17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Ashish Jain and Ors. Vs. Makrand Singh and Ors.




Presumption of innocence in favour of Accused is fortified by acquittal order; if view of High Court is reasonable, present court should not interfere with same

The instant appeals arise from the judgments of the High Court passed in Death Reference and Criminal Appeal. Vide the impugned judgments, the High Court acquitted the Accused Respondents for the offences punishable under Sections 302 read with 34, 394 read with 34 and 449 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Sections 11 read with 13 of the Madhya Pradesh Dakaiti and Vyapharan Prabhavit Kshetra Adhiniyam ("the MPDVPKA") and additionally Respondent Makrand Singh for offences under Section 25(1)(b)(a) read with Section 27 of the Arms Act and Sections 11 and 13 of the MPDVPKA for causing the death of three people and for committing robbery of Rs. 30,000 in cash and about Rs. 8,00,000 worth of gold and silver.

In a case 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.

The delay in the arrest, despite clear knowledge of the whereabouts of the Accused persons, casts a serious shadow of doubt over the case of the prosecution. The 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 recovery, and severely undermines the prosecution case.

The non-examination of two important witnesses in light of the recoveries adversely affects the prosecution case. Another circumstance which has been contended to point to the guilt of the Accused is the recovery of blood-stained weapons at the instance of the Accused. A pointed suja and a chisel were recovered from the houses of Accused Nos. 2 and 1, respectively, at their instance. However, the prosecution has not established that these are the weapons which were used for the commission of the crime. The medical evidence indicates that the injuries that were found on the bodies of the deceased persons could not have been caused with the weapons seized, and the likelihood of the seized weapons causing the present injuries are very slim, as all the injuries, except one, were lacerations caused by a hard and blunt object.

The blood-stained clothes of the Accused persons were also recovered from the houses of the Accused at their instance. However, the veracity of the said recovery is doubtful in light of the fact that the said recovery was made two days after the arrest of the Accused and the recovery of the stolen articles from the houses of the Accused, which the investigating officer had thoroughly searched previously. From Accused No. 3, clothes were recovered hanging from a hook inside his one-room house, which had also been searched previously and from where ornaments had also been seized before. All these apparent infirmities create nothing but doubts in our minds regarding the guilt of the Accused.

All the blood-stained items (including the weapons, clothes of the deceased and the flooring and tiles of the spot where the bodies were found) were sent to the FSL for examination, however the reports do not, in any way, help the case of the prosecution. The blood stains were found to be of human blood, however, only the stains on the clothes of Accused No. 2 and Accused No. 3 were found to be of the blood group 'O'. Identification of the rest of the stains was opined to be inconclusive. Although it is argued that, the blood group of the deceased persons is 'O', there is nothing conclusive to prove the same. Therefore, no reliance can be placed on the recovery of the blood-stained weapons or clothes of the Accused.

There is no infirmity in the acquittal granted by the High Court. The Appellants have failed to establish that the High Court has erred in its conclusion. Unless any blatant illegality or substantial error in the order of acquittal is proved by the Appellants, and as long as the conclusion of acquittal is a possible view based on the circumstances and material on record, this Court is not bound to interfere with the same. The acquittal of the Accused persons is confirmed. Therefore, Criminal Appeal are dismissed, and the judgment and order of acquittal of the High Court is maintained.

Tags : Acquittal Evidence Credibility

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