New Delhi: A criminal case cannot be dismissed merely because of delay in lodging a complaint if the delay has been reasonably explained, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
"The prosecution case cannot be rejected merely on the ground of delay since the complainant has reasonably explained the reasons for the delay," a bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi said.
The bench made the observation while upholding the conviction and the life sentence given to two male and two female members of a Tamil Nadu-based Ashram (hermitage) for beating a woman member to death.
"All the circumstances have been clearly discussed by the trial court and it rightly convicted and awarded appropriate sentence. The high court, as an appellate court, once again marshaled all the materials leading to the death of the deceased and confirmed the same. We fully concur with the said conclusion. Consequently, the appeals fail and are accordingly dismissed," the bench said.
The murder had taken place on April 8, 2000 morning when the accused members of the Ashram had gathered together and had beaten the victim to death and later cremated her body.
Prosecution had said the woman was murdered as she had threatened to disclose the alleged love affair between two senior members of the Ashram, affiliated to Sri Devi Maha Sannathi Temple at Govardhan Garden in Trichy.
The complainant who had witnessed the beating and had also heard the victim`s cries for help had lodged a complaint with the police nine days after the crime had taken place.