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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sec.302 and sec.406 I.P.C.- Sec. 27 of Indian Evidence Act - Circumstantial evidence - Material improvements in evidence - destroys the credible worthiness of evidence - Improper identification and Sizer of properties - properties not brought in sealed covers - already shown to the witnesses- proper comparative articles not placed for identification - lack of identification marks , presence of police etc., lacks confidence in the story of complaint - in which where the complainant was turned as Accused - Trial court and High court orders are set aside and accused are Acquitted under benefit of doubt = Vijay Kumar .. Appellant(s) versus State of Rajasthan .. Respondent(s) = 2014 (Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41231

 Sec.302 and sec.406 I.P.C.- Sec. 27 of Indian Evidence Act - Circumstantial evidence - Material improvements in evidence - destroys the credible worthiness of evidence - Improper identification and Sizer of properties - properties not brought in sealed covers - already shown to the witnesses- proper comparative articles not placed for identification - lack of identification marks , presence of police etc.,  lacks confidence in the story of complaint - in which where the complainant was turned as Accused - Trial court and High court orders are set aside and accused are Acquitted under benefit of doubt =

 Lack of credibility of witness and is liable for rejection. =


The prosecution case is that the appellants A-1 Atma Ram  and
               A-3 Vijay Kumar conspired and murdered Keshar Bai and  stolen
               the  ornaments/articles  possessed  by   her.   Nobody    has
               witnessed the occurrence and the case rests on circumstantial
               evidence. They  found  the
         room of Keshar Bai open. They called Keshar Bai, but  she  did  not
         respond. Therefore they entered inside the room and saw Keshar  Bai
         lying dead in naked condition in a pool of  blood.  Her  mouth  was
         tied with saree.  On her legs a box was lying open.   Based on  the
         report  a case under Exh.P.13 First Information Report came  to  be
         registered under Section 302 and  460  IPC  and  the  investigation
         commenced.=

In the  cross
               examination PW 10 Jaswant Singh has stated that  he  did  not
               tell in his statement  to  the  police  during  investigation
               about the threat made by A1-Atma Ram to Keshar Bai  regarding
               the  possibility  of  an  income-tax  raid  and  seizure   of
               ornaments and also the demand of ornaments  made  by  accused
               Radha to Keshar Bai and her wearing the same. 
This Court has
               to form its opinion about the credibility of the witness  and
               record a  finding  as  to  whether  his  deposition  inspires
               confidence.  
This witness PW 10 Jaswant Singh was  admittedly
               examined by Investigation Officer during investigation and in
               that statement he has not stated  the facts which he now  for
               the first time  stated before the Trial Court.  
This  raises
               a serious doubt as to the veracity of  the  said  facts  [See
               Khalil Khan vs. State of M.P. (2003) 11 SCC  19]. 
In  other
               words this  witness  has  made   material  improvement  while
               deposing in the Court and such evidence  cannot  be  safe  to
               rely upon.  Thus the evidence adduced by the  prosecution  to
               prove the circumstances  2 and 3  does not pass the  test  of
               credibility and is liable for rejection.

Property identification parade - failed to establish confidence on prosecution = 
in State of Vindhya  Pradesh
               vs. Sarua Munni Dhimar and others [AIR 1954 V.P.  (Vol.41  CN
               15)].  The relevant portion reads thus :

                   “Further  as  has  been  observed  in  connection   with
                   identification  of  accused  persons    no   presumption
                   attaches to identification proceedings of property.   It
                   is for the prosecution to establish affirmatively   that
                   every necessary precaution  was  taken  to  ensure  fair
                   identification.  The most essential requirement is  that
                   the witnesses should not  have  had  an  opportunity  of
                   seeing the property after its recovery  and  before  its
                   identification before the Magistrate.  For that  purpose
                   it is necessary to seal the property as soon  as  it  is
                   recovered and to keep it in a sealed condition  till  it
                   is produced before the Magistrate.  The police  officers
                   who take the sealed bundles  to the thana after recovery
                   and who take it to  the  Magistrate  for  identification
                   proceedings should be examined to prove  that the sealed
                    bundles were not tampered with in any way.  The  sealed
                   bundles  should  be  opened  in  the  presence  of   the
                   Magistrate conducting the identification proceedings and
                   he should depose about it.  The  property  to  be  mixed
                   with the property to be identified should also be sealed
                   some days before witnesses are  called  and  the  bundle
                   containing it should also be opened in the  presence  of
                   the Magistrate who should testify  about  it  in  court.
                   Further  as  has  been   observed   in   the   case   of
                   identification proceedings  of  persons  the  result  of
                   identification as well as the fact whether the  property
                   mixed was similar to the property identified  should  be
                   entered in the memorandum by the Magistrate in  his  own
                   hand.”

           13. In the present case about 131 articles  of  gold  and  silver
               were  recovered.   
About  60  witnesses  have  testified  the
               pledging of their articles with Keshar  Bai.   
The  ornaments
               like ‘Gorla’, ‘Chain of gold’, ‘madalia”   ‘ring’,   ‘Bitti’,
               `Karia’, ‘Pahunchi’, ‘hasli’ etc. are of same  kind  lookwise
               having no special marks on  them.   
 Learned  senior  counsel
               appearing for A-3 Vijay Kumar brought to our notice that  one
               Pahunchi as per Exh.P5  recovery  Memo,  which  contained  59
               Mania (Moti) was recovered  along  with  6  silver  ornaments
               mentioned therein, 
whereas in Exh.P.68  a  copy  of  Malkhana
               register the six silver articles alone  are  found  mentioned
               and there is no mention of the gold  ornament  ‘pahunchi’  as
               having kept safely in the Malkhana and it is not known as  to
               where it was kept and produced.  
On a  perusal  of  the  said
               documents,  this contention cannot be easily  brushed  aside.
               It is the further submission of the  learned  senior  counsel
               that as per the prosecution case 
PW 28 Smt.  Raj  Kanwar  has
               pledged  above said ‘pahunchi’ with Keshar Bai  and  she  has
               stated in her testimony that  her ‘pahunchi’ was of 40  Mania
               (Moti).  If it is so the recovered ‘pahunchi’ is not that  of
               PW 28 Smt. Raj Kanwar.  It is doubtful  as  to  whether  this
               recovery claimed by the prosecution is established.

  four witnesses examined claimed one ornament as theirs.   
The
               identification proceedings of articles was conducted by PW 83
               Tahsildar  Durga Prasad Sharma in Tehsil and he  has  claimed
               to have prepared 72 identification reports.   
In  the  cross-
               examination he has admitted that there were policemen present
               at the time  of  identification  and  he  did  not  know  the
               articles brought to him were in sealed  packets  or  in  open
               condition and he did not remember whether seal  used  on  the
               packets was official seal since 12 years have already passed.
               
Even he did not know as to  who  has  arranged  for  articles
               having similarity to the seized articles for the  purpose  of
               identification and identification proceedings were  completed
               in a single day.  
The Tahsildar even  after  looking  at  the
               Memo was unable to say how many articles of  each  kind  were
               mixed up with articles to be identified  and whether  similar
               articles were new or old, used or unused  etc.  
None  of  the
               precaution that ought to  have  been  taken  to  ensure  fair
               identification was ever taken and no weight can  be  attached
               to the evidence of identification of  property.   
Though  the
               trial court has observed in the judgment about  the  lack  of
               proper  identification  of  the  articles,   it   erroneously
               proceeded further to accept the same.   
Recovery  of  weapons
               namely  knife and screw-driver  claimed to have been made  on
               the information given by A-1 Atma Ram is also doubtful.  
Even
               assuming to be true that recovery  of  certain  incriminating
               articles were made at  the  instance  of  the  accused  under
               Section 27 of  the Evidence Act,  that    by   itself  cannot
               form the basis of conviction 
[See Wakkar vs.  State  of  U.P.  (2011) 3 SCC 306].
Conclusion :
 In this background we are of the considered opinion that both
               the Courts below fell in error in coming  to  the  conclusion
               that the  prosecution  has  established  its  case  based  on
               circumstantial evidence beyond all reasonable doubt.  Benefit
               of doubt will have to be given to both the appellants.

           16. In the result both the appeals are allowed and the conviction
                and sentence imposed on the appellants by the  courts  below
               are set aside and they are acquitted of  the  charges.   They
               are directed to be released from the custody forthwith unless
               required otherwise.

2014 (Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41231
T.S. THAKUR, C. NAGAPPAN
               

                                             REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.441 OF 2009
                                    With
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1363 of 2009



     Vijay Kumar                       ..    Appellant(s)

                                   versus

     State of Rajasthan                ..       Respondent(s)




                               J U D G M E N T




     C. NAGAPPAN, J.




            1. These two appeals are preferred against the judgment  of  the
               High Court of Judicature of Rajasthan at Jaipur Bench  in  DB
               Criminal Appeal No.664 of 2001.




            2. The appellant Dr. Atma Ram in Criminal Appeal No.1363 of 2009
               is the  accused  No.1  and  the  appellant  Vijay   Kumar  in
               Criminal Appeal  No.441  of  2009  is  accused  No.3  in  the
               Sessions  Case  No.28  of  2001  (38/1986)  on  the  file  of
               Additional Sessions Judge (Fast Track)  Jhunjhunu,  Rajasthan
               and  they  were  tried  for   the   alleged   offences  under
               Section 120B, 302, 460 and  382  IPC.   Three  other  accused
               namely A-2 Kailash Chand, A-4 Gyanchand and  A-5  Radha  Devi
               were also tried in the same  case  for  the  alleged  offence
               under Section 411 IPC.  The Sessions Court found accused Nos.
               1  and  3/appellants   guilty  of  the  charges  framed   and
               sentenced them each to suffer imprisonment for  life  and  to
               pay a fine of Rs.5000/- each in default to  undergo  rigorous
               imprisonment for  six  months  each  for  the  offence  under
               Section 302 read with Section 120B IPC and further  sentenced
               them each to undergo rigorous imprisonment  for  eight  years
               and to pay a fine of Rs.1000/- each and in default to undergo
               rigorous imprisonment for six months  each  for  the  offence
               under Section 460 IPC and also sentenced them each to undergo
               rigorous imprisonment for eight years and to pay  a  fine  of
               Rs.1000/-  each  and   in   default   to   undergo   rigorous
               imprisonment for  six  months  each  for  the  offence  under
               Section  382  IPC  and   ordered   the   sentences   to   run
               concurrently.  The Sessions Court also found  accused  Nos.2,
               4 and 5 guilty of the  offence  under  Section  411  IPC  and
               sentenced them each to undergo rigorous imprisonment for  two
               years and each to pay a fine of Rs.500 and in default each to
               undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months.

            3. Aggrieved by the conviction and sentence accused Nos.1  to  5
               preferred appeal in Criminal Appeal No.664 of  2001  and  the
               High Court by judgment dated 2.5.2007  dismissed  the  appeal
               preferred by the accused No.1 Atma Ram and accused No.3 Vijay
               Kumar/appellants herein and at  the  same  time  allowed  the
               appeal pertaining to accused No.2  Kailash  Chand,  A-4  Gyan
               Chand and Accused No.5  Radha  Devi  and  acquitted  them  of
               charge under Section 411 IPC.  Challenging  their  conviction
               and sentence accused No.1 Atma Ram  and  accused  No.3  Vijay
               Kumar have preferred the present appeals.

            4. Briefly the case of the prosecution is as follows:

                 Accused No.1 Atma Ram  was  working  as  a  Doctor  in  the
         Government Hospital in village Chhapoli and Keshar Bai  was  posted
         as a mid-wife in the same hospital and a month prior to  occurrence
         she started residing in a room on the ground floor under the stair-
         case of the hospital.  She used to give loan  on  interest  on  the
         mortgage of gold and silver ornaments. PW 17  Sweeper  Basanti  Lal
         was also residing in a corner room on  the  ground   floor  of  the
         hospital.  A-1 Atma Ram was residing on the first floor of the same
         hospital.  Accused No.3 Vijay Kumar was his brother-in-law  and  he
         was also residing with  him.   On  11.11.1985  PW  17  Basanti  Lal
         noticed Kesar Bai sitting outside in the hospital and also  noticed
         return of Atma Ram to Hospital. Dr.Atma  Ram  forwarded  a  written
         report on November 12, 1985 through Peon Nand  Lal  to  Udaipurbati
         Police Station (Jhunjhunu) informing about  the  murder  of  Keshar
         Bai.  In the report A-1 Atma Ram stated that in the preceding night
          around 12.30 a.m. he suddenly woke-up  hearing  voice  of  sweeper
         Basanti Lal who was asking to open the door of his room  which  was
         bolted from outside. Atma Ram then got up and proceeded towards the
         room of Basanti Lal but the door of Atma Ram’s staircase  was  also
         bolted from outside, therefore he could not go out and awoke  Vijay
         Kumar, who was residing with him. Vijay Kumar then scaled the  roof
         and unbolted the room of Basanti Lal. Thereafter all the three went
         down through the staircase and went towards Nohra. They  found  the
         room of Keshar Bai open. They called Keshar Bai, but  she  did  not
         respond. Therefore they entered inside the room and saw Keshar  Bai
         lying dead in naked condition in a pool of  blood.  Her  mouth  was
         tied with saree.  On her legs a box was lying open.   Based on  the
         report  a case under Exh.P.13 First Information Report came  to  be
         registered under Section 302 and  460  IPC  and  the  investigation
         commenced. 
After some time the investigation was transferred to CID
         (CB) Jaipur.
PW  85  Investigation  Officer  Shiv  Prasad  Sharma
         arrested A-1 Atma Ram on 9.4.1986 and on inquiry A-1 Atma Ram  gave
         Exh.P105 information leading to recovery of ornaments under  Exh.P8
         list.  
Pursuant to his further information given  under  Exh.  P106
         one knife and screw driver came to be recovered under Exh.P.30.  PW
         85 Investigation Officer  Shiv Prasad  Sharma  arrested  A-3  Vijay
         Kumar on 26.4.1986 and on inquiry A-3 Vijay Kumar   gave  Exh.P.111
         information leading to recovery of ornaments/articles under Exh. P5
         Memo. 
The Investigation Officer arrested the  other  three  accused
         and  during  investigation  examined  the  witnesses  and  recorded
         statements.
PW  83  Tahsildar  Durga   Prasad   Sharma   conducted
         identification proceedings of the recovered articles  and  prepared
         72 identification reports. After completion  of  the  investigation
         the charge-sheet came to be  filed  against  the  accused  persons.
         During the trial the prosecution examined 86 witnesses  and  marked
         the relevant documents  in  support  of  its  case.
A-1  Atma  Ram
         examined himself as a defence witness, besides  4  other  witnesses
         were examined on the  side  of  defence.   The  trial  Court  found
         accused guilty of the charges and sentenced them as narrated above,
         
on appeal the conviction and sentences imposed on A-1 Atma Ram  and
         A-3  Vijay  Kumar  were  confirmed  and  the  other  accused   were
         acquitted.  A-1 Atma Ram and A-3 Vijay Kumar  have  challenged  the
         same in these appeals.

            5. We heard  Mrs.  Mridul  Aggarwal  the  learned  amicus  curie
               appearing on  behalf  of  the  appellant  Atma  Ram  and  Mr.
               Bhagwati Prasad the learned senior counsel appearing for  the
               appellant Vijay Kumar and also  learned  Additional  Advocate
               General appearing for the respondent-State.

            6. The prosecution case is that the appellants A-1 Atma Ram  and
               A-3 Vijay Kumar conspired and murdered Keshar Bai and  stolen
               the  ornaments/articles  possessed  by   her.   Nobody    has
               witnessed the occurrence and the case rests on circumstantial
               evidence. In a case  based  on  circumstantial  evidence  the
               settled  law  is  that  the  circumstances  from  which   the
               conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and  such
               circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the
               circumstances should be complete and there should be  no  gap
               left  in  the  chain  of  evidence.    Further   the   proved
               circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis  of
               the guilt of the accused and totally  inconsistent  with  his
               innocence.




            7. The prosecution in order to prove its case mainly  relied  on
               the following circumstances:

              i) Keshar Bai died of homicidal violence.

             ii) A-1 Atma Ram, threatened Keshar Bai of possible  income-tax
                 raid  and  seizure  of  ornaments  possessed  by  her   and
                 persuaded her  to  shift  her  residence  from  village  to
                 hospital premise with her belongings.

            iii) Accused Radha used to demand the ornaments for wearing from
                 Keshar Bai.

             iv) On the information furnished by A-1 Atma Ram and A-3  Vijay
                 Kumar, upon their arrest, the ornaments pledged by  various
                 persons  with  Keshar  Bai,  got   recovered   from   their
                 possession.

            8. PW 14 Dr. Dinesh Singh Choudhary conducted post-mortem on the
               body of Keshar  Bai  and  found  the  following  ante  mortem
               injuries :

                    i) Incised wound 1”x1” x  1.5”  towards  right  of  neck
                       below jaw till trachea

                   ii) Three Incised wounds on Lt. Side  neck  till  trachea
                       each measuring as 1¼” x ½” x 1”, in the middle  1”  x
                       ½” x 1 of below ½” x ¼”  x ¼”

                  iii) Incised wound 2” x ½” x ½” above Rt. Breast

                   iv) Incised wound 2” x ½” x ½” above Lt. Breast

                    v) Three incised wounds below Right Breast ½” x ¼” x  ¼”
                       IInd 1” x ½” x ¼” IIIrd ½” x ¼” x ¼”

                   vi) Incised wound Lt. hand from behind 1” x ½” x ½”

                  vii) Incised wound Rt. hand from behind 1” x ½” x ½”

         According to him the cause of death was hemorrhage due to  cut  of
         neck vessels.  Exh. P24 is the post mortem report issued  by  him.
         From the medical evidence it is clear  that death  of  Keshar  Bai
         was  homicidal  in  nature  and  the  first  circumstance    stood
         established.

            9.  Circumstances  No.2  and  3  are  taken  up  for  discussion
               together.
PW7  Kishore  Singh  is  a  resident  of  village
               Chhapoli and he has testified that Keshar Bai was a nurse  in
               the hospital and was residing  as a tenant in  his  house  on
               rent of Rs.10 per month for more than a decade and  she  used
               to lend loan on interest on mortgage  of  ornaments  and  she
               used to keep the ornaments in a box in the house and a  month
               prior to the occurrence she shifted her  residence  from  his
               house to the hospital with all her belongings.

           10. PW 10 Jaswant Singh is the brother-in-law of Keshar  Bai  and
               in his examination-in-chief he has  stated  that  Keshar  Bai
               kept her ornaments in the locker of a bank and A-1  Atma  Ram
               told her that the income-tax people could raid the  bank  and
               seize her ornaments and hence Keshar Bai took  the  ornaments
               with her.  PW 10 has further stated that Keshar Bai  used  to
               tell him that accused Radha demanded ornaments from  her  for
               wearing and would dance after wearing the same. 
In the  cross
               examination PW 10 Jaswant Singh has stated that  he  did  not
               tell in his statement  to  the  police  during  investigation
               about the threat made by A1-Atma Ram to Keshar Bai  regarding
               the  possibility  of  an  income-tax  raid  and  seizure   of
               ornaments and also the demand of ornaments  made  by  accused
               Radha to Keshar Bai and her wearing the same.
This Court has
               to form its opinion about the credibility of the witness  and
               record a  finding  as  to  whether  his  deposition  inspires
               confidence.  
This witness PW 10 Jaswant Singh was  admittedly
               examined by Investigation Officer during investigation and in
               that statement he has not stated  the facts which he now  for
               the first time  stated before the Trial Court.  
This  raises
               a serious doubt as to the veracity of  the  said  facts  [See
               Khalil Khan vs. State of M.P. (2003) 11 SCC  19].
In  other
               words this  witness  has  made   material  improvement  while
               deposing in the Court and such evidence  cannot  be  safe  to
               rely upon.  Thus the evidence adduced by the  prosecution  to
               prove the circumstances  2 and 3  does not pass the  test  of
               credibility and is liable for rejection.

           11. The remaining last circumstance pertains  to  the  recoveries
               made pursuant to the disclosure made by the appellants.   The
               investigation officer PW 85 Shiv Prasad Sharma   has  claimed
               that he arrested A-1 Atma Ram on 9.4.1986 and on  inquiry  he
               gave Exh. 105  information  which  led  to  the  recovery  of
               ornaments mentioned  in  Exh.P8  -list  in  the  presence  of
               witnesses.
PW 5 Santbax Singh and PW6 Madanlal Bhavaria  are
               the witnesses to  the  said  recovery.   Both  of  them  have
               testified that accused No.1 Atma Ram took them and the police
               to his house and entered a room in the court-yard and  opened
               an almirah and took out a plastic bag  and  handed  it  over,
               which contained  ornaments of gold and silver  and  the  same
               was recovered by  Memo  under  Exh.  P8  list.   The  further
               testimony of the investigation officer is that he arrested A-
               3 Vijay Kumar on 26.4.1986 and on inquiry he gave  Exh.P  111
               information which led to  the  recovery  of  ornaments  under
               Exh.P5 Memo in the presence of witnesses.  PW4  Tota  Ram  is
               the witness for the said recovery and according  to  him  A-3
               Vijay Kumar took him and the police to his house and produced
               silver and gold articles and they were recovered under Exh.P5
               Memo, which he attested.  The relevant portion of Exh.P5 Memo
               reads as follows:

                  “Accused Vijay  asked for key of lock of  Baithak  (room)
                  from father through his brother’s wife  of  Kailash,  and
                  opened lock  and  then  entered  towards  right  side  of
                  Baithak.  Where in a Almirah a box (old)  was  found  and
                  opened it, and found a cloth bag (Potali) which was  tied
                  up.  Accused told that  the  potali  contains  ornaments.
                  When potali was opened found the following  ornaments  of
                  gold and silver and a wrist watch….”

           12. Both the above  said  recoveries  have  been  made  from  the
               respective houses  of  the  accused/appellants   where  their
               families were residing.  In fact A-3 Vijay Kumar obtained the
               key  from  his  father  for  opening  the  lock.    In   such
               circumstances it cannot be said that the said  articles  were
               in the exclusive possession  of  the  accused/appellants  and
               they came to be recovered only on the  information  furnished
               by them.  The learned senior counsel  and  the  amicus  curie
               appearing for the appellants strenuously contended that there
               was no fair identification proceedings of property  conducted
               by Tahsildar and  firstly  it  was  conducted  belatedly  and
               secondly the witnesses were already shown  the  articles  and
               thirdly there is no proof that those articles were kept  with
               deceased Keshar Bai and the recovery and -identification  are
               unreliable shaky and  fake.   In  this  regard  reliance  was
               placed on the following decision in State of Vindhya  Pradesh
               vs. Sarua Munni Dhimar and others [AIR 1954 V.P.  (Vol.41  CN
               15)].  The relevant portion reads thus :

                   “Further  as  has  been  observed  in  connection   with
                   identification  of  accused  persons    no   presumption
                   attaches to identification proceedings of property.   It
                   is for the prosecution to establish affirmatively   that
                   every necessary precaution  was  taken  to  ensure  fair
                   identification.  The most essential requirement is  that
                   the witnesses should not  have  had  an  opportunity  of
                   seeing the property after its recovery  and  before  its
                   identification before the Magistrate.  For that  purpose
                   it is necessary to seal the property as soon  as  it  is
                   recovered and to keep it in a sealed condition  till  it
                   is produced before the Magistrate.  The police  officers
                   who take the sealed bundles  to the thana after recovery
                   and who take it to  the  Magistrate  for  identification
                   proceedings should be examined to prove  that the sealed
                    bundles were not tampered with in any way.  The  sealed
                   bundles  should  be  opened  in  the  presence  of   the
                   Magistrate conducting the identification proceedings and
                   he should depose about it.  The  property  to  be  mixed
                   with the property to be identified should also be sealed
                   some days before witnesses are  called  and  the  bundle
                   containing it should also be opened in the  presence  of
                   the Magistrate who should testify  about  it  in  court.
                   Further  as  has  been   observed   in   the   case   of
                   identification proceedings  of  persons  the  result  of
                   identification as well as the fact whether the  property
                   mixed was similar to the property identified  should  be
                   entered in the memorandum by the Magistrate in  his  own
                   hand.”

           13. In the present case about 131 articles  of  gold  and  silver
               were  recovered.   
About  60  witnesses  have  testified  the
               pledging of their articles with Keshar  Bai.   
The  ornaments
               like ‘Gorla’, ‘Chain of gold’, ‘madalia”   ‘ring’,   ‘Bitti’,
               `Karia’, ‘Pahunchi’, ‘hasli’ etc. are of same  kind  lookwise
               having no special marks on  them.   
 Learned  senior  counsel
               appearing for A-3 Vijay Kumar brought to our notice that  one
               Pahunchi as per Exh.P5  recovery  Memo,  which  contained  59
               Mania (Moti) was recovered  along  with  6  silver  ornaments
               mentioned therein, 
whereas in Exh.P.68  a  copy  of  Malkhana
               register the six silver articles alone  are  found  mentioned
               and there is no mention of the gold  ornament  ‘pahunchi’  as
               having kept safely in the Malkhana and it is not known as  to
               where it was kept and produced.  
On a  perusal  of  the  said
               documents,  this contention cannot be easily  brushed  aside.
               It is the further submission of the  learned  senior  counsel
               that as per the prosecution case 
PW 28 Smt.  Raj  Kanwar  has
               pledged  above said ‘pahunchi’ with Keshar Bai  and  she  has
               stated in her testimony that  her ‘pahunchi’ was of 40  Mania
               (Moti).  If it is so the recovered ‘pahunchi’ is not that  of
               PW 28 Smt. Raj Kanwar.  It is doubtful  as  to  whether  this
               recovery claimed by the prosecution is established.

           14.  It is also the contention of the learned senior counsel that
               four witnesses examined claimed one ornament as theirs.   
The
               identification proceedings of articles was conducted by PW 83
               Tahsildar  Durga Prasad Sharma in Tehsil and he  has  claimed
               to have prepared 72 identification reports.   
In  the  cross-
               examination he has admitted that there were policemen present
               at the time  of  identification  and  he  did  not  know  the
               articles brought to him were in sealed  packets  or  in  open
               condition and he did not remember whether seal  used  on  the
               packets was official seal since 12 years have already passed.
               
Even he did not know as to  who  has  arranged  for  articles
               having similarity to the seized articles for the  purpose  of
               identification and identification proceedings were  completed
               in a single day.  
The Tahsildar even  after  looking  at  the
               Memo was unable to say how many articles of  each  kind  were
               mixed up with articles to be identified  and whether  similar
               articles were new or old, used or unused  etc.  
None  of  the
               precaution that ought to  have  been  taken  to  ensure  fair
               identification was ever taken and no weight can  be  attached
               to the evidence of identification of  property.   
Though  the
               trial court has observed in the judgment about  the  lack  of
               proper  identification  of  the  articles,   it   erroneously
               proceeded further to accept the same.   
Recovery  of  weapons
               namely  knife and screw-driver  claimed to have been made  on
               the information given by A-1 Atma Ram is also doubtful.  
Even
               assuming to be true that recovery  of  certain  incriminating
               articles were made at  the  instance  of  the  accused  under
               Section 27 of  the Evidence Act,  that    by   itself  cannot
               form the basis of conviction [See Wakkar vs.  State  of  U.P.
               (2011) 3 SCC 306].

           15. In this background we are of the considered opinion that both
               the Courts below fell in error in coming  to  the  conclusion
               that the  prosecution  has  established  its  case  based  on
               circumstantial evidence beyond all reasonable doubt.  Benefit
               of doubt will have to be given to both the appellants.

           16. In the result both the appeals are allowed and the conviction
                and sentence imposed on the appellants by the  courts  below
               are set aside and they are acquitted of  the  charges.   They
               are directed to be released from the custody forthwith unless
               required otherwise.

                                                              …………………………….J.
                                             (T.S. Thakur)



                                                               ……………………………J.
                                             (C. Nagappan)
     New Delhi;
     February 18, 2014

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