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Court needs to be satisfied with all evidences, not just that it’s a serious crime, says Kerala High court

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New Delhi (ILNS): Seriousness of the crime itself can not be taken as a factor to uphold the conviction unless the conscience of the court is satisfied, said the Kerala High Court while setting aside the life imprisonment sentence given to five BJP party workers involved in murder of two persons out of a political feud.

The Kerala High Court division Bench of Justice A. Hariprasad & Justice M. R. Anitha pronounces their verdict on an appeal filed by five persons convicted and sentenced rigorous imprisonment for life under sections 143, 147, 148, 120 (B), 149 IPC along with 341 & 302 IPC by the Additional Session Judge-II, Palakkad.

The Prosecution’s case was that accused persons hatched a criminal conspiracy in the evening of 29.10.2007 at BJP party office near Nilampathi bridge at Kadukkamkunnam to do away with the deceased Gopalakrishnan and Raveendran out of previous enmity and political feud. For that they formed themselves into an unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapons and in prosecution of the common object of the assembly rioted with deadly weapons. 

The prosecution case was largely dependent upon the dying declaration of one of the deceased person Raveendran and it was submitted by them that all the witnesses examined are natural witnesses and there is no reason whatsoever to interfere with the Conviction and sentenced by the court below.

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The specific defence of the accused is that the identity of people who reached at the spot on seeing the incident have been suppressed and partisan witnesses affiliated to the political group of the deceased persons are planted and examined as prosecution witnesses. Accused persons being party men of BJP at Kadukkamknnu, they have been falsely Crl.A.No.478/2016 24 implicated in the case.   

The Court noted that in this case the criminal conspiracy was found against the prosecution and two of the accused out of Seven were acquitted by the trial court. Two eyewitnesses cited by the prosecution (PW3 and 4) were also questioned after 15 days of the incident. The explanation offered by the investigating officer for delay is that, they have been questioned in the usual course among other witnesses and that they were not revealed it to anybody.   

The Public Prosecutor strongly contended that minor lapses in investigation by itself is not sufficient to acquit the accused and the criminal court is to find out truth and accused is only entitled for a reasonable doubt. In this case the prosecution proved through oral and documentary evidence the culpability of accused beyond any reasonable doubt and hence they are not entitled for an acquittal, said the PP.

“What is emerged from the facts circumstances and evidence adduced in this case is the undue haste shown by the investigating agency to register FIR Ext.P25. Evidence of PW24 who conducted the inquest of Raveendran in this case would prove that some unknown person was intruding into the investigation when he admitted that he had not given any instruction to take the thumb impression of deceased Raveendran,” the Court noted in its order. 

“PW22 Hemambika Nagar Circle Inspector who was in charge of the investigation at the time of inquest of Raveendran by PW24 would depose that he has not given any instruction to take the thumb impression of the deceased. Then who instructed the finger print bureau to get left hand thumb impression of Raveendran at the time of inquest is still a mystery,” further observed by the Court. 

All those factors would lead to an inference that investigation was controlled by some higher officials. It may be due to the fact that two young men of 38 and 32 years have been brutally attacked and hacked to death just out of political rivalry in the Constituency of the then Chief Minister. But the consequence was that the entire investigation has become shaky. If at all nobody had witnessed the incident the investigating agency should have taken pains and put in effort to investigate the case on circumstantial evidence. Over anxiety and enthusiasm of the investigating agency made the entire investigation artificial and shaky, said the Court. 

The Court said, Seriousness of the crime by itself can not be taken as a factor to uphold the conviction unless the conscience of the court is satisfied through the materials brought in by the investigating agency that it is the accused who have done the heinous crime. Wherever a reasonable doubt arises in the mind of court, benefit of the same should go to the accused. On a careful evaluation of the various facts and circumstances and the evidence adduced which have been discussed above, we are of the considered view that the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt and hence appellants/accused Nos.1 to 3, 5 and 7 are entitled to get the benefit of doubt.

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