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Supreme Court issues notice on plea by MP cop against HC order to prosecute him for giving false evidence in 7-year-old’s rape and murder

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice in a plea filed by an investigating officer who has challenged the order of High Court wherein the court had directed his prosecution for giving false evidence which in turn had led to the acquittal of the accused, Ravi alias Toli, for rape and murder of 7-year-old girl.

The matter was listed before the bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Aniruddha Bose. Senior Advocate H.S. Phoolka, who appeared for petitioner Sanjeev Chouksey, argued that there are unanswered questions in this matter and nine important aspects, the high court had ignored while passing the judgment. “As a officer of the court, it hurts me to see that deceased minor girl mother has also been prosecuted,” he added. 

The high court was of the view that investigating officer Sanjeev Chouksey and other prosecution witnesses gave false evidence against Ravi@Toli before the trial court. “Only the Supreme Court and the High Court has the power to award sentence of life imprisonment for the remainder of life and not the trial court possess such power to award such sentence.” Such was an observation of Madhya Pradesh High court while reversing the conviction of Ravi into an acquittal. 

The Division Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court mentions the operation of applicability of a provision of section 376(3)IPC either in prospective or retrospective. It submits that nothing is on record available which suggests that section 376(3) IPC applies in retrospectively. 

The seizure of slacks, blood-stained earth was nothing but a sham only with a purpose to create false evidence. The High Court pointed out seeing the conduct of Sanjeev Chouksey. It appeared that while sprinkling the blood of the accused Ravi on different articles, the blood of the accused Ravi was also sprinkled on the shawl, and thereafter, when the investigating officer, Sanjeev Chouksey (P.W. 31) realized that presence of blood on Shawl would bring the prosecution story under doubt, then it was not sent to any laboratory. 

‘High Court’s critical observations on IO’s part’

Substantial Question of law raised by petitioner in the Special Leave Petition that –a) Whether the conduct of the Petitioner amounts to an offence that falls under section 194 or 195A IPC? b) Whether the High court followed the due procedure as mentioned under section 340 CRPC without conducting preliminary inquiry before directing for prosecution for giving false evidence before the court. 

Grounds raised by the petitioner in the petition that there is nothing on record to depict that there was any collusion between Petitioner and accused Ravi regarding involvement any fabricated evidence.

Secondly, the High court erred to appreciate the fact that it is well-settled law that prosecution for perjury should be ordered only when it is considered expedient in the interest of justice to punish delinquent and not merely because there is some inaccuracy in a statement which could be irrelevant.

The prosecution case is that on October 24, 2015, accused Ravi kidnapped a 7-year-old minor qua prosecutrix from a temple outside platform of Railway Station Bhopal from the custody of her lawful guardians. She was taken to Vidisha and was brutally raped and killed by smothering. Her dead body was found in a well in the field of Mullu Patel in Vidisha. A blue jeans found in the well was seized. Tibia bone for diatom test, sternum bone, 5 ml of blood of the deceased, viscera, uterus, heart, kidney, spleen and liver, whole stomach and its contents, a piece of small intestine, and salt solution were sealed and handed over to the police constable.

At the instance of accused Ravi, a T-shirt was recovered. Since the dead body of the deceased was already buried, the mother of the deceased refused to exhume the body and identified it from a photo. DNA test report was obtained. 

The accused Ravi contented in the HC: The prosecution has failed to prove the DNA, as well as medical and scientific evidence against the appellant/accused; 

(ii) The circumstance of last seen together is not proved; 

(iii) chain of circumstances is not complete;

(iv) Faulty and illegal investigation has given a deep dent to the prosecution case

(v) The prosecution has failed to prove the place of occurrence

(vi) Presence of Deceased in Bhopal has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt 

(vii) Presence of accused at the alleged place of incidence i.e., place of kidnapping i.e. Bhopal and the well from where the dead body was recovered i.e. Vidisha has not been proved.

(viii) The arrest of the appellant/accused and seizure of articles is contrary to law

(ix) FIR is ante dated and ante timed

(x) Erroneous and illegal findings recorded by the Trial Court 

(xi) Non-compliance of Section 53-A of Cr.P.C. ; 

(xii) Aggravating and Mitigating circumstances have not been taken into consideration 

(xiii) In the alternative, the death sentence be commuted to Life Imprisonment.

A reference was sent by the trial court to the High Court under Section 366 CrPC with regard to confirmation of death sentence. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh was directed to remand back the matter with an direction to the trial court to commence with examination in chief, cross-examination and re examination of Investigating Officer namely Sanjeev Kumar Chouksey  and that too in presence of accused Ravi alias Toli. In addition to it, a  fresh statement to be recorded under section 313 CrPC and to pronounce judgment afresh.  

The charge sheet against accused Ravi  for offence under Sections 302, 376(2)(i),(j),(k),(l), 376 (a), (b), 201, 363, 364, 75 of I.P.C. and under Section 5(m)/6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 was preferred.  

Ravi alias Toli was arrested on 6-11-2015 and for the last near about 6 years, he is in jail. Initially, he was awarded a death sentence by judgment and sentence dated 26-9-2019. The Division Bench of High court directed Registrar General  to circulate copies of its judgment to all sessions and additional sessions Judges to intimate the trial courts that they cannot award life imprisonment for the remainder of the life of accused.

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