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Criminal Lawyer: Acquittal of co-accused creates doubt in prosecution story; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre

The SC {R. Jayapal v. State of Tamil Nadu and Another} was considering the issue, whether in case under Section 302 IPC read with Section 34 IPC, when the allegations are against three accused - out of which two accused were acquitted by the courts below on the ground that the prosecution story is not believable qua them. Even despite of that, the remaining single accused / appellant can be convicted under Section 302 IPC?

It was held in the facts of the present case - to see the effect of acquittal of co-accused - the law applicable is that when the Court finds that separation of truth from falsehood was not feasible because of the two being inextricably mixed up, the prosecution evidence has to be discarded in toto. However, in remaining circumstances, acquittal of co-accused shall not enure to the benefit of the convicted accused.

It was held by the SC if the acquitted accused no. 2 and 3 are removed out of seen in present case, the entire story of prosecution is altered on material aspects and such an alteration cannot be ignored as being wholly immaterial or irrelevant. It was further held in view of admitted case of the appellant that he did inflict injury on the person of the deceased - as per his version he acted in exercise of the right of private defence in order to save his wife from the alleged assault and molestation. It was held that the appellant has admitted the causing of injury on the person of the deceased.

Due to unexplained doubts in the prosecution version and in view of admission of the appellant. The SC accepted the appellant version that the incident in question took place, in a sudden fight, in the heat of passion, upon a sudden quarrel, without any premeditation. In view of that, a fortiori, the accused / appellant was extended the benefit of Exception 4 of Section 300 IPC by the SC, and he was convicted for offence under part I of Section 304 IPC only and sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years. The sentence and conviction was accordingly modified by the SC. 

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