In the judgment of the case - Mohd. Anwar v. The State (N.C.T. of Delhi), delivered on August 19, 2020, a 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Justices N.V.Ramana, S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant, has clarified that pleas of unsoundness of mind under section 84 of IPC or mitigating circumstances like juvenility of age, ordinarily ought to be raised during trial itself. Belated claims not only prevent proper production and appreciation of evidence, but they also undermine the genuineness of the defence 's case.
The Supreme Court has further observed that as noted by the Delhi High Court, no evidence in the form of a birth certificate, school record or medical test was brought forth, nor any expert examination has been sought by the appellant. Instead, the statement under section 313 Cr.P.C. shows that the appellant was above 18 years around the time of the incident, which is a far departure from the claimed age of 15 years.
The plea of mental disorder too remains unsubstantiated. No deposition was made by any witness, nor did the appellant himself claim any such impairment during his section 313 Cr.P.C. statement. On the contrary, his conduct of running away from the spot of the crime on May 17, 2001, as well as the attempt to escape from the bus on May 20, 2001 evidence an elevated level of mental intellect. The answers recorded in response to the questions put forth by the Addl. Sessions Judge at the CrPC 313 stage are also not mechanical or laconic. For example, the appellant explains his refusal to participate in the TIP proceedings by alleging that his face had already been shown by the police to the complainant.
Mere production of photocopy of an OPD card and statement of mother on affidavit have little if any, evidentiary value. In order to successfully claim defence of mental unsoundness under section 84 of IPC , the accused must show by preponderance of probabilities that he/she suffered from a serious-enough mental disease or infirmity which would affect the individual 's ability to distinguish right from wrong.- TN Lakshnaiah v. State of Karnataka, (2002) 1 SCC 219-para 9.
Further, it must be established that the accused was afflicted by such disability particularly at the time of crime and that but for such impairment, the crime would not have been committed The reasons given by the HC for disbelieving these defences are thus well reasoned and unimpeachable.
Regardless thereto and given the ingrained principles of our criminal law jurisprudence which mandates that substantive justice triumph limitations of procedure, the SC on July 22,2020 tried to enquire into the mental health of the appellant, by requesting the Addl. Solicitor General to get the appellant mentally examined. However, notwithstanding such efforts, the appellant who had been granted bail by the SC earlier, is untraceable.
The Govt. Counsel submitted that the appellant is not residing at his claimed address since the last eight years, and even the appellant 's own counsel fairly admitted to not having received any instructions from his client since the past 10 years. Thus, the Court was left with no option but to hold that the plea of mental illness is nothing but a made-up story, and is far from genuine.
The SC has observed that appellate Courts ought not to routinely re-appreciate the evidence in a criminal case. This is not only for reasons of procedure, expediency or finality; but because the trial Court is best placed to holistically appreciate the demeanour of a witness and other evidence on record. Given the concurrent finding of the Courts below on key aspects of the robbery, the SC did not find it a fit case for re-appraisal of evidence.
Further, the testimonies of witnesses are indeed impeccable and corroborative of each other. The crime of robbery with hurt is established by the testimony of the Prosecution Witness (PW)-1 and the other evidence on record. The complainant (PW-1) had no motive to falsely implicate the appellant and/or to allow the real culprits to go scot-free. The refusal to participate in the TIP proceedings and the lack of any reasons on the spot, undoubtedly establish the appellant 's guilty conscience and ought to be given substantial weight.- Ashwani Kumar v. State of Punjab (2015) 6 SCC 308 –para 19.
The three-day delay in registration of FIR, as projected by the appellant, is devoid of factual basis. The original record shows that the complaint was, in fact, registered within a few hours of the incident on May 18, 2001. It was because of preliminary police inquiry that another two days passed between reporting and subsequent lodging of FIR on May20, 2001.
The criminal appeal in this case was at the instance of Mohd. Anwar, who had challenged the February 22, 2010 judgment of the Delhi HC whereby his appeal against an April 27-29, 2004 judgment of the Addl Sessions Judge, Karkardooma, convicting and sentencing him under section 394 of the IPC and section 25 of the Arms Act was turned down.
According to the case of the prosecution, complainant-victim Tabban Khan (PW-1) was riding his motor cycle on the main road near Shahdara around 11.30 pm on May 17, 2001, when he stopped to ease himself near a fishpond. Suddenly, three boys including the appellant caught hold of him and started assaulting him. They were armed with a knife and revolver. Upon extortion the complainant handed over a bundle of five hundred –rupee notes totaling around Rs 30,000/- to those boys, who then contemplated murdering him by stabbing, so that he might not report the matter to the police.
Hearing commotion of passers-by, the 3 boys left the complainant and ran towards a warehouse. Then the complainant returned to his home and reported the matter to the jurisdictional police the following evening. This complaint was subsequently converted into FIR on May 20, 2001 at 7.45 pm. The culprits were apprehended soon after at about 8.30 pm during routine checking of buses. The Culprits confessed. They were arrested and refused to undergo Test Identication Parade (TIP).
Given inability of the appellant to establish juvenility or insanity, raise any doubt regarding the guilt; and considering the detailed reasons accorded by the HC, the reliable testimony of 12 witnesses as well as the leniency shown in sentencing, The SC has stated that it sees no reason to interfere with the impugned orders and dismissed the appeal and directed the respondent-State to take the appellant into custody to serve the remainder of the sentence.