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Friday, June 8, 2018

The ingredients of common intention on the part of the accused to   do   away   with   the   life   of   the   deceased   Smt.   Manjula   and Kumari   Radhika   are   not   forthcoming   from   the   evidence   on record. Same is also the finding by the Trial Court and the High Court. 9. It is no doubt that the name of the appellant is found in all the three wound certificates, i.e., Ex. P6 to P8, as the assailant. 8 But, in view of the specific ocular testimony of PW.23 that the appellant   has   assaulted   PW.23   only,   (mother­in­law   of   the deceased   Smt.   Manjula   and   the   foster   mother   of   Kumari Radhika), aforementioned note in the wound certificates loses its importance. 

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NON­REPORATABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1022 OF 2011
    JAYASWAMY                                      ...APPELLANT
VERSUS
STATE OF KARNATAKA  ...RESPONDENTS
JUDGMENT
MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR, J.
By the impugned judgment dated 12.08.2010 in Criminal
Appeal   No.   1498   of   2004,   the   High   Court   has   reversed   the
judgment   of   acquittal   passed   by   the   Trial   Court   in   S.C.   No.
143/1994 insofar as the appellant (accused No.1) is concerned,
and consequently convicted the appellant for the offences under
Sections 302 and 326 of IPC. The High Court further, confirmed
the judgment and order of acquittal passed by the Trial Court
insofar as it relates to accused Nos. 2 to 5.
2. The case of the prosecution in brief is that at about 4:30 pm
on 15.01.1994, the accused Nos. 1 to 3 (including the appellant)
along with accused Nos.4 and 5, with the common intention of
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committing murder of deceased persons, namely Kumari Radhika
(aged about 11 years) and Smt. Manjula, as well as to cause
grievous hurt to the informant Smt. Honnamma, trespassed into
the house of Smt. Honnamma and quarrelled with her in filthy
language; the appellant assaulted the informant with a chopper
on her head and hands and caused grievous injuries to her; the
accused   No.2   assaulted   the   deceased   Smt.   Manjula   with   a
chopper;   the   accused   No.3   assaulted   the   deceased   Kumari
Radhika with a chopper on her head. Due to the said assault,
Kumari Radhika sustained grievous injuries as a result of which
she died at 7:15 p.m. on 15.01.1994 at B.M. Hospital, Mysore.
Smt. Manjula also sustained grievous injuries and succumbed to
the same at 2:35 p.m. on 04.02.1994.  Based on the information
lodged by the injured eye­witness Smt. Honnamma, the crime
came to be registered. All the five accused were tried for the
offences punishable under Sections 326, 302, and 114 read with
Section 34, IPC. The Trial Court acquitted all the accused, after
evaluation of the material on record and after hearing both the
parties.   As   mentioned   supra,   the   High   Court   confirmed   the
judgment of acquittal passed by the Trial Court in respect of the
accused Nos. 2 to 5. However, the High Court set aside the
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judgment   of   the   Trial   Court   acquitting   the   appellant   and
consequently convicted him for the offences punishable under
Sections 302 and 326, IPC.
3 Mr. Shanthkumar V. Mahale, advocate, appearing on behalf
of the appellant, having taken us through the material on record
submits   that   the   High   Court   reversed   the   well­considered
judgment of the Sessions Court qua the appellant herein even
though there is no cogent evidence against the appellant. The
first appellate court should not have interfered with the judgment
of   acquittal,   particularly  when  the   judgment   of   acquittal   was
based on settled principles of law as well as on due appreciation
of the evidence on record. The judgment of acquittal cannot be
said to be perverse, and the view taken by the Trial Court is one
of the possible views under the facts and circumstances of the
case, hence the High Court should not have interfered with the
judgment of the Trial Court. Per contra, Mr. Joseph Aristotle S.,
advocate for the State, argued in support of the judgment of the
High Court.
4 As mentioned supra, the informant Smt. Honnamma is an
injured   eye­witness.   The   first   information   report   details   the
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sequence of events which took place on the date of the incident,
i.e., on 15.01.1994. Apart from narrating the incident, it narrates
about motive for commission of offence also, i.e., there was a
dispute between the accused and the informant with regard to
partition of the property. The first information discloses that at
4:00 p.m. on 15.01.1994, the appellant and his elder brother,
Puttaswamy and Rajesh came to the house of the informant and
started quarrelling with her asking as to why she was not giving
the property to Jayamma (accused No.5), sister of the appellant.
So   saying,   the   appellant   assaulted   the   informant,   Smt.
Honnamma (PW. 23) with a chopper on her head and hands.
Puttaswamy (accused No.2) assaulted Smt. Manjula (who was
present in the house) with a chopper on her head three to four
times. H.M. Rajesh (accused No.3) assaulted Kumari Radhika
(minor­who was also present in the house of informant) with a
chopper on her head. No overt acts are attributed to Shankar
(accused   No.4)   and   Jayamma   (accused   No.5) in   the   first
information. It is needless to observe that specific allegations are
found as mentioned supra against Jayaswamy (the appellant),
Puttaswamy (accused No.2) and H.M. Rajesh (accused No.3) only.
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5. In order to prove its allegations, the prosecution examined
31 witnesses. However, the important witness in the matter is
PW.23 i.e., the injured eye­witness/informant Smt. Honnamma.
The   case   of   the   prosecution,   thus,   fully   and   mainly   centres
around the evidence of Smt. Honnamma (PW.23), who survived
after the assault by the appellant. The doctor (PW.7) examined
Smt. Honnamma, Kumari Radhika and Smt. Manjula initially
and  issued wound  certificates  (Ex.  P­7, Ex. P­6 and  Ex. P­8
respectively). PW.14   (doctor)   conducted   the   post­mortem
examination of the dead body of Manjula. The doctor (PW.30)
conducted   the   post­mortem   examination   of   the   dead   body   of
Radhika. None of the witnesses (except PW.23) are eye­witnesses;
the   other   witnesses   examined   are   either   panch   witnesses   or
police officials.
6. It is not in dispute that the incident had taken place inside
the house of Smt. Honnamma (PW.23), therefore, it is but natural
that there was no other eye­witness except PW.23. Three persons
sustained injuries and out of them two persons, namely Kumari
Radhika   and   Smt.   Manjula,   succumbed   to   the   injuries.   The
incident has taken place in broad daylight at about 4:30 p.m. It
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is not the story of the prosecution that the accused persons
closed the door after trespassing into the house and committed
the   offences   secretly;   on   the   other   hand,   according   to   the
prosecution,   the   accused   have   committed   the   offence   openly.
None of the neighbouring witnesses had come for the help of the
deceased and injured. Although the prosecution examined two
neighbouring witnesses, they are not the eye­witnesses.
7. Looking to the evidence on record, the Trial Court as well as
the High Court were justified in concluding that the incident had
taken place for the reason of a property dispute.
8. Specific overt act had been attributed to the appellant by
the informant (PW.23) not only in her first information but also in
her deposition. She has categorically deposed that the appellant
assaulted her with chopper; neither did the appellant assault the
two  deceased, nor did he  instigate  others  to  assault the two
deceased.   PW.23   has   further   specifically   stated   in   the   first
information as well as deposed before the Court that accused
No.2, Puttaswamy assaulted the deceased Smt. Manjula with a
chopper and accused No.3 assaulted Kumari Radhika with  a
chopper.   Kumari   Radhika   expired   on   the   very   day,   i.e.,
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15.01.1994 at 7:15 p.m. in B.M. Hospital whereas Smt. Manjula
succumbed to her injuries at 2:35 p.m. on 04.02.1994. The overt
acts   specified   by   PW.23   both   in   first   information   and   her
evidence reveal that there is no ambiguity in the deposition of
PW.23 with regard to the overt acts of each of the accused. The
acts of each of these accused Nos. 1 to 3 are compartmentalised,
i.e., accused No.1 assaulted the complainant with a chopper,
whereas accused No.2 assaulted Smt. Manjula with a chopper,
and accused No.3 assaulted Kumari Radhika with a chopper. No
allegations are found against the accused Nos.4 and 5. No overt
acts are found against the appellant in so far as assault on both
the deceased. Except specifying that the appellant assaulted the
informant (PW.23), no other allegations are found against him.
The ingredients of common intention on the part of the accused
to   do   away   with   the   life   of   the   deceased   Smt.   Manjula   and
Kumari   Radhika   are   not   forthcoming   from   the   evidence   on
record. Same is also the finding by the Trial Court and the High
Court.
9. It is no doubt that the name of the appellant is found in all
the three wound certificates, i.e., Ex. P6 to P8, as the assailant.
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But, in view of the specific ocular testimony of PW.23 that the
appellant   has   assaulted   PW.23   only,   (mother­in­law   of   the
deceased   Smt.   Manjula   and   the   foster   mother   of   Kumari
Radhika), aforementioned note in the wound certificates loses its
importance. It is relevant to note that PW.23 has fully supported
the  case of the  prosecution  and she is the only eye­witness.
Moreover, her evidence is consistent with her averments found in
the first information. We do not find any reason to discard the
evidence   of   PW.23,   more   particularly   as   her   evidence   is
unambiguous,   cogent   and   consistent   with   the   case   of   the
prosecution. By relying on the wound certificates, the High Court,
as mentioned supra, convicted the appellant while confirming the
acquittal of the other accused. Absolutely no reason, much less
valid   reason,   is   assigned   by   the   High   Court,   to   reverse   the
judgment of acquittal passed in favour of appellant.
10. It is by now well settled that the Appellate Court hearing the
appeal filed against the judgment and order of acquittal will not
overrule or otherwise disturb the Trial Court’s acquittal if the
Appellate Court does not find substantial and compelling reasons
for doing so. If the Trial Court’s conclusion with regard to the
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facts is palpably wrong; if the Trial Court’s decision was based on
erroneous view of law; if the Trial Court’s judgment is likely to
result in grave miscarriage of justice; if the entire approach of the
Trial Court in dealing with the evidence was patently illegal; if the
Trial Court judgment was manifestly unjust and unreasonable;
and if the Trial Court has ignored the evidence or misread the
material evidence or has ignored material documents like dying
declaration/report of the ballistic expert etc. the same may be
construed as substantial and compelling reasons and the first
appellate court may interfere in the order of acquittal. However, if
the view taken by the Trial Court while acquitting the accused is
one of the possible views under the facts and circumstances of
the case, the Appellate Court generally will not interfere with the
order   of   acquittal   particularly   in   the   absence   of   the
aforementioned factors. It is relevant to note the observations of
this Court in the case of Ramanand Yadav vs. Prabhu Nath Jha
And Ors., (2003) 12 SCC 606, which reads thus:
“21. There   is   no   embargo   on   the   appellate   court
reviewing   the   evidence   upon   which   an   order   of
acquittal  is  based.  Generally,  the  order  of  acquittal
shall not be interfered with because the presumption
of innocence of the accused is further strengthened by
acquittal.  The golden thread which runs through the
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web of administration of justice in criminal cases is
that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced
in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused
and   the   other   to   his   innocence,   the   view   which   is
favourable   to   the   accused   should   be   adopted.   The
paramount consideration of the court is to ensure that
miscarriage of justice is prevented. A miscarriage of
justice which may arise from acquittal of the guilty is
no less than from the conviction of an innocent. In a
case where admissible evidence is ignored, a duty is
cast   upon   the   appellate   court   to   reappreciate   the
evidence   in   a   case   where   the   accused   has   been
acquitted,   for   the   purpose   of   ascertaining   as   to
whether any of the accused committed any offence or
not.”
(emphasis supplied)
11. The High Court as mentioned Supra, while convicting the
appellant   has   confirmed   the   judgment   of   acquittal   passed   in
favour of the accused Nos.2 to 5. Their acquittal as confirmed by
the High Court is not questioned by the State before this Court.
Thus, the judgment of the High Court acquitting accused Nos.2
to 5 has attained finality. Therefore, it is clear that the Trial
Court and the High Court have, on facts, not believed the case of
the prosecution in respect of the assault by the accused Nos. 2
and 3. As mentioned supra, the specific case of the prosecution is
that accused Nos.2 and 3 assaulted the deceased Smt. Manjula
and Radhika consequent to which they lost their lives. Absolutely
no material is found against the appellant herein to convict him
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for the offences under Section 302 IPC inasmuch as he had not
played any role in the death of the two deceased. In addition to
the same, both the Courts have, on facts concluded that there
was   no   common   intention   on   the   part   of   the   accused,   in
commission of crime.
12. It   is   not   in   dispute   that   the   injured,   Smt.   Honnamma
(PW.23) sustained grievous injury as a result of assault by the
appellant. She was referred to a neurologist for an expert opinion
inasmuch as she had sustained an incised wound over the left
parietal area. She had also sustained a fracture at the lower end
of her right forearm. Since the evidence of PW.23 in respect of an
overt   act by   the   appellant   in   injuring   Smt.   Honnamma   is
believable,   in   our   considered   opinion,   the   High   Court   was
justified in convicting the appellant for the offence under Section
326, IPC, but was not justified in convicting the appellant for the
offence   under   Section   302,   IPC.   Accordingly,   the   appeal   is
allowed in part, in terms of the following order:
(a) The appellant is acquitted of the offence punishable under
Section 302, IPC. Consequently, the judgment of the High Court
convicting him for the said offence stands set aside.
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(b)   The   judgment   passed   by   the   High   Court   convicting   the
appellant for the offence under Section 326 IPC and sentencing
him   for   imprisonment   of   7   years   stands   confirmed   and   is
imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000/­. In default of deposit/payment of
fine (if not already deposited) within eight weeks from today, the
appellant shall undergo imprisonment for two years additionally.
The   fine,   if   recovered,   shall   be   paid   to   PW.23   (informantHonnamma)
as compensation.
(c) It is brought to our notice that the appellant has already
undergone   imprisonment   for   11   years.   The   appellant   is   also
entitled to set­off the period of imprisonment already undergone
with the sentence of seven years imposed. In view of the same,
the appellant shall be released forthwith, if he is not required in
any other matter.
..................................J
L. NAGESWARA RAO
.................................J
MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR
New Delhi
June 01, 2018