-Report by Riddhi Ray
It was held by the Supreme Court of India in the case of MUNUWA @ SATISH ETC. V. THE STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH that If the prosecution fails to prove its stand without any doubt the accused will be benefitted and will be set free from all the charges of the crime.
An appeal had been filed challenging the judgment of Allahabad high court upholding the punishment of life imprisonment and imprisonment for 4 years of the Bareilly sessions court u/s 302, 307 of IPC respectively. The facts are as follows.
On 24th August 1979 around 6:30 p.m. Iqbal bahadur was sitting along with Dr. Asghar (PW-6) in verandah of his office within college campus. Three accused Gullu Rajesh (A1), Vimal Chunnu (A2), and Munuwa Satish (A3) entered the verandah and fired gunshots toward the deceased as well as the deceased’s physician friend (PW-6) and fled away. PW-6 carried the deceased first to the dispensary and then to Aliganj station. At 8:30 p.m. Deceased lodged an FIR u/s 307 of IPC.
After the FIR was registered, he was sent to Bareilly General Hospital by the Head Constable (PW-4) at around 11:00 p.m. PW-6 reached there at 2:00 a.m. on the next day. The statement of the deceased was recorded there by Tehsildar and the magistrate between 11:10 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. And later he passed away on 27th August 1979 at 2:35 a.m. owing to shock and hemorrhage.
The trial court in the judgment dated 31st January 1981 declared the FIR valid and quashed the appellant’s contention. The FIR was considered as the first dying declaration of the deceased against A-2 but the same cannot be applied against A-1 & A-3. The appellants had stated therein that there is an ambiguity in the statements of PW-1 & PW-6 due to intimidation by the accused. Further, the deceased’s statement recording on the 25th is skeptical. However, the trial court discarded these contentions and sentenced the accused u/s 302, 307 & 34 of IPC for life imprisonment & imprisonment for 4 years respectively.
The high court in its judgment rendered the same view as was previously observed by the Trial court. It gave preference to the first declaration made by the deceased over the second one and ambiguity of PW-1 & PW-6 was considered normal as they used to live in the same locality as of accused. During trial A-2 died so, the appeal was concerned with A-1 & A-3.
Shri Venkita Subramaniam claimed the FIR to be false as it was submitted to the court later than it was supposed to. The place of occurrence and the statement of witnesses PW-1 & PW-6 are suspicious. If the eyewitnesses are discarded then the whole story of prosecution becomes baseless as there’s no strong evidence like the recovery of weapons.
Sh. Sanjay Kumar Tyagi submitted that the Trial Court and the High court’s decisions are based on reliable evidence and eyewitnesses had no interest or enmity towards the appellant so the courts’ decisions are just.
The court observed that the cross-examination amplified a lot of ambiguity in the statement of PW-1. The prosecution was not able to produce any weapons or bullet cartridge which is alleged to have been used in such murder. It was observed:
“the prosecution failed to recover blood-stained materials from the place of occurrence, empty cartridges, pellets,
or any other weapon used for commission of the crime, coupled with the contradictions and unnatural conduct of the eye witnesses PW-1 and PW-6, and the inconsistencies in the two dying declarations, we believe that the prosecution has not proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and the accused are entitled to be given the benefit of doubt.”
The decision of the High Court was set aside and the accused were set free from all the charges.