Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rajesh Valel Puthuvalil & Anr. Vs. Inland Waterways Authority of India & Anr.

Acquisition of land and building - Rs.1,43,430/- awarded towards value of building - Valuation not supported by any record - Reference court accepted commissioner's valuation of building at Rs.4,45,000/ - In appeal, High Court reduced the same to Rs.3,50,000/- on guess estimate, holding that the value of construction fixed by Reference Court was on higher side. Held, there being material evidence available in the form of commissioner's report and there being no rebuttal of the evidence adduced, High Court erred in resorting to guess work.

Civil Appeal No. 6396 of 2014 [Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 31619 of 2012]
Hon'ble Judge(s): T.S. Thakur & C. Nagappan
Date: July 15, 2014
Rajesh Valel Puthuvalil & Anr. Vs. Inland Waterways Authority of India & Anr.


Judgment:
C. NAGAPPAN, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. This appeal is preferred against the judgment and final order dated 30.3.2012 passed by the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam in L.A.A. no.995 of 2010.

3. The property of the appellants herein, both land and structures situated at Alappad Village at Karunagappally Taluk of Kollam District was acquired at the instance of respondent no.1 herein, for the purpose of widening the narrow stretches of National Waterways no.3 and award came to be passed. Dissatisfied with the award the appellants/claimants preferred reference and the Reference Court re-determined the land value and the value of the building, by enhancing it. Challenging the same, respondent no.1 herein preferred appeal and the High Court confirmed the land value re-determined by the Reference Court and at the same time reduced the value of the structures from a sum of Rs.4,45,000/- to a sum of Rs.3,50,000/-. Aggrieved by the same the appellants/claimants have preferred the present appeal.

4. The learned counsel for the appellants strenuously contended that the High Court committed an error in reducing the compensation for the building on the basis of guess estimate discarding the objective material in the form of Ext.C-3 Valuation Report available on record, resulting in grave injustice to the appellants. Per contra, the learned counsel appearing for the respondents contended that the High Court taking into account the total area and the year of construction has re-determined the value of the structures and it does not call for any interference.

5. Admittedly, the total area of the building was 758 Sq. ft. and the Land Acquisition Officer awarded a sum of Rs.1,43,430/- towards value of structure. No records were produced to show as to how the said valuation was made by the respondents. In the Reference Court the appellants herein/claimants took out a Commission to fix the value of the building and the Commissioner was assisted by AW-2 a retired Assistant Executive Engineer who valued the building and prepared Ext.C-3 Valuation Report and Ext.C-4 Plan. Ext.C-1 and C-2 are Mahazar prepared by the Commissioner and his Report respectively. The value of the building was assessed at Rs.4,93,000/- and as the building was 12 years old, depreciation was calculated and after deduction the net value was arrived at Rs.4,45,000/- and the Reference Court accepted the same. The High Court held that having regard to the cost of construction of the building in the year 1997 the value of construction fixed by the Reference Court is on the higher side and re-fixed the value of the building at Rs.3,50,000/- on guess estimate. In the facts of the case, we find force in the submission of the learned counsel for the appellants that guess estimate is not warranted when material evidence in the shape of Ext.C-3 Valuation Report is available on record. As already seen, there is no rebuttal evidence adduced by the respondents insofar as the valuation of the building is concerned and the High Court committed error in resorting to guess estimate for reducing the value of the building and the impugned judgment in this regard is liable to be set aside.

6. The appeal is allowed and the impugned judgment of the High Court insofar as re-fixing the value of structures concerned is set aside and its determination made by the Reference Court is restored. No costs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Manohar Singh Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr.

Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Section 498A - Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 - Section 4 - A compoundable offence can be compounded in view of a compromise, if the Court finds it proper to do so even after conviction if the appeal is pending.
 
Supreme Court of India
Criminal Appeal No.1498 OF 2014 [Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.8795 of 2012]
Hon'ble Judge(s): Ranjana Prakash Desai & N.V. Ramana
Date of Judgment: 21/07/2014
Manohar Singh Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr.

(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. The appellant is original Accused No.
3. He was tried along with his father Hukum Singh – original Accused No. 1 and his mother Prem Bai – original Accused No. 2 by the Judicial Magistrate, Dewas (Madhya Pradesh) in Crime Case No. 1680/2009 for offences punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (for short, ‘the IPC’) and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (for short, ‘the Dowry Act’). By judgment and order dated 29/9/2010 learned Magistrate acquitted the appellant and the other two accused. Being aggrieved by this order the State of Madhya Pradesh preferred appeal in the Sessions Court, Dewas being Criminal Appeal No.12/2011. The Sessions Court set aside the order of acquittal and convicted the appellant and two others under Section 498-A of the IPC and sentenced them to undergo two years rigorous imprisonment each and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- each. For offence under Section 4 of the Dowry Act each of them was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- each, in default, to undergo simple imprisonment for two months each.
3. Being aggrieved by the said judgment and order, the accused carried criminal revision to the High Court of Madhya Pradesh. The High Court by the impugned order set aside the conviction and sentence of original Accused Nos. 1and 2 i.e. the father and mother of the appellant. The conviction of the appellant was, however, confirmed. His sentence was reduced to six months and fine of Rs.500/- on each count. Both the substantive sentences were to run concurrently. Being aggrieved by this judgment the appellant filed the present appeal.
4. On 21/1/2013 the appellant sought permission to implead the complainant i.e. his wife Reena as respondent No.2. A statement was made that the appellant was willing to pay monetary compensation to his wife in lieu of substantive sentence of imprisonment. Permission to implead the complainant-wife Reena was granted. The appellant was directed to deposit Rs.25,000/- as litigation expenses. Respondent No. 2 was permitted to withdraw the said amount unconditionally. Subject to deposit, notice was issued to respondent No. 2 to consider whether the appellant can be asked to pay some suitable monetary compensation to respondent No. 2 in lieu of substantive sentence of imprisonment. On 24/3/2014 counsel for the appellant madea statement that the matter is likely to be settled. We directed respondent No. 2 – wife to remain present in the Court on 28/3/2014. Accordingly on 28/03/2014 she remained present in the Court. She stated that if the appellant pays her Rs.2,50,000/- (Rupees two lacs fifty thousand only) as compensation, she is ready to settle the matter. This Court, therefore, directed the appellant to bring a demand draft of Rs.2,50,000/- in the name of Reena (respondent No. 2). This Court noted that the said demand draft can be given to her in case after hearing the parties and considering the legal position, this Court permits settlement at this stage.
5. We have heard learned counsel for the appellant, learned counsel for the State of Madhya Pradesh and learned counsel for respondent No. 2. Learned counsel for the appellant and learned counsel for respondent No. 2 have requested the Court to show leniency in view of the settlement. Counsel for the State of Madhya Pradesh has opposed this prayer.6. Section 498-A of the IPC is non-compoundable. Section 4 of the Dowry Act is also non-compoundable. It is not necessary to state that non-compoundable offences cannot be compounded by a Court. While considering the request for compounding of offences the Court has to strictly follow the mandate of Section 320 of the Code. It is, therefore, not possible to permit compounding of offences under Section 498-A of the IPC and Section 4 of the Dowry Act. However, if there is a genuine compromise between husband and wife, criminal complaints arising out of matrimonial discord can be quashed, even if the offences alleged therein are noncompoundable, because such offences are personal in nature and do not have repercussions on the society unlike heinous offences like murder, rape etc. (See Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303). If the High Court forms an opinion that it is necessary to quash the proceedings to prevent abuse of the process of any court or to secure ends of justice, the High Court can do so. The inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code is not inhibited by Section 320 of the Code. Needless to say that this Court can also follow such a course.
7. In Narinder Singh v. State of PunjabJT 2014 (4) SC 573 this Court was dealing with a situation where the accused was charged for offence punishable under Section 307 of the IPC, which is a non-compoundable offence. The parties arrived at a compromise at the stage of recording of evidence. A petition was filed under Section 482 of the Code for quashing of the proceedings in view of the compromise. The High Court refused to quash the proceedings. This Court set aside the High Court’s order and quashed the proceedings in view of the compromise. While doing so, this Court laid down certain guidelines. In Guideline No.(VII), this Court considered a situation where a conviction is recorded by the trial court for offence punishable under Section 307 of the IPC and the matter is at appellate stage. This Court observed that in such cases, a mere compromise between the parties would not be a ground to accept the same resulting in acquittal of the offender who has already been convicted by the trial court. This Court observed that in such cases where charge is proved under Section 307 of the IPC and conviction is already recorded of a heinous crime, there was no question of sparing a convict found guilty of such a crime. The observation of this Court must be read obviously in the context of a non-compoundable offence under Section 307 of the IPC. It is trite that a non-compoundable offence cannot be compounded at any stage (See Gyan Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303). However, a compoundable offence can be compounded in view of a compromise, if the Court finds it proper to do so even after conviction if the appeal is pending.
8. In this case, the appellant is convicted under Section 498-A of the IPC and sentenced to undergo six months imprisonment. He is convicted under Section 4 of the Dowry Act and sentenced to undergo six months imprisonment. Substantive sentences are to run concurrently. Even though the appellant and respondent No. 2-wife have arrived at a compromise, the order of conviction cannot be quashed on that ground because the offences involved are noncompoundable. However, in such a situation if the court feels that the parties have a real desire to bury the hatchet in the interest of peace, it can reduce the sentence of the accused to the sentence already undergone. Section 498-A of the IPC does not prescribe any minimum punishment. Section 4 of the Dowry Act prescribes minimum punishment of six months but proviso thereto states that the Court may, for adequate or special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term which may be less than six months. Therefore, sentence of the appellant can be reduced to sentence already undergone by him.
9. Now the question is whether a case for reduction of sentence is made out particularly when the appellant has undergone only seven days sentence out of six months sentence imposed on him. We see no reason why in thiscase we should not reduce the appellant’s sentence to sentence already undergone by him. There can be no doubt about the genuine nature of compromise between the appellant and respondent No.2-wife. The appellant has offered to pay a sum of Rs.2,50,000/- to respondent No.2- wife as compensation. A demand draft drawn in the name of respondent No.2 is brought to the Court. As directed by us even litigation costs of Rs.25,000/- has been deposited by the appellant in the Court. Respondent No.2-wife has appeared in this Court on more than one occasion and requested this Court to take compromise into consideration and pass appropriate orders. Learned counsel for the parties have requested us to take a kindly view of the matter. The affidavit filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh opposing the prayer of the parties does not impress us.
10. We must also note that the trial court had acquitted the appellant. Though the Sessions Court reversed the order and convicted the appellant for two years, the High Court reduced the sentence to six months. The appellant andrespondent No.2 were married in 2007. About seven years have gone by. Considering all these circumstances, in the interest of peace and amity, we are of the opinion that the appellant’s sentence must be reduced to sentence already undergone by him.
11. In the circumstances, the appeal is partly allowed. The conviction of the appellant under Section 498-A of the IPC and under Section 4 of the Dowry Act is maintained but the sentence awarded to the appellant is reduced to sentence already undergone by him, subject to the condition that the appellant pays a sum of Rs.2,50,000/- (Rupees two lacs fifty thousand only) to respondent No.2-wife as compensation. Impugned order stands modified to the above extent.
12. We must note that a Demand Draft in the sum of Rs.2,50,000/- drawn in the name of respondent No.2 Reena has been handed over to her counsel by learned counsel for the appellant on 18/7/2014.13. In view of this, bail bond of the appellant, if any, stands discharged.

Yogendra Yadav & Ors. Vs. The State of Jharkhand & Anr.

Sections 341, 323, 324, 504 and 307 r/w 34 - Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 - Section 231(2) r/w 311 -High Court can quash a criminal proceeding in exercise of its power under Section 482 of the Code having regard to the fact that the parties have amicably settled their disputes and the victim has no objection, even though the offences are non-compoundable.
continuation of criminal proceedings will be an exercise in futility and justice in the case demands that the dispute between the parties is put to an end and peace is restored; securing the ends ofjustice being the ultimate guiding factor. Needless to say that the above observations are applicable to this Court also.
Supreme Court of India
Criminal Appeal No.1205 OF 2014
Hon'ble Judge(s): Ranjana Prakash Desai & N.V. Ramana
Date of Judgment: 21/07/2014
  Yogendra Yadav & Ors. Vs. The State of Jharkhand & Ors.
(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.
1. The appellants are original Accused Nos.1 to 3 respectively in P.S. Meharma Case No.155 of 2004 registered under Sections 341, 323, 324, 504 and 307 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (for short, ‘the IPC’). The FIR was lodged on 23/09/1994 by complainant Anil Mandal alleging that the appellants assaulted him and his men on 22/09/2004. On the same day the appellants also filed FIR in respect of the same incident dated 22/09/2004 alleging that complainant Anil Mandal, Baldev Mandal and others assaulted them. This FIR was registered at P.S. Meharma being Case No.156 of 2004 under Sections 147, 148, 149, 448, 341, 323 and 380 of the IPC.
2. In both the cases, after investigation, charge-sheet was submitted. While the cases were going on before the 2ndAdditional Sessions Judge, Godda, both the parties agreed to compromise the cases. A Panchayat was held where with the intervention of the well-wishers a compromise was arrived at. A compromise petition dated 16/11/2011 was signed by both the parties and it was filed in the Court of 2nd Additional Sessions Judge, Godda. An application was filed under Section 231(2) read with Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short, ‘the Code’) being S.C. No. 9/05 for recalling PWs 1 to 6 for further crossexamination on the point of compromise.
3. Learned Additional Sessions Judge by his order dated 16/11/2011 disposed of the said application. Learned Additional Sessions Judge observed that compromise petition was signed by the informant and the injured, their signatures were identified by the lawyers and, therefore, the compromise was genuine. He, however, observed that offences under Sections 324, 341, 323 of the IPC are compoundable with the permission of the court and offences under Sections 326, 307 read with Section 34 of the IPC are non-compoundable. He, therefore, accepted the application in respect of offences under Sections 323, 324 and 341 of the IPC. The said offences were compounded and the accused were acquitted of the same. Prayer for compounding of offences under Sections 326, 307 read with Section 34 of the IPC was rejected. Learned Additional Sessions Judge rejected the application for recalling of witnesses. He directed that the case should proceed against the accused for offences under Sections 326, 307 read with Section 34 of the IPC. This order was challenged by the appellants in the High Court of Jharkhand. By the impugned order the High Court dismissed the challenge, hence, this appeal.
4. Now, the question before this Court is whether this Court can compound the offences under Sections 326 and 307 of the IPC which are non-compoundable. Needless to say that offences which are non-compoundable cannot be compounded by the court. Courts draw the power of compounding offences from Section 320 of the Code. The said provision has to be strictly followed (Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303). However, in a given case, the High Court can quash a criminal proceeding in exercise of its power under Section 482 of the Code having regard to the fact that the parties have amicably settled their disputes and the victim has no objection, even though the offences are non-compoundable. In which cases the High Court can exercise its discretion to quash the proceedings will depend on facts and circumstances of each case. Offences which involve moral turpitude, grave offences like rape, murder etc. cannot be effaced by quashing the proceedings because that will have harmful effect on the society. Such offences cannot be said to be restricted to two individuals or twogroups. If such offences are quashed, it may send wrong signal to the society. However, when the High Court is convinced that the offences are entirely personal in nature and, therefore, do not affect public peace or tranquility and where it feels that quashing of such proceedings on account of compromise would bring about peace and would secure ends of justice, it should not hesitate to quash them. In such cases, the prosecution becomes a lame prosecution. Pursuing such a lame prosecution would be waste of time and energy. That will also unsettle the compromise and obstruct restoration of peace.
5. In Gian Singh this Court has observed that where the High Court quashes a criminal proceeding having regard to the fact that the dispute between the offender and the victim has been settled although the offences are not compoundable, it does so as in its opinion, continuation of criminal proceedings will be an exercise in futility and justice in the case demands that the dispute between the parties is put to an end and peace is restored; securing the ends ofjustice being the ultimate guiding factor. Needless to say that the above observations are applicable to this Court also.
6. Learned counsel for the parties have requested this Court that the impugned order be set aside as the High Court has not noticed the correct position in law in regard to quashing of criminal proceedings when there is a compromise. Affidavit has been filed in this Court by complainant-Anil Mandal, who is respondent No. 2 herein. In the affidavit he has stated that a compromise petition has been filed in the lower court. It is further stated that he and the appellants are neighbours, that there is harmonious relationship between the two sides and that they are living peacefully. He has further stated that he does not want to contest the present appeal and he has no grievance against the appellants. Learned counsel for the parties have confirmed that the disputes between the parties are settled; that parties are abiding by the compromise deed and living peacefully. They have urged that in the circumstances pending proceedings be quashed. State of Jharkhand hasfurther filed an affidavit opposing the compromise. The affidavit does not persuade us to reject the prayer made by the appellant and the second respondent for quashing of the proceedings.
7. In view of the compromise and in view of the legal position which we have discussed hereinabove, we set aside the impugned order dated 4/7/2012 and quash the proceedings in S.C.No.9/05 pending on the file of 2nd Additional Sessions Judge, Godda. The appeal is disposed of.

Sathiyamoorthy And Ors. Vs. State Represented By The Inspector of Police, Madurai

Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Section 325 and 341 - Since the accused and the victim have entered into a compromise, it would be in the interest of both sides to reduce the sentence awarded to the accused to the sentence already undergone.
Supreme Court of India
Criminal Appeal No.1169 OF 2014
Hon'ble Judge(s): Ranjana Prakash Desai & N.V. Ramana
Date of Judgment: 21/07/2014
  Sathiyamoorthy And Ors. Vs. State Represented By The Inspector of Police, Madurai

(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.
1. The appellants who are original Accused Nos. 1 to 6 respectively were tried in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Madurai in Sessions Case No.444 of 2005 for various offences under the Indian Penal Code (for short, ‘the IPC’) on the allegation that on 11/11/2004 at about 8.00 p.m. when complainant Ayyanar and his son Murugesan were standing at a common place all the accused came there and formed an unlawful assembly with deadly weapons. Accused No. 2 unlawfully restrained Murugesan. Accused No. 1 attacked complainant-Ayyanar with an iron rod. He also attacked Murugesan with an aruval. Complainant Ayyanar lodged the FIR.
2. After completion of investigation, the accused were sent up for trial. At the trial the prosecution examined 16 witnesses. The accused denied the prosecution case. Learned Additional District and Sessions Judge found Accused Nos. 1 to 6 guilty under Section 148 of the IPC. He sentenced each of them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- each, in default, to undergo two months rigorous imprisonment. Accused No. 1 was found guilty under Section 325 of the IPC and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months. Accused No. 2 was found guilty under Section 341 of the IPC and was sentenced to undergo three months rigorous imprisonment and to paya fine of Rs.200/-, in default, to undergo four weeks rigorous imprisonment. Accused No. 2 was also found guilty under Section 325 read with Section 149 of the IPC and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months. Accused Nos. 3 to 6 were found guilty under Section 325 read with Section 149 of the IPC. Each of them was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for three years and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- each, in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months. Substantive sentences were to run concurrently.
3. Being aggrieved by the said conviction and sentence the appellants-accused preferred an appeal to the High Court. By the impugned order the High Court partly allowed the appeal. The order of conviction passed by the trial court was confirmed. However, the sentence imposed under Section 325 of the IPC on Accused No. 1, sentence imposed under Section 325 read with Section 149 of the IPC on Accused No. 2 and sentence imposed under Section 325read with Section 149 of the IPC on Accused Nos. 3 to 6 was reduced to two years rigorous imprisonment instead of three years rigorous imprisonment. Rest of the order of the trial court was confirmed. Being aggrieved by the judgment and order, the appellants-accused have filed the present appeal.
4. During the pendency of the appeal on 25/04/2014 victim-Murugesan remained present in this Court. He had filed an application for impleadment which was granted. He stated that he would like to compound the offences. That statement was recorded and the matter was adjourned to consider the prayer. An application has been filed by the appellants praying that offences may be permitted to be compounded. It is stated in the application that victim Murugesan and the accused are cousins and they have decided to settle the disputes amicably. It is further stated that pursuant to this decision the accused have paid a reasonable amount to victim Murugesan as per the decision of family elders and they have entered into an amicable settlement in their village much before the accusedsurrendered as per the orders of this Court. A copy of the statement of victim Murugesan dated 30/9/2012 stating that he has entered into a compromise with the accused is annexed to the application.
5. We have heard learned counsel for the appellantsaccused, Mr. Luthra, learned Additional Solicitor General (AC) and learned counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu. They confirmed that parties have entered into a compromise. They submitted that in view of the settlement, this Court may compound the offences as that will accord a quietus to all disputes between the parties. Counsel submitted that the accused and the complainant are cousins. After the compromise they have been staying peacefully in the village. It is in the interest of both sides to bury the hatchet and lead a peaceful life.
6. Offences under Sections 341 and 325 are compoundable. In view of the settlement they can be permitted to be compounded. However, offences under Sections 148 and 149 of the IPC are not compoundable. Hence, permission to compound them cannot be granted. However, since the accused and the victim have entered into a compromise, we feel that it would be in the interest of both sides to reduce the sentence awarded to the accused under Sections 325 and 341 of the IPC to the sentence already undergone.
7. In Ram Lal and anr. v. State of J & K, (1999) 2 SCC 213 the accused were convicted for offence under Section 326 of the IPC, which is non-compoundable. Looking to the fact that the parties had arrived at a settlement and victim had no grievance, this Court reduced the sentence for the offence under Section 326 to sentence already undergone by the appellants-accused. We are inclined to follow similar course.
8. In the result, the appeal is partly allowed. The offences under Sections 341 and 325 of the IPC, for which the appellants are convicted, are permitted to be compounded because they are compoundable. The appellants are acquitted of the said offences. The appellants are stated to have undergone more than six months imprisonment. So far as offences under Sections 148 and 149 of the IPC are concerned, the conviction of the appellants for the said offences is reduced to the sentence already undergone by them subject to the appellants paying Rs.30,000/- as compensation to victim-Murugesan. Compensation be paid within three months from the date of this judgment.
9. This Court has already released the appellants on bail. In view of this order the bail bonds of the appellants are discharged subject to payment of compensation of Rs.30,000/- as directed by us. If compensation is not paid consequences will follow.

Monday, July 21, 2014

C.K. Dasegowda & Ors. Vs. State Of Karnataka

Indian Penal Code - Sections 34, 114, 143, 147, 148, 323, 324, 326, 307; Criminal Procedure Code - Sections 209, 235(1), 313- Appeal is filed by the appellants questioning the correctness of the judgment and final order dated 11.08.2010 passed by the High Court. setting aside the order of acquittal of the appellants passed by the trial court thereby imposing sentence of conviction on the accused. The High Court erred in setting aside the order of the acquittal of the appellants in the absence of any legal and factual evidence on record to prove the findings and reasons recorded in the judgment of the trial court as perverse.
Supreme Court of India
Criminal Appeal No.1381 Of 2014 (@ Special Leave Petition (Crl.)No.4018 Of 2012)
Hon'ble Judge(s): Dipak Misra & V. Gopala Gowda.
Date of Judgment: 15/07/2014
  C.K. Dasegowda & Ors. Vs. State Of Karnataka
V. GOPALA GOWDA, J. 
This appeal is filed by the appellants questioning the correctness of the judgment and final order dated 11.08.2010 passed by the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in Criminal Appeal No. 1256 of 2005 in setting aside the order of acquittal of the appellants passed by the trial court thereby imposing sentence of conviction on the accused for offences punishable under Section 324 read with Section 34 of IPC for causing injuries on separate count.
2. Necessary relevant facts are stated hereunder to appreciate the case of the appellants and also to find out whether they are entitled to the relief as prayed for in this appeal.
3. It is the case of the prosecution that on 11.8.1999, at about 7:00 a.m., PW-3 Kempanna had gone to the house of the complainant on a bicycle to take milk for his children. When the complainant and PW-3 were coming back, accused nos. 1 to 10 (A-1 to A-10) attacked them with deadly weapons. It is alleged by the prosecution that A-1 assaulted PW-3 with iron blade of a plough on his head. A-3 assualted PW-3 on his back and thigh. A-4 assualted PW-3 on both his legs with iron blade of plough. A-2 assaulted PW-1 with iron rod on his left shoulder. A-6, A-8 and A-10 kicked PW-1. A-5 and A-7 assaulted Bhagyamma- PW-6 with iron blade of plough and A-9 kicked her.
4. A complaint (Ex.-P1) was lodged on 11.8.1999 at 9:00 a.m. before the police. The Crime Case No. CC 728 of 2000 was registered by the Investigating Officer. The injured were taken to the hospital at around 2:00 p.m. PW-3 had sustained fracture of tibia, fibula and ankle. PW-6 had sustained simple injuries. PW-4 Jalaiah and PW-9- Shivanna are the eye witnesses to the incident.
5. The accused after their arrest, on their voluntary instance, M.O. 1 to M.O. 3 (clubs), M.O. 4 & M.O. 5 (iron blade of plough) and M.O. 6 (iron rod) were recovered. However, the said weapons had no incriminating marks like blood stains on them. The accused were charge-sheeted for committing offences under Sections 143, 147, 148, 323, 324, 326, 307, read with Section 114 of IPC. Thereafter, the learned Magistrate took cognizance of the alleged offences and registered CC No. 728 of 2000. The learned Magistrate complying with the provisions of Section 209 of CrPC, committed the case to the Sessions Court for trial since offences alleged under Section 307 are to be exclusively tried by that court. The accused persons pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The prosecution in support of its case, got examined PW-1 to PW-10 and marked Ex. P-1 to P-9 and MOs. 1 to 6. The accused-appellants got marked Ex. D-1 and had also submitted their written reply while recording their statements under Section 313 of CrPC.
6. In the evidence, PW-1 has stated that A-2 had assaulted him with iron rod, A-5 held him, A-1 assaulted PW-3 with iron rod. He further stated that A-4 assaulted PW-3 on his legs with iron blade of plough. A-3, A-6 and A-7 were holding clubs and assaulting PW-3. A-1 instigated other accused persons to kill PW-1.
7. The evidence of PW-3 also discloses that A-4 assaulted him with iron blade of plough on his legs and hands. A-6, A-7 and A-5 assaulted him with clubs on his back, thigh and shoulder. The other accused persons kicked him.
8. PW-6 in her evidence, stated that she was assaulted by the accused persons but she could not name the persons. This witness was treated as hostile.
9. The trial court, on appreciation of the evidence on record has held that the prosecution has failed to prove any of the offences alleged against the accused persons. There is an element of reasonable doubt on many counts, which have already been explained. The benefit of doubt always goes to the accused. Accordingly, the trial court ordered the acquittal of accused-appellant nos. 1 to 10 under Section 235(1) of CrPC for offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 148, 323, 324, 326, 307 read with Section 114 of IPC. Aggrieved by the same, the State of Karnataka appealed before the High Court challenging the judgment and order of acquittal passed by the learned trial judge.
10. The High Court, on the basis of facts and evidence on record, held that with regard to the nature of offences, the evidence and facts narrated in the FIR discloses that A-3 assaulted PW-3 with iron blade of plough. In the evidence, it is further stated that A-4 also assaulted PW-3 with iron blade of plough. But in the wound certificate, there is no mention of presence or participation of A-4. It is evident that there are fractures in the tibia and fibula which could have occurred because of fall from bicycle as well. The fracture injury is not caused intentionally. Therefore, from the nature and manner of assault, as narrated, it can only be said that the accused is guilty under Section 324 read with Section 34 of IPC for causing injuries to PW-1 and PW-3 on separate counts. Therefore, the High Court convicted and sentenced the appellants to pay a fine of 10,000/- each on separate counts and in default, to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of one year.
11. The accused-appellants challenged the decision of the High Court raising various facts and legal contentions and have prayed for setting aside the impugned judgment of the High Court.
12. The learned senior counsel on behalf of the appellants, Ms. Kiran Suri contended that the High Court has erred in reversing the Order of the trial court since the trial court had acquitted the accused-appellants only after proper appreciation of the evidence on record and inconsistencies and contradictions found in the evidence of prosecution witnesses and noticing the previous enmity between the parties, delay in recording the statements of the prosecution witnesses and also statement of eye witness, it has held that it creates a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused.
13. The learned senior counsel on behalf of the appellants further contended that conviction of the accused-appellants under Section 324 of IPC read with Section 34 is absolutely arbitrary, unreasonable and contrary to the above provisions of IPC.
14. It was further contended by the learned senior counsel that there is discrepancy regarding the names of the assailants in the FIR and in the wound certificate and further the motive behind the alleged assault by the accused-appellants has also not been proved by the prosecution by adducing evidence.
15. On the other hand, the learned counsel on behalf of the respondent contended that PW-1 and PW- 3 are injured eye witnesses. The fact that the accused-appellants had assaulted these persons with iron rod, gula and club is corroborated by the medical evidence of PW-5 and PW-7. It was further argued by the learned counsel that the appellants had assaulted the complainant on account of previous enmity with them. According to the learned counsel for the respondent, PW-2 is an independent witness. Therefore, according to the learned counsel, the ingredients of unlawful assembly, rioting, causing grievous hurt with dangerous weapons with an intention to kill, have been proved.
16. We have perused the facts and legal evidence on record. We have also carefully appreciated the contentions of both the parties. On the basis of the facts and evidence on record, we are of the opinion that the High Court erred in reversing the Order of the trial court in the absence of any substantial material evidence on record which regarded the decision of the trial court as perverse.
17. In the case of Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka(2007) 4 SCC 415 it has been held by this Court as under: 
“39. In Harijana Thirupala v. Public Prosecutor, High Court of A.P., this Court said:
12. Doubtless the High Court in appeal either against an order of acquittal or conviction as a court of first appeal has full power to review the evidence to reach its own independent conclusion. However, it will not interfere with an order of acquittal lightly or merely because one other view is possible, because with the passing of an order of acquittal presumption of innocence in favour of the accused gets reinforced and strengthened. The High Court would not be justified to interfere with the order of acquittal merely because it feels that sitting as a trial court it would have proceeded to record a conviction; a duty is cast on the High Court while reversing an order of acquittal to examine and discuss the reasons given by the trial court to acquit the accused and then to dispel those reasons. If the High Court fails to make such an exercise the judgment will suffer from serious infirmity.
40. In Ramanand Yadav v. Prabhunat Jha this Court observed; 
21. There is no embargo on the appellate Court reviewing the evidence upon which an order of acquittal is based. Generally, the order of acquittal shall not be interfered with because the presumption of innocence of the accused is further strengthened by acquittal. The golden thread which runs through the web of administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused should be adopted. The paramount consideration of the Court is to ensure that miscarriage of justice is prevented. A miscarriage of justice which may arise from acquittal of the guilty is no less than from the conviction of an innocent. In a case where admissible evidence is ignored, a duty is cast upon the appellate Court to reappreciate the evidence in a case where the accused has been acquitted, for the purpose of ascertaining as to whether any of the accused committed any offence or not".
41. Recently, in Kallu v. State of M.P., this Court stated; 
8. While deciding an appeal against acquittal, the power of the Appellate Court is no less than the power exercised while hearing appeals against conviction. In both types of appeals, the power exists to review the entire evidence. However, one significant difference is that an order of acquittal will not be interfered with, by an appellate court, where the judgment of the trial court is based on evidence and the view taken is reasonable and plausible. It will not reverse the decision of the trial court merely because a different view is possible. The appellate court will also bear in mind that there is a presumption of innocence in favour of the accused and the accused is entitled to get the benefit of any doubt. Further if it decides to interfere, it should assign reasons for differing with the decision of the trial court". (emphasis supplied) 
42. From the above decisions, in our considered view, the following general principles regarding powers of appellate Court while dealing with an appeal against an order of acquittal emerge; 
(1) An appellate Court has full power to review, re-appreciate and reconsider the evidence upon which the order of acquittal is founded; 
(2) The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 puts no limitation, restriction or condition on exercise of such power and an appellate Court on the evidence before it may reach its own conclusion, both on questions of fact and of law; 
(3) Various expressions, such as, 'substantial and compelling reasons', 'good and sufficient grounds', 'very strong circumstances', 'distorted conclusions', 'glaring mistakes', etc. are not intended to curtail extensive powers of an appellate Court in an appeal against acquittal. Such phraseologies are more in the nature of 'flourishes of language' to emphasize the reluctance of an appellate Court to interfere with acquittal than to curtail the power of the Court to review the evidence and to come to its own conclusion. 
(4) An appellate Court, however, must bear in mind that in case of acquittal, there is double presumption in favour of the accused. Firstly, the presumption of innocence available to him under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused having secured his acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court. 

(5) If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court.” 
18. Therefore, based on the legal principles laid down by this Court in the above mentioned case and applying the same to the facts and evidence on record of this case, we are of the opinion that the High Court erred in setting aside the order of the acquittal of the appellants in the absence of any legal and factual evidence on record to prove the findings and reasons recorded in the judgment of the trial court as perverse. The contentions urged on behalf of the appellants are well founded as the same are in conformity with the legal principles laid down in the aforesaid cases.
19. We therefore, set aside the order of the High Court and reinforce the order of acquittal by the trial court. The appeal is allowed.
Cases Referred:  Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka, (2007) 4 SCC 415