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STATE OF U.P. versus INDRAPAL

High Court of Judicature at Allahabad

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State Of U.P. v. Indrapal - GOVERNMENT APPEAL No. 2601 of 2002 [2005] RD-AH 5666 (11 November 2005)

 

This is an UNCERTIFIED copy for information/reference. For authentic copy please refer to certified copy only. In case of any mistake, please bring it to the notice of Joint Registrar(Copying).

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF ALLAHABAD

Reserved

1.Government  Appeal No. 2498 of 2000

      State of U.P. .................................................Appellant

Versus

     Swami Deen and 5 others ...............................Respondents

2.Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002

     State of U.P. .................................................Appellant Versus

    Indrapal.........   ......................................... Respondent.

Hon'ble M.C. Jain, J.

Hon'ble B.B. Agarwal, J.

(Delivered by Hon'ble M.C. Jain, J.)

    Both these appeals arise out of the same incident, though the accused Swami Deen, Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das, Ramesh alias Zalim, Ram Ratan, Asha Ram and Ram Swarup (six accused respondents in Government Appeal No. 2498 of 2000) were tried jointly in Sessions Trial Nos. 289 of 1995 and 59 of 1997 and acquitted  by Special Judge (D.A.A), Hamirpur  by judgment dated 19.5.2000 and the accused respondent Indrapal was tried before the same Court in a separate Sessions Trial No. 59 of 2000 and acquitted by judgment and order dated 28.2.2002. The reason of his having been tried separately was that he had earlier absconded and could not be committed to be tried with the other accused of this case. Indrapal surrendered before C.J.M. Hamirpur on 2.6.2000 after the other co-accused of this case had earlier been acquitted on 19.5.2000. His case was then committed to the Court of Sessions Judge the same day. There was yet eighth accused of the felony, namely, Ram Kishore who died during the course of investigation.

Since the two appeals pending before us relate to the same incident, We have heard them together and are deciding the same by this common judgment. Regard is, however, to be had to this aspect of the matter that the evidence is in two sets i.e., one adduced at the trial of the accused respondents other than Indrapal  and the other in the subsequent trial of Indrapal.

 We first give thumbnail  sketch of the case as per the F.I.R. and the evidence adduced in the court for proper appreciation of subsequent discussion that will follow. For the sake of brevity, the appellants would hitherto be referred to as accused. Ram Ratan accused is the father. Asha Ram, Ram Swarup and Indrapal accused are his sons. The accused Ram Kishore (who died during investigation) was also the son of Ram Ratan. The other three accused Swami Deen, Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das and Ramesh alias Zalim being strangers are not connected with the family of Ram Ratan. Swami Deen and Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das are of Banda and Ramesh alias Zalim is of Hamirpur. They are not named in the F.I.R. Rather their implication is based on identification. The deceased of the incident was Kishanu Babu, brother of eyewitness Vishnu Shankar PW 1.  

In Sessions Trial No.59 of 2000 relating to Indrapal, only two witnesses were examined by the prosecution, namely, Vishnu Shankar PW 1 and Munnu Singh PW 2. Vishnu Shankar was PW 1 in earlier Sessions Trial also but Munnu Singh was examined as PW 6 in the earlier sessions trial.

The incident occurred on 21.3.1995 at about 7.15 P.M. in village Sisolar within Police Station Sisolar, District Hamirpur and the written first information report was lodged by the deceased's brother Vishnu Shankar PW 1 the same night at 8.05 P.M. The informant Vishnu Shankar was resident of village Sisolar and was doing iron business in Mohada. Since he had landed property in Sisolar also, he used to visit it frequently. The accused Ram Ratan was his neighbour in village Sisolar. The relations between the two families were strained over the dispute of a chabutara. On the ill-fated day at about 5 P.M. he with Rama Shankar Shivhare had reached Sisolar. Kishanu Babu deceased used to reside at Sisolar itself. He and his brother were conversing inside channelled gate verandah of their house. A little while later, Munnu Singh PW 6 and his cousin brother Yogendra Singh PW 4 also joined them there. At about 7 P.M., the deceased Kishanu Babu got up and went to his neighbour Natthu Singh Soni's house. After about 15 minutes his shrieks were heard. He was crying to be rescued from the miscreants. The first informants and the witnesses named above ran from their house to the direction of the shouts and saw that two outlaws armed with double barrel guns and third one with rifle had tied up Kishanu Babu with rope and were taking him towards his (Kishanu's) house. Kishanu Babu somehow broke the rope with which he had been tied and ran towards the Police Station, shouting. However, Ram Ratan armed with a single barrel gun and  Ram Swarup armed with rifle  were standing under the Neem tree in front of their house and on the other side near the heap of bricks of the informant, Ram Kishore armed with double barrel gun, Indrapal armed with licensed double barrel gun and Asha Ram armed with countrymade pistol were present. As soon as Kishanu Babu fled towards the Police Station rescuing himself from the outlaws, all the armed accused cried hoarse that he should be done to death. The informant and other witnesses also ran after Kishanu but Ram Ratan and his four sons named above started indiscriminate firing on Kishanu who receiving the shots fell down near the heap of bricks and died. The accused persons made their escape good.

The investigation followed as usual (after the lodging of the F.I.R.) having been started by Lalit Kumar Rathore, PW 13 (in Sessions Trial No. 289 of 1995). The second Investigating Officer was S.I. J.P. Singh PW 10. Unnamed three culprits, Swami Deen, Ravi Sada Shiv Balak Das and Ramesh alias Zalim came to be arrested later on. Swami Deen was arrested on  20.5.1995 in some other case and his complicity in this crime came to light. He was put up for test identification on 8.8.1995. Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das was also arrested in some other crime on 20.5.1995 and put up for test identification on 6.7.1995. Ramesh alias Zalim was arrested on 26.7.1996 and put up for identification on 30.7.1996.

It is also pertinent to state that from the spot, the Investigating Officer Lalit Kumar Rathore PW 13 had collected 7 empty cartridges (4 from near the heap of bricks and 3 from near the Neem tree) on 22.3.1995. They were sealed and Fard Ex. Ka-17 was prepared. Later on the same were sent to ballistic expert for comparison with recovered weapons. Bloodstained and simple earth had also been collected by him from the spot. In the same context, it is necessary to state that the same Investigating Officer through Fard Ex.Ka-19 recovered three arms from the house of one of the accused Ram Kishore in village Modaha. They were standard weapons as detailed below .

S.N.

Description of weapon

Number of weapon

Name of Licence holder

1.

DBBL gun

17590-93

Ram Kishore (who died during investigation.

2.

DBBL gun

10940-93

Indrapal

3.

SBBL gun

2202

Ram Ratan

As has come in evidence and also recorded in Fard of recovery,  the accused Ram Kishore, Indrapal and Ram Ratan were found sitting in a room but on spotting the police with witnesses, they managed to escape through the staircase after leaving the firearms in the room itself. Vishnu Shankar PW 1 was one of the witnesses of such recovery. These weapons as also 7 empty cartridges recovered from the spot by the Investigating Officer were sent to ballistic expert for comparison. The ballistic expert  Ramesh Kumar Rawat was examined as PW 15 in Sessions Trial No. 289 of 1995 and his report is Ex. Ka-25. On comparison and testing, it was found that two of the cartridges recovered from the spot, EC-I and EC-7 had been discharged from DBBL gun no. 10940-93, licence holder of which was Indrapal. The remaining empty cartridges recovered from the spot could not be correlated to have been fired from any of the three recovered firearms.

The post mortem over the dead body of the deceased was conducted by Dr. R.S. Gupta, PW 5 on 22.3.1995 at 2.30 P.M. The deceased was aged about 34 years and about one day had passed since he died.  The following ante mortem injuries were found on his person:

(1)Gunshot wound of entry 3 cm x 2 cm x penetrating to chest, right side 3 cm outer to nipple. No blackening, margin inverted, route of bullet passing through 5th inter costal space passing through lungs (lacerated), pressing the heart which was found lacerated, 5th  rib fractured on the right side.

(2)Gunshot wound of exit 3.5 cm  x 2.5cm on the left axilla, margin everted.

(3)Gunshot wound of entry 6 cm x 2 cm x penetrating to arm, inner side of left arm. No blackening and tattooing.

(4)Gunshot wound of exit 6 cm x 5 cm on the outer side of left upper arm, 12 cm below shoulder joint. Margins everted.

(5)Gunshot wound of entry 3 cm x 1.5 cm penetrating to chest right axilla, margin inverted, no blackening and tattooing.

(6)Gunshot wound of exit 3.5 cm x 2.5 on the back of lateral side of chest 2 cm below lower angle of scapula.

(7) Abrasion 7cm x 2 cm on the lateral side of chest, 15 cm below from upper part of Ant. Axillary fold.

(8)Gunshot wound of entry 2.5  cm x 2 cm penetrating to right arm on the inner side , 11 cm above elbow joint. One bullet with wading found lodged in the right arm.

Thus, the post mortem report shows that the deceased had received three gunshot wounds of entry with corresponding exists and yet another gunshot wound of entry penetrating to right arm (ante mortem injury no.8). The deceased had died due to shock and haemorrhage as a result of ante mortem injuries on vital parts.

The defence was of denial and false implication.

At the trial the prosecution in all examined 16 witnesses in support of its case in Sessions Trial No. 289 of 1995 and 59 of 1997 (decided on 19th May 2000). Apart from the witnesses related to formal evidence as also of the arrest including the identification of the unnamed three accused and the other link evidence, the eyewitnesses examined by the prosecution were Vishnu Shankar PW 1, Nathu Ram PW 2, Harish Chandra PW 3, Yogendra Singh PW 4 , Munnu Singh PW 6 and Shanti Devi PW 16 (mother of the deceased). As mentioned earlier, two eyewitnesses were examined in S.T.No.59 of 2000 State Vs. Indrapal. They were Vishnu Shankar PW 1 and Munnu Singh PW 2 (who was PW 6 in earlier S.T.No. 289 of 1995)

            Another aspect which we should record is that in Sessions Trial No. 59 of 2000 related to Indrapal accused, there was a direction of this Court for deciding the case within six months. It is mentioned in the order sheet of the lower court dated 18.1.2002 that the complainant's brother had seriously been injured in a road accident while returning from Allahabad and for that reason, he and his mother (eyewitness) could not come. That application was opposed from the side of the accused. The accused had already filed the certified copies of the entire evidence recorded in the earlier trial no. 289 of 1995 in which the other five accused had been tried and acquitted. The prosecution had even dispensed with formal proof of the same. Therefore, the trial court closed the evidence of the prosecution and fixed 23.11.2002 for the statement of Indrapal under section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure with an observation that in case of the prosecution witnesses turning up on that date, their evidence would be recorded. Vishnu Shankar had already been examined as PW 1 on 4.9.2001/7.12.2001/12.12.2001 and the other witness Munnu Singh as PW 2 ( who had earlier been examined in the earlier Sessions Trial as PW 6) on 9.1.2002. So,s- the certified copies of the evidence recorded in earlier Sessions Trial are there on the record of the case of the subsequent trial of Indrapal (having been filed by Indrapal himself). The genuineness of the same was admitted to both the partiesss. It inter alia included the report of the ballistic expert Ramesh Kumar Rawat PW 15. It is also pertinent to state here that the informant Vishnu Shankar PW 1 (one of the witnesses of the recovery of DBBL gun No. 10940 of 1993 of which Indrapal was the licence holder) was examined as PW 1 in the trial of Indrapal also in which he specifically proved the DBBL gun (licence holder of which was Indrapal accused) as having been used by him (Indrapal) in shooting his brother. This gun was produced before the court at the time of his trial from the sealed bundle.

The trial court recorded acquittal along with those broad lines: the statement of eyewitnesses were contradictory and their presence was unnatural; the investigation was faulty; the prosecution story was improbable; motive was insufficient; no reliance could be placed as to the implication of the unnamed three accused also; the recovery of empty cartridges from the spot and guns from the house of the accused Ram Kishore was also suspicious.

We have heard Miss N.A. Moonis from the side of the State and Sri M.D. Misra, learned counsel for the complainant and V.P. Srivastava has been heard from the side of the accused in two appeals. The record has carefully been perused by us.

From the side of the State the findings of the trial Judge acquitting the accused has been assailed to be erroneous, perverse, illegal being based on faulty appreciation of evidence. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the accused respondents has urged that the trial Judge has taken proper view on judicious appraisal of the evidence. He urged that the findings recorded by him are quite apt, justified and reasonable. He stressed that it is not a case of perversity or misreading of evidence warranting any interference by court of appeal.

These being appeals against acquittal, we are well conscious of the scope of consideration. At the same time, it has to be made clear as is well settled by a catena of decisions that in an appeal against acquittal, the appellate court is entitled to reappreciate the evidence on record. Of course, it would not interfere with the order of acquittal unless it finds the view of the court acquitting the accused to be unreasonable  and perverse. With this approach we examine the important aspects of the case having regard to the evidence, findings of the court below and the arguments of the learned counsel for the parties.

Taking the question of motive first, it is hidden spring of human action and is not easily fathomable. Moreover, motive is not evidence in a case. Further, motive is insignificant in a case of direct evidence. The prosecution can only put forth the earlier background as known which had been done in the present case that there was enmity between the family of the deceased and the informant on one hand and Ram Ratan on the other over some dispute of Chabutara. Enmity, in fact, was an admitted fact in this case because by and large the accused belonging to the family of Ram Ratan and his sons also pleaded  false implication owning to enmity. Therefore, the prosecution case could not be thrown over board owing to absence or alleged insufficient motive.

Any defect/fault in investigation either could not be a ground for acquittal. The entire situation and scenario are required to be viewed as a whole. The court has to be careful in examining the evidence so as not to acquit those involved in ghastly crimes . The Apex Court has ruled in a number of cases that merely because investigation was faulty, should not be a ground for acquittal because of rule or seeming. Some defect in investigation could not justify acquittal by ignoring the convincing evidence of eyewitnesses proving the guilt of all or some of the accused arraigned in a crime. It is the duty of the court to separate the chaff from the grain so as to act on acceptable truth while rejecting the rest. The shortcut approach to back acquittal by hairsplitting of the evidence cannot be approved as has been done by the trial court in this case to grant acquittal to the accused Indrapal by ignoring clinching, satisfactory and convincing evidence against him. We would indicate the same in succeeding discussion.

DISCUSSION IN RESPECT OF (1) ACCUSED SWAMIDEEN (2) RAVI           SADASHIV BALAKDAS AND (3) RAMESH ALIAS ZALIM (UNNAMED ACCUSED)

We first take up the case of unnamed accused respondents Swami Deen, Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das and Ramesh alias Zalim. Swami Deen and Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das were allegedly arrested in some other case on 20.5.1995. Swami Deen was put up for identification on 8.8.1995. There were four identification witnesses against him, namely, Nathu Ram PW 2, Harish Chandra PW 3, Yogendra Singh PW 4 and Smt. Shanti Devi PW 16. Sadashiv was put up for identification on 6.7.1995.  He was correctly identified by Munnu Singh PW 6. Ramesh alias Zalim was lodged in jail on 27.7.1996 and put up for identification on 30.7.1996. He was correctly identified by Vishnu Shankar PW 1 and Munnu Singh, Yogendra and Shanti Devi PW 16. The learned counsel for the accused respondents has argued that there was insufficient delay in the holding of identification parade of these witnesses and as such, no reliance could be placed on the testimony of the identifying witnesses so far as they were concerned. Learned A.G.A. and learned counsel for the complainant have countered this argument by relying on the decision in the case of Pramod Mandal Vs. State of Bihar 2004 (50) ACC 882 to stress the point that delay in holding the identification could not at all be material.      

The gist of the law laid down by the Supreme Court through this case is that it is neither possible nor prudent to lay down any invariable rule as to the period within which a test identification parade must be held or the number of witnesses who must correctly identify the accused to sustain his conviction. These matters must be left to the course of fact to decide in the facts and circumstances of each case . The reason has been given that if a rule is laid down prescribing a period within which a test identification must he held , it would only benefit  the professional criminals in whose cases arrest are delayed as the police has no clear clue about their identity, they being persons unknown to the victims. Therefore, they have only to avoid their arrest for the prescribed period to avoid conviction. Similarly, there may be offences which by their very nature may be witnessed by a single witness, such as rape. The offender must be unknown to the victim and the case solely depends on the identification by the victim who is otherwise found to be truthful and reliable. No justification can be pleaded to support the contention that such cases must necessarily result in acquittal because there being only one identifying witness. Prudence, therefore, demands that these matters must be left to the wisdom of the courts of fact which must consider all aspects of the matter in the light of evidence on record before pronouncing upon the acceptability or rejection of such identification.

There can be no debate that the law declared by the Supreme Court is binding through the country. But in the present case, the unnamed accused Swami Deen, Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das and Ramesh alias Zalim could not be held to be guilty on the basis of cumulative consideration of the evidence and other attending circumstances. In the F.I.R., no details about feature, built up, gait etc. had been given about the unnamed three accused. The prosecution case relating to the part allegedly played by them was also not convincing. As per the prosecution case, they were the criminals hired by other accused (Ram Ratan and his sons). They had allegedly gone to the house of Nathu Ram PW 2, where the deceased had reached a shortwhile before and was playing cards there as stated by Nathu Ram PW 2 and Harish Chandra PW 3. As depicted in the site plan, prepared by the Investigating Officer, the house of Nathu Soni PW 2 was at a distance oF 84 paces towards west southern side from the house of the deceased and the informant. The house of the accused Ram Ratan and his sons was just adjacent in the south to the house of the deceased and the informant. The incident occurred in the close neighbourhood of the house of the accused. There was a Rasta from the house of Natthu Soni towards the eastern side so as to reach the house of the deceased in the north east side and to the Police Station in east southern side. Two of the unknown culprits were allegedly armed with DBBL guns and the third one had a rifle. They tied up the deceased with a rope and started taking him up towards his house. The deceased raised shouts attracting the other witnesses (Vishnu Shankar PW 1, Yogendra Singh PW 4 and Munnu Singh PW 6). The evidence is that in the way the deceased succeeded in releasing himself after freeing himself from the rope with which he was tied and started running towards Police Station and those three unknown culprits then left the scene. The role of three unknown assailants ended there as the evidence is that then they ran away.

 The part assigned to the three unknown culprits is wholly illogical  against natural human conduct. It does not at all have the attraction of logics that the other accused Ram Ratan and his sons would have employed these three  unknown culprits only for the purpose of kidnapping him from the house of Natthu Soni at the gun point. They were hired and were deadly armed. They would have done him to death at the house of Natthu Soni itslef. It also does not get down the throat that they had tied the victim in such a clumsily manner that he could rescue himself after breaking open the rope. If it is taken for a moment that he had done so, then they would have used their guns at that time or when the deceased had broke open the rope and started running towards the Police Station. But the role assigned to them is that despite being deadly armed, they retreated to the opposite direction towards western side of Rasta. Not only this, it is the own case of the prosecution that the deceased had gone to the house of Natthu Soni while conversing with Vishnu Shankar PW 1, Nathu and Yogendra inside the channelled verandah of the house, then it is not so that the three unknown persons had at first gone to the house of the deceased in his search and not finding him there and on being known of his having been present at the house of Natthu Soni, had reached there to pick him up. Then, judged in the right perspective, it does not answer the test of probability that they could abruptly reach with arms the house of Nathu Soni to kidnap the deceased therefrom to be murdered by hirers. There is no other circumstance either to connect these unknown three accused with the crime in question. Therefore, their acquittal recorded by the trial court does not call for any interference in this appeal.

DISCUSSION REGARDING ACCUSED RAMRATAN,  ASHARAM AND RAMSWAROOP (NAMED accused)

We now take up the case of the accused Ram Ratan and his sons Asha Ram and Ram Swarup, who too are accused respondents in Government Appeal No. 2498 of 2002. His another son Ram Kishore already died during investigation. For the sake of clarity, we mention here that the case of Indrapal (another son of Ram Ratan) who is accused respondent in Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002 shall be dealt with separately. He faced trial in Sessions Trial No. 59 of 2000 and was acquitted by judgment dated 28.2.2002.

So to revert to the point, eyewitness account of the incident was rendered by Vishnu Shankar PW 1 (informant and brother of the deceased), Harish Chandra PW 3, Yogendra Singh PW 4, Munnu Singh PW 6 and Smt. Shanti PW 16 (mother of the deceased). The well explained their presence at the spot. Vishnu Shankar PW 1 used to carry on iron business at Modaha but he clearly stated that he and his family had agricultural land in village Sisolar where the incident took place. The family originally  hailed from village Sisolar. On the fateful day, lhe had come from Modaha at about 5 P.M. with Ramashankar and Sheo Hare from Modaha to Sisolar on scooter. The shouts raised by the victim had attracted him to the scene of occurrence while he was seated inside the channelled verandah of his house. Yogendra Singh PW 4, Munnu Singh PW 6 and Shanti Devi PW 16 also rushed towards the scene of occurrence and allegedly saw the shooting of the deceased by them and by Indrapal and Ram Kishore--another son of Ram Ratan who died during the investigation. Ram Swarup was allegedly armed with rifle, Ram Ratan with a single barrel gun beneath the Neem tree wherefrom they fired. On the other side, near the heaps of bricks were Ram Kishore, Asha Ram (and Indrapal). Ram Kishore had double barrel gun and Asha Ram had a countrymade pistol ( and Indrapal had a double barrel gun). It came down from his cross-examination that Sisolar was at about 15 Kms. from Modaha coverable in about half an hour by scooter. The argument of the learned counsel for the accused respondents is not sustainable that his presence at the spot was doubtful. He emphatically stated that his was a joint family and some members were residing in Sisolar while others at Modaha. The trial court was not justified to doubt the presence of this witness on the spot on the ground that his shop was open on that date. We note that it wrongly read the time of closure of shop at 7-7 ½ P.M. though it was stated to be 6-6 ½ by Vishnu Shankar PW 1. Anyway, having started from Modaha at about 5.30 PM, there was nothing unnatural of having witnessed the incident at 6.45 in the evening. However, the trial Judge ignored this part of his testimony that  some members of his family used to reside at Modaha and some at Sisolar. Not only this, it was specifically stated by Yogendra Singh PW 4 cousin brother of the deceased and Vishnu Shankar PW 1 that in the absence of Vishnu Shankar PW 1 his iron shop at Modaha was used to be looked after by his Munim and brother Shiv Shankar.

There was no reason to discard and doubt the presence of Yogendra Singh PW 4 also at the scene of occurrence. Though he was the cousin brother of the deceased and Vishnu Shankar PW 1, he was resident of village Lewa where also the family of the deceased had agricultural land. The distance of village Leva from Sisolar was only about 12 Km. and he had reached Sisolar from Leva by cycle. Harvesting of crops was in progress in Leva and on the day of the incident, it took place till noon. The reason of his visit to Sisolar on that day was that the crop of the family of the deceased in one field situated at Leva was ripe for harvesting. Harvesting had already taken place in the neighbouring fields and damage was being caused to the crop in the field of the deceased and his family. Therefore, he had gone to Sisolar to inform the family of the deceased and Vishnu Shankar PW 1 to get their crop in the field of Leva harvested so as to save the damage. His testimony could not be disbelieved simply because he was the relative of the deceased and Vishnu Shankar PW 1.

Munnu Singh PW 6 was present at the Chabutara of Kishanu Babu at the time of the incident. A little while ago, he had given foder to the cattle of Kishanu. True, he admitted that at times he used to work as labourer in the family of Vishnu Shankar PW 1. Vishnu Shankar PW 1 (examined on 6.11.1997 also stated that Munnu Singh PW 6 had been working as his servant but the point of the matter is that he was the resident of the same village and his presence at the spot was quite probable.

So was the case about the presence of the fourth eyewitness, namely, Shanti Devi PW 16. She stated that she was sitting near the channeled Verandah of her house when she heard the shouts of Kishanu and came to the triangle (spot). She testified to have seen the shooting of her son by these accused and Indrapal. There was nothing unnatural that she was in Sisolar in the days of the incident. At times, she used to divide her living between Sisolar and Modaha where the members of her joint family resided.

These four eyewitnesses of shooting, namely,  Vishnu Shankar PW 1, Yogendra Singh PW 4, Munnu Singh PW 6 and Shanti Devi PW 16  were subjected to grueling and lambaste cross-examination but nothing tangible came out to create a ripple as to their presence at the spot.

However, it has to be taken note of that all of them spoke about indiscriminate firing by Ram Ratan, Asha Ram, Ram Swarup, Ram Kishore (deceased son of Ram Ratan) and Indrapal--another son of Ram Ratan who is accused respondent in Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002. There is no clear evidence on this aspect of the matter as to how many shots were fired by individual accused; whether all the shots fired by them hit the victim or some of them missed the target. A look at the post mortem report of the deceased would show that he had received four gunshot wounds of entry (ante mortem injuries no. 1,3,5 and 7). Looking to the dimensions of the gunshot injuries they could be the result of three or at the most four shots. As would appear from the post mortem report of the deceased, the gunshot injuries sustained by the deceased are disproportionate and incompatible with the participation of as many as five persons resorting to indiscriminate firing. We are of the opinion that chaff and grains are so inexplicably mixed so far as the accused Ram Ratan and Ram Swarup -accused respondents in Criminal Appeal No. 2498 of 2000 are concerned. It would be recalled that Ram Ratan and his four sons allegedly resorted to indiscriminate shooting killing the victim. Enmity between the two sides is an admitted fact. The experience shows that when there is enmity between the prosecution side and the accused, in that eventuality, there is a tendency to include innocent with the guilty. The only real safeguard against the risk of connecting the innocent with the guilty lies in insisting on acceptable evidence satisfying the conscience of the court. In such case, no doubt the prosecution witnesses claimed to have seen the occurrence involving all the accused, but it is safe to convict only such accused who is or are clinchingly established to have taken active part in the commission of crime.

 In the present case, the SBBL gun of Ram Ratan seized by the Investigating Officer  and sent to ballistic expert could also not be connected to have been used in this crime and so was the case with the DBBL gun whereof the deceased accused Ram Kishore was the licence holder. The point that we wish to make is that there is no other circumstance excepting the testimony of the above named eyewitnesses to connect Ram Ratan, Asha Ram and  Ram Swarup as being                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        involved in the commission of this crime. It also sounds to be improbable that Ram Ratan and his four sons (almost the entire set of male members ot family) would take it into their heads to participate in the murder of the deceased, which job could have been accomplished by one or two of them only. Of course, the case of Indrapal accused (respondent in Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002 stands on different footing which we shall discuss hereinafter. But so far as the accused Ram Ratan, Asha Ram and Ram Swarup are concerned, they deserve to be extended the benefit of doubt as truth and falsehood are thickly mixed so far as they are concerned.

          Sri M.D. Misra, counsel for the complainant has cited the following cases..

1.1993 (30) ACC 148. Jarnail Singh vs. State of Haryana

2. 1996 SCC(Crl) 249  Dr. Krishna Pal and another vs. State of U.P.

3.1976 SCC (crl) 436, Kartar Singh vs. State of Punjab

        We have carefully gone through the said authorities and find that the same are not applicable to the facts of the instant case.

CONCLUSION IN RESPECT OF GOVERNMENT APPEAL NO. 2498 OF 2000

In view of the above reasons given by us in the foregoing discussion we are in judgment that the acquittal of the accused involved as respondents in Government Appeal No. 2498 of 2002, namely, Swami Deen, Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das, Ramesh alias Zalim, Ram Ratan, Asha Ram and Ram Swarup call for no interference by this court in appeal.

DISCUSSION IN RESPECT OF ACCUSED INDRAPAL RESPONDENT IN GOVERNMENT APPEAL NO. 2601 OF 2002

Now we take up Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002 in which Indrapal (another son of Ram Ratan) is arrayed as respondent. He has been acquitted by the judgment dated 28.2.2002. IN this case the eyewitness account was rendered by Vishnu Shankar PW 1 (informant) also examined as PW 1 in S.T.Nos. 289 of 1995 and 59 of 1997) and Munnu Singh PW 2 (who had been examined as PW 6 in S.T. Nos. 289  of 1995 and 59 of 1997).

The learned counsel for the accused respondent Indrapal has argued that the decision of this Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002 has to be confined to the evidence of Sessions Trial No. 59 of 2000, in which he was tried. It does not need any debate indeed. But it has to be kept in mind that it is the celebrated principle of law that the facts admitted need not be proved. Section 58 of the Indian Evidence Act provides that no facts need be proved in any proceedings which the parties thereto admit. This principle applies to civil and criminal matters alike. Section 58 of the Evidence Act has been applied in criminal cases also in a number of decided cases.

Reference should also here be made to some other provisions contained in Indian Evidence Act. Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act contemplates that when any fact is specially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. Illustration (b) of the said Section is like this:

(a)..............................

(b)"A is charged with travelling on a railway without a ticket. The burden of proving that he had a ticket is on him."  

           Section 134 of the Indian Evidence Act provides that no particular number of witnesses shall in any case be required for the proof of any fact. In any proceedings, it is not the number of witnesses which counts for success. Instead, the quality of the testimony counts. A fact may be proved by a single witness or may remain unproved even where hundreds of witnesses have deposed to in proof of that fact.

Coming to the factual matrix, the ocular testimony of Vishnu Shankar PW 1 and Nathu Ram PW 2 clinchingly proved the participation of the present accused respondent Indrapal in the murder of the deceased Kishanu Babu by shooting on the given date, time and place. Their presence at the spot could not at all be doubted and we have dwelt on this aspect of the matter in detail touching their presence while dealing with their evidence in other Government Appeal No. 2498 of 2000. The substantial evidence given by these two witnesses in both the appeals is almost the same. In the present case, the accused respondent Indrapal himself filed the certified copy of the statements of all the witnesses examined in Sessions Trial No.289 of 1995 (marked Ex.Kha6 to Kha-16). The factum is recorded on the order sheet dated 18.1.2002 also by the trial court that the same had been filed by the accused respondent Indrapal and the prosecution side had formally admitted the same and they have been exhibited. This statements included those of the Investigating Officer S.I. Lalit Kumar Rathore (marked Ex.Kha-13), who was examined in Sessions Trial No. 289 of 1995 as PW 13 and of the  ballistic expert Ramesh Kumar Rawat (Ex.Kha-15). Furthermore, the prosecution side also filed the certified copies of the exhibited documents of Sessions Trial No. 289 of 1995 which came to be exhibited as Ex.Ka-1 to Ka-12. They  inter alia included the F.I.R. three fards of recovery,  post mortem report, site plan and the report of ballistic expert. They have been marked in the present Sessions Trial No. 59 of 2000 as Ex. Ka-1, Ka-3, Ka-4, Ka-5, Ka-6, Ka-7 and Ka-9 respectively.

The certified copies of the statements of the witnesses filed by the accused meant that the accused respondent was relying upon them, keeping in view section 58 of the Indian Evidence Act. True, the substantial eyewitness in the Sessions Trial relating to the accused respondent Indrapal was rendered by Vishnu Shankar PW 1 and Nathu Ram PW 2 but the documents proved on the record of S.T. No. 259 of 1995  by the prosecution (copies whereof were filed by the prosecution in Sessions Trial of Indrapal) could be relied on for limited purpose, i.e., that seven empty cartridges had been collected by the Investigating Officer from the spot of the incident and 3 guns were seized from the house of co-accused Ram Kishore out of which Indrapal accused was licence holder of DBBL gun no. 10940/93. They were sent to ballistic expert and as per the report of the ballistic expert Ramesh Chandra Rawat (examined in previous S.T.No. 289 of 1995 as PW 15), a certified copy of whose statement came to be filed by Indrapal accused himself, and the report of ballistic expert proved that two of the cartridges recovered from the spot (EC-1 and EC-7) had been shot from DBBL Gun No. 10940/93 of which Indrapal was the owner and licence holder. Section 293 Cr.P.C. would also come in aid for taking into account the report of the ballistic expert qua the accused Indrapal Singh who is respondent in Government Appeal No.2601 of 2002. Really speaking, this is corroborative evidence clinchingly establishing that one of the shooters was Indrapal involved in the murder of Kishanu Babu. The greater possibility was that some other member(s), i.e., his father or brother(s) was or were also involved in the commission of crime of murdering Kishanu Babu by shooting, but since the chaff and grains are inexplicably mixed relating to the remaining accused, we afforded them the benefit of doubt to them. However, the situation is different so far as the accused respondent Indrapal is concerned, because his involvement in the crime has come to be proved beyond shadow of doubt by the corroborative evidence referred to above.

We should also state here that the possibility of any manipulation by the Investigating Officer is obliterated in this view of the matter that other empty cartridges recovered from the spot could not be co-related with other guns recovered from the house of co-accused Ram Kishore. Had there been any manipulation, the other cartridges recovered from the spot would have also been co-related with the other guns recovered from the house of co-accused Ram Kishore.

There are certain other factors strengthening the participation of the accused respondent Indrapal in the commission of the murder of Kishanu Babu by shooting on the given date, time and place. In his statement under section 313 Code of Criminal Procedure Question no. 5 was put to him regarding the recovery of guns (by the Investigating Officer from the house of Ram Kishore). It would be recalled that one of the recovered guns was DBBL gun No. 10940/93 of which he (Indrapal) was owner and licence holder. The question and the answer is reproduced below:

"Q.No.5:- Yeh Ki Abhiyojan Sakshya Mein Aya Hai Ki Vivechak Ne Vivechana Aage Barhate Hue Muljiman Ki Talash Arambh Kee Aur Aapke Mohal Marathipura Qasba Va Thana Modaha Sthit Ghar Pahunche, Jiske Darvaje Khule The. Vivechak Va Police Force Ke Ghar Mein Ghuste Hi Mamle Mein Namit Aapke Pita Ram Ratan Va Bhai Ram Kishore Makan Ke Paschimi Kamre Se Banduken Lekar Angan Se Sidhi Charhkar Bhag Gaye. Iske Baad Kamre Ki Talashi Lene Par Do DBBL gun Va Ek SBBL gun factory made Baramad Hui, Jinhe Dekhkar Mauke Par he Vadi Ne Bataya Ki Ye Vahi Banduken Hain, Jiska Prayog Hatya Mein Hua Hai, Phalswarup Unhe Mauke Par Hi Alag Alag Seal Mohar Kar Fard Taiyar Ki Gai Va Baramadgi Sthal Ka Naksha Nazari Taiyar Kiya Gaya Aur Uprokt Bandukon Ko Thane Vapas Lakar Unhe Dakhil Kiya, Jiska Havala GD No. 14 Samay 18-20 P.M. Dinank 22-3-95 Mein Kiya Gaya, Is Sambandh mein aapko Kya Kahna Hai ?

Ans: Mukadme Ko Bal Dene Ke Liye Jhuti Sakshya Taiyar Ki Hai"

(English version)

Q.No.5 :  That it has come in prosecution evidence that proceeding with the investigation, Investigating Officer initiated search of the accused persons and reached your house situated at Mohal Marathipura, Town and Police Station Modaha, the doors whereof were open. As soon as the Investigating Officer along with police force entered the house, your father Ram Ratan and brother Ram Kishore, who were named accused in the crime, fled away with guns through stairs from the western room of the house.  Thereafter on search being conducted, two DBBL guns and one SBBL gun Factory made were recovered, seeing which the complainant told that these are the guns which were used in the murder, therefore, they were sealed at the spot in separate bundles and Fards of recovery and site plan of the spot were prepared and the said guns were deposited in the Police Station reference of which was made in G.D. No.14 at 18.20 P.M. dated 22.3.95. What have you to say in this connection?

Ans. In order to supplement force to the case false evidence has been manufactured."

To another question no. 13, Kya Aapko Kuchh Aurx Kehna Hai   (Have you anything more to say ?), the accused replied as under:

" Mujhe Galat  Va Jhootha Phansaya Gaya Hai. Sah Abhiyukton Ke Nirneet Mukadme Mein Vadi Va Police Dwara Galat Va Jhoothi Maukhik Va Abhilekhiya Sakshya Pesh Ke Gai Thi. Ukt Mukadme Mein Sah Abhiyukton Ko Doshmukt Kiya Ja Chuka Hai. Maine Koi Apradh Nahi Kiya Hai Tatha Nirdosh Hun. Vadi Va Police Ne Mere Va Mere Parivar Ko Ranjish Ke Karan Milibhagat Kar Ke Galat Of Jhootha Fansaya Hai."

(English translation)

" I have been implicated falsely and wrongly. False and concocted oral and documentary evidence had been led by the complainant and police in the decided case of the co-accused. In the said case, co-accused have been acquitted. I have not committed any offence and am innocent. The complainant and police have implicated me and my family falsely and maliciously owing to enmity."

It was un-denying fact that he was the owner of the DBBL Gun No. 10940/93 and its licence holder. In his deposition as PW 1, relating to applicant accused respondent, Vishnu Shankar PW 1 (informant) proved in Court in paragraph no. 14 that DBBL gun of Indrapal was used by him in the commission of this crime. A sealed bundle was opened in which there was a SBBL gun and another DBBL gun. This DBBL gun undoubtedly was No. 10940/93 belonging to Indrapal. The reason is that the other DBBL gun no. 17590/93 belonging to Ram Kishore accused had earlier been got released by him even before Investigating Officer (examined as PW 13 in S.T. No. 289 of 1995) on 27.7.1999 relating to the other co-accused. This being so, there is no scope to doubt that the DBBL gun taken out of the sealed bundle in the Court and proved by Vishnu Shankar PW 1 in S.T. No. 59 of 2000 was the one belonging to accused Indrapal bearing no. 10940-93. The factum of this gun being under the ownership of Indrapal has been verified by the Investigating Officer Lalit Kumar Rathore from Arms Register maintained in the office of the District Magistrate. The said gun was seized by the Investigating Officer Lalit Kumar Rathore  from the house of co accused Ram Kishore (brother of the present accused respondent Indrapal) on 22.3.1995. The burden was on the Indrapal under section 106 of the Evidence Act as to how his gun came to be kept in the house of Ram Kishore. There is nothing to indicate that the Indrapal accused respondent lodged any F.I.R. regarding the theft or loss of the said DBBL gun at any point of time after 22.3.1995. If he meant to challenge the recovery of the same by the Investigating Officer from the house of the co-accused lrk on 22.3.1995 then it could be in his special knowledge as to where this DBBL gun had been and how it reached the hands of the Investigating Officer Lalit Kumar Rathore. If it was lost or stolen in ordinary course, he would have lodged the F.I.R., but nothing of the sort has been done. There is a proverb that the witnesses may lie but the circumstances will not. It is one of the very strong circumstance adding a brick in proving the participation of the accused Indrapal in the commission of this crime.

The pristine rule that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused should not be taken as fossilized  doctrine as though it admits no process of intelligent reasoning as observed by the Supreme Court in the case of State of West Bengal Vs. Mir Mohammad Omar 2000 (41) ACC (SC) 598.

The trial should be fair to the accused, fair to the State and fair to the vast mass of the people in whose protection the penal laws are made and administered. The Code of Criminal Procedure is meant to further the ends of justice and not to frustrate by introduction of endless technicalities. The technicalities cannot prevent the court to do substantial justice. The provisions contained in Code of Criminal Procedure are intended as aids for fair trial and for reaching a just decision and action of law should not be equated to a game of chess.

What happened in the present case is that the accused respondent Indrapal simply vanished after committing this crime and his case had to be separated. He waited for the trial of the co accused including his father and brothers and result thereof. That trial resulted in acquittal on 19.5.2000. It was only thereafter that he surrendered in Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Hamirpur on 2.6.2000. He designly did so after the decision of the earlier trial which resulted in acquittal.  This conduct of the accused respondent Indrapal has relevance in great measure indicating his guilty mind and culpability.

At this stage, certain discussion is necessary to clear the mist as to how the testimony of eyewitnesses Vishnu Shankar PW 1, Nathu Ram PW 2, Harish Chandra PW 3, Yogendra Singh PW 4, Munnu Singh PW 6 and Shanti Devi PW 16  is capable of acceptance as against the accused respondent Indrapal despite the same having been found put not worthy of acceptance as against the co-accused Swami Deen, Ravi Sadashiv Balak Das, Ramesh alias Zalim, Ram Ratan, Asha Ram, and Ram Swarup acquitted earlier in S.T. No. 289 of 1995 and 59 of 1997. It must be observed that the principle falsus in uno falsus in omnibus  is not applicable in India. In each case, the court has to appraise the evidence to see as to what extent it is worth of acceptance and against whom. Benefit of doubt could be extended to the other co-accused as with regard to them the grain and chaff have been found to be inextricably mixed thickly. The possibility of false implication of some of them could not be ruled out and, therefore, all of them deserve the benefit of doubt. But as regards the participation of the accused respondent Indrapal in Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002 , there was clinching and corroborative evidence and other strong circumstances, as we have discussed above,  proving his participation in this crime that he was one of those who shot the victim on the given date, time and place.

CONCLUSION

In view of the above discussion, we come to the conclusion that the guilt of the accused Indrapal is established that he was involved in murdering Kishanu Babu by shooting at the given date, time and place. Since the number of other culprits who participated in the crime, could not be ascertained, he must be convicted under section 302 I.P.C.

FINAL ORDER

Resultantly, we allow Government Appeal No. 2601 of 2002 and reverse the impugned judgment of acquittal recorded by the lower trial court. We hold the accused respondent Indrapal guilty of the offence punishable under section 302 I.P.C. for murdering Kishanu Babu and sentence him to undergo life imprisonment. He is on bail. Chief Judicial Magistrate Hamirpur shall cause him to be arrested and lodged in jail to serve out the sentence.

Government Appeal No. 2498 of 2002 is dismissed.

Let a copy of this judgment along with record be sent to the court below for compliance. Compliance be reported within two months.

Dated: November 11, 2005

Akn.


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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