Nand Kumar & Ors Vs. State of
Rajasthan  INSC 195 (3 May 1962)
Criminal Trial-Retracted confession-Corroboration-sufficiency.
The appellants were convicted under s. 302
Indian Penal Code and also s. 377 and s. 395 of the Indian Penal Code. The
Trial Court and the High Court had based the convict ions on the retracted
confessions of each of the first three appellants supported by other
circumstances in evidence and o circumstantial and other evidence in the case
of the fourth appellant. On special leave it was contended that the confessions
of the first three appellants were not voluntary and even if voluntarily they
were not sufficiently corroborated by other circumstances and that the
conviction of the fourth appellant was not based on sufficient evidence.
Held , that what is sufficient corroboration
for this purpose has to be decided in each case on its own facts and
circumstances. It may, however, be generally stated that where the prosecution
by the production of reliable evidence which is independent of the confession
and which is also not tainted 891 evidence like the evidence of an accomplice
or the evidence of a co-accused, establishes the truth of certain parts of the
account given in the confession and these parts are so integrally connected
with other parts of the accused's confession, that a prudent judge of facts
would think it reasonable to believe, in view of the established truth of these
parts, that what the accused has stated in the confession as regards his own
participation in the crime is also true, that is sufficient corroboration. More
than this is not needed; less than this is ordinarily insufficient.
Held, further, that in the case of the first
three appellants there was sufficient corroboration and that there was
sufficient evidence in the case of the fourth appellant.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal
Appeal No. 181 of 1961.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated October 14, 1961, of the Rajasthan High Court in D. B. Cr. As. Nos.
263, 264, 278 and 280 to 282 and D. B. Cr. (Death Sentence and confirmation)
Case No. 5 of 1961.
O.C. Chatterjee, Renu Chatterjee and S. N.
Mukherjee, for the appellants.
A.S. B. Chari, Kan Singh and P. D. Menon, for
1962. May 3. The following Judgment of the
Court was delivered by DAS GUPTA, J.-On June 4, 1960 eight boys (1) Munna son
of Manohar Lal; (2) Ram Prakash son of Ram Baboo; (3) Laxmi son of Vidhya Ram;
(4) Pooran son of Gulab Chand; (5) Kedar son of Ram Kumar; (6) Mohan son of
Banke Lal; (7) Suresh son of Chandra Shekhar and (8) Jagdish son of Mitthan
Lal, all of Dholpur City went to the temple of Mangal Bharti for a Picnic. None
of them returned home. On the morning of June 6, all these boys were found dead
near a well in Gundarai forest. Each of the bodies bore numerous injuries,
which according to the evidence of 892 doctor, who held the post mortem
examination, caused the deaths. Seven of the bodies were found naked; only the
dead body of Munna had clothes on. The hands of each were tied from behind with
ribbons of their trousers and their mouths were found gagged. Watches and
rings, buttons and currency notes, which some of these boys had with them had
The four appellants, viz., Nand Kumar, Brij
Kishore, alias Kalua, Lakhan and Murari along with one Jagdish were all
convicted for the murder of these eight boys under s. 302 of the Indian Penal
Code and were all sentenced to death. All of them were also convicted by the
additional Sessions Judge under a. 377 of the Indian penal Code and s. 395,
Indian Penal Code.
The conviction of these four appellants under
s. 302 was confirmed by the HighCourt of Rajasthan and the sentences of. death
passed on Nand Kumar, Kalua and Lakhan were also confirmed. The High Court
reduced the sentence on Murari to one of imprisonment for life. The conviction
of all the appellants under s. 395 of the Indian Penal Code and the sentences
passed thereunder were also confirmed. The present appeal is by special leave granted
by this Court.
The prosecution case is that when the eight
boys were at Mangal Bharti temple on June 4, 1960 these four appellants and
Jagdish joined them there. In the evening before they all left the temple,
these appellants took Munna and his seven companions one by one into a narrow
lane behind the temple and robbed them of their belongings and valuable by
force. All the 13 then left the temple to get her but instead of returning to
Dholpur City, the appellants took the boys to the Gundarai forest. It is said
that before the appellants 893 took the boys to Gundarai they had agreed among
themselves to murder them. They all waited near a. pillar till about 9.30 p.m.
after which while Jagdish and Murari remained near the boys to St keep watch
over them Jagdish being armed with a gun first of all Munna was called away
from the other boys and. killed by the other three, viz., Nand Kumar, Kalua and
Lakhan. The other seven were also taken away one by one and killed by these
three. For these killings they used a knife which belonged to Murari and which
Murari had brought with him on that day. After all the eight boys had been
killed the booty was distributed among these five.
Nand Kumar took in his share an agfa camera
which had been taken from Munna and also Munna's wrist watch; Lakhan got a
wrist watch and a ring which had belonged-to Ram Prakash;
Kalua's share was a wrist watch belonging to
Laxmi Chand and also a ring which belonged to him. Murari got four bottons and
some money in cash and Jagdish also got some buttons and cash.
The relatives of the boys had become anxious
when the boys did not return on the night of June 4 Information was received
from Puran, also of Dholpur City, who had also gone to the Mangal Bharti on
that day that he had seen the eight boys and also Nand Kumar, Kalua, Jagdish
.and Murari together at the Mangal Bharti. Enquiries were then made at the
houses of these five but they were all found absent. On the following morning,
i.e., the 5th June, 1960 at 6 a.m., Shiv Narain, the brother of Munna lodged
information with the Kotwali police Dholpur about the disappearance of these
boys. He added his suspicion that these boys might have fallen into the hands
of dacoits belonging to the Panna dacoit's gang and kidnaped by them. On the
same day at about 10 p.m. Bhanwar Singh, the Circle Inspector of 894 Dholpur
succeeded in contacting these appellants.
Ultimately all the five made statements which
were recorded,'. giving information about their having kept the articles taken
from some of the boys. At about 4 a.m. on June 6, 1960, the Circle Inspector
accompanied by the Deputy Superintendent of Police left for Gundarai forest in
a police jeep a long with the appellant Nand Kumar and some other persons. Nand
Kumar led the police to the top of a small bill and pointed out the five cycles
of Munna and his companions lying at one spot and the dead bodies of the eight
boys lying at different places in the vicinity of the hill in the jungle. He
also took out a knife, Ex18, from a bush near one of the dead bodies. Then Nand
Kumar went to his house with the police and there pointed out a camera and a
wrist watch which had fallen to his share. He also brought out certain
blood-stained clothes. After this. the appellant Murari was taken by the police
to his house and he brought out a gold ring with the name of R.P. Gupta
inscribed in enamel., a wrist watch belonging to R. P. Gupta deceased and some
bloodstained clothes. The police then took Murari to his house where Murari
brought out some gold buttons and currency notes. Then Kalua took the police to
his house and brought out a wrist. watch and a ring inscribed with the name of
S. K. Gupta and also some blood stained clothes. According to the prosecution
three of these appellants, viz., Nand Kumar.Murari and Kalua made confessions
before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate which were recorded by the Magistrate Nand
Kumar on the 14th June, Kalua on the 15th June and Murari on the 16th June. A
statement of Lakhan was also recorded by the Magistrate on the 15th June, 1960.
All the accused pleaded not guilty. They
denied that they had made any statement at all before 895 the Magistrate and
also denied the recovery of any articles from their houses.
The conviction of each of the three
appellants, Nand Kumar, Kalua and Murari on the charge of murder was based by
the Trial Court and the High Court on the confession said to have been made by
him taken with the circumstances which the Courts below considered sufficient
corroboration to established the truth of what was stated in the confession.
On behalf of each of these appellants it has
been contended before us that the confession was not voluntary and was not
admissible in evidence, and secondly, that there was not sufficient
corroboration to establish the truth of the confession. On behalf of Nand Kumar
an additional plea was pressed that he made no confessional statement at all
before the Magistrate and the document which is now produced as record of his
confessional statement was written up in his absence on papers on which Nand
Kumar has been made to put his signature. The argument of the learned Counsel,
so far as we can understand it was that the jail register entry showing 1.25 as
the time when Nand Kumar was brought back to the jail on the 14th June 1960 was
originally 10.25 but had been dishonestly altered to 1.25 by erasing the zero.
Proceeding on the basis that 10.25 was the
time noted the learned Counsel argues that this shows that Nand Kumar was not
before the Magistrate from 10.30 onwards when according to the record of the
confession, Ex-62, the Magistrate was recording his confession. In the first
place we do not find any reasonable ground for the thinking that the entry
originally made was 10.26. As the entry stands, it is 1. 25 and there is no evidence,
circumstantial or otherwise to indicate that it was not so all along' Even
supposing it was originally 10.25 and then altered to 1.25 the only reasonable
conclusion would be, if the Magistrate's own evidence on the presence of the
accused before 896 -him is taken into consideration, that somebody had made a
mistake in making the entry and then corrected it to 1.25.
We agree with the High Court that there is
absolutely no reason to about the testimony of the Magistrate on this point and
there can be no possible doubt whatsoever that the record Ex-P-62 contains'
what was stated by the accused Nand Kumar before the Magistrate on June 14,
As regards each of these confessions, the
learned Counsel has urged, as already, indicated, that it was not voluntary.
Three grounds were urged in support of the
contention. They are, (1) that there was a delay of about a week or more in
sending the accused to the Magistrate for recording the confessions; (2) that
Circle Inspector Paras Singh 'visited the Judicial lock up, where these
confessing accused had been kept on the 13th June; and (3) that the confessing
accused had been kept in solitary cells. that any enquiry was made from the
Investigating officer as to why he did not send up the accused for recording
his confession earlier.
But, if, as is suggested by the learned
Counsel, the accused persons were ready to make their confessional statements
before the Magistrate as early as the 6th June, it is not clear to us what the
police stood to gain by delaying the recording of these confessions. On the
contrary, it would seem natural for the police to hurry up with the recording
of the confessions lest on second thoughts the accused might refuse to make the
statement. In considering the visit of Paras Singh to the judicial lock-up on
the 13th June we have to remember that though Paras Singh was not examined as a
witness by the prosecution the prosecution did offer to examine him when in the
course of the argument a grievance was sought to be made by the defence of 897
such non-examination. The Sessions Judge was prepared to examine him as a Court
witness but the defence objected to it. It is not open, therefore, to the
Defence Counsel now to complain that Paras Singh was not examined.
It is not disputed that Paras Singh did visit
the judicial look-up on the 13th June. From the petition on, which the order
permitting him to visit the jail was made, it is reasonable to think, however,
that this visit was made for steps in the investigation in some other case having
no connection with The present accused. No doubt, as regards the voluntary
nature of the confessions, therefore, arises from this visit of Paras Singh to
the judicial lock-up on the 13th June.
'Nor can any conclusion be reasonably based
on this point from the fact that the accused persons were kept in solitary
cells. Such keeping in solitary calls is often considered prudent by the jail
authorities for the safety of the confessing accused themselves. It is true
that by being kept in the solitary cells an accused is kept away from the
influence of other under-trial prisoners who might try to induce them to resile
them from the confession, but it is no ground for thinking that when a
particular accused had been kept is a so solitary cell the confession made by
him was not voluntary.
We are satisfied that the confessions of all
these three accused were voluntary and rightly admitted into evidence.
Each of the accused however retracted the
confession made by him. Courts ordinarily consider it unsafe to convict any
accused person on the basis of his retracted confession except where the truth
of such confession is established by corroboration in material particular by
independent evidence., what is sufficient corroboration for this purpose has to
be decided in 898 each case on its own facts and circumstances. It may,
however, be generally stated that where the prosecution by the production of
reliable evidence which is independent of the confession and which is also not
tainted evidence like the evidence of an accomplice or the evidence of a co accused,
establishes the truth of certain parts of the account given in the confession
and these parts are so integrally connected with other parts of the accused's
confess. ion, that a prudent judge of facts would think it reasonable to
believe, in view of the established truth of these parts, that what the accused
has stated in the confession as regards his own participation in the crime is
also true, that is sufficient corroboration. More than this is not needed, less
than this is ordinarily insufficient.
Applying this test to the three retracted
confessions before us, we are satisfied that the High Court was right in its
conclusion that each of these confessions has been so well corroborated by
independent evidence in material particulars that what the accused has said in
the confession as regards his own participation in the crime has been proved to
Turning first to Nand Kumar's confession, we
find that after describing how with the offer four accused persons he went to
Mangal Bharti with a gun which belonged to one Fakhruddin and took part in the
picnic with the 8 boys, Munna and his companions there, goes on to say about
the conspiracy to rob these boys of their valuables and then actually robbing
them of these valuables. He further states in the confession how they further
conspired to take all the boys "under the pretext of sightseeing walk
(Sair ka Bahana) and saying them to reach the city en-route Gundarai and
Barakhambha and to return their articles there and to murder them after taking
them to some lonely place" 899 took the boys to Gundarai and there how one
by one all the 8 boys were killed by himself Kalua and Lakhan stabbing them
with the knife which Murari had brought. He further stated that after the boys
had been murdered the booty was distributed among themselves and he took in his
share Munnas Agfa camera and a wrist watch belonging to Munna. Not only has the
prosecution established by independent evidence that Nand Kumar with the other
accused went to Mangal Bharti and met the 8 boys there and remained with them
for some time taking part in the picnic, but it has further been proved by
reliable and independent evidence that Munna's Agfa camera and the wrist watch
belonging to him which he had taken with him that day to Mangal Bharti were
recovered from Nand Kumar's house and that it was actually he who produced
these himself from behind the floor carpet on the Tand of his house and that he
also produced some clothes lying behind the floor carpet, viz , a white banian
and a langot and a white shirt smeared with blood. There is satisfactory
evidence that the blood on these articles was human blood.
It is necessary to mention also that the fact
that hi) had knowledge of where the dead bodies were, was discovered by a
statement made by him before the police, which has been rightly admitted into
evidence under s. 27 of the Evidence Act and on the morning of June 6, 1960 it
was he who took the police party to the place where the bodies were. The knife,
Ex. 18, was also pointed out by him from under a bush near one of the dead
bodies after he had previously stated that he had left the knife at the place
These facts and circumstances provide
overwhelming corroboration of Nand Kumar's confession that he was one of the
three persons who inflicted the injuries on the 8 boys which caused their
deaths. He has therefore, been 900 rightly convicted under s.302 of the Indian
Kalua also confessed having been one of the
three who inflicted knife injuries on some of the boys and having held some of
the other boys while his companions, Nand Kumar and Lakhan inflicted the
injuries. Besides describing the visit to the Mangal Bharti and meeting the
eight boys there he also spoke about robbing the boys of their belongings and
thereafter about the conspiracy to kill the boys after taking them to Gundarai.
He went on to say in the confession how the boys were taken to Gundarai and
murdered there. He further stated about the distribution of the booty and said
that be got in his share the wrist watch belonging to Laxmi and the ring on
which the name of S.K. Gupta was written. Kalua's presence at the Mangal Bharti
and meeting the eight boys there have been proved by independent evidence. It
has also been established by reliable independent evidence that the wrist watch
of Laxmi and also his ring, which originally belonged to his brother Sri Kishan
Gupta and so bore the inscription S. K. Gupta, were recovered from Kalua's
house and that it was Kalua himself who produced these from inside a box on a
Tand in his house and further that Kalua himself produced a trouser and a shirt
from behind another box lying behind the same Tand both of which articles had
blood marks. It has been established satisfactorily that the blood was human
These facts and circumstances provide
sufficient corroboration of Kalua's confession. He has, therefore, been rightly
convicted under s.302 of the Indian Penal Code.
Murari also spoke in his confession of bow he
went to Mangal Bharti and met the eight boys; about the conspiracy to rob the
boys of their belongings and how they were actually robbed and thereafter of
the conspiracy of taking the boys to Gundarai and killing them there. He also
spoke in his confession of bow after the boys were taken to Gundarai forest the
boys were called one by one and killed while he and Jagdish remained guard over
the boys when they were waiting for their turn to be called. He has mentioned
in his confession about his taking his own knife with him and has also stated
that this knife was used in committing the murders' Speaking about the
distribution of the booty he said that he got in his share four buttons, one of
which was completely of gold while the other three were gold topped.
Independent evidence has established in
addition to Murari's presence at Mangal Bharti and his meeting with the eight
boys there, the recovery of four such buttons and Rs. 48/in currency notes and
that it was Murari himself who produced these buttons and the notes from inside
a box in a room after he himself made a statement, which was rightly admitted
under s. 27 of the Evidence Act, about having kept these things in his house.
The knife (Ex-18' which was found near one of the dead bodies was also indentified
by witness Ram Singh (P.W. 14) as the knife which he had seen Murari carrying
before the occurrence. It is not an ordinary knife. It is a long knife of which
the blade is 6 inches long and the handle 7 inches, with a special button
arrangement on pressing which it opens and closes.
These facts and circumstances established by
independent evidence provide sufficient corroboration of Murari's own
confession that in furtherance of a common intention of himself and his
companions to kill these eight boys he kept guard over the boys when one by one
they were being called away and killed by his companions. Nand Kumar, Kalua and
Lakhan. He has, therefore, been rightly convicted under s.302 of the Indian
Penal Code, 902 The fourth appellant, Lakhan, did not confess having
participated in any of the crimes. To prove the charge under s.302 of the
Indian Penal Code against him the prosecution relied on a number of
circumstances. (1) His presence with Nand Kumar and others at Mangal Bharti and
meeting the eight boys there; (2) the recovery from his room of part of the
booty taken from the boys, viz., a gold ring bearing the inscription R. P.
Gupta, and a wrist watch; (3) the recovery of a blood-stained banian and
underwear from his room and (4) the fact that these were produced by Lakhan
himself after he had made a statement that he kept these things in his house.
Along with this the prosecution wants the .court to take into consideration the
statement made in the retracted confessions of Nand Kumar, Kalua and Murari that
Lakhan took actual part in the killing of the eight boys. The circumstances
mentioned above have clearly been established by legal evidence and they
themselves are almost sufficient, without anything more, to justify a
conclusion that Lakhan took part in the killing of the eight boys in
furtherance of the common intention of himself and other to cause. their
deaths. It is proper and quite permissible to take into consideration, then,
the statements made as regards the part taken by him in the retracted confessions
of Nand Kumar, Kalua and Murari. These statements supply whatever assurance was
needed to convince the court that Lakhan took part in the killing of the eight
boys in furtherance of the common intention of himself and others.
His conviction under' s.302, Indian Penal
Code was, therefore, fully-justified.
Some argument was addressed to us on the
question of motive.
It has been urged that while according to the
confessions Nand Kumar and other decided to kill these boys so that they might
not speak about the crimes already committed by the accused, viz., dacoity and
sedomy, the learned 903 judges of the High Court seemed to think that Munna was
killed by Nand Kumar as an act of revenge for the insult he had offered to Nand
Kumar's sister and the other seven boys were killed so that they might not
speak about this murder of Munna. The evidence in the present case is so clear
to show that these four persons committed the murder of the eight boys that we
think it unnecessary to speculate about the motive which induced them to murder
the eight boys who had done no harm. Whether it was sadistic pleasure or the
fear of discovery of robbory, or anything else, the fact remains proved by
overwhelming evidence that these four did actually commit the murder of the
eight innocent boys.
It is hardly necessary to say anything about
the conviction of these persons of an offence under s. 395 of the Indian Penal
Code. It is sufficient to mention only that the evidence discussed above in
connection with the charge of murder provides sufficient basis for the
convictions under a. 395 of the Indian Penal Code.
The sentences of death passed on Nand Kumar,
Kalua and Lakhan are the only possible sentences. The High Court has thought
fit to treat Murari more leniently and sentenced him only to imprisonment for
life. We cannot interfere with that sentence, even though it appears to us that
this leniency was uncalled for.
The appeal is dismissed.