Read Judgment: Tulesh Kumar Sahu vs. State of Chhattisgarh
New Delhi, March 1, 2022: On the strength of the law declared in Ashish Jain vs. Makrand Singh and Others , (2019) 3 SCC 770 , and in Sonu alias Sunil vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2020 SCC Online SC 473, , the Supreme Court has granted benefit of doubt to Tulesh Sahu (Accused – Appellant) observing that there is no material on record which could even remotely be taken against him for the offence of dacoity.
A Larger Bench of Justice U.U Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha observed that when it was the case of the prosecution that seven named persons had committed dacoity and five out of those were acquitted by the High Court, then going by the very nature of the charge of dacoity, said two persons could not have been convicted u/s 392 r/w/s 34 of IPC.
Going by the background of the case, a dacoity took place in the house of the deceased Bhanwarlal about which his son Lal Chand came to know in the morning when he found that his father Bhanwarlal and daughter Ashita were lying dead. As a result of reporting made by said witness, the crime was registered and Tulesh Sahu (Appellant) was arrested. After his arrest, the Appellant made a statement in terms of Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act which led to the recovery of a packet containing gold and silver ornaments which was hidden in a drain.
After completion of investigation, seven persons were tried before the Trial Court wherein recovery of weapon attributed to a co-accused and chance finger prints were found at the site in question, which were stated to be that of co-accused Madanlal Sahu. Even though the prosecution did not allege that the incident was witnessed by any person and case depended purely on circumstantial evidence, the Trial Court convicted all the accused u/s 396 and 460 of the IPC and imposed life imprisonment. It also convicted accused Madan Lal, Puran Sahoo, Shiv Narayan, Chandra Kumar and Rajesh Rawal under the provisions of Section 25 of the Arms Act and awarded sentence of one-year rigorous imprisonment.
On appeal, the High Court acquitted all the accused of the charges levelled against them, except Madan Lal, who was found to be guilty u/s 302, 392 r/w/s 34 of IPC and also u/s 25 of the Arms Act. However, later, the conviction of Appellant was altered to one u/s 302 r/w/s 34 IPC, Section 392 r/w/s 34 IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act.
After considering the submissions, the Larger Bench found that in Ashish Jain’s Case (Supra), in more or less similar circumstances, it was found that even when a register was produced on record, in the absence of conclusive evidence that the register was maintained by the deceased, benefit of doubt was given to the accused.
Similarly, in Sonu’s Case (Supra), it was observed that it would not be safe to uphold the conviction on the basis of material produced by the prosecution, added the Bench.
Speaking for the Bench, Justice Lalit noted that the only material which may possibly be taken against the appellant is, extremely weak.
Accordingly, the Apex Court set aside the order convicting and sentencing the appellant and acquitted him of all the charges levelled against him.