Author: Benzy Varghese (backdate to 8/04/2021)
The accused persons convicted under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 challenged the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The question before the court was ‘whether they were entitled to benefit of the doubt?’.
The present case is an appeal made against the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for convicting the accused. The case includes eight persons named Yogesh, Anuj, Pardeep, Sumit, Diwan Singh, Abhishek, Parveen, and Satbir who were tried for criminal conspiracy which is an offence punishable under Section 120 B of Indian Penal Code, 1860. The crime was reported by a person named Manoj Kumar. He stated that as his children i.e. Son aged 10 years and daughter aged 7 years got off the bus after school, two men came on a motorcycle and kidnapped his daughter. While searching one of the accused persons Diwan Singh’s house during a raid, he revealed that his son Anuj had kidnapped the victim along with his three friends. The accused persons also murdered the child and threw her body in the fields. The body of the child was recovered later. Based on the post-mortem report, the cause of the death was found to be manual strangulation which was homicidal in nature. However, based on the Forensic Report no semen was found from the swabs taken from the dead body.
The contentions made before the court was that even though the post mortem report stated that the victim was assaulted sexually, the forensic report on the other hand did not establish any connection of the assault on the deceased and the accused. The body of the victim was found in an open field. Secondly, it was argued that the record is not clear regarding how the body was recovered or when the accused or the appellants, in this case, were arrested.
The court observed that two of the witnesses Neeraj i.e. brother of the deceased and Rajiv i.e. Uncle of the deceased turned hostile and did not support the case of the prosecution. Both the witnesses were closely related to the victim and the court didn’t find any element of suspicion in this matter. The court was therefore just left with the testimony of Manoj i.e. the father of the victim. As per the testimony of the father, it neither shows that he was an eye-witness at the occurrence of the crime nor it disclosed the identity of the accused. The court also noted that during the occurrence of the crime the witness i.e. father was sitting inside his house and therefore it is extremely difficult to accept the father as the eye-witness. The court also observed that the observation made by the High Court while relying on the father’s testimony as eye-witness was incorrect.
The court based on the contentions and the circumstantial evidence found itself in disagreement with the decision taken by the lower courts. The court stated that the prosecution has not been proved his case beyond reasonable doubt and the circumstances were not conclusive in nature. The court decided that the appellants are entitled to the benefit of the doubt and set aside the order of conviction against every accused person.
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