26 Jun 2023 8:15 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has acquitted three youths convicted and sentenced to suffer life imprisonment for charges of murder, holding that there were material contradictions in the evidence of eyewitnesses to the incident and the prosecution failed to corroborate their evidence with any other material. A division bench of Justice K Somashekhar and Justice Rajesh Rai K acquitted KR Pushpesh,...
The Karnataka High Court has acquitted three youths convicted and sentenced to suffer life imprisonment for charges of murder, holding that there were material contradictions in the evidence of eyewitnesses to the incident and the prosecution failed to corroborate their evidence with any other material.
A division bench of Justice K Somashekhar and Justice Rajesh Rai K acquitted KR Pushpesh, PV Vinaya and KR Radish who were sentenced to suffer simple imprisonment for life, for murdering one Nousheer.
The bench said, “The golden thread which runs through the web of administration of justice in criminal cases is that, if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused persons and the other to their innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused persons should be adopted. The paramount consideration of the Court is to ensure that miscarriage of justice should be prevented. A miscarriage of justice which may arise from acquittal of the guilty is not less than the conviction of an innocent.”
The case of the prosecution was that on 17.04.2014, due to ill-will between the deceased in this case, one Nousheer and accused No.1 to 3 with a common intention of committing the murder of the deceased went in a car and while the deceased Nousheer was going to his house, accused Nos.1 and 2 restrained him near the house of CW.6-Raman and assaulted the deceased on his head, face, neck, shoulder and both hands with sickle causing grievous injuries to him and thereby, committed his murder. It was said the accused No.3 facilitated accused Nos.1 and 2 to commit the murder of the deceased-Nousheer by giving information to accused Nos.1 and 2 about the movements of the deceased.
The prosecution primarily relied on the testimony of two neighbours who were supposed to be eyewitnesses to the incident.
However, the defence counsels contended that the trial court totally relied on the evidence of PW.22 and PW.24, who are the alleged eyewitness to the incident without scrutinising/appreciating their evidence, though the same is highly inconsistent.
It was pointed out that the eyewitnesses neither made any attempt to prevent the accused while committing the incident nor made any hue and cry. They also failed to inform the Police. They even failed to identify the weapons said to have been used for the commission of the crime.
At the outset, the bench referred to evidence of the complainant who was declared hostile by the prosecution the bench noted that he admitted that the complaint was written by his advocate one Sunil and he did not go through contents of the complaint. Further, he did not know the reason behind the commission of the incident.
“By perusal of the complaint, the same is lodged against accused Nos.1 and 2 and one Sampath and Ramesh. However, the Police registered the F.I.R against accused Nos.1 and 2, one Sampath and one Vinay. This material discrepancy in the complaint and FIR has not been explained by the prosecution either during investigation or before the trial Court. Nevertheless, after investigation, the respondent-Police filed the charge-sheet against accused Nos.1 to 3 and dropped Accused No.4- Sampath Kumar whose name was found in the F.I.R and implicated accused No.3 in the case. Hence, the evidence of PW.23-complainant will not be much helpful to the prosecution case since PW.23 turned hostile in respect of the alleged incident is concerned,” it observed.
Then the Court referred to the evidence of the eyewitnesses and said “On careful perusal of the evidence of this witness, we are of the opinion that there is considerable force in the submission made by the learned Senior counsels for the appellants about the evidence deposed by these witnesses in respect of the incident witness by them, cannot be relied to the fullest extent to prove the guilt of the accused.”
“In our considered opinion, the non-examination of the said material witness is also fatal to the prosecution case. Hence, without any corroboration, the evidence of PW.22 and PW.24 cannot be based for conviction of the accused since there are material contradictions and omissions forthcoming in their evidence. After careful perusal of their evidence, much evidentiary value cannot be attached to their evidence.”
Taking into account failure of the prosecution in complying with Section 100(4) of CrPC, for effecting proper recovery of weapons used for the offence at the instance of accused Nos.1 and 2, the bench held “The Investigation Officer failed to secure the presence of the neighbours within the vicinity of the said place (from where the weapons were recovered) in spite of several houses situated in and around the said place as admitted by PW.29. Hence, the non-compliance of the provisions of Section 100(4) of Cr.P.C., which creates a doubt in the mind of this Court about the recovery.”
It added “The Courts generally look for compliance of the aforesaid provisions, to the extent possible in the facts and circumstance of a given case.”
Further it said that when the evidence of eye-witnesses are not trust-worthy and shaky, in such circumstances, the recovery of material objects play a vital role in evidence, but unfortunately in this case the prosecution even failed to prove such vital circumstance by adducing proper evidence.
Thus it held “Though the prosecution proved the homicidal death of the deceased beyond reasonable doubt, but by perusal of the evidence of the eye-witnesses and other circumstantial evidence examined by the prosecution, we are of the opinion that the prosecution failed to connect the accused for the homicidal death of deceased.”
It said the Sessions Judge ignored a number of reasonable doubts which legitimately arose on the evidence lead by the prosecution and its conduct in suppressing the material witness. "The inconsistency of lodging the complaint against 4 persons, subsequently registering the case against 3 persons and finally at the time of filing charge sheet dropping the accused No.3 and implicating the present accused No.3 and the preparing of complaint by an Advocate known to PW.23 and the delay in transmitting the F.I.R to the Jurisdictional Magistrate, creates doubt in the prosecution case at its inception itself.”
Allowing the appeal of the accused the bench said “Hence, the benefit of doubt has to be given to the accused persons. In that view of the matter, we are of the considered opinion that the Prosecution failed to prove the charges levelled against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.”
The court also dismissed the appeal filed by the State government challenging the order of the trial court acquitting the accused for offences punishable under Arms Act.
Case Title: K P Pushpesh & Others And State of Karnataka
Case No: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 879 OF 2016 C/W CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2118 OF 2016
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 237
Date of Order 21-06-2023
Appearance: Senior Advocate Murthy D Nail for Advocate Goutam S Bharadwaj for A1.
Senior Advocate Aruna Shyam M for Advocates Suyog Herela E, Nishant S K for A2.
Advocate Dinesh Kumar Rao for A3.
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