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Dadri MLA Murder- 'Absconding' Can't Be Treated As Incriminating Evidence: Ut'khand HC Acquits Man Serving Life Sentence

Sparsh Upadhyay
29 Nov 2021 2:14 PM GMT
Dadri MLA Murder- Absconding Cant Be Treated As Incriminating Evidence: Utkhand HC Acquits Man Serving Life Sentence
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Holding that conviction cannot be based only on the ground that the alleged accused has absconded, the Uttarakhand High Court last week acquited a man convicted of murdering then Dadri (Uttar Pradesh) MLA, Mahendra Singh Bhati around 29 years back.The Bench of Chief Justice R. S. Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma set aside a 2015 judgment of the Special CBI court which had convicted...

Holding that conviction cannot be based only on the ground that the alleged accused has absconded, the Uttarakhand High Court last week acquited a man convicted of murdering then Dadri (Uttar Pradesh) MLA, Mahendra Singh Bhati around 29 years back.

The Bench of Chief Justice R. S. Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma set aside a 2015 judgment of the Special CBI court which had convicted Karan Yadav under Sections 302 (murder) r/w 120-B IPC.

Having found that there was lack of evidence with regard to the appellant being a conspirator, the Court held that his conviction only on the basis of the fact that he had absconded from his home cannot be the basis for convicting him for the aforementioned offences.

Background of the Case

Initially, the case was being dealt with by the Local Police, however, as the investigation by the police was not upto the mark, in August 1993, the investigation was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation

In January 1996, the Special Judicial Magistrate, CBI, Dehradun, took cognizance against the appellant, Karan Yadav, for the offences under Sections 302, 307 and 326 read with Section 120-B IPC after a chargesheet was filed by the CBI against him.

The IIIrd Additional Sessions Judge/Special Judge (C.B.I.), Dehradun had found him guilty of offence under section 302 r/w 120B IPC in 2015 and awarded him Life Sentence.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court noted that the CBI had erred in heavily relying upon the statement of a prosecution witness, Narayan Yadav (who had later turned hostile), given under Section 161 Cr.P.C. Relying upon the same, the Court had found the appellant guilty of the charges.

In this regard, the Court observed that the 161 Statement could be used only to contradict the witness and for no other purpose

"Section 162 Cr.P.C. permits the use of a statement made under Section 161 Cr.P.C. for an extremely limited purpose, namely for contradicting the maker of the statement on what he has stated during the investigation as laid down in the proviso to Section 162 (1) Cr.P.C. read with Section 145 of the Evidence Act," the Court noted. 

The Court was of the opinion that the 161 statement can't be relied upon to record the guilt of the accused. In this regard, the Court referred to the Apex Court's rulings in the case of Tahsildar Singh v. State of U.P., [AIR 1959 SC 1012], and V.K. Mishra & another v. State of Uttarakhand, [AIR 2015 SC 3043].

Against his backdrop, the Court noted that prosecution had miserably failed to establish the fact that the appellant had entered into a criminal conspiracy with D.P. Yadav and other co-accused persons for committing the murder of Mahendra Singh Bhati.

"Therefore, the conviction of the appellant with the aid of Section 120-B, and his conviction specifically for offence under Section 120-B, is clearly unsustainable," the Court added.

It may be noted that Uttarakhand High Court earlier this month acquitted DP Yadav and Pal Singh in this very case, who were awarded life sentence by the CBI Court. Allegedly, DP Yadav had conspired with two other accused, Pal Singh and Karan Yadav to commit the murder of Dadri MLA.

The appellant was represented by Advocares S.S. Lingwal and Narendra Bisht.

Case title - Karan Yadav v. CBI

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