Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Vibha Kankanwadi, J., upheld the Special Court’s decision for conviction of a person accused of having committed unnatural intercourse with a 9 year old child.

Appellant had been accused for the offence punishable under Section 4 of the Protection of Child from Sexual Offences Act.

Accused had committed unnatural intercourse with the minor victim who was 9 years old.

After the above stated incident the victim and his father went to the police station and lodged a report.

Special Judge framed charged for the offence punishable under Section 377 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 4 of POCSO Act. After the trial, Special Judge held the accused guilty for offence punishable under Section 4 of POCSO Act.

Accused aggrieved with the above, filed the present appeal.

Bench while observing the matter, noted that the medical officer stated that there was no sign of recent tears, no abrasion, contusion or any injury to the private part, though the ultimate conclusion that he stated was “findings are consistent with entry of penis into anus”.

Special Judge did not consider the fact that victim’s father and the accused had some enmity, and on the said basis it could have been drawn that there was possibility of false implication of the accused. The child could have been tutored. 

Withe regard to the enmity aspect between the parties, Court’s opinion was that, even if for the sake of arguments it is accepted that there is such civil dispute; yet, the gravity does not appear to be so that with the help of a small child, the father would level such kind of allegations against the accused.

Further medical officer’s statement was also noted wherein following was stated, not found any recent tears, stains due to semen, blood, faecal matters around the anus or there was no injury or no mark of violence, yet, he has stated that when he had digitally examined the anus, he had found the tone of the sphincter to be hypotonic.

Thus, when the medical evidence supported the victim and there was nothing in the cross examination of the victim to discard his evidence or brand it as unbelievable or untrustworthy, then the facts stated were sufficient to come to the conclusion that the accused committed the offence.

Therefore, Special Court was justified in holding that the prosecution had proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and proceeded to convict him.

Present appeal was dismissed in the above-view. [Mahesh Sambhaji Chafle v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 705 , decided on 12-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Division Bench of Shree Chandrashekhar and Ratnaker Bhengra, JJ. acquitted the accused-appellant of the charge under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 on the ground that the prosecution has failed to prove by leading cogent and reliable evidence that the appellant has committed the crime.

The brief facts of the case are that the sole appellant, namely, Ratanu has been charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 and convicted and sentenced to R.I. for life. Initially, five accused persons were sent up for trial, however, other accused persons were acquitted on the ground that the informant has not named them as accused in her fardbeyan. The prosecution has examined six witnesses; the informant Anjela Dhanwaris PW-1, the uncle of the informant, Kushal Topno PW-3 and Nelem Topno PW-2, the wife of PW-3. The witness, namely, Uday Purty PW-4 was declared hostile. Dr Sukanta Sheet PW-5, conducted the post-mortem examination and found major injuries on Prabodh Dhanwar which were ante-mortem in nature caused by sharp and blunt objects. Aggrieved by the impugned judgment, the present appeal was filed. 

The counsel Kripa Shankar Nanda for the appellant has submitted that PW-1 is not reliable and trustworthy, there is no independent corroboration to the evidence of PW-1, the crime weapon and the blood-stained soil collected from the place of occurrence were not produced in the court, and other prosecution witnesses have turned hostile which causes serious doubt has clouded the prosecution’s case. It further relied on the judgment titled Bhimapa Chandappa Hosamani v. State of Karnataka, (2006) 11 SCC 323, the Supreme Court observed that before conviction of an accused is recorded on the basis of testimony of a single witness it must be found that testimony of such a witness is of such sterling quality that it leaves no doubt about the complicity and involvement of the accused in the crime. 

The prosecution has projected Anjela Dhanwar, daughter of the deceased, as an eye witness whose conduct during the incident makes her testimony suspicious.

The Court relying on the Supreme Court decision in Gopal Singh v. State of M.P., (2010) 6 SCC 407, held the testimony not trustworthy and reliable and, therefore conviction of the appellant under Section 302 of the Penal Code cannot be recorded. [Ratanu v. State of Jharkhand,  2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 2485, decided on 23-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Sandeep Sharma, J. compounded and quashed the impugned judgments and acquitted the petitioner of the charge framed under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881

The brief facts of the case are that the respondent-complainant instituted a complaint under Section 138 of the Act against the present petitioner-accused, alleging he lent sum of Rs 1,00,000 to the petitioner-accused to buy a car. The petitioner accused with a view to discharge his liability issued a cheque in favour of the complainant which was dishonored on its presentation on account of insufficient funds. Since petitioner-accused failed to make the payment within the stipulated period despite issuance of legal notice, respondent/complainant initiated proceedings under Section 138 of the Act. 

The trial Court held the petitioner-accused guilty under Section 138 of the Act and sentenced him accordingly. Being aggrieved, accused preferred an appeal in the court of learned Sessions Judge, Una, which also came to be upheld by the trial court. Hence the present petition seeking acquittal and setting aside of the judgments of conviction recorded by the courts.

The counsel Dheeraj K. Vashishat for the petitioner informed the Court that parties have resolved to settle their dispute amicably inter-se for a total sum of Rs 1,15,000 and Rs 15,000 stands already paid, remaining amount shall be paid on or before 18.2.2020. It was further submitted by learned counsel for the parties that entire sum of Rs 1,15,000 stands received by the respondent complainant in terms of compromise arrived inter-se between them. 

The counsel Leena Guleria for respondent states that since amount in terms of compromise arrived inter-se parties stands received by the complainant, the complainant shall have no objection in case prayer made on behalf of the petitioner for compounding the offence is accepted. Respondent-complainant (Rahul Kumar), who is present in Court stated on oath that he of his own volition and without there being any external pressure has entered into compromise stated to have no objection in case petitioner is acquitted of the charge under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. 

The Court while exercising power under Section 147 of the Act and relying on the Judgment titled Damodar S. Prabhu v. Sayed Babalal H., (2010) 5 SCC 663, wherein it has been categorically held that, while exercising power under Section 147 of the Act, Court can proceed to compound the offence even after recording of conviction.

Consequently, in view of the above, the present matter was compounded and impugned judgments quashed and set-aside and the petitioner-accused was acquitted of the charge framed against him under Section 138 of the Act.

In view of the above, the petition was disposed of. [Satish Kumar v. Rahul Kumar, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 338, decided by 03-03-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of K.K. Wickremasinghe and K. Priyantha Fernando, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed to set aside the judgment of the High Court.

The prosecutrix had testified that, the incidents had taken place about two years prior to testifying when she was in Grade 8 and the appellant had abused her for 5-6 times. The prosecutrix had narrated these incidents to her mother who took her to the police station and as per the prosecution evidence, the incident had taken place three months prior to making the police complaint. The JMO had testified that no injuries were found but the possibility of sexual abuse cannot be excluded as per the short history was given by the prosecutrix. The appellant had denied committing the offence and contended that he was being falsely implicated by his wife as he had caught her with her paramour. He further submitted that his wife lodged a complaint at the police station asking for the custody of the children and he had denied the same after which the wife had challenged him that she would send him to the prison and would take the custody of the children.

The counsel for the appellant AAL K. Kugaraja contended that the prosecution had failed to establish the date of offence to which the counsel for the respondent Sudarshana De Silva, submitted that the prosecutrix had clearly stated that the incident took place in the latter part of 2007. The accused-appellant had been indicted under three charges for committing Grave sexual abuse on his daughter, an offence punishable under Section 365B (2) (b) of the Penal Code, 1860 as amended. The Trial Court had convicted the accused-appellant and had sentenced him to 18 years of rigorous imprisonment along with fines aggrieved by which this appeal was filed.

The Court while dismissing the appeal explained that the Judgment of the High Court was well reasoned as when the victim is a small child and is abused by someone who is associated to him/her on a daily basis its nearly impossible to specify the exact same date of offence and also the evidence of the prosecution was corroborated by other witnesses as well and the High Court was satisfied with the trustworthiness of the evidence so there was no reason to disturb the findings of the trial court.[Kurundukara Hakuruge Ariyadasa v. Attorney General, C.A. Case No: HCC-0384 of 2017, decided on 05-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: V.M. Deshpande, J. allowed an appeal against the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 305 (abetment of suicide of child or insane person) of the Penal Code, 1860.

The appellant’s son had committed suicide by hanging himself. He left behind a suicide note wherein he had mentioned that his father, the appellant, was habitual to drinking. According to the prosecution, the deceased was under great stress due to the appellant’s behavior and, therefore, committed suicide. The appellant faced trial and was convicted as aforesaid. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the instant appeal.

The High Court referred to Section 107 (abetment of a thing) as well as Sections 305 and 306 and noted that the law on abetment to commit suicide is well crystallised by numerous decisions of the Supreme Court. It was also stated that the only difference between Sections 305 and 306 IPC is that Section 305 is a punishing section for abetting the suicide of an insane or a child, whereas Section 306 is a punishing section for the accused who abetted any other person to commit suicide. However, said the Court: “The parameters for deciding the fact under Section 305 and 306 IPC are identical.”

The Court noted various admitted facts on record and observed: “The admitted position also speaks that the mother of the deceased was a psychic patient having nothing to do with the drinking of the appellant. Therefore, he used to be always under depressing conditions. Different persons may react differently to the same situation. Therefore, merely because the deceased by writing a note mentioning about the drinking habit of his father and committed suicide, in my view, it cannot be treated as an abetment, especially when the prosecution evidence falls short to show that there used to be ill-treatment at the hands of the appellant under the influence of liquor to the deceased so as to drive the deceased to take the extreme step of his life.”

The Court was of the view that the trial court had swayed away with the fact that the deceased boy committed suicide for an admitted position that the appellant was a drunkard. However, according to the Court: “Merely drinking can never be an abetment for a person to commit suicide.”

Accordingly, on the representation of the entire prosecution case, the Court allowed the instant appeal and set aside the conviction of the appellant as recorded by the trial court. [Ramrao Kisan Rathod v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 29, decided on 04-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Anoop Chitkara, J., dismissed an appeal filed challenging the acquittal of the accused of the commission of offences of criminal defamation, insult, threat and causing simple injuries.

A criminal complaint had been filed by one brother-in-law against the other stating that both their houses were adjacent to each other and in between, there was government land which was being used as a compound and a common path by both the parties. The complainant alleged that the accused kept on trying to encroach upon this government land and the complainant prevented him of doing the same but finally, the accused was successful in encroaching upon the land upon which complainant filed an application before the Tehsildar and they scheduled a demarcation. Before the demarcation could take place the accused started building pillars on the government land adjacent to the wall of the house of the complainant to which he objected but instead of stopping the work the accused got furious and hurled abuses on him followed by catching hold of his neck and pushing him and he fell off the stairs suffering injuries. The complainant further alleged that the accused proclaimed that the complainant’s mother had brought her daughter-in-law (his wife), in dowry to which the complainant warned him of using defamatory words. The Court had framed charges against the accused under Sections 323, 500, 504 and 506(1) of the Penal Code. The Court after examining all the witnesses from both the parties dismissed the complaint thus the instant appeal.

The Court while dismissing the appeal based it partly on the cross-examination of the witnesses where it was admitted that the accused had demolished the pillars when the scuffle came up which showed that the quarrel had come to an end and it could not be ruled out that the accused had also filed numerous complaints against the complainant and he had brought this matter after a month when the matter was settled earlier itself. The complaint and the evidence brought on record proved that the case suffered from major contradictions and the accused could be given the benefit of doubt and the court found that the judgment of the trial Court was well reasoned and was based on complete, correct and proper appreciation of evidence. [Kanshi Ram Panchhi v. Amar Chand, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 33, decided on 03-01-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Full Bench of Buwaneka Aluwihare, P. Padman Surasena and S. Thurairaja, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed by the Accused-Appellant, being aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The Accused-Appellant was an employee attached to the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation as a technical officer and he was found guilty on selling copper transmission cables that probably belonged to the said Corporation, to a scrap metal dealer. The said vendor gave evidence to the fact that he had dealt with the Appellant on several occasions with regard to similar cables. The Accused-Appellant had been indicted by the High Court on 3 counts which were Section 367 of the Penal Code to be read with Section 3 of the Offences against Public Property Act and Section 395 of the Penal Code. The High Court in their judgment found the Accused-Appellant guilty on the third count and sentenced him with 5 years of imprisonment and fine aggrieved by which he had approached the Court of Appeal but the appeal was dismissed thus the instant appeal where leave to appeal was granted questioning whether the punishment granted by High Court was excessive. The counsel for the Accused- Appellant, Nihara Randeniya, stated that the Appellant was a first offender, was married and had school-going children and the only bread earner in the family further he was not challenging the conviction but just the quantum of the sentence.

The Court while dismissing the appeal observed that the persons who work in the government institutions when found guilty on criminal offences, plead ‘first offender’ as a mitigating factor where it is obvious that a person in government service cannot be a convicted criminal, therefore, plea of ‘first offender’ cannot be acceptable and Acts causing loss to state property especially at their institution cannot be pardoned or condoned. The Court also stated that where the current offence carries a maximum punishment of 20 years, the imposition of 5 years by the trial judge was reasonable. [Ranathunga Arachchilage Ranjith Chandrathilake v. Attorney General, SC Appeal 134 of 2019, decided on 18-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Division Bench of Mir Alfaz Ali and Nani Tagia, JJ., allowed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence of murder punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was alleged to have murdered his son after a quarrel took place between the two. Apparently, there was no direct evidence against the appellant and his conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. The trial court held that the deceased was found dead in the house of the appellant and the appellant did not offer any explanation as to how the death of the deceased was caused. Thus, basically relying on the said circumstance, the conviction of the appellant was recorded putting a reverse burden on the appellant under Section 106 (burden of proving fact especially within knowledge) of the Evidence Act. Aggrieved by the order of the trial court, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

While perusing the record, the High Court noted that evidently, the body of the deceased was found in the rented house of the tenant of the appellant. Also, when the dead body was recovered and people came to the place of occurrence, the appellant was found in his own house in an inebriated condition. When the police came, then only, he came out on being called by the police. The trial court observed that the appellant was found inside the house where the occurrence took place, but, there was no evidence on record to support such observation, and as such, this finding of the trial court appear to be perverse.

Regarding the law on Section 106, the High Court observed:

“In a criminal trial burden is always on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and Section 106 of the Evidence Act is not intended to relieve the prosecution of its burden. Only when prosecution proves certain fact from which reasonable inference can be drawn regarding certain other facts, which unless explained by the accused by virtue of his special knowledge, tend to inculpate the accused, in such circumstance the accused owe an explanation, otherwise section 106 of the Evidence Act does not put any burden on the accused to prove his innocence.”

Referring to the facts of the instant case, the Court held:

“In the present case evidently prosecution has not been able to prove any fact, from which an adverse inference could be drawn to attribute culpability to the appellant, in absence of any explanation. As already indicated above, the findings of the learned trial court, that the deceased was found with the appellant in his house was perverse. Once, these findings are discarded, there are no other materials on record to attribute any special knowledge to the appellant in respect of the death of the deceased.”

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant was set aside. [Tunu Urang v. State of Assam, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 5528, decided on 19-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Sandeep Mehta, J. suspended the punishment awarded by the Additional Sessions Judge in the Sessions Case No. 46 of 2017, Udaipur. The co-accused of the same case already got relief from this Court. 

The appellant, in this case, is convicted and sentenced for offences under Sections 307, 323/34 and 324/34 of the Penal Code. The applicant in the appeal has already served nearly four and a half years of punishment out of seven years of rigorous punishment awarded by the trial court. Whereas the Court already suspended the sentence awarded to the co-accused. Before giving any relief to the appellant, the Court looked into the previous convictions of the appellant. It was collected that the appellant did not have any other grievous criminal history, except for the present one. Hence, the Court decided that the applicant will be granted bail during the pendency of the appeal, following the principle of parity.

Section 389 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides for the provision of bail in certain cases and this Court suspended the sentence of the trial court till the final disposal of this appeal. 

The Court asked the appellant to produce a personal bond of a sum of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of Rs 25,000 each. In addition, the Court ordered for his appearance in this court on 06-01-2020. The Court also ordered that the appellant will have to appear before the trial court in the month of January, of every year, until the appeal is decided. The appellant is also supposed to inform the trial court if he changes his place of residence or the sureties residence. The Court ordered the trial court to maintain attendance of the accused- applicant in a separate file. Further, this Court ordered the trial court to inform if the applicant does not produce himself. If so, then the High Court will cancel the bail of the applicant. [Mustaffa Sheik v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 4477, decided on 04-12-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of K.K. Wickremasinghe and K. Priyantha Fernando, JJ., allowed an appeal setting aside the conviction and acquitting the Accused-Appellant from the charge of murder.

The Appellant and the victim (deceased) were husband and wife. Appellant was a serving Brigadier in the Sri Lankan Army, they were sleeping in their room and the victim’s brother (PW 2) was sleeping in another room with the appellant’s son (PW 1). After hearing some unusual noise the PW2 ran to check what had happened on the other hand PW 1 followed the appellant to his room and saw saliva coming out of the mouth of the deceased and blood on her head, she was taken to the hospital where she succumbed to injuries in about 2 hours.

There was no dispute that the shot was fired from the personal weapon of the

Appellant and that the deceased died of that gunshot injury.

The counsels for the appellant Shavindra Fernando PC and Ananda Weerasinghe contended that the deceased had committed suicide by shooting herself and the appellant had tried to grab the weapon while he saw the deceased standing with the gun on her head but he was unsuccessful. After trial, the High Court Judge found the Appellant guilty of the charge and sentenced him to death aggrieved by which the instant appeal was filed. The counsels for the appellant contended that the trial judge had erred in his decision by not considering various important factors like the bullet was fired from a distance of 30 cm away from the head of the deceased and the judgment was based on hearsay evidence and he was denied fair trial. The arguments of both the parties were analyzed again and opinion of expert witnesses was referred to which was unable to prove a case against the appellant and hold him liable for the offence beyond reasonable doubt.

The Court while allowing the appeal set aside the conviction of the appellant and acquitted him on the count of murder explaining that the prosecution had failed to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt against the Appellant. [Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka v. Don Chandana Priyantha Rupasinghe, 2019 SCC OnLine SL CA 11, decided on 26-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J., upheld the decision passed by the Sessions Judge while rejecting the present appeal filed.

In the present case, FIR was lodged by PW 1 complaining that her sister, i.e. the victim (PW 12) was burnt and bitten by the appellant. In lieu of the same case was registered under Section 307 of the Penal Code, 1860 against the appellant.

The  Sessions Judge framed the charge under Section 307 IPC and on the plea of “not guilty” the trial commenced.

At the time of the trial, Sessions Judge examined the appellant under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Sessions Judge delivered the impugned judgment holding the appellant guilty as charged.

Present appeal challenges the conviction and sentence.

C. Sharma, was the Counsel for the appellant and Thupden Youngda, learned Additional Public Prosecutor, represented the State-respondent.

Victim stated that appellant, who she was in a relationship with, had a fight with her and started damaging the furniture after which she called the police. Appellant picked up the kerosene jar, poured kerosene oil over her and burnt her after lighting a matchbox. Eyewitness tried to douse the fire by putting water and thereafter took the victim to the hospital.

Defence alleged that she had pressurised the appellant to marry him and so they had a discussion and in a fit of anger, poured kerosene upon herself, lighted a matchbox and set herself on fire.

Dr Simmi Rasaily (PW 13) who examined the victim found burn injuries and recorded in her report that there was kerosene smell on her body, which corroborates victim’s deposition.

Deposition of the victim was adequately corroborated by both oral and material evidence. Failure of PW 1 to give certain details about her visit to see the victim at the hospital does not dislodge the fact that she had lodged the FIR after visiting the victim. Further, the only issue raised by the Appellant’s Counsel that required examination is an alleged failure of the prosecution to produce the eyewitness.

“In a criminal trial, an accused person is considered innocent until proven guilty. It is for the prosecution to establish its case beyond all reasonable doubt.”

It was further noted that P. Dewan (DW 1) had recorded the statement of the eyewitness during the appellant’s departmental inquiry which must be given credence.

However, whether what P. Dewan heard and the eyewitness stated in her statement was the truth could have been found only if she had been produced as a witness and subjected to cross-examination. Evidence of P. Dewan is, therefore, hearsay to that extent. Therefore, there is no credible evidence led by the defence to create enough doubt in the mind of the Court to defeat the prosecution case.

High Court with respect to the above stated that the defence evidence does not make probable his innocence in view of the overwhelming evidence led by the prosecution.

Further adding to its observation, Court stated that the victim’s deposition cannot be doubted, her testimony has its own significance.

Therefore, in the present case prosecution has established its case that it was only the appellant who had poured kerosene over the victim and burnt her with the knowledge that if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of murder and consequently, by such an act, the victim was hurt.

Appeal is rejected in the above terms and Sessions Judge’s judgment of conviction and order on sentence, both have been upheld. [Deepen Pradhan v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 195, decided on 30-11-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Full Bench of Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, CJ and Priyantha Jayawardena, PC, and Murdu N.B. Fernando, PC, JJ., allowed appeals filed by two appellants out of eight accused.

The two Accused-Appellant-Petitioners (hereinafter called Appellants) were charged along with six others in the Magistrate’s Court of Jaffna. They were charged for “Joining an Unlawful Assembly armed with any deadly weapon”, an offence punishable under Section 141 of the Penal Code; “Voluntarily Causing Grievous Hurt by dangerous weapons or means” while being members of an unlawful assembly, an offence punishable under Section 317 read with Section 146 of the Penal Code; and “Voluntarily Causing Grievous Hurt by dangerous weapons or means” punishable under Section 317 read with Section 32 of the Penal Code.

The Magistrate convicted all eight accused for the first two counts, after trial. The two appellants being aggrieved with the conviction and the sentence appealed to the High Court of Jaffna.

The High Court Judge affirmed the conviction and sentence. Thus the instant appeal was filed.

The Counsels for the appellants M.A. Sumanthiran, PC, J. Arulanantham and D. Mascarange contended that he would mainly address the issue of dock identification as there was no proper dock identification relating to two appellants and there was no sufficient evidence to establish the identity of the two appellants. There was no dispute that neither the victim nor any other witness, in this case, knew the two appellants.

The Court while allowing the appeal opinioned that the evidence was unsatisfactory and the conviction and sentence of the two appellants was set aside accordingly acquitted. [Rathnasingham Janushan v. Officer In-charge, SC (Spl) Appeal No. 07 of 2018, decided on 04-10-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Malaysia Court of Appeal: A Full Bench of Kamardin Hashim, Hanipah Farikullah, Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, JCA dismissed the appeal filed by a person who was convicted for drug trafficking and affirmed the conviction and sentence of the death penalty by High Court.

The appellant was a Thai national female who was found in the possession of drugs and she was trying to hide it by sitting on it. When cops did the body check of appellant then drugs were found. She was charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1952. The learned trial judge invoked the statutory presumption under Section 37(da)(ix) of the Act based on the weight of the drugs which was more than 40 grams of Cocaine, and sentenced her to death penalty. The said order was challenged in this appeal.

The appellant argued that drugs could have been left by the previous guest and also there are chances that police may fabricate evidence against her but there was no reason for police to do that. She also emphasized that her luggage was scanned at the airport and nothing incriminating was found. But the argument was made that there is a possibility she got possession of drugs after she left airport. 

The respondent argued that they got information about drugs so they checked the room acting on that information they checked the room and drugs were found in that room. Drugs found were sent for check which confirmed the presence of cocaine in those things which further affirms the allegation on the appellant. Moreover, there will be no reason to defame a person who had just arrived in a country. 

The Court opined that High Court had analysed all the witness and was satisfied there was no break in chain of evidence to the drugs produced and identified by prosecution witness in court. The High Court Judge had relied on the conduct of appellant in concealing the drugs by sitting on them, which established that she had knowledge about it.

Giving due regard to appreciation of evidence by the High Court and circumstances of this case, the Court held the appellant guilty for trafficking charges without any reasonable doubt. The court also remarked that it is illogical for the person to leave such valuable drugs in the room. It was opined that there was no merit in the appeal and also the arguments made by the appellant. [Napalai Narapattarawong v. Public Prosecutor, 2019 SCC OnLine MYCA 3, decided on 24-09-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A full bench of Priyantha Jayawardena, PC, Murdu N.B. Fernando, PC, and S. Thurairaja, PC, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed against an order of the High Court of Colombo, through his Power of Attorney holder, Wanigasuriyaarachige Don Sharan Mary Dolita to the Supreme Court.

The Accused-Appellant was employed as a General Cashier (Chief Cashier) at the Hilton Hotel, Colombo. Passengers who were departing through the Bandaranaike International Airport were supposed to pay an Embarkation Tax. The Hilton hotel pre-purchased the Embarkation Tax Tickets and provided them to their customers. The routine accounts verification found that, the cashier had not accounted for the said money of Rs 600,000 and when they investigated, it was found that the cashier had not reimbursed Rs 600,000   which was used to purchase the Embarkation Tax Tickets. The Hotel held an independent enquiry and found the Accused-Appellant guilty. The matter was referred to the Colombo Fraud Investigations Bureau; a case was filed against the Accused-Appellant, at the Colombo-Fort Magistrate’s Court on two counts under Section 391 of the Penal Code and two alternate counts under Section 386 of the Penal Code. The magistrate found him guilty on the first and third counts and sentenced him to one year imprisonment, aggrieved by which the Accused-Appellant had filed an appeal in the High Court and the High Court had affirmed the order of the Magistrate. Dissatisfied by which the instant appeal was made and the Supreme Court had asked to frame the grounds of appeal.

The Court while dismissing the appeal explained that the misappropriation of the Accused-Appellant has been proved beyond reasonable doubt and they do not find any in consideration of the grounds of appeal, hence there are no merits in the grounds of appeal. [Warnakulasuriya Michael Angelo Fernando v. Officer-in-Charge, SC Appeal 85 of 2014, decided on 13-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. dismissed the petition filed against the order passed in Sessions Trial by which the opposite parties 2 to 4 had been acquitted under Sections 447, 307, 504/34 of the Penal Code, 1860 and convicted only under Sections 323 and 341 of Penal Code, 1860.

The petitioner had filed a case under Sections 447, 341, 323, 327 and 504/34 of the Penal Code in which cognizance was taken under all the Sections. After trial, the judgment resulted in the acquittal of the opposite parties under Sections 447, 307, 504/34 of the Penal Code and conviction under Sections 323 and 341 of the IPC. The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the accused had assaulted him and two others with lathi and iron rod which resulted in a blow to his head and acquittal under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code was not justified. They relied upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Hari Mohan Mandal v. State of Jharkhand, 2004(3) PLJR (SC) 7, for the proposition that to justify a conviction under Section 307, it is not essential that bodily injury capable of causing death should have been inflicted and it was sufficient if there was present an intent coupled with some overt act in execution thereof and further that merely because the injury inflicted on the victim were simple in nature it would not be correct to acquit under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code.

The APP submitted that the assault resulted in only simple injury and even on the head, there was only one lacerated would which clearly does not satisfy the requirement of conviction under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code as it did not disclose premeditated intention to kill, as there was no repetition of blow and even the weapons used could not be said to be weapons which may indicate intention to kill the person assaulted.

The Court found no merit in the present application. The order impugned had discussed the evidence and had rightly convicted the opposite parties 2 to 4 only under Sections 323 and 341 of IPC. In the present case, a single blow which had been found to be simple in nature, on the back of the head, can in no way be construed to be indicative of a premeditated mind to inflict such blow knowing that the same would result in the death of the person. [Md. Nazir v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 2010, decided on 19-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of A. Hariprasad and A.Anil Kumar, JJ., released the appellant as no intention to commit murder was established and he had already undergone more detention than imposed by the law.

The prosecution alleges that the deceased and the accused-appellant used to sleep in the veranda or close shop rooms and in bus waiting sheds. It is pertinent to note that both were in the habit of drinking. The appellant had enmity towards the deceased and physically assaulted him by kicking and hitting on vital body parts with an intention to commit murder. The deceased was taken to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Renjith B. Marar, counsel representing the appellant, argued that the name of the deceased was noted at the hospital. Due to a botched up investigation, the chance of someone else assaulting the deceased with a mistaken identity cannot be ruled out. There is no case that the accused had any weapon which could have been used for causing injuries mentioned in the post-mortem report. He further argued that even if the prosecution case is accepted, the offence under Section 300 of the Penal Code, 1860 is not made out. The counsel submitted that the opposite counsel failed to prove mens rea on the part of the appellant that caused the death of the deceased. 

Alex H. Thombra, counsel for the respondent, argued that on the evening previous to the incident due to a scuffle between the accused and the deceased; the accused was made to apologise to the victim and thus he developed hostility towards him. PW1 confirmed witnessing the accused assaulting the deceased.

The High Court upon perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case held that the appellant and the deceased were known to each other prior to the incident, the appellant was aware of the deceased’s weak physical conditions. Thus the Court held that the appellant had knowledge that by incessantly assaulting the deceased it will likely cause his death and there is the absence of intention to commit murder, thus the appellant has committed an offence under Section 299, Penal Code, 1860 and is liable under Section 304 of the Penal Code, 1860. The Court sentenced him to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment and on finding that he has been undergoing detention for about 10 years directed that authorities release him. [Jomon Kava v. State of Kerala, CRL.A.No. 1276 of 2016 decided on 31-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sabina and Goverdhan Bardhar, JJ., while dismissing the appeal upheld the judgment passed by the trial court.

In the instant case, respondent Nafisa in her dying declaration stated that her husband Amin who is the appellant, in this case, used to beat her out of matrimonial home under the influence of liquor. On 14-08-2011 Amin under the influence of liquor gave beatings to her and poured kerosene oil on her and set her on fire around 8-9 pm. The children were sleeping at that time so she raised an alarm she was taken to the hospital by her neighbours. Meanwhile, the appellant fled away from the spot. Respondent’s statement was recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Respondent died on 15-08-2011 at 3:30 am so the offence under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 was added. 

During the investigation, appellant said he was falsely framed in this case and said his wife had prepared meals and had served to children and he had no knowledge of how the fire was caught. Moreover, he said he tried to extinguish the fire and suffered injuries on his hands and face. When children were examined they didn’t support prosecution case and said their father tried to extinguish fire. Medical examination of the appellant said he suffered burn injuries on his hands and forearm. Even the parents of the deceased also admitted that she never complained about her husband to them. 

Therefore, the question before Court was that the statement recorded as dying declaration under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 recorded by the magistrate the entire case should rest upon it.

The Court relied on the case Muthu Kutty v. State of T.N., (2005) 9 SCC 113 where Supreme Court laid down that though the dying declaration is of great value and importance, the accused is left with no power of cross-examination. The Court has to be on guard “that the statement of deceased was not as a result of either tutoring, or prompting or a product of imagination”. In another case of Munnu Raja v. State of M.P., (1976) 3 SCC 104, the Supreme Court laid down that there is neither rule of law nor of prudence that dying declaration cannot be acted upon without corroboration.

The Court opined that the dying declaration in this case was obtained by all legal means as it was recorded by magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the doctor deemed her fit to give statement and it was also signed by doctor and moreover no reason was established of her to such a thing in her death bed. The appellant neither took her wife to the hospital and nor was present in the hospital during the time of treatment. Moreover, the medical examination of the appellant happened on 28-09-2011 and the incident took place on 14-08-2011. Delay of so many days further questions the credibility of the medical report. This establishes guilt in the mind of appellant. [Amin v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 3945, decided on 23-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Sanjay Kumar Singh, J. allowed the instant application in terms of compromise and quashed the chargesheet as well as the entire proceedings.

This instant application was filed for the quashing of the chargesheet. The applicant, Gomti Devi purchased a plot that it got in a dispute with Madhu Sharma, daughter-in-law of Opposite Party 2. An FIR was lodged against Madhu Sharma by Opposite Party 2 under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for wrongly and illegally executing a sale deed which is in dispute. Investigating Officer filed the chargesheet under Section 420 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Counsel for the applicants, Vinod Sinha, submitted that during the pendency of the trial both the parties entered in compromise and all things were settled outside the court. So an affidavit was filed for cancellation of sale deed dated 12-12-2011. Since the compromise was made the continuance of criminal proceedings pursuant to impugned charge-sheet against the applicants after compromise arrived at between the parties would be a futile exercise.

The issue before the Court was whether the Court can quash the proceedings of a non-compoundable offence under Section 482 CrPC.

This Court relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of State of M.P. v. Laxmi Narayan, (2019) 5 SCC 688  where it laid down the guidelines for exercising the inherent power of the court under Section 482 of Code of Criminal.

The Court after considering the facts and circumstances of this case observed that this is a fit case, where this Court can exercise its inherent power to secure the end of justice. Accordingly, the Court quashed the subject proceedings. [Gomti Devi v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 4269, decided on 30-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Manoj K. Tiwari, J. allowed a writ petition to quash criminal proceedings after parties compromise over a non-compoundable offence.

The petitioners were convicted for the charge of robbery under Section 392 of the Penal Code, 1860. The learned counsels for both the parties, Mr Mani Kumar for the petitioners and Mr Kishore Rai for respondent 3, submitted that the dispute was amicably settled and the parties want to bury the hatchet. A writ petition seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against the petitioners and a compounding application was duly filed in the court.

The Court commented extensively on the power conferred by Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 stating its primary need to be the prevention of abuse of the process of any court or to secure the ends of justice. It is equally well settled that the power is not to be resorted to if there is a specific provision in the Code for the redress of the grievance of an aggrieved party. It should be exercised very sparingly and it should not be exercised as against the express bar of law engrafted in any other provision of the Code.

As to when can a High Court quash criminal proceedings in view of a settlement between the parties, the offences being non-compoundable, the Court took the Supreme Court’s view in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab (2012) 10 SCC 303 which was that it can do so if in its opinion continuation of criminal proceedings will be an exercise in futility and justice in the case demands that the dispute between the parties is put to an end and peace is restored; securing the ends of justice being the ultimate guiding factor.

In view of the points of law discussed above, the Court acknowledged that the possibility of a conviction from a trial seemed rather bleak and remote considering the parties have entered into a compromise and thus, allowed the writ petition. [Gurmukh v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 1138, decided on 08-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Meenakshi Madan Rai and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, JJ., while allowing an appeal, found error in trial court’s decision of convicting the appellant under Section 375 of Penal Code, 1860, as none of the ingredients required for an offence to be established under Section 375 was satisfied.

Background of the case

In the present case, the mother of the victim filed an FIR against the appellant. Charge-Sheet against the appellant was under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Trial Court had framed charges against the appellant under Sections 5(l) and 5(k) punishable under Section 6 of POCSO Act, 2012 and Sections 376(2)(n), 376(2)(i) and 376(2)(l) of the Penal Code, 1860.

Trial Court on considering the examination of the witnesses, convicted the appellant of offences under Section 376(2)(l) and 376(2)(n) punishable under Section 376(2) of the Penal Code, 1860 but acquitted him of the offences under Sections 5(l) and 5(k) of the POCSO Act, 2012 and 376(2)(i) of IPC.

Thus, on being dissatisfied with the finding the appellant approached the High Court.

Submissions of the appellant

Appellant assailed the impugned judgment on the grounds that although the victim alleged that he had sexually assaulted her on several occasions she did not complain of it either to her parents or anyone else.

The victim complained that the appellant used to frequently come to her home and sexually assault her when she was alone and she had narrated the incident to PW5 who however failed to endorse this evidence of PW9. Contrarily PW1 deposed that appellant told him that the victim had lured him to have sexual intercourse with her.

Even the minority of the victim stood unestablished and the trial court in the absence of any evidence opined that the victim was not a minor. Hence, the appellant be acquitted of the charges.

Submissions by Additional Public Prosecutor

He argued that although the prosecution had furnished the birth certificate of the victim before the trial court in the absence of supporting documents it was not considered. The said document was never contested by the appellant which therefore was an acceptance of the fact that the victim was a minor.

Relying only on the statement of the victim, it was contended that she has specifically stated that the Appellant had requested her to have sex with him holding out the promise that her deformities would be cured if she consented and acted on the consent.

Mother of the victim corroborated the evidence of PW9 as she had stated that on a relevant day, the victim came running to her and told that the appellant had entered the and forcibly laid her on the bed, taken off her lower garment and rubbed his penis on the vagina.

Hence it was stated that no error emanates in trial court’s ruling.

Decision of the High Court

High Court noted that the birth certificate was not contested by the appellant; the trial court chose to ignore it in the absence of supporting documents. Thus, it follows that the age of the victim has not been established.

Court also took note of the evidence of PW6 from which it was clear that the witness has not explained as to whether the laxity of the hymen was a result of the occurrence of the alleged incidents or whether the hymen was lax prior to the incidents or for that matter whether medical science can at all point to the age of the laxity enabling the Court to draw a correct conclusion.

In absence of any categorical and cogent statement of PW6 in this context and in the absence of fresh injuries on the genital or person of the victim, medical report is of no assistance to the prosecution case and neither can the offence of the appellant be foisted.

What does Section 375 of Penal Code, 1860 say?

Appellant was convicted under Section 376(2)(n) and Section 376(2)(I) IPC.

Offence of rape is described in Section 375 of the Penal Code which, inter alia, requires penetration of the perpetrator’s penis to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of the victim or he makes her do so with him or any other person or that he inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person.

Rape would also occur if the accused manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person or the accused applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person.

These acts must necessarily be against the will of the victim, sans her consent and if her consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt or any of the seven descriptions enumerated in Section 375 IPC.

Observation of the Court

Victim had claimed that there was sexual assault and therefore Court cannot arrive at a hasty conclusion. It was imperative for the prosecution to have extracted from the victim during her deposition the actual act that was committed on her considering that the prosecution is under the mandate of proving its case beyond all reasonable doubt which means that it cannot leave its case to ambiguities thereby leading to erroneous conclusions.

All of the above-stated explains that the appellant does not satisfy the ingredients of Section 375 IPC.

Thus, the Court was of the considered opinion that trial court erred in arriving at the finding and in High Court’s opinion the offence is one under Section 354A (1)(i) IPC.

The appeal is allowed to the extent above. [Tshering Tempa Sherpa v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 188, decided on 12-11-2019]