Mere Delay in Lodging FIR Can’t be a Reason to hold whole Prosecution Story False: Madras HC

The Madras HC while hearing a petition for suspension of sentence and granting bail in a murder case, observed:

“It is necessary to borne in mind that though, the FIR in respect to the particular offense is registered with a delay that alone is not sufficient to hold that the entire occurrence is a false one. If a reasonable explanation is offered by the prosecution witnesses then it is sufficient to accept the entire prosecution case”, remarked the court.

Importantly the court also held that

“The mere fact that during the trial, they were granted bail and there was no allegation of misuse of liberty is really not of much significance. Further, the mere fact that during the period when the accused person was on bail during the trial there was no misuse of liberties, does not per se warrant suspension of execution of sentence and grant of bail.”

In brief, the case of the prosecution was that in February 2014 the petitioner attacked the wife of the complainant with a bill hook due to a wordy quarrel. Due to the said attack, the deceased sustained severe injury on her neck, and resultantly, she died in JIPMER Hospital, Puducherry.

For the said occurrence, a case had been registered against the petitioner on the file of the Auroville Police Station (Puducherry), under Section 302 IPC.

After concluding the trial, the learned Sessions Judge, Magalir Neethimandram, [Fast Track Mahila Court], Villupuram, came to the conclusion that the petitioner is found guilty of the offense under Section 302 of IPC and thereby, convicted and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months.

Aggrieved by the conviction order, the petitioner filed a petition before the Madras HC seeking suspension of the sentence imposed upon him and granting bail to him.

Petitioner’s Contentions:

The advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner contended that the complaint pertaining to the alleged occurrence had been lodged with a long delay. Further, the doctor’s evidence, who conducted the postmortem on the body of the deceased Navaneetham, was entirely different from the evidence recorded from the person, who admitted the deceased to the hospital. He further submitted that during the time of trial, the petitioner/accused was enlarged on bail, and during such time, he had not misused liberty. With the above submissions, he prayed to suspend the sentence imposed upon the petitioner and grant him bail.

Court’s Observation:

A division bench of Justice P.N. Prakash and Justice R. Ponigiappan held that the mere delay in filing FIR cannot be the reason to make a conclusion that the entire prosecution story is false. The court held that the grounds raised by the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner are not sufficient to hold that the petitioner/accused is entitled to suspension of sentence.

The HC bench relied on the case of Vijayakumar Vs. Narendra and others, reported in 2002 (9) SCC 364, wherein Hon’ble Apex Court has held that in considering the prayer for bail in a case involving serious offences like murder punishable under Section 302 IPC, the Court should consider the relevant factors like the nature of accusation made against the accused, the manner in which the crime is alleged to have been committed, the gravity of offence, and the desirability of releasing the accused on bail after they have been convicted for committing serious offence of murder.

Conclusion:

Therefore, applying the principles set out in the above-referred judgment as well as considering the gravity of the offense committed by the petitioner, the HC was of the opinion that this is not a fit case to suspend the sentence of imprisonment and grant bail to the petitioner/accused. The petition was consequently dismissed.

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