Gujarat HC tells govt to identify cases for priority hearing where weak evidence led to conviction

The Gujarat High Court has asked the state government to form a committee to identify cases pending before it in which convicts were jailed for long on the basis of evidence that does not inspire confidence or creates doubt.

The court said in an order on Friday it was keen to hear such cases on priority but clarified it was not suggesting to the government to admit that the conviction was not proper.

A division bench of Justices AS Supehia and MR Mengdey passed the order after quashing and setting aside the conviction of two appellants who have spent more than 12 years in jail in a case of gang rape and robbery.

The court said that the present case is among those in which the convict has to undergo incarceration for a long period on the basis of “inappropriate appreciation” of evidence or on the basis of evidence which does not “inspire any confidence or creates doubt”.

“Such cases as the present one which are pending before the High Court need to be identified so that the conviction can be set aside at the earliest even if the sentence of the convicts is suspended,” the court said in its order.

“We request the state government to do the needful in this regard by forming a Committee,” it said.

The court added that it was not suggesting to the government to admit that the conviction was not proper but to suggest that such appeals can be heard on a priority basis.

A sessions court in Gujarat’s Amreli town had on August 18, 2011, sentenced Govind Parmar and Virabhai Parmar to life imprisonment after convicting them of committing gang rape and robbery.

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The duo was accused of being part of a gang of four that forcibly took a woman to an open field at night and raped her six times after tying her husband to a cot in their hut.

After examining 29 witnesses and documentary evidence, the trial court held them guilty. As of July 4, 2023, the court observed, the duo had spent more than 12 years in jail including the time between arrest and conviction.

Setting aside their conviction, the court said that overall appreciation of evidence does not inspire any confidence in the version of prosecution witnesses the gang rape survivor and her husband and the trial court has “misdirected” itself in appreciating the evidence in its true perspective.

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