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Thursday, January 15, 2015

the deceased was 'last seen' with Raghuvendra and his dead body was found soon thereafter coupled with the fact that certain articles belonging to the deceased were recovered from the custody of Raghuvendra = CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2371 OF 2010 Raghuvendra ..Appellant Versus State of M.P. ..Respondent


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2371 OF 2010

Raghuvendra                                    ..Appellant


State of M.P.                                         ..Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T

Madan B. Lokur, J.

1.           The appellant (Raghuvendra) is aggrieved by  the  judgment  and
order dated 23rd October, 2008 passed by the High Court  of  Madhya  Pradesh
in Criminal Appeal No.754 of 2000.  By the judgment and order under  appeal,
the conviction of the appellant for an offence punishable under Section  302
read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal  Code  was  affirmed.  We  find  no
merit in the appeal and it is dismissed.
2.          On 10th February, 1998 the informant Gulab Ahirwar (PW-3)  found
a dead body in his fields.  He immediately informed the police and  a  first
information report was recorded on the basis  of  his  information.   A  few
articles lying near the dead body were also recovered.
3.           The  dead  body  could  not  be  immediately   identified   but
subsequently,  in  the  course  of  investigations  in  a   different   case
altogether, the police apprehended Raghuvendra and during his  interrogation
on  16th  March,  1998  he  confessed  to  killing  the  deceased  with  the
assistance of his uncle.  Based on this statement given by Raghuvendra,  the
dead body was identified with the assistance of Guddi Bai (PW-13, the  widow
of the deceased) and Sadhana (PW-14, the daughter of the deceased).
4.          It also transpired from the  investigations  that  the  deceased
Bhagwan Singh was known to Raghuvendra and his uncle. They  were  apparently
involved in several thefts and there was  some  dispute  about  sharing  the
proceeds.  Raghuvendra and his uncle would often visit Bhagwan Singh at  his
residence and they would also consume liquor together.
5.          On 9th February, 1998 Raghuvendra and  his  uncle  came  to  the
house of the deceased in  Vidhisha  and  they  and  the  deceased  left  for
Bilaspur the next morning, that is on  10th  February,  1998.   It  is  soon
thereafter that the dead body of Bhagwan Singh was found in  the  fields  of
Gulab Ahirwar (PW-3).
6.          During the course of investigations, the  investigating  officer
also recovered, at  the  instance  of  Raghuvendra  and  his  uncle  certain
articles of the deceased in Bhopal.
7.          On these broad facts, a charge-sheet was filed  and  Raghuvendra
and his uncle were charged with having murdered Bhagwan  Singh  and  thereby
having committed an offence punishable under Section 302 read  with  Section
34 of the IPC.  Both of them pleaded not guilty and were therefore tried  by
the learned  Additional  Sessions  Judge,  Khurai,  District  Sagar  (Madhya
Pradesh). Vide his judgment and order dated 5th February, 2000  in  Sessions
Case No.205 of 1998 the learned Additional Sessions Judge found  Raghuvendra
and his uncle guilty of having caused the murder of Bhagwan Singh.
8.           The  two  principal  grounds  on  which   the   conviction   of
Raghuvendra and his uncle was based were the statement  of  Guddi  Bai  (PW-
13),  Sadhana  (PW-14)  as  well  as  the  medical  evidence.   The  learned
Additional Sessions Judge concluded that there was no reason  to  disbelieve
Guddi Bai and Sadhana and  he  was  of  the  opinion  that  based  on  their
statement, the recovery  of  articles  belonging  to  the  deceased  at  the
instance of Raghuvendra and his uncle and on the basis  of  the  'last  seen
theory', there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to convict them.
9.          Feeling aggrieved by the  judgment  and  order  of  the  learned
Additional Sessions Judge, Raghuvendra and his uncle preferred an appeal  in
the High Court of Madhya Pradesh which came to be dismissed by the  judgment
and order under appeal.
10.   The High Court examined the record of the case  and  also  found  that
there was no reason to disbelieve Guddi Bai  and  Sadhana.   Both  witnesses
knew Raghuvendra and his uncle quite well since they were frequent  visitors
to their house.  The High Court also came to the conclusion that  the  'last
seen theory' was applicable to the facts of the case since  Raghuvendra  and
his uncle had visited the house of  the  deceased  on  9th  February,  1998,
stayed overnight and left with him for  Bilaspur  in  the  morning  on  10th
February, 1998.  It is soon thereafter that the dead body of  Bhagwan  Singh
was recovered from the fields of Gulab Ahirwar  (PW-3)  though  it  was  not
immediately identified.  These facts coupled with the  recovery  of  certain
articles belonging to the deceased at the instance of  Raghuvendra  and  his
uncle were relied upon by the High Court to confirm their conviction.
11.   Only Raghuvendra has challenged his conviction before us -  his  uncle
has not preferred any petition in this court.
12.   There is no doubt that Raghuvendra knew the deceased  quite  well  and
perhaps they were involved in some thefts.  Guddi Bai and Sadhana also  knew
Raghuvendra  since  he  was  a  frequent  visitor  to  their   house.    The
identification of Raghuvendra therefore is not an issue before us.
13.   It has also come on record that Raghuvendra and his uncle  had  stayed
overnight at the residence of the deceased  in  Vidhisha  on  9th  February,
1998 and left the next morning for Bilaspur with Bhagwan Singh.   It  is  on
the morning of 10th February, 1998 that the dead body of Bhagwan  Singh  was
found in the fields of Gulab Ahirwar (PW-3) who  gave  a  statement  on  the
basis of which the first information report was registered.

14.   The fact that the deceased was 'last seen' with  Raghuvendra  and  his
dead body was found soon thereafter  coupled  with  the  fact  that  certain
articles belonging to the  deceased  were  recovered  from  the  custody  of
Raghuvendra and his uncle at their instance leaves no room  for  doubt  that
the three of them were travelling together.  Among  the  articles  recovered
from Raghuvendra and his uncle was a purse belonging  to  the  deceased  and
some other personal effects including clothing.  These  were  identified  as
belongings of the deceased and were perhaps carried by him while  travelling
to Bilaspur.

15.   There is no manner of  doubt,  on  these  facts,  that  the  death  of
Bhagwan Singh was caused by Raghuvendra and his uncle.  No  other  inference
is possible or even suggested.

16.   No substantial question of law has arisen in  this  case  and  on  the
facts as found by the learned Additional Sessions Judge as well  as  by  the
High Court we see no reason to interfere with the conviction of  Raghuvendra
for an offence punishable under Section 302 read  with  Section  34  of  the

17.   Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

             ( Madan B. Lokur )

               ( N.V. Ramana )
New Delhi;
January 07, 2015

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