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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

It is the case of the defense that the deceased would have tried to commit suicide by consuming poison and when she was apprehensive whether she would die or not, she set fire to herself. Assuming, without conceding, that Smt. Prema had committed suicide, then under Section 113A of the Indian evidence Act, onus is shifted on the accused to dislodge the presumption of having committed abetment of suicide by a married woman. Unlike as in Section 304- B where the court "shall presume" dowry death, when the prosecution has established the ingredients, under Section 113A of the Evidence Act, discretion has been conferred upon the Court wherein it has been provided that the Court may presume abetment of suicide. Therefore the onus lies on the accused to rebut the presumption, and in case of Section 113-B of the Evidence Act relatable to Section 304B of IPC, the onus to prove shifts exclusively and heavily on the accused as held in Bansilal v. State of Haryana (2011) 11 SCC 359.The circumstantial evidence leads to the guilt of the accused persons, as the prosecution has proved that the accused had the opportunity to administer the poison and the doctors in the medical examination have also reported that the deceased was a healthy woman who, along with her family, was trying to reconcile matters with the accused persons. The fact that the death occurred in the house of the accused persons, leads to their guilt. They have not discharged the onus of disproving the presumptions under Sections 113A and 113B. Thus, the question of suicide is ruled out. The Court in this case is obliged to take the presumption raised under Section 113B of the Evidence Act.

                                                                  REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2146 OF 2009



BHIM SINGH & ANR.                                        ... APPELLANTS

                                  :Versus:

STATE OF UTTARAKHAND                    ...RESPONDENT



                               J U D G M E N T



Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.:

This appeal, by special leave, has  been  filed  against  the  judgment  and
order dated 23.03.2009 passed by the High Court of Uttarakhand  at  Nainital
in Criminal Appeal No.1706 of 2001 whereby the High Court  while  acquitting
the two co-accused (appellant Nos.2 & 3 herein), upheld the  conviction  and
sentence of appellant Nos.1 & 2 herein, as awarded by learned Special  Judge
(CBI)/Additional Sessions Judge, Nainital, and dismissed their  appeal.  The
learned Special Judge (CBI)/Additional  Sessions  Judge,  Nainital,  by  its
judgment and order dated 25.04.2000 passed in Sessions Trial No.36  of  1998
convicted appellant Nos.1  &  2  herein  under  Section  304-B  of  IPC  and
sentenced them to imprisonment for  life,  and  further  convicted  all  the
appellants  under  Section  498-A  IPC  and  sentenced  them   to   rigorous
imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs.500/- to each of them.   All  the
appellants  were  also  convicted  under  Sections  3  &  4  of  the   Dowry
Prohibition Act, 1961 and sentenced each of them  to  three  months'  simple
imprisonment and fine.

The facts leading to this appeal are that one   Bhim  Singh  S/o  of  Govind
Singh, resident of Village Naliana in  District  Nainital   got  married  to
Prema Devi (deceased) on 4.5.1997. Appellants Nos.2 & 3,  namely  Aan  Singh
and Nain Singh are brothers of  Bhim Singh and Appellant No.4, namely  Janki
Devi is the wife of  Aan Singh (appellant No.2  herein).   Prema  Devi  died
unnatural death in her in-laws' house on 26.9.1997. Soon after the death  of
Prema Devi, Pushpa Joshi, Village  Pradhan  of  Jeolikot  made  a  complaint
telephonically to Sub-Divisional Magistrate about  the  unnatural  death  of
Prema Devi. Upon receiving this information, the Magistrate along with  Sub-
Inspector Shiv Singh Gusain (PW-7) reached the village  and  took  the  dead
body in their possession and an inquest report  was  prepared  on  the  same
day.  Post-mortem examination of the deceased was conducted on the same  day
at about 4.55 p.m. by Dr. D.K. Joshi (PW-5)  and  one  Dr.  H.C.  Bhatt  who
prepared the Autopsy Report. Post-mortem report reveals that there were  90%
burn injuries on the body of the deceased. Since the cause of death was  not
ascertained by the medical officers, therefore,  vicera  was  preserved  for
chemical examination.

First Information Report was lodged on 27.9.1997 at  around  1830  Hrs.,  at
Police Station Jyolikot, Police Station Tallital, District Nainital  by  one
Sri. Birbal Singh Sambhal, inter alia, stating  that  the  marriage  of  his
sister Smt. Prema Devi was solemnized with Bhim Singh son of  Govind  Singh,
in the month of May, 1997 in Village Jyolikot, Nainital. The  elder  brother
of Bhim Singh, namely Aan Singh played the role of  mediator  in  finalizing
the marriage.  Several items were  given  in  the  aforesaid  marriage.  FIR
states that Prema Devi, complainant's sister, told him that  when  she  went
to the house of her in-laws after marriage,  her  husband  Bhim  Singh,  Aan
Singh, Nain Singh,  all sons of Govind Singh and Smt.  Janki  Devi  wife  of
Aan Singh, used to taunt and torture her by  saying  that  she  had  brought
nothing in dowry. When  she  narrated  these  events  to  her  parents  they
persuaded Prema and told her to adjust with her family and  live  with  them
cordially. Father of the complainant however convinced Prema that  he  would
himself talk to her in-laws and settle things. They went  to  the  house  of
the in-laws of Prema and tried their best to persuade them, but  instead  of
settling matters,  they  exhorted  to  taunting.   Consequently,  Prema  was
advised to adjust herself to the situation. Thereafter when she came to  her
parents' house on the occasion of Rakhi, she told  them   that  Bhim  Singh,
Aan Singh, Nain Singh and Janki Devi are repeatedly taunting  and  torturing
her. She further told that  the  elder  brother,  Aan  Singh  threatened  to
insult her before  the  entire  village  and  pressurised  her  for  getting
clothes  and  other  items  from  her  parents'  house.  On  27.9.1997   the
complainant received information that his sister had died  due  to  burning.
Upon receiving this information, they  immediately  went  to  the  house  of
Prema's in-laws and they found her dead.  She  was  completely  burnt.  They
were told that she had set herself on fire.

Investigation was done by Bimla Gunjyal,  Deputy  Superintendent  of  Police
(PW-6) and after the investigation was complete,  charge-sheet  against  all
the four accused persons was filed  before  the  Chief  Judicial  Magistrate
and the case was committed to the Sessions Court for trial.

The Trial Court on finding that the prosecution  has  succeeded  in  proving
the guilt of the appellants, convicted them for offences under Section  498-
A of IPC and sentenced them  to  undergo  rigorous  imprisonment  for  three
years each with a fine of Rs.500/-, and in the event of default  in  payment
of fine, further simple imprisonment for fifteen days  each.   Accused  Bhim
Singh and Aan Singh (appellants Nos.1 & 2 herein)  were also held guilty  of
offence 304-B of IPC and both of them were  sentenced  to  undergo  rigorous
imprisonment for life. Appellants  were  also  convicted  for  the  offences
under Sections 3 & 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act,  1961  and  sentenced  to
undergo three months'  rigorous imprisonment along with  fine  of  Rs.500/-.
In the event of default in payment of fine, they  were  to  undergo  further
simple imprisonment for fifteen days.  However,  all  these  sentences  were
directed to run concurrently.

An appeal was preferred by the appellants  under  Section  374  of  Code  of
Criminal Procedure, 1973 ("Cr.P.C." for  short)  against  the  judgment  and
order dated 25.04.2000 passed  by  the  Special  Judge  (C.B.I)/  Additional
Sessions Judge, Nainital  in Sessions Trial No.36  of  1998.  After  hearing
the counsel for the parties and perusing the Trial Court's record, the  High
Court relied, firstly on the finding by the team of two  doctors  who  after
post-mortem  examination  prepared  the  autopsy  report.  The  said  report
disclosed that there were 90% burns and all these burns were skin  deep.  As
to the cause of death, the two officers Dr. D.K. Joshi and  Dr.  H.C.  Bhatt
opined that the cause of death could not be ascertained, hence  the  viscera
was preserved. The viscera report on the Trial Court record  disclosed  that
pieces of stomach, intestine, liver,  kidney  and  spleen  contained  Organo
Chloro Insecticide and  Ethile  Alcohol  poisons.  The  Autopsy  report  and
chemical  examiner's  report  with  statement  of  Dr.  D.K.  Joshi  clearly
established the fact that the deceased died an  unnatural  death.   Secondly
the High Court also relied on the statements of  Virbal  Singh,  brother  of
the deceased (PW- 1),  Maan Singh, father of the deceased (PW-2) and  Trilok
Singh, uncle of the deceased (PW-3) that the deceased got  married  to  Bhim
Singh on 07.05.1997 and died an  unnatural  death  on  26.9.1997,  within  5
months of marriage. It also noted that the accused had  themselves  admitted
in their replies recorded under Section 313 of  Cr.P.C.  that  the  marriage
took place on the said date and Prema Devi  died  an  unnatural  death.  The
only question in dispute as  framed  by  the  High  Court  was  whether  the
deceased was subjected to cruelty  by  the  accused  appellants  before  her
death or not.  The  High  Court  found  that  firstly  the  prosecution  had
sufficiently shown as required under Section 304-B  IPC  that  the  deceased
was subject to cruelty and  harassment  by  Bhim  Singh  and  Aan  Singh  by
relying on the statements made on oath  by  PW-1  Virbal  Singh,  PW-2  Maan
Singh and PW-3 Trilok Singh where  they  specifically  stated  that  in  the
ceremony of Durgun, Aan Singh complained that expenditure  incurred  by  him
in the marriage had not been recovered. Their statements  were  corroborated
by statement of Trilok Singh.   Relying  on  Section  113-B  of  the  Indian
Evidence Act 1872 read with prosecution  evidence,  the  High  Court  opined
that the prosecution had successfully proved charge  of  offence  punishable
under Section 498-A and 304-B of I.P.C. and one punishable under Sections  3
and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961  against  Bhim  Singh  and  Aan  Singh.
Secondly on the point of proving proximity between the taunts and  death  of
the deceased, the High Court decided that five months was  proximate  enough
and that presumption under Section 113B was proved  beyond  doubt  to  prove
charge.  Thirdly, the fact of living separately by showing ration cards  was
immaterial. On being urged by the accused that the charge  framed  by  Trial
Court is defective and alternative charge could not have been framed in  the
manner it is done by Trial Court, the Court found that there  was  no  error
in stating the offence nor in particulars stated  in  the  charge,  nor  any
failure of justice as is shown by the appellants. Relying  on  Sections  221
and Section 464 of Cr.P.C. the High Court opined that there was no error  in
the charge nor there was any  failure  of  justice.  On  going  through  the
entire evidence on record the High Court found  that  though  the  names  of
Nain Singh and Janki Devi are mentioned with Bhim Singh and  Aan  Singh,  no
specific role in harassing the deceased is stated against them and  as  such
the possibility of implication of  their  names,  on  suspicion,  cannot  be
ruled out. Even in respect of charge of  offence  punishable  under  Section
498-A and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961,   charge  against
Nain Singh and Janki Devi had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.   But
as far as conviction recorded by the Trial Court in respect  of  Bhim  Singh
and Aan Singh is concerned, the Trial Court had committed no  error  in  law
in convicting and sentencing them under Section 498-A I.P.C., 304-B  I.P.C.,
and one under Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry prohibition Act, 1961 as the  charge
against them was proved on the record beyond all reasonable doubt.

The High Court in the present matter convicted appellant Nos.1 & 2,  on  the
basis of circumstantial evidence in  the  impugned  judgment.  It  has  been
established in leading judicial precedents that where the  prosecution  case
is based on circumstantial evidence, only  the  circumstantial  evidence  of
the highest order can satisfy the test of proof  in a criminal  prosecution.
To  base  a  conviction  on  circumstantial  evidence   put  forth  by   the
prosecution should establish a complete and  unbroken  chain  of  events  so
that only one inference could be drawn out from the same and  if  more  than
one inference could be drawn, then the accused should  be  entitled  to  the
benefit of doubt.

The learned counsel appearing for the State of  Uttarakhand  contended  that
PW-1 Birbal Singh had categorically stated on  oath  that  marriage  of  his
sister Smt. Prema Devi was solemnized on 7.5.1997 with  Bhim  Singh.   Elder
brother of Bhim Singh, Aan Singh, played role of mediator in finalizing  the
marriage. Loan was taken for marriage.  However  no  demand  for  dowry  was
made. But his sister had complained twice that his family was  taunting  her
and demanding dowry. This statement given by PW-1 is fully  corroborated  by
the father of the deceased also.  Prosecution  counsel  also  examined  PW-3
Trilok Singh the uncle, who said that Bhim Singh and Aan Singh talked  about
dowry before him and thereupon he expressed  his  displeasure.  The  learned
counsel also argued that she died after  4  months  and  some  days  of  her
marriage in an unnatural way. Further, it is argued that since there was  no
mode of transport in the village at night, they could not go  to  the  house
of Prema Devi's in-laws on 26.9.1997 and  next  day  when  they  reached  by
walking on foot for about 15 km, they came to know that the  dead  body  had
been sent to Nainital for post-mortem. Apart from the above witnesses,  Smt.
Pushpa Joshi, the Gram Pradhan of the Village  was  produced  as  PW-4.  She
stated that the elder-brother Aan Singh came to her and told her that  Prema
Devi  had set herself on fire and thereafter she along  with  her  neighbor,
went to their house and saw  Prema  Devi  lying  there  badly  burnt.   PW-4
informed Darogaji Gusai  Singh  about  the  incident.  The  learned  counsel
further stated that PW-5 Dr. D.K. Joshi examined the dead body on  26.9.1997
and in external examination  found  90%  burn  injuries  on  the  body.  The
deceased had died 6-8 hours prior to examination. Since no  cause  of  death
was visible from external examination, therefore, viscera  of  the  deceased
was preserved for internal examination. Post-mortem report was  prepared  by
Dr. H.C. Bhatt  in which it was stated that he was of the opinion  that  the
deceased was given some toxic substance before her death due  to  which  she
died and later on she was burnt.  Because no external reason  of  death  was
found,  the  viscera  was  sent  to  the  State  Laboratory   for   chemical
examination and it  was  found  that  toxic  material  was  present  in  the
viscera. The counsel for the State, thus, submitted that the  accused  tried
to kill Smt. Prema Devi by giving poisonous substance  after  torturing  her
for dowry and when they became apprehensive whether she  had  died  or  not,
they set her on fire to confirm her death.  Thereafter,  they  informed  the
Gram Pradhan of the Village that Prema Devi had died due to burning so  that
the deceased is not able to give her dying declaration.

On the other hand, the learned counsel for the appellants submitted that PW-
1 Birbal has admitted in his statement that no demand for dowry was made  by
accused before the marriage and if at all  they  wanted  dowry,  they  would
demand it before marriage itself.  None  of  them  were  in  a  position  to
demand and give dowry. Birbal admitted in his statement  that  the  marriage
was settled voluntarily by Birbal and his father on their  own  accord.   He
stated that "marriage of his sister  was  settled  by  his  father  and  his
marriage was solemnized with the consent  of  both  me  and  my  father.  My
sister came back to our house after some days  of  marriage.  But  I  cannot
tell after how many days she came back.  Because  I  was  in  Haldwani  that
time."  Further, it was urged that PW-1  and  PW-2  have  admitted  that  no
reports were lodged by them  prior  to  death  of  Prema,  with  respect  to
torture on demand of dowry. The Counsel further said that,  the  conduct  of
the accused was of great importance, as the information  of  the  death  was
given by Aan Singh himself to the Gram Pradhan of the Village. If  they  had
killed her, they would not have informed  her  family  members  and  instead
would have cremated her immediately after her death. Counsel urged that,  it
appears that the deceased herself  committed  suicide,  by  first  consuming
poisonous substance and thereafter she thought she might not die due to  its
consumption, therefore she burnt herself.  Learned  Counsel  further  argued
that Bhim Singh, husband of the deceased has two brothers. Aan Singh,  elder
brother of Bhim Singh is a Chowkidar in P.W.D. and  living  separately  with
his wife. Bhim Singh was a vehicle  driver  and  his  younger  brother  Nain
Singh was running a shop. Thus, there was no correlation of Aan Singh,  Nain
Singh and Janki Devi with Bhim Singh. All three were  doing  their  separate
avocations. The voter lists and ration cards  of  all  the  three  brothers,
which are on record, are separate. Thus, it is not  proved  that  all  three
brothers were involved in the offence.  On the other hand, they have  helped
the police in this case by informing them.

Thus, the  present  appeal  requires  an  evaluation  and  analysis  of  the
circumstantial evidence on record and the statements made in the  course  of
investigation and produced against the accused appellants.

The first ground of defense taken by the appellants in this appeal  is  that
there is no specific incident of abuse or torture for  dowry  and  no  prior
report of dowry demand was filed by the family of the deceased.  It is  also
stated that there was no demand of dowry made by them before marriage as  is
evident from the statements  of  PW-1  Birbal  Singh  and  PW-2  Man  Singh.
However, as held by this Court in the State of  Himachal  Pradesh  v.  Nikku
Ram & Ors., (1995) 6 SCC 219, the demand for dowry can be made at any  time,
and not necessarily before  marriage.  The  demand  can  be  made  on  three
occasions; before marriage, at the time of marriage and after marriage.  The
relevant extract of the said judgment is reproduced hereunder:

"Dowry, dowry and dowry. This is the  painful  repetition  which  confronts,
and at times haunts, many parents of a girl child in this holy land of  ours
where, in good old days the belief was:  "Yatra  Naryastu  Pujyante  ramente
tetra dewatah" (where woman is worshipped, there is abode of God).  We  have
mentioned  about  dowry  thrice,  because  this  demand  is  made  on  three
occasions: (i) before marriage; (ii) at the  time  of  marriage;  and  (iii)
after the marriage. Greed being limitless, the demands become insatiable  in
many cases, followed by torture on the girl, leading to  either  suicide  in
some cases or murder in some."



The accused have taken the defense that the PWs. have also stated  in  their
statements that no demand for dowry was made before marriage  and  that  the
marriage was concluded by the consent of the two parties.   They  also  took
the defense that no prior police complaint of dowry demand was made  by  the
family of the deceased. However, in light of the decision of this  Court  in
State of Himachal Pradesh v. Nikku Ram & Ors. (supra) and  the  social  evil
of dowry that is prevalent in the Indian  society,  this  defense  does  not
hold water.  The  demand  for  dowry  can  be  made  at  any  time  and  not
necessarily before marriage. The appellants have also taken  the  plea  that
no specific incidents of abuse or torture were there.  But  in  the  present
case, PW-3 Trilok Singh has categorically stated in his statement  that  the
accused Aan Singh had come in the ceremony of durgud,  which  is  celebrated
after marriage in which he had stated in the presence  of  all  the  persons
that he had not recovered the money he had spent in the marriage and  became
angry. The PWs. have also stated that, the deceased,  Smt.  Prema  Devi  had
also complained to her family members twice,  regarding  taunts  and  demand
for dowry by the  four  accused  persons.  These  incidents  occurred  "soon
before her death" as she died within 5 months of her marriage.  This  raises
a presumption, under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act, as  to  dowry  death
punishable under Section 304-B of I.P.C. A conjoint reading of Section  113B
of the Evidence Act and Section 304-B of I.P.C. shows  that  there  must  be
material to show that soon before her death  the  victim  was  subjected  to
cruelty or harassment. The prosecution has to rule out the possibility of  a
natural or accidental death so as to bring it within the purview  of  "death
occurring otherwise  than  in  normal  circumstances".  The  prosecution  is
obliged to show that  soon  before  the  occurrence  there  was  cruelty  or
harassment for or in connection with the demand for dowry.  In other  words,
only when the prosecution proves that soon before her death,  the  lady  was
subjected to cruelty or harassment for or in connection with any demand  for
dowry as laid down by this Court in Kaliyaperumal  and  Anr.  Vs.  State  of
Tamil Nadu (2004) 9 SCC 157. The prosecution has proved by producing  cogent
evidence that soon before her death the lady was  subjected  to  cruelty  or
harassment in connection with  the  demand  for  dowry.   Thus,  it  becomes
obligatory for the Court to raise a presumption that the death  is  a  dowry
death.

It is the case of the defense that the deceased would have tried  to  commit
suicide by consuming poison and when she was apprehensive whether she  would
die or not, she set fire to herself. Assuming, without conceding, that  Smt.
Prema had committed suicide, then under Section 113A of the Indian  evidence
Act, onus is shifted on the accused to dislodge the  presumption  of  having
committed abetment of suicide by a married woman. Unlike as in Section  304-
B where the court "shall presume" dowry  death,  when  the  prosecution  has
established the  ingredients,  under  Section  113A  of  the  Evidence  Act,
discretion has been conferred upon the Court wherein it  has  been  provided
that the Court may presume abetment of suicide. Therefore the onus  lies  on
the accused to rebut the presumption, and in case of Section  113-B  of  the
Evidence Act relatable to Section 304B of IPC,  the  onus  to  prove  shifts
exclusively and heavily on the accused as  held  in  Bansilal  v.  State  of
Haryana (2011)  11  SCC  359.   Thus,  where  the  death  of  the  wife  was
concurrently found to be unnatural, viz., by strangulation,  and  there  was
demand  for  dowry  and  also  cruelty  on  the  part  of  the  husband  the
presumption under Section 113B has been rightly drawn, as held  in  Hemchand
v. State of Haryana  AIR 1995 SC  120,  121.    Even  then  the  presumption
against the accused persons as in  Section  113A  of  the  Evidence  Act  is
rightly presumed as  if  we  assume  that  she  committed  suicide,  as  the
circumstantial evidence shows that  she  might  be  compelled  to  take  the
extreme steps as the  alleged  suicide  was  committed  within  7  years  of
marriage, as  held in Gurbachan Singh v. Satpal Singh 1990 Cri.  LJ  562,571
(SC).  The circumstantial  evidence  leads  to  the  guilt  of  the  accused
persons, as the prosecution has proved that the accused had the  opportunity
to administer the poison and the doctors in  the  medical  examination  have
also reported that the deceased was a healthy  woman  who,  along  with  her
family, was trying to reconcile matters with the accused persons.  The  fact
that the death occurred in the house of the accused persons, leads to  their
guilt. They have not discharged the  onus  of  disproving  the  presumptions
under Sections 113A and 113B. Thus, the question of suicide  is  ruled  out.
The Court in this case is obliged  to  take  the  presumption  raised  under
Section 113B of the Evidence Act.

The accused  persons  have  taken  the  defense  that  they  themselves  had
informed the Gram Panchayat after she had died upon which the  Gram  Pradhan
along with other persons  went to the  accused  persons  house,  where  they
found the dead body of Smt. Prema. A prudent man, trying to  save  a  person
from dying would have taken the deceased person  to  the  nearest  hospital,
and would not have waited for her to die. The argument put  forward  by  the
learned counsel for the accused that the deceased first consumed poison  and
then on being apprehensive of  her  death,  she  set  herself  on  fire,  is
further proved wrong, as any reasonable man would try to save  his  wife  if
such a situation arise. When facts  are  clear,  it  is  immaterial  whether
motive was proved. Absence of motive does not break the link  in  the  chain
of circumstances connecting the accused with  the  crime  as  held  by  this
Court in Mulakh Raj v. Staish Kumar, (1992) 3 SCC 43 =  AIR  1992  SC  1175.
Further, proof of motive or ill-will is unnecessary  to  sustain  conviction
where there is clear evidence.

In the present case, the guilt  or  innocence  of  the  accused  has  to  be
adduced from the circumstantial evidence. The law  regarding  circumstantial
evidence is more  or  less  well  settled.  This  Court  in  a  plethora  of
judgments has held that when  the  conviction  is  based  on  circumstantial
evidence solely, then  there  should  not  be  any  snap  in  the  chain  of
circumstances. If there is a snap in the chain, the accused is  entitled  to
benefit of doubt. Gurpreet Singh v. State of Haryana (2002) 8 SCC 18 is  one
of such cases. On the question of any reasonable hypothesis, this Court  has
held that if some of the circumstances in the chain can be explained by  any
other reasonable hypothesis, then the accused  is  entitled  to  benefit  of
doubt. But in  assessing  the  evidence,  imaginary  possibilities  have  no
place. The Court considers ordinary human probabilities.

On  circumstantial  evidence,  this  Court  has  laid  down  the   following
principles in Sharad Birdhichand Sardar v. State of  Maharashtra,  (1984)  4
SCC 116:

The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn must  or
should be and not merely "may be" fully established.

The facts so established should be consistent only with  the  hypothesis  of
the guilt of the accused, that is to say they should not be  explainable  on
any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty.

The circumstances should be of conclusive nature and tendency.

They should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one  to  be  proved
and,

There must be  a  chain  of  evidence  so  complete  as  not  to  leave  any
reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the  innocence  of  the
accused and must show that in all human probability the act must  have  been
done by the accused.

Whenever there is a break in the chain  of  circumstances,  the  accused  is
entitled to the benefit of doubt; State  of  Maharashtra  v.  Annappa  Bandu
Kavatage (1979) 4 SCC 715.

Following the decision in Sharad Birdhichand  (supra),  this  Court  in  the
case of  Liyakat v. State of Uttaranchal, (2008) 16  SCC  148,  and  in  the
case of Kusuma Ankama Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh,  (2008)  13  SCC  256,
upheld the conviction as awarded by the Trial  Court  and  affirmed  by  the
High Court.

Thus, in light of the above, there is no missing link in the  circumstantial
evidence put forth by  the  prosecution,  and  hence  the  accused  are  not
entitled to benefit of doubt. The guilt of  the  accused  persons  i.e.  the
appellant Nos.1 & 2 herein, under Section 304-B IPC  has  been  successfully
established. We, therefore, find  no  infirmity  in  the  impugned  judgment
passed by the High Court. This appeal is accordingly dismissed. There  shall
be no order as to costs.



                               ............................................J
  (M.Y. Eqbal)




                               ............................................J
                            (Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
New Delhi;
February 11, 2015.


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