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 aggrieved by the judgment of High Court which convicted the three appellants for the count of murder punishable under Section 296 to be read with Section 32 of the Penal Code, sentencing them to death and the fourth appellant was convicted for a lesser offence punishable under Section 314 of the Penal Code. The appellants contended that prosecution had failed to prove the charge against the 1st Appellant beyond a reasonable doubt, there appears a conflict of evidence between the witnesses; evidence led at the trial negates common murderous intention on the part of 2nd and 3rd appellant and thus imputation of vicarious liability was legally and factually flawed.

The deceased was a police officer. His wife was a school teacher and the deceased and the wife were living in the teacher’s quarters inside the school premises. The witness stated that when she had gone for band practices she saw the 2nd and 3rd appellant had gone to the quarters that the deceased was living and had tapped on the door and then they were seen fighting and then the deceased went inside and the appellants moved towards the road. After a while the deceased had come out of the house, dressed in his police uniform and had gone towards the road, then the 2nd and 3rd Appellants and the 4th  Accused carrying poles had come towards the deceased and had assaulted him. Another witness had told that the 1st Appellant had stabbed the deceased.

The Court while dismissing the appeal held that the Trial Judge had considered all the evidence adduced at the trial, analyzed the same and rightly decided that the 1st Appellant stabbed the deceased that caused his death, there was no evidence of the 1st Appellant using his right of self-defence, at the trial and there was found no conflict between the evidence of the witnesses that would affect their credibility. Lastly, as per the established facts, the intention was clear that it was to kill the deceased when that injury was caused. There were 10 more injuries observed by the Medical Officer who conducted the autopsy on the body of the deceased, thus the High Court has rightly come to the correct conclusion that the prosecution has proved the charge of murder against the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Appellants beyond a reasonable doubt. [Maduwanage Francis Wimalaratne v. Attorney General, Court of Appeal Case No. HCC 226-227 of 2012, decided on 17-01-2020]

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., allowed an appeal.

The Accused-Appellant was indicted for committing the murder of his own father, this case was a jury trial. During the proceedings in the High Court, Dr Neil Fernando had testified that the Appellant was suffering from schizophrenia and therefore he was not in a normal state of mind at the time he was committing the offence. The counsel for the Appellant, Chathura Galhena, had submitted that actus reus was admitted at the trial but mens rea was challenged by the defence on insanity. While the High Court judge was summing up the jury, he did not direct the jury on the defence of insanity and thereby there was a fatal non-direction by the High Court Judge.

The Court while setting aside the conviction for murder stated that since it was an admitted fact that the act was committed by the accused but it was misdirection on the standards of proof directed to the jury, thus this Court directs the Registrar to send this case back to the High Court to act under Section 381 and 382 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act. [Suranjith Jagoda v. Hon. Attorney General, HCC-0133-09, decided on 17-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of P.N. Deshmukh and Pushpa V. Ganediwala, JJ., allowed a criminal appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for committing the offence of murder punishable under Section 302 IPC and for the offence of cruelty to women punishable under Section 498-A IPC. 

The appellant was convicted for the murder of his wife. It was alleged by the prosecution that the appellant used to ill-treat and harass the deceased after consuming liquor. The deceased died as a result of a hundred percent burn injuries. The conviction of the appellant was based on the dying declaration of the deceased recorded in the hospital. Aggrieved by his conviction, the appellant filed the instant appeal. 

The High Court considered the submissions made by R.M. Daga, Advocate appearing for the appellant, and S.P. Deshpande, Additional Public Prosecutor representing the State. 

Perusing the order of the trial court, the high court noted that the order convicting the appellant was based only on the dying declaration of the deceased. Considering the post mortem report, the Court found that the deceased died of hundred percent burn injuries.  In such circumstances, the Court was of the opinion that a bare perusal of the dying declaration would reveal the deceased’s thumb impression thereon with clear ridges, which creates a doubt in the case of the prosecution. 

Moreover, no medical officer was examined by the prosecution to bring on record the fact of the physical and mental state of the deceased before and after recording the statement, nor there is anything on record to establish that in spite of any attempts made by the prosecution, no presence of concerned medical officer could be obtained. Reliance was placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in State of H.P. v. Jai Lal, (1999) 7 SCC 280. wherein it was held that the report of an expert witness cannot be accepted as it is unless the expert witness has been examined and in the absence of examination of the medical expert, the certificate given by him cannot be read into evidence. It was also held that medical witness is an expert witness and his evidence stands on a different pedestal than an ordinary witness.    

In such view of the matter, the High Court allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the trial court conviction the appellant. [Pravin v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 95,  decided on 07-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of B.P. Dharmadhikari and Sandeep K. Shinde, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the trial Judge whereby the appellant-accused were convicted under Section 302 IPC for murdering the deceased.

The appellants, represented by Dr Yug Mohit Chaudhary, submitted that the deceased hurled abused for the sister of one of the appellants. Consequently, the appellants lost self-control and at the spur of the moment, they hit the deceased with danda and an iron rod, which resulted in his death. It was contended that in such circumstances, the conviction of the appellants may be modified to that under Section 304 Part II, with suitable modifications in punishment.

Attention of the Court was invited to the disclosure statement under Section 27 of the Evidence Act made by Accused 1, to show that he pointed out what transpired on the night of the incident. The appellants relied upon the Supreme Court decision in Murli v. State of Rajasthan, 1995 Supp (1) 39, to submit that such disclosure under Section 27 of the Evidence Act can be pressed into service by accused in defence.

Perusing the record, the High Court noted that the defence had made no attempt to bring on record, any such abuses as were claimed by them now. It was held that the defence of abuse in the name of appellant’s sister by the deceased was never raised and had not been established.

On the point of law, the Court observed: “Stray sentences appearing in disclosure memorandum Exhibit 17, therefore, cannot be allowed to be utilized to build such defence in present facts.”

Furthermore, the decision of the Supreme Court relied on by the appellants was distinguished as in that case there were some other evidence on record which corroborated the statement of the accused.

In such view of the matter, the High Court held that there the impugned order does not need to be interfered with. the appeal was, therefore, dismissed. [Atikul Habibul Rehman Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 5013, decided on 2-12-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Kurian Joseph and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ., while allowing an appeal directed for a premature release to the petitioner.

In the present case, the petitioner was a convict under Sections 302 and 394 IPC and had served sentence for 29 years. The age of the petitioner was over 60 years and in accordance of the Rules, a person who has crossed the age of 60 years and has served sentence for 16 years without remission is eligible to be considered for premature release.

Therefore, the Supreme Court in light of the facts and circumstances of the case, was of the view that further consideration by the State is not needed and the petitioner satisfies the eligibility criterion for the said release.

The Court directed for petitioner’s release unless he required to be detained for any other case. [Ram Sewak v. State of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2012, Order dated 11-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:  The Bench comprising of A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan JJ., addressed an appeal of a convict punished under Sections 302, 498-A and 506 IPC and modified the punishment granted to the convict by the High Court.

In the instant case, the appellant was punished for the offence of killing his wife and thereafter tried to kill himself. For the said convict the trial court awarded death sentence, which was further converted into life imprisonment for the reason that the circumstances were not to be put into the category of ‘rarest of the rare’ case. The High Court on awarding the same also stated that the minimum period of the sentence would be of 30 years without remission.

Therefore, a notice was issued that whether the High Court was justified in putting a cap of 30 years of life imprisonment or not?

While keeping the facts and circumstances of the case into consideration, the Supreme Court decided that the High Court should not have stated that the life sentence for a minimum period of 30 years must be served without remission.  The appeal was disposed of by deleting the portion of the impugned order by making it a case of life imprisonment simpliciter. [Nitin Balkishan Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 690, dated 09-07-2018]