2019 SCeJ 89

14 January, 2019.

 

Constitution  of India, Article 20(3) - Confessional statement  - Self­incriminatory evi-dence - Recovery of material objects  - Once a confessional statement of the accused on facts is found to be involuntary, it is hit by Article 20(3) of the Constitution, rendering such a confession inadmissible - There is an embargo on accepting self­incriminatory evidence, but if it leads to the recovery of material objects in relation to a crime, it is most often taken to hold evidentiary value as per the circumstances of each case - However, if such a statement is made under undue pressure and compulsion from the investigating officer, the evidentiary value of such a statement leading to the recovery is nullified -  Recovery of in-criminating material at the instance of the accused – Confessions  - Investigating Officer de-posed that all the confessions by the accused persons were made after interrogation, but the mode of this interrogation does not appear to be of normal character, inasmuch as he himself has deposed that the accused persons were further grilled and interrogated multiple times before extracting the confessions which lead to the recovery of the ornaments, cash, weapons and key -  We find the confessions that led to the recovery of the incriminating material were not voluntary, but caused by inducement, pressure or coercion  - Recovery of the stolen ornaments, etc. in the instant matter was made on the basis of involuntary statements, which effectively negates the incriminating circumstance based on such recov-ery, and severely undermines the prosecution case - Evidence Act, Section 27.. 2019 SCeJ 89

 

 

Prisoners Act, 1920, S. 4, 5  - Fingerprints - There cannot be any hard and fast rule that in every case, there should be a magisterial order for lifting the fingerprints of the accused - A police officer is permitted to take the photographs and measurements of the accused -  Fingerprints can be taken under the directions of the police officer - Although Section 4 mentions that the police officer is competent to take measurements of the accused, but to dispel doubts as to its bona fides and to rule out the fabrication of evidence, it is eminently desirable that they were taken before or under the order of a Magistrate -  However, the aforesaid observations cannot be held to mean that under Section 4, police officers are not entitled to take fingerprints until the order is taken from a Magistrate -  If certain suspicious circumstances do arise from a particular case relating to lifting of fingerprints, in order to dispel or ward off such suspicious circumstances, it would be in the interest of justice to get orders from the Magistrate.   . 2019 SCeJ 89

 

Held,

At the same time, we find that in the current facts and circumstances, the absence of a magisterial order casts doubts on the credibility of the fingerprint evidence, especially with respect to the packing and sealing of the tumblers on which the fingerprints were allegedly found, given that the attesting witnesses were not independent witnesses, being the family members of the deceased. Thus, we cannot rule out the possibility of tampering and post­ facto addition of fingerprints, and concur with the High Court in discarding the fingerprint evidence.                   

 

Criminal trial – Acquittal by both courts  - Wherein the High Court has acquitted the accused of all charges, there is a double presumption in favour of the accused, as the initial presumption of innocence is further reinforced by an acquittal by the High Court - In such a case, this Court will keep in mind that the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused has been fortified by the order of acquittal and thus if the view of the High Court is reasonable and based on the material on record, this Court should not interfere with the same -  Interference is to be made only when there are compelling and substantial reasons to do so, and if the ultimate conclusion reached by the High Court is palpably erroneous, constituting a substantial miscarriage of justice -  Moreover, interference can be made if there is a misconception of law or erroneous appreciation of evidence or the High Court has completely misdirected itself in reversing the order of conviction by the Trial Court. . 2019 SCeJ 89

 

 

 Circumstantial evidence - Last seen evidence - PW12 and PW20, are the last seen witnesses who saw the entry and the exit of the accused persons from the crime scene, re-spectively -  Deposed by the witnesses that soon after the bodies were found, they had dis-cussed amongst themselves about the participation of the accused persons based on the fact that one saw them enter the house of the deceased and the other saw them coming out of the house and leaving the area in a hurried manner  - They stated that they had conveyed this piece of valuable information to the complainant right before he filed the first information -  However, there is no whisper of such an important fact anywhere in the first information, nor the FIR  - Complainant has also stated that he learnt about the presence of the accused persons from the verbal dialogue between him and the said witnesses -  If PW12 and PW20 had really seen the accused as deposed, the same would have been reflected in the FIR, and the absence of such a crucial piece of information that complainant learnt right before filing the first information casts a dark shadow of suspicion over the testimony of the last seen witnesses -  Moreover, PW12 and PW20 deposed that they were present at the spot when the bodies were found -  However, their statements were not taken by the police on the same day, rather they were taken subsequently on the next day -  There was deliberate delay in recording the statements of these important witnesses with regard to the last seen circumstance -  Hence, the statements of PW12 and PW20 were clearly an afterthought.              . 2019 SCeJ 89

 

 

Criminal trial –  Chance witness  -  Witness  in his testimony for the first time asserts that he saw the accused coming out of the house of the deceased, as opposed to walking hurriedly away - He could not remember how many people came out holding bags, and how many came out empty­handed, along with the fact that he did not usually take the route in front of the house/shop of the deceased to reach his house from his shop, which shows that he is a chance witness -  Keeping in mind that this witness was related to the deceased, and appears to be a chance witness with material discrepancies in his account, we are inclined to discard his evidence as to the last seen circumstance. . 2019 SCeJ 89

 

 

  • Criminal Trial - Acquittal -  Concurrent finding of acquittal - The Additional Sessions Judge was right in granting him benefit of doubt - The view which favours the accused/appellant has to be considered and we discard the opposite view which indicates his guilt - We are also of the view that the High Court should not have interfered with the decision taken by the Additional Session Judge, as the judgment passed was not manifestly illegal, perverse, and did not cause miscarriage of justice - In absence of any manifest illegality, perversity and miscarriage of justice, High Court would not be justified interfering with the concurrent finding of acquittal of the accused merely because on re-appreciation of evidence it found the testimony of PWs to be reliable whereas the trial Court had taken an opposite view. (2016)3 SCEJ 562
  • Criminal Trial - Co-accused was acquitted of the charges  Plea  hence the benefit of the same be also extended to the appellant - Negated  -  Eevidence on record in no uncertain terms proves that it was the appellant who was the aggressor and hit the deceased - When the evidence directly attributes the appellant for commission of the act then we fail to appreciate as to how and on what basis we can ignore this material evidence duly proved by the eyewitnesses - Such was not the case so far as co-accused is concerned - The prosecution witnesses too did not speak against the co-accused and hence he was given the benefit of doubt. (2016)3 SCEJ 752
  •  Criminal trial -  The question is whether this court would be justified in reversing the finding of acquittal in the case on hand on the grounds that (i) the framing of charges is egregiously erroneous and not in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC; or (ii) the courts below failed to record appropriate findings with respect to the various offences which the accused are said to have committed; or (iii) the 1st appellate court's reasoning in declining to reverse a finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court is defective? The answer to the question, in our opinion, should be in the negative. (2018)2 SCeJ 1183 DOWNLOAD
  • Criminal trial  - It is by now well settled that the Appellate Court hearing the appeal filed against the judgment and order of acquittal will not overrule or otherwise disturb the Trial Court’s acquittal if the Appellate Court does not find substantial and compelling reasons for doing so - However, if the view taken by the Trial Court while acquitting the accused is one of the possible views under the facts and circumstances of the case, the Appellate Court generally will not interfere with the order of acquittal particularly in the absence of the aforementioned factors.  (2018)2 SCeJ 1157 
  • Criminal trial  - It is by now well settled that the Appellate Court hearing the appeal filed against the judgment and order of acquittal will not overrule or otherwise disturb the Trial Court’s acquittal if the Appellate Court does not find substantial and compelling reasons for doing so - However, if the view taken by the Trial Court while acquitting the accused is one of the possible views under the facts and circumstances of the case, the Appellate Court generally will not interfere with the order of acquittal particularly in the absence of the aforementioned factors.

    2018)2 SCeJ 1157