The Gujarat High Court, noticing that three decades Ood Appeals are still pending, asked the State to streamline the entire process governing criminal appeals.

The court made this observation while it allowed a criminal appeal against an acquittal and convicted a 73-year-old man for the murder of his wife 27 years ago.

The Bench of Justice AS Supehia and Justice Vimal K Vyas also rebuked the State authorities for not following the guidelines as provided in the Court's previous order to see that some mechanism is developed by the State for hearing the old criminal appeals and form a committee in the same regard.

To that end, it was said that, "This Court is conscious of its limitation and the contours of law in which it has to function, but the State cannot simply ignore the observations made in the order. It is high time that the State has to streamline the entire process governing the criminal appeals. The Committee can certainly look into the merits of the old criminal appeals and request the Courts to get the matter listed."

APP Dhawan Jayswal appeared for the appellant, while Counsel PB Khandheria appeared for the respondent.

The prosecution's case was that the respondent murdered his wife on 29.03.1997 due to proceedings filed by her seeking maintenance. The eyewitness, the deceased's brother, testified against the accused, stating that he saw the murder. However, the trial court acquitted the accused, leading to an appeal. The prosecution argued that the trial court erred in disbelieving the eyewitness and disregarding medical evidence. The defence contended that the eyewitness was unreliable and questioned the timing and location of the incident. The defence also highlighted inconsistencies in the evidence.

The Court ordered the accused to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life while holding that, "The nature of injuries proves that the accused had the intention and knowledge of committing murder of the deceased. His case will fall in first and second clause to Section 300 of IPC. The deceased was brutally assaulted by him with a knife on vital parts. The commission of offence of “murder”, by the accused stands proved."

The Court also made observations on the pending acquittal appeals and said that, "We have noticed that acquittal appeals in heinous offences which are more than three decades old are still pending in this Court, apparently the State is major stakeholder. The State cannot remain a mute spectator and ignore the proceedings after they are filed, without owing any responsibility. In case of heinous offences, which affects the society at large, it is the onerous duty of the State under the Constitution of India, to act as guardian and protector of law. By keeping the criminal appeals pending for more than two decades, and without making any attempts to see that the same are put to an end or are heard expeditiously, the State is failing in its sacrosanct duty which directly impacts the social order."


Appellant: APP Dhawan Jayswal

Respondent: Counsel PB Khandheria

Cause Title: State of Gujarat vs Jivrajbhai Ramjibhai Koli

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