The Delhi High Court, on Tuesday, acquitted a Constable from the charge of murdering another Constable.
The Court was hearing an Appeal filed by one Mr. Sunil Kumar, challenging a judgment convicting him for the murder of Constable Dinesh. Mr. Kumar had claimed that the shot was fired at Dinesh by mistake and that he did not know that the self-loading rifle (SLR) was loaded.
The prosecution case, on the other hand, rested on the testimony of another Constable, who had claimed that the accused had, in fact, cocked and aimed the rifle at the deceased, thereby asserting the existence of mens rea for commission of the crime.
The Bench comprising Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice I.S. Mehta, however, opined that the prosecution had failed to establish its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The Court noted that the other Constable who was present at the crime scene was an 'interested witness', since he had brought a loaded SLR into the barrack and had left it on the cot without the safety catch being engaged. It further observed that the outcome of the trial would have a bearing on the disciplinary proceedings faced by him for dereliction of duty.
The Bench, therefore, observed, "In sum and substance, the prosecution has miserably failed to prove that the accused committed the act as described by PW-1 or that he committed it with the knowledge that it would in all probability cause the death of Dinesh."
The Court also ruled out the possibility of Mr. Kumar having committed an offence under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC, observing, "That act of lifting the SLR cannot be said to be rash or negligent if the accused did not in fact know that it was loaded and cocked. On the other hand, what stands probabilized is the version of the accused that he merely moved the SLR and in that process accidentally pressed the trigger without knowing that the revolver was already loaded and cocked. Therefore, the said act of merely moving the SLR could hardly be said “rash and negligent” in the circumstances. The Court is, therefore, satisfied that the prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed an offence under Section 304 A IPC."