Summary of Recent judgment

Case: Munna Pandey v. State of Bihar

Date of Order / Judgment: 4th September 2023.

The Matter Heard by Bench: Justices B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala and Prashant Kumar Mishra


In this case, the prisoner was sentenced to death for raping and murdering a 10- year-old girl. The appellant and the co-accused were charged with an offense punishable under Sections 376(2)(g), 302 read with Section 34, 120B of the IPC, and Section 4 of the POCSO Act. The appellant filed an appeal with the High Court after being aggrieved with the Trial Court’s decision passing the order for conviction and death sentence. The High Court dismissed the appellant convict’s appeal and upheld the death penalty imposed bythe Trial Court.


The issue in this case was that during the trial glaring contradictions between statements given by the witness to police during the initial investigation and their subsequent testimony in the court.

Observation of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was of the View that “There is in our opinion nothing in Section 162 of the CrPC which prevents a Trial Judge from looking into the papers of the chargesheet suomotu and himself using the statement of a person examined by the police recorded therein for the purpose of contradicting such person when he gives evidence in favour of the State as a prosecution witness. The Judge may do this or he may make over the recorded statement to the lawyer for the accused so that he may use it for this purpose. We also wish to emphasise that in many sessions cases when an advocate appointed by the Court appears and particularly when a junior advocate, who has not much experience of the procedure of the Court, has been appointed to conduct the defence of an accused person, it is the duty of the Presiding Judge to draw his attention to the statutory provisions of Section 145 of the Evidence Act.”


The court concluded that there are substantial flaws on the part of defence to prove major discrepancies in the form of material omissions surfacing from the prosecution witness’s oral testimony. As a result, the court set aside the case and sent it to the High Court to reconsider the death reference.