-Report by Pranav Mathur
The Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, on the 8th of February 2023, dismissed a criminal appeal against the decision of the Trial Court preferred by two murder convicts in the case of Mansa @ Mansu v. The State of Madhya Pradesh. The Court deliberated upon various issues commonly deduced before arriving at a judgment, such as the question of the crime being a homicide, whether the requisite mens rea can be reasonably ascertained, etc., with the help of various decisions of the Apex Court.
The two appellants were on a motorcycle when they arrived at the residence of the deceased. He was sitting on a platform at the house directly in front of his own. The appellant riding pillion fired three shots at the deceased, after which he fell, and eventually died due to excessive bleeding and the shock that accompanies it. The mother of the deceased witnessed the entire ordeal. The deceased was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead. The appellants were arrested after the passage of some time. The motorcycle and the pistol used were seized from the appellants. Both of them abjured guilt and signified their willingness to take the case to trial.
The primary contention of the appellants was the presence of one sole witness; the mother of the deceased. All the other witnesses to the incident were hearsay. The mother of the deceased was regarded as an interested witness and hence unreliable. The appellants further pointed towards contradictions and omissions present in her statements. Major contradictions arose between her and the medical examiner who conducted the post-mortem related to the nature of injuries sustained by the deceased. It was further contended that the appellants lacked any real motive to kill the deceased, and hence cannot be said to have committed a crime in its truest legal sense. State of Uttar Pradesh v. Satveer and Ors. and Sunil Kundu and Anr. v. State of Jharkhand were some of the judgments relied on by the appellants to strengthen their case.
The respondent contended that the Trial Court had correctly relied on the statements of the mother of the deceased when it came to the conviction of the appellants, as they were backed by the FIR and additional medical evidence. Other witnesses have also corroborated her story, proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Cases like Bhajan Singh alias Harbhajan Singh and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Bipin Kumar Mondal v. State of West Bengal was quoted by the respondent.
COURT’S CONTENTIONS AND THE JUDGMENT:
The Court took into consideration whether the crime was homicidal or not. Upon the perusal of medical documents, the details of injuries, the post-mortem report, and other medical evidence, the Court concluded that the death was indeed homicidal. The Court opined that the mother of the deceased, and the other witnesses, including the son and the nephew of the deceased, cannot be considered unmeritorious witnesses due to their closeness with the deceased as their statements corroborated medical evidence. Due to circumstances of the investigation procedure, the recovery of the pistol from one of the appellants could not be proved, as had been observed rightly by the Trial Court itself, however, in the Apex Court case of State through the Inspector of Police v. Laly alias Manikandan and Anr., it was held that the non-seizure of the alleged weapon does not adversely hamper the case of the prosecution.
The appellants took the defence of alibi which could not be corroborated with other Defence Witnesses, affecting the appeal that they had filed, as it could not be ascertained that the appellants weren’t at the scene of the crime at the time when it occurred. The common intention of both the appellants was proved by their cooperation in carrying out the crime.
Based on these considerations, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh dismissed the appeal, upholding the Trial Court’s decision of life imprisonment being awarded as punishment for the crime of murder as punished under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
READ FULL JUDGEMENT: https://bit.ly/3XQacfD