CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has ordered the release of a life convict, who was in jail for the past 18 years, after changing the offence of murder under which he was charged to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and reducing his sentence to 10 years.
The order was issued in connection with the death of Parsuram Bariha near Debarha village within Patnagarh police limits in Balangir district on January 27, 2002.
Prasad Bariha had filed a jail criminal appeal in 2004 after the Court of Sessions Judge, Balangir convicted him and sentenced him to life imprisonment for the murder of Parsuram.
The High Court felt that there was no premeditation behind the commission of the crime as the evidence of witnesses indicated that the occurrence happened all of a sudden when accused Prasad while passing through the cotton crop field asked Parsuram about the address of a particular village.
When Parsuram gave his reply, Prasad doubted that the former had given him a wrong answer and in a fit of anger, he assaulted the deceased with a bamboo stick and stone.
“When the occurrence happened all of a sudden and evidence relating to the motive of the appellant to commit murder of the deceased is lacking in the case and there is no evidence that any of the injuries sustained by the deceased are sufficient in ordinary course of nature to cause death, we are of the view that the case would come within the purview of section 304 Part-I and not under section 302 of the IPC,” a Special Bench of Justice SK Sahoo and Justice BP Routray ruled.
“Accordingly, we set aside the conviction of the appellant under section 302 (murder) and instead the appellant is convicted under section 304 Part-I of IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 10 years,” the Bench said in its judgment on February 29.
“It is stated at the Bar that the appellant has already remained in custody for 18 years since 2002 as he was not granted bail either during trial or during pendency of the appeal. In view of the sentence passed by us, the appellant shall be set at liberty forthwith, if he is not required to be detained in any other case,” the bench ordered.