7 HOSTILE WITNESSES - CONVICTION

                                               

 

   

          IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

         CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 

          CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1699 of 2007 

Paramjeet Singh @ Pamma                           ...Appellant

                              Versus

State of Uttarakhand                             ...Respondent 

Dismissing the appeal, the Court 

HELD: 1. In a criminal trial involving a serious offence of a brutal

nature, the court should be wary of the fact that it is human instinct to

react adversely to the commission of the offence and make an effort to see

that such an instinctive reaction does not prejudice the accused in any

way. In a case where the offence alleged to have been committed is a

serious one, the prosecution must provide greater assurance to the court

that its case has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. [Para 13]

 

Kashmira Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1952 SC 159; State of Punjab

v. Jagir Singh Baljit Singh and Anr. AIR 1973 SC 2407; Shankarlal

Gyarasilal Dixit v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1981 SC 765; Mousam Singha Roy

and Ors. v. State of West Bengal (2003) 12 SCC 377; Aloke Nath Dutta and

Ors. v. State of West Bengal (2007) 12 SCC 230 - relied on.

 

Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 1957 SC 37 - referred to. 

2. Though a conviction may be based solely on circumstantial evidence, this

is something that the court must bear in mind while deciding a case

involving the commission of a serious offence in a gruesome manner. The

prosecution's case must stand or fall on its own legs and cannot derive any

strength from the weakness of the defence put up by the accused. [Para 14] 

Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1984 SC 1622; State of

Uttar Pradesh v. Satish (2005) 3 SCC 114; Krishnan v. tate represented by

Inspector of Police (2008) 15 SCC 430; Ramesh Bhai and Anr. v. State of

Rajasthan (2009) 12 SCC 603; Subramaniam v. State of Tamil Nadu and Anr.

(2009) 14 SCC 415; Babu v. State of Kerala JT 2010 (8) SC `560 - relied on. 

3. The fact that the witness was declared hostile at the instance of the

public prosecutor and he was allowed to cross examine the witness furnishes

no justification for rejecting en bloc the evidence of the witness.

However, the court has to be very careful, as prima facie, a witness who

makes different statements at different times, has no regard for the truth.

His evidence has to be read and considered as a whole with a view to find

out whether any weight should be attached to it. The court should be slow

to act on the testimony of such a witness; normally, it should look for

corroboration to his testimony. The evidence of a person does not become

effaced from the record merely because he has turned hostile and his

deposition must be examined more cautiously to find out as to what extent

he supported the case of the prosecution. [Paras 17 and 22] 

State of Rajasthan v. Bhawani and Anr. (2003) 7 SCC 291 - relied on. 

State of Gujarat v. Anirudhsing (1997) 6 SCC 514; Radha Mohan Singh @ Lal

Saheb and Ors. v. State of U.P. (2006) 2 SCC 450; Mahesh v. State of

Maharashtra (2008) 13 SCC 271; Rajendra and Anr. v. State of Uttar Pradesh

(2009) 13 SCC 480; Govindappa and Ors. v. State of Karnataka (2010) 6 SCC

533 - referred to. 

4.1 An accused can be questioned under Section 313 Cr.P.C. only for the

purpose of enabling him personally to explain any circumstance appearing in

the evidence against him. No matter how weak or scanty the prosecution

evidence is in regard to certain incriminating material, it is the duty of

the court to examine the accused and seek his explanation on incriminating

material which has surfaced against him. Section 313 Cr.P.C. is based on

the fundamental principle of fairness. The attention of the accused must

specifically be brought to inculpatory pieces of evidence to give him an

opportunity to offer an explanation if he chooses to do so. Therefore, the

court is under a legal obligation to put the incriminating circumstances

before the accused and solicit his response. This provision is mandatory in

nature and casts an imperative duty on the court and confers a

corresponding right on the accused to have an opportunity to offer an

explanation for such incriminatory material appearing against him.

Circumstances which were not put to the accused in his examination under

Section 313 Cr.P.C. cannot be used against him and have to be excluded from

consideration. [Para 23] 

Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1984 SC 1622; State of

Maharashtra v. Sukhdev Singh and Anr. AIR 1992 SC 2100; Wasim Khan v. State

of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1956 SC 400; Bhoor Singh and Anr. v. State of Punjab

AIR 1974 SC 1256; Labhchand Dhanpat Singh Jain v. State of Maharashtra AIR

1975 SC 182; State of Punjab v. Naib Din AIR 2001 SC 3955; Parsuram Pandey

and Ors. v. State of Bihar (2004) 13 SCC 189 - relied on. 

S. Harnam Singh v. State (Delhi Admn.) AIR 1976 SC 2140; Asraf Ali v. State

of Assam (2008) 16 SCC 328; Shivaji Sahebrao Bobade and Anr. v. State of

Maharashtra AIR 1973 SC 2622; Ganesh Gogoi v. State of Assam (2009) 7 SCC

404; Basavaraj R.Patil and Ors.v. State of Karnataka (2000) 8 SCC 740;

Shaikh Maqsood v. State of Maharashtra (2009) 6 SCC 583; Ranvir Yadav v.

State of Bihar (2009) 6 SCC 595; Suresh Chandra Bahri v. State of Bihar AIR

1994 SC 2420 - referred to. 

4.2 The provisions of Section 313 Cr.P.C make it obligatory for the court

to question the accused on the evidence and circumstances against him so as

to offer the accused an opportunity to explain the same. But, it would not

be enough for the accused to show that he has not been questioned or

examined on a particular circumstance, instead he must show that such non-

examination has actually and materially prejudiced him and has resulted in

the failure of justice. In other words, in the event of an inadvertent

omission on the part of the court to question the accused on any

incriminating circumstance, cannot ipso facto vitiate the trial unless it

is shown that some material prejudice was caused to the accused by the

omission of the court. [Para 31] 

5. Abscondance by a person against whom FIR has been lodged, having an

apprehension of being apprehended by the police, cannot be said to be

unnatural. Absconding by itself is not conclusive proof of either of guilt

or of a guilty conscience. [Para 34] 

Matru @ Girish Chandra v. The State of U.P. AIR 1971 SC 1050; Rahman v.

State of U.P. AIR 1972 SC 110; State of M.P. v. Paltan Mallah and Ors. AIR

2005 SC 733; Bipin Kumar Mondal v. State of West Bengal JT 2010 (7) SC 379

- referred to. 

6. If motive is proved, that would supply a link in the chain of

circumstantial evidence but the absence thereof cannot be a ground to

reject the prosecution case. [Para 45] 

Suresh Chandra Bahri v. State of Bihar AIR 1994 SC 2420; State of Gujarat

v. Anirudhsing (1997) 6 SCC 514 - referred to. 

7.1 In the instant case, the FIR was lodged promptly. PW.1-complainant in

his deposition admitted that FIR was lodged by him and the same was in his

handwriting; and in the document he had stated that the appellant had

committed the offence. [Para 35] 

7.2 The witnesses PW.1 and PW.2 in their respective depositions admitted

their presence at the place of incident and admitted to suffering the

injuries. The medical report corroborated the case of the prosecution. In

their statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. they also admitted that they

suffered the said injuries at the hands of the appellant. It was at a later

stage that they denied any role of the appellant. Their statements to that

effect are not trustworthy for the simple reason that they failed to offer

any explanation for why they assigned the said role to the appellant in

their statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. and why the appellant was named

by PW.1 while lodging the FIR. PW.1 and PW.2 also deposed that after the

incident, a Panchayat was convened and it pardoned the appellant. The

version of convening the Panchayat and grant of pardon to the appellant was

duly supported by PW.3 and PW.4. Injured `HS' could not be examined as he

died of cancer during the trial. [Paras 41 and 36] 

7.3 The witnesses PW.3, PW.4, PW.5, PW.6 and PW.7 denied their presence on

the spot. PW.6 deposed that he reached the place of occurrence after the

commission of the offence. None of the said eye-witnesses supported the

case of the prosecution in spite of the fact that all of them had named the

appellant as an assailant in their respective statements made under Section

161 Cr.P.C. [Para 37]

7.4 PW.8-Investigating Officer proved the statements of all the witnesses

recorded by him under Section 161 Cr.P.C. and deposed that it was PW.1 who

stated that the appellant caused three deaths and injuries to three other

family members. He admitted his signatures on the said statements. He

stated that PW.1 had pointed towards the place of occurrence and on the

basis of the same he prepared the site plan. The said witness admitted that

he had recovered empty cartridges and other materials from the place of

occurrence including the piece of cloth, blood soiled earth and ordinary

soil. He supported the postmortem report that postmortems of the dead

bodies were conducted which was recorded in the case diary. He further

deposed that at the instance of a secret informer, the appellant was

arrested and the appellant confessed his crime. At the behest of the

appellant the gun was recovered. In spite of the extensive cross-

examination of PW.8, the defence could not make out anything which may

discredit his deposition. [Para 38] 

7.5 It is evident from the postmortem reports of three persons and the

injury reports that the appellant had caused a very large number of

injuries. [Paras 39 and 40] 

7.6 The trial court had put a question to the appellant regarding the

recovery of gun from the arms dealer at place `R' and he had answered the

same. [Para 44] 

7.7 The view taken by the courts below that the eye-witnesses turned

hostile because of the decision taken in the Panchayat, pardoning the

appellant, does not require any interference. The said eye-witnesses had no

regard for the truth and concealed the material facts from the court only

in order to protect the appellant, for the reasons best known to them. Such

an unwarranted attitude on the part of the witnesses disentitles any

benefit to the appellant, who committed a heinous crime. The crime was

committed against the society/State and not only against the family and,

therefore, the pardon accorded by the family and Panchayat has no

significance in such a heinous crime. [Para 42] 

7.8 The compromise in Panchayat and the pardoning of the appellant cannot

be labelled as a circumstance charging the appellant with a crime. It

cannot be held that the said circumstance involved any accusation towards

the appellant. In fact, in cannot be termed as incriminating material,

proving the offence against the appellant, rather it was a circumstance due

to which all the seven eye-witnesses turned hostile. Not putting questions

regarding any of the said circumstances cannot be held to be a serious

irregularity inasmuch as the same may vitiate the conviction. More so, in

the instant case, it did not materially prejudice the appellant nor it

resulted in a miscarriage of justice. [Para 47] 

7.9 The abscondance of the appellant after commission of the crime and

remaining untraceable for a period of six days itself cannot be a

circumstance against the appellant. Thus, not putting a question on the

particular circumstance to the appellant remained inconsequential. The

courts below considered that the appellant could not furnish any

explanation for his absence for about six days. The appellant failed to

raise any positive defence and answered all the questions put to him in an

evasive manner. [Para 46] 

Raj Kumar Prasad Tamarkar v. State of Bihar (2007) 10 SCC 433; Amarsingh

Munnasingh Suryawanshi v. State of Maharashtra (2007) 15 SCC 455 - relied

on. 

7.10 The case is considered in the totality of the circumstances, also

taking into consideration the gravity of the charges that the appellant

killed his real brother, `IS' and his nephews and injured his father `HS'

and nephews PW.1 and PW.2 in broad day light. The FIR was lodged promptly,

naming the appellant as the person who committed the offence. All the eye-

witnesses, including the injured witnesses, attributed the commission of

the offence only to the appellant in their statements under Section 161

Cr.P.C. It is difficult to imagine that the complainant and the eye-

witnesses falsely named the appellant as being the person responsible for

the offence at the initial stage itself. Thus, there is no cogent reasons

to interfere with the concurrent findings of facts by the courts below.

[Paras 48 and 49] 

Case Law Reference: 

AIR 1952 SC 159          Relied on.        Para 11

AIR 1973 SC 2407        Relied on.        Para 11

AIR 1981 SC 765          Relied on.        Para 11

(2003) 12 SCC 377      Relied on.        Para 11

(2007) 12 SCC 230      Relied on.        Para 11

AIR 1957 SC 637          Referred to.    Para 12

AIR 1984 SC 1622        Relied on.        Paras   14, 23

(2005) 3 SCC 114        Relied on.        Para 15

(2008) 15 SCC 430      Relied on.        Para 15

(2009) 12 SCC 603      Relied on.        Para 15

(2009) 14 SCC 415      Relied on.        Para 15

JT 2010 (8) SC 560      Relied on.        Para 15

(1997) 6 SCC 514        Referred to.    Paras   16, 45

(2003) 7 SCC 291        Relied on.        Para 17

(2006) 2 SCC 450        Referred to.    Para 18

(2008) 13 SCC 271      Referred to.    Para 19

(2009) 13 SCC 480      Referred to.    Para 20

(2010) 6 SCC 533        Referred to.    Para 21

AIR 1992 SC 2100        Relied on.        Para 23

AIR 1976 SC 2140        Relied on.        Para 24

AIR 1956 SC 400          Relied on.        Para 25

AIR 1974 SC 1256        Relied on.        Para 25

AIR 1975 SC 182          Relied on.        Para 25

AIR 2001 SC 3955        Relied on.        Para 25

(2004) 13 SCC 189      Relied on.        Para 25

(2008) 16 SCC 328      Referred to.    Para 26

AIR 1973 SC 2622        Referred to.    Para 27

(2009) 7 SCC 404        Referred to.    Para 28

(2000) 8 SCC 740        Referred to.    Para 28

(2009) 6 SCC 583        Referred to.    Para 29

(2009) 6 SCC 595        Referred to.    Para 29

AIR 1994 SC 2420        Referred to.    Paras 30, 45

AIR 1971 SC 1050        Referred to.    Para 32

AIR 1972 SC 110          Referred to.    Para 33

AIR 2005 SC 733          Referred to.    Para 33

JT 2010 (7) SC 379      Referred to.    Para 33

(2007) 10 SCC 433      Relied on.        Para 46

(2007) 15 SCC 455      Relied on.        Para 46 

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal Appeal No. 1699 of 2007. 

From the Judgment & Order dated 30.04.2004 of the High Court of Uttaranchal

at Nanital in Criminal Appeal No. 1767 of 2004. 

Pradeep Aggarwal, L.P. Singh, Ram Niwas, Deepam Borah, Brijesh Singh, Vivya

Nagpal for the Appellant. 

Sunil Kumar Singh, Mukti Singh, Jatinder Kumar Bhatia for the Respondent.

 

 

JUDGMENT 

 

Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.

 

1.    This appeal has been filed against the judgment and order dated 30.4.2004, passed by the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital, dismissing the Criminal Appeal No.1767 of 2001 against the judgment and order of the Sessions Court dated 9.8.2001 in Sessions Case No.254 of 2000 convicting the appellant under Sections 302 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter called `IPC') and sentencing him to life imprisonment and 10 years rigorous

imprisonment respectively. The Sessions Court had also imposed a fine of Rs.10,000/-, failing which the appellant has to undergo another 3 years rigorous imprisonment. 

2.    The facts and circumstances giving rise to this case are that an FIR was lodged on 27.4.2000 at 6.40 P.M. with Police Station, Rudrapur, by complainant Ajit Singh (PW.1) alleging that his grand father Hardayal Singh had given certain shares in his immovable properties to his three sons, namely, Gopal Singh, Joginder Singh and Mahender Singh and denied a share to his father Inderjit Singh and uncle Paramjit Singh, the appellant. The appellant had fraudulently sold a plot at Rudrapur and to prevent him from repeating such act, appellant's father Hardayal Singh executed a General Power of Attorney, as well as a Will, dated 27.04.2000 in respect of one of his properties in favour of the complainant's father, Inderjit Singh and thus, the appellant became annoyed. The appellant misbehaved with his father Hardayal Singh and brother Inderjit Singh and threatened them with dire consequences, at the office of the Sub-Registrar at Kichcha. 

3.    On the same day in the evening at 5.45 P.M., the complainant Ajit Singh (PW.1), his father Inderjit Singh and brothers Surender Singh, Saranjit Singh alongwith Satwant Singh and Gurmit Singh went to drop Hardayal Singh at his residence in Matkawali Gali. When they were alighting from the car, the appellant Paramjit Singh and two or three of his associates were sitting there. The appellant, with an intention to kill them, started firing. Thus, complainant's father Inderjit Singh, his brothers Surender Singh and Saranjit Singh, died on the spot and complainant Ajit Singh (PW.1), his brother Baljit Singh (PW.2) and his grand-father Hardayal Singh got injured. The incident was witnessed by Gurmit Singh (PW.3), Satwant Singh (PW.4) and cousins of complainant Ajit Singh (PW.1), Rajinder Kumar (PW.5), Harpal Singh (PW.6) and Hira Lal (PW.7). 

4.    The Investigating Officer recovered and prepared the Seizure Memos of plain soil, blood soaked soil, three empty cartridges and a turban. The dead bodies of the aforesaid three persons were recovered vide Panchnama and postmortems were conducted on the bodies of all the three deceased on 28.4.2000 in the Base Hospital, Haldwani. The other injured persons, namely, Ajit Singh (PW.1), Baljit Singh (PW.2) and Hardayal Singh were examined medically..    During the investigation on 4.5.2000, the Investigating Officer recovered the licensed Gun of the appellant, on the disclosure made by appellant himself, from an Arms Dealer at Rampur and the recovery memo and site plan of the place of recovery was prepared. The empty cartridges and recovered Gun were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory, Agra and other materials e.g., blood soaked soil and the clothes etc. of the deceased were also sent to FSL, Agra for chemical analysis. 

6.    The Investigating Officer completed the investigation and submitted the charge-sheet against the appellant.    He denied the charges and claimed trial. The prosecution examined 8 witnesses to substantiate its case before the trial Court. Out of 8 witnesses, 7 turned hostile. After conclusion of the trial, the learned Sessions Court vide its judgment and order dated 9.8.2001 found the appellant guilty of the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 307 IPC and awarded the sentences mentioned hereinabove. 

7.    Being aggrieved, the appellant preferred Criminal Appeal No.1767 of 2001 before the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital which has been dismissed vide impugned judgment and order dated 30.4.2004. Hence, this appeal. 

8.    Shri S.R. Bajwa, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant, has submitted that out of 8 witnesses examined by the prosecution, 7 turned hostile and none of them deposed that the appellant had committed any offence.       The Investigating Officer remained the only witness in the trial who had not turned hostile. The gun was allegedly recovered at the disclosure of the appellant as required but it was not in consonance with Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, on the basis of which the recovery of the Gun could be proved. The trial Court as well as the High Court erred in convicting the appellant as none of the alleged pieces of circumstantial evidence could be proved by the prosecution. The courts below committed an error in accepting the inadmissible evidence e.g., confession before Police official; contents of statement recorded under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter called `Cr.P.C.'); using the FIR as a substantial piece of evidence; and recovery of 12 Bore Gun from an Arms Dealer at Rampur on the disclosure of the appellant and held the appellant  guilty. No witness was examined to prove that the material collected by the Investigating Officer had been placed in safe custody in the Malkhana; the Register maintained by the arms dealer at Rampur had not been produced before the court nor had the arms dealer been examined. None of the relevant incriminating pieces of circumstantial evidence had been put to the appellant by the court while examining him under Section 313 Cr.P.C. The circumstances of the absconding of the appellant for 6 days had been taken to show him as guilty person. In spite of the fact that a compromise by Panchayat was not proved before the trial Court, it had been used against the appellant. More so, no motive or genesis of occurrence could be established on the record of the case. The conviction is totally based on conjectures and surmises, thus, liable to be set aside. 

9.    Per contra, Shri Sunil Kumar Singh, learned counsel appearing for the State of Uttarakhand has vehemently opposed the appeal contending that appellant had been found guilty of committing murder of 3 members of his own family and injuring 3 other family members. The informant Ajit Singh (PW.1) and Baljit Singh (PW.2) have admitted that they were present at the place of occurrence. They suffered injuries but denied the involvement of the appellant in the crime altogether. The other eye-witnesses even denied their presence at the place of occurrence itself. In such a fact-situation, where all the witnesses had been won over by the appellant, as the family had pardoned the appellant, the case otherwise stood proved by circumstantial evidence. The courts below have rightly convicted the appellant. All relevant questions had been put to the appellant under Section 313 Cr.P.C., and the appellant could not explain his whereabouts at the time of occurrence of the incident. The case of the prosecution has duly been supported by the medical evidence as well as the other material collected by the Investigating Officer during the investigation. The appeal lacks merit and is liable to be dismissed. 

10.   We have considered the rival submissions made by the learned  counsel for the parties and perused the record.

       The case is to be decided keeping in mind that as all the seven eye-witnesses turned hostile and none of them involved the appellant in the crime, it remained a case of circumstantial evidence. Legal Issues

 

Standard of Proof:

 

11.   A criminal trial is not a fairy tale wherein one is free to give flight to one's imagination and fantasy. Crime is an event in real life and is the product of an interplay between different human emotions. In arriving at a conclusion about the guilt of the accused charged with the commission of a crime, the court has to judge the evidence by the yardstick of probabilities, its intrinsic worth and the animus of witnesses. Every case, in the final analysis, would have to depend upon its own facts. The court must bear in mind that "human nature is too willing, when faced with brutal crimes, to spin stories out of strong suspicions." Though an offence may be gruesome and revolt the human conscience, an accused can be convicted only on legal

evidence and not on surmises and conjecture. The law does not permit the court to punish the accused on the basis of a moral conviction or suspicion alone. "The burden of proof in a criminal trial never shifts and it is always the burden of the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of acceptable evidence." In fact, it is a settled principle of criminal jurisprudence that the more serious the offence, the stricter the degree of proof required, since a higher degree of assurance is required to convict the accused. The fact that the offence was committed in a very cruel and revolting manner may in itself be a reason for scrutinizing the evidence more closely, lest the shocking nature of the crime induce an instinctive reaction against dispassionate judicial scrutiny of the facts and law. (Vide : Kashmira

Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1952 SC 159; State of

Punjab v. Jagir Singh Baljit Singh & Anr., AIR 1973 SC 2407;

Shankarlal Gyarasilal Dixit v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1981 SC

765; Mousam Singha Roy & Ors. v. State of West Bengal, (2003)

12 SCC 377; and Aloke Nath Dutta & Ors. v. State of West Bengal, (2007) 12 SCC 230).

 

12.   In Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 637, this Court observed :

 

      "Considered as a whole the prosecution story may

      be true; but between `may be true' and `must be

      true' there is inevitably a long distance to travel

      and the whole of this distance must be covered by

      legal, reliable and unimpeachable evidence

      [before an accused can be convicted]."

 

13.   Thus, the law on the point may be summarised to the effect that in a criminal trial involving a serious offence of a brutal nature, the court should be wary of the fact that it is human instinct to react adversely to the commission of the offence and make an effort to see

that such an instinctive reaction does not prejudice the accused in any way. In a case where the offence alleged to have been committed is a serious one, the prosecution must provide greater assurance to the court that its case has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

 

Circumstantial Evidence:

 

14.      Though a conviction may be based solely on circumstantial evidence, this is something that the court must bear in mind while deciding a case involving the commission of a serious offence in a gruesome manner. In Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1984 SC 1622, this Court observed that it is well settled that the prosecution's case must stand or fall on its own legs and cannot derive any strength from the weakness of the defence put up by the accused. However, a false defence may be called into aid only to lend assurance to the court where various links in the chain of circumstantial evidence are in themselves complete. This Court also discussed the nature, character and essential proof required in a criminal case which rests on circumstantial evidence alone and held as under:

 

(1)   The circumstances from which the conclusion of  guilt is to be drawn should be fully

established;

(2)   The facts so established should be consistent only  with the hypothesis of the guilt of

 the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;

      (3) The circumstances should be of a conclusive nature  and tendency;

 

      (4) They should exclude every possible hypothesis except  the one to be proved; and

      (5) There must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable

             ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must

             show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.

 

15.   A similar view has been reiterated by this Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Satish, (2005) 3 SCC 114; Krishnan v. State represented by Inspector of Police, (2008) 15 SCC 430; Ramesh Bhai & Anr. v. State of Rajasthan, (2009) 12 SCC 603; Subramaniam v. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr., (2009) 14 SCC 415; and Babu v. State of Kerala, JT 2010 (8) SC 560, observing that the evidence produced by the prosecution should be of such a nature that it makes the conviction of the accused sustainable.

 

Hostile Witness:

 

16.   In State of Gujarat v. Anirudhsing, (1997) 6 SCC 514, this Court observed as under :

 

         "Every criminal trial is a voyage in quest of

      truth for public justice to punish the guilty and

      restore peace, stability and order in the society.

      Every citizen who has knowledge of the

      commission of cognizable offence has a duty to lay

      information before the police and cooperate with

      the investigating officer who is enjoined to collect

      the evidence and if necessary summon the

      witnesses to give evidence. He is further enjoined

      to adopt scientific and all fair means to unearth

      the real offender, lay the charge-sheet before the

      court competent to take cognizance of the offence.

      The charge-sheet needs to contain the facts

      constituting the offence/s charged. The accused is

      entitled to a fair trial. Every citizen who assists the

      investigation is further duty-bound to appear

      before the Court of Session or competent criminal

      court, tender his ocular evidence as a dutiful and

      truthful citizen to unfold the prosecution case as

      given in his statement. Any betrayal in that behalf

      is a step to destabilise social peace, order and

      progress."

 

17.   The fact that the witness was declared hostile at the instance of the public prosecutor and he was allowed to cross examine the witness furnishes no justification for rejecting en bloc the evidence of the witness. However, the court has to be very careful, as prima facie, a witness who makes different statements at different times, has no regard for the truth. His evidence has to be read and considered as a whole with a view to find out whether any weight should be attached to it. The court should be slow to act on the testimony of such a witness; normally, it should look for corroboration to his testimony. (Vide : State of Rajasthan v. Bhawani & Anr., (2003) 7 SCC 291)

 

18.   This Court while deciding with the issue in Radha Mohan Singh @ Lal Saheb & Ors. v. State of U.P., (2006) 2 SCC 450, observed as under:

 

      ".....It is well settled that the evidence of a

      prosecution witness cannot be rejected in toto

      merely because the prosecution chose to treat him

      as hostile and cross-examined him. The evidence

      of such witness cannot be treated as effaced or

      washed off the record altogether but the same can

      be accepted to the extent his version is found to be

      dependable on a careful scrutiny thereof..."

 

19.   In Mahesh v. State of Maharashtra, (2008) 13 SCC 271, this Court considered the value of the deposition of a hostile witness and held as under:

 

      ".....If PW 1, the maker of the complaint has

      chosen not to corroborate his earlier statement

      made in the complaint and recorded during

      investigation, the conduct of such a witness for no

      plausible and tenable reasons pointed out on

      record, will give rise to doubt the testimony of the

      investigating officer who had sincerely and

      honestly conducted the entire investigation of the

      case. In these circumstances, we are of the view

      that PW.1 has tried to conceal the material truth

      from the Court with the sole purpose of shielding

      and protecting the appellant for reasons best

      known to the witness and therefore, no benefit

      could be given to the appellant for unfavourable

      conduct of this witness to the prosecution".

 

20.   In Rajendra & Anr. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2009) 13 SCC 480, this Court observed that merely because a witness deviates from his statement made in the FIR, his evidence cannot be held to be totally unreliable. 

21.   This Court reiterated a similar view in Govindappa & Ors. v. State of Karnataka, (2010) 6 SCC 533, observing that the deposition of a hostile witness can be relied upon at least upto the extent he supported the case of the prosecution.

22.   In view of the above, it is evident that the evidence of a person does not become effaced from the record merely because he has turned hostile and his deposition must be examined more cautiously to find out as to what extent he has supported the case of the prosecution. 

Section 313 Cr.P.C.: 

23.   An accused can be questioned under Section 313 Cr.P.C. only for the purpose of enabling him personally to explain any circumstance appearing in the evidence against him. No matter how weak or scanty the prosecution evidence is in regard to certain incriminating material, it is the duty of the Court to examine the accused and seek his explanation on incriminating material which has surfaced against him. Section 313 Cr.P.C. is based on the fundamental

principle of fairness. The attention of the accused must specifically be brought to inculpatory pieces of evidence to give him an opportunity to offer an explanation if he chooses to do so. Therefore, the court is under a legal obligation to put the incriminating circumstances before

the accused and solicit his response. This provision is mandatory in nature and casts an imperative duty on the court and confers a corresponding right on the accused to have an opportunity to offer an explanation for such incriminatory material appearing against him.Circumstances which were not put to the accused in his examination under Section 313 Cr.P.C. cannot be used against him and have to be excluded from consideration. (Vide Sharad Birdhichand (Supra); and State of Maharashtra v. Sukhdev Singh & Anr., AIR 1992 SC 2100). 

24.   In S. Harnam Singh v. State (Delhi Admn.), AIR 1976 SC 2140, this Court held that non-indication of inculpatory material and its relevant facts by the trial court to the accused adds to the vulnerability of the prosecution case.  The recording of the statement of the accused under Section 313 Cr.P.C. is not a purposeless exercise. 

25.   If any appellate Court or revisional court comes across the fact that the trial Court had not put any question to an accused, even if it is of a vital nature, such an omission alone should not result in the setting aside of the conviction and sentence as an inevitable consequence. An inadequate examination cannot be presumed to have caused prejudice. Every error or omission in compliance of the provisions of Section 313 Cr.P.C., does not necessarily vitiate trial. Such errors fall within category of curable irregularities and the question as to whether the trial is vitiated, in each case depends upon the degree of error and upon whether prejudice has been or is likely to have been caused to accused. Efforts should be made to undo or correct the lapse. (Vide: Wasim Khan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1956 SC 400; Bhoor Singh & Anr. v. State of Punjab, AIR 1974 SC 1256; Labhchand Dhanpat Singh Jain v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1975 SC 182;         State of Punjab v. Naib Din, AIR 2001 SC 3955; and Parsuram Pandey & Ors. v. State of

Bihar, (2004) 13 SCC 189). 

26.   In Asraf Ali v. State of Assam, (2008) 16 SCC 328, this Court observed: 

      "Section 313 of the Code casts a duty on the court

      to put in an enquiry or trial questions to the

      accused for the purpose of enabling him to explain

      any of the circumstances appearing in the

      evidence against him. It follows as a necessary

      corollary therefrom           that each material

      circumstance appearing in the evidence against

      the accused is required to be put to him

      specifically, distinctly and separately and failure

      to do so amounts to a serious irregularity

      vitiating trial, if it is shown that the accused was

      prejudiced." 

27.   In   Shivaji   Sahebrao     Bobade     &    Anr.    v.   State   of 

Maharashtra, AIR 1973 SC 2622, this Court observed as under : 

      "It is trite law, nevertheless fundamental, that the

      prisoner's attention should be drawn to every

      inculpatory material so as to enable him to explain

      it. This is the basic fairness of a criminal trial and

      failures in this area may gravely imperil the

      validity of the trial itself, if consequential

      miscarriage of justice has flowed. However,

      where such an omission has occurred it does not

      ipso facto vitiate the proceedings and prejudice

      occasioned by such defect must be established by

      the accused. In the event of evidentiary material

      not being put to the accused, the court must

      ordinarily      eschew     such     material     from

      consideration. It is also open to the appellate

      court to call upon the counsel for the accused to

      show what explanation the accused has as regards

      the circumstances established against him but not

      put to him and if the accused is unable to offer the

      appellate court any plausible or reasonable

      explanation of such circumstances, the court may

      assume that no acceptable answer exists and that

      even if the accused had been questioned at the

      proper time in the trial court he would not have

      been able to furnish any good ground to get out of

      the circumstances on which the trial court had

      relied for its conviction." (Emphasis added). 

28.   In Ganesh Gogoi v. State of Assam, (2009) 7 SCC 404, this Court relying upon its earlier decision in Basavaraj R. Patil & Ors.v.State of Karnataka, (2000) 8 SCC 740, held that the provisions of Section 313 Cr.P.C. are not meant to nail the accused to his disadvantage but are meant for his benefit. The provisions are based on the salutary principles of natural justice and the maxim "audi alteram partem" has been enshrined in them. Therefore, an examination under Section 313 Cr.P.C. has to be of utmost fairness. 

29.   In Shaikh Maqsood v. State of Maharashtra, (2009) 6 SCC 583; and Ranvir Yadav v. State of Bihar (2009) 6 SCC 595, this Court held that it is the duty of the trial court to indicate incriminating material to the accused.       Section 313 Cr.P.C. is not an empty formality. An improper examination/inadequate questioning under Section 313 Cr.P.C. amounts to a serious lapse on the part of the trial Court and is a ground for interference with the conviction. 

30.   In Suresh Chandra Bahri v. State of Bihar, AIR 1994 SC 2420, this Court rejected the submission that as no question had been put to the accused on motive, no motive for the commission of the crime could be attributed to the accused, nor the same could be reckoned as circumstance against him observing that it could not be pointed out as to what in fact was the real prejudice caused to the accused by omission to question the accused on the motive for the

crime. No material was placed before the court to show as to what and in what manner the prejudice, if any, was caused to the accused. More so, the accused/appellant was aware of accusation and charge against him. 

31.   Thus, it is evident from the above that the provisions of Section 313 Cr.P.C make it obligatory for the court to question the accused on the evidence and circumstances against him so as to offer the accused an opportunity to explain the same. But, it would not be enough for the accused to show that he has not been questioned or examined on a particular circumstance, instead he must show that such non-examination has actually and materially prejudiced him and has resulted in the failure of justice. In other words, in the event of an

inadvertent omission on the part of the court to question the accused on any incriminating circumstance cannot ipso facto vitiate the trial unless it is shown that some material prejudice was caused to the accused by the omission of the court. 

Abscondance of Accused : 

32.   In Matru @ Girish Chandra v. The State of U.P., AIR 1971 SC 1050, this Court repelled the submissions made by the State that as after commission of the offence the accused had been absconding, therefore, the inference can be drawn that he was a guilty person, observing as under: 

       "The appellant's conduct in absconding was also

      relied upon. Now, mere absconding by itself does

      not necessarily lead to a firm conclusion of guilty

      mind. Even an innocent man may feel panicky and

      try to evade arrest when wrongly suspected of a

      grave crime such is the instinct of self-

      preservation. The act of absconding is no doubt

      relevant piece of evidence to be considered along

      with other evidence but its value would always

      depend on the circumstances of each case.

      Normally the courts are disinclined to attach much

      importance to the act of absconding, treating it as

      a very small item in the evidence for sustaining

      conviction. It can scarcely be held as a

      determining link in completing the chain of

      circumstantial evidence which must admit of no

      other reasonable hypothesis than that of the guilt

      of the accused. In the present case the appellant

      was with Ram Chandra till the FIR was lodged. If

      thereafter he felt that he was being wrongly

      suspected and he tried to keep out of the way we

      do not think this circumstance can be considered

      to be necessarily evidence of a guilty mind

      attempting to evade justice. It is not inconsistent

      with his innocence." 

33.   A similar view has been reiterated by this Court in Rahman v. State of U.P., AIR 1972 SC 110; State of M.P. v. Paltan Mallah & others., AIR 2005 SC 733; and Bipin Kumar Mondal v. State of West Bengal, JT 2010 (7) SC 379. 

34.   Abscondance by a person against whom FIR has been lodged, having an apprehension of being apprehended by the police, cannot be said to be unnatural. Thus, mere abscondance by the appellant after commission of the crime and remaining untraceable for a period of six days itself cannot establish his guilt. Absconding by itself is not conclusive proof of either of guilt or of a guilty conscience. 

Present case: 

35.   The present case requires to be examined in light of the aforesaid certain legal propositions.

      The offence as alleged, has been committed by the appellant, killing three persons and injuring three other persons who were members of his own family. The alleged motive had been annoyance because of the denial of his share in the immovable property by his father, Hardayal Singh.     An earlier incident had occurred in the morning in the office of the Sub-Registrar at Kichcha and the offence was allegedly committed by the appellant on the same day in the evening at about 5.45 P.M. An FIR had been lodged promptly at 6.40  P.M. at Police Station: Rudrapur, which is located at 14 kms. away from the place of occurrence. Complainant Ajit Singh (PW.1) in his deposition, admitted his presence at the place of occurrence and also 

that he had suffered injuries in the same incident, however, he had denied the participation of the appellant in the crime. He had also admitted that FIR (Ex. K-1) was lodged by him and the same had been in his handwriting. He also admitted that in the document Ex. K-1, he had stated that the appellant had committed the offence. On being cross-examined by the public prosecutor, he furnished the explanation for changing his stand, stating that he had named the appellant for the killing of Inderjit Singh, Surender Singh and Saranjit Singh and causing injuries to three others including the complainant at the behest of the members of the crowd present there, whereas he had not seen the appellant firing at the spot. He denied the suggestion that there was a compromise in the family and because of that he had been falsely deposing to save the appellant. However, he had admitted that he was medically examined. His version in the FIR stands corroborated by the medical evidence. The statement recorded by the Investigating Officer under Section 161 Cr.P.C. has been in consonance with his version made in the FIR. 

36.    Baljit Singh (PW.2) was also an injured witness, and was also medically examined. The medical report corroborated the case of the prosecution. He named the appellant responsible for the crime while making a statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C., which was recorded by the Investigating Officer, Rajan Tyagi(PW.8). However, he did not support the case of the prosecution when he was examined in the court. He admitted his presence on the spot and admitted that he had suffered injuries. He also admitted that he was medically examined. He admitted that there was a dispute in the family on the issue of sharing the immovable property, but he deposed that the appellant did not cause three deaths or injuries to three others.    In his cross-examination, he was confronted with his statement recorded under Section 161 Cr.P.C., wherein he had named the appellant as the person who had committed the crime.        He had also denied the suggestion that he was deposing falsely because of the compromise in the family. 

37.      The other witnesses Gurmit Singh (PW.3), Satwant Singh (PW.4), Rajinder Kumar (PW.5), Harpal Singh (PW.6) and Hira Lal (PW.7) had even denied their presence on the spot. Harpal Singh  (PW.6) deposed that he had reached the place of occurrence after the commission of the offence. None of the said eye-witnesses supported the case of the prosecution in spite of the fact that all of them had named the appellant as an assailant in their respective statements made under Section 161 Cr.P.C. 

38.      Shri Rajan Tyagi, Investigating Officer (PW.8), had proved the statements of all the witnesses recorded by him under Section 161 Cr.P.C. and deposed that it was the complainant, Ajit Singh (PW.1), who had stated that the appellant had caused three deaths and injuries to 3 other family members. He had admitted his signatures on the said statements. He had further stated that Ajit Singh (PW.1) had pointed towards the place of occurrence and on the basis of the same he prepared the site plan, Ex. K-36. The said witness admitted that he had recovered empty cartridges and other materials from the place of occurrence including the piece of cloth, blood soiled earth and ordinary soil.   He had supported the postmortem report, that postmortems of the dead bodies were conducted on 27th April, 2000, which was recorded in the case diary. He has further deposed that at 1.30 P.M. on 4th May, 2000 at the instance of a secret informer, the appellant, Paramjeet Singh, was arrested and the appellant had confessed his crime and had told him that the appellant had deposited his licensed gun with M/s J.B. Sales Arms & Ammunition Dealer, Railway Station, Rampur. The Investigating Officer (PW.8) went alongwith the appellant and other police personnel to Rampur railway station for the recovery of the gun used in the offence. The appellant, Paramjeet Singh, had pointed out, from the distance of about 90 paces, the agency of the arms dealer. They alighted from the jeep and the appellant walked towards it and got recovered the gun which was lying in an almirah of the said shop and identified the same. So, it was the appellant at whose behest the gun was recovered. In spite of the extensive cross examination of Shri Rajan Tyagi, Investigating Officer (PW.8), the defence could not make out anything which may discredit his deposition. 

39.   The case should be examined from another angle also. The postmortem reports of 3 persons, who died in the incident, are part of the record and speak for themselves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                   Postmortem Reports :    

I.       The postmortem report of Sharanjeet Singh (Ex.Ka.27) reads as under: 

         1)   Lacerated wound 1 cm x 1 cm circular, Margins inverted

              over forehead in between eyebrows. 

         2)   Lacerated wound 1 cm x 1 cm right side chest, 6 cm

              above right nipple. 

         3)   Lacerated wound 1 cm x 1 cm right side of lower

              abdomen 6 cm lateral to umbilicus, circular, margins

              inverted. 

         4)   Lacerated wound 1 cm x 1 cm over right shoulder,

              margins inverted, circular. 

         5)   Multiple firearm injuries measuring 1 cm x 1 cm in an

              area of 12 cm x 16 cm over middle of back, margins

              inverted, cavity deep, pellets and plastic cork recovered

              (wound of entering). 

II.   The postmortem report of Surender Singh (Ex. Ka. 28) reads as under: 

         1)   Lacerated would 12 cm x 14 cm right side abdomen 6 cm

              above and lateral to umbilicus and 10 cm below right

              nipple, margins crushed and multiple firearm injuries

              measuring 1 cm x 1 cm around the lacerated wound,

              margins inverted, muscle deep.
         2)   Multiple lacerated wounds measuring 1 cm x 1 cm over

              left chest around nipple some are cavity deep and some

              skin deep.

         3)   Lacerated wound 10 cm x 6 cm left abdomen lateral side. 

III.   The postmortem report of Inderjeet Singh (Ex.Ka. 29) reads as under:

 

         1)   Lacerated wound 1 cm x 1.5 cm left side chest oval in

              shape, margins inverted 6 cm above left nipple, cavity

              deep.

         2)   Two circular lacerated wound right side chest 6 cm

              below right nipple, skin deep, margins inverted.

         3)   Three lacerated wound in an area of 8 cm x 6 cm over

              right shoulder joint, skin deep, margins inverted.

         4)   Three lacerated wound 1 cm x 1 cm circular in shape

              over right lower abdomen 6 cm lateral to umbilicus.

         5)   Lacerated wound 3 cm x 3.5 cm oval in shape margins

              averted and irregular over back of chest, left side, track

              corresponding to injury No. 1, injury No. 5 is wound of

              exit. R.M. present both upper and lower limbs. 

40.      Injury Reports : 

I.     Ajit Singh (PW.1) was medically examined and his injuries' report (Ex.Ka.37) reads as under: 

         i)     Lacerated wound of .3cm x .3cm on the back side of right

         hand, skin deep. Oozing of blood present.

         ii)    Multiple firearm wound of entry size .3 x .3cm in the

         area of 18cm x 9 cm on middle part of the left thigh on the

         outer side. Black coloured. Jean pant is also torn on the same

         places. Margins are charred and indication is present around

         them. Advised X-ray of left thigh.

         iii)   Multiple firearm wound of entry on the medial and

         anterior aspect of right thigh, some part of the Jeans is also torn

         on the same places over the injuries. Margins are charred and

         indication is present around them. Oozing of blood also present

         size 13cm x .3cm. Advised X-ray of the right thigh. 

II.   The injuries' report of Baljit Singh, (PW.2) (Ex.Ka.38) reads as under: 

         i)     Lacerated wound over the right side of face and neck

         involving the lower jaw and right angle of lip and tongue.

         ii)    Excessive bleeding through the wound.

         iii)   Irregular margin defect in the chin cut being received on

                mandible.

         iv)    Right lower palpable throughout the wound. 

         Opinion : The above injuries were caused by fire arm. Fresh. 

III.    The medical examination report of Shri Hardayal Singh (Ex.Ka.36) is as under: 

        i)     Punctured wound 4 mn x 4 round in the left side of

        temporal area 3 cm above the left extended ear. Bleeding. X-

        ray advised.

        ii)    Punctured wound = cm x = cm round with level of 1st

        thoracic vertebra. Bleeding. X-ray advised.

        iii)   Punctured wound = cm x = cm on left scapula.

        Bleeding. X-ray advised. 

       It is evident from the above that the appellant had caused a very large number of injuries. 

41.      The witnesses i.e. Ajit Singh (PW.1) and Baljit Singh (PW.2) in their respective depositions have admitted their presence at the place of incident and admitted to suffering those injuries. In their statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. they have also admitted that they suffered the aforesaid injuries at the hands of the appellant. It was at a later stage that they have denied any role of the appellant. Their statements to that effect are not trustworthy for the simple reason that they failed to offer any explanation for why they assigned the said role to the appellant in their statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. and why the appellant had been named by Ajit Singh (PW.1) while lodging the FIR.       It is relevant to note that the witnesses, namely, Ajit Singh (PW.1) and Baljit Singh (PW.2) have also deposed that after the incident, a Panchayat was convened and it pardoned the appellant.    The version of convening the Panchayat and grant of pardon to the appellant has duly been supported by Gurmit Singh (PW.3) and Satwant Singh (PW.4).

      Gurmit Singh (PW.3) deposed:

        ".....it is correct that accused is my cousin. The

        matter had been compromised in the Panchayat". 

 

      Satwant Singh (PW.4) deposed:

        "....matter had been compromised in the

        Panchayat. Panchayat had pardoned Pamma

        accused". 

        It is pertinent to mention here that injured Hardayal Singh could not be examined as he died of cancer during the trial. 

42.     It is evident from the above that the view taken by the courts below, that the eye-witnesses turned hostile because of the decision taken in the Panchayat, pardoning the appellant, does not require any interference.

      It is also evident from the above that the said eye-witnesses have no regard for the truth and concealed the material facts from the court only in order to protect the appellant, for the reasons best known to them.   Such an unwarranted attitude on the part of the witnesses

disentitles any benefit to the appellant, who has committed a heinous crime. The crime had been committed against the society/State and not only against the family and therefore, the pardon accorded by the family and Panchayat has no significance in such a heinous crime. 

43.    It has been canvassed on behalf of the appellant that the trial Court committed an error relying upon various factors/incriminating materials which were not pointed out to the appellant while recording his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. Such material had been in respect of (i) recovery of gun from arms dealer at Rampur; (ii) motive;

(iii) abscondance of the appellant; and (iv) compromise in Panchayat which pardoned the appellant. 

44.   So far as the circumstance of recovery of gun from the arms dealer at Rampur is concerned, the trial court had put a question to the  appellant and he has answered the same. The question and answer read as under: 

      "Q. It has come in evidence that the Investigating Officer

      prepared a site plan of the place of occurrence which is

      Exh.K-26. Your licenced gun 17466/96 was recovered at

      your instance from Rampur and the Recovery Memo

      was prepared which is K-39, the site plan of the place of

      recovery is Exh.K-45. The forensic science laboratory

      report in respect of the case property is Exh. K-44, what

      have you to say? 

      Ans. The gun was not recovered at my instance. This

      number 17466/96 is the number of my licenced gun. I

      had deposited this gun with a dealer at Rampur. The

      police has concocted the story of recovery." 

It appears that the number of one of the exhibits had wrongly been pointed out as K-44, though it was Exh. K-46. But it is not a case where no question was put to the accused on the said circumstance. 

45.   So far as the issue of motive is concerned, the case is squarely covered by the judgment of this court in Suresh Chandra Bahri (supra). Therefore, it does not require any further elaborate discussion. More so, if motive is proved that would supply a link in the chain of circumstantial evidence but the absence thereof cannot be a ground to reject the prosecution case. (Vide: State of Gujarat v. Anirudhsing [supra]) 

46.   The third circumstance i.e. the abscondance of the appellant has also been taken into consideration by the courts below. We have clarified that it cannot be a circumstance against the appellant. Thus, not putting a question on this particular circumstance to the appellant

remained inconsequential. The courts below had considered that the appellant could not furnish any explanation for his absence for about six days. Appellant failed to raise any positive defence and answered all the questions put to him in an evasive manner. Such a view is permissible being in consonance with the law laid down by this Court in Raj Kumar Prasad Tamarkar v. State of Bihar, (2007) 10 SCC 433; and Amarsingh Munnasingh Suryawanshi v. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 15 SCC 455. 

47.   So far as the fourth circumstance i.e. the compromise in Panchayat and the pardoning of the appellant is concerned, it cannot be labelled as a circumstance charging the appellant with a crime. By no stretch of the imagination can it be held that the said circumstance involved any accusation towards the appellant. In fact, in cannot be termed as incriminating material, proving the offence against the appellant, rather it had been a circumstance due to which all the seven eye-witnesses turned hostile.

       Be that as it may, we are of the considered opinion that not putting questions regarding anyone of the aforesaid circumstances can not be held to be a serious irregularity inasmuch as the same may vitiate the conviction. More so, in the present case, it has not materially prejudiced the appellant nor has it resulted in a miscarriage of justice. 

48.    If the case is considered in the totality of the circumstances, also taking into consideration the gravity of the charges, the appellant had killed his real brother, Inderjit Singh and his nephews, Surender Singh and Saranjit Singh and injured his father Hardayal Singh and

nephews Ajit Singh (PW.1) and Baljit Singh (PW.2) in broad day light. The FIR had been lodged promptly, naming the appellant as the person who committed the offence.  All the eye-witnesses, including the injured witnesses, attributed the commission of the offence only to the appellant in their statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. It is difficult to imagi ne that the complainant and the eye-witnesses had all falsely named the appellant as being the person

responsible for the offence at the initial stage itself. Thus, we do not see any cogent reasons to interfere with the concurrent findings of fact by the courts below. The appeal lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.

                                   

                                            J…………………………………………… (P. SATHASIVAM)                                                                                      

New Delhi,                           J……....…………………………………..(Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)

September 27, 2010

Comments