has to be referred for confirmation of the High Court. The confirmation case was tagged with the appeal filed by the accused against the judgment of the trial court. The case of prosecution was based on circumstantial evidence and the prosecution had relied on 39 witnesses to establish its case along with several documentary evidence. After considering the evidence in detail including witness testimony, CCTV footage, DNA reports, post-mortem report, etc., the Court was of the opinion that prosecution was able to establish a complete chain of circumstances by cogent and reliable evidence. It was held that the prosecution had established the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

Death Sentence

In order to decide the question of confirmation of the death sentence, the Court relied on Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684 and after praying due regard to both crime and criminal, drew a balance sheet of aggravating and mitigating factors. The Court observed,

” The way in which a society protects its victims of crime is a barometer of that society’s standards of human dignity and decency. When a woman in the society is raped, it is not only she who is subjected to rape, but it is the tendency that is reflected to overpower, to violate and to crash the dignity of the entire woman creed in the society.”

It was further observed that for a small pleasure, a young woman who had just stepped into womanhood was done to death with extreme vileness. The abhorrent, grotesque and perverted manner in which she was murdered by the accused was also taken note of. In Court’s specific opinion, although ‘reformative theory’ is recognised as one of the leading theory for imposition of penalty but undue stress on the same would defeat basic tenets of imposition of penalty where crime committed obnoxiously shocks the collective conscience of the society. Furthermore, merely because behaviour of accused as under-trial prisoner was good, could not be a ground to absolve him of the most gruesome act he committed. In the present case, the only fault of victim was that she fell prey to the sinister design of the accused to fulfill his lust. As such, the Court upheld the death sentence awarded to the accused holding it to be ‘rarest of rare’ case which amounts to the devastation of social trust, shocks social conscience and calls for extreme penalty of capital punishment.

Accordingly, the death sentence was confirmed and the criminal appeal filed by the accused was dismissed. [State of Maharashtra v. Chandrabhan Sudam Sanap, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 6576, dated 20-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This petition was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Daya Chaudhary, J., under Section 482 CrPC for transfer of investigation of an FIR registered under Section 306 IPC.

Facts of the case were such that petitioner was the mother of deceased who filed an FIR for the murder of deceased but the same was registered under Section 306 IPC. Petitioner was aggrieved by the fact that the case was not being investigated. Thus, petitioner prayed for the investigation to get a transfer to an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police outside the jurisdiction where it was earlier being investigated or hand over of the investigation to an independent agency. Whereas respondent contended that investigation was being done fairly with continuous status report filed by the investigating officer.

High Court observed that according to the status report the investigation was complete and allegations alleged was not proved as a consequence of which cancellation report was also prepared. Court noticed the fact that the FIR was registered under Section 306 IPC without taking into consideration the outcome of FSL examination. Therefore, Court said that it is in the interest of justice to transfer the investigation of the case to the Special Investigating Team (SIT) under the supervision of the Superintendent of Police. [Neelam v. State of Haryana,2018 SCC OnLine P&H 2044, decided on 29-11-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

High Court of South Africa, Kwazulu-Natal Division: This appeal was filed before a 3-Judge Bench comprising of Henriques, Lopes, and D Pillay, JJ., where the sentences passed against accused charged with murder was in question.

The facts of the case were that appellant was alleged for murder and other offences and as consequence of the same he was punished for 30 years, 30 years and 10 years for different counts. The sentences imposed for first and last count were ordered to run concurrently. This means that the accused was to be sentenced for 60 years of imprisonment. Appellant contended that the trial court did not consider his age while sentencing him which was 23 years and that court committed misdirection in not declaring all the sentences were to be run concurrently. It was to be noted that the offences he was charged under were in proximity of time with common intent. Respondent made a submission that a sentence of life imprisonment was appropriate in respect to offence of murder. Respondent justified the punishment by bringing it to the notice of court appellant’s previous conviction and the particularly vicious and brutal circumstances under which the present offences were committed.

High Court was of the view that 60 years of punishment was a “Methuselah” sentences and was contrary to the objective of sentencing i.e. rehabilitation. Therefore, according to the circumstances of the offence and personal circumstances of the accused, the appellant was sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment. [Dazi v. State, Case No. AR708 of 16, dated 10-08-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

High Court of South Africa, Kwazulu-Natal Division: A Single Judge Bench of Mbatha, J., mitigated sentence to accused alleged for the offence of murder.

Facts of the case were that the accused killed one person alleging that person to have used witchcraft in order to kill a child. One person, Induna called a meeting and went to find the culprit behind the child’s death. When he returned he disclosed the name of accused due to which the incident leading to the alleged death occurred. The question before Court was whether the belief in witchcraft should still be considered as a mitigating factor where Section 11 of the Bill of Rights recognises that everyone has a right to life.  Court viewed that some of the accused before the Court were educated, having attended high school. Those without a formal education had been exposed to religion.

High Court considered personal circumstances such as the fact that they belong to stable family backgrounds, the breadwinner of their family with some accused were primary caregivers to their children. Thus, accused found to be primary caregivers Court considered Section 28(2) read with Section 28(1)(b) of the Constitution. Accepting the probation officer’s reports and considering all the relevant facts of this case court was persuaded that there were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying Court’s departure from imposing the prescribed minimum sentence for life imprisonment. Therefore, the Court directed the accuses person’s punishment to be mitigated. [State v. Mkhombi Xaba, CC 48 of 2016, dated 03-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S.S. Shinde and A.S. Gadkari, JJ., allowed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for murder under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant and the deceased were living in a live-in-relationship. Both were married to different spouses. The allegation against the appellant was that on the fateful day, he attacked the deceased with a hammer on her head and this resulted in her death. It was alleged by the prosecution that the appellant was fed up by the frequent bickering between him and the deceased as she did not allow him to meet his wife and children. Thus, the appellant attacked the deceased and murdered her. The appellant was tried and convicted by the trial court under Section 302. Aggrieved thereby, the instant appeal was filed.

The High Court, at the outset, noticed that appellant’s conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. It was reiterated that for basing a conviction on circumstantial evidence, it is necessary that all the circumstances must point towards guilt only of the accused and nothing else. Furthermore, the main ground for the conviction was that appellant failed to rebut the presumption under Section 106 Evidence Act exclusively within his knowledge. The Court made reference to Shambhu Nath Mehra v. State of Ajmer, AIR 1956 SC 404, wherein it was held that Section 106 is not a substitute for the burden of proof that rests upon the prosecution. It was noted that in the instant case there was no evidence on record even to remotely suggest that the appellant was in fact last seen in the company of the deceased either at the time of noticing the dead body or prior thereto. In absence of such evidence, the Court held that the failure of the appellant to offer any explanation under Section 106 could not be used against him to base his conviction. The Court further held that the case of the prosecution was based on mere presumption the appellant being in the same room with the deceased at the time of her death. In view of the aforesaid appellant’s conviction was set aside, and the appeal was allowed. [Ulhas Sudam Gorhe v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 3389, decided on 12-10-2018]

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 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 BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Vipin Sanghi and I.S. Mehta, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the judgment and order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was convicted for murder of his co-brother (sadoo). It was alleged that firstly, the deceased was last seen with the appellant. Secondly, the knife used in the commission of crime was recovered on disclosure made by the appellant. Thirdly, the appellant went missing after the death of the deceased and his mobile phone was also switched off. Fourthly, police claimed to recover clothes of the accused with involvement of an independent witness. Lastly, the motive behind the commission of murder was said to be that the appellant was suspicious of an illicit relationship between his wife and the deceased. The trial court convicted the appellant under Section 302, against which the appellant had filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and considered the submissions made by the parties. The Court was of the view that there were serious gaping holes in the prosecution story. The matter was dealt in a point-wise manner. Firstly, the last seen theory was unacceptable because the there was a time gap of over five hours between last seen and the death of the deceased. Moreover, undigested food was found in the intestines of the deceased in the post-mortem report; there was no record as to when, where and with whom the deceased had his last meal. Secondly, the blood on the knife which was recovered from the bushes did not match with the blood group of the deceased. Thirdly, the fact that the appellant went missing and switching off his mobile phone was the only fact that raised suspicion of his involvement in the crime. Fourthly, the independent witness involved in recovery of the clothes allegedly of the appellant did not support the recovery during his examination and turned hostile. Lastly, as to the motive for murder, the Court observed that in Indian culture, the relationship between a sister-in-law and brother-in-law is known to evoke playful and fun-filled conversations. Even the appellant would have been aware of the fact. Even if he did not appreciate such interactions between his wife and the deceased, there was no immediate provocation prior to the murder to trigger such an act. In light of the above, the Court held that the appellant deserved the benefit of doubt. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, the judgment impugned was set aside and the appellant was acquitted of the charges against him. [Dinesh Dass v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10970, dated 29-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of J.K.Maheshwari and Akhil Kumar Srivastava, JJ., addressed the issue of rape and murder of a minor girl to see if capital punishment of death penalty could be imposed upon the accused.

Accused in this case was alleged under Sections 376A, 302, 342, 201/511of IPC. He raped a minor girl aged 12-year old after which the girl died. The court had no doubt as to the commission of rape by the accused as many people witnessed the accused running away from the hut where the girl was found dead. The post-mortem report confirmed rape but the reason for her death was stated to be asphyxia. Trial Court observed that the case was proved beyond reasonable doubt. While sentencing accused, Trial Court took aid under Section 42 of POCSO Act as the victim was a minor girl. Stating instant case as rarest of rare case capital punishment of death was awarded.

The appeal went before High Court where the question of whether it was a “rarest of the rare case” was to be decided. Court referred various judgments of Apex Court to understand “rarest of the rare case” and on perusing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances court was of the view that the instant case would not come under “rarest of the rare case”. Therefore, Court set aside the capital punishment given for the offence under Section 376A of the I.P.C. [Sunil Adiwasi v. State of M.P., Criminal Appeal No.5015 of 2018, dated 17-08-2018]

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 BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel, JJ., allowed a criminal appeal directed against the trial court judgment convicting the appellant under Sections 302, 201 and 404 IPC.

The appellant was accused of entering into a criminal conspiracy with other co-accused to murder the deceased Khazano Devi. They were also accused of causing the disappearance of evidence. All the accused were convicted by the trial court and sentenced for the offence punishable under the abovementioned sections. The appellant challenged the trial court judgment before the High Court.

The Court noted that the prosecution relied on three circumstances which were, firstly, last seen evidence, to which the High Court held that there were no independent witnesses in that regard. Secondly, recovery of articles, which the Court held were not sufficient to provide a link in chain of circumstances to prove guilt of the appellant. Thirdly, motive, for which the Court observed that where other circumstances are not satisfactorily proved it is necessary to prove the motive for commission of the crime. However, the Court held that the prosecution failed to prove the motive for murder of the deceased. In such circumstances, the Court was of the view that the appellant was entitled to benefit of doubt. Therefore, he was acquitted of the offences charged under and the sentence was set aside. The appeal was, thus, allowed. [Yamin v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 10198, dated 26-07-2018]

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

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Vipin Sanghi and I.S. Mehta, JJ., dismissed a writ of habeas corpus wherein the petitioner sought directions to the respondents to release him from, what he claimed, illegal detention at Tihar jail.

The petitioner was a convict in the Sardar Beant Singh (CM of Punjab) Murder case. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had sentenced him to suffer life imprisonment. Earlier, the petitioner, while lodged in Budhail jail in Chandigarh, had dug a tunnel and absconded. He was subsequently arrested in Delhi in another case. As he was a hardened criminal and a high-risk convict, learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate directed the authorities of Tihar jail to keep the petitioner in high-risk cell where he had been lodged since. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that he was undergoing sentence as awarded by Punjab and Haryana High Court so he should be transferred to that State.

The High Court found no merit in the petition. The Court observed that no constitutional or statutory provision was brought to notice which mandates that as a life convict, the petitioner had a right to be imprisoned in a particular prison, in a particular state. No convict can claim that he should be placed in a prison situated at a place of his choice. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that convict is kept in a safe and secure environment so as to ensure that neither he suffers from any risks or dangers, nor he is in a position to pose any risk or dangers or escape from custody. For such and other reasons, as discussed by the High Court, the petition was dismissed as sans merit. [Jagtar Singh Hawara v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10158, dated 23-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Sarang V. Kotwal JJ., addressed a Criminal Appeal by setting aside the order of conviction and sentence in view of considering the matter in the purview of ‘benefit of doubt’.

In the present matter, the Appellant was convicted under Sections 376 (f) and 302 IPC for committing the rape of a 6-year-old child and murder thereafter. In accordance to the FIR lodged by the victim’s father. The appellant was found to be sleeping beside the deceased. The deceased was found with blood and injuries to her private parts.

While noting the facts of the case, the High Court found that the post-mortem report states the final cause of death as ‘death due to shock due to vaginal and anal tear with multiple injuries over body’. Also, the fact to be noted that was found on during the medical examination of the Appellant was that he had no injuries on his person with no blood or semen on any of the clothing of the appellant. There was no evidence of semen or vaginal fluid been taken off by washing from the private parts of the appellant.

Therefore, the case of prosecution lied only in the arena of ‘suspicion’ and the chain of circumstances against the appellant seemed to be incomplete, which awarded the appellant ‘benefit of doubt’ by acquitting the appellant in the present matter. [Sandip Ramesh Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2067, dated 06-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Division Bench comprising of H.C. Mishra and B.B. Mangalmurti, JJ., dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of conviction and sentence passed against the appellant by the trial court.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of his father. It was alleged that on a fateful day, the appellant was taking all the paddy from the house, and when his father asked him to leave some behind, he became furious and attacked his father with a sword. The father of the appellant was taken to hospital where he recorded his statement to the Magistrate and subsequently, he died. The appellant was tried under Section 302 IPC. Material prosecution witnesses in the case including the wife of the deceased (mother of the appellant) turned hostile. However, the trial court, based on the dying declaration of the deceased, convicted the appellant. Learned counsel for the appellant assailed the judgment as it was based solely on the dying declaration of the deceased which was not corroborated by any of the witnesses.

The High Court gave due consideration to submissions made by counsel for the appellant. However, the Court was of the view that the submissions did not hold ground. The Court noted that the dying declaration was recorded by following the proper procedure. Although the witnesses turned hostile and the dying declaration was not corroborated, yet the fact remained that there was no contradiction between the dying declaration and the first statement given by the deceased. The Court held that the dying declaration inspired confidence. Taking into account the evidence of the Investigating Officer, the doctor, the Magistrate and considering the sharp nature of injuries sustained by the deceased, the Court held that the guilt of the appellant under Section 302 was proved. Hence, the impugned judgment of the trial court was upheld and the appeal was dismissed. [Dijan Mandal v. State of Bihar, 2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 417, decided on 19-4-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: In an appeal filed against the conviction of the appellants by the trial court under Section 307 IPC, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Arvind Singh Chandel, J., altered the conviction from Section 307 to Section 308 IPC.

The appellants were alleged to have assaulted the complainant by causing head injury to him. It was alleged that they had an enmity with the complainant and therefore on the day of the incident, they assaulted him with a danda. The appellants were charged under Section 307 IPC for an attempt to murder. The appellants challenged the decision of the trial court.

The High Court on considering the record found that the enmity between the parties arose out of certain money dispute. The Court found that the assault was made in the crowd. It was observed that if the intention to make the assault had been to commit murder, the appellants would not have committed the assault in a crowd. Further, as was evident from the medical report, only one grievous injury was caused on the head of the complainant. However, according to the medical expert, the injury was not dangerous to life. Had the intention of making the assault been to commit murder, the appellants would have caused more than one injury. In such circumstances, the intention to cause murder, a necessary ingredient to prove the offence under Section 307, was absent. The Court was of the view that the offence committed would fall under Section 308 (attempt to culpable homicide) since the appellants were aware that such injury could cause the death of the complainant. The appeals were partly allowed and the conviction was altered from Section 307 to Section 308. [Devi Singh v.  State of M.P.,2018 SCC OnLine Chh 513, dated 18-5-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Conviction of the appellant under Section 302 IPC was modified to Section 304(1) by a Division Bench comprising of Sangeet Lodha and Virendra Kumar Mathur, JJ.

The appellant was accused of causing the death of his wife by setting her ablaze. It was alleged that he used to drink and beat his wife and on the day of the incident he kicked her in the stomach, poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze. In this appeal, the appellant did not contend the finding of guilt against him, however, he contended that the conviction may be altered from Section 302 to Section 304(1) on the ground that he had no intention to cause the murder of his wife.

The High Court perused the record and found that the appellant was under the influence of intoxication at the time of the incident. The incident took place after a quarrel. The appellant also had a few burn injuries which might have been due to the reason that he tried to save her. The time gap between the incident and the death of the wife was almost one and a half month. Even the post-mortem report suggested that the cause of death of the deceased were multiple. In such facts and circumstances, the Court held that the intention of causing murder could not be attributed to the appellant. Neither the motive was proved. At best, he could be attributed with the knowledge that his act will cause such bodily injury that may cause death which was an element of an offence under Section 304(1) IPC. Accordingly, the conviction and sentence of the appellant was altered as mentioned hereinabove. [Bhagwan Lal v. State of Rajasthan, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1193, dated 15-5-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ has agreed to hear the plea of three witnesses in the Kathua gangrape and murder case, alleging that they are being harassed by the state police, on May 16.

The said witnesses, who are college friends of the juvenile accused in the case, have alleged that they gave their statement to the police under coercion and that the state police was now asking them to re-appear and re-record their statements and exerting pressure in their families.

The Supreme Court had, on May 7, transferred the trial in the sensational Kathua gangrape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab, but refrained from handing over the probe to CBI saying there was no need as the investigation has been conducted and the chargesheet filed.

Emphasising on the concept of fair trial, the Court had said:

“In the instant case, direct victims are the family members of the deceased, although ultimately collective is the victim of such crime. The fair trial commands that there has to be free atmosphere where the victims, the accused and the witnesses feel safe. They must not suffer from any kind of phobia while attending the court. Fear and fair trial are contradictory in terms and they cannot be allowed to co-exist.”

(With inputs from PTI)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: While dismissing the appeals filed in regard to the commitment of heinous crime of gang rape and murder, the Division Bench of S.K Seth and Nandita Dubey JJ., pronounced death sentence to the convicts.

Once again the social fabric of the society was severely affected when the heinous offence of rape of an 11-year-old child and subsequently killing her took place in the most gruesome manner as it could have been possible.

According to the findings and observation of the trial court, it had after meticulous consideration of the records that were collected and the chain of events that occurred established that the accused committed the heinous crime of gang rape and murder of the deceased. Therefore, the trial court had found the accused guilty for offence punishable under Sections 376 A and 302-A IPC.

However, the High Court, while stating that when a case rests on circumstantial evidence, the Court has to be satisfied that the circumstances from which an inference of the guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established and trial court had in the present case successfully established the chain of events and convicted the accused Bhagwani and Satish. Though unfortunately, the trial court failed to charge the accused for the offence under Section 377 IPC as clear evidence of carnal intercourse was attained in the post-mortem report. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed by confirming the death sentence awarded by the trial court to each of the accused. [In Reference (Received from District & Sessions Judge, Dindori (MP) v. Bhagwani,  2018 SCC OnLine MP 338,  dated 09-05-2018]