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We are of the opinion that a sentence of seven years under Section 326/149 would meet the ends of justice: Supreme Court

It is well settled law that this Court does not normally reappreciate the evidence unless the assessment of the High Court is vitiated by an error of law or procedure or is based on error of record, misreading of evidence or is inconsistent with the evidence. This Court does not enter into credibility of the evidence with a view to substitute its own opinion for that of the High Court as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court through the learned bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao in the case of Viram @ Virma v. The State of Madhya Pradesh (Criminal Appeal No. 31 of 2019)( Criminal Appeal No.32 of 2019).

The brief facts of the case are that These Criminal Appeals are directed against the judgment of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Gwalior by which the conviction of the Appellants under Sections 147, 302/149, 325/149, 324/149, 323/149 and their sentences were upheld. On the oral report given by Solal son of Girdhari (PW-10), FIR No.48 of 1995 was registered at Police Station Kumbhraj, Guna, Madhya Pradesh. The informant Solal son of Girdhari stated that Babulal Lodha had an altercation with Shriram and others during the day time on 19.08.1995. After sunset, the appellants armed with lathi, ballam, spear and sword attacked Shankarlal (PW-11) and Babulal Lodha. The informant along with others rushed to rescue Shankarlal (PW-11) and Babulal. The appellants assaulted the informant and others who reached the place of incident with farsa, spear and sword and inflicted injuries on their heads, legs, back and other parts of the body. The Appellants were charged under Section 302 and 324 IPC, alternatively under Sections 147, 302/149, 324/149, 329/149 IPC. There was a total of 21 accused apart from the two juveniles Ram Narayan and Kanhaiya Lal. 14 witnesses were examined on behalf of the prosecution. On a consideration of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, the Trial Court held the accused guilty of committing offences under Section 147, 302/149 for committing murder of Babulal and under Sections 325/149, 324/149, 323/149 for voluntarily causing hurt to others. The accused were sentenced to life imprisonment for the offence punishable under Section 302 read with 149 IPC, 3 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 325/149, 2 years rigorous imprisonment under section 324/149 and six months for each count under Section 323/149 IPC. The Trial Court observed that the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the injured eye-witnesses are trivial and their evidence cannot be rejected on that ground. The High Court dismissed the appeals filed by the Appellants by holding that there was no error committed by the Trial Court. The discrepancies in the statements made by the witnesses in Court were held to be minor in nature on the basis of which the Appellants cannot be said to be not guilty. The attack made by all the accused on the deceased Babulal and the injured witnesses has been narrated by them in one voice, though with some minor variations.

After the perusal of the facts and arguments by the learned counsels, the Hon’ble Court held, “In the instant case, the fatal injury was caused by a hard and blunt weapon on the left parietal bone. Therefore, the conviction of the Appellants under Section 302/149 is not justified. However, there is abundant evidence on record to show that the Appellants attacked the deceased and the injured witnesses with deadly weapons. Therefore, the Appellants are liable to be convicted under Section 326 read with 149 IPC. The conviction of the Appellants under Sections 325/149, 324/149, 323/149 is confirmed. We are informed that the Appellants have undergone a sentence of four and half years. In the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that a sentence of seven years under Section 326/149 would meet the ends of justice. While upholding the judgment of the High Court regarding the conviction and sentence of the Appellants, we convert the conviction and sentence from life imprisonment to seven years. The Appeals are partly allowed.”

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Judgment Reviewed by – Vandana Ragwani

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