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State of Uttar Pradesh Vs. Wasif Haider and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (10 Dec 2018)

A TIP has to be conducted timely, if not, then the delay has to be explained



Present appeals by special leave arise out of the common impugned judgment passed by the High Court, whereby the High Court has reversed the judgment of conviction passed by the Additional Sessions Judge under Sections 302 read with 149, 307 read with 149, 148 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Section 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932. The High Court on analysis of evidence found that, not only there exists various contradictions in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses but there exists lack of corroboration of the same. While passing the order of acquittal the High Court observed that the case of prosecution was ridden with flaws in investigation, most importantly the identification of the Accused was highly suspicious and the TIP was held to be "too good to be believed". Accordingly, the High Court through the impugned judgment acquitted the Accused-Respondents.

In an appeal against acquittal, the appellate Court would interfere only where there exists perversity of fact and law. Further, the presumption of innocence is further reinforced against the acquitted-accused by having a judgment in his favor. In Mulla v. State of U.P., this Court laid down that a TIP has to be conducted timely, if not, then the delay has to be explained and such delay should not cause exposure of the accused. However, in the case at hand, not only there was a delay in conducting the TIP, but no explanation for the same has been forthcoming from the prosecution. This creates a considerable doubt about the genuineness of the TIP.

The prosecution has also failed to adduce any independent witness. It is surprising that although the charges have been framed under Section 307 of IPC, the prosecution has absolutely failed to substantiate the charges by means of evidence. The trial Court has erred in convicting the Respondents for the aforesaid offence, without any evidence to prove the same.

In the instant, the prosecution has failed to link the chain of circumstances so as to dispel the cloud of doubt about the culpability of the Accused-Respondents. It is a well settled principle that a suspicion, however grave it may be cannot take place of proof. In the present case, the cumulative effect of the aforesaid investigative lapses has fortified the presumption of innocence in favor of the Accused-Respondents. In such cases, the benefit of doubt arising out of a faulty investigation accrues in favor of the accused.

The lapses in the investigation have disabled the prosecution to prove the culpability of the accused. The Accused cannot be expected to relinquish his innocence at the hands of an inefficacious prosecution, which is ridden with investigative deficiencies. The benefit of doubt arising out of such inefficient investigation must be bestowed upon the accused. There exists no perversity in the judgment of the High Court. Further, in the absence of compelling reasons, present Court is not keen to entertain these appeals challenging the order of acquittal. Appeals dismissed.

Relevant : Mulla v. State of U.P., MANU/SC/0091/2010


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