Supreme Court on criminal law

Mere harassment without positive and proximate action does not amount to abetment of suicide

Finding that the allegations against the accused was that of harassment of the deceased and there was no other material on record indicating abetment, in Shabbir Hussain v. State of Madhya Pradesh the Supreme Court has upheld the High Court’s order in revision in favour of the accused and explained the law on section 306 IPC.

Possible apprehension of law and order breach cannot support preventive detention

In Banka Sneha Sheela v. State of Telangana, the Supreme Court has held that a possible apprehension of breach of law and order may be a good ground to appeal against bail orders granted and/or to cancel bail, but that cannot provide ground to move under a preventive detention statute.

Criminal conviction on circumstantial evidence and “last seen theory”

A Full Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Surajdeo Mahto v. State of Bihar has explained the “last seen theory” and that the case of the prosecution has to be considered in its entirety when applying doctrine to sustain a conviction thereon.

Summary of key criminal law decisions by Supreme Court in August 2021

Quashing order under Section 482 CrPC may be set aside for failure to consider material collected during investigation/inquiry and statements recorded by IO

In Kaptan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. the Supreme Court has discussed the scope and limits of the above powers, and accordingly quashed the High Court’s impugned order whereby criminal proceedings against the accused had been quashed under Section 482 of the CrPC. The Hon’ble Court reasoned principally that the High Court vide impugned order had entered into the merits of the allegations, failed to appreciate that there were very serious triable issues/allegations against the accused persons (matter for trial) and that the High Court “lost sight of crucial aspects which have emerged during the course of the investigation“.

‘Failure to explain’ only an additional link to complete the chain of circumstance and suspicion cannot replace proof

In Parubai v. State of Maharashtra the Supreme Court has given the appellant the benefit of doubt and overturned the conviction for murder under Section 300/302 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC) based on suspicion (and not proven guilt beyond reasonable doubt), and explained that failure to explain can only be held as an additional link to complete the chain of circumstance, but the other circumstances in the chain must also be established against the accused.

No obligation on Officer-in-charge to arrest accused when filing chargesheet nor arrest pre-requisite formality to take chargesheet on record by Magistrate

In Siddharth v. State of Uttar Pradesh the Supreme Court has held that an accused is not required to be produced in custody if the IO does not believe that the accused will abscond or disobey summons, with the term “custody” under Section 170 not contemplating either police or judicial custody, merely the presentation of the accused by the IO before the Court while filing the chargesheet.

Murder conviction set aside for wrongful prosecution founded on mala fide police investigation

Appeals filed in the case of Madhav v. State of Madhya Pradesh have been allowed by the Supreme Court and conviction recorded under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC) against all three accused, including the accused who did not prefer an appeal (via powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India), have been set aside primarily on the ground of wrongful prosecution founded on mala fide police investigation to shield the real culprits (even though named in the FIR).

Real perpetrator of an offence cannot get away unpunished — Supreme Court distills law under Section 319 CrPC

The Supreme Court has elaborately discussed and summarized the powers of the Trial Court under Section 319 CrPC (i.e. to proceed against a person appearing to be guilty of an offence being tried) in the case of Manjeet Singh v. State of Haryana, and has also clarified that the applicant’s failure to challenge the impugned order and judgment (in a cross-case) does not disentitle the applicant to seek relief under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.

Failure to name in FIR or conduct TIP inferior to prosecution’s cogent/reliable eyewitness evidence

Conviction of the appellant has been upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of Lala @ Anurag Prakash Aasre, despite no TIP being conducted, since the identity of the appellant was known to the eye witnesses and identified by them by name and appearance as the person who committed the offence(s) in question. Furthermore, the absence of the appellant’s name in the First Information Report (FIR) too has not been able to dislodge the prosecution’s case vide reliable/cogent eyewitness statements under Section 161/164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC).

High Court’s grant of bail order quashed for failure to notice material facts/non-application of mind to seriousness of crime and circumstances

The Supreme Court has quashed the High Court’s impugned order granting bail in the case of Harjit Singh v. Inderpreet Singh @ Inder, finding that the “High Court has failed to appreciate and consider the nature of the accusation and the severity of the punishment in case of conviction and the nature of supporting evidence. The High Court has also failed to appreciate the facts of the case; the nature of allegations; gravity of offence and the role attributed to the accused”.

Quashing order unjustified when framing charges if sufficient material on record raising strong suspicion/prima facie case

In Saranya v. Bharathi, the Supreme Court has summarised the principles which the High Court has to keep in mind when exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC at the stage of framing of charge and consideration of the discharge application by the accused, and quashed and set aside the quashing order of the High Court, finding that the investigation/prosecution has ample material raising a strong suspicion/prima facie case against the accused, which does not justify the High Court’s order, in addition to other factors discussed.

Common intention established through final/immediate exhortation not initial

In Sandeep v. State of Haryana, the Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of two appellants despite their initial exhortation, on the ground of reasonable doubt, whilst confirming the conviction of the co-accused who provided the final and immediate exhortation to the accused.

Written order with recorded reasons based on relevant considerations before ad interim relief under Section 482 CrPC

In addition to the need for written/recorded judicial orders, especially in criminal matters, the Supreme Court in the case of Salimbhai Hamidbhai Memon v. Niteshkumar Maganbhai Patel has further discussed the obligations (recorded reasons based on relevant considerations) cast on the Court, when adjudicating a request for interim relief under Section 482 CrPC

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Author: Anand Chaudhuri | Advocate @Legalrisk | JD (UNSW) LL.B (CLC, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi) | Website: https://legalrisk.in/. | Email: [email protected]

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that Author / TaxGuru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

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