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SUPREME COURT SET ASIDE THE JUDGEMENT OF HIGH COURT AND AWARDED BENEFIT OF DOUBT TO APPELLANT CONVICTED UNDER SECTION – 302 OF IPC.

CASE NAME: PARSHURAM  VERSUS STATE OF M.P.

CASE NUMBER: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.—– OF 2023.  [Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 1718 of 2022]

DATED ON: NOVEMBER 03, 2023

Quorum: HONOURABLE JUSTICE B.R. GAVAI, JUSTICE B.V.            NAGARATHNA & JUSTICE PRASHANT KUMAR MISHRA.

 INTODUCTION:

The appeals challenge the judgment and order of the Division Bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Gwalior, which upheld the judgment and order of 30th March 2005, passed by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Shivpuri. The High Court convicted the appellants and sentencing them to life imprisonment for offences punishable under Section 302 and Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The appellants were also sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years, six months, three months, and three months for offences punishable under Section 323 and Section 148 of the IPC. The appeals seek to overturn the previous ruling.

FACTS OF THE CASE:

The prosecution alleges that appellant Jalim Singh built a shed in a village that was damaged by a buffalo belonging to the complainant party. Singh beat and drove the buffalo away, then entered Chironji’s house and broke the doors and beat Madan, Leelabai, and Kailash. Chironji fled, and when he returned, he was informed about the incident. The case highlights the dangers of allowing others to exploit vulnerable situations.

On 6th October 2001, a group of people, including the complainant party, were on a tractor to lodge a complaint when accused persons, armed with lethal weapons, waylaid them and caused injuries. The original First Information Report was registered for offences punishable under Sections 307, 323, 452, 147, 148, and 149 of IPC. The accused persons, nine of whom denied charges, were arrested and charged in a land dispute case.

The trial court found that the prosecution’s evidence proved that the accused formed an unlawful assembly and assaulted the complainant and his family members, killing one in furtherance of their unlawful assembly. The trial court convicted and sentenced the accused, Parshuram & Others and Jalim Singh, with all sentences running concurrently.

LEGAL PROVISIONS:

INDIAN PENAL CODE

  • Section – 147 Punishment for Rioting;

Whoever is guilty of rioting, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

  • Section – 148 Rioting, armed with deadly weapon;

Whoever is guilty of rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

  • Section – 149 Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object;

If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence.

  • Section – 302 Punishment for murder;

Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

  • Section – 307 Attempt to murder;

Whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge, and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if hurt is caused to any person by such act, the offender shall be liable either to imprisonment for life, or to such punishment as is hereinbefore mentioned.

  • Attempts by Life Convicts: When any person offending under this section is under sentence of imprisonment for life, he may, if hurt is caused, be punished with death.
  • Section – 323 Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt;

Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 334, voluntarily causes hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

  • Section – 324 Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means;

Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 334, voluntarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

  • Section – 326 Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means;

Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 335, voluntarily causes grievous hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance, or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

ISSUES RAISED:

  1. whether the common object of the unlawful assembly was to cause the death of the deceased or not.
  1. whether, the prosecution has brought on record the real genesis of the incident or not.
  1. whether, the conviction under Section 302 of IPC would be tenable or not.

CONTENTION OF THE APPELLANTS:

Shri Malhotra argued that the High Court and trial court erred in convicting the appellants, claiming that the prosecution failed to attribute a specific role to them. He argued that the conviction under Section 302 of IPC would not be tenable without this information. The counsel argued that the appellant’s role was only holding the lathi, and no injuries caused the deceased’s death could be attributed to him. The counsel also argued that the trial court acquitted two accused persons who were attributed to holding hand-bombs, making the appellants conviction unsustainable. The counsel cited a recent judgment in Nand Lal and Others v. State of Chhattisgarh 2023 SCC Online SC 262, which ruled that non-explanation of injuries is fatal to the prosecution case. Shri Sirajudeen, learned Senior Counsel for the appellant-Jalim Singh in appeal in the same case also advanced arguments on the same lines.

CONTENTION OF RESPONDENT:

Shri Singh argued that both the trial court and the High Court found the prosecution’s case beyond reasonable doubt, and that the appellants were part of an unlawful assembly. He argued that the unlawful assembly’s purpose was to kill the complainant party members, and no interference was warranted in the trial court’s conviction. Singh also argued that the deceased’s injuries were caused by deadly weapons.

COURT’S ANALYSIS:

Chironji is the first informant about an incident involving accused persons assaulting Madan, Lila, and Kamlesh. They were waylaid by Mangal, Roopa, Sewak, Ram Sahai, Parshuram, Lakhan, Jalim, Diwan, Siya, and 4-5 others while on a tractor to the Police Station for complaint lodging. Sewak beat Gupti, Roopa stabbed him, and Lakhan stabbed Madan, causing him to become unconscious. Madan died at the Police Station.

In Masalti v. State of U.P. [1964] 8 SCR 133, a Constitution Bench discussed the law regarding conviction under Section 302 and Section 149 of IPC. The bench ruled that not all individuals in an unlawful assembly must be active for convicting, but must be a member of the assembly and have entertained the common object.

The appellants and accused persons claimed they first reported the attack by the complainant party, who assaulted them upon returning from the police station. They claimed they tried to save themselves, leading to a free fight resulting in injuries, including Madan’s death. The trial court ruled that the complainant party did not use fatal weapons, while the accused used fatal weapons. However, the court disagreed, as Ramrup @ Roopa sustained injuries with a sharp weapon.

In the case of Lakshmi Singh and Others v. State of Bihar (1976) 4 SCC 394, the court observed that non-explanation of injuries sustained by the accused during a murder case can lead to inferences such as the prosecution suppressing the genesis and origin of the occurrence, unreliable witnesses, and a defence version that explains the injuries, potentially tarnishing the prosecution case.

Witnesses are interested in the case, but the prosecution’s failure to explain the injuries sustained by three accused persons raises doubts about the incident’s true origin. A cross case was registered against the complainant party for the injuries sustained by the accused.
The accused claim the complainant party assaulted them after returning from the police station, leading to a fight resulting in injuries, including Madan’s death. The incident was caused by a buffalo, possibly to teach a lesson.

JUDGEMENT

The court considered the view that, the appellants are entitled to benefit of doubt. The conviction under Section 302 IPC would not be sustainable. The prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the unlawful assembly had an intention to cause the death of the deceased. As such, we find that the case would fall under Part-II of Section 304 of IPC.

In the result, the appeals are disposed of with the following directions:

(i) The conviction under Section 302 IPC is altered to Part-II of Section 304 of IPC;

(ii) The appellants are sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 7 years.

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Click here to view the full judgement: PARSHURAM VERSUS STATE OF M.P.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY: ABHISHEK SINGH

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Stalin to appear in a Court in Bengaluru amid Sanatan Dharma controversy.

In September 2023, Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin sparked a major controversy during a conference when he stated that Sanatan Dharma, often equated with Hinduism, is against social justice and equality and should be eradicated like diseases such as dengue and malaria. This statement, made in the context of advocating for social justice, immediately drew widespread criticism and backlash across India.

Despite the intense reactions, Udhayanidhi chose to stand firm on his position. He declared that he would continue to oppose Sanatan Dharma and expressed willingness to face any legal consequences resulting from his statements. This stance further intensified the debate surrounding his remarks and their implications.

The controversy soon took a legal turn when a petition was filed against Udhayanidhi in a Bengaluru court by an individual named Paramesh. Advocate Dharmapal, representing the petitioner, argued that such statements were particularly harmful to religious sentiments, especially in light of increased awareness and devotion following the recent Ram Mandir inauguration.

As of the latest development, Udhayanidhi Stalin is reportedly traveling to Bengaluru to appear before the court, having left on Monday night.

This incident highlights the ongoing tension in India between freedom of speech and respect for religious sentiments. It reflects the interplay of politics, religion, and social reform in the country’s public discourse. This incident points out the role that regional politics can play in shaping national debates, given Udhayanidhi’s position as a minister in Tamil Nadu.

The unfolding situation continues to draw attention and may potentially set precedents for how similar cases involving political speech and religious sentiments are handled in the future. It also raises a need for broader discussions about the boundaries of political discourse when it intersects with deeply held religious beliefs in a diverse society like India.

 

Written by Maria Therese Syriac.

PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.

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Supreme Court Exempts Lawyers from Consumer Protection Act in Landmark Ruling.

In a landmark judgment delivered on May 14, 2024, the Supreme Court ruled that lawyers cannot be held liable under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) of 1986, overturning a previous decision by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). The ruling redefines the scope of professional accountability for legal services in India. The Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices Bela Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal, stressed that legal representation, although paid, does not constitute a ‘service’ as defined under the CPA due to the unique professional characteristics of the legal profession.

The case originated from an appeal against the NCDRC’s 2007 ruling, which classified legal services as falling within the purview of the CPA. This interpretation allowed clients to file complaints against lawyers for alleged deficiencies in service. Petitioners, including advocate M. Mathias and various lawyer associations, argued that the legal profession should be treated differently from other trades or businesses. They emphasized the unique duties lawyers have toward the court and their opponents, which can often conflict with client interests. Additionally, they highlighted the unpredictability and complexity inherent in legal proceedings, which can influence case outcomes independently of a lawyer’s skill or diligence.

The Supreme Court established a clear distinction between professions and other forms of business under the CPA. Justice Trivedi argued that the term ‘profession’ implies a discipline involving specialized knowledge or learning, distinct from a mere ‘business’ or ‘trade’ driven by commercial interests. The court highlighted that the legal profession is inherently service-oriented and noble, not driven by commercial gains. Lawyers are expected to uphold citizens’ rights and contribute to maintaining judicial independence and the rule of law. The court also noted that the relationship between a lawyer and a client is best described as a ‘personal service contract’ – a category specifically exempted under the CPA.

The ruling suggested revisiting previous judgments that differed in view, such as the inclusion of medical services under the CPA as decided in Indian Medical Association v. V.P. Shantha (1995). This landmark case had concluded that medical services fall under the concept of ‘services’ described in the Consumer Protection Act when a fee is charged, holding medical practitioners accountable to consumer standards of care. However, the Supreme Court signalled a potential revaluation of this definition, hinting that the scope of ‘services’ within the Act might need reinterpretation, specifically concerning medical professionals.

Distinguishing Lawyers from Other Professions
During the hearings, senior advocate Narender Hooda, appearing for the appellants, submitted that lawyers have a duty toward their colleagues and must be fair, unlike doctors who primarily focus on treating patients. Hooda argued that a lawyer cannot be seen as a mere “mouthpiece” for their client, as they have obligations to the court and the opposing counsel.

Justice Trivedi posed a hypothetical question: “Can you say something adverse to the interest of your client, even if you believe that is not, right? In a way, you are a mouthpiece to your client.” Hooda fervently opposed this view, stating, “My duty is to assist the Court in performing the sovereign function. That is the first duty. In that duty, I will espouse the cause of my client within the permissible four corners of law.”

Hooda further elucidated that while a patient can ask a doctor not to prescribe any particular medicine, a client cannot ask a lawyer to not cite any specific judgment. He highlighted, “There the relationship is this, if the patient says that you are prescribing me this medicine, I will not take it. My client cannot say that do not cite this judgment and cite only this judgment. This is how, my lords, my profession is completely different, and this is how public policy element is involved in legal profession.”

The decision has significant implications for the medical profession as well. The Supreme Court directed that the 1996 decision concerning medical professionals be reviewed by a larger bench, potentially reconsidering whether medical services should fall under the CPA.

Legal and Ethical Context
The ruling intervenes in a long-standing debate on whether professional services, like those provided by lawyers and doctors, should be assimilated within the ambit of consumer protection laws. While the judgment distinguished lawyers from other service providers by noting their duties involve elements beyond mere contractual obligations, it is important to note that claims of negligence and malpractice can still be pursued in ordinary courts.

The decision reaffirms the unique nature of the legal profession and its role in upholding the rule of law and judicial independence. However, it also raises questions about the accountability of professionals and the appropriate mechanisms for addressing deficiencies in service. As the implications of this landmark judgment unfold, it is expected to spark further discussions and potential legal challenges on the extent to which various professions should be subject to consumer protection laws or governed by their respective regulatory bodies and ethical codes.

 

Written by Maria Therese Syriac.

PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.

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A Chilling Incident: Human Finger Allegedly Found in Ice Cream.

In a shocking and disturbing incident, a 26-year-old doctor from Mumbai, Brendan Ferrao, claimed to have found a piece of human flesh, suspected to be a severed finger, in a butterscotch ice cream cone he had ordered through a food delivery app. This grisly discovery has prompted swift action from the authorities and raised serious concerns about food safety standards.

On June 12, Brendan Ferrao filed a complaint with the Malad police station after making the unsettling discovery in a Yummo’s butterscotch ice cream cone manufactured by Walko QSR Company Pvt Ltd. The police promptly registered a case under sections 272 (adulteration of food or drink), 273 (sale of noxious food or drink), and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The investigation revealed that the ice cream in question was manufactured by a third-party company, Fortune Dairy Industries Private Limited, located in the Indapur taluka of Pune district. This led the authorities to broaden their probe, focusing on the supply chain from the delivery executive to the manufacturing unit.

FSSAI Intervenes and Halts Operations

Responding swiftly to the alarming situation, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) conducted an inspection at the Fortune Dairy Industries premises in Indapur. After a thorough investigation that began on Friday and continued into the early hours of Saturday, the FSSAI ordered the immediate suspension of operations at the facility.

The premises of Fortune Dairy Industries now wear a deserted look, with operations halted and an air of uncertainty looming over the facility and its employees. According to sources, the company employs around 50 skilled workers and 150-160 unskilled workers, along with supervisors and managerial staff. Additionally, the livelihoods of hundreds of milk suppliers who provide the facility with up to two lakh liters of milk daily from nearby districts are also at risk due to this action.

Walko QSR Company’s Response

In a declaration issued on Saturday, Walko QSR Company Pvt Ltd confirmed that the batches of Alphonso Mango Cone (110ml) and Butterscotch Cone (110ml) in question were indeed manufactured by Fortune Dairy Industries Private Limited at their Indapur plant.

While officials from the Indapur police station stated that they have not received any reports of injuries or missing fingers in their jurisdiction, the investigation is ongoing. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Pune has also taken precautionary measures by visiting an ice cream manufacturing facility owned by Walko in the Hadapsar area. Samples of manufactured products and raw materials have been collected for testing.

Implications and Concerns

This incident has raised serious concerns about food safety standards and the potential consequences of lapses in quality control and hygiene practices. The alleged presence of a human finger in a consumer product is not only disturbing but also poses significant health risks and undermines consumer trust.

As the investigation unfolds, both the authorities and the companies involved must take decisive action to address this issue, implement stricter quality control measures, and ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future. Consumer safety and confidence in the food industry are paramount, and incidents like these serve as a stark reminder of the need for vigilance and accountability throughout the entire supply chain.

Review by Maria Therese Syriac.

PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.

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A Chilling Incident: Human Finger Allegedly Found in Ice Cream Leads to Shut Down of Manufacturing Unit.

In a shocking and disturbing incident, a 26-year-old doctor from Mumbai, Brendan Ferrao, claimed to have found a piece of human flesh, suspected to be a severed finger, in a butterscotch ice cream cone he had ordered through a food delivery app. This grisly discovery has prompted swift action from the authorities and raised serious concerns about food safety standards.

On June 12, Brendan Ferrao filed a complaint with the Malad police station after making the unsettling discovery in a Yummo’s butterscotch ice cream cone manufactured by Walko QSR Company Pvt Ltd. The police promptly registered a case under sections 272 (adulteration of food or drink), 273 (sale of noxious food or drink), and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The investigation revealed that the ice cream in question was manufactured by a third-party company, Fortune Dairy Industries Private Limited, located in the Indapur taluka of Pune district. This led the authorities to broaden their probe, focusing on the supply chain from the delivery executive to the manufacturing unit.

FSSAI Intervenes and Halts Operations

Responding swiftly to the alarming situation, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) conducted an inspection at the Fortune Dairy Industries premises in Indapur. After a thorough investigation that began on Friday and continued into the early hours of Saturday, the FSSAI ordered the immediate suspension of operations at the facility.

The premises of Fortune Dairy Industries now wear a deserted look, with operations halted and an air of uncertainty looming over the facility and its employees. According to sources, the company employs around 50 skilled workers and 150-160 unskilled workers, along with supervisors and managerial staff. Additionally, the livelihoods of hundreds of milk suppliers who provide the facility with up to two lakh liters of milk daily from nearby districts are also at risk due to this action.

Walko QSR Company’s Response

In a declaration issued on Saturday, Walko QSR Company Pvt Ltd confirmed that the batches of Alphonso Mango Cone (110ml) and Butterscotch Cone (110ml) in question were indeed manufactured by Fortune Dairy Industries Private Limited at their Indapur plant.

While officials from the Indapur police station stated that they have not received any reports of injuries or missing fingers in their jurisdiction, the investigation is ongoing. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Pune has also taken precautionary measures by visiting an ice cream manufacturing facility owned by Walko in the Hadapsar area. Samples of manufactured products and raw materials have been collected for testing.

Implications and Concerns

This incident has raised serious concerns about food safety standards and the potential consequences of lapses in quality control and hygiene practices. The alleged presence of a human finger in a consumer product is not only disturbing but also poses significant health risks and undermines consumer trust.

As the investigation unfolds, both the authorities and the companies involved must take decisive action to address this issue, implement stricter quality control measures, and ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future. Consumer safety and confidence in the food industry are paramount, and incidents like these serve as a stark reminder of the need for vigilance and accountability throughout the entire supply chain.

Review by Maria Therese Syriac.

PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.

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