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State Of Gujarat vs Bhupatbhai Vanmalibhai

High Court Of Gujarat|26 September, 2013
(PER : HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE KS JHAVERI) By way of the present appeal under Section 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the appellant State has challenged the judgement and order of acquittal dated 30.1.1993 passed by learned Sessions Judge, Bhavnagar, in Criminal Case No. 122 of 1990 whereby the respondent, original accused, was acquitted of the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
2. The brief facts of the prosecution case are that the respondent and his wife Kailashben were married since 11 years. They were staying with their family together. On 23.7.1990, around 12.00 in the noon, there was a quarrel between the respondent and his wife Kailashben. On account of that, the respondent poured kerosene on Kailashben and set her ablaze. She came out of the house and cried for help. The neighbours rushed to her and doused the fire by throwing mattresses on her. Thereafter, she was taken to hospital and treatment was given to her. Thereafter, her statement was recorded by the Executive Magistrate. She succumbed to the injuries on the same night. Complaint was registered and investigation was started. The Investigating Officer drew panchnama of the scene of offence and statements of the witnesses were recorded. After completion of investigation, charge sheet against the accused was filed before learned Judicial Magistrate First Class, Sihor. As the offence was exclusively triable by the Court of Sessions, it was committed to the Sessions Court at Bhavnagar.
2.1 The trial Court framed charge against the accused. It was read over and explained to him. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and claimed to be tried. Therefore, prosecution produced evidence against the accused. Thereafter, statement of the accused under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was recorded. The trial Court, after taking into consideration all the evidences produced on record, acquitted the accused of the offence as aforesaid. Hence the appellant is before this Court.
3. Learned APP Ms. Shah for the appellant has contended that in order to prove the case against the accused, the prosecution has examined the following witnesses:
Amarsibhai Merabhai, PW-1 at Exh. 10 Devkunverben Mepabhai, PW-2 at Exh. 12 Jinabhai Arjanbhai, PW-3 at Exh. 13 Mepabhai Govindbhai, PW-4 at Exh. 15 Maganbhai Kavabhai, PW-5 at Exh. 16 Jekorben Bhagvanbhai, PW-6 at Exh. 17 Surabhai Ratnabhai, PW-7 at Exh. 18 Nanjibhai Karsanbhai, PW-8 at Exh. 19 Dr.
Ashok Dinkerrai Pandya, PW-9 at Exh. 22 Dr.
Kohari Bhojmal, PW-10 at Exh. 24 Gunvantrai Manilal Shah, PW-11 at Exh. 26 Narshibhai Dhanjibhai Dediya, PW-12 at Exh. 12 P.H.C.
Mahipatsinh Udesinh Gohel, PW-13 at Exh. 32 Ramanbhai Kodarbhai Patel, PW-14 at Exh. 33 3.1 The prosecution has relied on the following documents:
1. Medical Certificate at Exh. 25
2. Postmortem note at Exh. 23
3. Dying Declaration recorded by the Head Constable at Exh. 30
4. Dying Declaration recorded by Executive Magistrate at Exh. 27
5. Panchnama at Exh. 11 Learned APP has further contended that the trial Court has not believed the dying declarations produced by the prosecution. She has further stated that the trial Court has failed to consider the fact that the presence of the accused was found at the place of offence. The trial Court has disbelieved the testimony of Maganbhai at Exh. 16 and has not considered the value of dying declaration. In that view of the matter, the judgement and order of the trial Court is required to be set aside.
4. Learned advocate for the respondent accused has supported the judgement and order of the trial Court and submitted that the trial Court after considering the evidence on record and submissions of the learned counsel for the parties, reached the conclusion that the prosecution has failed to connect the accused with the crime in question by cogent evidence and therefore acquitted the accused of the charge levelled against him. He, therefore, submitted that no interference is required with the judgement and order of the trial Court.
5. We have heard learned counsel for the parties. At the outset it is required to be noted that the principles which would govern and regulate the hearing of appeal by this Court, against an order of acquittal passed by the trial Court, have been very succinctly explained by the Apex Court in a catena of decisions. In the case of M.S. Narayana Menon @ Mani Vs. State of Kerala & Anr, reported in (2006) 6 S.C.C. 39, the Apex Court has narrated about the powers of the High Court in appeal against the order of acquittal. In para 54 of the decision, the Apex Court has observed as under:
In any event the High Court entertained an appeal treating to be an appeal against acquittal, it was in fact exercising the revisional jurisdiction. Even while exercising an appellate power against a judgement of acquittal, the High Court should have borne in mind the well settled principles of law that where two view are possible, the appellate Court should not interfere with the finding of acquittal recorded by the Court below.
5.1.
Further, in the case of Chandrappa Vs. State of Karnataka reported in (2007) 4 S.C.C. 415, the Apex Court laid down the following principles;
42. From the above decisions, in our considered view, the following general principles regarding powers of the appellate Court while dealing with an appeal against an order of acquittal emerge:
[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 of Criminal Procedure, 1973 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.
[3] Various expressions, such as, substantial and compelling reasons , good and sufficient grounds , very strong circumstances , distorted conclusions , glaring mistakes , etc. are not intended to curtain extensive powers of an appellate Court in an appeal against acquittal. Such phraseologies are more in the nature of flourishes of language to emphasis 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. Firstly, the 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 thebasis of the evidence on record, the appellate Court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial Court.
5.2.
Thus, it is a settled principle that while exercising appellate power, even 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 trial Court.
5.3.
Even in the case of State of Goa V. Sanjay Thakran & Anr. reported in (2007) 3 S.C.C. 75, the Apex Court has reiterated the powers of the High Court in such cases. In para 16 of the said decision, the Court has observed as under:
16. From the aforesaid decisions, it is apparent that while exercising the powers in appeal against the order of acquittal the Court of appeal would not ordinarily interfere with the order of acquittal unless the approach of the lower Court is vitiated by some manifest illegality and the conclusion arrived at would not be arrived at by any reasonable person and, therefore, the decision is to be characterized as perverse. Merely because two views are possible, the Court of appeal would not take the view which would upset the judgment delivered by the Court below. However, the appellate Court has a power to review the evidence if it is of the view that the conclusion arrived at by the Court below is perverse and the Court has committed a manifest error of law and ignored the material evidence on record. A duty is cast upon the appellate Court, in such circumstances, to reappreciate the evidence to arrive to a just decision on the basis of material placed on record to find out whether any of the accused is connected with the commission of the crime he is charged with.
5.4.
Similar principle has been laid down by the Apex Court in the cases of State of Uttar Pradesh Vs. Ram Veer Singh & Ors reported in 2007 A.I.R. S.C.W. 5553 and in Girja Prasad (Dead) by LRs Vs. State of MP reported in 2007 A.I.R. S.C.W. 5589. Thus, the powers, which this Court may exercise against an order of acquittal, are well settled.
5.5.
In the case of Luna Ram Vs. Bhupat Singh and Ors, reported in (2009) SCC 749, the Apex Court in para 10 and 11 has held as under:
10. 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 anke 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 postmortem 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.
11. Considering the parameters of appeal against the judgement 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.
5.6.
Even in a recent decision of the Apex Court in the case of Mookkiah and Anr. Vs. State, rep. by the Inspector of Police, Tamil Nadu, reported in AIR 2013 SC 321, the Apex Court in para 4 has held as under:
4. It is not in dispute that the trial Court, on appreciation of oral and documentary evidence led in by the prosecution and defence, acquitted the accused in respect of the charges leveled against them. On appeal by the State, the High Court, by impugned order, reversed the said decision and convicted the accused under Section 302 read with Section 34 of IPC and awarded RI for life. Since counsel for the appellants very much emphasized that the High Court has exceeded its jurisdiction in upsetting the order of acquittal into conviction, let us analyze the scope and power of the High Court in an appeal filed against the order of acquittal. This Court in a series of decisions has repeatedly laid down that as the first appellate court the High Court, even while dealing with an appeal against acquittal, was also entitled, and obliged as well, to scan through and if need be reappreciate the entire evidence, though while choosing to interfere only the court should find an absolute assurance of the guilt on the basis of the evidence on record and not merely because the High Court could take one more possible or a different view only. Except the above, where the matter of the extent and depth of consideration of the appeal is concerned, no distinctions or differences in approach are envisaged in dealing with an appeal as such merely because one was against conviction or the other against an acquittal. [Vide State of Rajasthan vs. Sohan Lal and Others, (2004) 5 SCC 573] 5.7.
It is also a settled legal position that in acquittal appeal, the appellate Court is not required to rewrite the judgement or to give fresh reasonings, when the reasons assigned by the Court below are found to be just and proper. Such principle is laid down by the Apex Court in the case of State of Karnataka Vs. Hemareddy, reported in AIR 1981, SC 1417, wherein it is held as under:
...
This Court has observed in Girija Nandini Devi V. Bigendra Nandini Choudhary (1967) 1 SCR 93:(AIR 1967 SC 1124) that it is not the duty of the Appellate Court on the evidence to repeat the narration of the evidence or to reiterate the reasons given by the trial Court expression of general agreement with the reasons given by the Court the decision of which is under appeal, will ordinarily suffice.
5.8 In the recent decision, the Hon ble Apex Court in SHIVASHARANAPPA & ORS. VS. STATE OF KARNATAKA reported in JT 2013(7) SC 66 has held as under:
That appellate Court is empowered to re-appreciate the entire evidence, though certain other principles are also to be adhered to and it has to be kept in mind that acquittal results into double presumption of innocence.
5.9 Thus, in case the appellate court agrees with the reasons and the opinion given by the lower Court, then the discussion of evidence at length is not necessary.
We have examined the matter carefully and gone through the evidence on record. We have appreciated, reappreciated and re-evaluated the evidence on the touchstone of latest decision of the Hon ble Apex Court. We find that the trial Court has considered two dying declarations, facts and the evidence on record. The trial Court found that there are contradictions in the two dying declarations. The trial Court has given its findings and reasons for acquitting the accused of the charge levelled against him in paragraph Nos. 24, 27 and 28 of the judgement which are reproduced hereinafter:
para 24 From the evidence on record, the certain things would be very clear. There is no much serious dispute about the time, date and place of the incident. The husband was at home, he has also gone to the hospital. The deceased Kailashben had no parents as it is evident from the evidence on record. So, the cremation taking place hurriedly is not there. It is established that the deceased died because of burn injuries. The only thing is, whether the accused has poured kerosene oil from the tin and set to fire his own wife. There is no eye witnesses in this case. We have to decide the case only on circumstances.
Para 27 In this case, except dying declarations, there is no evidence worth the name to show that accused had committed the offence. In the result, therefore, I decide the point No. 1 in the negative.
Para 28 - The prosecution has failed to connect the accused with the crime in question by satisfying cogent evidence. He deserves to be acquitted...
7. In view of contradictions in two dying declarations and considering the facts and the evidence on record, we are of the opinion that the trial Court has rightly acquitted the accused of the charge levelled against him. We are in complete agreement with the view taken by the trial Court and the same is not required to be interfered with.
8. Further, learned APP is not in a position to show any evidence to take a contrary view in the matter or that the approach of the Court below is vitiated by some manifest illegality or that the decision is perverse or that the Court below has ignored the material evidence on record. In above view of the matter, we are of the considered opinion that the Court below was completely justified in passing impugned judgement and order.
9. We are, therefore, of the considered opinion that the findings recorded by the trial Court in acquitting the accused of the charge levelled against him are absolutely just and proper and in recording the said findings, no illegality or infirmity has been committed by it. We are in complete agreement with the reasonings given and the findings arrived at by the trial Court. No interference is warranted with the judgement and order of the trial Court. Hence, the appeal is dismissed. Bail bond stands cancelled.
(K.S.JHAVERI, J.) (K.J.THAKER, J) (pkn) Page 11 of 11
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