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Monday, January 27, 2014

Circumstantial Evidence - Suspecting the paternity of child - Husband took the child and walked away - child disappeared - after 20 minutes - over heard from the husband while saying that he threw the child in well to his mother - she was threatened with dire consequences - on the next day after arrival of her relatives - she lodged complaint - Harassment proved - motive proved - last seen proved - chain completed - nothing to suggest any thing about the innocence of the accused = REVUTAPPA … APPELLANT Versus STATE OF KARNATAKA … RESPONDENT = 2014 ( January - Vol - 1) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name =41178

Circumstantial Evidence - Suspecting the paternity of child - Husband took the child and walked away - child disappeared - after 20 minutes - over heard from the husband while saying that he threw the child in well to his mother - she was threatened with dire consequences - on the next day after arrival of her relatives - she lodged complaint - Harassment proved - motive proved - last seen proved - chain completed - nothing to suggest any thing about the innocence of the accused =

On
27/8/2000, when her close relatives came from Jadarbabaladi to console  her,
she mustered courage and told them that the appellant had thrown  her  child
in the well which resulted in his death.  
They immediately took her  to  the
Police Station and lodged a complaint.  Offences under  Sections  323,  302,
201, 506 read with Section 34 of the IPC were registered.  
The body  of  the
deceased child was exhumed after getting appropriate permission.   The  dead
body was sent for post-mortem examination.  
The  post-mortem  report  stated
the cause of death as “asphyxia as a result of drowning”.

3.    On completion of investigation, the appellant was  charged  and  tried
for offences punishable under Sections 498A, 323, 302, 201,  506  read  with
Section 34 of the IPC along with his mother Kallawwa who  was  arraigned  as
Accused 2. 
whether the death was homicidal or accidental.  
PW-1 Siddakka  has,  in  her
evidence, described how she was ill-treated in her matrimonial  house.   The
appellant disowned the paternity of the  child.   After  the  birth  of  the
child, PW-1 Siddakka was not allowed to perform  ‘Simant’  ceremony  of  her
child.  She went to her parent’s house.  Her father performed  the  ceremony
and named the child ‘Arun Kumar’.  Thereafter, for one year, she was in  her
parent’s house.  She went to her matrimonial house along with her uncle  PW-
13 Ishwarappa.  She was not allowed to stay there.  She  went  back  to  her
parent’s house.  Thereafter, demand for money  was  made.   PW-1  Siddakka’s
parents paid the amount.  PW-1 Siddakka went back to the  appellant’s  house
because the appellant assured  her  that  he  would  treat  her  well.   The
appellant took her and the child to stay with him  in  the  farmhouse.   The
harassment, however, continued.  On  the  day  of  the  incident,  when  the
appellant and PW-1 Siddakka  were  working  in  their  field,  she  saw  the
appellant taking the child towards their  hut.   After  15-20  minutes,  she
went to the hut to see  where  her  child  was.   She  heard  the  appellant
telling his mother that he had thrown the child in the well.  She rushed  to
the well and removed the dead child from the well. The appellant  threatened
her and told her not to disclose the true story to anyone.  He asked her  to
tell the people that the child died due to snake bite.  Out  of  fear,  PW-1
Siddakka did not inform anyone about the incident.  The  child  was  buried.
It is only when her relatives came to console her that  she  told  them  the
true story.  A complaint was,  then,  lodged.   Investigation  was  started.
After completion of investigation, the appellant was tried as aforesaid.
We have gone through the evidence  of  PW-1  Siddakka.   Her  evidence
inspires confidence.  We have noted that after  seeing  her  son’s  clothes,
she began to weep in the court and sat  down  for  sometime  without  saying
anything.  A mother would never  allow  the  person  who  killed  her  child
escape punishment.  She would also not involve a  wrong  person.   We  place
implicit reliance on PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence.

8.    PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence  is  corroborated  by  the  evidence  of  her
brother PW-10 Chanabasappa and her uncle PW-13 Ishwarappa, in all  respects.
 We have noted that some of the witnesses have  turned  hostile.   But  that
does not, in any way, affect the substratum of the prosecution  story.   The
prosecution has successfully proved that there was a strong motive  to  kill
the child because the appellant suspected the  fidelity  of  PW-1  Siddakka.
He had disowned the paternity  of  the  child.   The  prosecution  has  also
proved that the child and the  appellant  were  last  seen  together.   Most
clinching circumstance in this case is the conduct of the  appellant.   PW-1
Siddakka’s parents were informed about the death  of  the  child  after  the
burial.  She was threatened and told not to tell the true story  to  anyone.
She was asked to tell everyone that the child died due to snake bite.   This
conduct of the appellant, examined in the background of  the  strong  motive
and the fact that he was last seen with the child, establish that it is  he,
who threw the  child  in  the  well.   The  medical  evidence  supports  the
prosecution case that the child died due to drowning and not  due  to  snake
bite.


2014 ( January - Vol - 1) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name  =41178
SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI

NON-REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 760  OF 2005


REVUTAPPA                         …          APPELLANT

                                   Versus

STATE OF KARNATAKA                  …        RESPONDENT



                                  JUDGMENT


(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.



1.     This appeal is forwarded to this Court by the Jail  Authorities.   It
is directed against the judgment and order dated 8/10/2012,  passed  by  the
Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court in  Criminal  Appeal  No.1721  of
2001, whereby the High Court confirmed the judgment of  the  Sessions  Court
convicting the appellant for offences punishable under  Sections  302,  323,
506, 201 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code and  sentencing  him,  inter
alia, to life imprisonment.

2.    The prosecution story could be shortly stated.  
Complainant  Siddakka
was married to the appellant, five years prior to 25/8/2000  i.e.  from  the
date  of  the    incident.  
After  the  marriage,  the  appellant  started
suspecting Siddakka’s fidelity and when she  gave birth to   a  male  child,
he  told her that the child is not of his lineage  and  is  an  illegitimate
child.   
Prosecution story further  goes on to say that during the  relevant
time, Siddakka and the appellant were staying in a hut situated in the  land
belonging to the appellant  along  with  their  child.
On  25/8/2000,  when
Siddakka was plucking the green gram fodder  along  with  her  son  and  the
appellant was ploughing the other portion of the field, she  saw  the  child
going towards the appellant.  
The appellant stopped ploughing and  took  the
child towards the farmhouse. 
After sometime, when Siddakka  could  not  find
her child, she went near the hut.  She overheard the appellant  telling  his
mother that he had thrown the child in  the  well  of  Allisab.  
On  hearing
this, she ran towards the well of Allisab, picked up  the  dead  child  from
the well and returned to the hut.  
The appellant threatened  her  with  dire
consequences if she disclosed the incident to  anyone.  She  was  forced  to
tell others that the child died of snake bite.   Thereafter  the  child  was
buried.   Out of fear she did not  disclose  the  incident  to  anyone.  
On
27/8/2000, when her close relatives came from Jadarbabaladi to console  her,
she mustered courage and told them that the appellant had thrown  her  child
in the well which resulted in his death.  
They immediately took her  to  the
Police Station and lodged a complaint.  Offences under  Sections  323,  302,
201, 506 read with Section 34 of the IPC were registered.  
The body  of  the
deceased child was exhumed after getting appropriate permission.   The  dead
body was sent for post-mortem examination.  
The  post-mortem  report  stated
the cause of death as “asphyxia as a result of drowning”.

3.    On completion of investigation, the appellant was  charged  and  tried
for offences punishable under Sections 498A, 323, 302, 201,  506  read  with
Section 34 of the IPC along with his mother Kallawwa who  was  arraigned  as
Accused 2.
The prosecution examined 19  witnesses.  
It’s  most  important
witness is PW-1 Siddakka, who lost her one-and-half year old son because  of
the appellant’s cruel act.  Her evidence is corroborated by her brother  PW-
10 Chanabasappa and uncle PW-13 Ishwarappa.  The appellant  did  not  adduce
any evidence.  He denied all allegations.
 The defence  suggested  that  the
child saw a peacock; followed it; went to  the  field  where  the  well  was
situated, fell into it and died.

4.    The trial court acquitted Accused 2, the mother of  the  appellant  of
the  offence  punishable  under  Section  302  of  the  IPC.   It,  however,
convicted the appellant for the said  offence  and  sentenced  him  to  life
imprisonment. 
 Both of them were found guilty of offences  punishable  under
Sections 323, 506, 201 read with Section 34 of the IPC  and  were  sentenced
for the said offences.  
On appeal, the High Court set aside  the  conviction
and sentence of Accused 2.  
The appellant’s  conviction  and  sentence  was,
however, confirmed in its entirety. Hence, this appeal.

5.    Shri Mithilesh Singh, learned counsel for  the  appellant    submitted
that the prosecution case is based on circumstantial evidence. However,  the
circumstances do not point unerringly to the guilt of the  appellant.   They
may at the most raise some suspicion, but suspicion, however, strong  cannot
take the place of proof. Counsel submitted  that  the  court  will  have  to
cautiously examine each circumstance for the purpose of recording a  verdict
of guilty or giving benefit of doubt to the  accused.   In  support  of  his
submissions, counsel relied on
Padala  Veera  Reddy   v.   State  of  Andhra
Pradesh & Ors.[1] and Tarseem Kumar  v.  Delhi Administration[2]. Shri  V.N.
Raghupathy learned counsel for the State of Karnataka, on  the  other  hand,
submitted that the evidence adduced by the prosecution leaves no  scope  for
doubt about the appellant’s involvement in the crime  in  question.  Counsel
submitted that the appeal be, therefore, dismissed.

6.    There is no dispute  about  the  fact  that  the  child  died  due  to
drowning.  Medical evidence  is  clear  on  this  point.   The  question  is
whether the death was homicidal or accidental.  
PW-1 Siddakka  has,  in  her
evidence, described how she was ill-treated in her matrimonial  house.   The
appellant disowned the paternity of the  child.   After  the  birth  of  the
child, PW-1 Siddakka was not allowed to perform  ‘Simant’  ceremony  of  her
child.  She went to her parent’s house.  Her father performed  the  ceremony
and named the child ‘Arun Kumar’.  Thereafter, for one year, she was in  her
parent’s house.  She went to her matrimonial house along with her uncle  PW-
13 Ishwarappa.  She was not allowed to stay there.  She  went  back  to  her
parent’s house.  Thereafter, demand for money  was  made.   PW-1  Siddakka’s
parents paid the amount.  PW-1 Siddakka went back to the  appellant’s  house
because the appellant assured  her  that  he  would  treat  her  well.   The
appellant took her and the child to stay with him  in  the  farmhouse.   The
harassment, however, continued.  On  the  day  of  the  incident,  when  the
appellant and PW-1 Siddakka  were  working  in  their  field,  she  saw  the
appellant taking the child towards their  hut.   After  15-20  minutes,  she
went to the hut to see  where  her  child  was.   She  heard  the  appellant
telling his mother that he had thrown the child in the well.  She rushed  to
the well and removed the dead child from the well. The appellant  threatened
her and told her not to disclose the true story to anyone.  He asked her  to
tell the people that the child died due to snake bite.  Out  of  fear,  PW-1
Siddakka did not inform anyone about the incident.  The  child  was  buried.
It is only when her relatives came to console her that  she  told  them  the
true story.  A complaint was,  then,  lodged.   Investigation  was  started.
After completion of investigation, the appellant was tried as aforesaid.

7.    We have gone through the evidence  of  PW-1  Siddakka.   Her  evidence
inspires confidence.  We have noted that after  seeing  her  son’s  clothes,
she began to weep in the court and sat  down  for  sometime  without  saying
anything.  A mother would never  allow  the  person  who  killed  her  child
escape punishment.  She would also not involve a  wrong  person.   We  place
implicit reliance on PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence.

8.    PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence  is  corroborated  by  the  evidence  of  her
brother PW-10 Chanabasappa and her uncle PW-13 Ishwarappa, in all  respects.
 We have noted that some of the witnesses have  turned  hostile.   But  that
does not, in any way, affect the substratum of the prosecution  story.   The
prosecution has successfully proved that there was a strong motive  to  kill
the child because the appellant suspected the  fidelity  of  PW-1  Siddakka.
He had disowned the paternity  of  the  child.   The  prosecution  has  also
proved that the child and the  appellant  were  last  seen  together.   Most
clinching circumstance in this case is the conduct of the  appellant.   PW-1
Siddakka’s parents were informed about the death  of  the  child  after  the
burial.  She was threatened and told not to tell the true story  to  anyone.
She was asked to tell everyone that the child died due to snake bite.   This
conduct of the appellant, examined in the background of  the  strong  motive
and the fact that he was last seen with the child, establish that it is  he,
who threw the  child  in  the  well.   The  medical  evidence  supports  the
prosecution case that the child died due to drowning and not  due  to  snake
bite.

9.    It is surprising how defence suggested that the  child  went  after  a
peacock; fell in the well and died. The well was an unused well.  The  scene
of  offence  panchnama  discloses  that  grass  and   thorny   bushes   were
surrounding it.  It would be impossible for a one-and-half  year  old  child
to walk such a distance, jump over the thorny bushes and fall in  the  well.
This is, indeed, a far-fetched and astonishing suggestion.  Besides, in  his
statement under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C., the appellant has not  come  out
with this explanation.  The child was last seen with him.  It  was  for  him
to explain how the child fell in the well.  He has not done so.  He has  not
discharged the burden which had shifted to him  under  Section  106  of  the
Evidence Act.  Adverse inference needs to be drawn against  him.   In  fact,
this silence forms an additional link in the chain of circumstances.

10.   It is true that in a case based on circumstantial evidence, the  court
has to be cautious.  Each circumstance  must  be  carefully  examined.   The
chain of circumstances must be complete and it must be unerringly  point  to
the guilt of the accused.  It is also true that suspicion,  however  strong,
cannot take the place of proof.  Having examined this case in light  of  the
settled principles laid down in Padala Veera Reddy  and  Tarseem  Kumar,  we
are of the opinion that the prosecution  has  successfully  established  its
case.  The circumstances  have  been  fully  established.   The  established
facts  are  consistent  only  with  the  hypothesis  of  the  guilt  of  the
appellant.  There is absolutely no scope for any  reasonable  ground  for  a
conclusion consistent with the innocence of the  appellant.    There  is  no
merit in the appeal.  The appeal is dismissed.




                                                      .…………...…………………………..J.
                                               (Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya)


                               .…………………………..J.
                                                     (Ranjana Prakash Desai)
New Delhi;
January 24, 2014.
-----------------------
[1] 1989 Supp. (2) SCC 706
[2] 1994 Supp. (3) SCC 367

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