7 Nov 2022 10:28 AM GMT
Irked by the recurring number of cases where the Police investigation is not up to the mark, the Karnataka High Court has asked the Director General of Police to have a standard operating procedure (SOP) for investigating different crimes and to hold disciplinary proceedings against the investigating officers if the SOP established is not adhered to. A division bench of Justice...
Irked by the recurring number of cases where the Police investigation is not up to the mark, the Karnataka High Court has asked the Director General of Police to have a standard operating procedure (SOP) for investigating different crimes and to hold disciplinary proceedings against the investigating officers if the SOP established is not adhered to.
A division bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj and Justice G Basavaraja, while setting aside a Murder conviction, observed,
"We have observed that the investigation has not been carried out properly. This is again not a stray occurrence but a very common occurrence that this Court has been coming across. Hence, it is required of the Director General of Police to make available refresher training from time to time to all the Investigating Officers and have a standard operating procedure to be established for investigation into different crimes, on penalty of disciplinary proceedings if the SOP is not adhered to."
The appeal was preferred by one Punit against conviction under sections 498-A and 302 of IPC and life sentence, and by his mother Godavari, against conviction under Section 498-A IPC and sentence of three years imprisonment.
As per prossection, Punit poured kerosene on the deceased and set her ablaze. His mother was also implicated in the matter.
The appellants claimed that the the injuries occurred on account of accidental stove burst and not as claimed by the prosecution.
At the outset, the bench noted that the Investigating Officer had proceeded only on the basis of the "so called" dying declaration and statement of interested witnesses to come to a conclusion that the accused persons were involved.
It emphasized that Investigating Officer must proceed in an objective manner so as to place the truth on record, "without taking any sides".
"The Investigating Officer is neither prosecuting the accused nor he is aiding the victim. The only job of the Investigating Officer is to ascertain the facts and on that basis place a report either charging the accused of the offences or absolving them of the offences."
Further pointing out lapses in the investigation, the bench said that in the present case crucial aspect was as regards the injuries caused due to stove burst. However, the Investigating Officer did not verify even the existence or otherwise of a stove. Photographs of the scene of occurrence were also not obtained. Videography of deceased's dying declaration was done on his personal mobile phone and later transferred into a CD in a private mobile shop.
"Any electronic evidence would have to be proved in terms of the Indian Evidence Act and the Information Technology Act and it is required that Section 65-B certificate to be produced therewith. It is on account of not having produced such a certificate, that recording was not exhibited, thus, depriving the trial Court as also this Court the examination of such a valuable piece of evidence," the Court said.
It thus held that Investigating Officer should be sensitised and trained as to how to record dying declarations, how to record the audio visual recording, how it has to be captured in a medium that can be produced before the Court as evidence, the chain of custody be ascertained and demonstrably established, etc.
Coming to the facts of the case, the Court observed that accused had tried to save the deceased by trying to douse the fire. It said, "We are of the considered opinion that since the investigation has not been carried out properly, the existence or otherwise of the stove has not been established, it not being established that the burn injuries caused to the deceased is only on account of pouring kerosene and not due to stove burst and dying declaration being suspect and not corroborated by other evidence on record, the finding of the trial Court is not proper and correct and therefore, we are of the considered opinion that the prosecution has not established beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of accused No.1 in the matter."
Acquitting the accused mother the bench noted that there is no allegation that due to the alleged cruelty, the deceased tried to commit suicide or that her conduct caused injury or danger to the life, limb or health of the deceased.
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Case Title: PUNIT S/O BHIMSINGH RAJPUT v. STATE OF KARNATAKA
Case No: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 100191 OF 2019 (C-) C/W CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 100194 OF 2019.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 447
Date of Order: 4TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2022
Appearance: SHAIKH SAOUD, ADVOCATE for appellants
V.M.BANAKAR, ADDL. SPP for respondents.
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment