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Thursday, December 17, 2015

According to Modi’s Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology (23rd Edition), “ligature mark depends on the nature and position of ligature used, and the time of suspension of the body after death. If the ligature is soft, and the body is cut down from the ligature immediately after the death, there may be no mark…….” ‘Strangulation’ is defined by Modi as “the compression of the neck by a force other than hanging. Weight of the body has nothing to do with strangulation. Ligature strangulation is a violent form of death which results from constricting the neck by means of a ligature or by any other means without suspending the body. When constriction is produced by the pressure of the fingers and palms upon the throat, it is called as throttling. When strangulation is brought about by compressing the throat with a foot, knee, bend of elbow, or some other solid substances, it is known as mugging (strangle hold).” (emphasis supplied) As to appearances due to asphyxia, Modi says: - “The face is puffy and cyanosed, and marked with petechiae. The eyes are prominent and open. In some cases, they may be closed. The conjunctivae are congested and the pupils are dilated. Petechiae are seen in the eyelids and the conjunctivae. The lips are blue. Bloody foam escapes from the mouth and nostrils, and sometimes, pure blood issues from the mouth, nose and ears, especially if great violence has been used. The tongue is often swollen, bruised, protruding and dark in colour, showing patches of extravasation and occasionally bitten by the teeth. There may be evidence of bruising at the back of the neck. The hands are usually clenched. The genital organs may be congested and there may be discharge of urine, faeces and seminal fluid.” In ‘asphyxia’, according to Modi, “ligature is usually situated above the thyroid cartilage, and the effect of its pressing the neck in that situation is to force up the epiglottis and the root of the tongue against the posterior wall of the pharynx. Hence, the floor of the mouth is jammed against its roof, and occludes the air passages,………..” = After carefully going through the medico legal evidence on record, we are of the opinion that it was not a case where a view could have been taken that the deceased died of hanging. There was no reason to disagree with the opinion given by PW-8 Dr. Viveka Nand (Ex. P-13) that the deceased had died of asphyxia as a result of pressure over the neck=After carefully scrutinizing the evidence on record, as above, we are convinced that it is proved beyond reasonable doubt on the record that when accused Ramesh saw his daughter talking to PW-9 Bablu, he got suddenly provoked and lost his power of self-control, slapped her, took her inside the house, and caused death of his daughter by strangulation and throttling. The medical evidence clearly shows four ante mortem injuries on the neck region and three around mouth of the deceased as mentioned in the autopsy report (Ex. P-12). On going through the reports Ex. P-12 and P.13 read with oral testimony of witnesses, discussed above, we have no hesitation in holding that prosecution has successfully proved the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable under Section 304 Part I against the accused/respondent Ramesh. For the reasons, as discussed above, we are of the view that the High Court has erred in law in holding that the deceased could have hanged herself, and that the chain of circumstances was not complete against the accused. Therefore, this appeal deserves to be allowed.

                                                                  REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1526 OF 2008


State of Rajasthan                                … Appellant

                                   Versus

Ramesh                                            …Respondent




                               J U D G M E N T



Prafulla C. Pant,J.


      This appeal is directed against judgment and order  dated  04.01.2006,
passed by the High Court of Judicature at Rajasthan, Jaipur  Bench,  whereby
said Court has allowed D.B. Criminal Jail Appeal No. 397 of  2000,  and  set
aside the conviction and sentence  recorded  against  respondent  Ramesh  by
Sessions Judge, Jaipur, under Sections 302 and  201  of  Indian  Penal  Code
(IPC), and acquitted him of the charge.



2.    Prosecution story in brief  is  that  PW-1  Prithviraj  Singh  gave  a
telephonic information on 28.04.1999 at about 10.55  p.m.  to  PW-7  Bhagwan
Singh, Station House Officer of Police Station Kalwad  that  Sheela,  eldest
daughter of  his  servant  Ramesh  (respondent)  has  committed  suicide  by
hanging.  The Station House Officer rushed to the spot.  He  made  enquiries
from Ramesh in the farm house where he used to  work,  and  lived  with  his
three daughters.  He (Ramesh)  told  the  Station  House  Officer  that  his
daughter went out of the farm house at about 8.30 p.m. and came  back  after
some time.  Ramesh further told that he objected to his  daughter’s  conduct
of meeting PW-9 Bablu, and scolded her.   Thereafter  power  went  off.   He
further told the Station House Officer that after some time  when  generator
was started, he saw that Sheela has hanged herself.   The  knot  was  opened
and the body was brought down.  The Station House  Officer  mentioned  these
facts in the report/marg No. 7/99 prepared under Section 174 of the Code  of
Criminal Procedure (CrPC).  He prepared site plan, took  dead  body  in  his
possession, and got prepared inquest report (Ex. P-1) in the early hours  of
29.04.1999.  He directed PW-11  Assistant  Sub  Inspector  Maliram  to  make
further inquiries under Section 174  CrPC.   The  Assistant  Sub  Inspector,
after recording the statements of Ramesh and other witnesses present  there,
gave report on 30.04.1999, on the basis of which  First  Information  Report
(Ex.  P-11)  was  registered  as  Crime  No.  63/99  relating  to   offences
punishable under Sections 302  and  201  IPC.   The  Station  House  Officer
himself took up the investigation.   Meanwhile,  autopsy  was  conducted  on
29.04.1999 on the dead body of Sheela by PW-8  Dr.  Viveka  Nand  of  S.M.S.
Hospital, Jaipur, at the request of the police,  who  found  following  ante
mortem injuries: -

“External injuries seen at the time of P.M. Examination

(i)   Abrasion 1.5 cm x ½ cm  on  area  2  cm  below  middle  of  the  right
mandibular rim on right side upper neck.



(ii)  Abrasion ½ cm x ¼ cm on right side neck in middle/3



(iii) Abrasion 1 cm x ¼ cm on lateral half of right clavicle.



(iv)  Abrasion 1.25 cm x ¼ cm on suprasternal notch.



(v)   Abrasion 1/6 cm on area just below right side lower lip.



(vi)  Abrasion ½ cm x ¼ cm on area just above right angel of mouth.



(vii) Three linear abrasions each of size 1 cm  x  ¼  cm  parallel  to  each
other on area just above right angle of mouth on right side face.



(viii)      Abrasion 2 cm x ¼  cm  just  above  right  elbow  on  right  arm
dorsally.



(ix)  Abrasion 2 cm in length linear x skin  deep  vertical  on  right  palm
below bone of right middle finger.



(x)   Abrasion ¼ x 1/6 cm on left medial melleolus.



(xi)  Abrasion ¼ cm x 1/6 cm on area below left  medial  melleolus  on  left
foot.



(xii) Abrasion 1 cm x ½ cm on dorsing right forearm upper/3.



Neck dissection – on dissection of neck there is haematoma c  (with)  tissue
staining found at following places red in  colour  antemortem  in  nature  c
effusions extravessation of blood



Left lateral side of trachea upper/3 size ¼ x ¼ cm.

Left lateral side of trachea middle/3 size ¼ x ¼ cm.


Left lateral side of trachea middle/3 on area ¼ cm below above  injury  size
¼ x ¼ cm.


Right side front of neck underneath ext. injury No. 1 on antero  lateral  of
trachea upper 1/3 size 1 cm x ½ cm above the level of hyridbone.


Further examination shows (trachea) congested areas in trachea c fine  white
froath.  There is haematoma of soft tissues near upper part of  tachea  over
right side neck in middle/3.  Upper part – left side  neck  also  show  such
haemotoma in an area of 2 cm x ½ cm on left side neck.   There  was  froathy
blood which came out through upper respiratory  tract  c  fine  froath  when
trachea was removed.”


      The Medical Officer (PW-8) gave following opinion at the  end  of  the
post mortem report (Ex. P-12): -
“Opinion

      The cause of death is asphyxia as the result of injuries of  the  neck
region as mentioned.  All are ante mortem injuries. ………”





3.     During  investigation,   the   Investigating   Officer   interrogated
witnesses, arrested the accused (Ramesh), and on its  conclusion,  submitted
charge sheet against him for his trial in  respect  of  offences  punishable
under Sections 302 and 201 IPC.


4.    It appears that  after  giving  necessary  copies  as  required  under
Section 207 Cr.P.C., the case was committed by the Magistrate to  the  Court
of Sessions on 24.7.1999.  The learned Sessions  Judge  registered  Sessions
Case No. 76 of 1999, and after hearing the parties,  on  11.10.1999,  framed
charge of offences  punishable  under  Sections  302  and  201  IPC  against
accused/respondent Ramesh, to which he pleaded not guilty and claimed to  be
tried.


5.    On this, prosecution got examined PW-1 Prithviraj Singh,  (informant),
PW-2 Om Prakash, PW-3 Ram Singh (both witnesses  of  inquest  report),  PW-4
Raju (witness of the fact that Ramesh slapped  Sheela  about  half  an  hour
before the incident), PW-5  Amba  Lal  (witness  of  arresting  memo),  PW-6
Constable  Devinder  Singh  (formal  witness),  PW-7  S.I.   Bhagwan   Singh
(Investigating Officer), PW-8, Dr. Viveka Nand (who  conducted  post  mortem
examination), PW-9 Bablu (the boy with whom  the  deceased  said  to  had  a
friendship),  PW-10  Meela  (minor  daughter  of   accused/sister   of   the
deceased), and PW-11 A.S.I. Mali Ram.


6.    The oral and  documentary  evidence  was  put  to  the  accused  under
Section 313 CrPC, in reply to which he admitted  that  his  daughter  Sheela
died on 28.4.1999 at about 9.00 p.m.  He also told that the  inquest  report
and memorandum of recovery of  Chunni/Dupatta  of  the  deceased  etc.  were
prepared.  He further  admitted  that  he  did  scold  his  daughter  Sheela
(deceased) as stated by PW-3 Ram  Singh  about  twenty  minutes  before  her
death.  As to the rest of the evidence, he denied  the  same  as  incorrect.
At the end of his statement under Section 313 CrPC the accused  stated  that
after generator started, he saw his daughter (Sheela) hanging  from  a  hook
of wooden beam (Balli). He further stated that when knot was  loosened,  she
was alive. He stated that  the  deceased  was  given  some  water  and  when
attempt was made to take her to hospital, she died.  As  to  the  fact  that
the deceased was given water, as stated by the accused, or that she died  on
her way to the hospital, there is nothing  on  the  record  to  support  the
same.


7.    The trial court, after hearing the parties, found accused/  respondent
Ramesh guilty of the charge, and convicted and sentenced him  under  Section
302 IPC to imprisonment for life and directed to pay  fine  of  Rs.10,000/-,
in default  of  which  he  was  required  to  undergo  one  year’s  rigorous
imprisonment.  The respondent was  further  convicted  and  sentenced  under
Section 201 IPC to rigorous imprisonment for  a  period  of  two  years  and
directed to pay fine of Rs.1000/-, in default of payment  of  which  he  was
required to undergo further three months’ rigorous imprisonment.


8.    Against said  judgment  and  order  dated  17.6.2000,  passed  by  the
Sessions Judge, Jaipur, in Sessions  Case  No.  76  of  1999,  appeal  (D.B.
Criminal Jail Appeal No. 397 of 2000) was filed by the  convict  before  the
High Court.  The High Court, after hearing the parties, allowed  the  appeal
and set aside the conviction  and  sentence  recorded  by  the  trial  court
holding that the chain of circumstances  as  against  the  convict  was  not
complete to come to the irresistible conclusion that the  accused-respondent
committed murder  of  his  daughter.   Said  order  of  the  High  Court  is
challenged before us by the State.




9.    We have  heard  learned  counsel  for  the  parties  and  perused  the
original record of the case.



10.   It is an admitted fact on record that Sheela, daughter of the accused-
respondent, died on 28.4.1999, as is apparent from the statement of  accused
recorded  under  Section  313  CrPC  read  with  the  prosecution  evidence,
discussed above.  Death of Sheela was not natural  is  also  admitted  fact,
and established on record, for the reason that where  the  prosecution  case
is that she died due  to  asphyxia  by  strangulation  and  throttling,  the
version of the defence is that she died by hanging.  In  an  appeal  against
acquittal we have to examine the evidence on  record  to  find  out  whether
prosecution has successfully  proved  or  not  that  the  accused/respondent
caused homicidal death of Sheela,  as  suggested  by  it,  and  also  as  to
whether two views – one taken by the trial court and  another  by  the  High
Court – were possible in the present case or not as to the  cause  of  death
of the deceased.



11.   We have already quoted above the ante mortem injuries recorded in  the
autopsy report by PW-8  Dr.  Viveka  Nand.   We  have  also  reproduced  the
opinion given by him at the end of the autopsy report as  to  the  cause  of
death.  PW-8 has stated in his report (Ex.P-12)  dated  29.4.1999  that  the
deceased died of Asphyxia as a result of injuries on the  neck  region,  but
he did not mention as to whether it was asphyxia  due  to  strangulation  or
hanging.  But in his oral testimony he has  stated  that  the  deceased  had
died due to injuries around  her  neck  and  suffocation.   He  has  further
stated that on 19.5.1999 in response to letter No. 1490  dated  3.5.1999  of
Station House Officer, Kalwad, he gave following reply to him: -


      “After going through above mentioned post mortem report  it  is  clear
that there was no ligature mark around the neck.

      Hence it is clarified that the above  mentioned  person  did  not  die
because of hanging.  She died because of asphyxia as the result of  pressure
over neck.”


      This report is exhibited as P-13 on the record proved by  the  Medical
Officer (PW-8) during his examination.  There is no suggestion in the cross-
examination to PW-8 Dr. Viveka Nand that cause  of  death  could  have  been
asphyxia due to hanging.


12.   It is argued on behalf of  the  respondent  that  since  the  deceased
committed suicide by hanging herself with a  Chunni/Dupatta,  and  her  body
was brought down immediately after the incident, as such, no  ligature  mark
was found around the neck, and it is a case of suicide by hanging.



13.   Hanging is a form of death, produced by suspending  the  body  with  a
ligature round the neck, the constricting force  being  the  weight  of  the
body, or a part of the body weight.  In other  words,  the  hanging  is  the
ligature compression of the  neck  by  the  weight  of  one’s  body  due  to
suspension.



14.    According  to  Modi’s  Medical  Jurisprudence  and  Toxicology  (23rd
Edition), “ligature mark depends on the  nature  and  position  of  ligature
used, and the time of suspension of the body after death.  If  the  ligature
is soft, and the body is cut down from the ligature  immediately  after  the
death, there may be no mark…….”



15.   ‘Strangulation’ is defined by Modi as “the compression of the neck  by
a force other than hanging.  Weight of the  body  has  nothing  to  do  with
strangulation.  Ligature strangulation is a  violent  form  of  death  which
results from constricting the neck by means of a ligature or  by  any  other
means without suspending the body.  When constriction  is  produced  by  the
pressure of the  fingers  and  palms  upon  the  throat,  it  is  called  as
throttling.  When strangulation is brought about by compressing  the  throat
with a foot, knee, bend of elbow, or some  other  solid  substances,  it  is
known as mugging (strangle hold).” (emphasis supplied)



16.   As to appearances due to asphyxia, Modi says: -

“The face is puffy and cyanosed, and marked with petechiae.   The  eyes  are
prominent and open.  In some cases, they may be  closed.   The  conjunctivae
are congested and the  pupils  are  dilated.   Petechiae  are  seen  in  the
eyelids and the conjunctivae.  The lips are blue.  Bloody foam escapes  from
the mouth and nostrils, and sometimes, pure blood  issues  from  the  mouth,
nose and ears, especially if great violence has been used.   The  tongue  is
often swollen, bruised, protruding and dark in colour,  showing  patches  of
extravasation and occasionally bitten by the teeth.  There may  be  evidence
of bruising at the back of the neck.  The hands are usually  clenched.   The
genital organs may be congested and there may be discharge of urine,  faeces
and seminal fluid.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)


17.   In ‘asphyxia’, according to Modi, “ligature is usually situated  above
the thyroid cartilage, and the effect of  its  pressing  the  neck  in  that
situation is to force up the epiglottis and the root of the  tongue  against
the posterior wall of the pharynx.  Hence, the floor of the mouth is  jammed
against its roof, and occludes the air passages,………..”

18.   In the light of above, we have examined the observations of  PW-8  Dr.
Viveka Nand in the autopsy report (Ex. P-12), prepared by him  at  the  time
of post mortem examination.  We have already quoted above  the  ante  mortem
injuries and findings on the neck dissection and also the opinion  given  by
the Medical Officer.  At this stage, we think it relevant  to  mention  here
the  observations  made  by  the  Medical  Officer  (PW-8)  as  to  external
appearances mentioned in page one of the post mortem report, which  disclose

“Both eyes were semi open and looked like protruded,  on  opening  eyes  are
reddish congested, mouth closed, lips and face along with nails show  bluish
discolouration, abdomen slightly  distended,  condition  of  pupils  –  both
dilated”.

                                                         (emphasis supplied)


19.   After carefully going through the medico legal evidence on record,  we
are of the opinion that it was not a case  where  a  view  could  have  been
taken that the deceased died of hanging.  There was no  reason  to  disagree
with the opinion given by PW-8 Dr. Viveka Nand (Ex. P-13) that the  deceased
had died of asphyxia as a result of pressure over the  neck.   Though  PW-10
Meela (minor daughter of the accused) has stated  that  her  elder  sister’s
body was found hanging, but this witness was got  declared  hostile  by  the
prosecution, and trial court rightly  disbelieved  her  statement,  for  the
reason that after losing her elder sister, she was  not  in  a  position  to
lose her father.

20.     We think it pertinent to refer here to the statement of PW-9  Bablu,
who has stated that he knew Sheela (deceased) and they wanted to marry.   He
further told that on 28.4.1999 between 8.00 to  8.15  p.m.  he  was  talking
with Sheela near the well.  He further told that accused Ramesh  came  there
and threatened him of breaking his bones if he  continued  to  meet  Sheela.
The witness further narrated that Ramesh slapped Sheela.   He  further  told
that Ramesh took Sheela to the house and thereafter he  did  not  know  what
happened, but at 10.30 p.m. he came to know about the death of Sheela.

21.   PW-4 Raju has corroborated the above statement.   He  stated  that  he
heard some noise on 28.4.1999 at 8.15 p.m. on his way back from  the  field.
He further told that when he reached near well,  he  saw  Sheela  and  Bablu
talking and advised  them  to  go  to  their  respective  homes.   Meanwhile
accused Ramesh came and slapped his daughter Sheela  and  took  her  to  his
house.  He further told that he did not know what had  happened  thereafter,
but at about  10.30  p.m.  PW-1  Prithviraj  Singh  called  him  and  Bablu.
Meanwhile, the police also reached there.


22.   After carefully scrutinizing the evidence on record, as above, we  are
convinced that it is proved beyond reasonable doubt on the record that  when
accused Ramesh saw his daughter talking  to  PW-9  Bablu,  he  got  suddenly
provoked and lost his power of self-control, slapped her,  took  her  inside
the  house,  and  caused  death  of  his  daughter  by   strangulation   and
throttling.  The medical evidence clearly shows four  ante  mortem  injuries
on the neck region and three around mouth of the deceased  as  mentioned  in
the autopsy report (Ex. P-12).  On going through the reports  Ex.  P-12  and
P.13 read with oral testimony of witnesses,  discussed  above,  we  have  no
hesitation in holding that prosecution has successfully  proved  the  charge
of culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable  under  Section  304
Part I against the accused/respondent Ramesh.


23.   Exception 1 to Section 300 IPC provides that a  culpable  homicide  is
not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control  by
grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person  who  gave  the
provocation.  Needless to say that following three conditions,  as  required
under Exception 1 to Section 300 IPC, are  also  fulfilled  in  the  present
case: -
that  the  provocation  was  not  sought  or  voluntarily  provoked  by  the
offender;
that the provocation was not given by anything  done  in  obedience  of  the
law; and
that the provocation was not given by anything done in  lawful  exercise  of
the right of private defence.

24.   For the reasons, as discussed above, we are of the view that the  High
Court has erred in law in  holding  that  the  deceased  could  have  hanged
herself, and that the chain of circumstances was not  complete  against  the
accused.  Therefore, this appeal deserves to be allowed.   Accordingly,  the
appeal is allowed, and the  impugned  judgment  and  order  dated  4.1.2006,
passed by the High Court in D.B. Criminal Jail Appeal No. 397  of  2000,  is
set aside.  Accused-respondent Ramesh is convicted under Section 304 Part  I
IPC and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for ten  years.   The  period  of
sentence already undergone by the accused shall be set off.  His  conviction
and sentence recorded by the trial court shall stand modified accordingly.

25.   The lower court record be sent back to make the respondent  serve  out
the remaining part of sentence.


                                                          ………………….....…………J.
                                                  [S.A. Bobde]


                                                            .………………….……………J.
                                                          [Prafulla C. Pant]
New Delhi;
November 20, 2015.

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