Author: Abhishek Wadhawan
1. Kazi Shahbuddin Yakumbiya v. State of Gujarat
Case No.: R/Special Criminal Application No. 6915 of 2017
Bench and author: Justice A.Y. Kogje
Date: November 20, 2018
The relevant facts of the case are that the petitioner claimed to be the owner of a truck which the police had seized and recorded in a panchnama. While the truck was in the custody of the police, one of the respondents claimed the truck to be his which was lost in the year 2009. The lower court accepted the claim of the respondent and gave him the possession of the truck which was challenged by the petitioner before the High Court. The Court found that the engine number on the engine and in the records of the RTO did not match with each other. Furthermore, the digits of the engine number were not clearly seen. In such a circumstance, the lower court found a few numbers of the engine number as mentioned in the FIR, filed by the respondent at the time of theft of his truck, matched with a few numbers on the engine and the lower court accepted the claim of the respondent.
The Court held that there was some discrepancy relating to the engine number physically as well as in the number mentioned in the R.C. book. Matching of a few numbers mentioned in the FIR and the one present on the engine cannot be a conclusive proof of the respondent being the owner of the Muddamal article-truck. The Court also did not find any nexus connecting the truck which was seized and the truck for which the FIR was registered. Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the judgment of the lower court was set aside and the truck was ordered to be taken back into custody by the police. The trial court was ordered to reconsider the entire matter.
Key takeaway: In cases where a person claims to be the owner of any article kept in the custody of the police, the person should sufficiently be able to prove that he is the real owner with necessary evidence for the same. No court can rely on evidences that do not form a conclusive proof of the ownership of the said article by the claimant.
2. Hrdevsinh Mahipatsinh Parmar v. State of Gujarat
Case No.: R/Criminal Appeal No. 1738 of 2018
Bench and author: Justice G.R. Udhwani
Date: December 5, 2018
The appellant was denied a bail by the trial court which was challenged by the accused in this appeal. The appellant- accused was charged under Section 395, 323, 504 and 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code along with Sections 3(1)(R)(S) and 3(2)(5-a) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Court ruled that prima facie, it could not be proved that the accused had an intention or knowledge to commit any offence under Section 395 of IPC. As far as the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act is concerned, the Court stated that no averment was made that the petitioner is not a member of the SC & ST in the FIR and in such circumstances, an FIR must be quashed for lack of averments. This was ruled in the case of Gorige Pentaiah Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. By looking at the various offences charged against the accused, the Court stated that the trial court must have exercised its jurisdiction by enlarging the petitioner on bail. Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and ordered the appellant to be released on a bail.
Key takeaway: An accused may be released on bail by a Court by using its discretion in cases where an accused is charged under various offences, out of which only a few of the offences are non-bailable in nature.
3. Mahendrasinh Bhikhubha Jadeja v. State of Gujarat
Case No.: R/Criminal Appeal No. 1538 of 2018
Bench and author: Justice G.R. Udhwani
Date: December 03, 2018
The appeal was filed by the accused so as to get a bail. The appellant was charged for offences under Section 14A(2) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Sections 302, 143, 147, 148, 149, 120B and 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code. The Court held that even when the accused had been charged for a serious offence under Section 302 of the IPC, the prosecution had not been able to prove any evidence against the accused beyond any reasonable doubt. A witness had put forward in his statement that he had seen the accused in a car wherein he was loading his weapon. The car’s registration number was also made available to the prosecution upon which was no further investigation was undertaken by the prosecution.
The prosecution claimed it to be a planned murder without any substantial evidence for the same. Even the full call details are available with the investigation authority, a callous approach, deliberate or otherwise haw been adopted by the investigation authorities as they seemed unwilling to bring full facts and details of the call records of the appellant-accused before the Court. The accused had been in the jail since nine months and yet the prosecution and investigation authorities have yet not brought any evidence before the Court that would prove the allegations against the appellant-accused to be beyond reasonable doubt.
The Court held that after taking into consideration the quality of materials and evidences put on record and taking note of the callous attitude of the investigation authorities, the accused cannot be forced to linger in a jail due to the inefficiency of the prosecution and the investigation authorities. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the accused was ordered to be released on a bail after executing a bond of Rs. 10,000 with one surety.
Key takeaway: An accused may not be denied a bail in cases where no allegation against the accused is not proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. An accused may not be denied bail in cases which are exclusively dependent on circumstantial evidences which are not enough to prove the offences against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
4. State of Gujarat v. Mukeshbhai Motibhai Desai
Case No.: R/Special Criminal Application No. 753 of 2011
Bench and author: Justice Bela M. Trivedi
Date: November 23, 2018
The relevant facts of the case are that the respondents were government officials who are alleged to make false musters and bills under the NREP scheme which was meant for construction of roads and thereby causing severe loss to the public exchequer. The FIR was lodged in the year 1993. Both the lower courts had concurrent findings and the accused were acquitted by both the lower courts. Aggrieved by the decisions of the lower courts, the State had made the special criminal application before the High Court.
While the counsel for the applicant argued that the respondents were indulged in unlawful practices which led to great losses to the public exchequer, the counsel on behalf of the respondents argued that both the lower courts have made concurrent findings that the respondents were not indulged in the aforementioned financial irregularities and hence the accused must be acquitted. The counsel on behalf of the respondent further pleaded that the other officers working along with the accused were also not prosecuted by the State.
The Court held that since both the lower courts have made concurrent findings of the facts and have ruled that the respondents were not indulged in the said malpractice regarding financial irregularities of the public money, the Court finds no reason to interfere with the decisions of the lower courts. The Court dismissed the criminal application by stating further that the State had also not granted the sanction to prosecute other accused who may have been involved in the alleged financial irregularities and the expiry of such a long time period has made the criminal application infructuous.
Key takeaway: In cases where both the lower courts have concurrent findings of the facts of the case and the said incident of alleged offence had happened a long time back, a higher Court may decide not to interfere with the decision of the lower courts.
About the Author: Abhishek is a 2018-23 Batch student at Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.
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