Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: P.N. Deshmukh and Pushpa V. Ganediwala, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of the Sessions Judge whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC for murder of one Pancham (deceased).

As per the prosecution case, the deceased failed to pay the loan he had taken from the brother of the appellant which led to the appellant assaulting the deceased, which resulted in his death. R.M. Patwardhan, Advocate for the appellant contended that the evidence of the eye-witnesses was not at all convincing and were totally contrary to each-other on material aspects. He prayed that the appellant may be acquitted. Per contra, S.A. Ashirgade, Additional Public Prosecutor appearing for the State, submitted that there was direct evidence against the appellant which was duly corroborated. He, thus, prayed for dismissal of the appeal.

The High Court noted that there was an inordinate delay of as many as 4 days in recording the statement of eye-witnesses. The Court referred to State of H.P. V. Gian Chand, (2001) 6 SCC 71 and Dilawar Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2007) 12 SCC 641, to note the effect of the delay in recording statements of witnesses under Section 161 CrPC. It was noted: “If the prosecution fails to satisfactorily explain the delay and there is a possibility of embellishment in the prosecution version on account of such delay, the delay would be fatal to the prosecution. However, if the delay is explained to the satisfaction of the Court, the delay cannot by itself be a ground for disbelieving and discarding the entire prosecution case.”

In the case on hand, the delay in recording the statements was nowhere explained. On facts of the case, it was held that testimonies of the witnesses was in a shadow of doubt and that the evidence failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted of the offences charged with.[Sachin v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 1080, decided on 21-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: A Division Bench of S. Talapatra and Arindam Lodh, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the decision of the Sessions Judge whereby the appellant was convicted and sentenced under Section 302 IPC for committing the murder of his wife.

The appellant was alleged to have poured kerosene on his wife and put her ablaze. He was accordingly convicted by Sessions Judge. Senior Advocate P.K. Biswas assisted P. Majumdar, Advocate representing the appellant challenged the dying declaration made by the deceased wife. It was argued that the dying declaration was not taken in accordance with the established principles of law and thus could not form the basis of recording conviction against the appellant. Per contra, A. Roy Barma, Additional Public Prosecutor appearing for the State submitted that the objections relate to some technical defects which should be ignored.

The High Court, on careful scrutiny of evidence, found that the signature or thumb impression of the victim could not be taken on the dying declaration as her hands were totally burnt. The Court put reliance on Inder Singh v. State (UT of Delhi), (1978) 4 SCC 161 and Pattu Rajan v. State of T.N. (2019) 4 SCC 771. It was stated: “There is no thumb rule that dying declaration must be certified by doctors. It can be said to be only a rule of prudence. In our considered view, if the person who records the dying declaration is convinced with the fitness of the victim at the time of recording the declaration in question, then, there is no reason to doubt the reliability or credibility of the dying declaration.”

The Court further observed: “Another important aspect to be borne in mind is that in our country, the Executive Magistrates or the Doctors are not adequately trained in such affairs. Keeping in mind the principle enunciated in Pattu Rajan case we are also of the considered view that the traditional dogmatic hyper-technical approach should be replaced by the realistic and traditional approach  for administering justice in a criminal trial.” In such conspectus, it was held that there was no reason to interfere with the impugned judgment and the appeal was, therefore, dismissed.[Khokan Sarkar v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 197, decided on 25-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: The Division Bench of Shree Chandrashekar and Deepak Roshan, JJ. dismissed a petition on the ground that prosecution has miserably failed to establish its case against the appellant.

The present prosecution case was based on the circumstantial evidence where there was no eye-witness to the actual occurrence in which the deceased (Birsu Oraon) was killed. And the Additional Judicial Commissioner held that the circumstances brought on record “make him believe” that the accused-appellant has caused the death of Birsu Oraon. The facts of the case being Birsu Oraon had gone to observe paddy crop, who was found dead by his brother, who later informed the villagers who rushed to the jungle. The witness-Chandari Kumari has deposed in the court that the accused-appellant and the deceased-Birsu Oraon had gone to Tand. Wife of the deceased has also spoken on similar lines.

Amrita Banerjee, the Amicus had raised two-fold contentions that (i) the circumstances referred by the learned Additional Judicial Commissioner, do not complete the chain of circumstances so as to convict the appellant under Section 302 of the Penal Code and (ii) suspicion howsoever strong cannot be a substitute for the legal evidence so as to convict an accused, more particularly, in a serious offence like murder. The case of Navaneethakrishnan v. State, (2018) 16 SCC 161 was referred to, to contend that the incriminating circumstances must be clearly established by the reliable and clinching evidence and the circumstances so proved must form a chain of events from which it can be safely inferred that it was the accused and accused alone who has committed the crime. On the other hand, Arun Kumar Pandey, the APP had contended that once the accused has failed to explain satisfactorily the incriminating circumstances put to him in his examination under Section 313 CrPC, that he was last seen together with the deceased-Birsu Oraon, and he has failed to lead any evidence to establish. And that the circumstances brought on record “make him believe” that the accused-appellant has caused the death of Birsu Oraon.

The Court held that “the only circumstance which has been proved by the prosecution is that the accused was last seen in the company of the deceased. This may be one of the circumstances, but not the only circumstance on the basis of which an accused can be convicted for the offence under Section 302 IPC. The law assumes that when a man is last seen in the company of the accused and soon thereafter his dead body has been recovered it may be the accused who has committed the crime, but then, if the accused has offered an explanation what has happened thereafter, he has discharged his onus. To hold that an accused must answer each and every incriminating circumstance during his examination under Section 313 CrPC, would be against the basic principle in law. We find that the prosecution has miserably failed to establish its case against the appellant”. The Court appreciated the efforts of Amrita Banerjee, the learned Amicus who had prepared notes on the prosecution evidence and ably assisted the Court arguing this criminal appeal on behalf of the appellant.[Chari Oraon v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 544, decided on 04-04-2019]

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 the 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, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 803, decided on 08-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This Jail Appeal was filed before the Division Bench of Sudhir Agarwal and Vivek Varma, JJ., under Section 383 CrPC which prescribed the procedure to be followed when an appellant is in jail.

The facts of the case were such that the appellant was alleged for commission of crime of murder under Section 302 of Penal Code, which the Trial Court found to be proven beyond reasonable doubt and had sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment with six months simple imprisonment for default in payment of fine on the basis of ocular evidence of material witnesses and medical evidence. Hence, this appeal before this Court.

Ravi Chandra Srivastava, learned Amicus Curiae on behalf of the appellant submitted that witnesses of prosecution were interested witness who were in close relationship with the deceased thus were not independent. Further, prosecution had failed to show motive behind the alleged crime in addition to the non-supported ocular version of events by witness. Whereas Rishi Chaddha, learned Additional Government Advocate for State submitted that FIR was corroborated by the medical evidence brought before Court. The instrument used to commit the crime was found with the accused and accused had a strong motive to kill the deceased.

High Court was of the view that the argument advanced by accused that the eye witness’s version of the events cannot be accepted as they were closely in relationship with the deceased i.e. wife, cannot be accepted in view of the evidence presented before the Court. If the evidence provided by eye-witness inspires confidence then the same cannot be discarded on the ground of their relationship with the deceased. Therefore, this appeal was dismissed. [Shishu Pal v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 2112, decided on 19-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: A Bench of S. Talapatra and Arindam Lodh, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the Judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for an offence of murder punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was alleged to have committed the murder of his wife. The trial court had observed that the appellant was found on the previous day of the incident as well as on a fateful evening in his rented house by the witnesses, and he alone committed his wife’s murder and none else. The plea of alibi taken as defence by the appellant was not accepted.

Explaining the law regarding the plea of alibi and burden of proof thereof, the High Court stated:

  “Latin word ‘alibi’ means ‘elsewhere’ and that word is used for convenience when an accused takes recourse to a defence line that when the occurrence took place he was so far away from the place of occurrence that it is extremely improbable that he would have participated in the crime. It is basic law that in a criminal case, in which the accused is alleged to have inflicted physical injury to another person, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that the accused was present at the scene and has participated in the crime. The burden would not be lessened by the mere fact that the accused has adopted the defence of alibi. The plea of the accused in such cases need be considered only when the burden has been discharged by the prosecution satisfactorily.”

Explaining further:

  “When the presence of the accused at the scene of occurrence is established satisfactorily by the prosecution through reliable evidence, normally the court would be slow to believe any counter-narrative to the effect that he was elsewhere when the occurrence happened. But if the evidence adduced by the accused is of such a quality and of such a standard that the court may entertain some reasonable doubt regarding his presence at the scene when the occurrence took place, the accused would, no doubt, be entitled to the benefit of reasonable doubt. For that purpose, it would be a sound proposition that in such circumstances, the burden on the accused is rather heavy. It follows, therefore, that strict proof is required for establishing the plea of alibi.”

In the present case, the prosecution had failed to prove appellant’s presence at the scene of the crime. Thus, there was no occasion to consider whether his plea of alibi could be considered or not. Accordingly, the impugned order was set aside and the appellant was set at liberty on the benefit of doubt. [Suman Nama v. State of Tripura, Crl. A. (J) No. 33 of 2015, decided on 03-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab And Haryana High Court: The Bench of Rajiv Sharma and Kuldip Singh, JJ., dismissed the application filed under Section 378(4) CrPC against the Judgment passed by the Additional Sessions Judge acquitting the accused-respondents of the charges framed against them under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act on the ground that it was a case of mere suspicion. 

The facts of the case were that the accused was suspected of the murder of his brother whose body was found lying near the railway track. However, the Additional Sessions Judge acquitted the accused. The Court said that in this case, the prosecution relied upon the confession made by both the accused in their disclosure statements. However, the confession made in the disclosure statement is not admissible in evidence. The prosecution also led evidence to prove the enmity between the accused and the deceased and for this purpose, they have examined the brother of the deceased and the father of the deceased. Their cross-examination showed that both of them had heard about the quarrel between the accused and the deceased on the Diwali day. However, the accused proved that he was away to Delhi on the Diwali day. Therefore, their statements regarding quarrel was discarded as hearsay. 

The Court held that this was a case of circumstantial evidence. The entire chain was not complete to point out that the accused were the only persons who could commit the crime. It was merely a suspicion. It is established law that suspicion, however strong, cannot take place of the positive proof and cannot be made the basis of conviction. The prosecution could not prove its case against the accused beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt. The Court thus did not find any illegality in the impugned Judgment. Accordingly, application under Section 378(4) CrPC. for grant of leave to appeal was dismissed. [Abdul Rahman v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 351, decided on 01-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sunil Gaur, J., dismissed a set of petitions filed by the husband and in-laws of the deceased impugning the order whereby they were put on trial for the offence inter alia under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.

As per the prosecution, the deceased had made a call to Police Control Room regarding she being beaten by her in-laws. When the police reached her house, she said that she would make a complaint to the Crime Against Women Cell on the next day. Next day, when the police again reached the spot, they found broken bangles and blood on the floor. The TV was switched on with full volume. The petitioners were absconding. the deceased was found hanging from the ceiling fan.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra assailed the impugned order and drew the Court’s attention to the alleged suicide note. It was pointed out that the deceased’s father had affirmed that the note was in the handwriting of the deceased. It was submitted that it was a case of suicide and there was no basis to frame a charge of murder.

The High Court was of the opinion, “No doubt, it is recorded in the post-mortem report that the cause of death, in this case, was asphyxia due to ante mortem hanging and the suicide note is in the handwriting of deceased, but this by itself cannot rule out the possibility of murder being committed by petitioners. It is so said because the suicide note is undated and the aspect of ante-mortem hanging cannot be considered in abstract…”

Noting that at the initial stage, only prima facie opinion is to be formed, the Court stated, “Whether death of deceased was homicidal or suicidal is an aspect which cannot be pre-judged at this initial stage. In any case, the presence of lividity over the back and other areas prima facie justifies framing of charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.”

In such view of the matter, the Court found no merit in the petitions and therefore the same were dismissed. [Sukhbir Kataria v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7603, Order dated 12-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of A.S. Oka and A.S. Gadkari, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment of trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

On the fateful day, one Yusuf (deceased) had a fight with his family. He came out of the house and abused his younger brother who was standing at the window of the house. Appellant who was also standing in his balcony, mistakenly thought that Yusuf was abusing him. He asked Yusuf whether he will come up or appellant should come down. Yusuf replied as to what appellant will do coming down. Thereafter, appellant with a knife rushed towards Yusuf climbing down 5 floors of the building and inflicted severe knife blows which resulted in Yusuf’s death. Appellant was tried and convicted by the trial court for Yusuf’s murder which was challenged by him in the present appeal.

Payoshi Roy counsel for the appellant alternatively prayed that his conviction be modified from Section 302 to Section 304. the appeal was vehemently opposed by J.P. Yagnik, Additional Public Prosecutor.

The High Court was not inclined to accept the appellant’s submission that his act would fall within the purview of Exception 4 of Section 300. Observing that, “it takes two to make a fight”, the Court went on to explain, ” To bring a case under Exception 4 of Section 300 of IPC, all the ingredients mentioned in it must be found. It is to be noted here that, the word “sudden fight” occurring in Exception 4 is not defined in the Code. To attract Exception 4, the sudden fight must take place in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel. The word “sudden” is a prefix to both the words “fight” and “quarrel”. Therefore, if after a sudden quarrel, there is a time for the passion to cool down, the resultant fight cannot be a sudden fight. Hence, in a case where there is a time to cool down after a sudden quarrel, Exception 4 will not apply.”

In the present case, it is the appellant who challenged the deceased and came down with a knife to assault him on vital parts. Appellant climbed down 5 floors, which according to Court was sufficient to pacify and cool down. Thus it was held that the appellant’s case was not covered by any of the exceptions of Section 300. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Dharmaraj v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 209, decided on 05-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and Anuja Prabhudesai, JJ. dismissed a third bail application filed by a convict in a case for the offences under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.

Allegations against the applicant were that on the day of the incident, the deceased (waiter in the hotel concerned), was serving the applicant and his friends during which some water spilled on the table. A quarrel took place after which the waiter proceeded towards Police Station to lodge a complaint. It was alleged that the applicant took a bamboo stick from his car and inflicted a blow on the waiter’s head which resulted in his death. The applicant faced a trial, at the conclusion of which he was convicted as mentioned above. The applicant filed a bail application pending the appeal, however, it was dismissed. Having failed on two earlier occasions, the present third bail application was filed seeking suspension of sentence and release on bail.

Referring to State of Maharashtra v. Buddhikota Subha Rao, 1989 Supp 2 SCC 605 the High Court observed that there is an embargo on filing repeated bail applications on same facts to ensure some degree of finality to the order passed and to maintain judicial discipline and proprietary. It was noted that the present application was not filed on the ground of a change in circumstances. It was observed, ” the mere fact that some of the grounds which were available were not raised in the previous application or that the said grounds are not reflected in the previous order would not justify entertaining subsequent bail application.” In such view of the matter, the application was dismissed. [Ashok Pundalik Gavade v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 155, dated 30-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of V.K. Tahilramani, Acting CJ (as he then was) and M.S. Sonak, J. declined bail to the applicant who was a convict for an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The applicant was convicted for murdering her husband. The murder occurred as the applicant was having an illicit affair with the co-accused. She was before the Court seeking bail. It is pertinent to note that earlier as well the applicant had preferred a bail application which was rejected.

Priyal G. Sarda, Advocate for the applicant submitted that there was no eyewitness to the incident and only evidence against her was of recovery. However, during recovery, the applicant was handcuffed and therefore such recovery can’t be taken into consideration. This was opposed by G.P. Mulekar, Additional Public Prosecutor for the State.

The High Court relied on Putlabai Bhimashankar Pattan v. State of Maharashtra, 2010 SCC OnLine Bom 685 wherein it was observed, “…handcuffing a person by itself cannot be a reason to generalize the hypothesis that such a discovery cannot be reliable”. In view thereof, the Court held that there was no substance in applicant’s submission. Furthermore, no fresh ground was brought before the Court to necessitate reconsideration of applicant’s prayer for bail. Therefore, the application was rejected. [Poonam Bhagwatiprasad Gandhi v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 7283, decided on 30-07-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and M.R. Shah, JJ. dismissed an appeal arising out of Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment, while altering the conviction and sentence awarded under Sections 304 Part II IPC to that of under Section 302 IPC.

The factual matrix of the case is as follows: Darshan Lal i.e. Complainant and his mother were witnesses to the scenario where the deceased i.e. Som Raj, complainant’s brother was seen to be followed by their neighbours fully armed with weapons and further dragging Som Raj by alleging him to have thrown stones into their house. Ramji (A5) who appeared to be in SPO uniform gave repeated kick blows to Som Raj and pressed his neck till he became unconscious.

Later, the complainant took the deceased to the hospital wherein PW 9 i.e. Inspector Ram Prakash recorded the complainant’s statement and registered an FIR. All the accused were challaned for the offence under Section 302/34 IPC.

The present appeal was filed on the trial judge forming an opinion that all the accused were guilty of offence under Section 304 read with Section 149 IPC. Aggrieved further, the parties approached the High Court, wherein the Court dismissed the appeals of the accused, allowed the State appeal and disposed of the criminal revision petition filed by the complainant by setting aside the trial court’s judgment on modifying the conviction from the offence under Section 304 Part II to offence under Section 302 IPC. Further, it was submitted that prosecution witnesses had contradictions in their statements and High Court without application of mind ignored the factum of the role played by the appellant and wrongly convicted him with other accused.

The Supreme Court on careful consideration of the facts of the case concluded its decision stating that circumstances concluding the guilt of the appellant are clearly established and High Court did not commit any error of law in convicting and sentencing the accused for an offence under Section 302 IPC. [Ramji v. State of Punjab, Criminal Appeal No. 1478-1479 of 2011, decided on 27-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of Rohinton F. Nariman and Navin Sinha, JJ. allowed criminal appeal filed against the judgment of Gauhati High Court whereby trial court’s decision convicting the appellant under Section 302 IPC was upheld.

The appellant was accused of murdering her husband. She was convicted by the trial court which was affirmed by the High Court holding that the present was a case of circumstantial evidence. The last seen theory established the presence of the appellant with the deceased at night. She was assailant of the deceased. Aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court, the instant appeal was filed.

The Supreme Court observed that mere invocation of the last seen theory, sans the facts and evidence in a case, will not suffice to shift the onus upon the accused under Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872 unless the prosecution first establishes a prima facie case. It was noticed that the courts below did not notice defence of the appellant under Section 313 CrPC. It was observed that Section 313 cannot be seen simply as part of audi alteram partem. It confers a valuable right upon an accused to establish his innocence and can well be considered beyond a statutory right as a constitutional right to a fair trial under Article 21 of the Constitution, even if it is not to be considered as a piece of substantive evidence, not being on oath under Section 313 (2). If the accused takes a defence after the prosecution evidence is closed, under Section 313 (1)(b) the Court is duty bound under Section 313(4) to consider the same. It was held that unfortunately in the instant case, complete non-consideration of the appellant’s defence caused prejudice to her. In facts and circumstances, the Court held that the guilt of the appellant was proved beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted. [Reena Hazarika v. State of Assam,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2281, decided on 31-10-2018]

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: A Bench comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of Bombay High Court whereby the appellant’s conviction under Section 302 IPC was upheld.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of his father. The occurrence was stated to have taken place in the night of  01-12-2003. The police report was lodged next morning by PW-­2 Ratanchand, another son of the deceased. The appellant was stated to be a wayward, addicted to alcohol, and nursed a grudge against his father with regard to his claim to a share in the lands of the deceased. There was no eye witness to the occurrence and the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. He was convicted by the trial court under Section 302 IPC which was upheld by the High Court. Aggrieved thereby, he had filed the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court perused the record and noted that the High Court has rightly held that motive stood established because of the grudge that the appellant nursed against his father with regard to agricultural lands. The evidence of the witnesses cumulatively established that the appellant had gone to the agricultural fields where the deceased had gone at night. The lands of PW-­8 were adjacent to that of the deceased. The evidence of the witness conclusively established the presence of the appellant in the agricultural fields.   No explanation was offered by the appellant with regard to the presence of blood on his clothes. It was not the case of the appellant that he had suffered injuries in any other manner leading to the presence of blood. The recovery was at his instance. The conduct of the appellant in absconding till he was arrested, and abstaining during the funeral rites of his father, was completely contrary to normal human conduct and was therefore considered an additional incriminating factor against the appellant. In the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court saw no reason to interfere with the conviction of the appellant. The appeal was dismissed. [Basavaraj v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1720, decided on 01-10-2012]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Sarang V. Kotwal, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of his son. On the fateful day of the incident, wife of the appellant came back home from selling fish and saw that her husband and her son were quarreling as the husband had given the food meant for her, to some other person. Later, the convict and his wife went to sleep on the mezzanine floor of the house while the son was sleeping on the ground floor. The wife woke up on hearing the cries of his son, she ran to the ground floor and saw that her husband was assaulting her son with an iron rod which resulted in death of the son. When the wife tried to stop the appellant, she too was hit by the rod. The appellant threatened her not to tell this to anybody or else she had to face consequences. Subsequently, an FIR was registered and the appellant was convicted by the trial court under Section 302. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court noted that the wife (PW 1) was the star witness in the case. No doubt, in her testimony, she did not fully support the prosecution case. However, the Court observed, that it is a well settled position of law that such part of the evidence of a hostile witness which is found to be trustworthy van always be taken into consideration. In the instant case, PW 1 had supported the prosecution case with regard to earlier incidents of quarrel, she and the appellant going to mezzanine floor. Her evidence of seeing the appellant with iron rod standing near the deceased had gone unchallenged, which was also corroborated by her sister and niece who came running to the house hearing the cries of PW 1. Furthermore, the burden under Section 106 of the Evidence Act shifted on the appellant to prove that how the injuries were sustained by the deceased. The explanation given by the appellant that the deceased fell from the mezzanine floor and thereby sustained injuries were found to be false in light of the evidence of medical expert. In such circumstances, the Court dismissed the appeal. [Babubhai Laxman Bhamaniya v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2634, dated 09-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Muralidhar and V. Kameswar Rao, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was charged for murdering his wife by stabbing her with a knife. In medical examination of the deceased, as many as 11 incised wounds were noticed all over the body. The knife recovered on disclosure of the appellant was produced before the medical expert who opined that commission of the crime was possible with such weapon. The trial court tried the appellant under Section 302. He was found guilty and sentenced accordingly. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the entire record of the case. The Court noted that the prosecution relied heavily on evidence of PW-2, daughter of the appellant and deceased. PW-2 in her statement had said that she along with her mother was separating junk near Jain Mandir when her father came with a knife and asked her mother about one Rafiq. Exchange of words ensued, after which the appellant was stated to stab the deceased and run away. On basis of the testimony of 12 years old daughter of the appellant and deceased, the Court was of the opinion that the order impugned does not require interference. There was no reason for the daughter to falsely implicate her father for commission of the crime. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Jameel v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10986, dated 04-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Vipin Sanghi and I.S. Mehta, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the judgment and order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was convicted for murder of his co-brother (sadoo). It was alleged that firstly, the deceased was last seen with the appellant. Secondly, the knife used in the commission of crime was recovered on disclosure made by the appellant. Thirdly, the appellant went missing after the death of the deceased and his mobile phone was also switched off. Fourthly, police claimed to recover clothes of the accused with involvement of an independent witness. Lastly, the motive behind the commission of murder was said to be that the appellant was suspicious of an illicit relationship between his wife and the deceased. The trial court convicted the appellant under Section 302, against which the appellant had filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and considered the submissions made by the parties. The Court was of the view that there were serious gaping holes in the prosecution story. The matter was dealt in a point-wise manner. Firstly, the last seen theory was unacceptable because the there was a time gap of over five hours between last seen and the death of the deceased. Moreover, undigested food was found in the intestines of the deceased in the post-mortem report; there was no record as to when, where and with whom the deceased had his last meal. Secondly, the blood on the knife which was recovered from the bushes did not match with the blood group of the deceased. Thirdly, the fact that the appellant went missing and switching off his mobile phone was the only fact that raised suspicion of his involvement in the crime. Fourthly, the independent witness involved in recovery of the clothes allegedly of the appellant did not support the recovery during his examination and turned hostile. Lastly, as to the motive for murder, the Court observed that in Indian culture, the relationship between a sister-in-law and brother-in-law is known to evoke playful and fun-filled conversations. Even the appellant would have been aware of the fact. Even if he did not appreciate such interactions between his wife and the deceased, there was no immediate provocation prior to the murder to trigger such an act. In light of the above, the Court held that the appellant deserved the benefit of doubt. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, the judgment impugned was set aside and the appellant was acquitted of the charges against him. [Dinesh Dass v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10970, dated 29-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel, JJ. dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was alleged to have murdered his wife. It was proved that the deceased was last seen with the appellant. The prosecution examined 45 witnesses before the trial court. Based on the testimonies of witnesses and findings of the court, the appellant was convicted for murder of his wife under Section 302 and sentenced accordingly. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

The High Court perused the record and took note of the findings as made by the trial court. The Court noted that mother of the appellant (PW 1) deposed that the appellant and the deceased slept together and also that she saw the appellant with the deceased on night of the incident. Further, the post-mortem report clearly showed that death of the deceased was a result of serious injuries which were caused by the sharp-edged weapon, maybe a farsa. In Court’s opinion, the prosecution proved that the death was homicidal. Moreover, the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) Report proved that the death was caused inside the jhuggi where the deceased was sleeping with the appellant. The Court observed that there was no alternative theory to suggest how the deceased may have suffered the injuries in the facts and circumstances of the case. For the reasons aforestated, the Court was unable to reach to a conclusion different from that of the trial court. Resultantly, the conviction of the appellant was upheld and the appeal was dismissed. [Rajesh v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10497, dated 13-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ajit Singh, CJ, and Achintya Malla Bujor Barua, J. held the accused-appellant guilty under Section 304 Part II IPC as he was unable to give any explanation for the injuries suffered by the deceased.

The appellant was accused of murdering his wife. The dead body of the wife was found in the house of the appellant; it was found that except for the appellant and his three years old daughter, there was nobody else in the house; and as such, the appellant was expected to explain under what circumstances his wife died inside the house with injuries on her head. The trial court convicted the appellant under Section 302. Aggrieved thus, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and referred to the Supreme Court decision in Ganeshlal v. State of Maharashtra, (1992) 3 SCC 106 wherein mere denial of the prosecution case coupled with absence of any explanation was held to be inconsistent with the innocence of the accused. The same principles was reiterated in Trimukh Maroti Kirkan v. State of Maharashtra, (2006) 10 SCC 681. In the instant case, the appellant, in one instance, stated that the wife died due to over-consumption of alcohol. At another, he stated that he slapped her which resulted in her death. Both the statements were found to be not true in light of the medical report that showed that the deceased suffered serious head injury. The Court held that the appellant did not offer any explanation for the injuries suffered by the deceased, and as such, the appellant was the perpetrator of the crime. However, it was found that appellant as well as deceased used to consume alcohol and quarreled with each other. The Court was of the view that the appellant dealt a blow on the head of the deceased in a fit of anger. It was held that though the appellant had no intention to kill the deceased, however, he had knowledge that such an assault might cause her death. Resultantly, the conviction of the accused was modified from that under Section 302 to Section 304 Part II. The appeal was, thus, partly allowed. [Rajesh Mahali v. State of Assam,2018 SCC OnLine Gau 904, dated 09-08-2018]