KARTIK DEBNATH Vs. STATE OF WEST BENGAL
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
STATE OF WEST BENGAL
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TIRTHANKAR GHOSH, J. -
(1.) The revisional application has been preferred against the judgment and order dated 21.12.2005 passed by the learned Sessions Judge, Nadia in Sessions Trial No. IV of May, 2005, (Sessions Case No. 29 of April, 2005) wherein the learned Sessions Judge was pleased to hold the accused person not guilty of the charges under Section 326/302 of the Indian Penal Code and acquitted him in the said case. The prosecution case is that on 13.08.2003 at about 11.30 p.m. when the victim Anima Debnath who is the daughter-in-law of the defacto- complainant namely Kanailal Debnath, was sleeping in her room with her children, the accused Balai Debnath entered the said room by breaking open the door of the house and after throwing kerosene oil on her body set her on fire on her which caused serious burn injury on the person of Anima Debnath. Subsequently Balai Debnath raised alarm when the local villagers assembled at the place, who took the victim to Saktinagar Hospital. On 23.08.2003 at about 12:00 hours the victim Anima Debnath succumbed to her injuries.
On the basis of the complaint of Kanailal Debnath, the father-in-law of the victim Anima Debnath, police registered criminal case and started investigation against the accused. On completion of investigation the investigation agency submitted charge-sheet under Sections 302/326 of the Indian Penal Code.
In course of the proceedings charge was framed under Sections 326/302 of the Indian Penal Code against the accused Balai Debnath who pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.
(2.) The prosecution in order to prove its case relied upon 17 witnesses while the defence examined none, the learned Court on conclusion of prosecution evidence was pleased to examine the accused under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and fixed date for arguments of the case. After hearing the arguments on behalf of the prosecution and the defence the learned Court was pleased to hold the accused not guilty of the charges levelled against him and acquitted him from the charges. The witnesses so examined by the prosecution are PW-1 Kanailal Debnath the de-facto complainant, PW-2 and PW-3 being the minor daughter and son of the victim Anima Debnath, PW-4 Sadhon Debnath neighbour of the same village, PW-5 Sunita Debnath a neighbour of the same village, PW-6 Dr. Samir Chowdhuri surgeon attached to the District Hospital, PW-7 and PW-8 Kanon Chakraborty and Sumitra Saha who were nursing staff of the said District Hospital, PW-9 Kartik Debnath the brother-in-law of Anima Debnath, PW-10 Biswanath an acquaintance who went to see the victim at the hospital and also a seizure list witness, Pw-11 Purna Debnath a neighbour of Anima Debnath, PW-12 Abdul Hamid who conducted the inquest, PW-13 Dr. Sajal Kumer Nandi who conducted the post-mortem of the victim, PW-14 inspector Ranjit Das who submitted the report to IC, Nabadwip P.S., PW-15 Inspector Samar Kumer Biswas investigating officer of the case, PW-16 Tapan Kumer Chatterjee the second investigating officer of the case who submitted charge- sheet and PW-17 Tapan Debnath who drafted the petition of complaint.
I find from the records of the case that the learned Sessions Judge while arriving at his finding, scrutinized the evidence of all the seventeen witnesses and more particularly the two minor children who were there at the room when the victim sustained burn injury. It has been reflected in the judgement that PW-2 Pinki Debnath who is aged about 10 years stated in her cross- examination that Balai Debnath (accused) was present and he was also trying to extinguish the fire. The learned Court took into the account the statement of two witnesses under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which they narrated before the learned Judicial Magistrate and was not satisfied regarding the mode and manner in which the process was followed for recording the statement of child witnesses. He further observed that PW-2 Pinki Debnath in her cross-examination deposed that the statement which was recorded by the learned Magistrate was not read over to her. The learned Court also took into account the deposition of PW-6 who is the surgeon attached to the District Hospital, Nadia, who described the injury sustained by the victim and categorically stated that the victim Anima Debnath only stated to him that someone had burnt her, but she could not recognise that person. The witness also stated that he had asked the superintendent to arrange for recording of dying declaration of the victim on 14.08.2003.
(3.) The learned Court categorically observed that the witnesses who happen to be the neighbour and acquaintance of the locality where the victim resided, stated that they heard the accused has set the victim on fire and in the same breath they have also stated that they have seen the accused Balai Debnath was trying to extinguish fire and attend the hospital along with others when Anima Debnath was admitted at the Hospital. The learned Court after scanning whole of the evidence took into account the evidence of the de-facto complainant that is Kanailal Debnath, who stated nothing in his deposition against the accused person and during the examination-in-chief he stated that he could not ascertain the reason of burn injury and as such was declared hostile by the prosecution. While appreciating the evidence of the child witnesses and analysing their evidence in the factual back ground of their deposition in Court, it is reflected that when they woke up after feeling the heat of fire, they found Balai Debnath the accused had set their mother ablaze. According to the learned Trial Court the ocular version of the child witness therefore are imaginary because, if they woke up after feeling the heat of fire, in that case they could not be witness to the accused Balai Debnath setting fire on the person of the victim.
The learned Court further observed that all though motive is not required, yet the prosecution by any faint means could not suggest any motive for commission of the offence by the accused Balai Debnath. Finally the learned Court summed up the case by coming to its finding that the evidence reflected that Balai Debnath tried to extinguish fire and he paid the taxi fare to take Anima Debnath at the hospital and also paid the medical bill, the same is fortified by the deposition of PW-6 who deposed that the victim stated that someone burnt her but she could not recognise the person, the conduct of the police authority and the statement of the minors do not inspire confidence to hold that the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt rather it is only apprehension that the accused could her committed the offence, thereafter the learned Court proceeded to hold that the accused person was not guilty of the charges and decided to acquit the accused.;
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