None Of The Courts Below Referred To Basic Principles Of Criminal Jurisprudence While Convicting: SC Acquits Murder Accused
The Supreme Court while acquitting a murder accused observed that the Courts must refrain from committing such grave errors in the future, whereby innocent people are made to suffer incarceration for over a period of nearly two decades, without proper appreciation of evidence.
In this case, the bench of Justice BR Gavai, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Sanjay Karol noted that none of the courts below referred to the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence while convicting the appellant-accused.
“Unfortunately, none of the courts below have referred to the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence. We may also state that the Courts must refrain from committing such grave errors in the future, whereby innocent people are made to suffer incarceration for over a period of nearly two decades, without proper appreciation of evidence.”, the Court noted.
Senior Advocate A Sirajudeen appeared for the appellant-accused whereas Advocate Swati Ghildiyal appeared for Respondent.
The prosecution’s case was that police registered an FIR in relation to the murder of a person. The Complaint records the complainant to have stated that one person had come on a motorcycle to his residence informing him of his son being critically injured and being taken to MG Hospital in an autorickshaw.
The Complainant along with this person reached the hospital where he saw the dead body of his son lying on a stretcher. On inquiry he was informed by the doctor that the victim had died as result of a fire shot injury.
Investigation revealed that, while the deceased and PW-3 were sitting on the Nala near the Circuit House, accused and pillion rider came on a motorcycle and after a brief talk, accused shot dead the deceased with a gun, which was discovered pursuant to his disclosure statement.
The Trial Court convicted the accused on the ground that the incident was witnessed by PW-3, whose testimony, being the sole eye-witness was trustworthy and reliable. The High Court upheld the judgement of the Trial Court on the ground that the prosecution story was reliable and worthy of credence.
The Apex Court noted that “The witness is an adult, mature and worldly wise. He is aged 24 years and runs a grocery shop. He is not illiterate, yet he chose to not take any action, even to save the life of his friend. His explanation that he went home and slept is uninspiring in confidence for the incident took place in his presence and in close proximity of habitation…”
The Court observed that his conduct of going off to sleep, having seen his friend being murdered right before his eyes and then not visiting the hospital forthwith is quite unnatural.
The Court further observed that except for the confessional statement of the accused, the Prosecution was not able to link the weapon with the accused.
“In the absence of any other evidence linking the accused to the murder of the deceased, the testimony of PW-3 discarded, there is no other direct or circumstantial evidence, ocular or otherwise, linking the accused be it on the point of motive or the incident.”, the Court noted.
Thus the Court acquitted the accused of all charges framed against him.
Cause Title- Narendrasinh Keshubhai Zala v. State of Gujarat