Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee and Suvra Ghosh, JJ. allowed the appeal filed by two persons who were convicted by the trial court for offence of waging war against the Government of India and set aside the judgment on the grounds of absence of a link between accused and alleged charges.

In the present case, the police received information about a meeting being held at a village where seditious lectures were being delivered. A few members of the said assembly of 30 to 40 people had firearms with them. When police arrived at the spot, the people started fleeing and accused-appellants herein were arrested. Certain seditious pamphlets and leaflets were recovered from their possession. A complaint was registered against them and chargesheet was filed against the appellants and charges were framed against them under Sections 121 A, 122, 124 A of Penal Code, 1860, Sections 25(a) and 35 of Arms Act, 1959 and Sections 4 and 5 of Explosive Substances Act, 1908. The appellants pleaded not guilty to the charges and the trial court convicted the appellants of the charges levied against them and sentenced them accordingly. Being aggrieved by the said judgment, the appellants preferred this appeal.

Counsels for appellants Amarta Ghose, Anirban Tarafder, Somdhuti Parekh, Rimpa Rajpal submitted that the witnesses were forcibly brought by the police which was not required, since under Section 87 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the Court had ample power to ensure attendance of witnesses and prosecution had no power with regard to same. It was submitted that neither any explosive substance was recovered from the place of occurrence nor was any firefight was detected. Further, no incriminating article was found either in the possession of the appellant or in his house.

According to prosecution, in order to avoid delay in the trial of the case due to the absence of witnesses, the police took it upon themselves to bring the witnesses to Court and arrange for their stay. There was no suggestion to the fact that the police influenced or coerced the witnesses to adduce evidence or tutored them. It was submitted that since guilt of the appellants had been proved to the hilt and that conviction must be affirmed.

The Court noted that in their statements recorded under Section 313 of the Code, the appellants/accused gave a detailed account regarding their arrest, detention, search and seizure which sharply contradicted the case made out by the prosecution. It observed that the arresting officers had not followed the procedure laid down in D.K Basu v. State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416. It was further opined that no firearm or ammunition was seized from the possession of the accused-appellants and such arms or ammunition were also not found in any premises occupied by them. Therefore, no responsibility could be thrust upon them for a commission of any offence under the Arms Act, 1959. Lastly, no explosive substance was recovered from the alleged place of occurrence, and thus offence under Explosives Act also could not be made out.

In view of the above, the Court held that prosecution had miserably failed to establish the charges levied against the appellants and there was no evidence on record that linked accused-appellant to the alleged charges. It was observed that the prosecution case suffered from severe contradictions and thus benefit of doubt could be granted to the appellants.

The Court also opined that it was trite law that the burden of proving a charge against an accused lied solely upon the prosecution and the prosecution was required to bring evidence which should be cogent, compact, believable and trustworthy as to become incompatible with the innocence of the accused. It was opined that the trial court had failed to appreciate the evidence in the proper perspective and missed the salient point that the link between the appellants and the incriminating material produced by the prosecution was non-existent. Thus, the appeal was allowed and the impugned judgment was set aside.[Patit Paban Halder v. State of West Bengal, CRA No. 337 of 2006, decided on 21-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: In this petition filed before Rashid Ali Dar, J., an order passed by District Magistrate, Baramulla was challenged whereby detenu was ordered to be taken into preventive custody under Section 8 of the J&K Public Safety Act.

Petitioner’s custody in the police for the offences referred in the grounds of detention was converted into the custody under the impugned detention order. Petitioner challenged the order of detention on the ground that detenu was already under custody where an FIR was registered for offences under Section 7 and 25 of the Arms Act, 2013 and thus could not have been detained under the provision aforementioned. Whereas, Asif Maqbool, learned counsel on behalf of respondents contended that order of detention was passed taking into consideration the relevant provisions of the Act and he was well informed of the grounds of his detention thus, no illegality occurred. The question before the Court was, whether an order of detention could have been passed when the detenu was already in the custody of the police.

High Court relied on the case of A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, (1950) 51 Cri LJ 1383 where it was held that: “Preventive detention is by its very nature repugnant to democratic ideals and an anathema to the rule of law”. Court mentioned that the mindset of respondents seems to be that if the detention order was passed the petitioner could not apply for bail and if he does he would be prevented by virtue of this order. The above thought of respondents was improper as the authorities in case of bail application could have contested the same thus; the impugned order cuts the very root of the State Act. Hence, this petition was allowed and the impugned order was quashed. [Akhter Rasool Lone v. State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 429, decided on 10-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. modified the order of sentence imposed on petitioner and directed that the sentences shall run concurrently and not consecutively.

Petitioner was alleged to have snatched a chain from a lade and threatening her with a weapon while fleeing. He was convicted under Section 382 read with Section 34 IPC and sentences to undergo 4 years rigorous imprisonment. He was also convicted under Section 25(1-B)(a) of the Arms Act and sentenced to undergo 1-year rigorous imprisonment. By the order on sentence, trial court directed both sentences to run one after the other, i.e. consecutively. This order was challenged in the present petition.

Archit Upadhyay, Advocate for the petitioner contended that the impugned order was erroneous and contrary to the settled position of law. He relied on Manoj v. State of Haryana, (2014) 2 SCC 153, wherein the Supreme Court interpreted Section 31 CrPC which relates ‘sentences in cases of conviction of several offences at one trial.’

The High Court noted that the offences committed by petitioner were part of the same transaction. The Court discussed the Manoj case while referring to Nagaraja Rao v. CBI, (2015) 4 SCC 302V.K. Bansal v. State of Haryana, (2013)  7 SCC 211Sharad Hiru Kolambe v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1581. It was observed by the High Court that “if the accused convicted of separate offences under IPC as also the Arms Act but they are part of the same transactions, the sentences shall run concurrently and not consecutively.” As such, the impugned order of the sentence was modified to run concurrently. Furthermore, it was found that the petitioner had already undergone the substantive sentence and was therefore directed to be released forthwith. [Irfan v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6908, decided on 05-02-2019]

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

Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Aditya Kumar Trivedi, J. allowed a criminal appeal and set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant under Section 307, 333 and 34 IPC along with Section 27(1) of Arms Act.

The appellant was accused of firing gunshot at the injured Assistant Sub-Inspector (informant) while he was returning from election duty. It was alleged that the appellant came on a motorcycle from behind along with the co-accused and fired gunshot at the petitioner thereby injuring him. The FIR was registered in the case, the appellant was apprehended, charge sheet filed, and he was tried, convicted and sentenced as mentioned above. The appellant challenged the order of the trial court in the instant appeal.

The High Court, on a careful consideration of the record, inter alia observed that the informant saw the appellant who came from behind, only after the gunshot had been fired. As there was no other person to be seen on the road, the informant inferred that it was the appellant who had injured him. The conviction was based on the fardbeyan of the informant, and such inference as was made by the informant could not be made a basis for conviction of the appellant. Further, identification of the appellant was done by the informant while he was in the police station in another case, and no proper test identification parade was conducted which was another irregularity which demanded consideration while deciding the case. In such circumstances, the High Court allowed the appeal and set aside the order of conviction and sentence passed against the appellant. [Santosh Yadav v. State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 955, dated 29.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of KL Wadane, J. heard a criminal writ petitioner challenging the order of the respondents, wherein the Arms Licence application of the petitioner had been dismissed. The reason why petitioner had applied for an arms licence was because he feared that he and his family had threat from anti-social elements who held grudges against him since he worked as a string operationalist and had also become a successful businessman and agriculturist in a short period of time.

The respondents denied him a licence on the grounds that they did not think there was any threat to him or to his family; that his annual income for 2012-13 was only Rs. 4,11, 942 and that if they started granting licences to every businessman, then the number of arm licence-holders will increase.

Referring to Section 14 of the Arms Act of 1959 (which deals with the situations under which licensing authority can refuse the grant of a licence) the petitioner contended that the reasons stated by the authority were not mentioned under Section 14 and that “if a particular provision of a statute prescribes the grounds on which discretion is to be exercised, then such a discretion is to be exercised in accordance with the provisions”.

Section 14 lists the following grounds as reasons for refusal of licence- when it pertains to prohibited arms or ammunitions; when the licence seeker is prohibited from acquiring or carrying arms, is of an unsound mind, or is unfit for any other reason; or the refusal is for public peace or for public security; and that grant of licence shall not be refused merely because the person does not own or possess sufficient property.

Since the reasons mentioned by the respondents were contrary to the provisions of the Arms Act, the writ petition was allowed and the order of the respondent was quashed. [Ashok v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 70, dated 12-01-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A petition under Section 482 CrPC was filed by the petitioner  to conduct proper investigation in FIR registered by him in October, 2014 under Section 364/34 IPC registered at Police Station Malout, District Sri Muktsar Sahib. The petitioner also apprehended death threat from four police officials who are also the respondents in the case.

On hearing both the parties, Court examines the allegations by the petitioner on the respondents. The petitioner has alleged that in October, 2014, his son was kidnapped from Malout under the railway over bridge Malout by some police officials of Abohar while one official was in uniform and others were in civil clothes and accordingly, FIR was registered by the petitioner the very next day of kidnapping. However, later on, Abohar Police registered another FIR under Sections 399 and 402 IPC and Sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act showing the arrest of petitioner’s son on 15.10.2014 at about 9.00 p.m. from a factory area in Abohar recording that they had received a secret information that five persons are making preparation to commit dacoity. Further, the offences under Sections 399 and 402 IPC were deleted and Amrik Singh was challaned only under Section 25 of the Arms Act and challan is since pending before Illaqa Magistrate for trial and the police also moved a cancellation report of FIR filed by the petitioner.

Conclusively, the Court observed that the allegations put by the petitioner were quite serious as he had alleged that son of the petitioner was falsely implicated after being kidnapped from Malout and Police Station Sadar Abohar registered the FIR for dacoity only after the registration of FIR by the petitioner under Sections 364/34 IPC registered at Police Station Malout regarding kidnapping of his son.

The Court noted the fact that the matter involved was regarding life and liberty of the petitioner and was thus, very serious. The Court concluded with its findings stating that that police officials have committed the crime, necessary departmental and criminal action shall be taken against them and police may also take further action in the FIR lodged by the petitioner and follow up action for quashing the FIR alleged to be falsely implicating the petitioner’s son. It ordered the authorities concerned  to conduct the inquiry and submit the report within 3 months. Accordingly, it allowed the petitioner’s appeal along with an additional order that the petitioner and his son would not be called to the police station without prior permission of the Court. [Balkar Singh v. State of Punjab, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 1725, decided on 18th July, 2017]