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Sunday, April 12, 2015

The assertion in the cross-examination of PW1 Chatra Ram does not in any way detract from the role clearly attributed by the witness to Surja Ram. The witness did not say that Surja Ram never got down from the vehicle or that he had not accompanied Hapu Ram. The cross-examination also did not challenge such assertion by the witness that both Hapu Ram and Surja Ram had made Jeevan Ram get down from the vehicle near the well. The above quoted portion in the cross-examination very clearly deals with the role of Hapu Ram. This portion does not in any way detract from the role attributed to Surja Ram. The High court was plainly wrong in relying on this portion in the cross-examination to give benefit of doubt to Surja Ram. The testimony of PW 1 Chatra Ram, is consistent and not in any way shaken in cross-examination as regards Surja Ram. 10. In our view, Surja Ram was an equal participant in the crime. His role in bringing Jeevan Ram forcibly and making him sit in the vehicle, thereafter making him sit in the front, and finally in making him get down near the well and strangulating him, was rightly relied upon by the Trial Court. The High Court committed gross error in granting him benefit of doubt. Given the status of record, such view is not a possible view at all. We therefore allow the appeal, set aside the judgment and order of the High Court acquitting Surja Ram. The conviction as ordered by the Trial Court is restored. Surja Ram is convicted under Sections 302 and 201 IPC read with Section 34 IPC and sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay fine of Rs. 5,000/- on the first count and for 3 years and fine of Rs. 1.000/- on the second count. The sentences shall run concurrently. The Respondent Surja Ram be taken in custody forthwith to undergo the sentence awarded to him.


                                                              Non-Reportable

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.566 of 2008

State of Rajasthan                           .... Appellants

                                   Versus

Surja Ram                                    .... Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T

Uday Umesh Lalit, J.


1.    This appeal by Special Leave challenges the judgment and  order  dated
22.08.2007 passed by the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan  at  Jodhpur
in DB Criminal Jail Appeal No. 27 of 2003 acquitting the  Respondent  herein
of the offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of IPC.

2.     Initially  six  Persons  were  alleged  to  have  committed  offences
punishable under Sections 147, 341, 149, 364, 302 , 201  read  with  Section
120B of IPC.  One of them named  Chatra  Ram  was  granted  pardon  and  was
examined as PW1 in the trial. Out of  five  accused  who  faced  the  trial,
Bhanwru Ram and Mohan Ram were acquitted by the Trial  Court.  It  convicted
Hapu Ram and Surja Ram for the offences under Sections  341,  364,  302  IPC
read with 120B IPC, while the other accused named  Raju  Ram  was  convicted
under Section 302 read with Section 34 of IPC.  In the appeals preferred  by
convicted accused, the High Court affirmed the conviction  and  sentence  of
Hapu Ram under Section  302  of  IPC  while  acquitting  him  of  the  other
charges. The other two namely Surja Ram and Raju Ram were acquitted  of  all
the charges. In the Special Leave  Petition  preferred  by  the  State,  the
Petition as against Raju Ram was dismissed  by  this  court  but  leave  was
granted as against accused Surja Ram.  This matter  is therefore  restricted
as regards challenge to the acquittal of Surja Ram by the High Court .

3.     Complainant  PW4  Om  Prakash  submitted  written  report  at  Police
Station, Nagaur at 10:15 p.m. on 12.5.1998, that on  10.5.1998  he  and  his
father Jeevan Ram were returning after attending a marriage around  11:00pm,
when the motor cycle tyre  got  punctured  .  Father  Jeevan  Ram  told  the
complainant to proceed with the Motor Cycle while he  would  return  in  the
tractor of one Mohan Ram.  The report further stated  that  his  father  had
since then not returned. Pursuant to this report FIR No.  206  of  1998  was
registered and matter was investigated. One  of  the  suspects   Chatra  Ram
having being granted pardon, charges were framed against Five accused  under
Sections 147, 341/149, 120B,  364,  302  and  201  IPC  and  the  trial  was
conducted in the Court of Addl. Dist. & Sessions Judge (Fast  Track)  Nagaur
vide Sessions Case No. 72/2001.

4.    PW1 Chatra Ram deposed that on 10.5.1998, his Jeep came  to  be  hired
by Raju Ram and Surja Ram for going to Village Budi  with  Raju  Ram,  Mohan
Ram, Surja Ram, Bhanwru Ram as occupants. On the way Hapu Ram  joined  them.
While passing along they found Jeevan Ram on the road,  whereupon  the  jeep
was stopped and Hapu Ram and Surja Ram got down.  They  brought  Jeevan  Ram
forcibly and made him sit in the jeep. The witness stated that he and  Mohan
Ram resisted but Hapu Ram said that they be dropped at Nagaur  otherwise  he
would kill all of them. Hapu Ram was having a  pistol  in  his  hand.  Later
Mohan Ram  left at which stage Surja Ram and Hapu Ram caught hold of  Jeevan
Ram and made him sit in the front between them. Hapu Ram with the pistol  in
his hand had stated that if anybody raised any protest he would  kill  them.
The jeep was then taken towards Bidasar.  After going for  about  15-20  kms
from Village Katar, the jeep was stopped near a well  by  the  side  of  the
road.  The jeep was taken close to the well. Hapu Ram  and  Surja  Ram  made
Jeevan Ram get down, then strangulated him by the cycle tube and  threw  him
in the well. Hapu Ram had threatened them not to  say  anything  to  anyone.
The witness further stated that  before  strangulating  him,  Hapu  Ram  had
asked Jeevan Ram to marry his younger daughter with him.  During  the  trial
the prosecution  produced one letter marked as Exh. P21 written by Hapu  Ram
stating that his marriage with the daughter of  Jeevan  Ram  should  not  be
cancelled and had given  threats  therein.  PW  4  Om  Prakash,  complainant
reiterated the contents of his complaint.

5.    The Trial Court found that the case was established  as  against  Hapu
Ram,Surja Ram and Raju Ram. It convicted Hapu Ram and Surja Ram  principally
for the offence under Section 302 of IPC and sentenced them to undergo  life
imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 25,000/- each, in default whereof to  undergo
simple imprisonment for 3 years. They were  also  convicted  under  Sections
341, 364 and 201 of IPC, while accused Raju Ram was convicted under  Section
302 read with 34 IPC. The other two accused Bhanwru Ram and Mohan  Ram  were
acquitted of all the charges.

6.    The convicted accused carried  the  matter  by  filing  DB  Crl.  Jail
Appeal No.27 of 2003 and 74 of 2003. The  High  Court  while  affirming  the
conviction of Hapu Ram under Section 302  IPC  and  under  Section  201  IPC
acquitted him of other charges. He was sentenced to  life  imprisonment  for
offence under Section 302 with fine of Rs.5,000/-  and  for  sentence  of  3
years under Section 201 of  IPC with a fine of Rs.  1,000/-.  The  sentences
were to run concurrently. The High court however  acquitted  Surja  Ram  and
Raju Ram of all the charges.

7.    While dealing with the eye witness account through PW1 Chatra  Ram  as
regards the role of Surja Ram, the High Court observed as under:-
     "...Witness stated that Surja Ram and Hapu  Ram  strangulated  deceased
Jiwan Ram, but in the cross-examination, said witness stated  that  deceased
Jiwan Ram was strangulated by Hapu Ram and before doing so,  even  Hapu  Ram
asked deceased Jiwan Ram to marry his younger daughter and, in  that  event,
he would be relieved, but his proposal was not accepted by  Jiwan  Ram  and,
at that time, accused Hapu Ram strangulated deceased by a cycle tube.  Thus,
the allegation of strangulation by Surja Ram  was  not  made  in  the  cross
examination. Hence conviction of accused Surja Ram under Section 302 of  IPC
cannot be maintained because of contradiction in the statement...."

 With this view the High Court acquitted Surja Ram of all the charges.

8.    Mr. Puneet Parihar, learned advocate appearing for State of  Rajasthan
submitted that  the  assessment  made  by  the  High  Court  was  completely
incorrect. Referring to the testimony PW1 Chatra Ram, it was submitted  that
the role of Hapu Ram  and  Surja  Ram  as  stated  by  the  witness  in  his
examination in chief was :-
Both Hapu Ram and Surja Ram had got down and  brought  Jeevan  Ram  forcibly
and made him sit in the vehicle.

Later, both had caught hold of him and made him sit in  the  front   between
them.

After bringing the vehicle close to the well, Hapu Ram and  Surja  Ram  made
Jeevan Ram get down. They strangulated him with cycle tube and threw him  in
the well.

The relevant portion from the cross-examination of  the  witness  which  was
relied upon by the High Court was to the following effect :-
".....I had seen Hapu  Ram  rounding  tube  in  his  neck  and  drawing  him
forcibly towards well, nothing else I  had  seen.  I  had  not  seen  as  to
whether the deceased Jeevan Ram  was  going  on  his  foot  or  the  accused
persons were drawing him..."

Ms. Aiswarya Bhati, learned Advocate for the Respondent submitted  that  the
view taken by the High Court in the  circumstance,  did  not  call  for  any
interference.

9.     The assertion in the cross-examination of PW1 Chatra Ram does not  in
any way detract from the role clearly attributed by  the  witness  to  Surja
Ram. The witness did not say that Surja Ram never got down from the  vehicle
 or that he had not accompanied Hapu Ram.  The  cross-examination  also  did
not challenge such assertion by the witness that both  Hapu  Ram  and  Surja
Ram  had made Jeevan Ram get down from the vehicle near the well. The  above
quoted portion in the cross-examination very clearly deals with the role  of
Hapu Ram.  This  portion  does  not  in  any  way  detract  from  the   role
attributed to Surja Ram. The High court was  plainly  wrong  in  relying  on
this portion in the cross-examination to give  benefit  of  doubt  to  Surja
Ram. The testimony of PW 1 Chatra Ram, is consistent  and  not  in  any  way
shaken in cross-examination as regards Surja Ram.

10.      In our view, Surja Ram was an equal participant in the  crime.  His
role in bringing Jeevan Ram forcibly and making  him  sit  in  the  vehicle,
thereafter making him sit in the front, and finally in making him  get  down
near the well and strangulating him, was rightly relied   upon by the  Trial
Court. The High Court committed gross  error  in  granting  him  benefit  of
doubt. Given the status of record, such view is not a possible view at  all.
We therefore allow the appeal, set aside the judgment and order of the  High
Court acquitting Surja Ram. The conviction as ordered by the Trial Court  is
restored.  Surja Ram is convicted under Sections 302 and 201 IPC  read  with
Section 34 IPC and sentenced to life imprisonment and to  pay  fine  of  Rs.
5,000/- on the first count and for 3 years and fine of Rs.  1.000/-  on  the
second count. The sentences shall run  concurrently.  The  Respondent  Surja
Ram be taken in custody forthwith to undergo the sentence awarded to him.

.............................J.
                                  (Pinaki Chandra Ghose)



                                  .............................J.
                                  (Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi,
April 10, 2015


ITEM NO.1C               COURT NO.13               SECTION II

               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

                      Criminal Appeal  No(s).  566/2008

STATE OF RAJASTHAN                                 Appellant(s)

                                VERSUS

SURJA RAM                                          Respondent(s)

Date : 10/04/2015      This appeal was called on for pronouncement of
            judgment today.

For Appellant(s) Mr. Shiv Mangal Sharma, AAG
                       Mr. Puneet Parihar, Adv.
                       Ms. Anjali Chauhan, Adv.
                       Mr. Milind Kumar, Adv.

For Respondent(s)      Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, Adv.
                       Mr. T. Gopal, Adv.
                       Mr. Hemendra Sharma, Adv.
                       Mr. Amit Verma, Adv.
                       Mr. Adarsh K. Tiwari, Adv.
                       Mr. Pawan Kr. Saini, Adv.
                       Ms. Madhurima Ghosh, Adv.
                       Ms. Neha Meena, Adv.

      Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh  Lalit  pronounced  the  non-reportable
judgment of the Bench comprising Hon'ble Mr. Justice  Pinaki  Chandra  Ghose
and His Lordship.

      The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed  non-reportable  judgment
as follows:-

"We therefore allow the appeal, set aside the  judgment  and  order  of  the
High Court acquitting Surja Ram. The conviction  as  ordered  by  the  Trial
Court is restored.  Surja Ram is convicted under Sections 302  and  201  IPC
read with Section 34 IPC and sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay  fine
of Rs. 5,000/- on the first count and for 3 years and fine  of  Rs.  1.000/-
on the second count. The sentences shall run  concurrently.  The  Respondent
Surja Ram be taken in custody forthwith to undergo the sentence  awarded  to
him."


      (R.NATARAJAN)                                 (SNEH LATA SHARMA)
       Court Master                                    Court Master
        (Signed non-reportable judgment is placed on the file)

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