Courts Must Be on Guard, Test Evidence Meticulously when FIR is Delayed: Supreme Court
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In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court of India acquitted two individuals who had been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder that occurred in 1989. The case highlights the critical importance of scrutinizing evidence when there is a delay in filing a First Information Report (FIR), particularly when no clear explanation is provided for the delay.
The accused, Harilal and Parasram, were initially convicted of murdering a man on August 25, 1989. However, the FIR for this case was lodged the following day in Bilaspur district, raising questions about the delay in reporting the incident. This delay can potentially lead to embellishments or inaccuracies in the prosecution’s narrative, as it provides time for deliberation and guesswork.
The Court’s Observations
The Supreme Court Bench, comprising Justices J. B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, emphasized the need for caution when dealing with delayed FIRs, especially in cases where there were no witnesses to the incident or where the event occurred at night in a public place.
The court noted that the trial court and the high court had not adequately addressed various aspects of the case. One crucial point was the absence of a clear motive against the accused, except for a dispute involving a woman from the village. Additionally, inconsistencies were found in the statement of one eyewitness, making it unreliable as evidence.
The court also considered the natural behavior of bystanders during such incidents. In cases involving a collective assault by villagers, bystanders might not intervene, further complicating the determination of guilt.
Lack of Convincing Evidence
The prosecution failed to convincingly establish the sequence of events leading to the murder and who was responsible for it. Instead, the evidence suggested that the killing might have resulted from a mob’s actions against the deceased due to his alleged involvement with a woman.
In light of these observations, the Supreme Court set aside the judgments of the high court and the trial court. Harilal and Parasram were acquitted of the charges they had been tried for. The court also noted that the appellants had been released on bail during the appeal’s pendency and should not surrender. If they were not on bail, they would be released immediately unless required in another case.
This verdict underscores the importance of thorough examination of evidence, especially when FIRs are delayed, to ensure justice is served.
Source: The Hindu