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Friday, January 9, 2015

CRIMINAL APPEAL No.906 OF 2012 Nand Kumar Appellant(s) Versus State of Chhattisgarh Respondent(s)

Reportable

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL No.906 OF 2012


       Nand Kumar                                           Appellant(s)

            Versus

      State of Chhattisgarh                       Respondent(s)


                                    WITH


                       Criminal Appeal No.913 of 2012
                       Criminal Appeal No.912 of 2012
                       Criminal Appeal No. 911 of 2012
                       Criminal Appeal No. 908 of 2012
                    Criminal Appeal Nos. 900-902 of 2012
                     Criminal Appeal Nos.909-910 of 2012
                       Criminal Appeal No.914 of 2012




                               J U D G M E N T
      Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.


      1.    These appeals  have  been  directed  against  the  final  common
      judgment dated 11.05.2007 passed by the High Court of  Chhatisgarh  at
      Bilaspur in Criminal Appeal Nos. 785, 866, 762, 868,  761,  853,  875,
      970, 851, 873 and 842 of 2001,  whereby  the  High  Court  upheld  the
      conviction and sentence of the appellants  herein  under  Section  302
      read with Sections 149 and 148 of the  Indian  Penal  Code,  1860  (in
      short “IPC”) which was awarded to them by the Sessions  Court  whereas
      the High Court allowed the  Criminal  Appeals  of  other  accused  and
      acquitted them of the charges by setting aside  the  judgment  of  the
      Sessions Court dated 12.07.2001 in Sessions Trial No. 342 of  1995  to
      that extent.
       2.   The concluding part of the impugned judgment of the  High  Court
      reads as under:
           “In the result, the appeals filed by accused  Raj  Kumar  Singh,
           Dhananjay, Rohit, Nirmal,  Surjan,  Santosh  Singh,  Gopal  Das,
           Chhatram,  Balchand  and  Devilal  succeeds.    Conviction   and
           sentences  imposed  upon  them  under  Sections  302  read  with
           Sections 149 and 148  of  the  IPC  are  set  aside.   They  are
           acquitted of the said charges.


           a. Balchand, Devilal, Chhatram & Surjan are on bail. Their  bail
           bonds are discharged and they need not surrender to  their  bail
           bonds.


           b. Santosh Singh, Rohit, Gopal Das, Raj Kumar Singh, Nirmal  and
           Dhananjay are in detention since 18-1-1995.  They  are  directed
           to be released forthwith, if not required in any other case.


           The appeal filed by accused Rameshwar Singh stands abated.


           The appeals filed by accused  Kumar  Singh,  Nande  Singh,  Nand
           Kumar, Baran, Jaipal, Resham Lal, Guharam, Amritlal  and  Basant
           Das are dismissed.  Conviction and sentences imposed  upon  them
           under Sections 302 read with Sections 149 and 148 of the IPC are
           maintained.  Baran, Jaipal and Resham Lal are  on  bail.   Their
           bail bonds are discharged and they  are  directed  to  surrender
           before the trial court forthwith  to  serve  out  the  remaining
           sentence.”


      3.    The question that arises for consideration in these  appeals  is
      whether the High Court was justified in upholding the  conviction  and
      sentence of the present appellants.
      4.    In order to appreciate the issue involved in these  appeals,  it
      is necessary to state the prosecution case in brief infra.
      5.    In a village - Bhaismudi in District  Janjgir,  there  were  two
      groups of villagers. One group consisted of deceased - Jawahar  Singh,
      Bhupendra Singh and others whereas the other group  consisted  of  the
      appellants herein and other accused.  There were disputes between  the
      two groups on account of Panchayat elections in the village  and  also
      several other reasons.
      6.    In the intervening night  of  16th  &  17th  January  1995,  the
      accused persons convened a meeting and  hatched  up  a  conspiracy  to
      eliminate Jawahar Singh and others. The  accused  persons  accordingly
      formed an unlawful assembly with a common object to murder Viki Singh,
      Jawahar Singh, Bhupendra  Singh,  Shailendra  Singh  -  both  sons  of
      Jawahar Singh, and  Kalicharan  and  in  furtherance  of  this  common
      object, all accused persons with deadly weapons (lathi, sword, ballam,
      Tabbals, iron roads) first went to the residence of Viki Singh near  a
      place called Nawa Talab, and killed Viki Singh by severely beating him
      with the weapons which they had carried with them. The accused persons
      then proceeded towards the agriculture field of  Jawahar  Singh  where
      they killed Jawahar Singh and his  two  sons  -  Bhupendra  Singh  and
      Shailendra Singh by severely beating them with the weapons, which they
      were carrying with them. Thereafter, the accused party proceeded to  a
      place called - Holha Chowk of Bhaismudi and  killed   Kalicharan  with
      the aid of same weapons.
      7.    Madhubala Bai (PW-1) reported this incident  by  lodging  Dehati
      Nalishi (Ex-P-1) on the spot on 17.01.1995 around 3.00 P.M.
      8.    At this stage it is proper to reproduce  the  substance  of  the
      contents of Ex-P-1 herein below: -
                 “…….that she is  resident of village Bhaismudi,  at  about
           11.30 a.m. she was at her shop, at that time, Karia Sabaria came
           crying to her shop and said that Viki Singh  has  been  murdered
           near Nawa Talab by Shiv Sena persons namely, Kumar Singh,  Nande
           Singh, Guharam, Rohit, Jaipal, Resham, Rajkumar  Singh,  Prahlad
           Singh, Rameshwar Singh, Dhananjay, Nand Kumar, Santosh & others.
            When she reached the spot, she saw that all these persons  were
           carrying lathi, rod, battle  axe  etc.   They  were  crying  and
           saying ‘let us now go to the field of Jawahar Singh  and  finish
           them there’, they started going towards the  agricultural  field
           of her father.  She  and  her  mother  also  followed  them  and
           requested that once they should save their life,  but  they  did
           not accede to their request.  While going  to  the  agricultural
           field, she informed Vinay Singh that Babuji  has  been  murdered
           near Nawa Talab, Nirmal Kashyap, Amrit, Basant  and  Baran  were
           also along with them.  After reaching  the  agricultural  field,
           these persons attacked her father  Jawahar  Singh  and  brothers
           Bhupender Singh and Shailender Singh with lathi and Tabbal as  a
           result of which her father Jawahar Singh and  brother  Bhupender
           Singh   succumbed   to   the   injuries   sustained   by    them
           instantaneously, and brother Shailender Singh succumbed  to  the
           injuries after 15-20 minutes.  All these persons have  committed
           the murder of her father and brothers.”


      9.    On receipt of the aforesaid report, Brajender  Singh  (PW-16)  -
      the Head Constable of Police Station Janjgir, registered the FIR (Ex-P-
      64) for commission of the offence under  Sections 302,  147,  148  and
      149 IPC.  Brajender Singh (PW-16) gave intimation in  respect  of  the
      death of Shailendra Singh - (Ex-P-65) whereas intimation in respect of
      the death of Bhupendra Singh and Jawahar  Singh  were  given  by  M.L.
      Shandilya (PW-22), Inspector of police - Exs-P-70 and P-71.
      10.   After giving necessary notices  (Exs.  P-2,  51,  and  63),  the
      Investigating Officer prepared inquest of  Bhupendra  Singh  (Ex-P-3),
      Shailendra Singh (Ex-P-52)  and  Jawahar  Singh  (Ex-P-64).   Dr  P.K.
      Narula (PW-12) conducted post-mortem on the body  of  Bhupendra  Singh
      (Ex-P-56).  In his opinion, the cause of death of Bhupendra Singh  was
      due to shock as  a  result  of  hemorrhage  on  account  of  extensive
      homicidal head injury. Dr. U.C. Sharma (PW-13)  conducted  post-mortem
      on the body of Jawahar Singh, who vide  his  report  (Ex.P-59)  opined
      that cause of death of Jawahar Singh was due to shock  and  hemorrhage
      as a result of extensive head injury and that the death  is  homicidal
      in nature.  Dr. A.K. Paliwal (PW- 14)  conducted  post-mortem  on  the
      body of Shailendra Singh and vide his  report  (Ex-P-61)  opined  that
      cause of death was due to shock resulting from  hemorrhage  caused  by
      extensive head injury and that death is homicidal in nature.
      11.   After  completing  the  investigation  and  collecting  all  the
      evidence, the charge-sheet was filed against 29  accused  persons  for
      commission of offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 302
      of the IPC in the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class,  Janjigir,
      who in turn committed the case to the Session Judge, Bilaspur, who  in
      turn transferred it to  the  Additional  Sessions  Judge.  During  the
      trial, one of the accused - Prahlad Singh, died.
      12.   Prosecution examined as many as 22 witnesses  at  the  trial  to
      prove the case.  Statements of  accused  persons  were  then  recorded
      under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure  Code,  1973  (hereinafter
      referred to as Cr.P.C.), in which all the accused persons denied their
      involvement in the commission of the  offences  and  also  denied  the
      material collected against them in the form of evidence.  They  stated
      that they were falsely implicated in the crime and are thus  innocent.
      One of the accused, Ganesh, stated that the deceased and  their  party
      members were indulged in selling illicit liquor and since  members  of
      their party -Shiv Sena were not allowing them to do  such  acts  which
      included accused, who were also the members of Shiv  Sena,  they  were
      falsely involved in this case due to this grudge against them. He also
      stated that since in  Panchayat  elections,  some  candidates  of  the
      deceased party had lost the election and hence, they were  hostile  to
      the accused persons. Another accused - Gopal Das stated  that  on  the
      date of incident, he was at Raigarh for medical test.  The accused  in
      defence examined Lalit Kumar (DW-1) and Dinesh Chandra Pathak (DW-2).
      13.   The trial Court, by judgment dated 12.07.2001,  acquitted  eight
      accused and  convicted  the  remaining  accused.   All  the  convicted
      appellants were directed to undergo life  imprisonment  under  Section
      302 read with Sections 148 and 149 with a fine of Rs. 2000/- each.
      14.   The convicted accused persons filed appeals in the  High  Court.
      By impugned judgment, the High Court upheld  the  conviction  of  nine
      accused  persons  by  dismissing  their  appeals  and  acquitted   the
      remaining accused persons by allowing their appeals.  One  appeal  was
      held abated due to death of accused.
      15.   The details regarding conviction/acquittal of accused persons by
      the High Court are mentioned herein below:
|Name and Number of the              |Acquittal / Conviction  |
|Accused-Appellant                   |                        |
|Gopal Das (A 3)                     |Acquitted               |
|Kumar Singh (A 4)                   |Conviction Upheld       |
|Rajkumar Singh (A 5)                |Acquitted               |
|Baran (A 6)                         |Conviction Upheld       |
|Amrit (A 7)                         |Conviction Upheld       |
|Guharam (A 8)                       |Conviction Upheld       |
|Jaipal (A 9)                        |Conviction Upheld       |
|Santosh Singh (A 10)                |Acquitted               |
|Nande Singh (A 11)                  |Conviction Upheld       |
|Resham (A 13)                       |Conviction Upheld       |
|Rameshwar Singh (A 14)              |Appeal Abated           |
|Dhananjay (A 15)                    |Acquitted               |
|Rohit Kumar Karsh (A 16)            |Acquitted               |
|Nirmal (A 17)                       |Acquitted               |
|Basant (A19)                        |Conviction Upheld       |
|Surjan (A 20)                       |Acquitted               |
|Chhatram (A 24)                     |Acquitted               |
|Balchand (A 25)                     |Acquitted               |
|Devilal (A 27)                      |Acquitted               |
|Nand Kumar (A 28)                   |Conviction Upheld       |


      16.   Against this judgment of the High Court, the  convicted  accused
      persons have preferred these appeals before this Court questioning the
      correctness of the impugned judgment in so far as their conviction and
      sentence is concerned.
      17.    Learned  Counsel  for  the  appellants,  while  assailing   the
      conviction and sentence of the appellants,  contended  that  the  High
      Court was not right in upholding the conviction of the appellants.  It
      was further contended that there was no role  played  by  any  of  the
      appellants in the commission of the offence in question  and  nor  was
      there any overt act played by any of them so as to render them  liable
      to suffer conviction and sentence under  Sections  302/147/148/149  of
      the IPC. Learned Counsel urged that non-examination of Kariya Sabaria,
      who was important eyewitness even according to  the  prosecution,  has
      rendered the  appellants’  conviction  bad  in  law.  Learned  counsel
      maintained that where group of persons commits any crime,  it  becomes
      necessary for the prosecution to prove the role  of  every  person  of
      such group in commission of the offence including  what  every  person
      actually did such as whether he actually assaulted the deceased, which
      weapon he used, how much force he  used,  whether  he  was  aggressor,
      whether his role was prominent and if so to what extent  etc.  Learned
      Counsel submitted that since evidence adduced by  the  prosecution  is
      lacking on these material issues and  hence  the  appellants  must  be
      given the benefit of doubt and they be acquitted of the charges  alike
      those acquitted by the trial court and the High Court and  lastly,  it
      was  urged that since the conviction is based solely on the  testimony
      of interested witnesses (PW-  1  and  3),  who  were  related  to  the
      deceased persons and, therefore, their testimony was not reliable  for
      convicting the appellants for  want  of  any  other  independent  eye-
      witness.
      18.   Learned  Counsel  for  the  respondent-State,  in  reply,  while
      supporting the impugned judgment contended that no case is made out to
      call for any  interference  in  the  impugned  judgment.  Firstly,  he
      submitted that the High Court was right in upholding  the  appellants’
      conviction  and sentence; secondly,  both  the  courts  below  rightly
      appreciated  the  evidence  adduced  by  the  prosecution,  which  was
      sufficient in the ordinary course to sustain the finding of conviction
      under Section 302 read with Sections 147/148/149 of IPC; thirdly,  the
      appellants’  conviction  was  based  on  the  testimony  of  two  eye-
      witnesses, namely,  Madhubala Bai (PW-1) and  Saraswati  Bai,  (PW-3),
      whose presence at the time of occurrence was not  disputed;  fourthly,
      keeping in view the law laid down by this Court in  several  decisions
      explaining therein the parameters  to be applied  for  convicting  any
      member of unlawful  assembly,  the  prosecution  was  able  to  adduce
      sufficient evidence to sustain the appellants’ conviction; and lastly,
      looking to the gruesome murders committed by the appellants killing as
      many as five persons with a pre-determined motive,  this Court  should
      uphold the conviction and sentence of  all  the  appellants,  who  are
      sailing in the same boat and dismiss these appeals.
      19.   Coming first to the question as to whether the  death  of  three
      persons, which is the  subject  matter  of  these  appeals,  namely  -
      Jawahar Singh, Shailendra Singh & Bhupendra Singh  is  homicidal.   We
      are of the considered opinion that it is homicidal in  nature.  It  is
      amply established from the medical evidence of three  doctors  namely,
      Dr. P.K. Narula (PW-12), Dr. U.C. Sharma (PW-13) and Dr. A.K.  Paliwal
      (PW-14) and their respective post-mortem reports (Exs-P-56, 59 and 61)
      as also ocular evidence of two eye-witnesses, Smt. Madhubala Devi (PW-
      1) & Saraswati Bai (PW-3). We, therefore, uphold the  finding  of  two
      courts below on this issue.
      20.   This takes us to the main question  as  to  whether  the  courts
      below were justified in holding the appellants guilty  for  committing
      murder of three persons named above?
      21.   Before we peruse the ocular evidence adduced by the prosecution,
      it is necessary to take note of the law on the question  as  to  under
      what circumstances, a member of an unlawful assembly can  be  held  to
      have committed an offence in pursuance of the common  object  of  such
      assembly of which he is a member.
      22.   While distinguishing on facts and then explaining the view taken
      by this Court in Baladin and Ors. Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1956
      SC 181, the four Judge-Bench speaking through  Justice  Gajendragadkar
      in Masalti etc. etc. Vs. State of U.P., AIR 1965 SC 202, laid down the
      following principle of law on the aforesaid question:
           “17. ……….in the case of Baladin v. State of Uttar  Pradesh,  AIR
           1956 SC 181, …….., it was observed by Sinha, J., who  spoke  for
           the Court that it is  well-settled  that  mere  presence  in  an
           assembly does not make a person, who is present, a member of  an
           unlawful assembly unless it is shown that he had done  something
           or omitted to do something which would make him a member  of  an
           unlawful assembly, or unless the case falls  under  Section  142
           IPC.  The  argument  is  that  evidence  adduced  used  by   the
           prosecution in the present case does  not  assign  any  specific
           part to most of the accused persons in  relation  to  any  overt
           act, and so, the High Court was in error  in  holding  that  the
           appellants      were      members      of      an       unlawful
           assembly.......................................................
           It appears that in the case of Baladin the members of the family
           of the  appellants  and  other  residents  of  the  village  had
           assembled together; some of them shared the common object of the
           unlawful assembly, while others were merely  passive  witnesses.
           Dealing with such an assembly,  this  Court  observed  that  the
           presence of a person in an  assembly  of  that  kind  would  not
           necessarily show that he was a member of an  unlawful  assembly.
           What has to be proved against a person who is alleged  to  be  a
           member of an unlawful assembly is that he was one of the persons
           constituting the assembly and he entertained long with the other
           members of the assembly the common object as defined by  Section
           141 IPC Section 142 provides that however, being aware of  facts
           which render any assembly  an  unlawful  assembly  intentionally
           joins that assembly, or continue in it, is said to be  a  member
           of an unlawful assembly. In other words, an assembly of five  or
           more persons actuated by, and entertaining one or  more  of  the
           common object specified by the five clauses of Section  141,  is
           an unlawful assembly. The crucial question to determine in  such
           a case is whether the assembly consisted of five or more persons
           and whether the said persons entertained  one  or  more  of  the
           common objects as specified by Section  141.  While  determining
           this question, it  becomes  relevant  to  consider  whether  the
           assembly consisted of  some  persons  who  were  merely  passive
           witnesses and had joined  the  assembly  as  a  matter  of  idle
           curiosity without intending to entertain the  common  object  of
           the assembly. It is in that context that the  observations  made
           by this Court in  the  case  of  Baladin   assume  significance;
           otherwise, in law, it would not be correct to say that before  a
           person is held to be a member of an unlawful assembly,  it  must
           be shown that he had committed some illegal  overt  act  or  had
           been guilty of some illegal omission in pursuance of the  common
           object of the assembly. In fact, Section 149 makes it clear that
           if an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly
           in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as
           the members of that assembly knew to be likely to  be  committed
           in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time  of
           the committing  of  that  offence,  is  a  member  of  the  same
           assembly, is guilty  of  that  offence;  and  that  emphatically
           brings out the  principle  that  the  punishment  prescribed  by
           Section 149 is in a sense vicarious and does not always  proceed
           on the basis that the offence has  been  actually  committed  by
           every  member  of  the  unlawful  assembly.  Therefore,  we  are
           satisfied that the observations made in  the  case  of  Baladin2
           must be read in the context of the special facts  of  that  case
           and cannot be treated as laying down an unqualified  proposition
           or law…..”


      23.   Recently, this Court in Om Prakash Vs. State of Haryana,  (2014)
      5 SCC 753, placed reliance on the aforesaid  principle  laid  down  in
      Masalti (supra) in following words:

              “15. The aforesaid enunciation of law  was  considered  by  a
           four-Judge Bench in Masalti v. State of  U.P.,AIR  1965  SC  202
           which distinguished the observations made in Baladin AIR 1956 SC
           181 on the foundation that the said decision should be  read  in
           the context of the special facts of the  case  and  may  not  be
           treated as laying down an unqualified proposition  of  law.  The
           four-Judge Bench, after enunciating  the  principle,  stated  as
           follows: (AIR p.       211, para 17)
                 “17. … it would not be correct to say that before a  person
                 is held to be a member of an unlawful assembly, it must  be
                 shown that he had committed some illegal overt act  or  had
                 been guilty of some illegal [pic]omission in  pursuance  of
                 the common object of the assembly.  In  fact,  Section  149
                 makes it clear that if  an  offence  is  committed  by  any
                 member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common
                 object of that assembly, or such as  the  members  of  that
                 assembly knew to be likely to be committed  in  prosecution
                 of that object, every person who, at the time of committing
                 of that offence, is a  member  of  the  same  assembly,  is
                 guilty of that offence; and that  emphatically  brings  out
                 the principle that the punishment prescribed by Section 149
                 is in a sense vicarious and does not always proceed on  the
                 basis that the offence has been actually committed by every
                 member of the unlawful assembly”.




      24.   Keeping the aforesaid principle of law in mind, when  we  peruse
      the prosecution evidence, we  have  no  hesitation  in  upholding  the
      findings of the courts below. We do this for the following reasons.
      25.   In the first place, names of  these  accused  are  mentioned  in
      Dehati Nalish (Ex-P-1). Secondly, their names are  also  mentioned  in
      the statements of P.W-1 and P.W-3, which were recorded  under  Section
      161 of the Cr.P.C.  Likewise these two witnesses (PWs 1  and  3)  also
      categorically stated in their evidence in Court about  the  overt  act
      played by the accused persons in committing  the  murders  of  Jawahar
      Singh and his two sons, Bhupendra and Shailendra. In  other  words,  a
      conjoint reading of these two statements clearly establishes the overt
      acts played by the accused persons while killing these  three  persons
      one after another on the same day.  Thirdly and most importantly,  the
      ocular evidence of two eye witnesses (PWs 1 and 3) conclusively  prove
      not only the involvement of  the  accused  persons  but  their  actual
      active role played in killing these three persons. We have  undertaken
      the exercise of appreciating the evidence and especially  of  two  eye
      witnesses (PWs 1 and 3) and  we  find  that  their  sworn  testimonies
      deserve to be accepted.
      26.   It is not in dispute, as it has come in evidence, that Madhubala
      (PW-1) is the daughter of the deceased- Jawahar Singh, and  sister  of
      the deceased Bhupendra and Shailendra, whereas Saraswati Bai (PW-3) is
      the wife of the deceased Jawahar and mother of Madhubala   (PW-1)  and
      the deceased Bhupendra and Shailendra.
      27.   In the case on hand, the mother  and  daughter  saw  from  their
      naked eyes that their father/husband and two sons/brothers were  being
      killed in their presence with the use of Lathis, battle axe, sword and
      rods by the accused persons mercilessly and both the  helpless  ladies
      standing in front of the  mob  (accused  persons)  with  folded  hands
      praying "please do not kill them and leave them".  The accused persons
      did not listen to their prayer and with a pre-determined motive killed
      the deceased persons by beating them due to which two of them died  on
      the spot and one succumbed in the hospital after some time.
      28.   It will be a travesty of justice, if we do not believe the sworn
      testimonies of  these  two  eye-witnesses,  which  in  our  considered
      opinion, remained consistent throughout on  material  issues.  Indeed,
      there is no valid reason for this Court to disbelieve them.
      29.   The submission of learned Counsel for the appellants that  since
      PWs 1 and 3 were in close relation with  the  deceased  persons  being
      wife/mother or daughter/sister and that they should  not  be  believed
      for want of evidence  of  any  independent  witness,  deserves  to  be
      rejected in the light of the law laid down by  this  Court  in  Dalbir
      Kaur and Ors. Vs. State of Punjab, (1976) 4 SCC 158, and Harbans  Kaur
      and Anr. Vs. State of Haryana, (2005) 9 SCC 195, which lays  down  the
      following proposition:
           “There is no proposition in law that relatives are to be treated
           as untruthful witnesses. On the contrary, reason has to be shown
           when a plea of partiality is raised to show that  the  witnesses
           had reason to shield actual culprit and  falsely  implicate  the
           accused.”


      In Namdeo?Vs.?State of Maharashtra, (2007)  14  SCC  150,  this  Court
      further held:



           “38.  ……….  it  is  clear  that  a  close  relative  cannot   be
           characterised as an “interested”  witness.  He  is  a  “natural”
           witness. His evidence, however, must be  scrutinised  carefully.
           If on such scrutiny, his evidence is found to  be  intrinsically
           reliable, inherently probable and wholly trustworthy, conviction
           can be based on the “sole”  testimony  of  such  witness.  Close
           relationship of witness with the deceased or victim is no ground
           to reject his evidence. On the contrary, close relative  of  the
           deceased would normally be most  reluctant  to  spare  the  real
           culprit and falsely implicate an innocent one.”




      30.   We follow this well settled principle of law for  rejecting  the
      submissions of learned counsel for the appellants.
      31.    Yet  another  submission  of   learned  counsel  that  due   to
      discrepancies in the evidence of PWs 1 and 3 and in  their  statements
      recorded under Section 161, should not be relied on and deserves to be
      rejected in the light of  the law laid down by this  Court  in  Munshi
      Prasad and Ors. vs. State of Bihar, (2002) 1 SCC 351, which  reads  as
      under:

           “Incidentally, be it noted that while appreciating the  evidence
           of a witness, minor discrepancies  on  trivial  matters  without
           affecting the core of the prosecution case, ought not to  prompt
           the court to reject evidence in its  entirety.  If  the  general
           tenor of the evidence given by the witness and the  trial  court
           upon  appreciation  of  evidence   forms   opinion   about   the
           credibility thereof, in the normal circumstances  the  appellate
           court would not be justified to review  it  once  again  without
           justifiable reasons. It is the totality of the situation,  which
           has to be taken note of, and we do not see any justification  to
           pass a contra-note, as well,  on  perusal  of  the  evidence  on
           record.”


      32.   As mentioned above, we have not been able to  notice  any  major
      discrepancies in their statements and  whatever  discrepancies,  which
      were relied on by the learned counsel, were so minor and insignificant
      that they do not, in any way, dilute their version.
      33.   In our considered  view,  when  several  people  participate  in
      commission of an offence with deadly weapons and attack  one  or  more
      persons with an intention to kill them  then  the  witnesses  who  are
      closely related to the victim(s) are  not  expected  to  describe  the
      incident in graphic detail and with such precision that  which  member
      and in what manner he participated in the commission of offence. Their
      evidence is required to be appreciated in its totality.
      34.   In the case on hand, PWs-1 and 3 elaborately narrated the entire
      incident by taking the names of every accused whom they knew to be the
      residents of the same area.  We,  therefore,  find  no  merit  in  the
      submission of the learned counsel and accordingly reject it.
      35.   We are also not  impressed  by  the  arguments  of  the  learned
      counsel appearing for the appellants when he contended that  one  eye-
      witness, Kariya was not examined and hence it has weakened the case of
      the prosecution.
      36.   The law does not say that the prosecution must examine  all  the
      eye-witnesses cited by the prosecution.  When the evidence of two eye-
      witnesses, PWs 1 and 3 was found worthy of  acceptance  to  prove  the
      case then it was not necessary for the prosecution to examine any more
      eye-witnesses.  It is for the prosecution to decide as to how many and
      who should be examined as their  witnesses  for  proving  their  case.
      Therefore, we find no merit in this submission.
      37.   In the light of the foregoing discussion, we find  no  merit  in
      the appeals, which fail and are accordingly dismissed.  As  a  result,
      the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellants  by  the  courts
      below are upheld.




                               ……………………………………………………J.
                                          [FAKKIR MOHAMED IBRAHIM KALIFULLA]


                                       .….…...............................J.
                                                       [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]

New Delhi;
October 31, 2014.




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