Karnataka HC Sets Aside Judgement Passed By Additional Sessions Judge, Says Judgement Based Purely On Circumstantial Evidence Not Accepted

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The criminal appeal was filed before the High court of Karnataka u/s 374(2) of Cr.P.C. Praying to set aside the judgment passed by the I additional Sessions judge at Gulbarga, convicting the appellant/ Siddaling, for the offences punishable under sec 302 and 201 of IPC was allowed.

Brief facts of the case 

Manjula married to accused no.1/Siddaling about 2 years ago. The couple had a male child aged one year. Siddaling was a registered Medical Practitioner. Both Manjula and Siddalinga were on cordial terms for about one year after the marriage. Thereafter, he started illicit relationship with another woman and this was being objected by the Manjula/deceased. The accused used to quarrel with Manjula and this fact was brought to the notice of her mother-in-law and Manjula’s brother. About 6 months back, due to difference of opinion with the mother of Siddaling, he started living in Ankalaga village with Manjula separately. Even thereafter, Siddaling continued illicit relationship with other women and he did not stop ill-treating Manjula. About 4 months prior to the date of the incident, when Manjula was proceeding to Ankalaga from Kalaburagi via Deval Ghanagapur along with P.W.11-Jayaprakash on a two-wheeler, accused No.1 sent someone in a jeep to cause an accident to their vehicle in order to commit her murder, which was failed.

Before a few months of the incident, Siddaling took LIC policies for a sum of Rs.2 lakhs in the name of Manjula was suspicious.  On 19.05.2010, at about 10.00 p.m. on Jewargi-Sindagi road, while accused Nos.1, 2 and 4 were coming back from Kalaburagi towards Ankalaga along with Manjula in a Tata Indica they stopped the car on the pretext that tyre of the car was punctured and after stopping the car they assaulted Manjula with an iron rod and iron tommy on her head and committed her murder. Thereafter, the accused telephoned to accused No.3 and informed him to come to the spot in his cruiser jeep, in furtherance of their common intention, accused No.3 dashed the cruiser jeep against the Tata Indica car, to make it appears that Manjula died in a road accident and in order to cause disappearance of evidence of murder with an intention of escaping themselves from legal punishment.

The learned trial Judge after considering the evidence and material on record found accused Nos.2 to 4 not guilty of the charged offences and acquitted them. The learned trial Judge convicted accused No.1 having found him guilty for the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 201 of IPC and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.25, 000/- and in default of payment of fine, to undergo simple imprisonment for 3 years for the offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC. Further, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 5 years and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo simple imprisonment for one year for the offence punishable under Section 201 of IPC. Aggrieved by the Judgment and Order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial Court, the present appeal was filed.

Arguments before the Court

The learned counsel appearing for the appellant contended that the entire case of the prosecution is based on circumstantial evidence but none of the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution has been proved. The learned Sessions Judge acquitted accused Nos.2 to 4, as such, committed an error by convicting accused No.1 alone without there being sufficient evidence on record to show that it is accused No.1 and he alone committed the offence. He submits that the prosecution has failed to prove that the appellant was having an illicit relationship with other women which was supposed to be one of the motives for committing the crime. He submits that the witnesses who have given evidence against the accused are all interested witnesses and there is no independent witness examined by the prosecution. The mere fact that the appellant obtained LIC bonds in the name of Manjula [deceased] itself does not suffice to hold that he has taken it with an intention to do away with the life of the deceased. The allegation that the appellant made an attempt to do away with the life of Manjula on an earlier occasion by causing an accident is also not proved by the prosecution. He submits that acquittal of accused Nos.2 to 4 itself shows that the entire case of the prosecution is cooked up. The appellant has been convicted on mere suspicion. The forensic expert has not been examined to prove that the alleged weapons M.Os.1 and 2 are the objects used to assault Manjula. The learned counsel further submits that there are several inconsistencies in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses and the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt. Accordingly, he seeks to allow the appeal.

Per contra, the learned Additional SPP has contended that the prosecution has been able to establish that Manjula died a homicidal death. He submits that the doctor has opined that the cause of death is due to neurogenic shock caused by head injury and the doctor has further opined that if a person is hit by a hard object like a rod, the above said injuries are likely to be caused. Therefore, he submits that the claim of the appellant that Manjula died in a road traffic accident is far from the truth and that is one of the circumstances against the accused. He submits that the appellant was having an illicit relationship with other women, which was being objected by Manjula and therefore, he wanted to get rid of her for which he engaged accused Nos.2 to 4 and to pay them, he obtained LIC bonds in the name of Manjula for a sum of Rs.2 lakhs. He submits that even on an earlier occasion, the appellant has attempted to commit the murder of Manjula by causing an accident when she was travelling on a motorcycle along with P.W.11-Jayaprakash. He submits that the weapons used for the commission of offence have been recovered at the instance of the accused. Hence, he submits that the prosecution has been able to prove all the circumstances which conclusively prove that it is the appellant/accused No.1, who has committed the murder. Accordingly, he seeks to dismiss the appeal.

Decision of the Court

The reasons given by the learned Sessions Judge to convict the accused for the charged offences in a case of this nature where the prosecution case is based on circumstantial evidence cannot be said to be legal and proper. On an overall appreciation of the entire evidence and material on record and having dealt with each circumstance, the court finds that the prosecution has not been able to establish the guilt of accused No.1 beyond all reasonable doubt. Hence, the appeal was allowed. The Judgment and Order of conviction and sentence passed by the Court of the I Additional Sessions Judge, Kalaburagi, was set aside.

[googlepdf url=”https://libertatem.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Manjula-case_watermark.pdf” download=”Download Judgement PDF” ]


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