CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 1113/2015
D Reddeppa Vs. The State of Karnataka
DATE OF ORDER:
5 September 2022
Justice K. Somashekar and Justice Shivashankar Amarannavar
Petitioner: D Redeppa
Respondent: The State of Karnataka
The respondent Nos. 2 to 15 and the accused Nos. 1 to 14 were found not guilty of the offences punishable under Sections 144, 148, 323, 307, 504 and 302 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code. The complainant filed this appeal under Section 372 of the Cr.P.C. in an effort to overturn that judgement.According to the Karnataka High Court, when rendering final judgments following the conclusion of a trial, the Magistrate and Sessions Judge should decide whether or not it is necessary to recommend the payment of compensation for the victim of a crime’s rehabilitation under Section 357A of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Criminal Procedure Code
- Section 357A - Whenever a recommendation is made by the Court for compensation, the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority, as the case may be, shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded under the scheme referred to in sub-section (1).
Indian Penal Code
- Section 149 - Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object. - If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence.
- The complainant and the accused got into a fight. The complainant has received threats from the accused to leave the village. On August 18, 2012, at 8:00 p.m., the complainant was in his home talking with his wife, mother, children, mother-in-law, Smt. Byamaa, and sister, Smt. Reddamma, after eating dinner when the accused broke in and began abusing him indecently on the grounds that he refused to leave the village despite being told to do so and threatening him and his family.
- He was assaulted by hands and kicked while the accused were in possession of clubs, knives, and other weapons. When his sister Smt. Reddamma attempted to step in, she and his wife were assaulted. After sensing a threat to his life, he fled the house and the accused pursued him. When his sister Smt. Reddamma intervened, the accused Nos. 1 to 3 and 10 grabbed hold of her and stabbed her chest 3 to 4 times with knives, causing her to pass out on the spot.
- The accused fled the area when the locals gathered there in response to their cries. Smt. Reddamma was immediately transported by the complainant and others to the Government Hospital in Mulbagal, where the attending physician pronounced her dead. The complainant then made a complaint about this at the Nangali Police Station.
- The Investigating Officer conducted an investigation based on the complaint. The Investigating Officer has filed a charge sheet against the accused following the conclusion of the inquiry. It was decided to formulate the offence under Section 149 of the IPC and Sections 144, 148, 323, 307, 504, and 302.The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.
- Whether the person is a victim of a crime or not?
- Whether compensation is to be awarded in favour of the victim or not?
- Whether compensation can be recovered from the accused?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The learned counsel for the appellant argued that the impugned decision is unconstitutional and contradictory to the relevant evidence in the case because the respondent Nos. 2 to 15 - the accused Nos. 1 to 14 - were cleared by the learned Sessions Judge. The trial court erred in ruling that the prosecution’s case was not supported by the eye witnesses. Smt. Gowramma, P.W. 20, the deceased’s mother, testified about the incident and the murder of Smt. Reddamma by the accused Nos. 1 to 3 and others; she was only hostile during the recording of her statement.
- He further asserts that the prosecution has provided consistent evidence. There is proof that the accused created an unlawful group while brandishing lethal weapons including knives and clubs, trespassed into P.W.2’s residence, assaulted the residents, and then fatally stabbed Smt. Reddamma in front of the complainant’s home. Based on the testimony of P.W.2, P.W.21, and P.W.22, the trial court should have determined that the prosecution had established the guilt of the defendants and should have found them guilty of the offence for which they were accused. The trial court’s methodology for clearing the accused of the charges brought against them was incorrect, which led to a miscarriage of justice.
- He further claims that the dependents of the victim are entitled to victim compensation even in the event of an acquittal. He relied his contentions on the judgements of Hari Kishan and another Vs. Sukhbir Singh and others, AIR 1988 SC 2127 II, Ankush Shivaji Gaikwad Vs. State of Maharashtra, SLP (Crl.) No. 6287/2011 and Karan Vs. State of NET of Delhi, Crl.A. No. 352/2020.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The learned counsel representing accused Nos. 1 through 14 (respondent Nos. 2 to 15) addressed arguments in favour of the reasoning used by the learned Sessions Judge and argued that the Sessions Judge was correct to grant the accused the benefit of the doubt because the prosecution had not established its case beyond a reasonable doubt. He further argued that there was no justification for overturning the trial court’s well-reasoned decision to acquit.
- In the present case, after carefully reviewing all of the available evidence, the bench was of the opinion that the prosecution has not proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, the learned Sessions Judge has correctly granted the defendant the benefit of the doubt, and there was no reason to overturn the trial court’s decision.
- Accordingly, the appeal had to be denied, upholding the trial court’s verdict of acquittal.
- The bench stated that it was clear from a basic reading of Section 357 of the Cr.P.C. that the Court may only grant compensation when a fine is imposed as punishment. The provisions of Section 357A of the Criminal Procedure Code, which became effective on December 31, 2009 according to Act No. 5 of 2009, allow the Court to grant compensation even when cases result in acquittals or discharges.
- Failure of the prosecution to obtain a conviction due to a lack of evidence or for any other reason does not entitle the victim of a crime to be denied compensation. It was clear from a combined reading of Sections 357 and 357A of the Code that the Court must respond to the three issues raised before issuing the proper orders required by Section 357A of the Code.
- This Court was of the opinion that the Magistrate and the Sessions Judge, when delivering final judgments after completion of the trial, must pass a reasoned order as to whether there is a need to recommend payment of compensation for the rehabilitation of the victim of a crime or not. This opinion is based on an examination of the welfare object behind Section 357A of the Code, which is apparent from the text of the provision.
Under the circumstances, the Court held that PW.1-Ramesh Babu, who has lost his wife at his age of 40, should be compensated appropriately as per the provisions of the Karnataka Victim Compensation Scheme, 2011.According to the rules outlined in the 2011 Karnataka Victim Compensation Scheme, the District Legal Services Authority will decide how much is owed to PW.1 Ramesh Babu. The criminal appeal numbered 1113-2015 is denied. As a result, the Sessions Case No. 155/2012 learned Principal Sessions Judge Kolar's verdict of acquittal from June 22, 2015 is upheld.The amount of compensation due to the victim PW1-Ramesh Babu under the Karnataka Victim Compensation Scheme, 2011, will be determined by the District Legal Services Authority, Kolar.
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