17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Mohd. Anwar Vs. The State (N.C.T. of Delhi)




Pleas of unsoundness of mind or mitigating circumstances like juvenility of age ought to be raised during trial itself

The present criminal appeal is at the instance of Accused-Appellant who impugns the judgment of the High Court whereby his appeal against a judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge, convicting and sentencing him under Section 394 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959, was turned down.

Assailing the judgments of the High Court and the trial Court on the charge of robbery, the Appellant urged that the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt. He asserted that, lack of independent witnesses, absence of injuries on the person of the complainant as well as the inconsistency in the complainant's version regarding his knowledge of co-Accused, all together evidenced that no incident of robbery ever took place. Further, the FIR had been lodged after an unexplained delay of three days, despite the police station being walking distance from the site of the incident, thus suggesting that the entire proceedings were concocted.

It must be highlighted that, appellate Courts ought not to routinely re-appreciate the evidence in a criminal case. This is not only for reasons of procedure, expediency, or finality; but because the trial Court is best placed to holistically appreciate the demeanour of a witness and other evidence on record. Given the concurrent finding of the Courts below on key aspects of the robbery, we do not find it a fit case for such re-appraisal of evidence.

Further, the testimonies of the witnesses are indeed impeccable and corroborative of each other. The crime of robbery with hurt has been established by the testimony of PW-1 and the other evidence on record. The complainant (PW-1) had no motive to falsely implicate the appellate and/or to allow the real culprits to go scot-free. The refusal to participate in the TIP proceedings and the lack of any reasons on the spot, undoubtedly establish the Appellant's guilty conscience and ought to be given substantial weight. The three-day delay in registration of FIR, as projected by the Appellant, is devoid of factual basis. The original record shows that the complaint was, in fact, registered within a few hours of the incident. It was because of preliminary police enquiry that another two days passed between reporting and subsequent lodging of FIR on 20th May, 2001.

Pleas of unsoundness of mind under Section 84 of IPC or mitigating circumstances like juvenility of age, ordinarily ought to be raised during trial itself. Belated claims not only prevent proper production and appreciation of evidence, but they also undermine the genuineness of the defence's case.

As noted by the High Court, no evidence in the form of a birth certificate, school record or medical test was brought forth; nor has any expert examination been sought by the Appellant. Instead, the statement recorded under Section 313 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) shows that, the Appellant was above 18 years around the time of the incident, which is a far departure from the claimed age of 15 years. The plea of mental disorder too remains unsubstantiated. No deposition was made by any witness, nor did the Appellant himself claim any such impairment during his Section 313 of CrPC statement.

Mere production of photocopy of an OPD card and statement of mother on affidavit has little evidentiary value. In order to successfully claim defence of mental unsoundness under Section 84 of IPC, the Accused must show by preponderance of probabilities that he/she suffered from a serious-enough mental disease or infirmity which would affect the individual's ability to distinguish right from wrong. Further, it must be established that the Accused was afflicted by such disability particularly at the time of the crime and that but for such impairment, the crime would not have been committed. The reasons given by the High Court for disbelieving these defences are thus well reasoned and unimpeachable. The Appellant failed to establish juvenility or insanity, there is no reasons to interfere with the impugned orders. The appeal is accordingly dismissed.

Tags : Conviction Evidence Legality

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