Supreme Court’s Verdict Emphasizes Prudent Evaluation in Delayed FIR Cases

Supreme Court’s Verdict Emphasizes Prudent Evaluation in Delayed FIR Cases

Supreme Court’s Verdict Emphasizes Prudent Evaluation in Delayed FIR Cases. Image courtesy: Indian Express

Acquittal of Two Individuals Highlights the Need for Caution in Legal Proceedings

In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court has underscored the importance of vigilance and meticulous examination of evidence in cases involving delayed First Information Reports (FIRs) and a lack of a proper explanation. The apex court acquitted two individuals who had previously been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder that occurred in 1989. The case had been upheld by the Chhattisgarh High Court. The Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, scrutinized the circumstances surrounding the case.

The Challenge of Delayed FIRs

The Supreme Court, in its verdict delivered on September 5, asserted that when an FIR is delayed, particularly without a convincing explanation, courts must exercise caution. Such delays can provide an opportunity for embellishments and conjecture to enter the prosecution’s narrative, and this possibility must be rigorously examined. This caution becomes especially critical in cases where there were likely no witnesses to the incident, such as incidents occurring at night in open or public spaces.

The Case in Question

The Supreme Court rendered its verdict in response to appeals filed by the appellants, Harilal and Parasram. These appellants had been convicted by a trial court and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for their alleged involvement in a murder that took place on August 25, 1989. Intriguingly, the FIR in this case was not filed until the following day in Bilaspur district. Three individuals were initially tried for the murder, with all of them convicted by the trial court. They had separately appealed their convictions before the high court. Unfortunately, proceedings against one of the accused had become moot due to his passing during the appeal process.

Key Observations of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s verdict highlighted various critical aspects of the case. Notably, it emphasized the absence of a clear motive against the accused, except for some incident involving a woman from the village. Additionally, the court pointed out that while there may not have been a specific question regarding the delay in filing the FIR, the fact that it was delayed could not be disregarded.

Furthermore, the court noted inconsistencies in the statement of one of the eyewitnesses, rendering his testimony unreliable for convicting the accused of murder. The court emphasized that people react differently in various situations and observed that in cases involving assaults in a village setting, bystanders may be less likely to intervene.

Outcome and Acquittal

The Supreme Court ultimately found that the prosecution had failed to convincingly establish the circumstances of the crime, including the manner in which the murder occurred and by whom. The evidence presented by the prosecution indicated a strong probability that the murder resulted from mob action against the deceased due to his alleged involvement with a woman.

Consequently, the Supreme Court set aside the judgments of both the high court and the trial court, acquitting the appellants of the charges they had been tried for. The appellants, who had been granted bail during the appeal process, were not required to surrender.

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