Pradeep Kumar v. State of Chattisgarh
DATE OF ORDER:
14 March 2023
Hon’ble Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sanjay Karol
Appellant: Pradeep Kumar
Respondent: State of Chattisgarh
The Hon’ble Supreme Court (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Court’), set-aside the impugned order and judgement of the High Court and held that the Court must properly appreciate the evidence on record before passing the order of conviction. An accused cannot be convicted simply due to suspicion of the Court, no matter how grave.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Section 34 - Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.—When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.
- Section 302 - Punishment for murder.—Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
- Section 201 - Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender - Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed, causes any evidence of the commission of that offence to disappear, with the intention of screening the offender from legal punishment, or with that intention gives any information respecting the offence which he knows or believes to be false; if a capital offence shall, if the offence which he knows or believes to have been committed is punishable with death, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine; if punishable with imprisonment for life and if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; if punishable with less than ten years’ imprisonment and if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for any term not extending to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of the description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-fourth part of the longest term of the imprisonment provided for the offence, or with fine, or with both.
Indian Evidence Act, 1872
- Section 27 - How much of information received from accused may be proved - Provided that, when any fact is deposed to as discovered in consequence of information received from a person accused of any offence, in the custody of a police officer, so much of such information, whether it amounts to a confession or not, as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered, may be proved.
- On 01.10.2003, the appellant, Pardeep Kumar, murdered the deceased, Umesh Chowdhary, for which FIR No. 126/03 was registered at Police Station Dhaurpur. Upon investigation, it was found that the crime was committed due to animosity between the appellant and the deceased as the former wanted to take possession of the deceased person’s shop in Chitarpur village.
- The Trial Court convicted the appellant for offence u/s 302/34 IPC and 201/34 IPC and sentenced them for an imprisonment of seven years along with a fine of Rs. 500/-. This conviction was upheld by the High Court.
- Accordingly, the present appeal was filed against the impugned order and judgement of the High Court.
- Whether the High Court erred in upholding the conviction of the appellant?
- Whether the impugned order and judgement passed by the High Court is in compliance with the procedure established under law?
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT:
- The Ld. Court observed that none of the Courts below ensured that the guilt of the accused stands proved by the prosecution, beyond reasonable doubt. The Court noted that no matter how probable or grave suspicion may be it cannot be substituted with the evidence.
- The Court also observed that there must be either circumstantial or direct evidence to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. Only upon successful discharge of the burden of proof, the accused will be considered guilty.
- It was noted by the Court that the impugned order and judgement passed by the High Court is doubtful. The presumption of the guilt of the appellant is based on improper and incomplete evidence. The Courts below have failed to properly appreciate the evidence on record and have made a blatant error in passing the order for conviction of the appellant which has resulted into travesty of justice.
The Ld. Court set-aside the impugned order and judgement of the High Court and held that the Court must properly appreciate the evidence on record before passing the order of conviction. An accused cannot be convicted simply due to suspicion of the Court, no matter how grave