Due to the discrepancies in the testimony of prosecution witnesses the Supreme Court acquitted the accused.
As per the case of the prosecution, when the incident occurred, the complainant Jagannath and his wife Kamlabai along with their son deceased Laxminarayan as well as two daughters-in-law Suganbai and Sharmilabai were sleeping in the house situated near a tube-well in their field.
Around midnight, the accused reached the house and started assaulting Jagannath. When Kamlabai tried to save Jagannath, she was even assaulted by the accused.
At that time, the deceased Laxminarayan came there to protect his parents. He was also assaulted by the appellants. Though the deceased ran away to save himself, the accused chased him and assaulted him. He sustained injuries.
While he was being taken by a tractor to the police station, he died on the way. It must be noted here that P.W.18 who was the Executive Magistrate purportedly recorded a statement of Jagannath as a dying declaration. The Trial Court found all nine accused persons guilty of the offence punishable under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code with the aid of Section 149 of IPC.
Advocate Pragati Neekhra, appearing for the appellants, submitted that the appellants have been convicted only on the basis of the evidence of Jagannath and Kamlabai and the evidence of the two other injured persons, namely, Suganbai and Sharmilabai has been disbelieved.
She submitted that in fact evidence of Jagannath and Kamlabai also deserve to be discarded as there are a number of material omissions and contradictions brought on record during their cross-examination.
She submitted that a serious doubt is created whether both of them have witnessed the incident as both of them were allegedly attacked by the accused while they were sleeping.
Counsel appearing for the State urged that there was no reason for the High Court to discard the testimony of Suganbai and Sharmilabai who were injured eye witnesses.
The division bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Abhay S. Oka said that both P.W.1 and P.W.8 tried to implicate all the nine accused by making omnibus statements.
The court further added that looking to the admissions given by P.W.8 that she along with P.W.1 were lying down for a period of one hour on the spot where they were assaulted and that fatal assault was made on the deceased after he ran away from the spot, a serious doubt is created whether both of them had seen the actual assault on the deceased.
“Apart from the fact that there is a serious doubt created about the truthfulness of the version of P.W.1 and P.W.8, there was no reason for the High Court for treating the appellants differently from the acquitted accused. The accused no.1 who allegedly assaulted both the witnesses has been already acquitted by the High Court. The accused no.4 who allegedly assaulted them has died during the pendency of the appeal before the High Court” the court stated.
The court acquitted the appellants.
Case title: Ramcharan (Dead) & Anr. v/s State of Madhya Pradesh
Citation: Criminal appeal no.162 of 2010