HM Journal

Whether conviction can sustain only on purported disclosure of statements?

Facts:

Appellants robbed complainant when complainant was on his bike to buy a plot in Delhi and was carrying a sum of Rs. 46,000/­ wrapped in a red cloth which was embroidered as “Kamla” belonged to the wife of the Complainant.

During trial, witnesses of complainant turned hostile and Complainant refused to participate in T.I.P(Test Identification Parade) and instead had tendered an affidavit, claiming that if he were to identify appellant, complainant would be killed.

During investigation, police found the red cloth on appellant house and on the basis of materials, the Trial Court concluded that recovery of the Articles was sufficient to draw the inference of culpability and to bring home the guilt of the Accused. Consequently, the Trial Court convicted the Appellant and Manjeet under Sections 392 & 397 IPC.

Appellant went to appeal before High Court vide a common judgment maintained the conviction of the appellant. Nonetheless, the High Court reduced the sentence under Section 397 IPC to rigorous imprisonment of 7 years so as to meet the ends of justice. Hence, this appeal before Supreme Court.

Principle

It may be true that at times the Court can convict an accused exclusively on the basis of his disclosure statement and the resultant recovery of inculpatory material. However, in order to sustain the guilt of such accused, the recovery should be unimpeachable and not be shrouded with elements of doubt.

It is the bounden duty of the prosecution in cases where material witnesses are likely to be slippery, either to get their statements recorded at the earliest under Section 164 Cr.P.C. or collect such other cogent evidence that its case does not entirely depend upon oral testimonies.

Judgment

The Trial Court and the High Court have hastened to shift the burden on the Appellant to elucidate how he bechanced to be in possession of the incriminating articles, without primarily scrutinizing the credibility and admissibility of the recovery as well as its linkage to the
misconduct. Consequently, and as a sequel thereto, the criminal appeal is allowed.

Link to the Judgment

16448_2010_31_1501_31178_Judgement_08-Nov-2021

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