The Patna High Court has observed that it cannot be presumed that an accused committed a crime merely because the prosecution alleged about his motive.

The Court observed thus in a batch of appeals filed under Section 374(2) of the CrPC against the judgment of conviction passed by the Additional Sessions Judge by which the accused persons (appellants) were convicted for the offence punishable under Section 364 of the IPC and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life along with a fine of Rs. 20,000/-.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Vipul M. Pancholi and Justice Rudra Prakash Mishra held, “We are of the view that the aforesaid story put forward by the prosecution-witnesses cannot be believed in absence of any material collected by the investigating agency. Merely because prosecution has alleged about the motive on the part of the appellants to commit the crime by contending that son of Rudal Roy i.e. Samarjeet has refused to marry the sister of brother-in-law (Sadhu) of accused Akhilesh Roy, i.e. one of the appellants, it cannot be presumed that the appellants have kidnapped Rudal Roy and thereafter killed him.”

Senior Advocate Sanjay Singh and Advocate Rudrank Shivam Singh represented the appellants/accused while APP Sujeet Kumar Singh represented the respondent/State.

Brief Facts -

The father of the informant, had gone to ease himself and in the meantime, the mother of the informant woke up and enquired the younger brother of the informant about her husband who confirmed that he had gone to ease himself. In the morning seeing the water pot on the window, the informant’s mother again tried to locate his whereabouts, but to no avail. The father of the informant had to go to Danapur Cantonment to meet the informant’s younger brother who was a Sepoy in Army and all the family members got an impression that went there without informing any member of the family. On that day, the cousin of the brother-in-law of the informant dialled from his phone belonging to the informant’s neighbour, and informed the informant that his father informed him that in the morning when he was returning, accused persons kidnapped him and took him to an unknown place under threat and on asking informant’s father from which place he was talking, he replied that he was blind-folded and had no idea of his whereabouts.

The informant’s case was that such an incident was the outcome of a pre-planned conspiracy. After filing of the F.I.R., the investigating agency carried out the investigation and during the course of investigation, the Investigating Officer recorded the statement of the witnesses and collected the relevant documents and thereafter initially filed the final report in favour of the accused. However, it was pointed out by the counsels that the Court directed the investigating agency to carry out further investigation and thereafter the investigating agency filed the charge-sheet against the accused. As the case was exclusively triable by the Court of Sessions, the case was committed to the Court of Sessions. After conclusion of the trial, the Trial Court passed the impugned judgment and order.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “… the prosecution has failed to prove that Rudal Roy has been killed. Dead body of Rudal Roy has not been found and, therefore, in absence of the same, it cannot be presumed that Rudal Roy has expired or has died. The Trial Court has observed that for 7 years from the date of occurrence nothing is heard about Rudal Roy and, therefore, it can be reasonably presumed that Rudal Roy has expired and, therefore, it is for the appellants to prove by leading cogent evidence that Rudal Roy is still alive and when the appellants have failed to prove the same, the Trial Court has presumed that the appellants must have killed him.”

The Court said that the reasoning recorded by the Trial Court is totally misconceived and that the appellants did not kidnap or abduct. It added that the prosecution also failed to prove that the deceased was killed by the appellants and therefore, the provisions contained in Section 364 of IPC i.e., kidnapping or abducting in order to murder is also not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

“… we are of the view that the Trial Court has committed grave error by recording the order of conviction and, therefore, the impugned judgment and order is required to be quashed and set aside”, concluded the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the appeals and set aside the conviction of the appellants.

Cause Title- Pantulal Roy & Anr. v. The State of Bihar

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