Supreme Court Emphasizes necessity for prosecution to prove specific elements for conviction under Section 364A


LI Network

Published on: January 5, 2024 at 00:56 IST

The Supreme Court highlighted the necessity for the prosecution to prove specific elements to secure a conviction under Section 364A (Kidnapping For Ransom) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The Court emphasized that besides demonstrating the act of abduction, the prosecution must establish the demand for ransom coupled with a threat to the abducted person’s life.

Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Satish Chandra Sharma elaborated that the prosecution should, without a doubt, substantiate not only the act of kidnapping but also the subsequent demand for ransom, along with a life-threatening situation for the abducted individual.

The Court delivered these observations while hearing a criminal appeal where the accused faced charges under Section 364A of the IPC. While affirming charges related to attempted murder and robbery, the Court expressed reservations regarding the conviction under Section 364A.

The case centered around a disturbing incident where the accused attempted to murder the victim, Arjit Sharma, a Class 12 student.

According to the prosecution, the accused picked up the complainant and attempted to kill him by strangling him and setting him on fire, subsequently robbing him.

Although the Trial Court convicted the accused of attempts to murder, robbery, and kidnapping for ransom, the High Court upheld these charges, leading to the present appeal.

Analyzing the evidence, the Court highlighted the crucial role of the complainant, an injured witness, whose testimony should be considered highly valuable in a criminal trial unless there are compelling reasons or defense evidence questioning their credibility.

While examining the offense under Section 364A, the Court underscored that it involves kidnapping or abduction coupled with causing harm, threat to life, or actual murder on the demand for ransom.

However, after reviewing the documents, the Court found that the prosecution failed to establish the ransom demand. Despite the claim of a ransom call made to the complainant’s father, the Court noted the absence of substantial evidence to support this claim.

Consequently, the Court adjusted the charges from Section 364A to Section 364 (Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder).

It emphasized the lack of evidence regarding the ransom demand, crucial for the Section 364A offense. Notably, the complainant did not mention any ransom demand in court as a prosecution witness.

Based on these findings, the Court set aside the accused’s conviction under Section 364A, stating that both the Trial Court and the High Court erred in considering this a Section 364A case, lacking sufficient prosecution evidence on this crucial aspect.

Considering the victim’s severe injuries and loss of limb, the Court directed the State of Chhattisgarh to pay Rs. 5,00,000 to the victim instead of the previously directed Rs. 1,00,000, as ordered by the High Court.

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