In the case that we will be discussing today, an appeal filed by the appellant challenging the order passed by the High Court.
In this, he was convicted under sections 302/34 of the Indian Penal Code and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that there were many infirmities in the prosecution evidence,
so the appeal was allowed by the Court and the order passed by the Trial and High Court was set aside.
Murder of Laxman
As per the prosecution, the appellant and co-accused Chunturam had assaulted the deceased Laxman on 14.06.2001
with a stick and axe due to which he died on the spot.
Son of the deceased informed his grandfather that the accused had murdered his father and had hidden his body in a pit.
Informant reached the spot and found the injury-inflicted on body of his son.
The father of the deceased filed an FIR, and the accused were apprehended.
During the trial, a land dispute between the parties was assailed to be the motive.
The Learned Trial Court found the accused guilty, and they were sentenced accordingly.
The order passed by the Trial Court was challenged before the Hon’ble High Court.
Hon’ble High Court referred to the testimony of Bhagat Ram who had admitted that he could not identify the
second accused Jagan Ram and could only identify Chunthuram.
Based on the testimony of the eye witness, Jagan Ram was released; however, the conviction of Chunturam was upheld by the Court.
Aggrieved, Chunturam moved the Supreme Court.
Many holes in the prosecution’s version of events:-
Learned counsel for the appellant stated that testimony of the eye witness could not be relied on as his eyesight
was not that good, and he was hard of hearing also.
It was also stated that weapons that were recovered from the house of the accused were never linked to the crime.
The counsel argued that there was no direct motive as well, because the land dispute in question was resolved two years before the death of the deceased.
Appellant had a motive for murder: Counsel for the respondent.
Counsel for the respondent stated that the appellant had a direct motive because the deceased was tried for the attempt to murder of the accused.
It was also pointed out that the weapons of assault were recovered from a place that was pointed to by the accused.
As the witness had stated that he saw the deceased getting assaulted by the accused, this evidence should be given due weightage.
Infirmities in the evidence
While going through all the evidence in the case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court found many infirmities.
- There was no forensic or chemical evidence to prove that the weapons recovered were used in the commission of a crime.
- A test identification parade was conducted to identify Chunturam. As police officers were present during the parade, it will fall within the ban mentioned in Section 62.
- Testimony of Bhagat Ram was also questioned. The witness had himself admitted that he had poor eyesight, and
it was raining on the day of the incident; therefore, the testimony of the eyewitness cannot be relied upon.
- It was also opined that there was not enough evidence to prove that the land dispute was the motive for murder.
Based on the infirmities mentioned above in the prosecution evidence,
the Court allowed the appeal and the judgement of the High Court and the Trial Court were set aside.
Title: Chunthuram Versus State of Chhattisgarh
Case No.: Criminal Appeal No.1392 of 2011
Date of Order: 29.10.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hon’ble Justice Krishna Murari and Hon’ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy