Saturday, December 9, 2023

Convict serving life sentence released on bail: Allahabad High Court

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The Allahabad High Court has released on bail Rajesh Kumar Singh, who has been in jail since February 6, 2019, in the sentence of life imprisonment.

The Division Bench of Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi and Justice Chandra Kumar Rai passed this order while hearing a Criminal Appeal filed by Rajesh Kumar Singh And other.

The bail application has been preferred by the appellants for releasing them on bail in Session Trial Crime under Section 302/34 IPC, P.S Chakia, District Chandauli.

As per the prosecution version the incident in question took place on 20.02.2004 in which the wife of appellant no1(Rajesh Kumar Singh) committed suicide to which the FIR was lodged on 21.2.2004 under Section 302, 506 IPC at P.S Chakia, District Chandauli.

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The allegations in the FIR is that the marriage of the sister of the complainant was solemnized six years ago with the appellant no1, who was working in a private company at Nigahi Madhya Pradesh as security guard.

It is contended that the appellant no 1 was having illicit relationship with appellant no 2 (Jaya Singh). Once the said fact came into the knowledge of the deceased, altercation took place between the husband and wife on account of which appellants have committed murder of the deceased.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that the conviction and sentence of the appellants are against the weight of evidence on record. There is no direct or indirect evidence that the appellants have committed murder of the deceased. The prosecution stands on circumstantial evidence and there is no eye witness of the case. The prosecution has failed to prove the illicit relationship beyond reasonable doubt.

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Counsel for the appellants further submitted that in so far as the finding of the trial court with regard to the burden of the accused in view of Section 106 of the Evidence Act is concerned, that unless the initial burden is discharged by the prosecution, the burden would not shift on the appellants. Section 106 of the Evidence Act does not absolve the prosecution of discharging its primary burden of proving the prosecution case beyond reasonable doubt. It is only when the prosecution has led evidence which, if believed, will sustain a conviction, or which makes out a prima facie case, that the question arises of considering facts of which the burden of proof would lie upon the accused. Contrarily the present case is the case of circumstantial evidence and in the case of circumstantial evidence, motive plays an important role and the prosecution has utterly failed to prove the case as to motive.

In the post mortem report no injury was found on the body of deceased except the ligature mark and there was gap in back side of the neck and as such it is the case of suicide and not the murder. The applicant has been falsely implicated in the case. The appellants have been languishing in jail since 6.2.2019.

The Court noted that,

Counsel for the appellant in support of his submissions has placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in Donthula Ravindranath @ Ravinder Rao v State of Andhra Pradesh, (2014) 3 SCC 196 (para 11 to 14).

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It is contended that in the aforesaid matter the wife of the appellant-Donthula Ravindranath died due to strangulation within 7 years of her marriage with the appellant. The deceased was harassed by the appellant for additional dowry. They were living in the same house and the death was caused by hanging/strangulation. The appellant in the said case argued that there is no iota of evidence to establish that the appellant caused the death of his wife. Even if an offence under Section 498-A is proved, in absence of any clinching evidence that appellant caused death, it would not be safe to convict the appellant for offence under Section 302. The Apex Court opined that the appellant must be found guilty for an offence under Section 304-B IPC, which is punishable with the sentence for a term which may not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. The Apex Court altered the conviction of the appellant for an offence under Section 302 IPC to an offence under Section 304-B IPC and reduced the sentence to the period already undergone, as the appellant was in jail for almost a decade.

It is also contended that there is no possibility of early hearing of the appeal, therefore, in view of the order dated 25th February, 2022 of the Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No 308/2022 (Saudan Singh vs. State of UP) arising out of SLP (Crl) No 4633 of 2021, the appellant is entitled to be released on bail, pending disposal of the appeal.

“Considering the facts and circumstances and respectfully considering the judgments cited at Bar, without expressing any opinion on the merits and without prejudice to the right of the appellants to pursue this appeal or pray for remission as per law, we are of the view that the appellants are entitled to be released on bail”

-the Court observed.

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The Court ordered that,

Let the accused appellants-applicants, Rajesh Kumar Singh and Jaya Singh, convicted and sentenced in Session Trial No 28 of 2005 (State of U.P v Rajesh Kumar Singh & Anr.), Crime No 48 of 2004 under Section 302/34 IPC, P.S Chakia, District Chandauli, be released on bail in the above case on furnishing personal bond and two sureties each of the like amount to the satisfaction of the concerned Chief Judicial Magistrate, subject to furnishing undertaking that they will cooperate in the hearing of the appeal.

The realization of fine shall remain stayed during the pendency of the appeal.

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