Thirty-two years after the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested a man for allegedly possessing half a bottle of illicit liquor, the Supreme Court has set him free, saying the magistrate did not examine him properly during the trial.
"He (accused Man Singh) shall be released forthwith if not wanted in connection with any other case," a bench of Justice HS Bedi and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra said. The bench rejected the Uttar Pradesh government’s plea for a fresh trial rectifying the procedural lacunae.
"We are not willing to accept this submission at this belated stage. The incident occurred way back in the year 1979 and the appellant (Singh) has been facing trial or other legal proceedings for almost 32 years now and that too for being in possession of only half a bottle of liquor," the bench said, allowing Singh's appeal.
The court took into account the fact that the accused had already undergone five-and-a-half-month sentence.
"We find that the ends of justice require that this appeal should be allowed. We accordingly set aside the orders of the lower courts. The appellant is ordered to be acquitted," the SC said, ordering his forthwith release from jail.
Singh was arrested by the UP police and the state's excise department on August 11, 1979, for allegedly possessing half a bottle of illicit liquor along with certain implements used for manufacturing illicit liquor. He was convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment by a trial court under Section 60(2) of the UP Excise Act, 1910 and a sessions court and the Allahabad high court agreed with the trial court's findings in 1983 and 2010, respectively.
Singh's counsel had contended that his conviction was bad in law as the magistrate failed to properly record his statement under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code.