INEFFICIENCY (OR NEGATIVE EFFICIENCY IN SUPPRESSING THE CASE?) OF THE INVESTIGATORS AND THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR SAVED CULPRITS FROM DEATH SENTENCE.
This is a Supreme Court of India Judgement dated 01/07/2015 in which a barbaric and cold blooded murder accused were set free only on the ground of doubt on account of the inefficiency (or negative efficiency in suppressing the case?) of the investigators and the public prosecutor to bring the facts on record. However, unlike in the famous Aarushi Murder Case of New Delhi, there is no order for reinvestigation to find out who are the real accused. So the real culprits are roaming free now.
It is nothing less than a Hollywood film story.
The murder according to the prosecution witness was like this: On the fateful day of murder, a small boy aged about 8 years, was playing near Ambedkar Park (Uttar Pradesh). At about 10 a.m. the main accused took the boy to her baithak, which was seen by villagers namely the witness and another villager. At that time three accused sons of the main accused who along with the main accused were sitting in the Verandah. They went inside taking the boy along with them and did not come out for about half an hour. It was alleged that the main accused and her sons then came out with a “thaal” filled with articles of worship (pooja samagri) and went towards Chamunda Math for worship. Since witness and the other villager did not see the boy coming out, they suspected some foul play and soon after main accused and her sons had left for Chamunda Math, they went inside the baithak. As they entered, they saw the dead body of the boy lying in a pool of blood with nostrils and ears cut. They raised hue and cry, which attracted number of villagers. When the villagers saw the body of the boy, the situation took an ugly turn and there was a complete chaos. The people then went to the Math and assaulted the main accused and her sons.
The police thereafter arrived in the village and Inquest Panchanama was conducted between 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Around this time, the main accused and her sons were arrested at about 3:30 p.m. After the inquest, the body of the boy was sent for post mortem. Dr. R. K. conducted post mortem at 4:30 p.m. According to him, the cause of death was asphyxia resulting from throttling. It was also stated that some of the injuries were possible by a sharp cutting weapon.
In the meantime, all the accused were arrested and on personal search of accused, blood stained dharati or sickle was recovered.
After completing the investigation, charge sheet was filed against them and they were tried in the court of Additional Sessions Judge (Fast Track Court), Bulandshahar.
The trial Court after considering the material on record, found the eye witness account coming from the witness to be trustworthy and that the case was fully established against the main accused and her sons. After considering the submissions advanced on behalf of the prosecution and the accused on the issue of punishment, the Court by its further order found the case to be rarest of rare warranting extreme punishment of death penalty. Therefore, death penalty was imposed on the accused, subject to confirmation by the High Court.
The matter reached the High Court. By its judgment the High Court acquitted the accused of the charges leveled against them. The High Court accepted that the prosecution had proved that the boy was done to death at about 10 a.m. on 24.02.2006 in the baithak owned by the accused. It however took the view that the prosecution had failed to prove the complicity of the accused in the offence. It observed that looking to its contents and language, the First Information Report did not appear to be a genuine document and the scribe was also not examined. According to the High Court it did not stand to reason that large number of villagers had apprehended the accused and given them thrashing and yet allowed them to escape and that the main accused, a lady of 58 years, would so succeed in running away. It also found force in the contention of the respondents that the place of occurrence was an open place and accessible to all.
Then the State being aggrieved, filed appeal before the SC challenging the order of acquittal passed by the H C.
According to the Supreme Court, the evidence of the sole witness needs to be considered with caution and after testing it against other material. Further, such evidence must inspire confidence and ought to be beyond suspicion. So SC examined the testimony of the sole witness in the context of the material on record. It took note that apart from his own testimony nothing has been placed on record by the prosecution which could lend corroboration to his own presence and the content of his version. First, no reason has been given why the witness and another villager were sitting on the bench outside the clinic of the doctor. Neither the doctor nor the other villager were examined. Beyond the testimony of the witness himself, there is nothing to indicate whether the witness was actually there at the relevant time or not. Secondly, the place from where he allegedly witnessed the occurrence was not a natural place where either the witness resides or carries on any vocation. The reason for his being there was not placed on record. Again the reason for his continuing to be there for 20-25 minutes was also not spelt out. Thirdly, none from the house of the boy was examined nor throw any light as to when the boy left the house and in whose company he was playing. The prosecution also did not give any names of those children nor had anybody else been examined to say that they had seen the children playing at the place in question. There was nothing on record which could corroborate that the boy was actually present with other children. Fourthly, there was nothing to indicate how far the house of the boy was and whether that was the normal place where the boy would always be playing. Lastly, if the incident created chaos in the village and the villagers went and thrashed, there was no reason why none of them was examined.
As regards his version about the incident, the manner in which it was occurred, the involvement of the accused - whether all or some of them, there is nothing on record which could possibly allow the Court to test the authenticity of the version of the sole witness. To the Court, it was doubtful whether the witness could be called a natural and truthful witness and whether he could be completely relied upon. The movements of the boy were also not established to show that he was actually there as suggested by the witness.
Another point noted by the SC is that the accused were apprehended on the same day when one of them was allegedly found to be in possession of blood stained dharati or sickle. According to the prosecution the weapon was blood stained and was kept in the folds of dhoti. However, no such blood stained dhoti was recovered. For that matter no blood stained clothes were recovered from any of the accused though they were supposed to be committed the crime which left body of the boy in a pool of blood. Even though the blood stains found on the cemented portion of the Chamunda Math, were quite disintegrated as per FSL examination.
In the circumstances explained and particularly when the SC was considering an appeal against acquittal, according to the SC, interference in this case would be justified and called for, only if they find that the testimony of the sole witness of such character that it could be fully relied upon. In this case, where the accused were being tried for an offence punishable with capital punishment, the scrutiny needs to be stricter. In the view the SC, material on record definitely falls short and the accused were entitled to the ‘benefit of doubt’. The SC therefore, affirmed the view taken by the High Court and dismissed the State appeal. The appeal preferred by the Complainant was also dismissed.
(Reference:- SUPREME COURT OF INDIA, CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos.623-24/2008, State of U.P., …. Appellant V/s Satveer & Ors. …. Respondents, Judgement dated July 01