State of West Bengal vs Shew Mangal Singh & Ors AIR 1980
On 11th November, 1970 at around 10:00 pm deceased Ranjit and his brother Samir were sitting outside their house and suddenly 3 police vehicles having 15-20 officers stopped in front of their house and rushed towards them. Both of them started running towards their house and the police officers were chasing them, having revolvers in their hands. Bibhuti Chakraborty made a shot from point blank range on Ranjit and other officers were also constantly firing on both of them which injured Ranjit and were able to catch both of them.
They were dragged and dumped into the car. Ranji and Samir both died before any medical assistance could be provided to them as they were injured due to the tussle at their house. Thereafter, Benoy brother of deceased was taken into custody, but was released on the bail.
So, aggrieved by the decision of the police officers he filed a complaint in the court and the trial was initiated against them in the Sessions Court of Calcutta.
Contentions of both the Parties:
Counsel on behalf of petitioners: A.P. Chatterjee, A.K. Ganguly, and B.K. Chatterjee
It was contended by the petitioners that in S.S. Bobde V. State of Maharashtra, the same court held that miscarriage of justice may arise equally with the acquittal of guilty and conviction of an innocent. He strongly argued that it will be a serious disregard for judiciary if unmerited acquittal likes this if so happens.
He also contended that respondents are undoubtedly guilty of murder and the judgment of High Court is totally “lighthearted”. He submitted that police is regarded as protector of laws and regulations and history will never forgive us if the destroyers of law will be acquitted in this particular case.
Counsel on behalf of respondents: A.K. Sen, Senior Advocate
It was contended by the respondents that the actions of officers are totally justifiable as they have received orders from the Deputy Commissioner of the concerned area regarding open fire and they were obeying the instructions of senior officers.
It was also argued by them that the night on which the incident took place it was drizzling and there are serious deficiencies in the evidences as the witness were deposing the nine year law incident and which is totally insufficient in establishing the identity of accused for the murder.
1. Whether High Court was justified in setting aside the orders of the subordinate court or not.
2. Whether orders of open fire was justified or there was malicious intention behind the act.
The Special Leave Petition was dismissed by the Apex Court on the ground that police officers were only obeying the orders of the Deputy Commissioner of open fire in that particular area and hence cannot be convicted for an offence under Section 302 of I.P.C. It was also laid down that materials on record and evidences were insufficient to establish the identity of an accused.
So, the Apex Court upheld the judgment of High Court as it will be against the general principles of law and will lead to grave injustice if the respondents are convicted in the present case.
It can be concluded from the above mentioned case that firstly, there must be sufficient evidences to establish the clear identification of the accused and secondly, that a subordinate officer cannot be held liable for obeying the instructions of the senior officers.