Courts Update Supreme Court sets aside conviction in murder case based...

Supreme Court sets aside conviction in murder case based on faulty investigation, says can’t close eyes to gross injustice

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New Delhi Aug 20(ILNS): The Supreme Court set aside the conviction and sentence of life imprisonment of a man, noting that investigation was faulty and not carried out with the intention of unearthing the truth, but for burying the same fathom deep, for extraneous considerations, while allowing the real culprits named in the FIR to escape.

The bench comprised of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice V. Ramasubramanian while exercising its wide powers under Article 142, set aside the conviction of one of the accused who didn’t even file the appeal before the Court and set him free. 

“This is a case where we have disbelieved, in entirety, the story of the prosecution. Therefore, to deny the benefit of the said conclusion to A-1 merely on the ground of a technicality that he is not on appeal would be “to close our eyes to a gross injustice, especially when we are empowered under Article 142 to do complete justice,” it observed.

The apex court held that investigation proceeded in the reverse gear right from the beginning. “Instead of proceeding in the pursuit of truth, (the investigation) had proceeded towards burying the truth,” it noted.

The accused included Madhav, Sahodra Bai, and Raju. Madhav and Sahodra appealed to the Supreme Court in two separate appeals that were heard and decided together. The offenses were those of Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, for which they were sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2500 by the Sessions Court and confirmed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh vide a common order dated September 19, 2018. The appellants were represented by Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad and Amit Arjariya. 

According to the prosecution, on May 13, 2018, at around 2230 hrs, Sahodra Bai, Raju and Madhav attacked and killed one Pappu alias Nand Kishore, the brother of Raju, with a knife and lathis. Thereafter to cover up, Sahodra Bai (wife of the deceased) took him to a government hospital and informed the police, implicating two other persons – Ruia Yadav and Kailash Yadav. She was additionally charged with Sections 211 and 194 IPC, but acquitted on that account.

Further, the Supreme Court recorded the finding that there was nothing on record to show that the bloodstains that were present on the weapons, matched the blood of the deceased.

The Supreme Court observed that the IO did not proceed with the intention of unearthing the truth for extraneous considerations and the investigation was designed to turn the informant and her family members as accused, to allow the real culprits named in the FIR to escape.

The investigation from the beginning made the informant, namely Sahodra Bai, her husband and brother as accused, instead of the named accused in the FIR. 

The Supreme court noted that in case the real culprit lodges the first information to misdirect the investigation, it is only during the course of the investigation, the case may take a U-turn. In those cases, additional charges against the informant under Chapter XI of IPC have to be added. In this case, the informant was also charged with Sections 194 and 211 of the IPC, but the trial court had acquitted her.

The Court also held that it was unbelievable that in the presence of witnesses, the person who killed the deceased took him to the hospital in an autorickshaw. Barring intelligent and seasoned criminals, the normal human behavior would be to either flee or surrender. 

The Supreme Court further observed that though Raju was not an appellant before the Court, he could not be denied the benefit of acquittal on the ground of technicality as the case is not based on the individual overt acts of the other two appellants, hence under Article 142, it exercised its power to acquit him also. 

“This case is demonstrative of the fact that the Courts at times overlook glaring inconsistencies in the investigation, which is the prerogative of the executive, however, its oversight by the judiciary is a necessary aspect of our criminal justice system,” added. /ILNS/SC/KR/SNG

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