“Accused Must Be Discharged In Absence Of ‘Grave Suspicion’”: Orissa High Court

The Orissa High Court has ruled that before the Court may file charges against the accused, there must be “grave suspicion” and not only “suspicion”, in the case of Shantanu @ Priyabrata Senapati v. State of Orissa (CRLREV No. 879 of 2014). If not, Section 227 of the CrPC will provide “sufficient grounds” to release the accused. This judgement was ruled out by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Sashikanta Mishra while permitting the revision in opposition to a lower court’s order.

Brief Facts Of The Case: The complainant filed the FIR, stating that her deceased daughter had been living with Nihar Ranjan Pradhan (Pintu) since 2006. They were both criminals and had previously served time in jail. The current petitioner also happens to be Nihar and the deceased’s attorney. It was claimed that the petitioner secretly married the deceased and kept her as his wife at a home while Nihar was imprisoned.

Further allegations made against the dead included his insistence that the marriage be performed in accordance with Hindu traditions. Despite promising to do so, the petitioner was unable to do so. The deceased then committed suicide as a result. A complaint was filed under IPC Sections 493/417/306 based on these accusations. After the inquiry was finished, a chargesheet was presented under Sections 493/417/406/306 of the IPC, and the aforementioned offences were recognised. After that, the matter was sent to the Court of Sessions for trial, where it is now being heard by the 2nd Additional Sessions Judge in Cuttack. The petitioner-accused submitted an application under Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code to the court below, requesting to be absolved of the charges against him primarily on the grounds that the offences’ necessary elements were missing. The Court below determined that there is absolutely no evidence on file to continue against the accused in relation to the offence under Section 406 of the IPC and dismissed him as a result after considering the established legal position and the claims made in the FIR. It was decided, however, that the evidence on file prima facie satisfies the accusations made against the accused under Section 493/417/306 of the IPC. In the current revision petition, the aforementioned order was challenged.

Judgement: The Court cited Prafulla Kumar Samal in its decision to find that, at the time a charge is being framed, the Court has a responsibility to review the material that has been presented to it in order to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward against the accused. Furthermore, the maxim that the suspicion that the accused has committed an offence must not be simple but grave was cited in State of Bihar v. Ramesh Singh (1977) Cri.L.J. 1606. Finally, the Court discussed and applied the law established in Dilawar Balu Kurane v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 2 SCC 135, which held that the court will be entirely justified in formulating a charge and proceeding with the trial where the materials presented to the court disclose grave suspicion against the accused that has not been properly explained. The Court concluded as a result that there must be some connection between the accused and the event that can be observed or inferred ex facie from the evidence presented to the Court. Only then will it be considered that the “sufficient ground” criteria under Section 227 Cr.P.C. has been met. Following a discussion of the case’s circumstances in the context of the aforementioned established legal principle, the Court reversed the lower court’s decision and discharged the accused of all violations of Sections 493, 417, and 306 of the IPC.

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