Lunaram Vs. Bhupat
Singh & Ors.  INSC 438 (27 February 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 405 OF 2009
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 1524 of 2008) Lunaram ...Appellant Versus Bhupat
Singh and Ors. ...Respondents
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the order passed by a learned Division Bench of the
Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur directing acquittal of the respondents 1, 2 and
3. The learned Special Judge, SC and ST, Prevention of Atrocities Case,
Balotara had convicted the respondents and sentenced them which was set aside
by the High Court as noted above.
facts in a nutshell are as follows:
Complainant Luna Ram
lodged an FIR in Police station, Bakhasar at about 8.30 a.m. On 31.08.1998,
complainant reported that almost two months back he alongwith Sugala, Tila and
Lila went to Dhanera, Gujarat, for a job. On 30.08.1998, they came to Sanchore
in a Jeep and, thereafter, by another Jeep, they went to village Madhav. At
around 7.15 P.M., they boarded a Bus from Village Madhav and reached Sata at
around 9.30 P.M.
From Sata, accused
Bhupat Singh, Amrit @ Amiya, Ganu Singh @ Ganpat Singh, Pratap Singh and Kamiya
boarded the bus. After just leaving village Sata, Bhupat Singh, Rai Singh,
Pratap Singh and Ganu Singh came near their seat, as they all four were sitting
on the last seat of the bus. Rai Singh stated that they will kill all the four.
Bhupat Singh caught Lila by holding his neck and, thereafter, Rai Singh, Pratap
Singh and Ganu Singh threw Lila out of bus. Complainant hid himself out of
fear. Thereafter, Sugala and Tila were also thrown out of bus as when he left
the bus at village Bakhasar, Sugala and Tila were not found in the bus. The
reason of fight by the accused was also stated to be that almost 10-15 days
back, buffaloes belonging to Pratap Singh and Ganu Singh damaged crop of Nagji
and, at that time, when Ladha was taking those buffaloes, then Rai Singh had beaten
Ladha. The complainant further stated that he reached his place at about 12 to
1 O'clock in night and stated all those facts to Nagji and following morning,
it was found that Lila died, whereas Tila and Sugala received injuries. On the
basis of the report, FIR was lodged under Sections 302, 307 and 352, 323 read
with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the `IPC') and Section
3(2)(5) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)
Act (in short `SC/ST Act').
thereafter, conducted investigation and, thereafter, filed challan in the Court
of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Barmer, from where, the matter was committed to
the trial Court. Charges were framed against four accused under Sections 302,
307, 323 read with Section 34 of IPC and Section 3(2) (5) of SC/ST. The charge
was read over to the accused who denied the charge and claimed trial.
At the trial, 27
witnesses were produced and thirty-six documents were exhibited by the
prosecution to prove their case, whereas, in defence, statement of one witness
was recorded and eight documents were produced.
Statements of the
accused were recoded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code,
1973 (in short the `Code').
The learned trial
Court convicted accused Bhupat Singh, Ral Singh and Amiya under Section 302/34
of IPC and Section 3(2)(5) of SC/ST Act.
They were sentenced
to life imprisonment and fine of Rs.500/- each, in default of payment of fine,
to further suffer one month's imprisonment.
They were also
convicted under Section 323 IPC, and sentenced to one month's imprisonment and
a fine of Rs.50/- each, in default of payment of fine, to further suffer one
week imprisonment. These accused were, however, acquitted from Section 307 read
with Section 34 IPC. Accused Dashrath Giri @ Baba was acquitted completely.
The High Court noted
that the evidence of PWs 9, 10 and 11 did not have any credibility. It was full
of omissions and contradictions which affected the credibility of their
evidence. Contradictions and omissions were held to be not of any minor nature.
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the
evidence of PWs 9, 10 and 11 should not have been discarded by the High Court,
particularly as they were injured eye witnesses.
counsel for the accused on the other hand supported the judgment, particularly
with reference to the evidence of doctor who stated that the scenario as
described by the prosecution witnesses was not physically and practically
is no embargo on the appellate court reviewing the evidence upon which an order
of acquittal is based. Generally, the order of acquittal shall not be
interfered with because the presumption of innocence of the accused is further
strengthened by acquittal. The golden thread which runs through the web of
administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible
on the evidence adduced in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused
and the other to his innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused
should be adopted. The paramount consideration of the court is to ensure that
miscarriage of justice is prevented. A miscarriage of justice which may arise
from acquittal of the guilty is no less than from the conviction of an
innocent. In a case where admissible evidence is ignored, a duty is cast upon
the appellate court to re-appreciate the evidence where the accused has been
acquitted, for the purpose of ascertaining as to whether any of the accused
really committed any offence or not. (See Bhagwan Singh v. State of M.P, 2003
(3) SCC 21). The principle to be followed by the appellate court considering
the appeal against the judgment of acquittal is to interfere only when there
are substantial reasons for doing so. If the impugned judgment is clearly
unreasonable and irrelevant and convincing materials have been unjustifiably
eliminated in the process, it is a substantial reason for interference. These
aspects were highlighted by this Court in Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of
Maharashtra (1973 (2) SCC 793), Ramesh Babulal Doshi v. State of Gujarat (1996
(9) SCC 225), Jaswant Singh v. State of Haryana (2000 (4) SCC 484), Raj Kishore
Jha v. State of Bihar (2003 (11) SCC 519), State of Punjab v. Karnail Singh
(2003 (11) SCC 271), State of Punjab v. Phola Singh (2003 (11) SCC 58), Suchand
Pal v. Phani Pal (2003 (11) SCC 527) and Sachchey Lal Tiwari v. State of U.P. (2004
(11) SCC 410).
Chandrappa and Ors. v. State of Karnataka (2007 (4) SCC 415), the following
general principles regarding powers of the appellate court while dealing with
an appeal against an order of acquittal were culled out:
(1) An appellate
court has full power to review, reappreciate and reconsider the evidence upon
which the order of acquittal is founded.
(2) The Code puts no
limitation, restriction or condition on exercise of such power and an appellate
court on the evidence before it may reach its own conclusion, both on questions
of fact and of law.
expressions, such as, "substantial and compelling reasons",
"good and sufficient grounds", "very strong circumstances",
"distorted conclusions", "glaring mistakes", etc. are not
intended to curtail extensive powers of an appellate court in an appeal against
acquittal. Such phraseologies are more in the nature of "flourishes of
language" to emphasise the reluctance of an appellate court to interfere
with acquittal than to curtail the power of the court to review the evidence
and to come to its own conclusion.
(4) An appellate
court, however, must bear in mind that in case of acquittal, there is double
presumption in favour of the accused.
presumption of innocence is available to him under the fundamental principle of
criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent
unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused
having secured his acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is further
reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court.
(5) If two
reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the
appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the
High Court has noted that the prosecution version was not clearly believable.
Some of the so called eye witnesses stated that the deceased died because his
ankle was twisted by an accused. Others said that he was strangulated. It was
the case of the prosecution that the injured witnesses were thrown out of the
bus. The doctor who conducted the post mortem and examined the witnesses had
categorically stated that it was not possible that somebody would throw a
person out of the bus when it was in running condition. Considering the
parameters of appeal against the judgment of acquittal, we are not inclined to
interfere in this appeal. The view of the High Court cannot be termed to be
perverse and is a possible view on the evidence.
appeal is dismissed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
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