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Appellants given benefit of doubt due to several discrepancies with regard to the evidence, conviction and sentence set aside: The High Court of Chhattisgarh

The finding of the Trial Court is not in accordance with the evidence available on record. All the Appellants are entitled to get benefit of doubt. The aforesaid was established by the High Court of Chhattisgarh while adjudicating the case of Kapil Das Mahant & Ors. v. State of Chhattisgarh [Criminal Appeal No.1292 of 2016] which was decided upon by a single judge bench comprising Justice Arvind Singh Chandel on 18th October 2021.

The brief facts of the case are as follows. The FIR was lodged by Complainant against 3 unknown persons only, but in their Court statements, both Complainants deposed that at the time of incident when they reached near the jungle nahar, there all the Appellants (total 4 persons) prevented them and looted one mobile phone of Nokia brand from Mahendra Agrawal and 2 numbers of gold tops from Pooja Agrawal (PW2). Both these witnesses admitted the fact during their cross-examination that 2 accused persons had covered their faces with cloth and, therefore, they were unidentifiable. Tahsildar Shabab Khan (PW4) had arranged Test Identification Parade of the accused persons in District Jail, Janjgir This witness admitted the fact that the Test Identification Parade Reports not contain signatures of identifiers Mahendra Agrawal (PW1) and Pooja Agrawal (PW2). Mahendra Agrawal (PW1) and Pooja Agrawal (PW2) have also admitted the fact that during the Test Identification Parade, police officials were present along with them and both these witnesses identified the accused persons as told by the present police officials. The instant appeals have been preferred against the judgment passed by the 2nd Additional Sessions Judge whereby the present Appellants have been convicted and sentenced.

The court perused the facts and arguments presented. It was of the opinion that “The necessary sanction for prosecution under Section 39 of the Arms Act has not been obtained. Even any report of any armorer or ballistic expert has not been produced nor have they been examined and, therefore also, the offences alleged under the Arms Act against Appellants Sharad Goutam and Radheshyam Kashyap are not proved. The finding of the Trial Court is not in accordance with the evidence available on record. All the Appellants are entitled to get benefit of doubt. 15. Consequently, all the appeals are allowed. The impugned judgment of conviction and sentence is set aside. All the Appellants are acquitted of the charges framed against them.”

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Judgment reviewed by Aryan Bajaj

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