Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: B.P. Dharmadhikari, J. allowed a criminal appeal and acquitted the appellant who was convicted and sentenced by the trial court for commission of an offence punishable under Section 12 (punishment for abetment of offences) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The appellant was charged with aiding the main accused, an Assistant Sub-Inspector, in accepting a bribe from the complainant and thereby committing an offence under Section 12. The main accused died during the pendency of the trial and therefore the case against him abated. The appellant, however, was convicted by the trial court.

A.H. Jamal, Advocate, representing the appellant contended that any offence under Section 7 or Section 13 itself having not been established, there was no question of offence of abetment under Section 12. Per contra, N.R. Patil, Assistant Government Pleader, appearing for the State supported the trial court’s Judgment.

Relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Sadashiv Mahadeo Yavaluje v. State of Maharashtra, (1990) 1 SCC 299 and CBI v. V.C. Shukla, (1988) 3 SCC 410, the High Court noted: “It was never the case of the prosecution that the appellant instigated complainant to pay bribe or then engaged himself and conspired to facilitate receipt of bribe. In fact, there is no charge of conspiracy at all. The only remaining part, therefore, is of aiding and, the provisions of Clause (iii) of Section 107 IPC (which defines abetment) show that aiding has to be with intention.” In Court’s view, the facts necessary to demonstrate that the appellant was dwelling under such intention were not brought on record. Prosecution only established the payment of Rs 1500 by the complainant to the appellant. However, its nature as a bribe could not be established. Therefore, it was held that the appellant’s conviction under Section 12 was unsustainable. the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted. [Abdul Mannan Mohd. Yusuf v. State of Maharashtra, Crl. Appeal No. 408 of 2005, decided on 16-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.C. Sharma, J. allowed a criminal appeal, filed against the order of conviction under Ss. 304, 323 and 149 of IPC, 1860 passed by Trial Court.

Prosecution narrated that, daughter of appellant got sick one day; he suspected that deceased and his wife had practiced ‘witchcraft’ on her. To take revenge of such alleged act of the deceased, the appellant along with others assaulted the deceased along with his family. Deceased lodged an FIR under relevant sections of IPC against the accused. After the alleged FIR was lodged, police performed the medical examination of the victim, recorded the statements of witnesses and also prepared a spot map. Prosecution submitted that, the victim during his treatment, ten days after assault died as he suffered grievous hurt which resulted in his death which is also stated in panchnama and postmortem report. Eventually accused was duly arrested.

All witnesses along with the Medical Officer testified against the appellant and had narrated the crime in brief. The medical examination report stated that injuries were caused by heavy, hard and blunt objects and, Cause of death of the injured was cardio respiratory failure as a result of multiple injuries over the body.

Learned counsel for the appellants, Siddharth Jain, contended that there was an anomaly in the statements of the witnesses on the point that which accused assaulted the deceased and other injured persons. He further contended that appellants were not guilty and were falsely implicated in the aforementioned case. He argued that the testimony of witnesses were not in conformity with each other as to which respondent inflicted injuries to the deceased.

The Court observed that the injuries could not have been caused on account of an accident and were not self-inflicted, and therefore, the death of the deceased was neither accidental nor suicidal, hence, it was homicidal in nature. Court stated that, appellant gave a blow of Tangiya (axe) on the non-vital part of the deceased, therefore, it would be apparent that he has assaulted the deceased, and therefore, it cannot be said that there was no intention on the part of the appellant to kill the deceased. Court held that the trial court has not committed any error in convicting the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 304 (II) IPC for causing culpable homicide. It was established based upon the evidence that he inflicted grievous injuries to the wife of deceased also, and therefore, his conviction under relevant sections does not warrant any interference by Court. The participation of the other co-accused persons has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt; hence, offence under Section 147 and 148 automatically goes.[Anokhilal v. State of M.P., Criminal Appeal No. 96 of 2005, decided on 14-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In view of the failure of justice on account of lack of effective cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. quashed the trial court’s order convicting and sentencing the accused (appellant) for offence punishable under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The appellant had challenged the order of the trial court whereby he was convicted and sentenced under POCSO Act. He contended that the manner in which the trial was conducted showed that the principles of natural justice were violated and he was declined a fair opportunity of being defended.

The High Court found that some prosecution witnesses were not cross-examined and for others, there was very sketchy cross-examination. It was noted that the manner in which cross-examination was conducted on part of the accused by the amicus curiae appointed by the trial court clearly showed that he made no serious efforts to defend the accused. It was observed: “If the Amicus Curiae does not or is not in a position to effectively provide assistance to an accused, the Trial Court is obliged to correct the situation. Even the trial court failed to take any remedial steps. The manner in which the cross-examination has been conducted has clearly led to failure of justice.” Holding it to be a clear case of failure of justice, the Court quashed the impugned order and remanded the matter to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge for re-trial from the stage of cross-examination of prosecution witnesses.

Before departing with the case, the High Court recorded appreciation for the assistance rendered by Adit S. Pujari, Advocate appearing on behalf of Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee and also by Meenakshi Dahiya, Additional Public Prosecutor for the State. [Dev Kumar Yadav v. State (NCT of Delhi), Crl. A. No. 780 of 2018, decided on 10-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Bench of B.P. Dharmadhikari and Prakash D. Naik, JJ. allowed a criminal appeal and set aside the decision of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC for murdering his wife.

The appellant was convicted on the basis of dying declaration recorded by his deceased wife. It was alleged that on the fateful day, the appellant and his wife had a quarrel after which he poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze. The wife untimely succumbed to burn injuries in hospital. Aggrieved by his conviction recorded by the trial court, the appellant filed the present appeal.

Neha Bhide, Advocate, representing the appellant contended that there were lacunae in the dying declaration, it was unreliable and a fake document. Per contra, V.V. Gangurde, APP, appearing for the State submitted that there was nothing to doubt the genuineness of the dying declaration.

The High Court noted that the infirmities in the dying declaration spoke volumes about its genuineness. It did not bear endorsement of the Doctor as to whether the wife was in a fit state to make a statement. There were interpolations at more than one places in the declaration. There was no description as to whether the thumb impression was of the right hand or left hand. The Court observed: “A dying declaration can be the basis of conviction, if the Court comes to the conclusion that it represents truthful version. To pass the test of reliability a close scrutiny is necessary as the accused has no opportunity to cross examine the maker of dying declaration. It must inspire full confidence of the Court regarding its correctness and voluntariness and court must ensure that the statement was not the result of tutoring, prompting or product of imagination.” 

Holding that the dying declaration in the present case failed to pass the test of reliability, the Court was of the opinion that appellant deserved to be given benefit of doubt. Consequently,the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted of charges as framed. [Ashwini Rammeher Sharma v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Appeal No. 788 of 2013, decided on 08-04-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

South Africa High Court, Kwazulu-Natal Division: This appeal was filed before a Division Bench of Gorven, J and Ntshulana, AJ preferred against the convictions and sentence for the offence of rape of two minor girls in contravention of Section 3 read with Sections 1, 56(1), 57, 58, 59, 60 and 61 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007.

The appellant was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment for both the rapes committed but for sentences, they were treated as one and his name was entered into the register for sexual offenders in terms of Section 50 of the Act. The Court noted that throughout the trial, the appellant had only challenged the evidence which was based on his plea of alibi and that incident was fabricated due to a family feud which was later rejected as false beyond a reasonable doubt. Appellant had contended that medical evidence failed to prove offence and thus he should be acquitted.

High Court relied on a case of S v. Hadebe, 1997 (2) SACR 641 (SCA) where it was held that if there was no material misdirection by the Trial Court, it was to be presumed to be correct. Thus, the Court concluded that evidence on record did not show any misdirection. Therefore, in the absence of substantial and compelling circumstances, the sentence was sustained and the appeal preferred against conviction and sentence was dismissed. [Sibonelo Bo Ngobese v. State, Case No. AR751 of 2017, decided on 29-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: A Bench of Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, C.J. and H.S. Thangkhiew, J. set aside the conviction and sentence inflicted upon the appellant for an offence of “kidnapping abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.”, punishable under Section 366 IPC.

As per the prosecution, on the day of the incident, the prosecutrix boarded the appellant’s auto rickshaw for her home. It was alleged that the appellant deliberately avoided to stop the autorickshaw at the destination (home of the prosecutrix). This prompted the prosecutrix to jump out of the autorickshaw, as a result whereof she was injured and became unconscious. The appellant was booked for an offence under Section 366  and was convicted by the trial court. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the present appeal.

The High Court noted that the star witness — the prosecutrix —  did not support the prosecution case of kidnapping. As per the Court, the case was registered on the basis of imaginationIt was further noted that the appellant did not know the home of the prosecutrix or the point where he had to stop and as stated by him, there was noise of trucks and maybe due to that, he was unable to hear the voice of prosecutrix. Referring to the ingredients under Section 366, it was observed: “There is not an iota of evidence to suggest that the prosecutrix was in any manner compelled to marry or likely to be compelled to intercourse so as to constitute offence punishable under Section 366 intention directly or indirectly shall be gatherable from the evidence.”

Furthermore, an important question is whether the accused knew where the house of the prosecutrix was situated nor it is stated in any manner that she had asked the driver to stop and he refused. It is nowhere emerging from the evidence that the auto rickshaw driver while driving the auto rickshaw … had deviated from the main road..”

Holding that the prosecutrix got apprehensive of her own and there was nothing on part of the appellant which could constitute offence under Section 366 IPC, the Court observed: “Learned trial court appears to have been swayed by the rise of cases of sexual harassment against women and minor children …Any offence against women and minor children is totally unacceptable but in the name of the same, an innocent person cannot be convicted or sentenced. Any person who dares or tries to commit such offence cannot be shown any leniency but at the same time without any basis, a person cannot be convicted and sentenced.”

In such view of the matter, the appeal was allowed and set at liberty. [Jerman Syngkli v. State of Meghalaya, Crl. A. No. 1 of 2019, Order dated 01-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sadhana S. Jadhav, J. dismissed an appeal filed against the Judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence of rape punishable under Section 376(2)(f) IPC.

This was a traumatic story of a minor victim aged 10 years who was sexually assaulted by her father. She was taken to the agricultural field by her father from the middle of the school and rape was committed on her. The father was convicted by the trial court. The present was an appeal against his conviction.

It may be noted that during her examinations, the little girl — the victim, turned hostile and stated: “It is true that I am feeling that my father should get free from the jail, as early as possible.” Her evidence concluded in denial: “It is not true that to help my father I am not disclosing true fact before the court.” She even denied that she was admitted in the civil hospital. Little did the innocent soul know that the same was being corroborated by medical case papers.

The High Court held that the appellant’s conviction as recorded by the trial court deserved to be upheld. His guilt was proven beyond doubt through prosecution evidence, the prime from which being the medical evidence. Other cases were discussed wherein it had been held that if a witness turns hostile, his statement given to the Magistrate under Section 164 CrPC at the earliest opportunity must get some credence if it is being materially corroborated at material points. It was noticed that not only the appellant (her father) but her mother too influenced the victim to turn hostile. Terming it as a scar on human relations, the Court said: “She could bear the physical pain but would be living with an injury to her soul. The biggest trauma would be that she was not even supported by her mother, and was expected to speak a lie before the Court.” Observing as aforesaid, the Court dismissed the appeal. [Baban Devji Rathod v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 704, dated 10-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Sanjay Karol, CJ allowed the compounding of offence in a case where the accused had been convicted for an offence punishable under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

The conviction recorded by the trial court was also affirmed by the Sessions Judge in appeal. Now, the convict along with the complainant prayed before the High Court for compounding of the said offence.

Keeping in view the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Damodar S. Prabhu v. Sayed Babalal H., (2010) 5 SCC 663 and Meters and Instruments (P) Ltd. v. Kanchan Mehta, (2018) 1 SCC 560, the High Court allowed the petition for compounding of the offence. Consequently, the convict was held to be not liable to undergo imprisonment in terms of the trial court’s decision. However, he was directed to deposit an amount equal to 15% of the cheque amount with the Tripura Legal Sevices Authority within a period of 4 weeks. [Rakhal Sen v. Ganesh Debnath, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 119, Order dated 02-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Bench of Achintya Malla Bujor Barua and Mir Alfaz Ali, JJ., modified a conviction for murder to that of conviction for culpable homicide not amounting to murder in light of the convict’s inebriated condition at the time of the commission of offence and his subsequent conduct.

The appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC for the murder of the deceased (his sister-in-law). He backed her with a dao from behind. It clearly came out from the record that at the time of the commission of offence, the appellant was in an intoxicated condition. Also, after the incident, he brought a vehicle and took the injured (now deceased) to hospital.

The High Court noted that after inflicting the injury, the appellant thought about providing treatment to the deceased. It was noted, “there are materials to show that the accused was in an inebriated condition and the incident took place at the spur of the moment and immediately after the incident took place, it was the accused, who himself went out to bring a vehicle and took the deceased to the hospital…” Relying on the Supreme Court decisions in Deepak v. State of U.P.,(2018) 8 SCC 228 and Kalu Ram v. State of Rajasthan, (2000) 10 SCC 324, the High Court found similarity in the present circumstances and converted the appellant’s conviction from that under Section 302 to one under Section 304 Part II IPC. Further, in view of the period of imprisonment already undergone by him, the appellant was directed to be released forthwith if not required in any other offence. [Nara Kanta Dutta v. State of Assam, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 1671, dated 02-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sarang V. Kotwal, J., held that conviction for the offences punishable under Section 279 (rash driving in a public way) and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) IPC is not maintainable where the driver (convict-applicant) was facing the real threat of imminent  death at the hands of robbers carrying razor.

On 11-03-1983, a robbery took place at about 9:35 am, after which the robbers sat in applicant’s taxi. Prosecution’s case was that the taxi was driven in a rash and negligent manner injuring four pedestrians. The prosecution raised doubts as to the applicant’s involvement in the conspiracy but was refused by the trial Judge. He was, however, convicted under Sections 279 and 337 IPC. The applicant, represented by Ganesh Gole along with Ritesh Ratnam and Ateer Shirodkar, challenged his conviction.

On perusing the record, the High Court found that the applicant had sufficiently proved his case on the touchstone of probability. In fact, he himself if had suffered a razor injury on his neck. He was under a real and reasonable apprehension of suffering grievous injury or even death at the hands of the robbers who had forcibly entered his taxi. Referring to Section 106 IPC which makes a provision for the right of private defence against deadly assault when there is a risk of harm to an innocent person, the Court held that the applicant could not be held guilty for causing minor injuries to the pedestrians. Therefore, the trial court’s order was reversed and he was acquitted. [Hamza Mohd. Ibrahim Ansari v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 547, decided on 29-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: A Bench of Vijay Kumar Bist, C.J., and Meenakshi Madan Rai, J., dismissed an application filed against the judgment of the Special Judge (POCSO) whereby the appellant was convicted for the offences punishable under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and the Penal Code for raping a minor girl.

It was alleged that the appellant raped the victim in a jungle near her school when she went there for collecting fruits. The victim was aged 13 years at the time of the incident. The appellant was tried, convicted and sentenced for raping the victim by the trial court. Aggrieved thereby, he preferred the present appeal.

Gulshan Lama, Advocate (Legal Aid Counsel) for the appellant relied on the statement of doctors to challenge the impugned judgment. Per contra, Thimlay Dorjee Bhutia, Additional Public Prosecutor supported the impugned judgment.

The High Court noted that the Forensic Laboratory Report stated that human semen was found on victim’s underwear. Considering the report with statements of the victim and her friend, the Court found the victim’s statement trustworthy.

Explaining the law, the Court observed, “Section 29 of the POCSO Act provides that where a person is prosecuted for committing or abetting or attempting to commit any offence under Sections 3,5,7 and 9 of the POCSO Act, the Special Court shall presume, that such person has committed or abetted or attempted to commit the offence, as the case may be, unless the contrary is proved. In this case, the appellant failed to prove that he has not committed the offence as alleged by the minor victim. Section 30 of the POCSO Act provides that the accused has to establish beyond reasonable doubt that had no culpable mental state.”

Stating that the appellant made no effort to rebut the presumption of culpable mental state, the Court dismissed the appeal. [Lakpa Dorjee Tamang v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 7, dated 21-2-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: The Bench of H.C. Mishra and Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, JJ. allowed the appeals while setting aside the judgment of conviction and order of sentence convicting and sentencing the appellants.

In the pertinent case, the dispute was over land and its illegal possession wherein the accused were held guilty of murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code and the Trial Court even sentenced the accused accordingly. The Court was approached because there were discrepancies in the FIR and the statements provided by the prosecution witnesses, where they first stated that the occurrence had taken place in the hut and they could not see which accused was armed with what weapon. Subsequently, in evidence, the place was changed to the land in question and improvements were made on the details as to which accused was armed with what weapon and the person who assaulted. Also, the Investigation Officer (IO) was not examined because of which the necessary implications could not be taken from the IO. Even the Doctor conducting the post-mortem examination was not examined in the case.

The Court in the interest of justice looked into the case diary with the help of the learned senior counsel, Mr V.P. Singh, where it became apparent that the non-examination of the IO has vitally prejudiced the defence in the case and even the place of occurrence has not been properly proved in the case. The Court further believed that, the benefit of doubt should be extended to the appellants in the absence of the evidence of the IO and the Doctor. Therefore, the Court set aside the conviction and sentence ordered by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge and discharged the appellants from their respective liabilities.[Manik Singh v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 244, Order dated 11-03-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Pakistan: The Division Bench of Dost Muhammad Khan and Qazi Faez Isa, JJ. allowed an appeal against order convicting a person for the offence of defiling Quran, for lack of any evidence in support of offence.

Appellant herein was alleged to have desecrated the Holy Quran and was charged for an offence under Section 295-B of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 (PPC). It was alleged that he had masturbated in the centre of a mosque and then smeared his semen on the Holy Quran. Allegedly this act was seen by one Muhammad Akhtar who was deaf and dumb. The trial Court convicted the appellant and Lahore High Court affirmed the said order. Aggrieved thereby, a jail petition was filed, which was converted into an appeal by this Court.

The Court noted that the FIR, in this case, was lodged with an inexplicable delay of five days. The interpreter of Muhammad Akhtar’s sign language who, himself was a witness had not been administered any oath, which was contrary to Section 543 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. There were disagreements between witnesses regarding the date of occurrence of the offence.

It was observed that the purported confession of the accused before panchayat was after he had been kept in the custody of complainants, and beaten by them. Further, eleven pages were removed from the Holy Quran and only those pages were sent for chemical examination. Though it was confirmed that there were semen stains on the pages, no effort was made for the DNA test and semen matches. It was, thus, opined that the prosecution failed to act independently and fairly in the present case.

The Court concluded that punishment for an offence under Section 295-B PPC is imprisonment for life, therefore, it was necessary that the prosecution and the trial Court had proceeded with caution. Unfortunately, in this case even the basic parameters of proof required in a criminal case were completely disregarded.

In view of the absence of any tangible evidence, innumerable contradictions, the abject failure of the prosecution to act independently, and violation of criminal procedural laws, the conviction and sentence of appellant was held unsustainable and accordingly set aside.[Muhammad Mansha v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine Pak SC 18, Order dated 15-01-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Rumi Kumari Phukan, J., allowed a criminal appeal and acquitted the appellants who were convicted under Section 304 Part-II IPC by the trial court.

The appellants were accused of killing one Abul Hussain. On the basis of FIR filed by Abul’s parents, a case was registered and they were charge-sheeted under Section 302 and 149 IPC. The trial court did not find any intention or motive on appellant’s part to commit murder. However, they were convicted for culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable under Section 304 Part-II IPC. Aggrieved thereby, the appellants filed the present appeal.

A.Y. Chaudhary, Advocate for the appellants contended that there was no chain of facts to establish the hypothesis of appellants’ guilt. Per contra, B.J. Dutta, Additional Public Prosecutor, appearing for the State supported the trial court’s judgment.

The High Court noted that the trial court basically relied on the fact that Abul accompanied Bapan (one of the accused) while other accused were along with him.  This according to the Court, may be one of the circumstances for the prosecution, but there was no chain of facts as regards the other incriminating circumstances. It was observed that, “from the totality of the evidence on record, it can be held that the evidence is totally insufficient to hold the present appellant to be guilty under any of the offence, while the deceased died due to drowning as per the report of the Medical Officer. Although there is genuine ground of suspicion on the part of the informant but there is a lack of legal evidence to sustain the conviction of the accused persons.” In such view of the matter, the Court held that the appellants deserved to be acquitted. Therefore, the appeal was allowed. [Akbar Hussain Laskar v. State of Assam, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 1027, decided on 05-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of A.S. Oka and A.S. Gadkari, JJ. modified the judgment of trial court and altered the appellant’s conviction under Section 302 (punishment for murder) to Section 326 IPC (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means).

The deceased, Farukh Shaikh had two wives. He doubted that the appellant and his cousin Saddam (co-accused who was a juvenile) had affairs with his wives. The appellant and Saddam were accused of having injuries to Farukh by giving him blows with a wooden log and stick. Thereafter, Farukh was admitted to Civil Hospital. Dr Appasaheb Ingale, the expert Surgeon informed Farukh’s relatives that his condition was serious who were not willing to continue with his treatment in Civil Hospital. They shifted Faruk to a Neurosurgical Centre against medical advice where he developed a cardiac arrest and expired. The appellant was tried and convicted for murder under Section 302. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant filed the present appeal.

Dr Yug Mohit Chaudhary, counsel for the appellant submitted that the nature of injuries got aggravated by shifting Farukh against medical advice and the real cause of death was not “head injury” but “cardiac arrest”. Per contra, J.P. Yagnik, Additional Public Prosecutor supported the judgment of the trial court.

The question before the High Court was —“what offence the appellant had actually committed?”

The High Court relied heavily on the statement of Dr Ingale who stated that Farukh died due to “cardiac arrest”. According to the Court, “there are so many reasons to develop a cardiac arrest”. The Court found it difficult to hold that Farukh died due to assault caused by the appellant and Saddam. The Court observed, “In view of the evidence of Dr Appasaheb V. Ingale, it is clear that it is due to the causation i.e. shifting of Farukh Shaikh from Civil Hospital, Sangli to another hospital of Dr Sanjeev M. Kukarni, the patient ultimately expired due to ‘cardiac arrest’. As noted earlier, there is no direct co-relation of the head injury with the said cardiac arrest in view of admission given by Dr Sanjeev M. Kukarni.” Thus, the Court held, that the appellant was liable for causing grievous hurt to Farukh and his act would fall within the ambit of Section 326 and he could not be held guilty under Section 302. The impugned judgment was accordingly modified. [Akram Khalil Ahmed Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 333, decided on 27-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: This criminal appeal was filed before the Bench of Ratnaker Bhengra, J., against the judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Fast Track Court.

The appellants were convicted under Sections 304-B/120-B and under Section 498-A of Penal Code and sentenced to undergo RI of 7 years and RI of 3 years with a fine of Rs. 2000. Both the sentences were to run concurrently. Accused were alleged with torturing one Dipak Devi for dowry who was murdered on non-fulfillment of their dowry demand. FIR was registered and charge sheet was filed. Appellant contended that the deceased committed suicide which was not accepted by the Trial Court. Trial was held and concluded with the aforementioned conviction and sentence. Hence, this appeal was filed. It was found through the post mortem report that the death occurred due to asphyxia as a result of strangulation. It also stated that the deceased body was hanging from the roof and her feet were touching the ground suggesting that she was first killed and then her suicide was staged by the appellant.

High Court found that there was a history of serious cruelty on the deceased and the fact that her feet were touching ground show that she was killed and her suicide was faked by the appellants. Therefore, the conviction and sentence of the accused was sustained. [Surendra Mishra v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 159, dated 22-02-2019]

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

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed a petition filed against the judgment of Metropolitan Magistrate acquitting the respondent for the offence punishable under Sections 468 and 471 IPC.

Petitioner and respondent were real brothers involved in a dispute over the subject property. Respondent had filed a suit for permanent injunction in capacity of his mother’s attorney. He filed a copy of Power of Attorney purportedly executed by his mother by which he was authorised to file the suit and also a Sale Agreement to show ownership of his mother. However, this suit was dismissed. Subsequently, respondent filed another suit, this time claiming the subject property was owned by his father.

The petitioner submitted that by taking contradictory stands in two suits, respondent demonstrated that he filed forged and fabricated documents before the Court. Per Contra, respondent contended that there was nothing on record to show that the documents were forged.

The High Court held that the trial court was right in acquitting respondent of the charges of forgery for purpose of cheating. It was stated, “taking two contradictory stands in two separate suits regarding ownership of the same property does raise a presumption that the averments in one of the suits are false but, mere presumption is not sufficient for convicting the respondent for an offence of forgery.” It was observed that mere non-production of original documents or not producing the mother in Court would not lead to proof beyond reasonable doubt of the alleged forgery. In such view of the matter, the petition was dismissed. [Harish Chander Verma v. Mohinder Kumar Verma, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6752, decided on 09-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of M.G. Giratkar, J. dismissed a revision petition against the judgment of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) whereby the petitioner was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 380 and 457 IPC.

The petitioner was charge-sheeted for committing theft of gold ornaments and cash at night. As per the prosecution, after lodging of complaint in the matter, the petitioner was immediately arrested and was found in possession of gold ornaments and cash of Rs 2500 complained to be stolen. The matter went to trial and the petitioner was convicted as mentioned above.

N.M. Gaidhane, Advocate for the petitioner submitted that there was no evidence against the petitioner to convict him. On the other hand, V.P. Gangane, Additional Public Prosecutor representing the State supported the judgment of the trial court.

The High Court noted that as per the independent witness, at the time of petitioner’s arrest gold articles and cash were seized from him and he was unable to explain the possession of those articles. The Court referred to Section 114 of the Evidence Act which provides that the court may presume the existence of certain facts. Illustration (a) of this section states that “a man who is in possession of stolen goods soon after the theft is either the thief or has received the goods knowing them to be stolen, unless he can account for his possession.” As in the present case, the petitioner was not able to rebut the presumption under Section 114 as he failed to account for the articles found in his possession immediately after the theft. Hence, his conviction was upheld while the sentence was modified for the period of imprisonment already undergone by him. [Imran Khan v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 46, dated 14-01-2019]