HC acquits man accused of patricide, sets aside life sentence

HC acquits man accused of patricide, sets aside life sentence

Finding weak evidence against a man sentenced to life imprisonment on charge of killing his father, the Bombay High Court has acquitted him of murder charges and ordered his release from Kolhapur central prison.

"In our opinion, the prosecution has not proved that the appellant, Subhash Jadhav, had caused death of his father Sukhdeo with a stone," observed judges V K Tahilramani and P D Kode recently.

According to prosecution, on April 26, 2004, Subhash, in an inebriated state, had picked up a quarrel with his father Sukhdev and brother Gopal over some trivial issue.
However, he was pacified by his family after which he went away. Gopal slept in the house while his father went to sleep outside in the courtyard.

On the same night, Gopal got a call from his neighbour asking him to come out of the house. When he stepped out, he saw his father lying in a pool of blood with facial injuries.

He also saw his brother Subhash standing at the end of the chawl (house). An injured Sukhdev was taken to hospital where he died four days later.

Subhash was arrested on the basis of a complaint odged by his brother Gopal. He was convicted by the sessions court in Mumbai on September 14, 2005. Being aggrieved, Subhash filed an appeal in the High Court saying he was falsely implicated in the crime.

His lawyer Arfan Sait submitted that Gopal's evidence shows that he had not seen the appellant killing his father.

He merely suspected that his brother might have killed Sukhdev with the stone as he saw the appellant standing at the end of the chawl and found a stone lying near the deceased.

In the absence of evidence, Subhash cannot be found guilty of killing father, the lawyer argued.

The High Court disbelieved the evidence adduced by the prosecution to show that the accused had killed his father with a stone. The injuries sustained by the deceased could not have been caused with a stone, the judges noted.

The prosecution had relied upon the evidence of Gopal to show that it was Subhash who killed his father with a stone. There were only two witnesses, Gopal and investigating officer. No other witnesses were examined.

The court noted that the evidence of Gopal showed that he himself did not hear any noise. Moreover, Gopal had admitted that there was no light near his house and at the relevant time he saw Subhash standing at the end of the chawl.

The court noted that the 10 kg stone seized from the scene of crime could not have been used in the murder. Assault by this stone does not seem to be consistent with the medical evidence, the judges said.

Moreover, it is pertinent to note that the doctor who conducted the postmortem has not been examined. Thus, there is no medical evidence on record to show that the injuries were capable of being caused by stone, the judges said.

There was no recovery of any weapon at the instance of the appellant nor was there any recovery of blood stained clothes or any article at his instance. The clothes of Subhash at the time of arrest were also not found to be blood-stained.

Looking to the evidence of Gopal and the medical evidence on record, it cannot be said that the prosecution has proved its case against the appellant. In this view of the matter, the conviction of Subhash cannot be sustained, the bench opined.

Accordingly, the judges set aside the conviction of Subhash Jadhav under section 302 IPC. The court also ordered that the appellant be released from prison if he was not required in any other case.

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