Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab And Haryana High Court: The Bench of Rajiv Sharma and Kuldip Singh, JJ., dismissed the application filed under Section 378(4) CrPC against the Judgment passed by the Additional Sessions Judge acquitting the accused-respondents of the charges framed against them under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act on the ground that it was a case of mere suspicion. 

The facts of the case were that the accused was suspected of the murder of his brother whose body was found lying near the railway track. However, the Additional Sessions Judge acquitted the accused. The Court said that in this case, the prosecution relied upon the confession made by both the accused in their disclosure statements. However, the confession made in the disclosure statement is not admissible in evidence. The prosecution also led evidence to prove the enmity between the accused and the deceased and for this purpose, they have examined the brother of the deceased and the father of the deceased. Their cross-examination showed that both of them had heard about the quarrel between the accused and the deceased on the Diwali day. However, the accused proved that he was away to Delhi on the Diwali day. Therefore, their statements regarding quarrel was discarded as hearsay. 

The Court held that this was a case of circumstantial evidence. The entire chain was not complete to point out that the accused were the only persons who could commit the crime. It was merely a suspicion. It is established law that suspicion, however strong, cannot take place of the positive proof and cannot be made the basis of conviction. The prosecution could not prove its case against the accused beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt. The Court thus did not find any illegality in the impugned Judgment. Accordingly, application under Section 378(4) CrPC. for grant of leave to appeal was dismissed. [Abdul Rahman v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 351, decided on 01-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sunil Gaur, J., dismissed a set of petitions filed by the husband and in-laws of the deceased impugning the order whereby they were put on trial for the offence inter alia under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.

As per the prosecution, the deceased had made a call to Police Control Room regarding she being beaten by her in-laws. When the police reached her house, she said that she would make a complaint to the Crime Against Women Cell on the next day. Next day, when the police again reached the spot, they found broken bangles and blood on the floor. The TV was switched on with full volume. The petitioners were absconding. the deceased was found hanging from the ceiling fan.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra assailed the impugned order and drew the Court’s attention to the alleged suicide note. It was pointed out that the deceased’s father had affirmed that the note was in the handwriting of the deceased. It was submitted that it was a case of suicide and there was no basis to frame a charge of murder.

The High Court was of the opinion, “No doubt, it is recorded in the post-mortem report that the cause of death, in this case, was asphyxia due to ante mortem hanging and the suicide note is in the handwriting of deceased, but this by itself cannot rule out the possibility of murder being committed by petitioners. It is so said because the suicide note is undated and the aspect of ante-mortem hanging cannot be considered in abstract…”

Noting that at the initial stage, only prima facie opinion is to be formed, the Court stated, “Whether death of deceased was homicidal or suicidal is an aspect which cannot be pre-judged at this initial stage. In any case, the presence of lividity over the back and other areas prima facie justifies framing of charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.”

In such view of the matter, the Court found no merit in the petitions and therefore the same were dismissed. [Sukhbir Kataria v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7603, Order dated 12-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of A.S. Oka and A.S. Gadkari, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment of trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

On the fateful day, one Yusuf (deceased) had a fight with his family. He came out of the house and abused his younger brother who was standing at the window of the house. Appellant who was also standing in his balcony, mistakenly thought that Yusuf was abusing him. He asked Yusuf whether he will come up or appellant should come down. Yusuf replied as to what appellant will do coming down. Thereafter, appellant with a knife rushed towards Yusuf climbing down 5 floors of the building and inflicted severe knife blows which resulted in Yusuf’s death. Appellant was tried and convicted by the trial court for Yusuf’s murder which was challenged by him in the present appeal.

Payoshi Roy counsel for the appellant alternatively prayed that his conviction be modified from Section 302 to Section 304. the appeal was vehemently opposed by J.P. Yagnik, Additional Public Prosecutor.

The High Court was not inclined to accept the appellant’s submission that his act would fall within the purview of Exception 4 of Section 300. Observing that, “it takes two to make a fight”, the Court went on to explain, ” To bring a case under Exception 4 of Section 300 of IPC, all the ingredients mentioned in it must be found. It is to be noted here that, the word “sudden fight” occurring in Exception 4 is not defined in the Code. To attract Exception 4, the sudden fight must take place in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel. The word “sudden” is a prefix to both the words “fight” and “quarrel”. Therefore, if after a sudden quarrel, there is a time for the passion to cool down, the resultant fight cannot be a sudden fight. Hence, in a case where there is a time to cool down after a sudden quarrel, Exception 4 will not apply.”

In the present case, it is the appellant who challenged the deceased and came down with a knife to assault him on vital parts. Appellant climbed down 5 floors, which according to Court was sufficient to pacify and cool down. Thus it was held that the appellant’s case was not covered by any of the exceptions of Section 300. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Dharmaraj v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 209, decided on 05-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and Anuja Prabhudesai, JJ. dismissed a third bail application filed by a convict in a case for the offences under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.

Allegations against the applicant were that on the day of the incident, the deceased (waiter in the hotel concerned), was serving the applicant and his friends during which some water spilled on the table. A quarrel took place after which the waiter proceeded towards Police Station to lodge a complaint. It was alleged that the applicant took a bamboo stick from his car and inflicted a blow on the waiter’s head which resulted in his death. The applicant faced a trial, at the conclusion of which he was convicted as mentioned above. The applicant filed a bail application pending the appeal, however, it was dismissed. Having failed on two earlier occasions, the present third bail application was filed seeking suspension of sentence and release on bail.

Referring to State of Maharashtra v. Buddhikota Subha Rao, 1989 Supp 2 SCC 605 the High Court observed that there is an embargo on filing repeated bail applications on same facts to ensure some degree of finality to the order passed and to maintain judicial discipline and proprietary. It was noted that the present application was not filed on the ground of a change in circumstances. It was observed, ” the mere fact that some of the grounds which were available were not raised in the previous application or that the said grounds are not reflected in the previous order would not justify entertaining subsequent bail application.” In such view of the matter, the application was dismissed. [Ashok Pundalik Gavade v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 155, dated 30-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of V.K. Tahilramani, Acting CJ (as he then was) and M.S. Sonak, J. declined bail to the applicant who was a convict for an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The applicant was convicted for murdering her husband. The murder occurred as the applicant was having an illicit affair with the co-accused. She was before the Court seeking bail. It is pertinent to note that earlier as well the applicant had preferred a bail application which was rejected.

Priyal G. Sarda, Advocate for the applicant submitted that there was no eyewitness to the incident and only evidence against her was of recovery. However, during recovery, the applicant was handcuffed and therefore such recovery can’t be taken into consideration. This was opposed by G.P. Mulekar, Additional Public Prosecutor for the State.

The High Court relied on Putlabai Bhimashankar Pattan v. State of Maharashtra, 2010 SCC OnLine Bom 685 wherein it was observed, “…handcuffing a person by itself cannot be a reason to generalize the hypothesis that such a discovery cannot be reliable”. In view thereof, the Court held that there was no substance in applicant’s submission. Furthermore, no fresh ground was brought before the Court to necessitate reconsideration of applicant’s prayer for bail. Therefore, the application was rejected. [Poonam Bhagwatiprasad Gandhi v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 7283, decided on 30-07-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and M.R. Shah, JJ. dismissed an appeal arising out of Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment, while altering the conviction and sentence awarded under Sections 304 Part II IPC to that of under Section 302 IPC.

The factual matrix of the case is as follows: Darshan Lal i.e. Complainant and his mother were witnesses to the scenario where the deceased i.e. Som Raj, complainant’s brother was seen to be followed by their neighbours fully armed with weapons and further dragging Som Raj by alleging him to have thrown stones into their house. Ramji (A5) who appeared to be in SPO uniform gave repeated kick blows to Som Raj and pressed his neck till he became unconscious.

Later, the complainant took the deceased to the hospital wherein PW 9 i.e. Inspector Ram Prakash recorded the complainant’s statement and registered an FIR. All the accused were challaned for the offence under Section 302/34 IPC.

The present appeal was filed on the trial judge forming an opinion that all the accused were guilty of offence under Section 304 read with Section 149 IPC. Aggrieved further, the parties approached the High Court, wherein the Court dismissed the appeals of the accused, allowed the State appeal and disposed of the criminal revision petition filed by the complainant by setting aside the trial court’s judgment on modifying the conviction from the offence under Section 304 Part II to offence under Section 302 IPC. Further, it was submitted that prosecution witnesses had contradictions in their statements and High Court without application of mind ignored the factum of the role played by the appellant and wrongly convicted him with other accused.

The Supreme Court on careful consideration of the facts of the case concluded its decision stating that circumstances concluding the guilt of the appellant are clearly established and High Court did not commit any error of law in convicting and sentencing the accused for an offence under Section 302 IPC. [Ramji v. State of Punjab, Criminal Appeal No. 1478-1479 of 2011, decided on 27-11-2018]

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 BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Kurian Joseph and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ., while allowing an appeal directed for a premature release to the petitioner.

In the present case, the petitioner was a convict under Sections 302 and 394 IPC and had served sentence for 29 years. The age of the petitioner was over 60 years and in accordance of the Rules, a person who has crossed the age of 60 years and has served sentence for 16 years without remission is eligible to be considered for premature release.

Therefore, the Supreme Court in light of the facts and circumstances of the case, was of the view that further consideration by the State is not needed and the petitioner satisfies the eligibility criterion for the said release.

The Court directed for petitioner’s release unless he required to be detained for any other case. [Ram Sewak v. State of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2012, Order dated 11-10-2018]

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

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Sarang V. Kotwal, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of his son. On the fateful day of the incident, wife of the appellant came back home from selling fish and saw that her husband and her son were quarreling as the husband had given the food meant for her, to some other person. Later, the convict and his wife went to sleep on the mezzanine floor of the house while the son was sleeping on the ground floor. The wife woke up on hearing the cries of his son, she ran to the ground floor and saw that her husband was assaulting her son with an iron rod which resulted in death of the son. When the wife tried to stop the appellant, she too was hit by the rod. The appellant threatened her not to tell this to anybody or else she had to face consequences. Subsequently, an FIR was registered and the appellant was convicted by the trial court under Section 302. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court noted that the wife (PW 1) was the star witness in the case. No doubt, in her testimony, she did not fully support the prosecution case. However, the Court observed, that it is a well settled position of law that such part of the evidence of a hostile witness which is found to be trustworthy van always be taken into consideration. In the instant case, PW 1 had supported the prosecution case with regard to earlier incidents of quarrel, she and the appellant going to mezzanine floor. Her evidence of seeing the appellant with iron rod standing near the deceased had gone unchallenged, which was also corroborated by her sister and niece who came running to the house hearing the cries of PW 1. Furthermore, the burden under Section 106 of the Evidence Act shifted on the appellant to prove that how the injuries were sustained by the deceased. The explanation given by the appellant that the deceased fell from the mezzanine floor and thereby sustained injuries were found to be false in light of the evidence of medical expert. In such circumstances, the Court dismissed the appeal. [Babubhai Laxman Bhamaniya v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2634, dated 09-08-2018]

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 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

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

Gauhati High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ajit Singh, CJ, and Achintya Malla Bujor Barua, J. held the accused-appellant guilty under Section 304 Part II IPC as he was unable to give any explanation for the injuries suffered by the deceased.

The appellant was accused of murdering his wife. The dead body of the wife was found in the house of the appellant; it was found that except for the appellant and his three years old daughter, there was nobody else in the house; and as such, the appellant was expected to explain under what circumstances his wife died inside the house with injuries on her head. The trial court convicted the appellant under Section 302. Aggrieved thus, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and referred to the Supreme Court decision in Ganeshlal v. State of Maharashtra, (1992) 3 SCC 106 wherein mere denial of the prosecution case coupled with absence of any explanation was held to be inconsistent with the innocence of the accused. The same principles was reiterated in Trimukh Maroti Kirkan v. State of Maharashtra, (2006) 10 SCC 681. In the instant case, the appellant, in one instance, stated that the wife died due to over-consumption of alcohol. At another, he stated that he slapped her which resulted in her death. Both the statements were found to be not true in light of the medical report that showed that the deceased suffered serious head injury. The Court held that the appellant did not offer any explanation for the injuries suffered by the deceased, and as such, the appellant was the perpetrator of the crime. However, it was found that appellant as well as deceased used to consume alcohol and quarreled with each other. The Court was of the view that the appellant dealt a blow on the head of the deceased in a fit of anger. It was held that though the appellant had no intention to kill the deceased, however, he had knowledge that such an assault might cause her death. Resultantly, the conviction of the accused was modified from that under Section 302 to Section 304 Part II. The appeal was, thus, partly allowed. [Rajesh Mahali v. State of Assam,2018 SCC OnLine Gau 904, dated 09-08-2018]

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

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of P.N. Deshmukh and M.G. Giratkar, J., partly allowed a criminal appeal which was filed against the judgment of conviction under Section 302 IPC passed by the trial court.

The convict was accused of throwing chilli powder at the deceased and other persons and strangulating the deceased to death. The case was that the accused ran a liquor store, which was objected to by the deceased and other members of a certain samiti. According to the appellant, the deceased was leading a mob of 50 people, trying to enter her house. Apprehending threat and danger, the appellant got frightened and threw chilli powder at the mob. She caught hold of the deceased by her hair and scuffled with her only so that it would act as a deterrent for other persons from entering the house. However, during the said scuffle, the deceased died accidentally. The appellant was tried and convicted under Section 302 IPC. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record very carefully. In light of the post-mortem report along with evidence of witnesses, it was proved that death of the deceased was homicidal. However, the Court was of the view that since the defendant did not have any intention to kill the deceased, the conviction of the appellant was liable to modified from that under Section 302 to Section 304 Part II. The order was made accordingly. [Sumitra v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1550, dated 19-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Sarang V. Kotwal, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of conviction and sentence under Section 302 IPC passed by the trial court.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of the watchman of his housing society. The appellant stabbed the deceased with a knife for refusing to irrigate plants at his home. He was convicted by the order of the trial court, against which present appeal was preferred. Counsel for the appellant prayed for a benefit under Section 84 IPC as the appellant was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

The High Court perused the record and found that on an earlier occasion also, the appellant was tried under the same section but was given the benefit of Section 84 by the trial court. Reference was made to Supreme Court decision in Shrikant Anandrao Bhosale v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 7 SCC 748, to observe that the circumstances of unsoundness of mind before and after the incident is a relevant fact to draw the inference that the appellant was under ailment at the relevant time, when he committed the crime. Appellant also examined his doctor that proved a history of mental illness. Further, immediately after the incident, the appellant was admitted to the hospital for the treatment of paranoid schizophrenia. It was held that the appellant had discharged the burden to show that he was suffering from unsoundness of mind at the time of the incident. Hence, the trial court was not right in refusing to grant him benefit under Section 84. Thus, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted. [Mohammed Rafiq Shahabuddin Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1461, dated 29-06-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: R. Banumathi, J. speaking for herself and Ranjan Gogoi, J. dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of the Bombay High Court wherein the order of the trial court acquitting the appellants from the charges including Section 302 IPC was reversed.

According to the prosecution, the appellants and the deceased/prosecution witnesses were members of different political parties. On a fateful day, the appellants being armed with deadly weapons like sword, knife, motorcycle chain, etc., came to the house of the deceased; attacked him; and the deceased succumbed to injuries. The trial court rejected the evidence of all the witnesses on one count or another and acquitted the appellants. However, on appeal, the High Court reversed the order of the trial court and convicted the appellants under Sections 147, 148, 302 read with Section 149 IPC. This judgment was challenged by the appellants.

For adjudicating the matter, the Supreme Court carefully considered the record and discussed the witness evidence in detail. Following points of law are discernible from the discussion of the Hon’ble Court:

  • Witness evidence cannot be disbelieved simply because he did not react in a particular manner, each person reacts in his own way.
  • Relationship with the deceased is not, by itself, a ground for affecting the credibility of a witness.
  • FIR is not an encyclopedia which is expected to contain all the details of the prosecution case. It is not be rejected unless there are indications of fabrication in the FIR.

Further, on perusal of the record, the Court found that witness evidence was corroborated by the medical evidence and also by the recovery of weapons from the accused. It was observed that on an appeal against the acquittal, the paramount consideration is to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The Court was of the view that High Court correctly held that the trial court did not appreciate the evidence properly and its findings were perverse; the High Court was right in reversing the order of the trial court. Accordingly, conviction of the appellants was confirmed and the appeals were dismissed. [Motiram Padu Joshi v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine SC 676, decided on 10-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Rajendra Kumar Srivastava and S.K. Gangele, JJ. allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant who was convicted under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of the deceased and awarded life sentence. It was alleged by the PWs 2 and 3, the brother and mother of the deceased, that the appellant had a farsa with which the deceased was attacked and he, therefore, died on the spot. The order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court was challenged in the instant appeal.

The High Court noted that the eye-witnesses had deposed that the appellant was armed with a farsa and had inflicted injuries upon the deceased. However, in the postmortem report, there were no signs of any such injury that could have been caused by a sharp weapon. The doctor, who conducted the postmortem also deposed that he did not notice any such injury. Relying on Mahavir Singh v. State of M.P., (2016) 10 SCC 220, the Court held that where the medical evidence goes so far that it completely rules out the possibility of the ocular evidence being true, then such ocular evidence may be disbelieved. Holding thus, the conviction and sentence of the appellant under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC was set aside. The appeal was thus, allowed. [Shiv Prasad Kol v. State of M.P., 2018 SCC OnLine MP 414, dated 05-07-2018]