Landmark Supreme Court Judgment: Discipline vs Rights

In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court of India delivered a landmark judgment regarding the case of breach of discipline by the petitioner and its implications on individual rights. The respondent’s argument centered around upholding discipline within the department, while the petitioner’s counsel focused on the principles of natural justice. Let’s delve into the details of this pivotal case where the court’s decision has far-reaching consequences.


  • The incident took place on 17.3.1997 at 7:00 a.m. at Kalia Hotel where Keramat Ali was having tea.
  • Four eyewitnesses were presented: Taher Ali (PW-1), Nazrul Islam (PW-3), Sorhab Ali (PW-4), and Mozammil Hussain (PW-6).
  • The IO, Mr. Somnath Bora, was presented as a witness.
  • Defence only examined one witness, Siraj Ali (DW-1), who was present at the place of occurrence according to the prosecution.
  • Accused Nos.7 to 9 faced charges under Sections 302/109 of the IPC.
  • Accused No.4, Rahul Amin, absconded during the trial.
  • Accused No.1, Abdul Hai, died or was allegedly murdered during the trial.
  • The convicted accused filed an appeal before the Gauhati High Court which was subsequently dismissed.
  • A Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed against the dismissal of the appeal was also rejected, resulting in the finality of the matter.
  • The trial court additionally found the guilt of accused Nos. 5 & 6 established beyond reasonable doubt.

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  • The learned Senior Counsel raised various submissions regarding the acquittal of accused No.9 by the trial court and subsequent reversal of acquittal in appeal.
  • It was argued that the witnesses’ testimonies were inconsistent and embellished with exaggerations.
  • Reference was made to the purpose of examining the accused under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. to ensure principles of natural justice.
  • A point was made that incriminating material not addressed during examination under Section 313 cannot be used against the accused.
  • The distinction between common intention under Section 34 of the IPC and abetment under Section 107 of the IPC was highlighted, suggesting separate elements.
  • The statement of accused No.9 under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. was brought up, arguing that the prosecution did not properly present the case to the accused.
  • The involvement of interested and inimical witnesses in the case was mentioned, indicating a bias that was not explored during the trial.
  • Citing precedent cases, the Senior Counsel emphasized the importance of respecting the trial court’s view unless it is considered perverse or unsustainable.
  • The respondent contended that the action taken against the petitioner was justified.
  • It was argued that the petitioner had committed a breach of discipline by absconding from service.
  • The respondent emphasized that such actions were necessary to maintain discipline in the department.
  • Reference was made to relevant service rules to support the respondent’s stance.

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  • The court’s examination of the statement recorded under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. found it perfunctory and lacking in specific, distinct, and separate questioning of the accused on material circumstances.
  • Failure to question the accused on important evidence against them is deemed a serious irregularity that can vitiate the trial if it leads to prejudice.
  • The principle of Section 313 is to establish a direct dialogue between the Court and the accused to allow explanation of crucial evidence.
  • Inconsistencies in testimonies also cast doubt on the case of the prosecution regarding the role of accused No.9.
  • Lack of specific questions on inculpatory material in the prosecution evidence can vitiate the trial.
  • Evidence suggests the use of daggers and a sword at the crime scene, rather than guns as alleged by the prosecution.
  • The presence of disinterested witnesses PW-1 and DW-1 presents a different narrative from the related witnesses, adding complexity to the case.
  • Failure to implicate accused No.9 by the only independent witness PW-1 suggests a lack of conclusive evidence against the accused.
  • The involvement of accused No.9, as alleged, was not proven beyond reasonable doubt, leading to his acquittal.
  • Accused Nos.2 & 3, still in custody, face a different situation compared to accused No.9 and raise issues related to constructive liability under Section 34 of the IPC.
  • The judgment underscores the importance of putting incriminating material to the accused for a fair defense.
  • The plea under Section 109 of the IPC does not align with a conviction for the main offense under Section 34 of the IPC, as elaborated in case law.
  • The dismissal of the last plea by the counsel is supported by established legal principles and precedents cited in the judgment.
  • The confrontation between the prosecution’s version and the inconsistencies in witness testimonies contribute to the complexity and uncertainty in the case.
  • The appellate court’s reliance on eyewitness testimonies, especially from related witnesses, must be balanced with caution due to potential bias or interest in the case.
  • Acquittal judgments should not be overturned unless there is clear evidence of miscarriage of justice or prejudice, even when two plausible views exist.
  • Non-indication of inculpatory material in its relevant facets by the trial Court to the accused adds to vulnerability of the prosecution case.
  • Recording of a statement of the accused under Section 313 is not a purposeless exercise.
  • The Court referred to its earlier judgment in Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra, highlighting the importance of putting vital questions to the accused and drawing their attention to every inculpatory material.
  • The prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt against the two accused.
  • Therefore, the two accused must receive the benefit of doubt and be acquitted.
  • The trial court’s view is considered plausible, although not the only plausible view.

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  • Samsul Haque, accused No.9, is entitled to a clean acquittal.
  • Bail bonds of Samsul Haque stand discharged as he is already on bail.
  • Abdul Rashid & Imdadul Islam, accused Nos.2 & 3 respectively, are acquitted due to benefit of doubt.
  • The acquitted accused, Abdul Rashid & Imdadul Islam, may be released immediately.
  • The appeals are allowed, and parties will bear their own costs.


Case Number: Crl.A. No.-001905-001905 / 2009

Click here to read/download original judgement

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