Supreme Court: Mere Delay in Compliance of Section 157 of the CrPC Cannot Be a Ground for Acquittal of the Appellant

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Supreme Court, Jurisdiction of High Court, section 153c of the act, Deputation Allowance, Unorganized Labour Payments

The present appeal is a challenge to the judgement by Allahabad High Court. The High Court judgement confirmed the conviction of the Appellants under Sec. 302 read with Sec. 34 of IPC, 1860 and Sec. 27 of the Arms Act, 1959. The Court found the Appellants guilty of murdering one Abhaiveer Singh Bhadoria. There is confirmation of the cause of death being a result of the five firearm injuries. In the present appeal, the homicidal death is not challenged before the Supreme Court.

Contention by the Parties 

The Appellant argued, first, that the deposition of the PW-1 and PW-2 was unreliable. The argument was that the Prosecution planted the deposition. Secondly, the First Information Report (“FIR”) was contrary to the mandate of Sec. 157 of the Cr.P.C. The Chief Judicial Magistrate received it after 11 days; thus, it was ante-timed.
 
The Respondent submitted that mere delay in forwarding the FIR to Magistrate could not frustrate the prosecution’s case.

Court’s View

The Court laid down effect of delay in the compliance of Sec. 157 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in Jafel Biswas v. State of West Bengal, (2019) 12 SCC 560. The Court while noting the observation in State of Rajasthan v. Daud Khan, (2016) 2 SCC 607, laid down that for permission for contention of delay, the accused must establish prejudice caused by the same.
 
Likewise, in Sarvajit Singh v. the State of U.P., 2003 SCC OnLine All 1214, this Court held that mere delay in sending the FIR to the Magistrate does not have a deteriorating effect on the case of the prosecution. Unless proven that the accused suffered severe prejudice, when there was no dearth in the investigation of the case, a mere delay, unless prejudice is proven, cannot destroy the prosecution’s case.
 
In the present case, the Court noted that there was a delay in forwarding the FIR to the Magistrate by 11 days. Moreover, the term “forthwith” appearing in Sec. 157 of Cr.P.C., is to ensure that there is no manipulation of the FIR [Sudarshan v. the State of Maharashtra, (2014) 12 SCC 312]. If the Prosecution can provide a justified reason for the delay, the Court may excuse the delay. Hence, delay in compliance of Sec. 157 of Cr.P.C. cannot be the only ground for acquittal of the Appellant.

Held

The Court observed that a mere delay could not be a ground for acquittal of the Appellant. The appeal was hence dismissed.

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