In the case of Ramesh Namdeo Naikwade v. the State of Maharashtra, a division bench of Justice S.S. Shinde and Justice M.S. Karnik of the Bombay High Court held that no basis for conviction is formed on the mere existing suspicion against the accused.
Facts of the Case
The accused in this case preferred an appeal from the trial court after being charged and found guilty under section 302 of IPC guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment with Rs. 1000 fine. The accused was found guilty of murdering the deceased Dagu on 16th May 2013.
It is the case of the prosecution that on 13th May, the accused, along with two others (A1 & A2), took the deceased to a school area where they beat him to death. The family found the body of the deceased on the next day. After this, the investigation officer collected several pieces of evidence including blood-stained sand, a panchnama, statements of eyewitnesses etc.
The trial court acquitted the two people i.e. A1 and A2 but convicted the accused. The prosecution supported the findings of the trial court whereas the respondent argued that the evidence was not properly analysed.
The court analysed the evidence based on which the accused was held guilty by the trial court:
- PW1: The statement of the wife of the deceased looked weak on the premise that in the cross-examination she said that she was told by Kiran (nephew of the deceased) that the deceased was being taken by the appellant, but the same was not mentioned in her written statement, and no reason was assigned by her for the same. Moreover, she didn’t inform the police or the panchayat on the day of the incident or the next day when they found the body.
- PW2: He deposed that the appellant was physically challenged. He informed Kiran that the deceased was being taken by the appellant.
- PW3: Balu was considered as an eyewitness in the present case. The strange fact here was that when he reached the spot, he deposed that he saw the deceased being beaten up by the appellant and others, but he didn’t react to it nor did the appellant do anything to him even though both of them were nearby.
- PW4: The witness stated that he heard the noise of quarrel but didn’t go there as it was dark. He informed PW 3 about the incident. It is interesting to note here that PW3 deposed that he was told by PW4 that the deceased was being beaten up but PW 4 stated in his statement that since it was dark, he didn’t notice anyone.
The court observed that the statements were more of a false implication on the appellant as the father of PW 3 lost the gram panchayat elections to the appellant. It looks more like a politically motivated implication. Look at the other pieces of evidence now:
- PW8: The doctor who conducted the post-mortem stated that the injuries sustained by the deceased could only have taken place if some weapon was involved. The prosecution’s case was not that the weapon was used by the appellant. The prosecution also never found a murder weapon. Therefore, the injuries on the deceased cannot be attributed to the appellant.
- The eyewitness statement is also unreliable. Hence, the conviction of the appellant only based on blood-stained clothes cannot remain.
- As held by the Apex Court in Bhajan Singh v. the State of Punjab, a conviction cannot take place only based on great suspicion.
The Court set aside the conviction of the accused and directed him to deposit a surety of Rs. 15000 as per section 437A of the CrPC.
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