Published on – 05 December 2022 at 20:16 IST
The Delhi High Court has set aside the conviction and jail term of 6 years awarded to a man in 2003, noting that the trial court records have lost relevant documents including statements of witnesses are no longer available for its perusal.
Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that, “…the conviction of the appellant, the perusal of the trial court record is the essential element of hearing of the appeal. Every appellant has a right to satisfy the Appellate Court that the material evidence available on record did not justify his conviction and this is a valuable right which cannot be denied to an appellant,”
While hearing the appeal of the convict against the order of the trial court on conviction and sentence, observed that perusal of the record of the trial court is an essential element of the hearing of the appeal and every appellant has a valuable right to satisfy the appellant.
The court said that the material on record does not justify his conviction. Noting that even at the stage of appeal, every accused carries with him the presumption of innocence, the court allowed the appeal and set aside the trial court’s order which sentenced the man to six years for ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ was sent to jail.
“As per settled principles of criminal jurisprudence, every accused carries with him the presumption of innocence even at the appellate stage. The appeal is allowed and the order of judgment dated 20.10.2003 and order of sentence dated 23.10.2003 are hereby set aside,”
The court noted that in the present case the statements of witnesses, police investigation report, seizure memo, arrest memo, post-mortem report etc. are non-available documents and the trial court record is not there despite repeated efforts of the High Court was reconstructed and hence re-trial was also not in the interest of justice.
“The order dated 12.11.2009 categorically states that the trial court record has been lost. I am of the view that in the present case, every possible effort has been made to re-construct the trial court record. Despite all the efforts by this court, the Registry, the learned counsel for the parties, the trial court record has not been re-constructed as the same is lost,” the court said.
It also noted that in the present case, the witnesses had already turned hostile and the trial court’s impugned judgment was based on preponderance of probabilities.