The Apex Court can only intervene in lower court decisions, where the finding is perverse, based on inadmissible evidence, or vital evidence has been overlooked or wrongly discarded: Supreme Court

The judgment revolves around the conviction and sentencing of the case involving alcohol poisoning resulting in fatalities, injuries, and blindness to several individuals.

This case of Sanjeev vs State of Kerala [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1134 OF 2011] originated from an incident on April 4, 2003, where a conspiracy was allegedly hatched to mix methyl alcohol with spirit for unlawful gain. It is purported that the appellants, along with others, conspired to sell the adulterated liquor through an illicit outlet. This concoction led to the death of seven individuals, injuries to several others, and blindness in some.

The prosecution’s case was built upon extensive evidence, including witness testimonies, forensic examinations, and documentary proof. The Trial Court, after careful consideration of the evidence, convicted the accused persons, including the present appellants, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Abkari Act.

Subsequently, the convicted individuals filed appeals before the High Court of Kerala, challenging their convictions. The High Court, after thorough examination of the evidence on record, affirmed the convictions and sentences imposed by the Trial Court.

The appellants, dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, approached the Supreme Court by special leave. Their appeal before the Supreme Court questions the legality and sustainability of the convictions and sentences imposed upon them. Specifically, the appellants contest the findings of conspiracy, the admissibility of evidence, and the legality of the investigation conducted in the case.

In their petition before the Supreme Court, the appellants challenge the sufficiency and reliability of the evidence linking them to the conspiracy and the adulteration of liquor. They also raise procedural irregularities and alleged violations of their legal rights during the investigation and trial process.

The Supreme Court, therefore, is tasked with re-evaluating the evidence presented, assessing the legality of the investigation, and determining whether the convictions and sentences imposed upon the appellants are justified in accordance with the provisions of the Indian legal framework, including the IPC and the Abkari Act.

The issues before the Supreme Court concerned the convictions of A10 and A11 in relation to the illicit liquor business, specifically focusing on the conspiracy, supply, and sale of methyl alcohol leading to deaths and injuries. The Court analyzed testimonies of prosecution witnesses, evidence of transactions involving Biosole, and forensic reports. The laws involved included Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), Sections 302, 307, 326 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Section 57A of the Abkari Act, which addresses adulteration of liquor. The Court interpreted these laws to establish the elements of conspiracy, knowledge, and criminal liability. It held that the appellants were complicit in mixing methyl alcohol with liquor, endangering lives. Despite arguments and denial, the Court found sufficient evidence supporting the convictions. Additionally, the Court addressed procedural issues regarding the deposition of material witnesses, suggesting amendments to streamline the process. In the end, the Court upheld the convictions, dismissing the appeals and cancelling bail, and acknowledged the passing of one of the appellants, abating their appeal.

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Written by- Aditi

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