GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court acquitted an appellant who was sentenced to life imprisonment on the accusation of killing his mother and injuring his elder brother with a sharp weapon. The High Court overturned the judgement and order passed earlier by the trial court in Mushalpur of Baksa district in Assam.
The appeal case (Crl.A./295/2022) was filed by the appellant Mohan Kumar against the judgement and order dated September 13, 2022, passed by the Sessions Judge of Baksa at Mushalpur, whereby the appellant was convicted under Sections 302/326 IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life for allegedly murdering his mother and injuring his elder brother. The case against Mohan Kumar was based on circumstantial evidence, and the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the HC ruled.
The brief facts of the case are that the appellant, Mohan Kumar, was accused of hacking his mother, Padma Kumari, and his own elder brother, Binod Kumar, over some domestic matter at about 8.30 p.m. on August 9, 2009, and caused grievous injuries to them. The Informant, one Haldhar Kumar, lodged a First Information Report (FIR) before the Officer-in-Charge, Barbari Police Station, stating this. Although they were taken to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Padma Kumari succumbed to her injuries. Immediately after the incident, Mohan Kumar became unconscious and regained his sense in the hospital after five days of the incident.
In any case, dealing with circumstantial evidence, the onus lies on the prosecution to prove their case. During the trial, the prosecution examined eight witnesses to prove the guilt of the accused-appellant. It was on the strength of their testimony that the trial court came to a conclusion. After hearing the argument advanced by the counsel for the parties, the accused-appellant was convicted, following which the appeal was filed.
The counsel for the accused-appellant, S.C. Biswas, argued that there is no eyewitness to the incident and the case is based on circumstantial evidence. Though it is alleged in the FIR that the accused-appellant inflicted injury on his brother and mother, when the brother deposed before the trial court, he did not support the prosecution case and stated that he was not in a position to identify the person who assaulted him from behind. The other witnesses examined by the prosecution were admittedly not present when the incident occurred.
As such, the HC bench of Justice Michael Zothankhuma and Justice Malasri Nandi, who heard the case, opined that the conviction passed by the learned trial court is bad in law and liable to be set aside.
The HC bench pondered over the evidence of the witnesses recorded by the trial court. It was found that not one of the witnesses was present at the spot when the incident occurred. The injured brother, Binod Kumar, did not identify the accused as the perpetrator. The investigating officer admitted in his evidence that he did not send the seized weapon of assault for serological examination, leaving no way to connect the seized weapon with the crime. Other lapses in the prosecution’s case were also evident to the bench.
The bench concluded that, firstly, the incriminating circumstances were not proved beyond all reasonable doubt, and secondly, they do not form a chain so complete from which it could be inferred with a degree of certainty that it is the accused-appellant and no one else who committed the crime.
The HC bench ruled that the view taken by the Sessions Judge, Baksa, is not plausible and did not agree with the explanation given by the trial court to convict the accused-appellant under Sections 302 and 326 of the IPC. Hence, the bench acquitted the accused-appellant on benefit of doubt and set him at liberty forthwith, and allowed the appeal.