16 September 2019


Judgments

Supreme Court

Raj Kumar v. State (NCT of Delhi)

MANU/SC/0055/2017

20.01.2017

Criminal

Murder charge cannot be brought home unless there is some evidence to show that, robbery and murder occurred at same time

Accused-Appellant had been convicted by trial Court for offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. He has also been convicted under Section 411 of Indian Penal Code. Both sentences were directed to run concurrently. In appeal, while conviction under Section 302 Indian Penal Code has been maintained along with sentence imposed, conviction under Section 411 of Indian Penal Code has been set aside. Instead, accused Appellant has been convicted for commission of offence punishable under Section 392 of Indian Penal Code and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year for commission of said offence. Aggrieved, present appeal has been filed.

Chain leading to the sole conclusion that, it is the accused persons and nobody else who had committed the crime is not established by circumstances, even if all of such circumstances are assumed to be proved against accused. In case of Sanwat Khan and Anr. v. State of Rajasthan, this Court had taken the view that recovery of ornaments of deceased from accused or production of same by the accused in the course of investigation, howsoever suspicious, cannot be conclusive of the question of the accused having committed the offence. As per Illustration (a) to Section 114 of Evidence Act, 1872 though recovery of the ornaments can lead to presumption that the accused had committed robbery or received stolen property, unless there are circumstances to show that the theft/robbery and the murder took place in the same transaction, accused would not be liable for the offence under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code.

Facts in Sanwant Khan bear a striking resemblance to facts in present appeal. Circumstance in present case, if coupled with recovery of ornaments of deceased from possession of accused, at best, create a highly suspicious situation; but beyond a strong suspicion nothing else would follow in absence of any other circumstance(s) which could suggest involvement of accused in offence/offences alleged. Even with aid of presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act, charge of murder cannot be brought home unless there is some evidence to show that, robbery and murder occurred at same time i.e. in the course of the same transaction. No such evidence is forthcoming.

Trial court as well as High Court, therefore, erred in holding accused guilty for said offence. However, on basis of presumption permissible under Illustration (a) of Section 114 of Evidence Act, it has to be held that, conviction of the accused Appellant under Section 392 of Indian Penal Code is well founded. Consequently, prosecution has failed to bring home charge under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code against accused and he is acquitted of said offence. Conviction under Section 392 of Indian Penal Code is upheld.

Relevant

Sanwat Khan and Anr. v. State of Rajasthan MANU/SC/0085/1952
: AIR 1956 SC 54

Tags : Conviction Provision Applicability

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