MANOJ KUMAR SONI V. THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH

Published On: 10th July, 2024

Authored By: Smriti Verma
Amity University, Lucknow

ABSTRACT

In the matter of Manoj Kumar Soni V. The state of Madhya Pradesh and Kallu@Habib V. The state of Madhya Pradesh, six individuals were accused, including Suleman, Arif, Jaihind, Manoj Kamar Soni, Kallu@Habib, and a juvenile. Apart from a few remaining defendants, the Additional Sessions Judge convicted and sentenced individuals for five offenses under the Indian Penal Code,1860 on 28/11/2022. The Trail Court judged Manoj Kumar Soni for the offence under section 411 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, while Kallu @ Habib was judged for the offence under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Bench at Jabalpur upheld the Trail Court’s judgement.

Hence, the five accused opted to file a Special Leave Petition with the High Court of Madhya Pradesh. Nonetheless, the Special Leave Petitions filed by Suleman, Asif, and Jaihind were rejected, while the petitions submitted by Manoj Kumar Soni and Kallu @ Habib were approved. The Supreme Court overturned the Trail Court’s ruling, stating that a judgment cannot be based solely on the disclosure statements provided by the co-accused.

CASE DETAILS

      i)          Judgement Cause Title / Case Name

Manoj Kumar Soni V. The State Of Madhya Pradesh with  Kallu@Habib V. The State Of Madhya Pradesh

    ii)          Case Number

Criminal Appeal Number.1030/2023 Criminal Appeal Number.1458/2023

   iii)          Judgement Date

August 11, 2023

   iv)          Court

The Supreme Court Of India

     v)          Quorum / Constitution of Bench

One

   vi)          Author / Name of Judges

Dipankar Datta

 vii)          Citation

2023 SCC Online SC 1227

viii)          Legal Provisions Involved

Section 392, 394,411,120B of IPC,1860 and Section 114 of Indian Evidence Act,1872.

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OF JUDGEMENT

In this instance, five individuals were accused, however, the main focus of the case is on convicting Manoj Kumar Soni and Kallu @Habib for the crime of Robbery under section 392 of IPC, 1860. The appellants challenged the Trail Court’s Judgement in both the High Court of Madhya Pradesh and the Supreme Court of India via criminal appeals.
As per the person filing the complaint, four individuals unlawfully entered their residence and carried out a robbery. During the investigation, it was discovered that Kallu used to work as the complainant’s driver, and Manoj Kumar Soni reportedly bought stolen items from the other suspects.
Nevertheless, the accuser named three of the defendants – Suleman, Arif, and Jai Hind, while the fourth individual remained unidentified until the investigation uncovered that they were minor. Manoj Kumar Soni and Kallu were taken into custody solely based on the statements made by their co-accused.

FACTS OF THE CASE

In the situation, the accuser and employee were inside the house, carrying out their tasks, when four individuals arrived and rang the doorbell. Upon opening the door, the servant allowed four individuals wielding a pistol to enter the house forcefully.

The four individuals bound the complainant and servant’s hands and legs, threatening to murder them before stealing their jewellery, money, and other valuables by using the locker keys. The four individuals stayed at the plaintiff’s residence until 2:30 pm before fleeing. An FIR was lodged against four unidentified individuals under section 394 of IPC, 1860 around 4:30 pm, leading to their subsequent arrest.

LEGAL ISSUES RAISED

  1. Were the disclosure statements the only reason for the conviction?
  2. Was the verdict of the Trial Court and the High Court Of Madhya Pradesh fair considering the evidence provided?
  3. Was it proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellants were involved in the robbery and conspiracy?

PETITIONER/ APPELLANT’S ARGUMENTS

  1. The Petitioner / Appellant’s representatives argued that the four unbiased witnesses at Manoj’s residence refused to testify and did not corroborate the prosecution’s claim of seizure.
  2. The proper protocol for seizing property was not adhered to.
  3. There was a procedural error in the complainant’s statement and PW19’s [Tahsildar] statement.
  4. It is unclear whether the recovered ornaments found in Manoj’s possession were the belongings of the complainant as there was no concrete evidence available. Hence, the assumptions were drawn in error under section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872. The identification process had a significant error.
  5. The statement recorded under section 313 of CrPC was not taken into account by the Trial Court.
  6. The trial court based its decision solely on the testimonies of the police witnesses, as no statements from independent seizure witnesses, who later became uncooperative, were included.
  7. There was insufficient evidence provided for the violation of section 120A of IPC, 1860, which is punishable under section 12B of IPC, 1860.
  8. Kallu was arrested for only two reasons. They were the following: a) In the initial stage, Rs3000 was found on him during the inquiry as per the details provided by the suspect, Jai Hind. b) One year ago, Kallu was the driver for the person who made the complaint.

RESPONDENT’S ARGUMENTS

  1. The legal representatives for the Respondent argued that both The Trail Court and The High Court Of Madhya Pradesh carefully examined the evidence presented on record and did not identify any inconsistencies in the statements made by the prosecution witness.

A. Since there were no procedural errors, there was no justification to intervene with the decision and ruling made by the Trial Court and upheld by The High Court.

RELATED LEGAL PROVISIONS

  1. Section 411,392,394,120B of IPC,1860
  2. Section 313 of Crpc,1973
  3. Section 27,114 of IEA,1872

JUDGEMENT/ RATIO DECIDENDI

  1. The appellants’ convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court due to the lack of credibility and supporting evidence in the disclosure statements of the co-accused.

CONCLUSION & COMMENTS

The Supreme Court of India has ruled that the credibility of confession statements made by the accused under section 27 of IEA, 1872 must be proven. Nevertheless, making a judgement based solely on disclosure statements is not recommended.

REFERENCES

  1. Important Cases Referred
    1. Phulkari Kottayam V. Emperor
    2. Shiv Kumar V. State of Madhya Pradesh
  2. Important Statutes Referred
  1. Indian Penal Code,1860
  2. Code of Criminal Procedure code,1973
  3. Indian Evidence Act,1872

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