Accused Cannot Be Discharged Without Appreciation of Evidence Rules Supreme Court

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Supreme Court of India set aside Bombay High Court order discharging the accused in the Loharia murder case, thereby reviving prosecution against Navi Mumbai builder Sumeet Bachewar.

Facts of the Case

Accused were charged for murder by the police under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of statements recorded by it under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1908. Two sets of evidence were available with the prosecution. First was a statement given by the deceased to an auto-rickshaw driver and employee of deceased while being taken to the hospital for treatment. Accused mentioned the name of Suresh Bijlani and Anurag Shivmohan Garg. The second set of evidence is a statement given by the deceased to his son who is also the appellant in the present matter. According to the appellant he had arrived at the Hospital at about 8:40 am and the deceased stated before him that he was attacked and injured, apart from Suresh Bijlani and Anurag Garg three other person namely Sumeet Bachewar, S.P Agarwal, and Bhupesh Prakashchand Gupta were also involved in the attack. Trial Court refused to the discharge plea of the accused against which a revision petition was preferred in the High Court of Bombay. High Court of Bombay overturned the decision of Trial Court in the revision petition. Bombay High Court ordered the discharge of the accused after observing that statement made by the appellant appears to be calculated and does not indicate trustworthiness in comparison to statements made by persons who accompanied the deceased to hospital. Appellant feeling wronged by the decision preferred a special leave petition against the order of Bombay High Court.

Senior Counsel Mrs Indira Jai Singh appearing for respondents relying on a judgment of Supreme Court namely Yogesh alias Sachin Jagdish Joshi v. the State of Maharashtra contended that the broad test for discharging the accused is that if material on record, if unrebutted, makes a conviction reasonably possible.

Verdict

The Full Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Navin Sinha, Justice K.M Joseph after listening to both the sides felt that decision of discharging the accused taken by Bombay High Court was ‘premature’ and accordingly set aside the impugned order. The Full Bench rejected the contention of Senior Lawyer Indira Jai Singh said that since the evidence is analyzed weighed and appreciated without checking the authenticity of the two versions in cross-examination it cannot be said that there are two possible views of the matter. Therefore, the observation of this Court in Yogesh alias Sachin Jagdish Joshi will, therefore not assist the accused. Furthermore, the Court said that

“Appreciation of evidence is an exercise that High Court, in our considered view, could not have undertaken at this stage of consideration of the application for discharge. But this is what precisely what High Court appears to have been done.” Last but not the least, Court made it clear that their interference with High Court order will is in no way expression of opinion on the merits of rival contentions which will naturally have to be considered at the trail.

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