“[Four] Children were abducted and kept in a tunnel for over five months and anonymous calls were made for ransom.”
The Appellant was employed at the telephone booth of Nusrat Bano, mother of three of those children. He was removed from service for “bad conduct”. In retaliation, the Appellant occasionally made an inebriated threat or two to Nusrat’s Husband, Ziauddin. Nusrat’s brother Taki had his child abducted too. On the fated day, Taki thought to himself –“Who could it be?” The one name that sprang to his head was the Appellant’s. Taki filed an FIR; said, that the Appellant had a role to play in the disappearance of the children; said, that the Appellant was seen in the locality riding a cycle. There was a price to pay. Ziauddin received calls anonymous calls for ransom.
The Children, by god’s grace, returned home safe. After five excruciating months. The oldest was 8 and the youngest, 3. They recounted how they were ‘chained’, ‘beaten up’, ‘burnt with candle’; But they NEVER saw the Appellant in the tunnel. There were others. Quite a few of them, in fact. But never the Appellant. The anononymous calls were never traced, either.
The Trial Court found the Appellant – Guilty. The High Court found the Appellant – Guilty. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in Md. Faizan Ahmad @ Kalu v. State of Bihar, [(2013) 2 SCC 131] found the Appellant – Not Guilty.
Hon’ble Justice Aftab Alam spoke:
“the FIR is based only on suspicion”.
“even if the story that he used to give threats to the prosecution witnesses and demand his dues is accepted, it does not further the prosecution case”.
“There is no evidence on record to establish that infuriated by his removal from service and non-payment of dues, the Appellant masterminded the plot to abduct the children or played any active role in abducting them.”
“If a telephone call was received making ransom demand and making grievance about alleged ill-treatment of the Appellant, the police should have traced the calls and identified the caller. The police have failed to do so”
“Criminal Courts recognize only legally admissible evidence and not farfetched conjectures and surmises”.
“The High Court’s observation that there was a pre-conceived plan to abduct the children would not be applicable to the Appellant because there is nothing on record to establish that the Appellant met the co-accused and planned a strategy to abduct the children and demand ransom.”
“The basic principle underlying criminal jurisprudence that suspicion, however grave, cannot take the place of proof. If a criminal Court allows its mind to be swayed by the gravity of the offence and proceeds to hand out punishment on that basis, in the absence of any credible evidence, it would be doing great violence to the basic tenets of criminal jurisprudence.”
“The seriousness or gravity of the crime must not influence the Court to punish a person against whom there is no credible evidence.”
“We hope and trust that this is just an aberration”.
“In the result, we allow the appeal”.
“The Appellant – Md. Faizan Ahmad @ Kalu is ordered to be released forthwith.”