Faced Trial For Many Years Despite No Incriminating Evidence Against Him: Delhi HC Acquits Man In 19-Yr-Old Murder Case
The Delhi High Court has acquitted a man in a 19-year-old murder case on the ground that he had faced trial for many years despite there being no incriminating evidence against him.
A Single Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma held, “This Court, therefore, holds that the present case is not based on the established principles of law of evidence and Indian Penal Code. The judgment also suffers from the fact that despite there being no incriminating evidence against the present appellant, he has been convicted on the basis of a presumption. This Court notes with a little dismay that the present appellant has faced the trial for many years despite there being no incriminating evidence against him. At this stage, the only recourse available to this Court is to acquit the appellant of all the charges leveled against him.”
The Bench noted that the evidence brought on record by the prosecution was inherently insufficient to establish a solid foundation for conviction.
Advocate Ashutosh Bhardwaj appeared for the appellant while APP Naresh Kumar Chahar appeared for the State.
Facts of the case -
An appeal was filed by the appellant under Section 374 of the Cr.PC. challenging the judgment and order of sentence passed by the Additional Sessions Judge in the year 2011 whereby it had convicted him for the offences punishable under Sections 120B and 201 of the IPC read with Section 302 of the IPC. In 2004, a case was registered by a man who alleged that his driver went missing with his car being used for the purpose of tourism.
The body of the said driver was identified during the probe and four men including the appellant who booked the car/taxi for a visit got arrested. Thereafter, the Trial Court convicted the appellant for the offences punishable under Sections 120-B/201 read with Section 302 of the IPC and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year with a fine of Rs. 2,000/-.
The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel for both parties observed, “This Court notes that the precedents laid down by the Hon‟ble Apex Court indicate that to establish the guilt of an accused for offence punishable under Section 201 of IPC, it is essential to demonstrate that the accused had sufficient knowledge and evidence about the crime committed. Furthermore, it must be demonstrated by the prosecution that the actions of accused were intended to shield the offender from legal consequences.”
The Court further noted that there is no independent punishment explicitly prescribed for the offence under Section 201 of the IPC, as it is always contingent upon the gravity of the primary offence.
“There are few unusual and interesting facts disclosed from the impugned judgment itself and the most glaring is that the supplementary charge-sheet in the present case against present appellant was filed at the oral direction of concerned Trial Court. This is unheard in criminal jurisprudence or the procedure followed in the criminal courts. This fact has been mentioned by learned Trial Court in the impugned judgment itself”, said the Court.
The Court also said that the independent conviction of the accused individual for the offence under Section 201 of the IPC is improper, unjustified, and unlawful, in the facts and circumstances of the case.
“This Court notes that in the facts and circumstances of the case, when the appellant and co-accused persons stood acquitted of the substantive and principle charge of Section 302 IPC and there being a categorical finding by the learned Trial Court that the prosecution had failed to establish commission of offence under Section 302 IPC by the appellant and the co-accused persons, under such circumstances, present appellant could not have been independently convicted so far as the offence under Section 201 of IPC is concerned for the reasons that the principal offence under Section 302 IPC itself has not been established in the present case against any of the accused persons, together with the other lacunaes in investigation and the manner of filing of supplementary chargesheet of the present appellant on oral directions of the Court”, observed the Court.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant of all the charges.
Cause Title- Vijay Bahadur @ Monu v. State (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:3805)