File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Case Comment: Anil s/o Shamrao Sute v/s Maharashtra, (2013) 12 SCC 441

Anil s/o Shamrao Sute and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra
Citation: (2013) 12 SCC 441
Bench: Before Division Bench of the Supreme Court of India, comprising of Aftab Alam J. and Ranjana P. Desai J.

A-1(Anil) and A-2 (Ashok) along with A-3 (Baba), A-4 (Kishor), A-5 (Shankar) and A-6 (Mayabai) were charged for the murder of one Vijay Lambat (deceased) under sections 147[1], 148[2], 302[3] r/w section 149[4], and 302 r/w section 34[5] of the IPC after an F.I.R. was lodged by the wife (PW 3- Meena) of the deceased.

The prosecution posed the facts as follows- The deceased was driver and on the night of 13th December 1991, both the deceased and PW 3 were at their home. At around 20:00, A-1, A2 and A-5 came to their house, gave money to PW3 and asked her to bring liquor for them. PW 3 resisted but then sent her son to get liquor from nearby house. After drinking liquor, they insisted the deceased to go out with them for paan. Despite the latter's resistance, they took him out to the courtyard forcibly and A-1 and A-2 stabbed the deceased with knifes, in the abdomen.

A-6 (mother of the deceased), held the deceased on ground during the stabbing. PW 3 tried to stop the act but was shoved away by the accused. PW 3 then lodged F.I.R. in Wardha Police Station and the deceased was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on spot.

This is an appeal against the conviction of Appellants A-1 and A-2 in a murder trial, where they were convicted under sections 302 r/w 34 of the IPC, by the Sessions Court. They were sentenced to life imprisonment, and a fine of Rs. 500/- each. A-1 and A-2 approached the Bom H.C. via an appeal which was later dismissed. Hence, appellants A-1 and A-2, aggrieved by the order of the H.C., have filed appeal before S.C.

  1. Whether A-1 and A-2 could be held liable for the murder of the deceased u/s 302 r/w 34 of the IPC?
  2. Whether the statement given by PW 3 (Meena-wife) in the FI.R., Examination-in-Chief and in the Cross Examination is credible?
The Supreme Court allowed the present appeal because the prosecution's case wholly relied on the statements made by PW 3 (Meena, wife of deceased) in the F.I.R. However, PW 3's statements fundamentally differed from that given in FI.R. to those during Cross and Chief Examination before the Court. Hence, it could pass the test of credibility.

Any conviction based on half-truths and varied evidence endures a great deal of risk as it is not free of all reasonable doubt and does not inspire confidence. There exists worthy suspicion on the involvement of A-1 and A-2 in the murder of the deceased but the same cannot be equated with proof beyond reasonable doubt. Presentation of evident and irreproachable evidence is the prerequisite for conviction. The same not fulfilled herein, hence accused were given benefit of doubt and acquitted.

The Supreme Court in this heavily relied on the principle set in the Narsappa v. State of Karnataka[6] case and held that the statements made by the Prosecution Witness 3(Meena � wife of the deceased) in the F.I.R. was materially different and disconnected to those made during the Chief and Cross Examination before the Court in as much as she stated in F.I.R. that A-1, A-2 and A-6 were involved in the murder of her husband. However, she later changed her statement during Examination before the Court and involved A-3 also. She asserted that A-1 and A-2 only dragged the deceased out of the house but it was A-3 who stabbed him.

Since these discrepancies in the statements made cannot be ignored and since the whole case of the prosecution rests on the statement of PW 3, it cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt that A-1 and A-2 murdered the deceased, even though there exists a strong suspicion of their involvement in the act of killing the deceased. The Court hence, gave the benefit of the doubt to the appellants and acquitted them of charges u/s 302 r/w 34 of the IPC.

The Court furthermore, held that since the panchas in the case have turned hostile the Prosecution cannot place reliance on the credibility of evidence i.e., discovery of weapons at the scene of crime. The Supreme Court hence, reversed the judgement of the Bom H.C.[7]

Relevance and Explanation:
This case deals with a very important doctrine that is the sine qua non of criminal law i.e., innocent until proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt. No person can be convicted of an offence if the Prosecution fails to prove the criminal liability of the accused beyond any ounce of doubt or suspicion, that any reasonable man can have. Mere suspicion of the accused's involvement in the crime committed, however strong it maybe, cannot be equated with proof.

If there exists any ounce of reasonable doubt after the Prosecution has presented its case and witnesses, no Court can convict a person in that case. Clear and unimpeachable evidence is the prerequisite for conviction of an accused. In cases of improper, unclear, or material differences in the evidence given by the Prosecution exists, the Court is bound to confer benefit of the doubt to the accused and to provide subsequent acquittal to the persons accused.

The Supreme Court in this case after hearing the arguments from both sides concluded that A-1 and A-2 cannot be convicted u/s 302 r/w 34 of the IPC as the evidence presented and relied upon by the Prosecution was marred with unclarity and was hence not credible or reliable.

The PW 3 narrated different stories of how the incident occurred on the night of 13th December 1992, each in the F.I.R., during Chief and then during cross examination before the Court. She contradicted many of her earlier statements. Statements made by PW 3 is also not worthy of corroboration as it does not inspire confidence. Furthermore, the Panchas also turned hostile, hence the credibility of the evidence of presence of murder weapons on the crime scene stood vitiated.

In view of the above the Court upheld the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt' and gave benefit of the doubt to the appellants. The onus to prove the guilt of the accused beyond any possibility of reasonable doubt lies on the Prosecution. Since, the same has not been done here, the appellants cannot be convicted as the evidence is not clear and unimpeachable.

Other Supporting Case-Laws:
  1. Shabab Khan v. State[8]:
    The Del H.C. held that the witness statements made by the prosecution witnesses did not possess credence as there were material discrepancies made in the statements. Therefore, it ordered for acquittal of accused by giving them benefit of the doubt.
  2. Narsappa v. State of Karnataka[9]:
    The accused were seen carrying the dead body of the deceased. However, the S.C. in this case held that this statement does rise strong suspicion with regards to involvement of the accused in the commission of crime however, suspicion cannot take the place of proof. Since, the Prosecution failed to prove criminal liability beyond reasonable doubt the accused stand acquitted.
Analysis and Conclusion:
The Supreme Court in this case analysed the statements made by the prosecution witness 3 (wife of the deceased) and concluded that there were major discrepancies in the statements made by her during F.I.R. and those made before the Court during Chief and Cross examination.

The Court relied on the decision made in the case of Narsappa v. State of Karnataka[10] and came to the conclusion that such discrepancies could not be overlooked considering that these statements formed the basis for the entire case of Prosecution. Since the evidence itself was not adequate and there was unclarity in the evidence presented by the Prosecution the Court very rightfully conferred the benefit of the doubt to the appellants/accused in this case.

The Court hence ordered for their acquittal as the Prosecution gave no proper and adequate evidence to prove that all accused were members of an unlawful assembly u/s 149 of the IPC and were unable to prove any overt act done on part of the other accused i.e., A-4, A-5, and A-6 rendering the application of section 34 invalid. Furthermore, the Panchas also turned hostile, hence the credibility of the evidence of presence of murder weapons on the crime scene stood vitiated.

It therefore, reversed the decision of the Bom H.C. that ordered for their conviction and allowed the appeal.

The Supreme Court was brilliant in upholding the principle of 'proving beyond reasonable doubt' in this case and setting the principle that, 'clear and unimpeachable evidence is the prerequisite for conviction'. However, in during the pendency of this case A-3 (Baba), was murdered and hence the Prosecution was unable to record his statement.

These, acts should have been taken into consideration by the Court and the Court should have initiated inquiry into the murder of A-3 that occurred during the pendency of the proceedings. While it is true that the Court when determining criminal liability of an accused is only concerned with the presentation, adequacy and credibility of evidence, however, it should not ignore the shortcomings that lead to the weakening of the credibility of the Prosecution and its witnesses and the events that propagate such shortcomings should be enquired upon.

  1. Punishment for rioting
  2. Armed with deadly weapons while rioting
  3. Punishment for murder
  4. Unlawful assembly
  5. Common intention
  6. Narsappa v. State of Karnataka, (2007) 10 SCC 770
  7. Anil v. State of Maha, Cr. Appeal No. 186 of 1996, decided on 21-09-2007 (Bom)
  8. 2013 SCC OnLine Del 2167
  9. Supra note 6
  10. Id

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly