Rajinder Kumar & ANR Vs. The State
of Punjab  INSC 204 (4 May 1962)
04/05/1962 GUPTA, K.C. DAS
GUPTA, K.C. DAS KAPUR, J.L.
CITATION: 1966 AIR 1322 1963 SCR (3) 281
Murder--Motive note established--Want of
proof of motive, not a reason for doubling evidence of crime--Indian Penal Code
(Act 45 of 1860), ss. 201, 802.
The first appellant was convicted under s.
302 of the Indian Penal Code for the murder of a three and a half yea. old boy,
T, and sentenced to death, while his father, the second appellant, was
convicted under s. 201 for having concealed T's dead body. The prosecution case
was that on January 5, 1961, between 3-30 p.m. and 4 p.m. when T was at the
house of the appellants and the other inmates of the house were away, the first
appellant killed T by stuffing his mouth with a cloth and kept the dead body in
the garage in their house; and that on that very night he and his father buried
the dead body in the compound after putting it in a gunny bag. The evidence
showed that a few days before January 5, 1961, relations between the first
appellant and T's father had become strained because the first appellant had
talked to T ' Is mother in a way which her husband did not like and the latter
asked the first appellant to stop his visits to their house; and T who used to
be a frequent visitor to the first appellant stopped his visits for some days,
but resume them three or four days before January 5; and that on that day T was
last seen alive at about 3-30 p m. in the first appellant' house playing with
him. Both the trial court and the High Court found that the prosecution case
was fully established by the evidence. It was contended for the appellants that
the findings of the lower courts were not justified, and that no reasonable
motive for the crime had been proved.
Held, that the appellants had been rightly
convicted; that though the motive for the murder does not appear from the
evidence. that can be no reason for doubting the conclusion which flows, clear
from the circumstances. The motive behind a crime is a relevant fact of which
evidence can be given; absence of motive is also a relevant circumstance.
That has to be considered along with other
It often happens that only the culprit knows
the motive behind his action.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal
Appeal No. 182 of 1961.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated September 7, 1961, of the Punjab High Court, Chandigarh in Criminal
Appeal No. 595 of 1961 and Murder Reference No. 56 of 1961.
A. S. B. Chari, Om Prakash Passey and K. R.
Chaudhri, for the appellants.
Gopal Singh and P. D. Menon, for the
1962. May 4. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by DAS GUPTA, J.-Three and a half year old Tonny, son of Ravindernath
Goyal was last seen alive on January 5, 1961.
A month later on February 5, 1961, his dead
body was discovered, buried in the compound of the house of Goyal's next door
neighbour Jagdish Chander and Rajinder Kumar.
These two, Jagdish Chander and Rajinder Kumar
are father and son. Tonny's body was found in a gunny bag with a bloodstained
piece of cloth stuffed in the mouth; a blood-stained towel was also found in
the bag. When the cloth stuffing the mouth was removed the tongue was found
pushed to the left side backward looking the throat. ,The Civil Surgeon,
Bhatinda, who held the postmortem examination has given his opinion that the
death of the child was due to asphyxia resulting from suffocation caused by
packing the mouth with the cloth.
Rajinder Kumar ;has been convicted under s.
302 of the Indian Penal Code for the murder of Tonny and sentenced to death.
The father Jagdish Chander has been convicted under a. 201 of the Indian Penal
Code for having concealed the dead body of Tonny.
283 The prosecution case is that on January
5, 1961, between 3-30 p. m. and 4 p. m. when Tonny was at the house of Jagdish
and, Rajinder and the other inmates of the house were away Rajinder killed
Tonny by stuffing his mouth with a cloth and, kept the dead body in the Garage
in their houseand that that very night he and his father buried the dead body
in the compound after putting: it in a gunny bag. For the entire month after
the, child was found missing and before his body was discovered frantic efforts
had been made by the distracted parents and grandfather of Tonny to trace him
but in vain,. Indeed, according to the prosecution, the two accused made a show
of taking part in the search for the boy.
The details, of the prosecution story are
beat told by enumerating the circumstances on which the prosecution relied to
prove its case that Rajinder killed Tonny.
(1) A few days before January 5, 1961
relations between Rajinder Kumar on the one hand and Tonny's father Ravinder
Kumar on the other had become strained because Rajinder had talked to Tonny's
mother in a way which her husband did not like and Ravinder asked Rajinder to
stop his visits to their house. After this Tonny who used to be a frequent
visitor to Rajinder, whom he called "'uncle" also stopped his visits
for some days; but then three or four days before January 5, he resumed his
visits to Rajinder as Rajinder had been giving him sugar drops. (2) Tonny was
last seen alive at about 3-30. p. in. in Rajinder's house playing with
Rajinder. (3) At that time Rajinder's wife, his father, his sister and his
servant Bhagat Ram were away from the house, Bhagat Ram having been actually
sent out by Rajinder at about 2-30 p. in. (4) At about 4 p. M. Tonny's mother
Sudha called out to Tonny after preparing the tea 284 but not getting any
response asked Rajinder Kumar, whom she saw coming from the direction of the
Garage as to where Tonny was. (5) Rajinder Kumar said that Tonny had gone with
his wife to the house of Jagdish Goyal. Rajinder's wife came back to the house
just at that time and in reply to Sudha said that Tonny had not gone with her
but had been playing about with her husband. Sudha then enquired again from
Rajinder about Tonny and he said Tonny might have gone to the shop of Baba to
fetch a toast. (6) At the same time Bhagat Ram returned with his cycle and
wanted to keep it into the Garage but finding that Rajinder had looked the
Garage he asked him to open the lock but Rajinder asked him to put the cycle in
the house saying that he had put some important articles in the Garage and so
would not open the lock. (7) That night Bhagat Rain slept in the kitchen and
Rajinder Kumar who Lad gone out of the house after 4 O' clock pretending to
take part in the search for Tonny returned home at 12 midnight and put on the
light in the kitchen where Bhagat Ram had laid himself down and asked him why
he had not gone to sleep. (8) At about 2 O' clock when Bhagat Ram came out to
answer a call of nature he saw Rajinder and his father in front of the Garage
talking to each other but they kept quiet when he drew near. (9) Rajinder
remained outside the house for about another two hours during which Bhagat Ram
was awake. (10) On January 9, Rajinder met Raj Kumar a teacher in a primary
school on the bridge in Mohalla Jori Bhatia and asked for his assistance in
removing the dead body of the child after confessing to him that he had
murdered him. (11) Rajinder was interrogated by the police on the 3rd and 4th
February, and ultimately on the 5th February when he was taken by the Police to
his own house he made a statement that he had buried the dead body of the child
at a distance of 6 to 7 ft. from the main 285 gate towards the right, wrapped
in a gunny bag close to the Gul Mohar tree. (12) Then Rajinder Kumar pointed out
a place, dug there about 4 ft. deep and Tonny's body was found there in a gunny
bag with his own garments on and with a banian thrust in his mouth. (13) There
was also a towel which has been identified by Bhagat Ram as belonging to the
accused Rajinder Kumar, inside the bag. (14) Human blood was detected on the
banian towel and the bag as also on the garments on the body of the child.
Both the accused pleaded not guilty and urged
that they had been implicated falsely on unjustified suspicion.
The Trial Court as also the High Court found
all the 14 circumstances mentioned above fully established by evidence.
Mr. Chari, who appeared before us, on behalf
of both the appellants, does not contest that if these circumstances have been
proved they fully justify the conclusion reached by the courts below. He,
however, tried to persuade us that the High Court, was wrong in finding some of
the circumstances, at least, to have been proved.
It appears to us that if no other
circumstances than the second, fifth and twelfth circumstances mentioned above
have been proved they are by themselves sufficient, without anything more, to
justify the conclusion that Rejinder Kumar murdered Tonny. If Tonny was last
seen with him at 3. 30 p.
m. on the 5th and the dead body is discovered
in his own house buried under the earth and this fact is known to him and it is
further found that about 4 p. m., on the 5th he made contradictory statements
as to where Tonny had gone, these three circumstances are incapable of
explanation on any other reasonable hypothesis than that he killed the boy
between 3.30 and 4 p.m.
286 on that day and sometime later buried,
the body. Mr. Mari suggested that it might be that Tonny was killed somewhere
else by some unknown person and then that killer found some opportunity of
bringing the dead body into the appellant's house and buried it there. This
appears to us as an absurd suggestion hardly worth serious consideration. If
somebody else killed Tonny elsewhere, what could be the reason for.
his taking the trouble of carrying the body
to the appellant's house and burying it there at the risk of being surprised by
somebody before he had finished the job ? Apart from that the fact remains, as
proved beyond shadow of doubt, that the place where the body had been buried
was known to Rajinder and it was Rajinder himself who dug the ground. at the
right place for the recovery of the body.
Mr.Chari drew our attention to the statement
of prosecution witness. No.. 5 Mrs. Gurdeep Kaur Girin that the police came to
the house of the accused two days before the recovery; of the child's deadbody
and that some pits were dug by the police on that day and. that Rajinder was
with them. All the police officers have denied that any digging was done before
the 5th. It seems to us clear that Mrs.
Gurdeep Kaur while giving evidence in June
1961 has made a mistake about the date on which she saw the digging being done.
But even assuming that what she says was correct it would, not show that
Rajinder did not know the' place where the body had been kept;: it would;
merely show that. even then he was keeping quiet about it.
Some comment has been made by the learned
Counsel on the failure of thepolice to discover by themselves during their
numerous visits to the appellant's house that the ground was disturbed. We find
nothing surprising in this.
Few people Dot even the police officers who
had some suspicion against the accused from the very commencement of the
investigation would expect the accused 287 to be so daring as to bury the dead
body in the compound of his own house. The fact that any disturbed condition of
the ground was not discovered by the police before the 5th February can be
therefore no ground for thinking, as the learned Counsel suggests, that the
body had been brought there from somewhere else shortly before the 5th.
While we think the few circumstances
mentioned above are by themselves sufficient to justify the conviction of
Rajinder Kumar under s. 302 of the Indian Penal Code, we think it proper to add
that nothing has been shown to us that would justify us in interfering with the
conclusion of the courts below that the 6th, 7th, 8th and the 9th circumstances
mentioned above have also been proved. Mr. Chari wanted us to believe that
Bhagat Ram was taken into police custody on the 31st January and it is strange
that his statement was not recorded by the police before the 5th February. The
High Court has believed the evidence of the Inspector of Police, Ram Nath
Paras, that Bhagat Ram was not available at Patiala for recording of his
statement till the 7th February, 1961 and we cannot see anything that calls for
our reappraisal of the evidence on this question.
The criticism levelled by Mr. Chari against
the evidence of prosecution witnesses Raj Kumar and Mahabir Dayal for proving
the 10th circumstance mentioned above about Rajinder's extra-judicial
confession is more plausible.
These two witnesses are on their own showing
persons of shady character and they would not, be above giving false evidence
to oblige the police, if the police wanted it.
But, it is difficult to see why the police
should think it necessary to secure the services of these persons for giving
false evidence when the practically conclusive evidence afforded by the
discovery of the dead body in the appellant's compound was already 288 there.
The story of the extra-judicial confession of Rajinder Kumar, as given by Raj
Kumar and supported by Mahabir Dayal is therefore likely to, be true. But it is
really unnecessary for the purpose of the present case to examine the question
further. For, any support from this 10th circumstance regarding the
extra-judicial confession is not needed by the prosecution.
What moved Rajinder Kumar to commit this
dastardly deed is not clear. The strained relations between Tonny's father
Ravinder on the one hand and Rajinder on the 'Other because the former had
asked Rajinder to stop his visits as mentioned in the first circumstance
specified above does not explain his action. Let us assume, however, that even
this evidence of strained relations had not been given. That can be no reason
for doubting the evidence, as regards the other circumstances that has been
adduced or for hesitating to draw the inescapable conclusion from them. The
motive behind a crime is a relevant fact of which evidence can be given. The
absence of a motive is a also a circumstance which is relevant for assessing
the evidence. The circumstances which have been mentioned above as proving the
guilt of the accused Rajinder are however not weakened at all by this fact that
the motive has not been established.
It often happens that only the culprit
himself knows what moved him to a certain course of action. This case appears
to be one like that.
We are satisfied that Rajinder Kumar has
rightly been convicted under s. 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to
The case against Jagdish Chander rests on
Bhagat Ram's evidence. This witness, a youth of seventeen, joined the service
of the accused about 5 or 6 months before January 1961. He was a servant in the
house on the 5th January. He has 289 given evidence that when on that day at
about 9 or 10 p. m.
he asked for the key of the Garage to bring
out his bedding which was there the appellant Jagdish said that he would do it
himself and actually brought out the bedding. He has further said that when at
about 2 O'clock he got up to make water he saw Rajinder and his father, walking
about in front of the Garage, that they were talking to each other but kept
quiet when he went out; and also that he could not sleep for about a couple of
hours after that and that during all this time both the father and son-Rajinder
and Jagdish--remained outside the house. We have already stated above that
there is no reason for us to interfere with the view taken by the courts below
that Bhagat Ram's evidence should be believed.
Once that is believed the conduct of Jagdish
as proved by it becomes incapable' of explanation on any other reasonable
hypothesis than that after coming to know that Rajinder had murdered Tonny he
helped Rajinder in concealing the dead body by burying it underground. Mr.
Chari suggested that Rajinder might have told his father that the boy bad died
accidentally on receiving an electric shock and the learned Counsel drew our
attention in this connection to the fact that an electric wire made into a ring
was found on the thumb of the dead body. The medical examination shows however
that this wire had nothing to (lo with the boy's death. Mr. Chari accepts that
position, but argues that still Rajinder might have falsely told his father
that the death was due to electrocution. There might have been some force in
this argument were it not for the fact that a blood-stained banian was found
stuffed in the mouth of the boy and a blood-stained towel was also found in the
gunny bag. There is therefore no scope for the argument that Jagdish was
misinformed by his son Rajinder about how Tonny had met his death.
e circumstances that have been proved clearly
290 establish the prosecution case that Jagdish after knowing-on the January 5, 1961, that an offence had been committed by the murder of Tonny caused some
evidence of the commission of that offence to disappear with the intention of
screening the offender from legal punishment. He has therefore been rightly convicted
under s. 204 of the Indian Penal Code and the sentence passed on him is proper.
The appeal is accordingly dismissed.