Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Allahabad HC acquits all convicts in Mathura triple murder case, flays shoddy probe

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The Allahabad High Court has acquitted all the convicts in a Mathura triple murder case including one who had been awarded the death penalty. The Court expressed anguish with the “shoddy” manner in which the investigation was done.

This was a case where there were three murders reported in a village in Mathura in the intervening night of June 18-19, 2018. Their bodies were found at three different places.

Considering the appeals of the convicts, the Division Bench of Justice Manoj Mishra and Justice Sameer Jain held:

“The prosecution evidence has failed to bring home the guilt against either Chandan Singh or any of the other accused put to trial in respect of the three murders. Hence, the charge of murder against the accused including Chandan Singh is held not proved and, therefore, the conviction of the appellants including Chandan Singh for the murder of Sundar Singh, Satya Prakash and Bhawar Singh is liable to be set aside.”

The bench observed: “The Court is dealing with a case that is to be decided on the basis of circumstantial evidence, it would be useful to notice the legal principles to be borne in mind when the court has to decide a criminal trial on the basis of circumstantial evidence.”

The High Court held: “The judgment and the order of the trial court in both the sessions trial is set aside. All the appellants are acquitted of all the charges for which they have been tried.”

The High Court heard the two appeals challenging the common judgment dated March 31, 2021 passed by Additional Sessions Judge, Mathura. The accused, Chandan Singh, Kali Charan alias Karuwa, Anil, Gajraj, Bhago Devi, and three others, were charged for offences punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

Chandan Singh was awarded the death penalty, Kali Charan alias Karuwa, Anil and Gajraj were awarded life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 and Bhago Devi was acquitted.

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In the High Court, appellants’ counsel Advocate Vinay Saran submitted that admittedly the incident is of midnight; the three bodies were recovered from separate places at a distance from each other and that there is no evidence, either direct or circumstantial, in respect of the murder.

Further, there is no evidence that all the three murders were part of the same transaction. Thus, in absence of any legally admissible evidence to connect the three murders with the accused put on trial the finding of the trial court that the accused-appellants are guilty of all three murders is nothing short of being perverse.

The counsel submitted that the country-made pistol allegedly recovered at the instance of Chandan Singh could not be connected with the bullet recovered from the body of one of the deceased through the ballistic report. Hence, he cannot be convicted for the charge of murder.

The Counsel said:

“The conviction of Chandan Singh for the offence punishable under the Arms Act is also not proper because, firstly, the recovery of the firearm is false which has no public witness in its support and, secondly, it is alleged to have been recovered from an open field having direct access to the road and was about 35 paces away from the boundary wall of the house of Chandan Singh, therefore, the weapon cannot be said to be in possession of the appellant Chandan Singh.”

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Facts of the case

On June 19, 2018, at about 6.20 am, the Raya Police Station in District Mathura received information through a surveillance unit that three bodies had been found in Nagla Bharau village under PS Raya limits. On receipt of this information, the police rushed to the spot, found the bodies from three separate places and brought them to the mortuary and carried out the inquest. On registration of the FIR, the investigation of the case was taken over by G.P. Singh.

The Sessions Court framed charge of offence punishable under Section 302/149 IPC against Chandan Singh, Kali Charan alias Karuwa, Anil and Gajraj and under Section 302 read with Section 120 B IPC against  Bhago Devi alias Bhagwati Devi. Chandan Singh was separately charged for offence punishable under Section 3/25 Arms Act. On denial of the charges, the trial commenced.

Relying on the testimony of the prosecution witness, the trial court found that the accused had motive for the crime as they were not interested in giving a share in property to the deceased.

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