Accused statement has limited role: HC

Nagpur: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled that a co-accused can not be convicted solely on the basis of the accused`s statement as it has a limited role in any litigation. "The statement of the co-accused can always be used as an aid if the accused is tried primarily on other evidences.

"However, his statement(s) can not be a foundation for convicting the accused when it is only the sole material," the single bench of Justice Ambadas Joshi observed while granting a relief from prosecution to a co-accused booked for offences including theft, cheating and forgery.

"Allowing the trial to proceed would mean nothing but wasting time of the court, the prosecution, and would also burden the state exchequer. Apart from that it tends to disrepute the criminal law administrative system," Justice Joshi observed before disposing of the plea.

Allowing the trial on such unsustainable material would be vexing the accused and burdening the courts with prosecution, which cannot be reasonably expected to fructify or at least could be worthy of trial, the bench said while absolving the petitioner Pravin Kalmegh, who had moved the court through his counsel Akash Moon and P S Mohgaonkar, off the charges.

Kalmegh (co-accused) along with prime accused Vijay Kene, was charged under sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Acting on an FIR filed against them on July 16, 2009, the Imambada police arrested the duo and subsequently filed a chargesheet against them on September 20 the same year.

Kalmegh filed four petitions arguing that he was being prosecuted solely on the statement of the prime accused saying there was no other evidence available against him available on the record. The petitioner further argued that Kene falsely implicated him to satisfy the personal grudge he had been harbouring against the former.

The high court after pursuing the entire case found that the prosecution had no other proof on record against the petitioner. The court citing a number of the Supreme Court and high court judgements quashed and set aside the criminal proceedings in all four cases against the petitioner.