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Ramesh v. State - CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 2612 of 2001  RD-AH 1788 (28 July 2005)
This jail appeal arises out of the judgment and order of conviction and sentence dated 21.3.2001 passed by the VI Addl. Sessions Judge, Jhansi.
The brief facts leading to the prosecution of the appellant are that on 6.1.2000 the informant of this case, P.W. 1, Nijamuddin had boarded a train for travelling from Jhansi to Kulpahar when he happened to come across one person sitting by his side. After some time that person took out some biscuits and started consuming it. He thereafter asked the informant also to take biscuits and brought some tea from the platform. The complainant, after having consumed biscuits and tea, started feeling drowsy. He came down from the compartment and when he later on regained his consciousness he found himself admitted to the medical college. He was keeping a wallet in his pocket, which was taken out while he was getting out from the compartment. He had been brought to the hospital by some R.P.F. Personnel. After regaining consciousness, the informant lodged F.I.R. (Ext. Ka-1) on 8.1.2000 at the police station. As per the F.I.R. his wallet was containing his visiting card, one receipt of photo shop and cash of Rs. 200/- to Rs. 250/-. After registration of the case, the complainant was called by the G.R.P. on 13.1.2000 and was taken to Jhansi Railway Station at platform No. 3. While he was present with G.R.P. people, he noticed the appellant Ramesh sitting at platform No. 3 and he immediately recognized him as the person who had given him the poisonous biscuits and tea. The police immediately arrested the appellant and on inquiry from the appellant, he disclosed his name as Ramesh. In his personal search taken by the police, the appellant was found in possession of wallet, which he had picked from the pocket of complainant. The wallet contained some cash, one photograph of the complainant on which the name and address of P.W. 1 was found scribed in his hand writing and one receipt of the photo shop. The police thereafter sealed all those recovered articles on the spot and prepared recovery and arrest memo (Ext. Ka-2).
Going backward, Nijamuddin, the complainant (P.W.1) was brought to the casualty ward of Jhansi Medical College Hospital on 6.1.2000 where he was medically examined. He was brought there by Adit Kumar Rahul, who had informed that Nijamuddin was found slugging on the Railway platform and he was first admitted to railway hospital, Jhansi. The informant was unconscious at the time when he reached the casualty ward of medical college wherefrom he was initially treated by P.W. 5 Dr. Prem Bihari Manocha, who later on referred him to medicine unit of the hospital. Dr. Manocha found that some intoxicating substance had been induced to the patient and he accordingly prepared his medical report (Ext. Ka-7).
The matter was investigated by P.W. 6- Rajendra Singh Yadav, S.I. The investigation was initially started by S.I. Rajendra Kumar Tripathi (P.W. 3) but later on it was taken over by P.W. 6. The investigating officer collected all the evidence and after closing the investigation, he submitted charge sheet (Ext. Ka-8) in the court.
The appellant accused was charged for the offence punishable under Sections 379, 328 and 411 I.P.C. The accused did not plead guilty to the charge and in his subsequent statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C., he stated that he had been falsely implicated in this case.
The prosecution in support of its version has examined P.W. 1 Nijamuddin, the informant/complainant of this case, P.W. 2 Constable Ram Gopal, P.W. 3 Rajendra Kumar Tripathi, Investigating Officer, who had started the investigation and arrested the accused on identification of the complainant at platform No. 1 of Jhansi Railway Station, P.W. 4 Constable Ramesh Bharadwaj, who had prepared the chick F.I.R. (Ext. Ka-5) and registered the case in general diary (Ext. Ka-6), P.W. 5 Dr. Prem Bihari Manocha, who medically examined the complainant-Nijamuddin in emergency ward of medical hospital and P.W. 6 Rajendra Singh Yadav, S.I., who completed the investigation and submitted charge sheet (Ext. Ka-8).
The defence in support of its case has neither examined any witness nor proved any document.
The appellant accused has been in the lock up all along after his arrest by the police in this case. This appeal was preferred from jail. Since there was no counsel engaged by the appellant, Sri Utpal Chatterji, Advocate, was appointed Amicus Curiae to defend the appellant.
I have heard Sri Utpal Chatterji, Amicus Curiae, representing the appellant, learned A.G.A. and have perused the paper book and original record received from the trial court.
It is the case of F.I.R. that the complainant came across a stranger sitting by his side in a train compartment which he had boarded for his journey from Jhansi to Kulpahar District Mahoba. After some time that stranger took out some biscuits and started eating and also offered it to the complainant. The complainant took two biscuits given by him and thereafter he brought a cup of tea, which also the complainant consumed. Later on having felt some vertigo he got down from the compartment on the platform and subsequently his pocket was picked in which he was keeping cash and other articles. This incident took place on 6.1.2000 and after the complainant regained consciousness, he lodged a report on 8.1.2000. The complainant in his evidence before the trial court stated that after lodging of F.I.R. he, on being called by P.W. 3 (I.O.) came to Jhansi on 13.1.2000. He came to the railway station Jhansi where he met his father-in-law and maternal uncle. The Investigating Officer was also there along with them. They took him to the platform where the Investigating Officer pointed out to a person at platform No. 1 and asked him to recognize him if he is the man, who had given him intoxicating substance on the date of incident at the railway platform. P.W. 1 has further stated that he immediately recognized that person and told P.W. 3 that he was the man, who had induced that poisonous substance to him resulting into his ailments and later on his admission to the hospital for treatment. The man was immediately arrested at the platform. With the aforesaid evidence as advanced from the side of the prosecution, the learned Amicus Curiae has emphasised that such evidence in any case cannot be said to be a valid peace of evidence, which can ordinarily be accepted by the courts.
The appellant was not named in the F.I.R. As per the statement of P.W. 1, he was called by the police and was brought to the platform of railway station, Jhansi to identify the man if he was the person who had actually given him poisonous substance and had picked his wallet. P.W. 1 has also given out before the court that the Investigating Officer had taken him to platform No. 1 and indicated towards the person sitting there to identify him. Thereafter, he identified the accused appellant and his arrest was affected then and there leading to the recovery of his wallet and other articles. Subsequent to the arrest of the appellant, no formal procedure of his test identification has been got conducted by the Investigating Officer. It has to be found out if such identification, as has been done in this case by the complainant- P.W. 1, is an acceptable identification under the evidence law or not? The acceptable evidence in such matters is one which is collected on test identification conducted after observing certain formalities in jail or in any other place after mixing about 8 to 10 people of similar body features with the accused. If among those 8 to 10 persons the witness singles out the accused, such identification has been considered by the courts as correct identification of the person, who is not named in the F.I.R. lodged about an incident of theft or dacoity etc. If a person involved in such crime is not known to the witnesses from before and he is totally stranger, it is not an acceptable procedure for identification of the said accused by the witnesses, as has been done in this case. It is positive evidence of the complainant- P.W. 1 that the Investigating Officer along with other persons took him to the platform No. 3 of railway station, Jhansi and indicated towards the accused sitting at platform No. 1 to recognize if he was the person, who had given the poisonous biscuit and tea to him. On this pointing out of the Investigating Officer, the complainant recognized the appellant and his arrest and recovery were affected. This procedure of identification is wholly unknown to law of evidence and it has never been recognized by the courts as a valid peace of evidence to prove the guilt of theft or dacoity etc. against such unnamed accused. The course of procedure for valid identification is only that, which has been narrated above. The law of evidence though does not recognize the evidence of test identification as substantive evidence with an status of being a conclusive proof of the person identified as involved in the crime, yet it is definitely an age old occupied peace of corroborative evidence to support and substantiate the substantive evidence of the prosecution given before the court during the doc identification of culprit before the court. The part of substantive evidence for such identification is the evidence of concerned Magistrate, who supervises and conducts the test identification inside the lock up or any other closed premises. In this context reliance is placed on Ram Nath Mahto Vs. State of Bihar, AIR 1996 (S.C.) 2511. Such test identification is also relevant for the identification of the articles allegedly recovered from the culprit and it has to be done by the owner of that property in identification separately conducted. In absence of such identification of recovered articles, which are claimed to be the subject matter of the theft. In case such procedure has not undertaken, the value of substantive evidence led from the side of prosecution in that regard is also adversely affected.
Learned A.G.A. while placing his submission on this point has tried to take me to the evidence as given by P.W. 3 Rajendra Kumar Tripathi, the Investigating Officer, who has given out in his examination in chief that on the pointing out and due identification by the complainant on the platform, he had affected the arrest of the accused. He has also pointed out to the evidence of P.W. 2 Ram Gopal, who stated that it was the complainant Nijamuddin who had indicated towards the accused as a person who had offered him poisonous biscuit and tea on the date of incident. Thereafter only the arrest of the appellant was affected. It is true that these two witnesses have stated that the complainant Nijamuddin himself pointed out towards the accused and identified him whereafetr only his arrest was done. But contrary to this peace of evidence of P.W. 2 and P.W. 3, it is positive evidence of the complainant himself (P.W. 1) that a message was sent by the Investigating Officer to him to come to Jhansi and he came on 13.1.2000 to the railway station where he met his maternal uncle and his father-in-law and the Investigating Officer at railway platform. He has also stated this fact in the cross examination that it was the Investigating Officer who took him to the platform and had indicated towards the accused to identify him. This peace of evidence crystalises a very strong probability of the fact that when the complainant was sent words purposely by the Investigating Officer, the real idea behind it was to identify a person, who was under the suspicion ring of the police. Such procedure of identification, if has been adopted, the other evidence either in the form of substantive or corroborative, will loose major part of its value. On the basis of this identification, which has no place or recognition in the law of evidence, no conviction of the accused for the said offence of theft etc. can be recorded. Obviously, the Investigating Officer, if had some suspicion against one person about the offence having been committed by him, he could have very well arrested him and kept him 'ba-parda' (face concealed) to be produced later on for test identification to be conducted in the jail or at any other place under the supervision of a Magistrate. This procedure having not been adopted, the whole evidence of arrest of the appellant and his identification by the complainant becomes completely worthless. It should not have been accepted for recording his conviction in this case of theft or administration of any intoxicating or unwholesome drug etc.
As regards the recovery, which is claimed to have been affected at the railway platform after the arrest of appellant, this too has not been done properly and in all fairness. The evidence of identification of the accused by the complainant having been fully excluded for the purpose of its credibility, this recovery proceeding also becomes quite doubtful. If the police claims to have recovered some articles from a culprit accused for the offence of theft, such recovered articles must be put for test identification by the person, who claims its ownership. That procedure has not been adopted in this case with a lame excuse that the recovery was affected infront of complainant, who owned the property. This pretext cannot validate such procedure of identification of theft property if the police had recovered it from the possession of the accused. It was recovered by the police party. It is not a recovery done by the complainant himself. If the property so recovered was suspected to be the subject matter of theft, the same procedure of identification is available in law of evidence for it also as is to be adopted for identification of an accused. Those necessary formalities have not been gone into. This evidence of recovery and identification, thus also cannot be said to be acceptable peace of evidence to record conviction for the offence punishable under Section 411 I.P.C.
Besides the above there is another lacuna pointed out by Mr. Chatterji in the evidence of prosecution. He has referred to the statement of P.W. 2, Constable Ram Gopal, a witness of recovery, who has admitted in the cross examination that the arresting party did not offer its search to be taken by the accused before taking his search and making seizure of the wallet from the accused. The police personnel among themselves had not given their search to each other. He further referred to the statement of Investigating Officer- P.W. 3, who too has admitted in the cross examination that the police personnel among themselves did not give search to each other nor did they offer their search to be taken by the accused before recovery was made from him.
From perusal of the above peace of evidence of P.W. 3, it is more than obvious that the police before taking search of the accused, did not offer their search to be taken by him nor did they give their search to each other before that. The excuse, which has been given by P.W. 3, is that since it was a sudden arrest affected by the police, there was no occasion for giving search to each other by the police party nor there was an occasion for offering their search to be taken by the accused before recovery was affected. This lame excuse given by P.W. 3 is hardly acceptable. May be, the arrest of the accused was sudden but the recovery, which has been affected is a later act of police. If the police had made up its mind to take search of the accused, these procedural formalities were obviously required and in case it is not adopted, the credibility and probative value of the evidence advanced by the prosecution with regard to the search and seizure is lost to a very great extent. The courts in such circumstances have definitely no other option but to suspect its fairness.
Thus, from the aforesaid circumstances and facts, it is quite crystal that the prosecution has not given such evidence before the court which is actually worth acceptance for the purpose to record conviction of the appellant for the offence punishable under Sections 411 and 379 I.P.C. with which he was charged. Since the prosecution is not found to have succeeded to establish that it was the appellant accused, who had actually taken the wallet of the complainant from his pocket at the time of incident, such evidence would not lead the court to safely hold that this was the person, who had induced the poisonous biscuits and tea to the complainant. Therefore, the offence punishable under Section 328 I.P.C. with which the appellant was charged also cannot be safely held as proved against him beyond reasonable shadow to doubt.
Besides above, one further evidenciary infirmity has been pointed out by Mr. Chatterji, the learned Amicus Curiae, by drawing my attention to the evidence of P.W. 5 Dr. Prem Bihari Manocha wherein he has stated that the medical report of the complainant Nijamuddin is an attested copy of the medical report prepared by him (Ext. Ka-7). The original medical report was not brought before the trial court for proving this attested copy. Obviously, the character of this document (Ext. Ka-7) is not that of original. Under the evidence law, a copy of a particular document can be proved in evidence, after comparing it with the original in the court. It may be that Dr. Manocha might have compared this attested copy at the time of its preparation from the original, but it has not been compared while being proved as a valid peace of evidence before the court. Obviously, it is an illegal procedure adopted in this case. This short coming in the evidence of the prosecution further leads the court to hold that there is no proper proof of fact that the complainant Nijamuddin had been actually brought to the hospital in unconscious state as to corroborate this fact that he was induced with some poisonous substance prior to that.
Thus, in the aforesaid facts and circumstances, it so appears, that the prosecution has actually not succeeded to bring home the guilt for the offences with which the appellant was charged to the hilt and the trial court with such evidence does not appear to have rightly recorded the conviction of the appellant and passed the sentence upon him. The appellant deserves to be given benefit of doubt in this case and his jail appeal deserves to be accepted.
In result, the appeal is allowed and the judgment and order dated 21.2.2001 is hereby set aside. The appellant has been behind the bars all along after the date of arrest. He was awarded 5 years rigorous imprisonment on one count and two years on another count. Thus, the total period which had to be spent in the lock up was five years only. It appears that he has completed that period and he might have been released from jail. In case, he has not been released, the trial court shall look into the matter and pass suitable orders in accordance with law.
A certified copy of this judgment along with original record be immediately transmitted by the office to the Sessions Judge concerned for necessary compliance.
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