The Supreme Court has set aside a judgment of the Allahabad High Court that had acquitted a man of all charges in a kidnap and murder case.
The trial court had convicted and sentenced Mahipal to death for kidnap and murder of two boys. The main evidence against the accused was the recovery of a SIM card from his room and that the dead bodies of the children were recovered from his compound.
Reversing the trial court findings, the high court acquitted the accused observing that if the accused nursed a grievance with regard to the property that was bequeathed on the deceased’s parents, the murder of the two children would not have benefitted him to get the property in any manner. It also held that that the accused would have got the property only if the entire line of the descendants is to be wiped out.
Another aspect which appealed to the high court was that the prosecution case of ransom calls on 11 January 2013, did not appear to be logical in a situation where the two children were already dead on 9 January 2013. With regard to the recovery of SIM card, the high court noted that SIM card did not belong to the accused.
On appeal by the state, the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R Banumathi observed: “The fact that the SIM card did not belong to the accused respondent, a fact relied upon by the High Court in coming to its impugned finding, in our considered view, is altogether irrelevant. What is relevant is that the SIM card was recovered from one of the rooms of the house of the accused respondent with regard to which he failed 9 to offer any satisfactory explanation. Proof of calls from a Mobile phone can be established on the basis of oral evidence if such oral evidence is to be accepted by the Court.”
The bench also observed that the fact that ransom calls were made after the two children were murdered will make no significant change to the situation. Making of ransom calls after the person abducted is put to death is a common feature in cases of the kind the Court is confronted with. The aforesaid fact cannot certainly go to the benefit of the accused respondent, it said.
Upholding the conviction recorded by the trial court, the bench altered the sentence of death to life imprisonment, observing that the present case ‘is not one of rarest of the rare cases for invocation of the death penalty’.