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Indian Case Summary

Suresh vs State Of U.P on 17 March, 1981 – Case Summary

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In the case of Suresh vs State Of U.P on 17 March, 1981, the Supreme Court of India was tasked with examining a gruesome crime and its subsequent legal proceedings. The case revolved around a young man named Suresh, who was accused of murdering a woman and her three-year-old son, and severely injuring her five-year-old son. Suresh had been given shelter by the family and was working as a domestic servant at the time of the incident.

Facts of the Case

The incident occurred on May 6, 1971, in the house of Mohan Lal Khetan, where Suresh was employed as a domestic servant. On the day of the incident, Mohan Lal was away, leaving his wife Geeta and their two sons, Anil and Sunil, at home with Suresh. Post lunch, while the family was resting, they were assaulted, resulting in the death of Geeta and Anil, and serious injuries to Sunil. Suresh, who was present in the house at the time, also received several injuries. His defense was that intruders had entered the house and caused the injuries and deaths.

Issues

The primary issue was the reliability of the sole eye-witness, Sunil, who was only five years old at the time. The defense argued that Sunil’s testimony was unreliable due to his age and the fact that he was not administered an oath due to his lack of understanding of its sanctity. The defense also questioned the motive of the crime, arguing that a 13-year-old boy could not have committed such a heinous act.

Court’s Observations

The court, however, found several factors that corroborated Sunil’s testimony. The presence of Suresh at the scene was undisputed, and his conduct after the incident was suspicious. He did not raise an alarm or try to escape, but instead walked to a neighbor’s house and reported that intruders had committed the crime. The pattern of the crime also suggested that it was Suresh who had committed it. The court also noted that the injuries on Suresh’s body were consistent with a woman defending herself.

The court also disagreed with the defense’s argument about Suresh’s age. Medical records indicated that Suresh was about 21 years old at the time of the incident, not 13 as claimed by the defense. The court also disagreed with the defense’s argument about the motive of the crime, stating that it was more likely that Geeta was killed because she woke up while the house was being ransacked.

Judgment

The court upheld the conviction of Suresh under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. However, it modified the death sentence to life imprisonment, citing several factors, including Suresh’s age, his mental state, and the reliability of Sunil’s testimony. The court also noted that Suresh had already spent ten years in jail, which, with remissions, could have led to his release if he had been sentenced to life imprisonment initially. The sentences for the two offenses were ordered to run concurrently.