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Friday, May 26, 2017

(i) Evidence of PW-2 cannot be used against respondent herein for the reason of improvement in statement; (ii) The testimony of PW-1 showing his conduct as against human nature is not worthy of credence for the reason that he did not actually see the accused persons; (iii) Evidence of recovery of weapon and other articles may be relevant, but could not be relevant against accused-respondent herein; and (iv) Adverse inference cannot be drawn by the Court on refusal to give specimen palm impression in spite of the order of the Court.

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                    CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.1432-1434 OF 2011
      STATE OF U.P.          …          …          ...APPELLANT(S)
      SUNIL            …           …          ...RESPONDENT(S)
                    CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.1423-1424 OF 2011
      REKHA SENGAR     …           …          ...APPELLANT(S)
      STATE OF U.P. & ANR.         …          ...RESPONDENT(S)

                               J U D G M E N T

      Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.

   1. Present appeals have been directed against  the  judgment  dated  23rd
      May, 2008 passed by the High  Court  of  Judicature  at  Allahabad  in
      Criminal Appeal No.2968 of 2007 with Criminal (Jail) Appeal No.2757 of
      2007 and Capital Reference No.12 of 2007, whereby judgment  and  order
      dated 04.04.2007 passed by  the  learned  Additional  Sessions  Judge,
      Etawah in Sessions Trial No.424 of 2000 was set aside and the accused-
      respondent was acquitted of the offence punishable under  Section  302
      read with Section 34  of  the  Indian  Penal  Code.  Capital  Sentence
      Reference for confirmation of  the  death  sentence  was  consequently

   2. Brief facts necessary for adjudication of  the  present  case  are  as
      follows:  One Kumari Rekha Sengar (PW-2), who is  the  complainant  in
      the present case, got a phone call from her mother Smt. Shashi  Prabha
      (now deceased) at about 11.00 to 11.30 pm on 02.09.2000 narrating that
      complainant’s brother-in-law (Jeeja), namely, Suresh Pal Singh @ Guddu
      along with his friend  had  come  to  their  house  in  Etawah,  Uttar
      Pradesh, demanding Rs.50,000/- from her father and on refusal to  meet
      the demand, they became very angry. The complainant herself had a talk
      with her brother-in-law and tried to pacify him but she failed  as  he
      cut the telephone call. Later when  the  complainant  failed  to  have
      further communication on telephone, she left for  her  parents’  house
      from Delhi. On reaching her parents’ house she saw dead bodies of  her
      father, mother, two sisters and their pet dog. Law was set into motion
      after an FIR was registered by the complainant on the basis of written
      report. The said Suresh Pal Singh was arrested on  04.09.2000  and  on
      the basis of the confessional statement made by the accused, a  knife,
      blood-stained  clothes  and  other  articles  were  recovered  by  the
      Investigating Officer (PW-7) in the presence of PW-4 and recovery memo
      Ext.  Ka-8  was  made.  Involvement  of  respondent  herein  was  also
      unearthed on the basis  of  the  said  confessional  statement.  After
      conclusion of the investigation charge-sheet was submitted before  the
      learned Magistrate who committed the case to the Court  of  Additional
      Sessions Judge, Etawa, U.P. Accused Suresh Pal Singh died  during  the
      trial and therefore criminal proceedings against him stood abated. The
      Trial Court convicting the accused Sunil under Sections 302 & 429 read
      with Section 34 of IPC and awarded death sentence to him and imposed a
      fine of Rs.500/- for offence under Section 429 of IPC.

   3. Being aggrieved,  the  accused-respondent  preferred  Criminal  Appeal
      No.2968 of 2007 and Criminal (Jail) Appeal No.2757 of 2007 before  the
      High Court. Capital Sentence Reference  No.12/2007  was  made  by  the
      Additional Sessions Judge, Etawa. The High Court by its  judgment  and
      order dated 23rd May, 2008 set  aside  the  order  of  conviction  and
      sentence  passed  by  the  Trial  Court  and  acquitted  the  accused-
      respondent. Consequently, Capital Sentence Reference No.12 of 2007 was
      rejected by  the  High  Court.  Hence,  the  State  of  U.P.  and  the
      complainant are before us by filing Criminal Appeal  Nos.1432-1434  of
      2011 and Criminal Appeal Nos.1423-1424 of 2011, respectively.

   4. We have noticed that the High Court had allowed the criminal appeal of
      accused-respondent on  the  basis  of  failure  on  the  part  of  the
      prosecution to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt and  on  the
      basis of circumstantial evidence. The High Court in its  finding  made
      four important observations: (i)  Evidence  of  PW-2  cannot  be  used
      against respondent herein for the reason of improvement in  statement;
      (ii)  The testimony of PW-1  showing  his  conduct  as  against  human
      nature is not worthy of credence  for  the  reason  that  he  did  not
      actually see the accused persons; (iii) Evidence of recovery of weapon
      and other articles may be relevant, but could not be relevant  against
      accused-respondent herein; and (iv) Adverse inference cannot be  drawn
      by the Court on refusal to give specimen palm impression in  spite  of
      the order of the Court.

   5. We have heard the learned counsel  for  the  parties  at  considerable
      length. During the course of hearing, learned counsel for the State of
      U.P. has submitted written arguments. It  is  the  submission  of  the
      learned counsel for appellants that the case has been  proved  on  the
      basis of circumstantial evidence. PW-1 has proved the factum  of  both
      accused last seen together outside the main door of house of deceased.
      This witness also identified both the accused before the Trial  Court.
      Memo of recovered articles as a result of disclosure statement was not
      only admissible against accused Suresh Pal (now deceased) but is  also
      admissible against accused-respondent herein. It was further submitted
      that confessional statement of the co-accused who died  pending  trial
      is relevant against the accused-respondent also. He  therefore  relied
      upon the judgment of this Court in the case of Haroon Haji Abdulla Vs.
      State of Maharashtra, AIR 1968 SC 832 = (1968) 2 SCR 641, wherein this
      Court observed:
           “No  doubt  both  Bengali  and  Noor  Mohammad  retracted  their
           statements alleging duress and torture.  But  these  allegations
           came months later  and  it  is  impossible  to  heed  them.  The
           statements were, therefore,  relevant.  Both  Bengali  and  Noor
           Mohammad were jointly tried with Haroon right to the end and all
           that remained to be done was  to  pronounce  judgment.  Although
           Bengali was convicted by the judgment, the case was held  abated
           against him after his death. In Ram Sarup Singh  and  Others  v.
           Emperor-(1), J was put on his trial  along  with  L;  the  trial
           proceeded for some time and about six months before the delivery
           of judgment, when the trial had proceeded for about  a  year,  J
           died. Before his death  J's  confession  had  been  put  on  the
           record. R. C. Mitter, J. (Henderson, J. dubitante)  allowed  the
           confession to go in for corroborating other evidence but not  as
           substantive evidence by itself. Of course, the confession  of  a
           person who is dead and has never been brought for trial  is  not
           admissible under S. 30 which insists upon  a  joint  trial.  The
           statement becomes relevant under s. 30 read with S. 32(3) of the
           Evidence Act  because  Bengali  was  fully  tried  jointly  with
           Haroon. There is,  however,  difficulty  about  Noor  Mohammad's
           statement because his trial was separated and the High Court has
           not relied upon it.”

   6. Learned counsel for the State  of  U.P.  concluded  his  arguments  by
      submitting that the prosecution version was not only  corroborated  by
      medical evidence of PW-5 and  PW-6  but  was  also  confirmed  by  FSL
      Report, which proved presence of human blood on the weapon  of  murder
      and clothes of both the accused. Since comparison of finger-prints and
      foot-prints were not clear, the Trial Court directed both the  accused
      to give fresh foot-prints and finger-prints. On refusal to comply with
      this order by the accused for almost five years, even  when  the  same
      was upheld in criminal revision before the High  Court,  the  National
      Crime Records Bureau, New  Delhi  and  the  Trial  Court  had  rightly
      treated it as an  adverse  inference  against  the  accused-respondent

   7. Learned counsel appearing for the  accused-respondent,  on  the  other
      hand, submitted that the recovery of bag and articles  (Ext.1)  cannot
      be made  admissible  against  co-accused  who  is  respondent  herein.
      Prosecution has not produced any witness or evidence  to  connect  the
      accused-respondent with recovered bag or articles. The complainant (PW-
      2) has also improved her statement apropos presence  of  the  accused-
      respondent. But, surprisingly, there was no mention of name  or  other
      details of the accused-respondent either in the written  complaint/FIR
      or in the statement  made  before  police.  Learned  counsel  for  the
      accused-respondent stoutly defended  his  client  by  concluding  that
      drawing adverse inference against the accused due to  his  refusal  to
      give specimen palm  impression  was  not  justified  as  earlier  palm
      impression report came  in  negative  and  application  moved  by  the
      accused praying for sending footprints and fingerprints to some  other
      laboratory  was  rejected  by  the  Trial  Court  vide   order   dated

   8. After careful perusal of the evidence and material on record,  we  are
      of the considered opinion that the following  question  would  play  a
      crucial role in helping us reaching an upright decision:
           Whether compelling an accused to  provide  his  fingerprints  or
           footprints etc. would come within the purview of  Article  20(3)
           of the Constitution of India i.e. compelling an  accused  of  an
           offence to be a “witness” against himself?

      It would be relevant to quote Article 20(3)  of  the  Constitution  of
      India which reads as follows:

           “Article 20: Protection in respect of conviction for offences.
           (1) … … …
           (2) … … …
           (3) No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a
           witness against himself.”

   9.  The  answer  to  the  question  above-mentioned  lies   in   judicial
      pronouncements made by this Court commencing with celebrated  case  of
      State of Bombay Vs. Kathi Kalu Oghad & Ors., (1962) 3 SCR 10,  wherein
      it was held:
           “To be a witness’ may be equivalent to ‘furnishing evidence’  in
           the sense of making oral or written statements, but not  in  the
           larger sense of the expression so as to include giving of  thumb
           impression or impression of palm or foot or fingers or  specimen
           writing or exposing a part of the body. ‘Furnishing evidence’ in
           the latter sense could not have been within the contemplation of
           the Constitution-makers for the simple  reason  that  –  thought
           they may have intended to protect an  accused  person  from  the
           hazards of self incrimination, in the light of the  English  Law
           on the subject – they could not have intended to  put  obstacles
           in the way of efficient and effective investigation  into  crime
           and of bringing criminals to justice. The taking of  impressions
           or parts of the body of an accused  person  very  often  becomes
           necessary to help the investigation of a crime. It  is  as  much
           necessary to protect an accused person against  being  compelled
           to incriminate himself, as to arm the agents of law and the  law
           courts with legitimate powers to bring offenders to justice.”

  10. We may quote another relevant observation made by this  Court  in  the
      case of Kathi Kalu Oghad, (supra).
           “When an accused person is called upon by the Court or any other
           authority holding an investigation to give his finger impression
           or signature or a specimen of his handwriting, he is not  giving
           any testimony of the  nature  of  a  ‘personal  testimony’.  The
           giving of a ‘personal testimony’ must depend upon his  volition.
           He can make any kind of statement or  may  refuse  to  make  any
           statement. But his finger impressions  or  his  handwriting,  in
           spite of  efforts  at  concealing  the  true  nature  of  it  by
           dissimulation cannot change their intrinsic character. Thus, the
           giving of finger  impressions  or  of  specimen  writing  or  of
           signatures by  an  accused  person,  though  it  may  amount  to
           furnishing evidence in the larger sense, is not included  within
           the expression ‘to be a witness.”

  11. In Selvi Vs. State of Karnataka, (2010) 7 SCC 263, a three-Judge Bench
      of this Court while considering testimonial  character  of  scientific
      techniques like Narco analysis, Polygraph examination and  the  Brain-
      Electric activation profile held that
           “145. The next issue is whether the results  gathered  from  the
           impugned  tests  amount  to  ‘testimonial  compulsion’,  thereby
           attracting the prohibition of Article 20(3). For  this  purpose,
           it is necessary to survey the precedents which  deal  with  what
           constitutes ‘testimonial compulsion’ and  how  testimonial  acts
           are distinguished from  the  collection  of  physical  evidence.
           Apart from  the  apparent  distinction  between  evidence  of  a
           testimonial and physical nature, some forms of testimonial  acts
           lie outside the scope  of  Article  20(3).  For  instance,  even
           though acts such as compulsorily obtaining  specimen  signatures
           and handwriting samples are testimonial in nature, they are  not
           incriminating by themselves if they are used for the purpose  of
           identification or corroboration with facts or materials that the
           investigators  are  already  acquainted   with.   The   relevant
           consideration for extending the protection of Article  20(3)  is
           whether the materials are likely to  lead  to  incrimination  by
           themselves or ‘furnish a link in the chain  of  evidence’  which
           could lead to the same result. Hence, reliance on  the  contents
           of compelled testimony comes within the prohibition  of  Article
           20(3)  but  its  use  for  the  purpose  of  identification   or
           corroboration with facts already known to the  investigators  is
           not barred.

           146. It is quite  evident  that  the  narco  analysis  technique
           involves a testimonial act. A subject is encouraged to speak  in
           a drug-induced state, and there is no reason  why  such  an  act
           should be treated any differently from verbal answers during  an
           ordinary interrogation. In one of the  impugned  judgments,  the
           compulsory administration of the narco  analysis  technique  was
           defended on the ground that at the time of conducting the  test,
           it is not known whether the results will eventually prove to  be
           inculpatory  or  exculpatory.  We  have  already  rejected  this
           reasoning. We see no other obstruction to the  proposition  that
           the compulsory administration of the  narco  analysis  technique
           amounts to ‘testimonial compulsion’  and  thereby  triggers  the
           protection of Article 20(3).”

  12.  Thus, we have noticed that albeit any person can be directed to  give
      his foot-prints for corroboration of evidence but the same  cannot  be
      considered as violation of the protection guaranteed under Article  20
      (3) of the Constitution of India. It may, however, be noted that  non-
      compliance of  such  direction  of  the  Court  may  lead  to  adverse
      inference, nevertheless, the same cannot be entertained  as  the  sole
      basis of conviction.

  13. In a case where there is no direct witness to  prove  the  prosecution
      case,  conviction  of  the  accused  can  be  made  on  the  basis  of
      circumstantial evidence provided the chain  of  the  circumstances  is
      complete beyond all reasonable doubt. It was observed by this Court in
      the case of Prakash vs. State of Karnataka,  (2014)  12  SCC  133,  as

           “51. It is true that the relevant circumstances  should  not  be
           looked at in a disaggregated  manner  but  collectively.  Still,
           this does not absolve the prosecution from proving each relevant
                 “6. In a case of circumstantial evidence, each circumstance
           must be proved beyond reasonable doubt by  independent  evidence
           and the circumstances so proved,  must  form  a  complete  chain
           without giving room  to  any  other  hypotheses  and  should  be
           consistent with only the guilt of the  accused.  (Lakhjit  Singh
           Vs. State of Punjab, 1994 Supp (1) 173)”

  14. It has also been the observation of this Court  in  Musheer  Khan  Vs.
      State of M.P., (2010) 2 SCC 748, apropos the admissibility of evidence
      in a case solely based upon circumstantial evidence that
           “55. Section 27 starts with the word `provided'.
           Therefore, it is a proviso by way of an exception to Sections 25
           and 26 of the Evidence Act. If the facts  deposed  under Section
           27 are not voluntary, then it will not be admissible,  and  will
           be hit by Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. [See State
           of Bombay vs. Kathi Kalu Oghad, [AIR 1961 SC 1808].
           56. The Privy Council  in Pulukori  Kottaya  vs.  King  Emperor,
           [1947 PC 67] held that Section 27 of the  Evidence  Act  is  not
           artistically  worded  but  it  provides  an  exception  to   the
           prohibition imposed under the preceding sections.  However,  the
           extent of discovery admissible pursuant to the facts deposed  by
           accused depends only to the nature of the  facts  discovered  to
           which the information precisely relates.
           57. The  limited  nature  of  the  admissibility  of  the  facts
           discovered  pursuant   to   the   statement   of   the   accused
           under Section 27 can be illustrated by  the  following  example:
           Suppose a person accused of murder deposes to the police officer
           the fact as a result of which the weapon with which the crime is
           committed is discovered, but as a result of  such  discovery  no
           inference  can  be  drawn  against  the  accused,  if  there  is
           no evidence connecting the knife with the crime alleged to  have
           been committed by the accused.
           58. So the objection of the defense  counsel  to  the  discovery
           made by the prosecution in this case cannot  be  sustained.  But
           the discovery by itself does not help the prosecution to sustain
           the conviction and sentence imposed on A-4 and A-5 by  the  High

  15. From a perusal of  the  evidence  on  record,  it  could  without  any
      hesitation be said that the basic foundation of  the  prosecution  had
      crumbled down in this case by not connecting the respondent  with  the
      incident in question. And when basic foundation in criminal  cases  is
      so collapsed, the circumstantial evidence becomes inconsequential.  In
      such circumstances, it is difficult for  the  Court  to  hold  that  a
      judgment of conviction could be founded on the sole circumstance  that
      recovery of weapon and other articles have been made.

  16. After examining every evidence and material on record meticulously and
      in the light of the judgments cited above, we are  of  the  considered
      opinion that the prosecution  has  miserably  failed  to  connect  the
      occurrence with respondent herein. Resultantly, the judgment and order
      passed by the High Court setting aside of conviction order  passed  by
      the Trial Court is hereby upheld.
  17. The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.

                                                 (Pinaki Chandra Ghose)

                                                 (Rohinton Fali Nariman)
      New Delhi;
      May 02, 2017.

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