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"Mujhse Bahut Badi Galti Huwi Hai": Bombay High Court Cites Extra-Judicial Confession To Uphold Conviction, Commute Death Penalty Of 23 Yr Old

Sharmeen Hakim
9 Feb 2022 11:00 AM GMT
Mujhse Bahut Badi Galti Huwi Hai: Bombay High Court Cites Extra-Judicial Confession To Uphold Conviction, Commute Death Penalty Of 23 Yr Old
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An extra-judicial confession made voluntarily, free from threat or inducement, carries the presumption of truth, Bombay High Court observed adding that depending on the facts of the case, a confession doesn't need to be presumed as weak piece of evidence. The court cited the 23-year-old appellant's extrajudicial confession as an important piece of evidence to convict him for a...

An extra-judicial confession made voluntarily, free from threat or inducement, carries the presumption of truth, Bombay High Court observed adding that depending on the facts of the case, a confession doesn't need to be presumed as weak piece of evidence.

The court cited the 23-year-old appellant's extrajudicial confession as an important piece of evidence to convict him for a young girl's murder as also to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment. The confession demonstrated repentance, the court said.

Justices SS Jadhav and Prithviraj Chavan observed that the accused was a young man (only 20 at the time) who was momentarily overcome by vendetta against the victim's father who had slapped him several months prior to the incident and lost self-control.

"What needs to be appreciated and taken into consideration is his first statement before PW 14 (friend) which is to the extent that he had committed a grave blunder which in his own words is as follows, "mujhse bahut badi galti huwi hai."

The expression demonstrates the remorse, the bench observed. "It was a realization and repentance for having committed the offence unthoughtfully."

Other considerations that weighed in with the bench were that the accused brought forth his crime by confessing to his friend, the accused's family neither tried to destroy evidence nor made attempts to conceal the accused. They also did not try to win over the friend to whom the extra judicial confession was made. In fact, the brother helped the police arrest the accused.

The court also noted that the man was provided legal aid belatedly, after two witnesses were examined, the man had no criminal antecedents.

"It would be obligatory on the part of the prosecution to substantiate that reformation and rehabilitation of the convict is impossible and that the accused deserve to be eliminated."

Facts of the Case

On April 4, 2018, the victim's body was found in the thorny bushes on an open land used by locals to defecate in Bhiwandi, a satellite town outside Mumbai. Her limbs were found amputated, body almost decomposed with maggots all over. The child had gone missing on April 2.

The accused Mohammed Abed Shaikh, who had gone missing from the weaving mill where he was working had confessed the crime to a co-worker, an act that led to his arrest from his village in Bihar two days later.

The case travelled to the High Court in 2019 for confirmation of the death penalty. The trial court had convicted and sentenced him for murdering, kidnapping and sexually assaulting the girl in 2018.

Observations

At the outset, the court observed the psychological loss to parents who've lost their child and how it creates a vacuum from within. "After seeing the decomposed body, the first thought that would come to the parents is that they never dared to hurt the feelings and aspirations of the child, they used to be careful to touch the child, lest even their feather touch may hurt the tender hands and legs. Then, how could someone cause such a gruesome murder of that innocent child?"

Extra- Judicial Confession

Advocate Payoshi Roy for the accused argued that the extra judicial confession can't be believed if it's contradicted on a material point even if it seems voluntary. Truthfulness has to be proved. Since the medical evidence was inconsistent, it must be discarded.

However, the court observed that the "arithmetical exactitude" cannot be read into an extra judicial confession. "All that is required is that the said confession should be voluntary. It should be truthful, it should inspire the confidence of the court. It should not suffer from any inherent probabilities or suffer from material discrepancies and it should be supported by cogent circumstance."

The court observed that the accused has confessed vendetta against the girl's father. "The motive was known to the accused alone. The confession was made voluntarily, free from threat and inducement and therefore, it carries with it the presumption of truth."

The bench was of the opinion that the extra judicial confession was voluntary and truthful. "And it is not necessary to presume at the threshold that it is a weak piece of evidence."

Absconding A Circumstance to Prove Guilt When No Suspicion

The court held the accused's act of fleeing the scene of crime is an additional circumstance against him since there was no apprehension of arrest.

"It is true that abscondance by itself would not be an incriminating circumstance and certainly cannot form a foundation for conviction. Some people escape from the scene of offence or run away from the public view after they apprehend unwarranted suspicion…But, in a case like a present one, there was no occasion to falsely implicate the accused. The accused was not harbouring under a cloud of suspicion…"

In its judgement, the court upheld Shaikh's conviction for murder and kidnapping but acquitted him of sexual assault as there was nothing to demonstrate "lust." His death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment.

Case Title: The State of Maharashtra vs Mohammad Aabed Mohammad Ajmir Shaikh

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 33

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment 


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