Sunday, January 9, 2011

Falsely implicating the innocent an endemic in India, says Supreme Court

Court Acquits Man Of Murder Charges After 16 Years
New Delhi: In an unravelling of truthfulness of witnesses produced by the police, the Supreme Court has said it has found innocent being falsely implicated in serious offences almost regularly along with the main accused.

Acquitting a man from a remote village of Bihar of murder charges more than 16 years after the incident,a Bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha said: In this country, even while correctly naming the accused in cases of serious offences, it is endemic that some other innocent or even such members of the family of the accused who might not be present at the time of the commission of offence are also roped in and falsely implicated.

This observation in the judgment delivered on Friday substantiates the apex court’s apprehension expressed in a recent verdict relating to cases under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code relating to matrimonial harassment. A Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and K S Radhakrishnan had wanted the government to have a relook at section 498A saying it has been misused by women to lodge false or exaggerated complaints against husbands and their relatives accusing them of cruel behaviour.

At times, even after conclusion of criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the real truth, the Bench had said and gave examples of cases where women in their complaints had roped in husbands’ relatives, who lived in different cities and rarely visited them.

But, Friday’s judgment by Justices Alam and Lodha touched upon the innate tendency among a witness to rope in and falsely implicate the relatives of accused persons in serious offences, in this case a brutal murder. The accused, Sajjan Sharma, carried the murder charges on his head for 16 years following the killing of one Narain Kunwar in village Marba under Bihpur police station on November 24, 1994. Sharma was a relative of the accused who had shot the deceased.

The trial court convicted him along with others and the Patna High Court upheld the conviction as well as the life sentence. But, the SC found the statement of the material witness not supported by others and acquitted Sajjan Sharma of all charges giving him the benefit of doubt.

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