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Material Contradictions in Statements at Deposition render the Prosecution’s Case Moot: High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Jammu

The question as to whether material contradictions in the statements of witnesses on deposition, leads to the prosecution’s failure to establish guilt, was examined by the HIGH COURT OF JAMMU & KASHMIR AND LADAKH AT JAMMU, consisting of HON’BLE MR JUSTICE ALI MOHAMMAD MAGREY, AND HON’BLE MR JUSTICE TASHI RABSTAN, in the matter of State of J&K vs. Dewan Chand & Ors. [SLAA No.81/2014], on 24.12.21.

The facts of the case were that through the medium of instant application, the applicant-State is seeking leave of the Court to file the acquittal appeal against the judgment dated 26.10.2013 passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Doda, for the commission of offences under Sections 307, 452, 147, 148, 325, 326 of the Ranbir Penal Code, 1932. Additionally, the application has stated regarding commission of offence under Sections 8 and 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The Honourable High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Jammu, after a thorough perusal of the facts, records, as well as upon hearing the counsels for both parties, arrived at the decision that the instant application has been filed without proper application of mind. Additionally, the Court pointed out the unexplained delay of 61 days, which the applicant has not explained in the application that what prevented it from filing the acquittal appeal within time nor has projected any justifiable reason for such a delay or when it had applied for obtaining the certified copy of impugned judgment dated 26.10.2013. Thus it was held that no sufficient cause has been made out to condone the delay in filing the acquittal appeal. Therefore, it was asserted that appeal too does not survive owing to being time-barred.

Additionally, the Court undertook a perusal of the statement of PW Narinder Kumar, as borne out from the impugned judgment, revealing that he specifically deposed that because of darkness he could not identify the assailant who caused him injury; meaning thereby he was not having the knowledge who assaulted him. It was noted that he further deposed that he never gave any statement before the police that Surinder Kumar had caused injuries on his head with a Kulhari; whereas, PW Darshana Devi, wife of victim PW Narinder Kumar, had deposed that accused Surinder Kumar assaulted her husband Narinder Kumar with Kulhari and caused injuries on his head. Thus, there were observed material contradictions in the statements of PW Narinder Kumar and PW Darshana Devi.

Further, it was observed that PW Thakur Lal in his deposition stated that he was eye witness to the occurrence as PW Darshana Devi, wife of Narinder Kumar, is his daughter. He specifically deposed that an undershirt was seized by the police in his presence and that power was on at the time of occurrence, whereas PW Narinder Kumar had specifically deposed that power supply was off at the time of occurrence. Thus, there were material contradictions too in the statements of PW Thakur Lal and PW Narinder Kumar.

Finding multiple material contradictions in deposition statements, the Court held that on merits, the prosecution had failed to prove the accused’s guilt. The Court’s opinion resonated with that of the trial court, and thus the case was accordingly dismissed.

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Judgement reviewed by Bhargavi

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