Recent Criminal Law Judgments of 2023

25 Oct 2023  Read 4986 Views

Studying recent judgments is very important for CLAT PG and other competitive exams in law. It's a gateway to fresh legal updates and evolving interpretations by the courts. 

Analyzing them sharpens our case evaluation skills, equipping us to tackle complex legal questions. For effective preparation, one must regularly read recent cases, create summaries, and go through the reasoning behind judgments. This not only enriches our legal knowledge but also boosts our analytical abilities, which is beneficial for all competitive exams.

Let's dive into these judgments.

List of Recent Cases 2023

1. Joseph Thomas v. State of Kerala, 2023

Court must allow accused to surrender under jurisdiction

Court: Kerala High Court, Justice K. Babu

Facts- The Court was reviewing a petition from a person who was the main defendant in a case filed by the Maradu Police Station. The case involved accusations under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, like Sections 451 (house trespass), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 509 (word, gesture or act to insult the modesty of woman) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In this case, the Kerala High Court emphasized that under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a court with the appropriate jurisdiction is obligated to allow an accused to surrender before it. Justice K Babu clarified that when an accused chooses to surrender to the relevant court, that court must either release the accused on bail or, if required, detain them for investigation or their safety.

Judgment- When the Code permits a person accused of an offence to surrender before the Court having jurisdiction over the subject matter, it cannot refuse permission. When an accused appears before the Court and applies for surrender, his prayer shall be accepted. When an accused surrenders before the Magistrate, the course to be adopted is either to release him on bail or remand him to custody for investigation or for any other purpose like keeping the prisoner safe,” the Court said in its order.

However, the Court made it clear that the position is different if the accused surrenders before a court having no jurisdiction in the case. The Court stated that “Then the Magistrate may refuse to take cognizance of his surrender on the ground that he has no jurisdiction in view of Section 56 of CrPC."

2. G. Vishakan v. State of Kerala & Ors., 2023

Journalist’s mobile phone can’t be seized without following procedure 

Court: Kerala High Court, Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan 

Facts- The court's ruling came in response to journalist G Vishakan's petition, where he alleged that on July 7th, three police officers entered his home without a search warrant and conducted a search without providing a reason. They later asked for his mobile phone and didn't follow the proper legal procedures, which Vishakan argued violated his rights.

Judgment- Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, in this case, emphasized that journalists often possess various types of information, including details about crimes. However, he clarified that merely having this information doesn't justify seizing a journalist's phone. The court recognized the vital role journalists play in providing accurate news. To quote the court, "Broadcasting unverified information isn't journalism. Having crime information doesn't mean a journalist's phone can be taken without following proper legal procedures." This highlights the court's commitment to protecting journalistic principles and ensuring that phone seizures of journalists adhere to the law.

In the course of the hearing, the court told the Station House Officer to provide a statement explaining why they took the petitioner's phone. The court planned to revisit the case to hear from both sides.

3. Loyola Selva Kumar v. Sharon Nisha 2021

Wife entitled to maintenance under Sec-125 CrPC even if marriage wasn't legal

Court: Madras High Court, Justice K. Murali Shankar

Facts- In this case, a wife sought maintenance for herself and her daughter under Section 125 CrPC, but the husband denied their marriage and paternity. The court found that the husband's attempt to avoid responsibility was dishonest, and he refused a DNA test. They ruled in favor of the wife and daughter, deeming them entitled to maintenance. The husband's appeal was dismissed.

Section 125 of the CrPC was created to support individuals who can't maintain themselves, primarily in legally recognized marriages. But recent court decisions, like the one in Loyola Selva Kumar v Sharon Nisha, have broadened its reach. This groundbreaking ruling affirmed that women in relationships resembling marriage, even if not legally recognized, have the right to maintenance. It's a shift from the old belief that only valid marriages qualified for such claims.

Judgment- The main issue was that can a wife be entitled to maintenance under S.125 CrPC if marriage is invalid? Madras HC answered In a criminal revision against the Family Court order granting maintenance of Rs. 10,000/- to the wife and to pay the entire arrears of maintenance amount within one month, Justice K. Murali Shankar held that even if marriage was not legal due to the existence of first marriage, the second wife and the children born out of the second marriage are entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 .

4. Pratibha Manchanda v. State of Haryana Court: Supreme Court 2023

Personal liberty important, but courts must also consider gravity of offence & impact on society

Court: Supreme Court of India, Justices Surya Kant, Dipankar Datta

Facts- In a significant legal case, the Supreme Court granted anticipatory bail to the respondents, who were accused of land-related offenses. These senior landowners asserted their unwavering ownership of the property for over 30 years, denying any sale or power of attorney agreements. When the property's ownership was apparently transferred to the respondents through a power of attorney, the appellants claimed the documents were forged. After the initial arrest, the respondents sought anticipatory bail, which was initially denied by the Additional Session Judge in Gurugram.

Judgment- Subsequently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted them anticipatory bail, a decision that was eventually challenged before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court's decision underscored the delicate balance between safeguarding individual rights and upholding public interest. Factors such as the seriousness of the alleged offense, its societal impact, potential tampering with evidence, and the accused's background and status were considered in ensuring a fair investigation while protecting the rights of the accused. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal and overturned the High Court's decision to grant pre-arrest bail to the respondent. 

5. State of Kerala v. Arumugham, 2023

Minor's consent immaterial, guardian's consent determining factor In kidnapping cases

Court: Kerala High Court, Justice K Babu

Facts- In a case involving five minor girls leaving their legal guardians' care for different men and locations, the accused faced charges of kidnapping and sexual assault. The court emphasized the importance of protecting minors and their guardians' rights, highlighting the significance of the terms "taking" or "enticing" in assessing the offense.

Judgment- Referring to precedents like State of Haryana v. Raja Ram, the court concluded that the kidnapping did fall under Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code. As a result, the court set aside the sessions court's order and directed further legal proceedings.

6. Abdul Ansar v. State of Kerala, 2023

Section 338 of IPC to be invoked if actions are found irresponsible and careless

Court: The Supreme Court of India, Justices Abhay S. Oka & Rajesh Bindal

Facts- In a 2005 incident, an eighth-grade student named Josia was tragically injured when she fell under the wheel of a bus driven by the accused No. 2 while trying to board. The court found the appellant negligent for not checking before signaling the driver, leading to the accident. 

Judgment- Josia sustained serious injuries, and the court invoked Section 338 of the IPC, resulting in a prison sentence of one year and a fine of Rs. 50,000. Though 17 years have passed, justice prevailed in this unfortunate case. The SC held that by failing to check for passenger boarding before signalling the driver, the appellant acted carelessly and negligently. According to Section 338 of the IPC, the offence carries a sentence of up to two years in prison.

7. Ramesh Kumar v. State NCT of Delhi, 2023

Don't grant bail in private cheating cases merely because accused promised to deposit money

Court: The Supreme Court of India, Justices S. Ravindra Bhat & Dipankar Datta

Facts- The property owner entered agreements with a builder for development. Complainants, who paid money to the builder, allegedly breached the agreement, leading to a civil suit. The owner sought relief under Section 438 of CrPC. The High Court imposed conditions, including monetary deposits. The owner appealed to the Supreme Court, challenging these conditions.

Judgment- In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court clarified that when considering pre-arrest bail under Section 438 of the CrPC, the courts should adhere to established criteria and should not impose conditions for the accused to deposit or pay the complainant. The emphasis is on fair evaluation rather than financial obligations when granting anticipatory bail, ensuring justice prevails.

The Supreme Court found fault with the High Court's decision to impose a deposit condition of Rs. 22,00,000 before granting bail, asserting that the dispute at hand was of a civil nature and not suitable for criminal proceedings. Citing the case of Munish Bhasin vs. State (NCT of Delhi), the court emphasized that neither the Sessions Court nor the High Court should impose unusual conditions when releasing an accused under Section 438 of CrPC.

Conclusion

Hence, by regularly reading, summarizing, and critically analyzing such recent cases, one can enhance their legal acumen, improve their problem-solving abilities, and confidently tackle the complex questions that may strike the question paper. It's a strategic approach that will not only broaden legal knowledge but also increase the chances of excelling in competitive law examinations.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 275 Post(s)

She is a Legal Content Manager at Finology Legal! With a Masters in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), a BBA.LL.B from ITM University, and patent analyst training from IIPTA, she truly specializes in her field. Her passion for IPR and Criminal laws is evident from her advanced certification in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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