Shamshad @ Murappan & Ors. Vs. State (NCT of Delhi), Criminal Appeal 990/2018
It is really a very interesting story to know about a Criminal Appeal of a murder case. There were three persons who were made accused in an FIR no. 271/2017. A deadbody of Muslim boy was found with multiple injuries in front of a Factory where the accused persons used to work as labourers. They were arrested and tried in this case before the Sessions Judge, Rohini Court , Delhi. As it was a fast track court and the accused were in jail , the case was decided within one year of his arrest. The accused also belonged to Muslim Community and they were relatives of each other. All the three accused persons were convicted under Section 304 Part-II and 34 of IPC and awarded the rigorous imprisonment of 7 years and fine of Rs.5000 each. The Fast Track Court was really fast.
I was not the counsel who conducted trial at Rohini Court. The family members of the accused contacted me to file an Appeal before Delhi High Court. They had the copy of entire case file with them. I studied and realized that any young advocate spent his time on this case in trial and has learnt how to cross examine. The advocate has enjoyed the learning of cross examination in this case and committed grave mistakes. The trial advocate made the foolish suggestions in cross examination and spoiled the case completely. I was surprised to see the copy of cross examination. Those foolish suggestions were highlighted in the judgment.
I further realized that had proper questions been asked to the witnesses , the things would have been very clear in this case. Unfortunately , those relevant questions were not asked which made this case of murder very complex. Finally, on the sole testimony of a witness Hori Lal who was a drug edict , the accused persons were convicted.
No Bail Ever, Direct Acquittal
The accused persons had never applied for bail in the Trial Court and was in jail since their arrest. So I had no opportunity to know about the real facts of the case. One thing was also in my mind that the real facts of the case would have helped me in the cross examination , not in Criminal Appeal. I applied at Rohini Court for certified copies of the entire trial case file. I also gave three Vakalatnamas to the relatives of the accused for attestation from Jail when they go there for meeting with them.
Defects in filing Criminal Appeal Petition
I prepared the petition of Criminal Appeal and myself translated all Hindi paras in FIR and Chargsheet. Then after annexing required certified copies filed my Criminal Appeal at the filing counter of the Delhi High Court. On the next day I got the message on my phone that my appeal is lying defective at Filing Counter. When I personally went to the Filing counter and inquired about the defects I found that because some certified copies were deemed ones and some were without left side margin, the objections were raised. When I went to Rohini Court taking my concern to get fair copy , the In-charge of the copying agency said that you have to apply again as you should have made objection at the time of receiving your copy, so you don’t have any remedy right now. Applied again, requested for its urgent delivery without any deemed copy having proper margin in the pages. It was really tiresome but I had no choice. Again I filed my Criminal Appeal removing all defects and my case got listed before the Hon’ble Judge.
In my first hearing , trial court record was called for and the counsel for the state of NCT of Delhi sought time to file reply if required. I pressed for grant of bail till the pendency of appeal , however, same was not granted and assured me that the bail would be considered on the next date if the final argument is not heard by the court.
On the next date of hearing, I did not press for bail and showed my willingness to address the court as final arguments since the matter was also fixed today for the same purpose only. The Public Prosecutor was also ready for arguments and no reply to this appeal was filed by him.
Hon’ble Justice Ms. Mukta Gupta heard me attentively on different aspects of the appeal. I very clearly admitted that the accused belonged to a poor strata of society and could not even procure a good advocate for the trial of his case and the cross examination was poorly conducted. So kindly consider this case in such background. The accused were convicted on the basis of the statement of the sole eye witness Holi Lal who is a drug edict which fact he himself admits in his examination in – chief . His version could not be trusted. The Hon’ble Judge got my point and inquired about any evidence of the direct involvements of the accused persons in the instant case. The answer came in negative from the side of Public Prosecutor as the accused were not seen in the CCTV footage of place of occurrence or the factory where they worked at the relevant point of time. I kept arguing and mentioning other points also very passionately. During my arguments , the Hon’ble Justice said that – ok , the order is reserved.
Oder on appeal was kept reserved on 4th February 2019. No further date was given. The order on appeal came after 2 months on 4th April 2019. My client called me so many times during this period of 2 months. I was under acute mental pressure. Many times I thought that I should not have argued this matter and pressed for bail only. At least they would have come out of jail immediately. But such thought was because of pressure from the side of my client. After 2 months , one day accused called me and said that they had been released from jail. It was really joyful moments for me.