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Insufficient Evidence and Circumstantial Doubts Lead to Declaration of Acquittal of Accused: Supreme Court

Case Title: Pradeep Kumar v. State of Haryana

Case No: Criminal Appeal No. 1338 of 2010

Decided on:  5th January, 2024

CORAM: THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE B.R. GAVAI AND HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE P.S. NARASIMHA

Facts of the Case

In the present case, according to the Prosecution’s account, the deceased left his shop on a motorcycle to go to a market. When the deceased failed to return home that night, his wife informed the complainant. Seeking information about the deceased’s whereabouts, the complainant, accompanied by another prosecution witness, initiated a search. During the search, the complainant received information about a discovered dead body. Subsequently, the complainant and other prosecution witnesses reached the location and found the deceased with his throat bound by a piece of cloth. The complainant promptly reported the incident to the police, leading to the registration of an FIR. The Trial Court convicted the Appellant under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), sentencing them to life imprisonment for the murder of the deceased. Dissatisfied with this verdict, the Appellant appealed to the High Court of Punjab & Haryana, which upheld the conviction and sentence. Subsequently, the Appellant sought relief from the Supreme Court, challenging the decision of the High Court.

Issue

Whether the High Court’s ruling justified in the case of an individual accused under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860?

Legal Provision

Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 states that whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Court’s analysis and decision

The court observed a substantial disparity between the allegations against the Appellant and the evidence presented by the prosecution. The circumstances outlined failed to establish the guilt of the Appellant; instead, they raised doubts, improbabilities, and inconsistencies. Emphasizing the need for caution when dealing with cases reliant on circumstantial evidence, the Supreme Court underscored the importance of careful scrutiny. Consequently, the Court acquitted the accused of all charges, leading to the allowance of the appeal.

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Written by- Afshan Ahmad

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The Bombay HC orders interrogation on advocate for fraudulent activities while issuing bail.

TITLE : Hiral Chandrakant Jadhav v The State of Maharashtra

CORAM : Hon’ble Justice Sarang V. Kotwal

DATE :  3rd  January 2024

CITATION : Anticipatory bail application No. 3699 of 2023

FACTS

The applicant was seeking anticipatory bail under Section 420, 466 ,465, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC. The offence committed was considered to be extremely serious. The main offence was punishable under Section 302 of IPC. The applicant is a lawyer who has assured the informant of the crime that a bail would be granted and took Rs.65000 as fees. The presiding officer upon receiving application has given bail for Rs.25000. Subsequenlty, the amount was paid by the informant. The prison officials at thane told the informant that the envelope did not contain the receipt for 25000 and the documents were incomplete. The applicant then sent another envelope which was not returned for. The same was done for twice again. Upon enquiry, the informant realized she was being cheated by the applicant.

LAWS INVOLVED

Section 466 of IPC :

  1. Forgery of record of Court or of public register, etc.

 Whoever forges a document or an electronic record, purporting to be a record or proceeding of or in a Court of Justice, or a register of birth, baptism, marriage or burial, or a register kept by a public servant as such, or a certificate or document purporting to be made by a public servant in his official capacity, or an authority to institute or defend a suit, or to take any proceedings therein, or to confess judgment, or a power of attorney, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

ISSUES

Whether the applicant is guilty of the offence under Section 466 of IPC

JUDGEMENT

The court disagreed with the contentions of the counsel of the applicant that there was no fraudulent intention. “In fact, her act cannot be described in any other manner but ‘dishonest’ and ‘fraudulent’. The court said that the informant could have pursued the bail application of her husband accordance with law.

The court stated that being an advocate the applicant must not have cheated the informant and held that no leniency can be shown. The court further observed that there might be a strong possibility of a continuous offence and ordered for custodial interrogation against the applicant.

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Written by- Sanjana Ravichandran

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Custodial interogation is necessary for advocates accused of serious crimes: Bombay High court

Title: Hiral Chandrakant Jadhav Vs The State of Maharashtra

Citation: ANTICIPATORY BAIL APPLICATION NO.3699 OF 2023

Coram: Justice SARANG V. KOTWAL

Date: 03/01/24

Facts

The Applicant, who is an Advocate, is seeking anticipatory bail in connection with a serious offense. The Applicant was approached by a person whose husband was arrested under IPC Section 302. The Applicant assured the release on bail for a fee of Rs.65,000.The Advocate claimed her husband was granted bail, accepted Rs. 25,000 more, handed over a sealed envelope with alleged documents, but the husband was not released. After receiving the payment, the Applicant claimed that the bail was granted, but the documents provided were incomplete. The Applicant repeated this process, even providing a fake bail order, and the person realized they were deceived, leading to the filing of the FIR. The Applicant is now anticipating arrest.

Laws Involved

Section 302 of IPC

 Punishment for murder

Section 420

Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property

Section 465

Punishment for forgery

Issues

Whether the Applicant, engage in fraudulent activities by allegedly taking money for securing bail, and deceiving the informant in connection with a criminal case?

Judgement

The accused, an advocate, has been found by the court to have committed major offenses, including violating Section 420 of the IPC, which have damaged the victim’s reputation and undermined the integrity of the legal system. The court highlights the seriousness of the crime and the necessity of questioning suspects while they are in custody in order to find possible accomplices and similar situations. Thus, as a result court rejects the application, stating that no mercy can be awarded at this time.

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Written by:- Sanjana Ravichandran

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Appellant cannot claim lack of evidence in a murder trial when there are multiple witnesses proving otherwise : Bombay HC

 

TITLE : Santosh Gunaji Dudhmal v State of Maharashtra

CORAM : Hon’ble Justice Smt. Vibha Kankanwadi and Hon’ble Justice Abhay S. Waghwase

DATE :  19th December, 2023

CITATION : Criminal Appeal No 152 of 2019

FACTS

An appeal was filed against the Additional Sessions Judge for the offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC and sentencing him to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000 in default of set rigorous imprisonment of one month. The accused was alleged of murder on the instance because of a dispute that arose between the deceased and him. It was contended by the appellant that there is no convincing evidence and motive was not sufficient.  

LAWS INVOLVED

Section 302 of IPC states that :

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

ISSUES

Whether the Additional Sessions judge passed an order for conviction of murder through lack of evidence?

JUDGEMENT

The autopsy surgeon was considered to be the best witness and evidence. The doctor noted that the injuries occurred are not sufficient in ordinary course of nature to occur. It was also observed that the informant had contradicting statements as a witness. Further it was noted that the wife of the deceased herself was not cooperating with the narrative of the prosecution. However, the court held that reason for her hostility to be that of the shock of losing her husband. One of the independent witnesses were also in the vicinity of the location when the murder occurred.

In lieu all of the statements passed by the witnesses, the court dismissed the appeal claiming that there was sufficient evidence to prove the appellant has actually committed the act of murder.

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Written by- Sanjana Ravichandran

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Sudden fight not murder under Section 302 IPC – Bombay HC

TITLE : Digambar @ Digu Baburao Shirole V The State of Maharashtra

CITATION : Criminal Appeal No. 151 of 2018

CORAM : Hon’ble justice Smt. Vibha Kankanwadi And Hon’ble justice Abhay S. Waghwase

DATE:  15th  December, 2023

INTRODUCTION :

The appeal was filed by the appellant after Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied by the judgment and order of conviction passed by the learned District Judge for offence under Section 302 of the IPC and thereby sentencing him to suffer imprisonment for life and to pay fine.

FACTS :

The deceased and the accused had gotten into a quarrel and it subsequently led to an attack on the deceased. The brother of the deceased filed a police complaint. The prosecution in the district court took evidence from 13 witnesses and documentary evidence like FIR, post mortem report, recovery panchanama which is now questioned by way of instant appeal.

COURT’S ANALYSIS

The court analysed the autopsy report which held that the cause of death due to liver injury and blunt trauma. The star witness of the trial claimed that on refusal to comply with the demand of extra saplings, quarrel erupted between accused and deceased and accused appellant had put to use very handle of a spade and beaten deceased. The court analysed Section 300 which talks about what leads to culpable homicide and not murder. In that, death arising out of sudden fight is not murder.

The court held that there was no motive, intention or premeditation. Incident has taken place all of a sudden only on refusal to comply with the demand of extra saplings. The sudden death is covered under exception 4 of Sec 300 therefore it wouldn’t attract murder under Sec 302.

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Written by- Sanjana Ravichandran

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