Interference in Judge’s Decision: Case of Assault at S.T. Depo

A significant legal ruling has been made by the Gujarat High Court regarding the case of assault at S.T. Depo. The court has upheld the decision of the Trial Court to acquit the accused, dismissing the appeal against the judgment and order of acquittal. Details of the case, including witness testimonies and evidence presented, shed light on the court’s decision. Stay informed about the latest developments in this case. #LegalUpdate #GujaratHighCourt

Facts

  • The complainant filed a complaint alleging assault on him while returning from work.
  • The accused intercepted the complainant’s scooter and physically attacked him.
  • A complaint was registered at the police station under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Atrocities Act.
  • Witnesses testified about the incident and injuries sustained by the complainant.
  • Medical evidence was presented regarding the injuries suffered by the complainant.
  • The accused individuals were charged and the case was brought before the court for trial.
  • The judge acquitted the accused based on the evidence presented during the trial.
  • The prosecution appealed against the acquittal, contesting the judge’s decision.
  • The appeal was filed to challenge the judgment and order of acquittal passed by the Sessions Court.

Arguments

  • PW-9 Anantray Nathalal Talsania’s version as Depo Manager at S.T. Depo was not considered by the Judge, where he testified about the complainant being beaten outside the station.
  • The evidence of PW-11 Nisargbhai Vasantbhai Patel, the Incharge P.S.I., was also not appreciated by the Judge despite identifying the complainant, station diary entry, and the yadi produced to the Medical Officer.
  • The Judge disregarded the various judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court presented by Advocate Mr. Neeraj Soni appointed as Amicus, supporting interference in the Judge’s decision.
  • The accused’s name was provided, and the police recorded his statement, indicating lack of doubt in the prosecution’s case.
  • PW-10 Kanaksinh Gulabsinh ATI’s testimony at Exhibit 33 detailed the police lodging an offense for illegal transportation, detention of vehicles during checking, and the lack of evidence proving the complainant’s employment status.
  • Initial complaint filed on 13.09.2006 did not name the accused and lacked independent witness examination.
  • Witnesses working in the incident area turned hostile, but their behavior cannot cast doubt on the entire prosecution case.
  • Message from traffic controller led to the FIR being lodged after learning about the beating of the complainant by the respondents at the S.T. Depo.
  • Cross examination of the complainant at Exhibits 39, 45, 53, and 57 suggested inconsistencies regarding the complainant’s employment status.
  • The witness and staff members conducted the checking following the incident.

Analysis

  • The Act aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who are denied civil rights and subjected to various offenses.
  • Existing laws like the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and IPC may not adequately address crimes against vulnerable sections of society.
  • Appeal against an acquittal should not be interfered with unless lower court’s approach is illegal or the decision is unreasonable.
  • Difference between ‘place within public view’ and ‘public place’ is clarified in the context of offenses under the Act.
  • Offenses under the Act include subjecting vulnerable sections to indignities, humiliations, and harassment.
  • The Act is intended to punish acts of upper castes against the vulnerable sections solely due to their community belonging.
  • Appellate courts can review evidence if the lower court’s conclusion is deemed perverse or based on a manifest error of law.
  • Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes face attacks and resentment in occupying and cultivating even government allotted land.
  • Panchnama of the offense scene and injury certificate were drawn by witnesses in the presence of panch witnesses.
  • Various expressions like substantial and compelling reasons, good and sufficient grounds, very strong circumstances, etc. do not restrict the extensive powers of an appellate Court in an appeal against acquittal.
  • The reluctance of an appellate Court to interfere with acquittal is emphasized through language flourishes, but the power to review evidence and draw conclusions remains intact.
  • The High Court’s view, not deemed perverse, represents a possible interpretation of the evidence.
  • In cases of appeal from acquittal, principles include comprehensive evidence appreciation, avoidance of partial assessment to prevent miscarriages of justice, and the preference for an accused-favoring view if two possibilities exist.
  • Reversal from acquittal to conviction requires a demonstration of illegality, perversity, or legal/factual error in the Trial Court’s decision.
  • Appellate Courts should not re-write judgments when reasons provided by the lower Court are sound.
  • The High Court may scrutinize evidence fully even in an appeal against acquittal, ensuring a strong assurance of guilt before overturning the decision.
  • Double presumption favors the accused in cases of acquittal, reinforcing the fundamental principle of innocence until proven guilty.
  • The High Court’s powers in appeal against acquittal extend to re-assessment of evidence to ensure justice and avoid failures in legal proceedings.
  • Legal provisions aim to protect vulnerable Scheduled Castes and Tribes from crimes and indignities, necessitating special legislation for their safeguarding.
  • Section 3(1)(r) of the Act deals with intentionally insulting or intimidating a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with the intent to humiliate.
  • The basic ingredients of the offence under Section 3(1)(r) include intentional insult and intimidation with the intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view.
  • Not all insults or intimidations to a person will amount to an offence under the Act unless the insult or intimidation is directed towards a victim belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.

Decision

  • The Court fully agrees with the reasons given and findings recorded by the Trial Court while acquitting the accused.
  • The judgment is considered just, legal, and proper with no grounds for interference by this Court.
  • The Appeal lacks merit and is dismissed.
  • The judgment and order of acquittal dated 13.04.2007 by the Special Judge and Additional Sessions Judge is confirmed.
  • Bail and bail bond are cancelled.
  • The record and proceedings are to be sent to the concerned Trial Court immediately.

Case Title: STATE OF GUJARAT Vs. BHIKHABHAI KARSANBHAI GADHVI

Case Number: R/CR.A/340/2008

Click here to read/download original judgement

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