A man who spent two decades in jail serving a life sentence on charges of murdering his own son,has finally been acquitted by the Bombay High Court on the ground that evidence against him “did not inspire confidence and was not at all free from doubt”.
Laxman Gangaram Zinna,hailing from Andhra Pradesh,was ordered to be released from Yerwada prison in Pune two decades after a sessions court in Mumbai convicted him on the charges of murdering his son,Bhummiya.
Laxman had told the trial court that he had killed his son as the latter used to beat his wife,tear clothes and throw away food. Laxman was employed as a security guard at Talzan hills in suburban Kandivali and he had killed his son at the same location in 1989.
He had initially denied the charges but at the fag end of the trial admitted in his statement recorded under section 313 of Cr.Pc that he had indeed killed his son. On that basis he was convicted by the trial court in 1992.
A high court division bench,however,acquitted him saying,”we have already pointed out that the prosecution’s case rests only on circumstantial evidence and is not at all free from doubt”.
“The circumstances forming the chain have not been established beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore,it is very unsafe to base the conviction on such confessional statement especially when the Appellant was not warned that it may be used against him”,Justice Shrihari Davare and Justice Abhay Oka observed in their judgement delivered recently.
The judges said,”We have also considered the question of passing a limited order of remand for reexamination of the Appellant under Section 313 of the Cr.Pc”.
“However,the incident is of March/April 1989 which has occurred 23 years back and the evidence of witnesses has been recorded in 1991 and 1992. It will be unjust and unfair to the Appellant if after a span of 20 years he is required to explain the evidence adduced against him regarding the incident which has occurred 23 years back”,the court noted.
“In any event,the other evidence which is essentially a circumstantial evidence does not inspire confidence and the same is not at all free from doubt. The trial court has committed an error in relying upon the circumstantial evidence and the confessional statement. Hence,appeal must succeed,” the judges observed setting aside the impugned judgement of February 24,1992,and acquitted Laxman of the offence.
“The accused has to informed that inculpatory statements made by him may be taken into consideration in the trial. The Court is under an obligation to put the accused to the notice before recording his statement under section 313. If the accused is not given the said warning or notice,in a given case,serious prejudice may be caused to the accused,” the judges said.
In the present case,no such warning or notice was given to the Appellant before his examination under section 313 of the said Code. The statement and the roznama are silent on this aspect,” they said.
“We find that the Appellant pleaded as not guilty and his advocate has extensively cross-examined all the witnesses. Therefore,this is a case where serious prejudice has been caused to the Appellant as he was not put to notice that the statements made by him in his examination under Section 313 can be used against him”,the bench observed.
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