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Acquittal of Murder convict reversed by Supreme Court and upheld the imprisonment awarded by Trial Court.

January 8, 2018



Aqcuittal of murder convict reversed by Supreme Court

A Bench of Judges Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit set aside the Judgment passed by the High Court of Himachal Priadesh in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Raj Kumar, Criminal Appeal No. 559 of 2008 and acquitting the Convict under Section 302 of IPC.


The Facts of the cases are Husband of deceased Meena Devi passed away about eleven years ago prior to the incident. Meena Devi was residing with her son, daughter and accused (brother-in-law) in the joint family house. On 23.08.2007 at 08.30 p.m., while Meena Devi was taking meal along with her family, accused came there in drunken condition and started abusing Meena Devi and her children without any reason and threatened to kill them. Grandmother of who was present in the house took Jeewan Lal to adjoining sleeping room and bolted the room from outside. She asked Rekha Devi daughter of deceased to go to the house of her maternal uncle Anant Ram. While being inside the room, heard the cries of his mother Meena Devi and from the window saw the accused taking her mother towards the house of another accused Om Prakash. After few hours, accused opened the door and told him that his mother had run away from the house and that he should tell the same to his maternal uncle Anant Ram. Under such threat from accused and another accused Ramesh Kumar, told his maternal uncle that his mother had run away from the house.


On 24.08.2007 at about 02.00 a.m., Anant Ram came to the house of accused. Thereafter, informed the police about missing of Meena Devi. On 25.08.2007, they again went to the police station Dharampur and at about 11.00-11.30 a.m; at the time Anant Ram received a phone call from Nek Ram informing that the dead body of deceased Meena Devi was found hanging from a tree at Ghat Bahu forest. Thereafter,PW-1 and PW-3 along with police party went to the spot and found that the dead body of Meena Devi was hanging from the branch of a pine tree with a plastic rope, tied around her neck. Statement of PW-1 was recorded, based on which, case in FIR No.250 of 2007 was registered under Section 302 IPC and Section 201 read with Section 34 IPC.

Initial investigation was conducted by Sub-Inspector of Police Sat Prakash and further investigation was conducted by Inspector of Police LR Thakur. PW-22 prepared spot map, inquest and conducted further investigation. Dr. Vivek Banyal conducted autopsy and opined that "....death was because of haemorrhagic shock due to rupture of spleen and anti-mortem injuries suggesting gagging. Hanging was post-mortem". Accused Raj Kumar was taken to custody on 25.08.2007 and he was interrogated. Confession statement of accused was recorded on 27.08.2007 which led to the recovery of a lady shirt from the room of the house of accused Ramesh Kumar which was under construction. Upon completion of investigation, charge sheet was fled against accused Raj Kumar, Ramesh Kumar, Om Prakash and Barf Devi under Section 302 IPC
and Section 201 read with Section 34 IPC.

To bring home the guilt of the accused, in the Sessions Court, prosecution has examined as many as twenty four witnesses and marked number of exhibits and material objects. In the questioning under Section 313 Cr.P.C., the accused denied all the incriminating circumstances and evidence and pleaded that he is innocent. The accused has not offered any explanation on the death of deceased Meena Devi.

Based upon the evidence of Anant Ram and Bhindra Devi, the trial court held that Meena Devi suffered harassment at the hands of her brother-in-law (accused). The trial court held that Jeewan Lal son of the deceased had spoken about the overt act of the accused in beating the deceased and that the accused taking away Meena Devi from the house. The trial court held that no reasonable explanation was forth coming from the accused for the death of the deceased Meena Devi who was living jointly with the accused. On those fndings, the trial court convicted the respondent-accused under Section 302 IPC and Section 201 IPC read with Section 34 IPC and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for life. Other accused Ramesh Kumar and Om Prakash were acquitted. Accused Barf Devi remained absconding.


Supreme Court said that:
In the appeal, the High Court has not properly appreciated the evidence and intrinsic worth of testimony of prosecution witnesses and the formidable circumstances established by the prosecution against the accused. The High Court entertained fanciful doubts and rejected the credible evidence of Jeewan Lal (PW-1) on slender grounds. Due to mis-appreciation of evidence, the High Court set aside the conviction and caused a miscarriage of justice. Reasonings of the High Court for acquitting the accused are unsustainable and the impugned judgment cannot be sustained."

The Supreme Court  set aside the impugned judgment and the appeal is allowed. The conviction of the respondent under Section 302 IPC and the sentence of life imprisonment imposed on him by the trial court are affirmed. The respondent shall be taken into custody to serve the remaining sentence.




Read the Judgment of Supreme Court in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Raj Kumar dated 8.1.2018



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