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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

One Ms. Pushpa Verma, an unmarried lady, after retiring from her job as Head Mistress in the year 1993, was residing at Karnal. She had set up a marriage bureau and also used to work as a property dealer. Her two married sisters were also residing at Karnal. Two sons of one of the sisters were practicing advocates. Brother of Pushpa Verma named Chander Prakash had retired as Executive Engineer and was residing at Hissar. Pushpa Verma owned properties at Panipat and Gurgaon allotted through Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA for short).= the recovery of gold ring with inscription ‘PV; recovered from the house of the appellant is definitely a relevant circumstance. The ring after recovery was given under a panchnama to Abhishek Dewan, son of Chander Prakash. No explanation has been given as to how the appellant came into possession of said gold ring. As regards the extra judicial confession made to PW 16 Sunil Rana, the documents allegedly executed by Pushpa Verma and the progression of events including the transactions completely substantiate the case and we have no hesitation in accepting the evidence in that behalf.= It is impossible and inconceivable that a lady who had retired as head mistress would mis-spell her own name while putting signatures. The flow of signature as evident from the admitted source is completely of a different nature. The signatures on the documents in question, to a naked eye, cannot be that of Pushpa Verma. Further, there is no reason why a lady who has two sisters and two Advocate nephews staying in same town, would give power of attorney and execute a Will in favour of a total stranger. These circumstances are clinchingly against the appellant. His assertion that he had made over the payments received in cash to Pushpa Verma is not supported by any material on record. In fact, the appellant kept receiving payments even in the month of March, 2003. None of the payments are reflected in the account of Pushpa Verma. Receipt of Rs.1,00,000/- by way of cheque in the name of appellant himself is also a circumstance against the appellant. The evidence thus shows that the appellant had fabricated the documents in question and was attempting to defraud Pushpa Verma, as stated in the extra judicial confession. Further, by Ext. PH addressed to Pushpa Verma, a copy of which was sent to the appellant, she was asked to remain personally present in the office of HUDA. There is nothing on record to show that the appellant had undertaken any attempt, if he was genuinely acting as power of attorney on her behalf. We are satisfied that the circumstances on record, even if we were to disregard that relating to the recovery of Voter Identity Card Ext.P-12, do suggest only one hypothesis and that is the guilt of the appellant. The defence set up by the appellant does not inspire any confidence and merits rejection. The appeal, therefore fails and is dismissed. 14. Before we part, we must deal with the conduct of PW10 S.P. Meena. As Sub-Registrar, it was expected of him and was fundamental part of his duty to see that the persons who are entering into transactions must appear before him in person and the documents would be registered only after the essential formalities were undertaken. His evidence in the present case shows rank dereliction of duty. Add to it, his attempt to strike a different chord in the private proceedings is also questionable. He appeared as witness for the appellant and took a contradictory stand on oath. Such conduct must be dealt with strictly so that the matters of registration continue to have confidence in the eyes of people. We therefore recommend suitable action against said PW10 S.P. Meena and direct the authorities to initiate proceedings in that behalf. A copy of this judgment be sent to the Supervisors in the office where he was working as Sub-Registrar, Pitampura, Delhi. The appeal is disposed of in the afore-mentioned terms.

Non-reportable


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1098 OF 2012




      RAJVINDER SINGH                            …. Appellant


                                   Versus


      STATE OF HARYANA                        …. 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 12.12.2011 passed by  the  High  Court  of  Punjab  and  Haryana
      dismissing Criminal Appeal No.800-DB of 2007  and  thereby  confirming
      the conviction and sentence of the appellant for  the  offences  under
      Sections 364, 302 and 201 of the I.P.C.


      2.     One Ms. Pushpa Verma, an unmarried lady,  after  retiring  from
      her job as Head Mistress in the year 1993,  was  residing  at  Karnal.
      She had set up a marriage bureau and also used to work as  a  property
      dealer.  Her two married sisters were also residing  at  Karnal.   Two
      sons of one of the sisters  were  practicing  advocates.   Brother  of
      Pushpa Verma named Chander Prakash had retired as  Executive  Engineer
      and was residing at Hissar.  Pushpa Verma owned properties at  Panipat
      and Gurgaon allotted through Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA
      for short).


      3.    The appellant stands convicted for the  offences  of  kidnapping
      Pushpa Verma and thereafter  murdering  her  and  for  destroying  the
      evidence by throwing her body in a canal.  He  is  sentenced  to  life
      imprisonment and payment of fine of Rs.10,000/- for the offence  under
      Section 302 I.P.C. and to rigorous imprisonment  for  five  years  and
      payment of fine of Rs.5,000/- in default whereof  to  undergo  further
      rigorous imprisonment for six months under Section 364 I.P.C.  and  to
      rigorous imprisonment for five years and payment of fine of Rs.5,000/-
      , in default whereof to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for  six
      months under  Section  201  I.P.C.   All  the  sentences  are  to  run
      concurrently.   The conviction and sentence as recorded by  the  trial
      court has been affirmed by  the  High  Court  in  the  judgment  under
      appeal.


      4.    The instant matter has genesis in Daily Diary Report  (Ext.  PA)
      lodged with Police Post, Sector 13,  Karnal,  by  Chander  Prakash  on
      16.03.2003 giving “missing report”  about  his  sister  Pushpa  Verma.
      According to the report, she was missing since 20/22 January, 2003 and
      had not been receiving any calls since then.  The follow-up action  on
      this report indicates that information was sent to all  the  districts
      and all the police  stations  were  intimated  through  wireless.   On
      18.05.2003  Chander  Prakash  moved  an  application  (Ext.  PC)   for
      registration of an offence  against  the  appellant  stating  that  he
      suspected that the appellant wanted to grab her plots at  Panipat  and
      Gurgaon by preparing forged documents and that he had kidnapped her or
      murdered her.  This reporting led to registration of FIR No.144  dated
      18.05.2003 with Police Station Civil Lines, Karnal under  Section  364
      I.P.C. against the appellant.

      5.    After due investigation,  charge-sheet  was  filed  against  the
      appellant for the offences punishable under Sections 364, 302 and  201
      I.P.C. in the Court of  Additional  Sessions  Judge,  Karnal  and  the
      appellant was tried for aforesaid offences in Sessions Case  No.53  of
      2005.  During investigation the body of  Pushpa  Verma  could  not  be
      recovered  nor  was  there  any  eye-witness  to  the  actual  act  of
      kidnapping or murder.  The prosecution mainly  relied  upon  following
      circumstances to bring home the charges against the accused:


      A.    The documents  pertaining  to  properties  of  Pushpa  Verma  at
           Panipat and Gurgaon showed that general powers of  attorney  were
           allegedly executed in favour of the appellant, on  the  basis  of
           which he had entered into transactions in respect  of  properties
           at Panipat and Gurgaon and had pocketed the  consideration.   The
           transactions as placed on record were as under:-
        a.   On 26.09.2002 a  general  power  of  attorney  Ext.  PF-1  was
           allegedly executed by Pushpa Verma in favour of the appellant in
           respect of her property at Panipat.  Though she was resident  of
           Karnal and the property was at Panipat, this  general  power  of
           attorney was executed and registered with the office of the Sub-
           Registrar at Delhi.  This document empowered the appellant  with
           all rights  including  power  to  dispose  of  the  property  at
           Panipat.


        b. On 08.11.2002 the appellant sold away the  property  at  Panipat
           for Rs.12.5 Lakhs.  The property was an industrial plot of  1050
           square meters  at  Panipat  and  the  entire  consideration  was
           received by the appellant in cash.  It appears that  there  were
           dues in respect of  penalty  for  not  having  constructed  upon
           within the prescribed period, which  were  got  cleared  by  the
           appellant.

        c. On 12.11.2002 a Will (Ext. PG-1) was allegedly executed by  said
           Pushpa Verma in favour  of  the  appellant  in  respect  of  her
           Gurgaon property.  On the next day  i.e.  13.11.2002  a  general
           power of attorney was allegedly executed with respect to Gurgaon
           property in favour of the appellant.  The Will and  the  general
           power of attorney were also executed  and  registered  with  the
           office of the Sub-Registrar at Delhi.

        d. On 24.01.2003 an agreement (Mark  PH)  was  entered  into  under
           which the appellant  agreed  to  transfer  Gurgaon  property  in
           favour of prospective purchasers and received part consideration
           of Rupees 2.5 Lakhs (Rupees 1.5 Lakhs in cash while  Rupees  One
           Lakhs by way of a cheque in the name of the appellant  himself).
           On 24.03.2003, further sum of Rupees Three Lakhs was received by
           the appellant and endorsement to that effect  was  made  on  the
           agreement itself.

        e. On 31.03.2003 a demand draft of Rupees Five Thousand towards the
           fees for seeking permission to  transfer  Gurgaon  property  was
           taken out and enclosed along  with  the  application  (Ext.  PJ)
           seeking permission to transfer that property.  This  application
           was preferred by the appellant in his capacity as general  power
           of  attorney  and  was  received  in  the  office  of  HUDA   on
           03.04.2003.

        f. It appears that the signatures of Pushpa Verma  on  the  general
           power of attorney submitted by the appellant did not tally  with
           her original signatures available on  record  with  HUDA  and  a
           letter to that effect was dispatched on  07.04.2003.   This  was
           followed by another letter dated 24.04.2003 (Ext.  PH)  by  HUDA
           addressed to Pushpa Verma with a copy to  the  appellant  asking
           her to remain present personally in  the  office  in  connection
           with her application seeking permission to transfer.




      B.    PW 22 Harsh Vardhan, Handwriting expert was examined who  opined
           that the signatures of Pushpa Verma on aforementioned  documents
           do not  tally  with  the  specimen  signatures  taken  from  the
           available record with her bank.


      C.     The  consideration  received  in  respect  of   the   aforesaid
           transactions was never credited to the account of Pushpa  Verma.




      D.    S.P. Meena, Sub-Registrar, Delhi was examined  as  PW  10.   The
           relevant portion of his testimony is as under:
                 “After the document is written the receipt for the fee  is
           issued by the clerk concerned the document is  presented  before
           another clerk who verifies the document and the  attestation  of
           the witnesses and  parties  and  initials  the  photographs  and
           affixes seals and fills in the blanks in the seal, the  document
           after his signature is presented before me.  Thereafter  I  sign
           the documents on the faith of the  clerk  concerned.   Documents
           Ext. PG and Ext. PG/1 is power of attorney and will respectively
           were presented before me by Naresh Kumar, Clerk after initialing
           at point ‘A’ in Ext. PG and at point  ‘B’  in  Ext  PG/1  signed
           these documents.


            Thereafter the documents were entered in  the  register  of  the
           registration  maintained  in  our  office.   I  have   seen   my
           signatures at points ‘B’ and Ext. PG and at points ‘C’  in  Ext.
           PG/1.  These signatures are mine.  The person who  executes  the
           document and in whose favour it is executed do not appear before
           me.  I have been working  in  this  manner  from  26.07.2000  to
           13.11.2002 as Sub-Registrar and attested the documents.”


      E.    On 21.05.2003 the appellant made an extra judicial confession to
           PW16 Sunil Rana advocate who later took  the  appellant  to  the
           police and caused his arrest.    The  appellant  confessed  that
           Pushpa Verma was known to him for more  than  a  year,  that  he
           started meeting her often, that she started treating him as  her
           son, that having come to  know  that  she  owned  properties  at
           different places he had become greedy, that  he  had  given  her
           some sedative in her  tea,  taken  her  to  Delhi  and  got  her
           signatures on the General power of attorney, that he  sold  away
           property at Panipat but kept all the money with himself and that
           he again took her to Delhi and  got  another  general  power  of
           attorney executed in respect of Gurgaon plot.   It  was  further
           confessed that in the month of January the appellant  felt  that
           Pushpa  Verma  suspected  some  foul  play  and  therefore   the
           appellant plotted a scheme to finish  her.   On  23.01.2003  she
           expressed desire to visit Haridwar, on which pretext he took her
           in a car and after having administered a sedative, throttled her
           and while she was unconscious near Roorkee, threw her body in  a
           canal known as Gang Canal  in  between  villages  Liverheri  and
           Mangalore.


      F.    After the arrest of the appellant, voter identity card Ext. P-12
           of Pushpa Verma was recovered from the bushes  near  Gang  Canal
           where her dead body was thrown.  Such recovery was in  pursuance
           of the disclosure statement of the appellant under Section 27 of
           the Evidence Act.  In order to prove this part, the  prosecution
           relied upon the testimony of PW 12 Mahir  Hussain,  Photographer
           and the testimony of PW 19 Investigating Officer Vijay Anand.


      G.    Pursuant to the disclosure statement of the  appellant,  a  gold
           ring bearing inscription “PV” was also recovered from the  house
           of the appellant.  The evidence in  that  behalf  was  available
           through PW5 Muktiyar Singh and PW6 Ashok Sharma.


      6.    In defence, the  appellant  examined  four  witnesses.   It  was
      projected that an unidentified dead body of a woman was found  in  the
      agricultural fields in District Muzaffar Nagar,  U.P.  on  22.01.2003.
      The photograph of the dead body taken by the police  was  produced  in
      this trial and marked  as  DB.   One  Brahmpal  Singh,  Sub-Inspector,
      Saharanpur was also examined as Defence witness who stated that he had
      prepared Inquest proceedings regarding the dead  body  and  thereafter
      the investigation was  conducted  by  SSI  Rajinder  Beer  Singh.   By
      examining these witnesses it was submitted that the dead body so found
      in Muzaffar Nagar on 22.01.2003 was in fact that of Pushpa Verma.  The
      trial court rejected this defence.  Relying upon the circumstances  as
      culled out hereinabove, the trial court found that  the  case  against
      the appellant was completely proved by  the  prosecution.   The  trial
      court, thus, awarded the sentence as stated hereinabove.


      7.    The appellant carried the  matter  further  by  filing  Criminal
      Appeal No.800-DB/2007 in the High Court.   During the pendency of this
      appeal, the appellant filed CRM No.52692 of 2008 along with  documents
      pertaining to a case registered against one Suresh under Section 25 of
      the Arms Act.  Copy of the General Diary pertaining  to  investigation
      of said crime was also filed which contained statement of said accused
      Suresh according to which Suresh and  one  Baljeet  had  taken  Pushpa
      Verma from Karnal in a car, that Baljeet had strangulated her and that
      thereafter they both had thrown her dead body  in  sugar-cane  fields.
      The record as filed did not indicate whether any  case  under  Section
      302 IPC was registered against said Baljeet and Suresh.  The appellant
      also filed a report of a privately  engaged  Forensic  Expert  stating
      that the photograph of the dead body of the  lady  found  in  Muzaffar
      Nagar was that of Pushpa  Verma.   Relying  on  these  materials,  the
      appellant submitted an application under Section 391  Cr.P.C.  praying
      that additional evidence be recorded at the appellate stage.  The High
      Court directed that these applications be considered  along  with  the
      appeal itself.


      8.    The High Court considered  the  matter  and  the  circumstantial
      evidence placed on record.  It found that  the  signatures  of  Pushpa
      Verma on the documents in question were a crude attempt  at  imitation
      and in one of the documents, namely, Will Ext. PG-1, the signature was
      “Puspha Verma” instead of normal signature being “Pushpa Verma”.   The
      High Court found that the case against the appellant stood  completely
      established.  As regards application under Section 391 Cr.P.C., it was
      observed that the appellant had taken the defence that the  dead  body
      recovered in Muzaffar Nagar was actually that of Pushpa Verma  and  in
      such circumstances it was imperative for  him  to  have  examined  the
      expert in his defence at the trial court stage  itself  and  that  the
      report of the privately engaged Forensic Expert at such belated  stage
      could not be allowed to be taken  on  record.   The  High  Court  thus
      dismissed the appeal affirming the  conviction  and  sentence  of  the
      appellant.


      9.    This judgment of the High Court is presently under appeal.  Crl.
      Miscellaneous Petition No.10525 of  2012  was  filed  in  the  present
      matter seeking leave to bring on  record  additional  documents  which
      include the order of conviction in so far as aforementioned Suresh  is
      concerned under Section 25 of the Arms Act as well  as  deposition  of
      the very same Sub Registrar S.P. Meena in Civil Suit No.142  of  2009.
      Said Civil Suit was filed  by  Chander  Prakash  against  the  present
      appellant seeking to invalidate  the  transactions  allegedly  entered
      into by Pushpa Verma.  In that suit S.P.  Meena,  Sub-  Registrar  was
      examined as his witness by the appellant.   His deposition now  states
      that he had read over the contents of the general  power  of  attorney
      and the Will to Pushpa Verma and after understanding the same she  had
      signed in the presence of said S.P. Meena.

      10.   Mr. Brijender Chahar, learned Senior Advocate appearing for  the
      appellant submitted that none  of  the  aforesaid  circumstances  were
      proved and in any event these circumstances do  not  form  a  complete
      chain excluding  every  other  hypothesis  except  the  guilt  of  the
      appellant.  It was submitted that the dead body of  Pushpa  Verma  was
      never recovered from Gang Canal or thereabouts.  On the other  hand  a
      dead body of an unidentified female was found in  agricultural  fields
      in District Muzaffar Nagar and FIR No.427-12 of  2003  was  registered
      against unknown persons at Police Station Nai Mandi,  Muzaffar  Nagar.
      It was submitted that the High Court ought to have allowed the  prayer
      for leading  additional  evidence  at  the  appellate  stage.  It  was
      accepted that the documents referred to above had given the  appellant
      full authority to dispose of the properties of Pushpa Verma  and  that
      the appellant had entered  into  transactions  in  question.   It  was
      however submitted that all the payments that he had received were made
      over to Pushpa Verma and that an attaché kept with one Ram Kishore was
      taken by son of the complainant.  The attaché used to contain valuable
      securities of  Pushpa  Verma  and  was  kept  with  Ram  Kishore  with
      instructions to hand over to her relations in case  anything  were  to
      happen to her.  It was suggested that the money received in cash  must
      have been kept in that attaché.  Mr.  Devender  Kumar  Saini,  learned
      Additional Advocate General appearing for the State submitted that the
      concurrent view taken by the trial court and the High  Court  did  not
      call for any interference and the appeal be dismissed.


      11.   At  the  outset,  we  must  deal  with  submissions  as  regards
      application for leading additional evidence at  the  appellate  stage.
      It has been the consistent defence of the appellant that the dead body
      found in agricultural fields in District Muzaffar Nagar  was  that  of
      Pushpa Verma and he went to the extent of producing photograph of  the
      dead body in the present trial.  He also examined Brahm Pal Singh, Sub-
      Inspector and other witnesses.  It was certainly possible  to  examine
      Forensic Expert at the trial court stage itself and the High Court was
      right and  justified  in  rejecting  the  prayer  to  lead  additional
      evidence at the appellate stage.  Nonetheless, we  have  gone  through
      the report of said Forensic Expert  engaged  by  the  appellant.   The
      exercise undertaken by that expert  is  to  start  with  the  admitted
      photograph of Pushpa Verma on a computer, then remove the  “bindi”  by
      some process  on  the  computer,  then  by  same  process  remove  her
      spectacles and by computer imaging change the image as it  would  have
      looked if the lady was  lying  down  in  an  injured  condition.   The
      computer image so changed was then compared with the photograph of the
      dead body.   We have seen both the images and we are not convinced  at
      all about any element of similarity.  We  do  not  therefore  see  any
      reason to differ from the view taken by the High Court.


      12.   In the submissions  of  Mr.  Brijender  Chahar,  learned  Senior
      Advocate the circumstances E, F and G as culled  out  in  paragraph  5
      hereinabove  were  not  proved  at  all  and  the  transactions   were
      completely genuine.  It was submitted that it is impossible to believe
      that the Voter Identity Card of Pushpa Verma could be  recovered  from
      the bushes four months after the incident.  Similarly the recovery  of
      gold ring was also questioned.  Further, it was submitted  that  there
      was no evidence that the ring in question was that  of  Pushpa  Verma.
      Mr. Chahar may be right so far as recovery of Voter Identity  Card  is
      concerned  but  the  recovery  of  gold  ring  with  inscription  ‘PV;
      recovered from the house of the appellant  is  definitely  a  relevant
      circumstance.  The ring after recovery was given under a panchnama  to
      Abhishek Dewan, son of Chander Prakash.  No explanation has been given
      as to how the appellant came into possession of said  gold  ring.   As
      regards the extra judicial confession made to PW 16  Sunil  Rana,  the
      documents allegedly executed by Pushpa Verma and  the  progression  of
      events including the transactions completely substantiate the case and
      we have no hesitation in accepting the evidence in that behalf.


      13.   The transactions as referred to above have been admitted by  the
      appellant.  We have seen the signatures alleged to have  been  put  by
      Pushpa Verma on said documents.  We have compared the  signatures  and
      find the view taken by the High Court in that behalf  to  be  correct.
      It is impossible and inconceivable that a lady who had retired as head
      mistress would mis-spell her own name while putting  signatures.   The
      flow of signature as evident from the admitted source is completely of
      a different nature.  The signatures on the documents in question, to a
      naked eye, cannot be that of  Pushpa  Verma.   Further,  there  is  no
      reason why a lady who has two sisters and two Advocate nephews staying
      in same town, would give power of  attorney  and  execute  a  Will  in
      favour of a  total  stranger.   These  circumstances  are  clinchingly
      against the appellant.  His  assertion  that  he  had  made  over  the
      payments received in cash to Pushpa Verma  is  not  supported  by  any
      material on record.  In fact, the appellant  kept  receiving  payments
      even in the month of March, 2003.  None of the payments are  reflected
      in the account of Pushpa Verma.  Receipt of Rs.1,00,000/-  by  way  of
      cheque in the name of appellant himself is also a circumstance against
      the appellant.   The  evidence  thus  shows  that  the  appellant  had
      fabricated the documents in question and  was  attempting  to  defraud
      Pushpa Verma, as stated in the extra judicial confession.  Further, by
      Ext. PH addressed to Pushpa Verma, a copy of which  was  sent  to  the
      appellant, she was asked to remain personally present in the office of
      HUDA.  There is nothing on record  to  show  that  the  appellant  had
      undertaken any attempt,  if  he  was  genuinely  acting  as  power  of
      attorney on her behalf.  We are satisfied that  the  circumstances  on
      record, even if we were to disregard that relating to the recovery  of
      Voter Identity Card Ext.P-12, do suggest only one hypothesis and  that
      is the guilt of the appellant.  The defence set up  by  the  appellant
      does not inspire any confidence  and  merits  rejection.  The  appeal,
      therefore fails and is dismissed.


      14.  Before we part, we must deal with the conduct of PW10 S.P. Meena.
      As Sub-Registrar, it was expected of him and was fundamental  part  of
      his duty to see that the persons who are  entering  into  transactions
      must appear before him in person and the documents would be registered
      only after the essential formalities were undertaken.  His evidence in
      the present case shows rank dereliction  of  duty.   Add  to  it,  his
      attempt to strike a different chord in the private proceedings is also
      questionable.  He appeared as witness for the  appellant  and  took  a
      contradictory stand on oath.  Such conduct must be dealt with strictly
      so that the matters of registration continue to have confidence in the
      eyes of people.  We therefore recommend suitable action  against  said
      PW10 S.P. Meena and direct the authorities to initiate proceedings  in
      that behalf.  A copy of this judgment be sent to  the  Supervisors  in
      the office where he was working as Sub-Registrar, Pitampura, Delhi.


      15.   The appeal is disposed of in the afore-mentioned terms.







                        ………………………………..……J.
                                   (Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla)




                                   ………………………………..……J.
                                   (Uday Umesh Lalit)


      New Delhi,
      October 16, 2015

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