Accused Can Be Discharged Only If No Case Is Made Out Even After Presuming Entire Prosecution Evidence To Be True : Supreme Court
25 May 2023 6:19 AM GMT
“Truthfulness, sufficiency and acceptability of the material produced can be done only at the stage of trial"
The Supreme Court recently set aside an order passed by the Bombay High Court which had discharged two murder accused persons, on the ground that the High Court did not refer to the evidence, in its entirety, collected by Investigating Agency produced along with charge-sheet.
The division bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal observed:
“If the facts of the case are examined in the light of law laid down by this Court on the subject, it is evident that the High Court has not even referred to the evidence collected by Investigating Agency produced alongwith chargesheet in its entirety. Rather there is selective reference to the statements of some of the persons recorded during investigation. It shows that there was total non-application of mind. The High Court had exercised the jurisdiction in a manner which is not vested in it to scuttle the trial of a heinous crime.”
An FIR dated May 14, 2006 was lodged at Lonawala City Police Station for the murder of one Manmohan Singh Sukhdev Singh Virdi, whose body was found lying in a pool of blood in his bedroom.
After the registration of FIR, investigation was conducted and statements of number of persons were recorded under Sections 161 and 164 of CrPC. A Psychological Evaluation including Psychological Profiling, Polygraph Testing and Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature Profiling (BEOS) of accused no. 1 (Respondent No. 1) was conducted on May 31, 2007 and similar tests were conducted on the other four persons who were alleged to be close aides of respondent no.1.
After the completion of investigation, a charge-sheet dated December 9, 2009 was filed against the respondent no. 1 and 2 (accused persons) stating that while respondent no.1 was staying in Dubai for the purpose of his business, his wife respondent no.2 came in contact with the deceased and developed friendship.
It was further stated in the charge-sheet that the said friendship turned into physical relationship and when the respondent no.1 returned from Dubai, he came to know about the same. It was stated that to take revenge, the respondent no. 1 in connivance with respondent no.2 and another person conspired to kill the deceased through unknown assailants.
The case was committed by the Magistrate to the Sessions Court. The accused persons (respondent no. 1 and 2) filed revision application for discharge before the Sessions Court which was dismissed vide order dated February 21, 2012.
However, the Bombay High Court vide impugned order dated July 17, 2013 set aside the order passed by the Trial Court and discharged respondent no. 1 and 2.
The impugned order of the High Court was challenged by the appellant before the Supreme Court.
The Counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that the High Court had conducted a mini trial merely by referring to some of the statements recorded by the police during investigation, which were forming part of the chargesheet which was beyond the scope of jurisdiction of the Court at the time of consideration of application for discharge.
It was further argued that the High Court had failed to consider the fact that there was Psychological Evaluation including Psychological Profiling, Polygraph Testing and BEOS conducted on respondent no. 1 and four other aides of him, which lead towards the accusation of respondent no. 1 and 2 in the crime.
On the Other hand, the Counsel appearing for the respondent no. 1 and 2 submitted that it is a case of blind murder and there was no eye-witness. It was further contended that a false story was built up by the prosecution for which there is no material to support and the Trial Court had failed to exercise jurisdiction vested in it to discharge the respondent no. 1 and 2.
The Court noted that it is settled proposition of law that at the stage of hearing on the charges, entire evidence produced by the prosecution is to be believed and if no offence is made out, then only an accused can be discharged.
The Court observed:
“Truthfulness, sufficiency and acceptability of the material produced can be done only at the stage of trial. At the stage of charge, the Court has to satisfy that a prima facie case is made out against the accused persons. Interference of the Court at that stage is required only if there is strong reasons to hold that in case the trial is allowed to proceed, the same would amount to abuse of process of the Court.”
On the above-mentioned issue, the Apex Court relied upon its down decision in State of Rajasthan v. Ashok Kumar Kashyap (2021) 11 SCC 191 and State of Karnataka v. M.R. Hiremath (2019) 7 SCC 515.
It was noted by the Court that the High Court in the impugned order referred some of the material collected by the Investigating Agency filed alongwith charge-sheet in a ‘sketchy manner’.
The Apex Court further noted that the High Court has noticed only part of the statements made by several persons which were recorded by the investigation agency.
“……the Investigating Agency had recorded the statements of Hiraman Dyaneshwar Chaudhari, Ramesh Murlidhar, Mohan Vs., Ashok Gunaji Thosar, Mehboob Dastagi Sheikh, and Rakma Shivram Waghmare, which have not been referred to and considered by the High Court while discharging Respondent Nos. 1 and 2. The fact cannot lost sight of that it was a case of blind murder. The circumstances only could have nailed the accused through the material collected by the Investigating Agency,” the Court said.
The Court further noted that the opinion furnished by the Directorate of Forensic Sciences Laboratory showed the involvement of respondent no.1 in the murder of the deceased. It was further observed by the Court that the psychological profiling of respondent no. 1 pointed out towards him being an antisocial personality with tendency to go against the social norms.
Thus, the Court set aside the impugned order of the High Court.
Case Title: Captain Manjit Singh Virdi (Retd.) v. Hussain Mohammed Shattaf & Ors.
Coram: Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 462
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