26 Jan 2022 6:50 AM GMT
A peculiar criminal appeal recently reached the Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, where surprisingly the Trial Court had passed an "incomplete judgment" of conviction for the offence of Murder.The Division Bench of Justice G.S. Ahluwalia and Justice Deepak Kumar Agarwal noted that whereas the Appellant before it was on trial for murder of two, he was punished only on one count and...
A peculiar criminal appeal recently reached the Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, where surprisingly the Trial Court had passed an "incomplete judgment" of conviction for the offence of Murder.
The Division Bench of Justice G.S. Ahluwalia and Justice Deepak Kumar Agarwal noted that whereas the Appellant before it was on trial for murder of two, he was punished only on one count and there was no mention, whether of acquittal or of conviction, with respect to the second murder.
Similarly, the lower court had also left out one charge of attempt to murder undecided.
In this backdrop, the Bench deemed it fit, in exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 CrPC, to remand the matter back to Trial Court for the limited purpose of deciding the two charges.
The High Court further directed an enquiry into the matter to find out if the Presiding judge in the respective case has been negligent in discharging his duty or has passed the incomplete judgment because of some extraneous considerations.
The impugned order was passed by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Gohad, District Bhind.
As per the prosecution story, on the date of the incident, the Appellant along with other accused had an altercation with the Complainant, Bhanupratap and his family members. The arguments turned violent, resulting which, Pahalwan and Darshan, father and uncle of Bhanupratap, respectively, were shot dead by the Appellant and other accused. In addition to that, they grievously assaulted Bhanupratap's friend, Ajab and also fired shots at Bhanupratap, who managed to escape.
Accordingly, the police registered a case and later filed the charge-sheet against the Appellant for offences U/S 147, 148, 149, 302, 307 and 120-B I.P.C.
The trial court framed charges against the Appellant U/S 148, 302 IPC or in the alternative 302/149 IPC, for two murders, and U/S 307/149 IPC for making an attempt to kill Bhanupratap and Ajab.
However, it convicted the Appellant for only a singular charge U/S 302, as also a singular charge U/S 307.
After scrutinizing the trial court record, the High Court ventured into considering as to whether the judgment passed by the trial Court is a complete judgment or not?
The Court observed that the Appellant was rightly convicted U/S 302/149, 307/149 and 148 IPC by the lower court.
However, even though the Appellant was tried for two counts of murder and two counts of attempt to murder, he was charged under a singular count of Section 302/149 and Section 307/149 IPC, respectively.
He was convicted for murdering Pahalwan and for attempt to murder Bhanupratap. But, surprisingly, the trial court, without assigning any reasons, neither convicted nor acquitted the Appellant for the murder of Darshan and for attempt to murder Ajab.
Thereby, the Court concluded that "the trial court had passed an incomplete judgment."
The next question for consideration for the Court was with respect to the course of action that ought to be adopted, given the situation, wherein the judgement by the trial court was found to be incomplete. The Court observed-
'Now, the next question for consideration is that since, no appeal has been filed by the State in this regard, then whether this Court is helpless or can remand the matter for writing a judgment in respect of charge under Section 302/149 of IPC which was framed for murder of Darshan Singh as well as in respect of charge under Section 307/149 of IPC which was framed for making an attempt to kill Ajab Singh (P.W.2).
Although no appeal has been filed by the State, but this Court is not reversing the judgment passed by the Trial Court. It is merely found that the judgment passed by the Trial Court is incomplete.'
Interpreting the provisions U/S 386 CPRC, 'Powers of the Appellate Court', the Court held that-
'In the present scenario, this Court cannot issue notice to the Appellant for enhancement of sentence as no sentence has been awarded by the Trial Court on above mentioned two charges. Further, this Court cannot remand the matter for re-trial, as no procedural lapse has been committed by the Trial Court, but only an incomplete judgment has been passed.'
The Court, exercising its inherent powers U/S 482 CRPC, remanded the matter for writing the judgement, which was left incomplete by the trial court. The court stated-
'The appeal is continuation of trial. An appeal thus is a rehearing of the main matter and the appellate court can reappraise, reappreciate and review the entire evidence—oral as well as documentary—and can come to its own conclusion. Therefore, this Court is of the considered opinion, that even in absence of any appeal by State, this Court in exercise of powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C., can remand the matter for writing the judgment in respect of charge under Section 302/149 of IPC for murder of Darshan Singh and under Section 307/149 for making an attempt on the life of Ajab Singh (P.W.2) also, which was erroneously left by the Trial Court.'
The Court directed the lower court to decide in respect of charges U/S 302/149 IPC for murder of Darshan, and U/S 307/149 IPC for attempt to murder Ajab.
It further directed the trial court to leave its decision with respect to the murder of Pahalwan and the attempt to murder of Bhanupratap, untouched.
The Court also instructed that the case should not be assigned to the judge who passed the impugned incomplete judgement.
Considering the impugned incomplete judgement, the Court gave directions to initiate an enquiry into the matter-
'The District Judge (Inspection), Gwalior is directed to conduct an enquiry into the matter, and if it is found that the Presiding Judge was negligent in discharge of his duties, or has passed the incomplete judgment because of some extraneous considerations, then the matter be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice for action on administrative side.
Let the enquiry be completed within 2 months from today.'
Case Title: Surajbhan Singh v. State of M.P.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 14
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