IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.566 of 2008
State of Rajasthan .... Appellants
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
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 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
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.
(Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
(Uday Umesh Lalit)
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)
SURJA RAM Respondent(s)
Date : 10/04/2015 This appeal was called on for pronouncement of
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
"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
(R.NATARAJAN) (SNEH LATA SHARMA)
Court Master Court Master
(Signed non-reportable judgment is placed on the file)