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“The Supreme Court addresses fundamental rights, justice, and judicial accountability while disapproving of the High Court’s ruling in a murder case.”

Case Title: Manikandan v. State by The Inspector of Police 

Case No.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 407 OF 2019 

Dated On: 5th April, 2024 

Quorum:  Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal 

 

FACTS OF THE CASE: 

The case centres on the murder of a man named Balamurugan who resided with his parents. The deceased allegedly gave accused no. 1 instructions to deliver idlis, and later that evening, upon discovering that accused no. 1 had neglected to do so, he went to his residence to confront him, according to the prosecution. 

It seems that his altercation with Accused No. 1 was the cause of the disturbance. The prosecution claims that upon hearing the disturbance, PW-2 (mother of the deceased) and PW-3 (the brother-in-law of the dead) raced over to the location. Accused no. 2 was in the area. Following that, Accused No. 1 went into his home, took a billhook with him, and used it to beat the deceased. The deceased’s right index finger took the first blow. The deceased then fled to a neighbouring property belonging to a Karunanidhi. The accused trailed after him. While accused no. 1 was assaulting the deceased by placing a billhook around his neck, accused no. 2 was holding the deceased. subsequent to that, both the accused ran away. 

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT: 

The appellants claimed that the initial information report indicated that the incident happened about 10.30 p.m., according to the skilled attorney representing the appellant. That being said, based on the post-mortem reports’ mention of the estimated time of death, it seems that the incident had to have occurred prior to 7 pm. The second claim he makes is that the prosecution primarily examined witnesses who were close to the dead, even though there were other impartial eyewitnesses present. 

In his second admission, he alleges that despite the fact there were numerous unaffiliated eyewitnesses, the prosecution had only decided to question those who were interested and directly connected to the killed.  

He claimed that the post-mortem records revealed the dead had one small cut on his finger and one cut on his neck. He added that there was an unexpected altercation between the dead and the accused number one, and that during that altercation, the accused number one attacked the deceased without any warning. Consequently, he would argue that this is an instance in which Section 300 of the IPC’s Exception 4 will apply, making it an offence under Part 1 of Section 304 of the IPC.  

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENT: 

Asserting that there are no significant inconsistencies or omissions in the evidence of PWs 2 through 5, which instils confidence, was the learned counsel representing the respondent, the State.  

He contended that there was a clear intention on the part of accused no. 1 to assault the deceased, as evidenced by the fact that, following a disagreement with the deceased, he entered his home, brought a billhook, and attacked the victim. Learned counsel argued that the deceased sought to flee after the accused number one struck him once on the index finger.  

The dead was chased by both accused; accuser no. 2 restrained the deceased, and accused no. 1 then fatally struck the deceased in the neck with a billhook. He recommended the exclusion of this case from the provisions of Section 300 of the IPC’s Exception 4. 

 

LEGAL PROVISIONS: 

S.300 provides the exceptions to Murder. Exception 4- If the crime is done in the midst of a furious argument, without any prior planning, and without the perpetrator taking unfair advantage of the situation or acting in an unusually harsh way, it is considered culpable homicide rather than murder. 

S.302 of The IPC- It prescribes punishment for intentionally causing the death of another person, in simpler terms, Murder. 

 

COURT’S ANANLYSIS AND JUDGMENT: 

The Court pronounced the judgment by initially stating that during PW2’s main cross-examination, she tried to establish a case that the accused had disparaged her daughter-in-law. To be fair, she didn’t say as much in the police-recorded statement. Most significantly, she said during cross-examination by accused no. She stated “Yesterday, my husband, myself, and other witnesses went to the Haridwar Mangalam Police station.” There, we received instruction on how to present evidence from the police.  

The Court further laid down that It is important to remember that PW-1 through PW-5’s evidence was recorded on November 20, 2008. It is evident from this that on November 19, 2008, the first five interested witnesses—PW-1 through PW-5—who were close relatives of the dead were summoned to the police station, where they received instruction from the police on how to make a deposition against the accused. 

 It’s important to remember that the prosecution refrained from asking the witness any questions throughout the re-examination. The investigating officer provided no justification for this. Since the first five witnesses were “taught” how to depose at the Police Station, the court was compelled to proceed on that premise.  

This leads to the situation that appears, which is that PWs 1 through 5 were called to the Police Station and instructed on how to depose exactly one day prior to their testimony being recorded before the Trial Court. What would happen if witnesses in a police station were “taught”? It is conceivable. The cops are clearly trying to influence the material witnesses for the prosecution with this brazen action. As interested witnesses, they were all of them. Since it is quite likely that the aforementioned witnesses received instruction from the police on the previous day. 

The court was rather disappointed by the Police and further, to put it mildly, held that this type of police meddling in the legal system was disturbing. This was a blatant abuse of authority on the part of the police apparatus. The prosecution witness cannot be tutored by the police. Even if there are more eyewitnesses, their statements were concealed, making this behaviour even more terrible.  

The court, while pronouncing the judgment, held that the appellants were wrongfully convicted by both the Sessions Court and the High Court. The appeals were therefore granted. The appellants were found not guilty of the charges brought against them, and the contested judgements and decrees are overturned. Their bail bonds were cancelled.  

 

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Judgment reviewed by Riddhi S Bhora 

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“Contradictions are far too trival so as to discard the entire prosecution case” – SC

Case title:-RAMVIR @ SAKET SINGH VERSUS THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH

Case No:-CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(S). 1258 OF 2010

Decided on:-16th April , 2024.

Quorum:-Mehta, J.

Facts of the case:-

The current appeal is addressed against the ruling rendered on July 27, 2007, by the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s Division Bench in Gwalior, wherein Criminal Appeal No. 607 of 1998 was filed. By the appellant was rejected, and the ruling and decree dated November 9, 1998, issued in Session Case No. 70 of 1987 by the Vth Upper Sessions Judge, Behind, Madhya Pradesh (henceforth referred to as the “trial Court”), was maintained.The appellant in this case was tried for the murders occurred in two different instances, as well as for attempting to kill during the event that resulted in Kaptan Singh’s death. On November 10, 1985, both of these tragedies happened in the Madhya Pradesh village of Bhajai, in the District of Bhind. Following the trial, the learned trial court cleared the accused appellant of Kalyan Singh’s murder in a decision dated November 9, 1998, stating that the two eyewitnesses who testified against the appellant for the aforementioned incident were unreliable witnesses because they failed to identify the accused appellant in their testimonies provided to the investigating officer. The appellant was found guilty and sentenced as stated above by the learned trial court for the killing of Kaptan Singh and the attempted murder .It should be mentioned that the appellant in this case is said to have served approximately 22 years in prison with remission and more than 14 years of substantive imprisonment. Two of the accused appellant’s associates; Kaptan Singh (dead) was killed and Indal Singh was injured by a fire arm. Singh was shot with a gun and later passed away.

Appellant Contentions

The appellant counsel stated that the prosecution case was entirely made and untrue wherein furtherance to which the prosecution’s witnesses did not provide an explanation for fatal injuries. As a result, the prosecution’s witnesses’ testimony is not credible or trustworthy claimed that a cross case was filed against six members of the complainant side who were found guilty by the trial court of the offence punishable under Section 396 IPC and members of the complainant party who were found guilty in the cross case, it is obvious that they were the aggressors and, as a result, the accused appellant deserves to be exonerated by granting him the benefit of the doubt and the right to a private defense involving extensive cross-firing; the accused appellant did not sustain a single injury, and it is evident that the prosecution witnesses have not revealed the truth about what happened and their role in it. The evidence is corrupt and not reliable.By granting the accused appellant the benefit of the doubt and the right to a private defense, he should be found not guilty.

Respondent Contentions

Furthermore, it was argued that the accused appellant did not sustain any injuries in an incident involving widespread cross-firing, proving that the prosecution’s witnesses have not provided an accurate account of what happened and that their testimony is tainted and unreliable. The learned senior counsel went on to say that the High Court did not rely on. And where six members of the complainant’s side were found guilty by the trial court.

Court Analysis and Judgement

The appellant attempted to draw attention to insignificant inconsistencies pertaining to the lack of empty cartridges and other items at the scene of the crime, and the plea of alibi is not tenable because we determine that these inconsistencies are simply too minor to dismiss the prosecution’s case as a whole, which is predicated on a credible group of eyewitnesses whose testimony is supported by the medical jurist’s testimony as well as other relevant facts. There is no flaw in the contested rulings that justifies intervention. As a result, the appeal is rejected since it is without merit.

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Judgement Analysis Written by – K.Immey Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Fatal Grapple: The Daylight Murder where the Supreme Court upholds S. 302 of the IPC in a heartbreaking case.”

Case Title: Chandan v. The State (Delhi Admn) 

Case No.: Criminal Appeal No.788 OF 2012 

Dated: April, 2024 

Quorum: Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Prasanna B  Varale  

FACTS OF THE CASE:  

In this case, the appellant (Chandan) was accused of murder. The case was first tried in the High Court of Delhi. Aggrieved by the decision, the case was then appealed to the Supreme Court. It was on May 28, 1993, the deceased (Rakesh) and the accused (Chandan) were walking a few steps ahead of the sister-in-law of the deceased.  

The eyewitness (PW-2) saw the two grappling with each other, and then she witnessed the accused stabbing the deceased multiple times with a knife. Thereafter, he was taken to a nearby clinic and then to Hindu Rao Hospital, where he was declared dead. The post-mortem revealed several ante-mortem injuries, including stab wounds on different parts of the body. 

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT: 

Throughout the court case, the appellant made a number of arguments. He continued by claiming that the prosecution had not shown that the accused had any motivation for committing the claimed offence. 

This argument is valid, but it’s important to remember that the case mostly depends on eyewitness testimony, which is reliable and rarely influenced by a lack of clear motivation. He added that the defence stressed that there is nothing to undermine the witness’s testimony because this is a daytime murder that was observed by a trustworthy eyewitness (PW-2). Consequently, given the direct sight of the action, the motive itself loses much of its significance. 

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENT: 

The prosecution, according to the respondent, made a point of highlighting the ocular testimony of the trustworthy eyewitness (PW-2) as strong evidence. It is less important to prove a particular purpose when an eyewitness testimony gives the court confidence.  

The eyewitness testimony’s credibility is not greatly impacted by the simple lack of a clear motivation. The prosecution emphasised the type and extent of the deceased’s antemortem injuries. The medical examination revealed many wounds on different parts of the body, consistent with a vicious stabbing attack. Particularly, Injury No. 5 involved the pericardium and the tip of the left ventricle of the heart, penetrating the chest cavity and pointing upward. These wounds were enough to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. 

 

LEGAL PROVISIONS: 

  1.  Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code: The appellant was convicted under this section, which deals with the offense of murder. It prescribes punishment for intentionally causing the death of another person.  

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGMENT: 

The case was first tried in the Delhi High Court. The court upheld the conviction of the appellant (Chandan) under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The prosecution’s evidence, which included the accused’s arrest and an Indica automobile with bloodstains from the deceased on the rear seat, was deemed convincing by the trial court. 

The Supreme Court held that the prosecution provided all the evidence necessary to prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution had established its case, as both the trial court and the appellate court correctly concluded. The credibility of the eyewitness testimony and the type of antemortem injuries the deceased had sustained were key components of the case. 

 To summarize, the accused was found guilty of murder by the courts because they considered the prosecution’s evidence to be credible. The absence of a clear motivation had no appreciable effect on the case, and the eyewitness testimony was essential in establishing guilt. 

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Judgment reviewed by- Riddhi S Bhora 

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“Supreme Court relieves DMRC of hefty arbitral award to DAMEPL in a Curative Petition.”

Case Title: Chandan v. The State (Delhi Admn) 

Case No.: Criminal Appeal No.788 OF 2012 

Dated: April, 2024

Quorum: Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Prasanna B  Varale  

FACTS OF THE CASE:  

In this case, the appellant (Chandan) was accused of murder. The case was first tried in the High Court of Delhi. Aggrieved by the decision, the case was then appealed to the Supreme Court. It was on May 28, 1993, the deceased (Rakesh) and the accused (Chandan) were walking a few steps ahead of the sister-in-law of the deceased.  

The eyewitness (PW-2) saw the two grappling with each other, and then she witnessed the accused stabbing the deceased multiple times with a knife. Thereafter, he was taken to a nearby clinic and then to Hindu Rao Hospital, where he was declared dead. The post-mortem revealed several ante-mortem injuries, including stab wounds on different parts of the body. 

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT: 

Throughout the court case, the appellant made a number of arguments. He continued by claiming that the prosecution had not shown that the accused had any motivation for committing the claimed offence. 

This argument is valid, but it’s important to remember that the case mostly depends on eyewitness testimony, which is reliable and rarely influenced by a lack of clear motivation. He added that the defence stressed that there is nothing to undermine the witness’s testimony because this is a daytime murder that was observed by a trustworthy eyewitness (PW-2). Consequently, given the direct sight of the action, the motive itself loses much of its significance. 

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENT: 

The prosecution, according to the respondent, made a point of highlighting the ocular testimony of the trustworthy eyewitness (PW-2) as strong evidence. It is less important to prove a particular purpose when an eyewitness testimony gives the court confidence.  

The eyewitness testimony’s credibility is not greatly impacted by the simple lack of a clear motivation. The prosecution emphasised the type and extent of the deceased’s antemortem injuries. The medical examination revealed many wounds on different parts of the body, consistent with a vicious stabbing attack. Particularly, Injury No. 5 involved the pericardium and the tip of the left ventricle of the heart, penetrating the chest cavity and pointing upward. These wounds were enough to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. 

 

LEGAL PROVISIONS: 

  1.  Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code: The appellant was convicted under this section, which deals with the offense of murder. It prescribes punishment for intentionally causing the death of another person.  

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGMENT: 

The case was first tried in the Delhi High Court. The court upheld the conviction of the appellant (Chandan) under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The prosecution’s evidence, which included the accused’s arrest and an Indica automobile with bloodstains from the deceased on the rear seat, was deemed convincing by the trial court. 

The Supreme Court held that the prosecution provided all the evidence necessary to prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution had established its case, as both the trial court and the appellate court correctly concluded. The credibility of the eyewitness testimony and the type of antemortem injuries the deceased had sustained were key components of the case. 

 To summarize, the accused was found guilty of murder by the courts because they considered the prosecution’s evidence to be credible. The absence of a clear motivation had no appreciable effect on the case, and the eyewitness testimony was essential in establishing guilt. 

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Judgment reviewed by- Riddhi S Bhora 

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Testimony of “injured witness” unreliable; Prosecution failed to establish the case on the standard of beyond reasonable doubt: Supreme Court

Case title – Periyasamy Vs The State Rep. By the Inspector of Police

Case no. – Criminal Appeal No. 270 OF 2019 with CA No. 271 OF 2019

Decision on – March 18th, 2024

Quoram – Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Sanjay Karol

Facts of the case

In the present case, the issue is regarding the death of two persons who were stabbed by A-1 at the instigation of A-2.

On 3rd March 2002, Dharmalingam (D1 deceased) after procuring liquor in an earlier completed transaction demanded more brandy on credit from the owners and workers of Saravana Wine Shop. A quarrel arose, and a showcase of the shop was smashed, and the bottles stored therein were damaged.

In this course of events, it is alleged that D-1 retrieved a knife and stabbed one Thangavel (one of the owners of the shop). Consequently, A-1, caused fatal injuries to D-1 and stabbed one Thangavel5 (D2 deceased). A-1 with a knife caused fatal injuries to D-1. He also stabbed Sakthivel (son of Muthuveeran) in his stomach repeatedly.

When D-2 intervened to prevent the attack, A-1 stabbed him as well. While D-1 and D-2 were being taken to the hospital, on the way, both succumbed to injuries.

Sakthivel, who was suffered the injuries, reported the incident to the Police Inspector at the Hospital. Based on his statement, FIR was registered. Upon investigation, A1 and A2 were charged under Section 302 and 307 of IPC.

The trial Court convicted A-1 under Section 302, IPC, for the murder of D-1 and D-2 and A2 under Section 109 of IPC for abetting the murder of D-1.

The Madras High Court subsequently confirmed the judgement and order of the Trial Court in convicting A1 and A2.

Issue – Whether the convictions handed down to A-1 and A-2 are established on the standard of beyond reasonable doubt.

Contentions on behalf of A-1

The Counsel submitted that all witnesses testified were interested in the case’s outcome and therefore, were unreliable. He contended that the events unfolded were the result of a spur-of-the-moment quarrel in which the accused also sustained grievous injuries and thus pleaded an exception under right of self defence.

Contentions on behalf of A-2

It was argued on behalf of A-2 that his presence at the scene of the crime was never established. Four limbs of A-1’s arguments, i.e., delay in lodging the FIR; almost all witnesses qualifying as interested witnesses; there being no enmity between the involved persons; and the lack of independent witnesses, were adopted by A-2.

Submissions on behalf of the Respondent

The respondent had filed detailed submissions which attempted to discredit and rebut all the submissions made on behalf of the accused persons. In doing so, the State also relied on various judgments from this Court.

Court’s Analysis and Judgement

The Court analyzed the law relating to “right to self defence” and “interested witness”. It also examined the merit of the statements given by the witnesses and pointed out that the there was a needs to strike a balance between the “injured witness” and “interested witness”

The Court highlighting several lapses on the part of the prosecution in proving the case against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt noted that the conviction handed down by the Courts to A-1 and A-2 is not sustainable. Further, it held that the testimonies of the injured witnesses and the Investigation Officer are not reliable which rendered the prosecution case weak in the eyes of law.

The Court considering the submissions of both the parties and examining the evidence on record made the following observations –

  • Examined private persons were interested witnesses, with inconsistencies amongst them;
  • No independent witnesses were examined;
  • There was a delay in filing the FIR;
  • There were interpolations on record;
  • There were numerous lapses in the investigation; and
  • The medical and scientific evidence on record does not support the prosecution’s version of events.

In light of the above findings, the Court acquitted the appellants and set aside their conviction orders.

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Judgement Reviewed by – Keerthi K

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