J&K HC | Prima facie evidence enough for framing of charges, evidence beyond reasonable doubt is not required for same

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: Tashi Rabstan, J. upheld the finding of the revisional court as it was found to be well reasoned and no abuse of process of law was visible, warranting any interference from the instant Court.

The petitioner filed the instant petition under Section 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (“Cr.P.C”) for setting aside the order passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Jammu whereby the order, passed by learned Judicial Magistrate First Class (Munsiff) Jammu discharging the petitioners from the offences mentioned in the Challan against them by the prosecution was set aside.

It was contended by the petitioners that they were being falsely implicated in the FIR by to satisfy a personal vendetta. The material collected by the prosecution during the investigation did not support the prosecution’s case in the framing of charges under Sections 498-A, 323, 504, 506, 109 of the Ranbir Penal Code as the petitioners No. 3 and 4 were not related to the husband of the respondent so as to constitute the offence under Section 498-A RPC.

The counsel for the respondents while trying to defend the Trial Magistrate submitted that the court could not have sifted the evidence placed before it or appreciated the evidence intrinsically at the stage of framing of charge, which was to be considered final. It was further submitted that the allegations in FIR and statements recorded under Section 161 of CrPC prima facie established the offences with which the petitioners were challaned and were required to be put on trial by framing the charge against them.

On perusal of the challan filed after the complete investigation, it was found that statements of nine witnesses recorded under Section 161 CrPC corroborated the allegations leveled against the petitioners in the FIR. The learned Trial Magistrate had appreciated the evidence including the medical report of injuries sustained by the respondent as if she was considering the case either to convict or acquit the accused. The learned Magistrate had observed that petitioner’s 3 and 4 were not related to the husband of the respondent, therefore, the offence under Section 498-A RPC were not made out against them, which was required to proved/disproved by leading evidence and not a mere prima facie case.

The court held that at the time of framing charge, the court had to consider the final investigation report, statement of witnesses under Section 161 CrPC, documents and other evidence adduced by the prosecution and if they saw that the allegations were groundless and no case was made out against the accused, that is, if it was unrebutted, it would not have warranted a conviction, however, if there were even probable chances of commission of offence by accused persons the court needs to frame charges. All this had to be done by prima face appreciation of material on record and not by a roving enquiry by scanning and evaluating the evidence as if the court had to decide whether the accused had committed the offence or not. For such limited purposes of prima facie satisfaction, the court may sift through the evidence produced by the prosecution to find out whether the ingredients of offences were satisfied or not a conduct a mini-trial by marshaling the evidence on record.  [Tamandeep Singh v. State of J&K2019 SCC OnLine J&K 855, decided on 25-10-2019]

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