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Friday, November 29, 2013

Death sentence converted in to 30 years without remission = not a fit case where the death sentence awarded to the appellants should be affirmed.= ends of justice would meet if they are awarded the sentence of 30 years without remission. The facts and circumstances involved in the instant case do not meet the requirement of rarest of rare cases as explained hereinabove and we are of the considered view that it is not a fit case where the death sentence awarded to the appellants should be affirmed. Considering the current trend in view of the judgment of this Court in Swamy Shraddanand (2) @ Murali Manohar Mishra v. State of Karnataka, (2008) 13 SCC 767 which has subsequently been followed by this Court as is evident from the judgments in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Sanjay Kumar, (2012) 8 SCC 537; and Gurvail Singh @ Gala v. State of Punjab, (2013) 2 SCC 713, we are of the considered opinion that ends of justice would meet if they are awarded the sentence of 30 years without remission. = Madhu @ Madhuranatha & Anr. …Appellants Versus State of Karnataka …Respondent = published in

    Death sentence converted in to 30 years without remission =   not a fit case where  the
      death  sentence  awarded  to  the  appellants  should   be   affirmed.= ends  of
      justice would meet if they  are  awarded  the  sentence  of  30  years
      without remission.

 The facts and circumstances involved in the instant case do  not
      meet the requirement of rarest of rare cases as explained  hereinabove
      and we are of the considered view that it is not a fit case where  the
      death  sentence  awarded  to  the  appellants  should   be   affirmed.
      Considering the current trend in view of the judgment of this Court in
      Swamy Shraddanand (2) @ Murali Manohar Mishra v. State  of  Karnataka,
      (2008) 13 SCC 767 which has subsequently been followed by  this  Court
      as is evident from the judgments in State of Uttar Pradesh  v.  Sanjay
      Kumar, (2012) 8 SCC 537; and Gurvail Singh @ Gala v. State of  Punjab,
      (2013) 2 SCC 713, we are  of  the  considered  opinion  that  ends  of
      justice would meet if they  are  awarded  the  sentence  of  30  years
      without remission.



                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                    CRIMINAL APPEAL NOs.1357-1358 of 2011

      Madhu @ Madhuranatha & Anr.                              …Appellants


      State of Karnataka                                     …Respondent


                       Criminal Appeal No.109 of 2013

                               J U D G M E N T

      Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.

      1.    These criminal appeals have been preferred against the  impugned
      judgment and order  dated  8.9.2010,  passed  by  the  High  Court  of
      Karnataka at Bangalore in Criminal Appeal Nos.833, 855 and 864 of 2008
      by which the High Court has affirmed the death sentence and  confirmed
      the judgment and orders of the learned District & Sessions Judge dated
      11/17.7.2008, passed in Sessions Case  No.152  of  2005  with  certain
      observation about the charging Sections of the Indian Penal Code  1860
      (hereinafter referred  to  as  ‘IPC’)  by  which  and  whereunder  the
      appellants have been convicted under Sections 364/302/201 r/w  Section
      34 IPC and for the offences punishable under Section 364  r/w  Section
      34 IPC, sentenced to undergo RI for 7 years and a fine of  Rs.25,000/-
      each  and  in  default  of  payment  of  fine  to  undergo  a  further
      imprisonment for a period  of  18  months.   They  have  been  further
      convicted under Section 201  r/w  Section  34  IPC  and  sentenced  to
      undergo RI for 5 years and a fine of Rs.10,000/- each and  in  default
      to undergo further RI for a  period  of  12  months.   All  the  three
      appellants have been further convicted under Section 302  r/w  Section
      34 IPC and awarded death penalty.

      2.    Facts and  circumstances giving rise to these appeals are that:

      A.    Madhusudhan, deceased had gone from Anandpura to Sagar on  being
      asked by his uncle Prahlad (PW.1) to collect the outstanding  dues  in
      respect of sale and purchase of ginger from K.B. Sreenath  (PW.2)  and
      K.S. Kiran (PW.12).   As Madhusudhan did not turn up,  Prahlad  (PW.1)
      got worried and contacted K.B. Sreenath (PW.2) and K.S. Kiran  (PW.12)
      to find out the whereabouts of Madhusudhan.  Both K.B. Sreenath (PW.2)
      and K.S. Kiran (PW.12) informed Prahlad (PW.1)  that  Madhusudhan  had
      collected Rs.2,50,000/- and Rs.1,50,000/- respectively  from  them  at
      about 12.30 P.M. and left  for Anandpura.   Prahlad  (PW.1)  contacted
      all  his  relatives  and  friends  to  find  out  the  whereabouts  of
      Madhusudhan but all in vain.

      B.    K.B. Sreenath (PW.2) and K.S. Kiran (PW.12)  filed  a  complaint
      FIR No. 148/2005  (Ex.P-84)  in  the  Police  Station,  Sagar  against
      unnamed persons suspecting that Madhusudhan had been kidnapped. In the
      meanwhile there were rumors  in  Anandpura  that  the  appellants  had
      looted the money and killed Madhusudhan as some  persons  i.e.  Nagesh
      (PW.4); Sirajuddin (PW.5); Nagendra  (PW.3); and Chandrashekar  (PW.6)
      had come   forward  and  informed  that  they  had  seen  Madhusudhan,
      deceased in the company of appellants on 8.8.2005 at 12.45 P.M.

      C.    In view of this, an FIR was  lodged  on  11.8.2005  against  the
      appellants and one Lakshmeesha under Section 365 r/w Section 34 IPC at
      Police Station Anandpura.  The Police tried to  trace  Madhusudhan  as
      well as the appellants.  It came to the knowledge of the investigating
      agency that the deceased was seen in the company of the appellants  in
      a Maruti van  bearing  Registration  No.KA-15-3112  on  which  “Kadala
      Muttu” had been written on the back  side.   Thus,  the  Investigating
      Officer tried to search for the said vehicle and came to know  that it
      belonged to  Jayanna @ P. Aya (A.3).

      D.    The location of mobile phone of Jayanna @ P. Aya (A.3)  was  put
      on surveillance/watch and thereby he  was  arrested  on  12.8.2005  at
      Anandpura and on the same day Rafiq @ Munna (A.2) was  arrested  by  a
      separate team of police at Bangalore from the house of  Felix  D’Costa
      (PW.10).  Madhuranatha (A.1) surrendered before the police on the same
      day.  They made certain voluntary statements, on  the  basis  whereof,
      recoveries were made.  Jayanna @ P. Aya  (A.3)  took  the  police  and
      others persons (recovery witnesses) to the forest area and pointed out
      to a place wherefrom the dead body was exhumated. Only  the  trunk  of
      the body was found as the head had been chopped off and thrown in  the
      nearby Nandi river.  Prahlad  (PW.1),  Srinivasa  (PW.15),  Shivananda
      (PW.16), Devaraja (PW.17) and K. Keshavamurthy (PW.22)  witnessed  the
      said recovery and identified the corpse.  However,  in  spite  of  the
      efforts  made  by  the  police,  the  head  could  not  be  recovered.
      Immediately thereafter recovery of most of the looted amount had  been
      made from the appellants.  A mobile phone belonging to  Jayanna  @  P.
      Aya (A.3) purchased from the loot amount was also recovered.   A  gold
      ring belonging to the deceased was given to the Investigating  Officer
      by Felix D’Costa  (PW.10)  from  whose  house  Rafiq  (A.2)  had  been
      arrested in Bangalore.

      E.     After  completing  the  investigation,  chargesheet  was  filed
      against the  appellants and trial commenced.

      F.    In the court Nagesh (PW.4) and Chandrashekar (PW.6) corroborated
      the prosecution case to the extent that they had seen the deceased  in
      the company of all the three appellants on  8.8.2005  at  about  12.45
      P.M.   Pranesh (PW.11) and Sadananda (PW.13)  supported  the  case  of
      extra-judicial  confession  as  made  by  Madhuranatha  (A.1)   before
      (PW.11).  A.1 had also approached   PW.13  for  help  to  contact  the
      police and disclosed that he had committed the murder  of  Madhusudhan
      alongwith  Rafiq (A.2) and Jayanna @ P. Aya (A.3).

      G.    Recovery of the dead body was supported  by  Shivananda  (PW.16)
      and Devaraja (PW.17).  K.B. Sreenath (PW.2) and K.S. Kiran (PW.12) had
      supported the prosecution case deposing  about  payment  of  money  to
      Madhusudhan  on  8.8.2005  at  about  12.45  P.M.  to  the   tune   of
      Rs.4,00,000/-.  The issue of motive was  proved  by   Prahlad  (PW.1),
      K.B. Sreenath (PW.2), Felix D’Costa  (PW.10),  Pranesh  (PW.11),  K.S.
      Kiran (PW.12) and Sadananda (PW.13).  The dead body was identified and
      the evidence in respect of recovery of the  dead  body  was  given  by
      PWs.1 and 22.  The same stood affirmed by the report of the DNA  test.
      The  Investigating  Officer  Bhaskar  Rai  (PW.47)  proved   all   the
      recoveries and furnished the details as to how the  investigation  was
      carried out and how the arrest of the appellants was made.

      H.    On the basis  of  the  above,  the  Trial  Court  convicted  and
      sentenced the appellants  under  Sections  364,  302,  201  read  with
      Section 34 IPC.  No conviction was made under Sections 120A or  B IPC.

      I.    Aggrieved, the appellants  preferred  appeals  before  the  High
      Court which have been dismissed by the  impugned  judgment  and  order
      with respect to death sentences while maintaining the other  sentences
      as well. However, the court made a passing observation that the charge
      should have been framed under Section 364A  IPC instead of Section 302
           Hence, these appeal.

      3.    Mr. N.D.B. Raju and Mr. Amit Kumar,  learned  counsel  appearing
      for the appellants have agitated all the issues which had been  raised
      on behalf of the appellants before the Trial Court as well  as  before
      the High Court and have taken us through the evidence recorded  before
      the Trial Court.  According to them there is nothing on record to show
      that the death of the deceased was homicidal or he was  even  abducted
      by  the  appellants,  what  to  talk  of  causing  death  of  deceased
      Madhusudhan.  In the absence of any material on record to  prove  that
      his head was chopped off by any of the appellants, their conviction is
      bad, particularly in view of the fact that there  is  no  evidence  to
      show that the appellants had buried the lower portion of the corpse in
      the forest and threw the head in the flowing river.  More so, the High
      Court had taken a view that the conviction under particular provisions
      of IPC by the Trial Court was not justified, meaning thereby that  the
      Trial Court did not frame the charges properly.  Even the money  shown
      to have been recovered from the appellants had been  planted  and  not
      actually recovered.  Most of the witnesses examined by the prosecution
      are relatives of the deceased. There are  material  contradictions  in
      the deposition of the witnesses and a large  number  of  witnesses  to
      some of the recoveries have been withheld.  Only the police  personnel
      have been made the recovery witnesses though large number  of  persons
      had gathered and were available for being made the recovery witnesses.
       The video prepared at the time of exhumation of the dead body was not
      presented in the Trial Court and that Jayanna (A.3) on whose behest it
      is alleged that the dead body  was  recovered  is  not  shown  in  the
      photographs taken at the  time  of  exhumation.  One  of  the  alleged
      witnesses of recovery i.e. Pranesh (PW.11) had  been  dis-believed  by
      the Trial Court and another witness i.e. Sadananda  (PW.13)  has  been
      dis-believed by the High Court.  They  are  the  witnesses  of  extra-
      judicial confession as well. In such a  fact-situation,  none  of  the
      said witnesses are trustworthy. Under no circumstance  the  appellants
      could have been awarded the death sentence.  Thus, the appeals deserve
      to be allowed.

      4.    On the contrary, learned counsel appearing  for  the  State  had
      opposed the appeals contending that the Investigating Officer was  not
      asked in cross-examination any of  the  question  raised  before  this
      Court for the  first  time,  either  in  respect  of  the  videography
      prepared at the time of exhumation or about  the  absence  of  Jayanna
      (A.3) in the photographs taken at that time.  Law  does  not  prohibit
      making the police personnel as recovery  witnesses  and  most  of  the
      discrepancies raised by the appellants are of trivial nature which  do
      not materially affect the merit of the case.  Thus,  in  view  of  the
      above, the appeals are liable to be dismissed.

      5.    We are of the considered opinion that both the courts below have
      taken  into  consideration  the  evidence  and  appreciated  the  same
      meticulously.  The   prosecution   has   relied   on   the   following
      circumstances to prove its case:
              I. The motive of the offence was robbery and in  pursuance  to
                 which the accused persons  murdered  the  deceased,  robbed
                 him, chopped off the head and buried the trunk of the body.
                 The head and the weapon of offence  were  thrown  in  Nandi
             II. PW-11 deposed about the motive and produced cash  amounting
                 to Rs. 39000/- and  a  mobile  phone  along  with  its  SIM
                 purchased from the total cash of Rs. 50000/- deposited by A-
                 1 with him.
            III.  A-1  made  an  extra-judicial  confession  before   PW-13,
                 requesting PW-13 to save him and on his advice, surrendered
                 before the police.
             IV. Voluntary disclosure by A-3 about the location of the  dead
                 body and wherefrom, the dead body was exhumed.
              V. PW-1 identified the trunk of the dead body from the tattoo.
                 The D.N.A. report confirmed the body  to  be  that  of  the
                 deceased/son of PW-22.
             VI. The Post Mortem Report and the manner in which the body was
                 found irrefutably point to a homicidal death.
            VII. A-2 was arrested from the house of PW-10 who  had  produced
                 two worthless articles and  a  gold  chain-MO5  before  the
                 police left by A-2. PW-1 had identified the said gold chain
                 to be that of the deceased.
           VIII. Recovery of Rs. 1,01,000/- from the house of  A-1  and  Rs.
                 2,02,700/- from the house of A-2 concealed  in  the  cattle
                 shed which is un-explained and un-accounted.
             IX. Recovery of a mobile set MO14 from A-3 identified  by  PW-1
                 as that of the deceased.
              X. Last seen circumstance of the deceased being in the company
                 of the accused persons  on  8.8.2005  around  12:30  PM  as
                 deposed by PW-4 who is acquainted with the deceased as well
                 as the accused persons.

      6.    This Court has dealt with the case  of  circumstantial  evidence
      time and again. It has consistently been held that  a  conviction  can
      be based solely on circumstantial  evidence.  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
      complete in themselves. The circumstances from which the conclusion of
      guilt is to be  drawn  should  be  fully  established.  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  or
      point to any other hypothesis except that the accused is  guilty.  The
      circumstances should be of  a  conclusive  nature  and  tendency.  The
      evidence produced by the prosecution should be of such a  nature  that
      it makes the conviction of the accused sustainable.
      (Vide: Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, AIR  1984  SC
      1622; State of  Uttar  Pradesh  v.  Satish,  AIR  2005  SC  1000;  and
      Paramjeet Singh @ Pamma v. State of Uttarakhand, AIR 2011 SC 200).
      7.    Both the courts below have dismissed the aforesaid circumstances
      in light  of  the  aforesaid  legal  propositions  and  reached  to  a
      conclusion that the appellants had committed the crime. We do not  see
      any reason to interfere with such concurrent finding of fact.
      8.    It has been canvassed on behalf of the appellants that there are
      discrepancies and contradictions in the depositions of witnesses  like
      the timings when deceased was seen last with the  appellants  and  the
      distances of places etc. do not tally. Thus, their evidence cannot  be
      relied upon.
      9.    In Rohtash Kumar v. State of Haryana, JT 2013 (8) SC  181,  this
      Court considered the issue of discrepancies in the depositions. It  is
      a settled legal proposition that while appreciating the evidence of  a
      witness, minor discrepancies on trivial matters which  do  not  affect
      the core of the case of the prosecution must not prompt the  court  to
      reject the evidence in its entirety.  Therefore,   irrelevant  details
      which do not in any way corrode the credibility of a witness should be
      ignored. The court has to examine whether evidence  read  as  a  whole
      appears to have a ring of truth. Once that impression is formed, it is
      undoubtedly necessary for the court to scrutinize the  evidence,  more
      particularly  keeping  in  view  the   deficiencies,   drawbacks   and
      infirmities pointed out in the evidence as a whole and  evaluate  them
      to find out whether it is against the general tenor  of  the  evidence
      given by the witnesses and  whether  the  earlier  evaluation  of  the
      evidence is shaken, so as to render it unworthy of belief.  Thus,  the
      court  is  not  supposed  to  give  undue  importance  to   omissions,
      contradictions and discrepancies which do not go to the heart  of  the
      matter, and shake the basic version of the prosecution witness.
           A similar view has been re-iterated in State  of  U.P.  v.  M.K.
      Anthony, AIR 1985  SC  48;  State  rep.  by  Inspector  of  Police  v.
      Saravanan & Anr., AIR 2009 SC 152; and Vijay  @  Chinee  v.  State  of
      M.P., (2010) 8 SCC 191.
      10.   Learned counsel for the appellants has vehemently argued that in
      some  of  the  recoveries,  though  a  large  number  of  people  were
      available, but only police personnel  were  made  recovery  witnesses.
      Thus, the whole prosecution case becomes doubtful.
           The term ‘witness’ means a person who is  capable  of  providing
      information by way of deposing as regards relevant facts, via an  oral
      statement, or a statement in writing,  made  or  given  in  Court,  or
           In Pradeep Narayan Madgaonkar & Ors. v.  State  of  Maharashtra,
      AIR 1995 SC 1930, this Court dealt with the issue of  the  requirement
      of the examination of an independent witness, and whether the evidence
      of a police witness requires corroboration. The Court held that though
      the same must be subject to strict scrutiny, however, the evidence  of
      police officials cannot be discarded merely on the  ground  that  they
      belong  to  the  police  force  and  are  either  interested  in   the
      investigation or in the prosecution. However, as far as  possible  the
      corroboration of their evidence  on  material  particulars  should  be
      (See also: Paras Ram v. State of Haryana, AIR  1993  SC  1212;  Balbir
      Singh v. State, (1996) 11 SCC 139;  Kalpnath  Rai  v.  State  (Through
      CBI), AIR 1998 SC 201; M. Prabhulal v. Assistant Director, Directorate
      of  Revenue  Intelligence,  AIR  2003  SC  4311;  and  Ravinderan   v.
      Superintendent of Customs, AIR 2007 SC 2040).
      11.   Thus, a witness is normally considered to be independent  unless
      he springs from sources which  are  likely  to  be  tainted  and  this
      usually means that the said witness has  cause  to  bear  such  enmity
      against the accused so as to implicate him falsely.  In  view  of  the
      above, there can be no prohibition to  the  effect  that  a  policeman
      cannot be a witness or that his deposition cannot be relied upon if it
      inspires confidence.
      12.   This Court in Laxmibai (dead) Thr. L.Rs. & Anr. v.  Bhagwantbuva
      (dead) Thr. L.Rs. & Ors., AIR 2013 SC 1204 examined  a  similar  issue
      and held:
           “Furthermore, there cannot be any dispute with  respect  to  the
           settled legal proposition, that if a party wishes to  raise  any
           doubt as regards the correctness of the statement of a  witness,
           the said witness must be given an  opportunity  to  explain  his
           statement by drawing his attention to that part of it, which has
           been objected to by the other party, as  being  untrue.  Without
           this, it is not possible to impeach his credibility. Such a  law
           has been advanced in view of the statutory provisions  enshrined
           in Section 138 of the  Evidence  Act,  1872,  which  enable  the
           opposite party to cross-examine a witness as regards information
           tendered in evidence by him during his  initial  examination  in
           chief, and the  scope  of  this  provision  stands  enlarged  by
           Section 146 of the Evidence Act, which permits a witness  to  be
           questioned,  inter-alia,  in  order  to   test   his   veracity.
           Thereafter, the unchallenged part  of  his  evidence  is  to  be
           relied upon, for the  reason  that  it  is  impossible  for  the
           witness to explain or elaborate upon any doubts as  regards  the
           same, in the absence of questions put to him with respect to the
           circumstances which indicate that the version of events provided
           by him, is not fit to be believed, and the witness  himself,  is
           unworthy of credit. Thus,  if  a  party  intends  to  impeach  a
           witness, he must provide adequate opportunity to the witness  in
           the witness box, to give a full and proper explanation. The same
           is essential to ensure fair play and fairness  in  dealing  with
           witnesses. (See: Khem Chand v. State of  Himachal  Pradesh,  AIR
           1994 SC 226; State of U.P. v. Nahar Singh (dead) & Ors., AIR
           1998 SC 1328; Rajinder Pershad (Dead) by L.Rs. v. Darshana  Devi
           (Smt.), AIR 2001 SC 3207; and Sunil Kumar &  Anr.  v.  State  of
           Rajasthan, AIR 2005 SC 1096)”.

      13.   It has been canvassed on  behalf  of  the  appellants  that  the
      provisions of Sections 174 and 176(3) Cr.P.C. had  not  been  complied
      with and the body had been exhumed by the IO without the permission of
      the Executive Magistrate and therefore, the investigation had not been
      conducted in accordance with law.   Sub-section  (1)  of  Section  174
      Cr.P.C. only puts an obligation on the part of the IO to intimate  the
      Executive Magistrate empowered to hold inquest but there is nothing in
      law which provides that investigation cannot be  carried  out  without
      his permission in writing or in  his  absence.   Even  otherwise,  the
      provision stands qualified “unless  otherwise  directed  by  any  rule
      prescribed by the State Government, or by any general or special order
      of the District or Sub-divisional  Magistrate.”   The  object  of  the
      inquest proceeding is merely to ascertain whether a  person  has  died
      under unnatural circumstances or an unnatural death and if so, what is
      the cause of death.  More so, the inquest report is  not  a  piece  of
      substantive evidence and can be utilised only  for  contradicting  the
      witnesses to the inquest  examined  during  the  trial.   Neither  the
      inquest report nor the post-mortem report can be termed  as  basic  or
      substantive evidence  and  thus,  any  discrepancy  occurring  therein
      cannot be termed as  fatal  or  suspicious  circumstance  which  would
      warrant benefit of doubt to the accused.
      (Vide: Pooda Narayan & Ors. v.  State  of  A.P.,  AIR  1975  SC  1252;
      Rameshwar Dayal & Ors. v. State of U.P., AIR  1978  SC  1558;  Kuldeep
      Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1992 SC 1944; George & Ors. v. State  of
      Kerala & Anr., AIR 1998 SC 1376; Suresh Rai & Ors. v. State of  Bihar,
      AIR 2000 SC 2207; and Munshi Prasad & Ors. v. State of Bihar, AIR 2001
      SC 3031).
      14.   So far as the provisions of Section 176 Cr.P.C.  are  concerned,
      the said provisions are attracted when a person dies in police custody
      and there is suspicion that  death  had  been  caused  by  the  police
      itself.   In other eventualities also,  as  provided  in  Section  176
      Cr.P.C., the Magistrate may hold the enquiry.  Even if the  submission
      of the appellants is considered to have some  substance  it  will  not
      tilt the balance in their favour.  It is a settled  legal  proposition
      that  evidence  collected  even  by  improper  or  illegal  means   is
      admissible if it  is  relevant  and  its  genuineness  stands  proved.
      However, the court may be cautious while scrutinizing  such  evidence.
      In such a fact-situation, it may be considered a  case  of  procedural
      lapse on the part of the Investigating Officer and it  should  not  be
      discarded unless the appellant satisfies the court that any  prejudice
      has been caused to him.
      (Vide: Umesh Kumar v. State of Andhra Pradesh, JT 2013  (12)  SC  213;
      and Pooran Mal v. Director of  Inspection,  Income-Tax,  New  Delhi  &
      Ors., AIR 1974 SC 348).
      15.   A number of witnesses have deposed of seeing the deceased in the
      company of the appellants before the  incident.  In  cases  where  the
      accused was last seen with the  deceased  victim  (last  seen-together
      theory) just before the incident, it becomes the duty of  the  accused
      to explain the circumstances under  which  the  death  of  the  victim
      occurred. (Vide: Nika Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh,  AIR  1972  SC
      2077; and Ganeshlal v. State of Maharashtra, (1992) 3 SCC 106).
      16.    It is obligatory  on  the  part  of  the  accused  while  being
      examined under Section 313 Cr.P.C., to furnish some  explanation  with
      respect to the incriminating circumstances associated  with  him,  and
      the court must take note  of  such  explanation  even  in  a  case  of
      circumstantial evidence,  to  decide  whether  or  not  the  chain  of
      circumstances is complete. [Vide: Musheer Khan @ Badshah Khan  &  Anr.
      v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2010 SC 762; and  Dr.  Sunil  Clifford
      Daniel (supra)].
      17.   The High Court regarding Sadananda (PW.13) has observed as
                 “It  may  be  that  PW11  may  appear  as  accomplice  but
           nonetheless the evidence of PW13 clinchingly establish the extra-
           judicial confession of A1. The analysis of  the  above  evidence
           would clinchingly establish the guilt of A1  to  A3.  Therefore,
           the order of conviction is sound and proper.”

           Similarly, the Trial Court  in  respect  of  PW.11  observed  as
                 “Even if the extra-judicial confession said to  have  been
           made  by  the  first  accused  before  PW.13  is  eschewed,  the
           statement made before PW.11 shows  that  immediately  after  the
           incident the first accused Madhuranatha who had  earlier  sought
           the assistance of PW.11 for the same crime has met  him  in  his
           house during night and handed over Rs.50,000/- for safe  custody
           and also requested him not to disclose it to any one.”

           If the aforesaid findings of the courts below are read together,
      none of them has disbelieved either of the witnesses. Therefore, we do
      not find any force in the submissions advanced by learned counsel  for
      the appellants that one of the said witnesses had been disbelieved  by
      the Trial Court and another by the High Court and thus, none  of  them
      could be relied upon. The courts below opined that even if evidence of
      one of them is eschewed, deposition  of  another  is  enough  to  lend
      support to the prosecution case.

      18.   However, the facts of the case did not warrant death penalty.
           The extreme penalty of death need not  be  inflicted  except  in
      gravest cases of extreme culpability.  Before  opting  for  the  death
      penalty the circumstances of the offender  are  also  required  to  be
      taken into consideration along with the circumstances of the crime for
      the reason that life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is an
      exception. The penalty of death sentence may be warranted  only  in  a
      case where the court comes to the conclusion that imposition  of  life
      imprisonment is totally  inadequate  having  regard  to  the  relevant
      circumstances of the crime.  The  balance  sheet  of  aggravating  and
      mitigating circumstances has to be drawn  up  and  in  doing  so,  the
      mitigating circumstances have to be accorded full weightage and a just
      balance has to  be  struck  between  the  aggravating  and  mitigating
      circumstances  before  the  option  is  exercised.  The  condition  of
      providing special reasons for awarding death  penalty  is  not  to  be
      construed linguistically but it is to satisfy the basic features of  a
      reasoning supporting and making award of death penalty unquestionable.
      The circumstances and the manner of committing  the  crime  should  be
      such that it pricks the judicial conscience of the court to the extent
      that the only and inevitable conclusion should be  awarding  of  death
      penalty. (Vide: Bachan Singh v. State of  Punjab,  AIR  1980  SC  898;
      Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1983 SC 957; Devender  Pal  Singh
      v. State of NCT of Delhi, AIR 2002 SC 1661; State  of  Maharashtra  v.
      Goraksha Ambaji Adsul, AIR 2011 SC 2689; and  Neel Kumar v.  State  of
      Haryana, (2012) 5 SCC 766).

      19.   In Haresh Mohandas Rajput v. State of Maharashtra, (2011) 12 SCC
      56, this court held as under:

           “20. ‘The rarest of the rare case’ comes when a convict would be
           a menace and threat to the harmonious and  peaceful  coexistence
           of the society. The crime may be heinous or brutal but  may  not
           be in the category of ‘the rarest of the rare case’. There  must
           be no reason to believe that the accused cannot be  reformed  or
           rehabilitated and that he is likely to continue criminal acts of
           violence as would constitute a continuing threat to the society.
           The accused may be a menace to the society and would continue to
           be so, threatening its peaceful and harmonious coexistence.  The
           manner in which the crime is committed must be such that it  may
           result in intense and extreme indignation of the  community  and
           shock the collective conscience of the society. Where an accused
           does not act on any spur-of-the-moment provocation and  indulges
           himself  in  a  deliberately  planned  crime  and   meticulously
           executes it, the death sentence  may  be  the  most  appropriate
           punishment for such a ghastly crime. The death sentence  may  be
           warranted where the victims are innocent children  and  helpless
           women. Thus, in case the crime is committed in a most cruel  and
           inhuman  manner  which  is  an  extremely   brutal,   grotesque,
           diabolical,  revolting  and  dastardly  manner,  where  his  act
           affects the  entire  moral  fibre  of  the  society  e.g.  crime
           committed for  power  or  political  ambition  or  indulging  in
           organised  criminal  activities,  death   sentence   should   be

      20.   The facts and circumstances involved in the instant case do  not
      meet the requirement of rarest of rare cases as explained  hereinabove
      and we are of the considered view that it is not a fit case where  the
      death  sentence  awarded  to  the  appellants  should   be   affirmed.
      Considering the current trend in view of the judgment of this Court in
      Swamy Shraddanand (2) @ Murali Manohar Mishra v. State  of  Karnataka,
      (2008) 13 SCC 767 which has subsequently been followed by  this  Court
      as is evident from the judgments in State of Uttar Pradesh  v.  Sanjay
      Kumar, (2012) 8 SCC 537; and Gurvail Singh @ Gala v. State of  Punjab,
      (2013) 2 SCC 713, we are  of  the  considered  opinion  that  ends  of
      justice would meet if they  are  awarded  the  sentence  of  30  years
      without remission.

      21.   With the aforesaid modification, the appeals stand disposed of.

                                                                (DR.    B.S.

                                                (S.A. BOBDE)
      New Delhi,
      November 28, 2013

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