New Delhi, June 23 () The Supreme Court has acquitted a man and his son in a murder case, in which they were sentenced to life imprisonment 25 years ago, noting that the FIR was ante-timed, there was a delay in conducting post-mortem and difference in the name of the weapons of crime. The son died during the pendency of the appeal.
A bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal observed that the FIR had been ante-timed by police, from 1:50 p.m. to 9:00 a.m., to implicate Mohd Muslim and his son Shamshad. The bench said the time and date of murder in the FIR were mentioned as 9 a.m. on August 4, 1995, although the murder took place at 1.50 p.m.
In 1998, the trial court had convicted the father and son in the murder case and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The Allahabad High Court upheld the conviction and sentencing by the trial court. The accused father-son moved the apex court in 2011, however the son died in 2021 during the pendency of the appeal. Mohd Muslim is now aged about 79 years and has undergone six years of incarceration. He has been on bail since 2013.
“The Trial Court completely lost sight of the fact that not only the time has been changed but the word ‘PM’ has also been interpolated and converted into ‘AM’…the FIR has been ante-timed from 1:50 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.,” noted the bench.
According to the police, Altaf Hussain was murdered on his way to court over a land dispute with the accused. The bench noted that if the deceased was going to the court, it would have been early in the morning before the start of the court rather than in the afternoon that too in the post-lunch session.
“In order to justify that deceased Altaf Hussain was going to the court in the morning, the timing of the FIR has been changed to 9:00 a.m. Had the incident occurred in the morning before 9:00 a.m., and the police had arrived at the spot at 10:00 a.m., the dead body would have been sent to the mortuary immediately thereafter by the afternoon but this has not happened and the dead body of the deceased Altaf Hussain was sent to the mortuary late in the evening by which time it was too late to conduct the post-mortem which had to be postponed for the next day,” said the bench.
The bench noted that “even if it were to ignore other minor discrepancies in the oral evidence, the delay in conducting the post-mortem, the difference in the name of the weapons of crime, i.e., ‘tabal’ or ‘palkatia’ which are more or less similar types of instruments for cutting crops, etc. .. It is a case where the prosecution has miserably failed to prove that the accused appellants have committed the offence beyond any reasonable doubt.”
Acquitting the appellant, the top court said: “A bare perusal of the aforesaid FIR clearly shows that there is some interpolation in the time of its lodging mentioned therein. It is evident from the naked eye that ‘1’ has been converted into ‘9’ and ‘5’ has been rounded off to make ‘0’ whereas ‘PM’ has been converted into ‘AM’. In other words, 1:50 p.m. has been changed to 9:00 a.m. This is abundantly clear from the FIR and there cannot be two opinions on that.”