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Delhi High Court Awards Compensation to Acquitted Accused in Murder Case Due to Terrible Investigation

Title:  State v. Usha Devi & Anr.

Decided on:  01st August, 2023

+  CRL. A.229/2023

CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SURESH KUMAR KAIT & HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE NEENA BANSAL KRISHNA 

Introduction

The Delhi High Court has awarded a compensation of Rs. 50,000 each to two acquitted accused in a murder case. The accused, who were the grandmother and father of a 2-year-old deceased child, had been acquitted by the Trial Court for offenses under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The High Court found that the investigation conducted by the prosecution agency was severely lacking.

Facts

The High Court heard an appeal filed by the State against the judgment of the Trial Court, which had acquitted the accused persons. The accused were the grandmother and father of a 2-year-old child who had been charged under Section 302 of the IPC. The prosecution agency’s investigation had led to their trial.

Analysis

The High Court observed that it is a settled legal principle that the guilty should not go free, and the innocent should not be falsely accused and punished. In this case, the High Court criticized the terrible investigation conducted by the prosecution agency, which lacked material substance against the accused. The Court emphasized that the accused had suffered due to the unfair investigation, enduring a long trial and undeserved punishment.

The High Court also cautioned prosecution agencies to conduct investigations prudently and urged trial courts to carefully assess the evidence so that innocent individuals do not have to endure the suffering of incarceration.

Held

The High Court, acknowledging that the matter involved a policy decision to be taken by the Ministry and the legislature, found the compliance report submitted by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) to be sufficient. The Court appreciated the Ministry’s acknowledgment of the concerns raised in its judgment and expressed confidence that the Ministry would incorporate the necessary rules and regulations to regulate social media platforms as per the court’s directions.

Conclusion

The Delhi High Court’s decision to award compensation to the acquitted accused underscores the importance of conducting fair and thorough investigations. The Court’s strong words against the prosecution agency’s inadequate investigation serve as a reminder of the responsibility to ensure that justice is served and innocent individuals are not wrongfully implicated. The compensation awarded to the accused acknowledges the ordeal they went through due to the flawed investigation process.

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Written by- Ankit Kaushik

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Bombay High Court dismisses appeal challenging the conviction order under Sec. 302 IPC

Title: Smt. Sangita Vilas Kiwade v. State of Maharashtra

Decided on: 4th JULY 2023

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 619 OF 2021

CORAM: REVATI MOHITE DERE & GAURI GODSE, JJ.

Facts of the Case

The case revolves around an incident that occurred on November 18, 2010, in Mukundnagar, Dias plot Canal at Gultekdi, Pune. The appellant was allegedly involved in an illegal money-lending business and had lent a sum of Rs. 50,000 at 10% interest to the complainant two years prior to the incident. Allegedly harboring resentment over non-repayment of the loan, the appellant kidnapped the complainant’s grandchildren – Rohit (9), Rahul (7), Anmol (5), and Tejas (3). The appellant then took them in an auto-rickshaw to the canal and pushed Rohit, Rahul, and Anmol into the water, attempting to kill them. Tejas drowned in the canal, and his body was found later. The prosecution charged the appellant under sections 363 (kidnapping), 366 , 307 (attempted murder), and 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 32-B(b) of the Bombay Money Lenders Act 1946.

Issues:

The main issues revolve around the credibility of the child witnesses’ testimonies, the intention of the appellant, and whether the evidence supports the charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, and money-lending without a valid license.

Contentions:

The prosecution argued that the child witnesses’ consistent accounts, along with the corroborative evidence, indicated that the appellant had lured the children with ice cream, kidnapped them, and attempted to kill them. They also emphasized the presence of the appellant’s daughter at the scene and her objections to the appellant’s actions. The prosecution asserted that the evidence established the appellant’s intent to commit the crimes.

The Respondents contended that the child witnesses’ testimonies were unreliable and possibly influenced by tutoring. They argued that inconsistencies in the evidence, as well as natural connections between the families, cast doubt on the prosecution’s version of events. They also argued that the incident might have been an unfortunate accident rather than a premeditated act.

Decision:

After examining the evidence and arguments presented by both sides, the court found the child witnesses’ testimonies to be credible and consistent. The court emphasized that the witnesses had undergone preliminary questioning to ensure their understanding and ability to provide rational answers. It ruled that their evidence, along with corroborating testimonies and other evidence, supported the prosecution’s case.

The court held that the appellant’s act of pushing the children into the canal indicated a clear intent to harm and even kill them. The court also found the evidence sufficient to establish the offense of kidnapping and upheld the appellant’s conviction for attempted murder, kidnapping, and money-lending without a valid license under relevant sections of the IPC and the Bombay Money Lenders Act.

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Written by- Aparna Gupta, University Law College & Dept. of Studies in Law

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Bombay High Court acquits a man convicted for murder for lack of evidence

Title: Suresh v. The State of Maharashtra and Ors.

Decided on: 18th JULY, 2023

+ Cri.Apeal.513/2016

CORAM: SMT. VIBHA KANKANWADI AND ABHAY S. WAGHWASE, JJ.

Facts of the Case:

Appellant had illicit relations with one Shobhabai. Deceased Anil desisted appellant from maintaining and continuing such relations. Therefore, according to prosecution, deceased was viewed as obstruction and to eliminate him, appellant called him near the water tank and by use of knife he stabbed him to death and thereafter threw the body in the well for causing disappearance of evidence. Hence, he convicted for offences under IPC Sec. 302 and 201. This was challenged by him in this appeal.

Issues

Was the conviction of the appellant valid?

Contentions

The appellants claimed that the conviction was wrong for there was no incriminating evidence proving his guilt; The conviction was based only on circumstantial evidence and not any direct evidence. The prosecution was not able to prove beyond reasonable doubt and therefore, the accused must be given the benefit of doubt.

The Respondents contented that the appellant was rightly contended as there was enough incriminating evidence. The appellant being the last person in the company of deceased, he is rightly arrested, tried and rightly held guilty. As per the statement of the deceased’s wife he went to the tank (place where he was found dead) only after receiving a call from the appellant. The appellant was also seen purchasing a knife. All the evidence directly points to his involvement in the death and therefore, he is rightly convicted.

Decision

The evidence presented by the Respondents is not direct evidence. None of the circumstances firmly and cogently proved beyond reasonable doubt. The chain of circumstances is not getting complete. Therefore, case of prosecution cannot be said to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Therefore, the appellant was acquitted and the previous order of the Court was set aside.

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Written by- Aparna Gupta, University Law College & Dept. of Studies in Law

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Karnataka High Court Sets Aside Life Sentence In Murder Case; Says Eyewitness facts Contradictory, Should Be Backed With Supporting Material

Title: K P Pushpesh & Others And State of Karnataka

Case No: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 879 OF 2016

Date of Order 21-06-2023

CORAM: HON’BLE JUSTICE K SOMASHEKHAR AND HON’BLE JUSTICE RAJESH RAI K

INTRODUCTION

The Karnataka High Court has acquitted three youths convicted and sentenced to suffer life imprisonment for charges of murder, holding that there were material contradictions in the evidence of eyewitnesses to the incident and the prosecution failed to corroborate their evidence with any other material.

FACTS OF THE CASE

The case involves the prosecution’s claim that, the deceased Nousheer was murdered by accused No. 1 to 3 due to ill-will between them and with a common intention. According to the prosecution, accused Nos. 1 and 2 restrained Nousheer near the house of CW.6-Raman and assaulted him with a sickle, causing grievous injuries, resulting in his death. Accused No. 3 was alleged to have facilitated the murder by providing information about the movements of the deceased to accused Nos. 1 and 2.

The prosecution’s main evidence relied on two eyewitnesses, PW.22 and PW.24, who were neighbors and claimed to have seen the incident. However, the defense counsel contended that the trial court solely relied on the inconsistent testimony of these eyewitnesses, PW.22 and PW.24, without scrutinizing their evidence. The defense pointed out that the eyewitnesses did not attempt to prevent the accused from committing the crime, nor did they raise any alarm or inform the police about the incident. Additionally, they failed to identify the weapons allegedly used in the murder.

 

COURT ANALYSIS AND DECISION

The Court referred to the evidence of the eyewitnesses and said “On careful perusal of the evidence of this witness, we are of the opinion that there is considerable force in the submission made by the learned Senior counsels for the appellants about the evidence deposed by these witnesses in respect of the incident witness by them, cannot be relied to the fullest extent to prove the guilt of the accused.” it further set aside life sentence in murder case; says eyewitness account contradictory, should be backed with supporting material.

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Written by- Shreya Sharma

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If the dying declaration is truthful, voluntary and free from suspicion, it CAN be the basis for conviction: Bombay High Court

Title: Bhagwan Ramdas Tupe v. The State of Maharashtra

Decided on: 28th JULY, 2023

+ CRL.A. 530 OF 2016

CORAM: SMT. VIBHA KANKANWADI, J.

Facts of the Case

Bhagwan Ramdas Tupe (BRT) was previously convicted for Murder of one Vithabai, his neighbour and was thereof sentenced to life imprisonment.  BRT appealed to the Aurangabad Bench of Bombay HC and sought acquittal on the basis that there were inconsistencies between the dying declarations of 2 witnesses.

The respondents sought for the dismissal of the appeal for there was no “inconsistency” at all.  According to them the minor details may have been inconsistent, but overall, the story in both the dying declarations and Prime Witnesses is the same.

It was alleged that BRT had poured kerosene and tembha, i.e., burning wood, on Vithabai, due to which she sustained major burn injuries. She had not died instantly, she succumbed to the injuries only 2 months after the incident and before her death she gave her dying declaration to the Inspector.

Issues

Should the Dying Declaration of Vithabai be considered the basis for conviction?

Decision

The Court decided on the dying declaration made by Vithabai that although she had injuries, she was mentally sound and able to speak. In fact, her dying declaration corroborated with the Prime Witnesses’ story and therefore, the dying declaration made by her was truthful, voluntary and free from any suspicion.

Thus, the Court upheld the conviction and dismissed the appeal.

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Written by – Aparna Gupta, University Law College & Dept. of Studies in Law

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