Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rekha Palli, J. while disposing of a petition, waived of the sentence awarded to the petitioner on grounds of parity with the co-accused.

The petitioner was convicted by the Magistrate under Section 132 and 135(1) (a) of the Customs Act for evading customs duties payable at the airport on the import of certain household items. He was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for a period of 6 months along with a fine of Rs 50,000 on each count. The petitioner did not challenge his conviction but sought suspension of sentence. it was submitted that he had already paid the fine and undergone 2 months of imprisonment.

The High Court perused the record and noted that the petitioner was working as an authorised representative of the co-accused and smuggled certain goods by misdeclaring the same before customs authorities. On facts, it was proved that both the accused were equally culpable. It was also noted that the remaining sentence of the co-accused had already been waived off. The Court was of the opinion that the petitioner was entitled to the same benefits as that of the co-accused. Accordingly, his sentence was reduced to the period already undergone subject to the petitioner depositing an additional fine of Rs 25,000. [R.K. Anand v. Commr. of Customs,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12593, decided on 27-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single judge bench comprising of Birendra Kumar, J. allowed a criminal writ petition for anticipatory bail filed in relation to a police case under the SC/ST Act on the ground that there were infirmities in the prosecution allegations.

The appellant was allegedly involved, along with other ten to fifteen persons, in assaulting a person belonging to SC/ST community. He filed the instant appeal under Section 14(A)(2) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 against trial judge’s refusal of prayer for his anticipatory bail.

The High Court noted that the doctor had found two simple injuries on non-vital parts of the informant’s body, and the medical report was inconsistent with the prosecution allegation of commission of assault by 10-15 persons. Further, in a criminal case filed against one of the co-accused a bench of this court had ordered no coercive step to be taken against the co-accused. The said order was still continuing.

Considering the aforesaid infirmity in the prosecution allegation and having regard to the order continuing in favour of a co-accused, the appellant was granted anticipatory bail on the condition of full cooperation with investigation/trial of the case, failing which the court would be at liberty to cancel his bail bond.[Md. Shafique v. State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1995, decided on 02-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit, JJ. allowed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment passed by Punjab and Haryana High Court whereby it affirmed the appellant’s conviction for offences punishable under Section 21(c) read with Section 29  of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The appellant was convicted for the abovesaid offences in a criminal case registered on recovery of 3.99 kg of contraband substance-heroin from a white coloured Indica car on interception by Revenue Intelligence Officer at Hoshiarpur-Garhshankar road. The trial court convicted the appellant which  was confirmed by the High Court. It is pertinent to note that the appellant was specifically named by the co-accused Ram Kumar. Apart from such statement, nothing was brought on record to indicate the involvement of the appellant. Counsel for the appellant submitted that he was neither arrested at the site nor was the contraband material in any way associated with him. On such contention, the decision of the High Court was impugned in the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court proceeded on the footing that the statements of the co-accused were recorded under Section 67 of the Act, and on the premise that they amount to confession. It was observed that even on such a premise, certain additional features must be established before such a confessional statement could be relied upon against a co-accused. There is no specific provision in the Act making such a confession admissible against a co-accused. The Court relied on Hari Charan Kurmi v. State of Bihar, (1964) 6 SCR 623 to hold that a confessional statement of a co-accused cannot by itself be taken as a substantive piece of evidence against another co-accused and can at best be utilized in order to lend assurance to the Court. In the absence of any substantive evidence, it would be inappropriate to base the conviction of the appellant purely on the statements of a co-accused. In the present case, the conviction having been based solely on the confession of the co-accused, the Court was of the view that the appellant was entitled to be acquitted. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Surinder Kumar Khanna v. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence,2018 SCC OnLine SC 757, dated 31-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a writ petition filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, a Single Judge Bench comprising of K.N. Phaneendra, J. quashed the criminal proceedings pending against the petitioner, giving him the benefit of the acquittal of other accused persons.

The petitioner along with other accused was charged under Sections 143, 341, 506, 326, 307, 120B read with 149 IPC. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the allegations against the other accused persons who were acquitted and the petitioner were one and the same. They were inter-twined with each other and there were no distinct and separate allegations against the petitioner so as to try him separately. He prayed that the benefit of acquittal of other accused persons should be extended to the petitioner.

The High Court referred to a few Supreme Court decisions to discuss the question whether such benefit as prayed for by the petitioner could be extended to him. The Court also perused the record to find that the allegations against the petitioner and other accused persons who were acquitted were one and the same and were inseparable in nature. The Court was of the opinion that in such a case, the benefit of acquittal of other accused persons could be extended to the petitioner as well; no purpose would be served even if the petitioner was tried before the Trial Court and it would be a futile exercise. Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the proceedings pending against the petitioner were quashed. [Hassan v. State of Karnataka, WP No. 55102 of 2017 (GM-RES), order dated December 14, 2017]