HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court has made it clear that, while considering the question of framing charges, it has undoubted power to sift and weigh evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima facie case against the accused has been made out - particularly, where the material placed raises grave suspicion against the accused, but is left without a proper explanation.
Justice M Seetharama Murti made these observations on a criminal revision case filed by one Kumari against the order of the Judicial First Class Magistrate of Kurnool. The case was filed in the lower court against the respondent (husband) (A1) and three others who are accused of offences punishable under Section 498-A and 506 of the IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
Charges were framed and the accused were tried for offences with which they were charged. But, no charges were finally framed against them for offences punishable under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The lower court, in its judgment, found the accused not guilty of the offences punishable under the above sections of the IPC and acquitted them. Petitioner Kumari, the defacto complainant in the case, then moved the High Court against the lower court order.
According to the prosecution, the petitioner was married to A1 and some cash and gold were given at the time of marriage. After one year, he had developed illicit intimacy with another woman and the latter gave birth to a baby boy. The accused brought the woman and the baby to his house and directed the petitioner to attend to them. Whenever the petitioner refused to serve them, he used to beat her and even threatened to kill her. Later, the accused demanded that the petitioner bring money from her parents. One day, she ran away from the house when the accused along with his friends tried to torture her. A case was registered at Kurnool town police station and the Magistrate concerned took the case on file.
During the trial, the petitioner, her supporting witnesses and the investigating officers were examined. No oral and documentary evidence was adduced on the side of the accused. The petitioner’s counsel contended that the trial court had erred in acquitting the accused despite the fact that sufficient evidence was adduced. Strangely, the lower court had dealt with a charge under Section 420 of the IPC though no charge was framed against the accused for the said offence, he pointed out. On the other hand, the counsel for the respondent accused submitted that the accused persons are innocent and falsely implicated after deliberations.
After hearing both the sides, the high court judge pointed out that no charge was framed at least against the prime accused under Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act though there were necessary averments in the report.
“The law is well settled that the judge while considering question of framing the charges has the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima facie case against the accused has been made out; where the material placed before the court discloses grave suspicion against the accused, which has not been properly explained, the court will be fully justified in framing a charge and proceeding with the trial”, the judge observed. While allowing the criminal revision case, Justice Seetharama Murti has set aside the order of the lower court and remitted the matter to the trial court for fresh disposal of the case.