20 Nov 2023 1:15 PM GMT
In a notable development, the Patna High Court has acquitted a man, who had been convicted and sentenced in connection with a murder case dating back 18 years citing procedural lapses and failure on the part of the prosecution.The Court, while expressing concern over the lack of diligence in the trial court's proceedings, observed that the examination of the accused under Section 313 of the...
In a notable development, the Patna High Court has acquitted a man, who had been convicted and sentenced in connection with a murder case dating back 18 years citing procedural lapses and failure on the part of the prosecution.
The Court, while expressing concern over the lack of diligence in the trial court's proceedings, observed that the examination of the accused under Section 313 of the CrPC, a crucial stage where the court elucidates incriminating materials, was treated as a mere formality.
A division bench of Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Nawneet Kumar Pandey said, “Examination of an accused under Section 313 of the CrPC is an important stage where the court precisely explains to the persons, put on trial, the incriminating materials emerging against him based on the evidence of the prosecution’s witnesses. A vague question was put to the appellant by the trial court as has been quoted above, as if it was a mere formality which was being done to comply with the requirement of the Section 313 of the CrPC.”
“We could have chosen the option of remanding the matter back to the trial court for taking additional evidence and due compliance of Section 313 of the CrPC, but for the reason that it is an old matter and relates to an occurrence which had taken place, 18 years ago, we refrain from adopting such course. For the failure on the part of the prosecution to examine the doctor, the Investigating Officer and to prove the postmortem report at the trial which the appellant was facing, benefit of doubt shall have to be extended to him,” the division bench added.
The above ruling came in an appeal preferred by the appellant under Section 374(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 putting to challenge the judgment of conviction and the order of sentence dated 27.03.2019 passed by the Fast Track Court-II, Lakhisarai, in a Sessions Trial, arising out of a case whereby the appellant, Dasrath Ram, has been convicted and sentenced under section 302/34 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 27 of the Arms Act.
According to the prosecution's account, as outlined in the written report, the incident occurred on 11.10.2005, when the informant was accompanying her sons, Ajay Yadav (the deceased), and Pavitra Kumar Yadav to witness the Durga Puja festival. The deceased had suggested the plan to travel on a motorcycle to Garsanda Railway Station with the intention of catching a train to Lakhisarai. However, upon reaching Katorwa Kone, the deceased and Pavitra were ambushed by four individuals, namely Rajendra Rama, Ashok Rama, and Sanjay Rama (co-accused). During the altercation, the appellant and accused Umesh Rama allegedly fired shots at the deceased, resulting in his immediate death. The FIR stated that the accused persons were demanding extortion.
Following the investigation, a charge sheet was filed against Rajendra Rama, Ashok Rama, Sanjay Rama, and Umesh Rama, with cognizance taken while keeping the investigation pending against this appellant.
During the trial, Rajendra Rama, Ashok Rama, and Umesh Rama were convicted on September 17, 2009, for offenses under Sections 302/34 of the IPC. Umesh Rama was also convicted under Section 27 of the Arms Act. The trial court sentenced them to imprisonment and imposed fines. Subsequently, a charge sheet was filed against the appellant, and upon cognizance, the case was committed to the Sessions court for trial.
The appellant faced charges under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act. The appellant denied the charges and opted for a trial.
After the prosecution's evidence was presented, the appellant was questioned under Section 313 of the CrPC to explain incriminating circumstances. The only circumstance presented to the appellant by the trial court was as follows:
"Question: The evidence against you is that you, along with the other accused, on 11.10.2005, at 7 pm, shot dead Ajay Yadav and Vaktaman Yadav, son of Subhika, near village Tikam situated at Tikatorama corner. What do you have to say about it?"
Upon evaluating the prosecution's evidence, particularly the testimonies of Pavitra Kumar Yadav and Daresh Devi, the informant, the trial court convicted the appellant under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act, sentencing him to imprisonment and imposing a fine.
It was argued on behalf of the appellant that the trial court erred significantly by admitting the deposition of the doctor from a separate trial as evidence in the current case. Additionally, it was argued that there was a lack of proper compliance with the requirements outlined in Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), resulting in substantial prejudice to the appellant's case. Furthermore, the appellant asserted that the non-examination of the Investigating Officer adversely impacted their case, as it deprived them of the opportunity to uncover contradictions in the evidence presented by the prosecution's witnesses.
The Court opined, “this appeal should succeed mainly on two aspects. Firstly, that the trial court relied upon the deposition of the doctor in a different trial though arising out of the same judgment and order. Secondly, the trial court has taken into consideration such circumstances also which were not explained to the appellant while examining him under Section 313 of the CrPC, while holding him guilty of the offences.”
The Court found substance in the submission made on behalf of the appellant that there had been no substantial compliance of Section 313 of the CrPC in the present case.
Accordingly the Court acquitted the appellant of the charge of the offence punishable under Section 302/34 of the IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act by giving him benefit of doubt. The impugned judgment of conviction and the order of sentence were set aside, and ordered the appellant, Dasrath Ram, to be released forthwith.
Counsel/s: For The Appellant: Mr. Jagdish Prasad, Advocate, Mr. Bhimsen Prasad, Advocate
Counsel/s For The Respondent: Mr. Sujit Kumar Singh, App
LL Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Pat) 132
Case Title: Dasrath Ram Vs. The State Of Bihar
Case No.: Criminal Appeal (Db) No.648 Of 2019
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