Sheshanna Bhumanna Yadav Vs. State of
Maharashtra  INSC 136 (8 May 1970)
08/05/1970 RAY, A.N.
CITATION: 1970 AIR 1330 1971 SCR (1) 617 1970
SCC (2) 122
Indian Evidence Act (1 of 1872), ss. 133,
(b)--Evidence of accomplice and
Two accused father and son were convicted of
the offence of murdering a young boy of 15 and the offences of housebreaking
and theft next day, of articles from the house of the grand-father of the
deceased in which the deceased was living alone at the time of his murder. The
evidence mainly consisted of that of the approver, The corroboration of the
approver's evidence as against one of the accused (the son) consisted of the
following :-(i) on the day of the occurrence, two witnesses saw the accused the
approver and another (a young boy of 15) wearing khaki shorts and a white
shirt; (2) a few days later another witness saw a dead body at the scene of the
crime--a field, with khaki shorts and a white shirt; (3) the grand-father
discovered the theft and the disappearance of his grandson when he returned to
the house a week after the occurrence; (4) the approver, on the date of his
arrest pointed out to the police the scene of the crime where, among other
things a shirt, a chain, and some bones were found-the shirt and chain were
identified to be those of the deceased-and according to the medical evidence
the bones were those of a human being, possibly male; (5) the accused, after
his arrest, produced to the police, a piece of cloth stolen from the house; (6)
the evidence of pledge of a cycle and sale of a cycle carrier belonging to the grandfather
of the deceased; (7) sale of some utensils belonging to the grand-father of the
deceased, by the accused, after scrapping off the name; and (8) the finding of
a cloth belonging to the grandfather of the deceased in a tailor's shop. which
the accused hastened to take away, when he learnt that the grand-father was
questioning the tailor about the cloth.
As regards the other accused (the father) the
corroborating evidence consisted of the following :(1) there were civil and
criminal proceedings between him and the grand-father of the deceased over the
possession of the house : (2) he gave and sold several, articles and pieces of
silver to a witness who was traced by the police as a result of the, statement
of the accused (son). The articles were produced before police. and all of them
except one lump of silver, were identified by' the grandfather of the deceased as
his articles; (3) it was this accused who gave the piece of cloth to the
approver who gave it to the, tailor and which was hastily taken away by his
son; and (4) he joined his son in the sale of cycle carrier.
On the question whether the corroboration was
sufficient in law,
HELD : In Sarwan Singh v. State of Punjab,
 S.C.R. 953 and in Lachi Ram v. State of Punjab,  1 S.C.R. 243, it
was held that the court should be satisfied : (1) that the approver or
accomplice was a reliable witness; (2) there must be reliable corroboration of
the approver's evidence;
and (3) there must be sufficient
corroborative evidence in material particulars to connect the accused with the
The nature of corroboration is that it is
confirmatory evidence and may consist of the evidence of another witness or of
circumstances, like conduct of the accused. When it is said that corroborative
evidence must implicate the accused in material particulars it means that it is
not-enough that a piece of evidence tends to confirm the truth of a part of the
testimony to be corroborated. It must confirm that part of the testimony which
suggests that the crime was committed by the accused. [622 E-F; 625 A-B] In the
present case, apart from the relationship between the two accused, there was
also close association in the disposal of the articles. The close proximity of
time between the murder and theft points to the inescapable conclusion that
they formed part of the same transaction.
Since the transaction was one composite unit
of murdering and committing theft, and it was found that the approver was a
reliable witness, all the pieces of evidence afforded sufficient corroboration
of the approver's evidence in material particulars and proved that the accused
were guilty' of the offences with which they were charged. [624 C-D; 625 D, E]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No.225 of 1969.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated December 18, 1962 of the Bombay High Court in Criminal Appeal No.
1426 of 1968 and confirmation Case No. 21 of 1968.
Yogeshwar Prasad, for the appellant.
S. B. Wad and S. P. Nayar, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Ray, J. This appeal by special leave is against the judgment dated 18 December,
1968 of the High Court at Bombay dismissing the Appeal and confirming the
conviction of Moti alias Narayan Sheshanna Yadav and Sheshanna Bhumanna Yadav
accused No. 2nd 3 respectively except that the conviction of accused No. 2 of
the substantive offence of murder under section 302 was altered and accused No.
2 was convicted of an offence under section 302 read with section 120B as well
as of offence under section 302 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
The High Court confirmed the sentence of death passed against accused No. 3
Sheshanna Bhumanna Yadav.
Accused No. 2 son of accused No. 3 was at the
time of the judgment of High Court of 17 years of age. The High Court reduced
the punishment of accused No. 2 to rigorous imprisonment for life. Accused No. 1
Hiralal was the domestic servant of Dr. Nanavati grandfather of the deceased
Narendra. Accused No. 2 is the son of accused No. 3.
Accused No. 1 Hiralal Jamnadas Joshi, accused
No. 2 Moti alias Narayan Sheshanna Yadav and accused No. 3 Sheshanna Bhumanna Yadav
were charged with having entered into criminal conspiracy with approver Dinkar
Sakharam between 19 619 December, 1967 and 4 January, 1968 at Deolali Camp for
the purpose of committing the murder of Narendrakumar and committed house
breaking and thefts in the house of his grandfather Dr. Nanavati and disposed
of the property so 'Obtained and caused the evidence of murder to disappear
with the intention of screening the offenders from lawful punishment and that
these acts were done in pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, an offence
punishable under section 120B read with sections. 302, 454, 380, 414 and 201 of
the Indian Penal Code. Accused No. 1 to 3 were further charged with having
committed the murder of Narendrakumar in complicity with' approver Dinkar
Sakharam and the said murder came to be committed in furtherance of common
intention of all the accused an offence punishable under section 302 read with
section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
They were further charged under sections 201,
454,.380 and 411 of the Indian Penal Code.
Dr. Dalichand Nanavati the grand-father of
deceased Narendrakumar who met unnatural and unfortunate end at the hands of
accused No. 2 and one Dinkar Sakharam, subsequently turned approver, resided at
Deolali Camp at Dhondi Road in bungalow No. 17 for about 1 1 years. He was a
registered medical practitioner. At the relevant time he was in pharmaceutical
business for the manufacture of medicines.
The head office was at Bombay. The branch was
The owner of bungalow No. 17 was Narsanna
Bhumanna Yadav brother of accused No. 3. Narsanna was a person of unsound mind
and accused No. 3 was the holder of power of attorney.
Accused No. 3 resided at the rear portion of
bungalow No. 17. The, bungalow was agreed to be sold to Dr. Nanavati.
There were civil and criminal proceedings out
of that transaction. Bungalow No. 17 was eventually sold to a third party on 11
May, 1964. In the sale deed it was said that possession of the portion in the
occupation of Dr. Nanavati would be handed over to the vendee when the
proceedings pending against Dr. Nanavati concluded. Dr. Nanavati succeeded in
those proceedings. Therefore, possession could (not be given by the vendor to
In the month of November, 1967 Dr. Nanavati's
wife left Deolali -for Jodhpur. Dr. Nanavati also left Deolali and went to his
native place leaving his grandson Narendra, who was about 15 years of age in
the care' of his domestic servant accused No. 1.
The prosecution case was as follows. Accused
No. 3 thought that Dr. Nanavati's departure from Deolali leaving his grandson
Narendra at the bungalow in charge of the domestic servant was a good
opportunity to commit theft of articles in the house of Dr. Nanavati and to
murder his grandson Narendra 620 with a view to frightening Dr. Nanavati to
vacate the bungalow Accused No. 3 called Dinkar on 19 December, 1967 and
suggested to Dinkar that the latter should commit the murder of Narendra after
21 December, 1967 when Dr. Nanavati would .leave the bungalow and his grandson
Narendra would be there with the domestic servant. Accused No. 3 proposed a
reward .to Dinkar, namely,, a motor cycle and a further sum of Rs. 100 Accused
No. 3 told Dinkar that the said accused had committed two murders prior to that
date but nothing happened to him. Dinkar at first expressed his inability to
undertake the job. Accused No. 3 then said that Dinkar should take accused No.
2 who was the son of accused No. 3 for the job.
Accused No. 2 and Dinkar started getting
familiar and ,'friendly with Narendra. They visited his house regularly.
They moved about with Narendra. On 25
December, 1967 accused No. I the domestic servant of Dr. Nanavati left Deolali
'and -went to Bombay. Accused No. 2 and the approver Dinkar took Narendra out
with the intention of murdering him but because of certain interruptions they
could not muster courage to achieve that object. On 27 December, 1967 accused
No. 3 called Dinkar and told him and accused No. 2 that he was going to Nasik
in connection with some court work and they should murder Narendra and that he
would look to everything after his return from Nasik. Nasik is about 5 or 7
miles from Deolali Accused No. 2 and Dinkar took Narendra to a lonely area
beyond Barne's High School on the pretext of collecting clothes from a
washerman and went to the house of the latter and collected a couple of
garments. Thereafter they went to a grarden where they drank water and then
went to a open field. There they plucked fresh groundnuts and started eating
them. Accused 'No. 2 and Dinkar took Narendra to a jowar field. Dinkar gave ,a
blow with his hand on the neck of Narendra as a result of which Narendra fell
Accused No. 2 and Dinkar held Narendra
tightly. Dinkar set upon his abdomen and started ,choking his throat with both
his hands and accused No. 2 gagged his mouth and nose.
Dinkar gave blows on Narendra's abdomen.
After Narendra was choked for about 10115 minutes, be breathed his last.
Accused No. 2 then asked Dinkar to take out
the key of the 'bungalow which he had seen Narendra putting in his pocket and
Dinkar removed the key and gave it to accused No. 2.
Accused No. 2 scraped some earth and dug a
small pit and placed Narendra in it, face downwards, and covered it with some
loose earth. Accused No. 2 and Dinkar then returned to the house of accused No.
3. On being told that accused No. 2 and Dinkar had ac621 complished the murder
of Narendra accused No. 3 was happy and gave them Rs. 1 0 to celeberate the
occasion by seeing a picture. Accused No. 3 told accused No. 2 and Dinkar that
the following day they must take out all the goods from the house of Dr.
Nanavati and hand them over to him. When Dinkar went to the house of accused
No. 3 the following morning, Dinkar heard accused No. 2 and 3 saying that )Dr. Nanavati
would not be able to live in that bungalow any longer. Accused No. 2 and Dinkar
then went to the bungalow of Dr. Nanavati and opened the lock with the key
which had been removed from Narendra's pocket. Accused No. 2 and' Dinkar locked
the front door from outside and kept the back door ajar and removed a large
number of articles which were in cupboards which they opened with the help of a
bunch of keys which they found in the house. Accused No. 2 and Dinkar again
went to the bungalow of Dr. Nanavati on the subsequent day. They removed two
cycles and several other articles and. handed them over to accused No. 3.
Accused No. 3 gave to the approver Dinkar a cycle and some of the property
which had been recovered from the house of Dr. Nanavati.
Dr. Nanavati returned to Deolali along with
his wife on 4January, 1968. They found the front door of the house locked. They
made enquiries. Ultimately, they entered the house by breaking open the lock
and found that Narendra was not in the house, that the whole house had been
ransacked and the back door was ajar. Dr. Nanavati reported the matter to the
police. Clue was furnished by a piece of cloth which had been stolen from the
house of Dr. Nanavati.
That piece of cloth had been given by accused
No. 3 to the approver Dinkar who gave it to a tailor named Thakur for stitching
a pair of trousers for him. Dr. Nanavati happened to go to the shop of Thakur
and made enquiries about the piece of cloth which was found in the tailor's
Accused No. 2 and Dinkar took away the cloth
from the tailor's shop when they heard of the enquiries about the piece of
cloth. Dinkar gave some money to the tailor.
Dinkar and accused No. 2 raised some money by
pledging a cycle which they had with them. The police came to the tailor's
shop, made enquiries and ultimately accused No. 2 and Dinkar were arrested on
23 January, 1968. Dinkar pointed out the place of the occurrence to the police
on that day. On 24 January, 1968 some human bones were found at that place. On
25 January, 1968 accused No. 3 was arrested. Dinkar and accused No. 2 made
various statements and led the police to various places. Several articles
stolen from the house of Dr. Nanavati were recovered. On 12 February, 1968
Dinkar made a full-fledged detailed confession.
622 In the High Court three questions were
canvassed. First whether there was corroboration in regard to the crime.
Secondly, whether there was corroboration in
regard to accused No. 2,and 3 being guilty of the offence. Thirdly, whether
there was corroboration in regard to the approver's story about the conspiracy
and the common intention by way of a pre-conceived plan to murder Narendra. The
High Court found that there was corroboration of the evidence which connected
accused No. 2 3 not only with the offence of theft but also with murder. The
High Court also came to the conclusion that there was corroboration of the
evidence of Dinkar in material particulars in regard to the connection of the
accused with the crime and in regard to the conspiracy as well as the common
The law with regard to appreciation of
approver's evidence is based on the effect of sections 133 and 114 illustration
(b) .of the Evidence Act, namely, that an accomplice is competent 'to depose
but as a rule of caution it will be unsafe to convict upon his testimony alone.
The warning of the danger of convicting on uncorroborated evidence is therefore
given when the evidence is that of an accomplice.
The primary meaning of accomplice is any
party to the crime charged and someone who aids and abets the commission of
crime. The nature of corroboration is that it is confirmatory evidence and it
may consist of the evidence of second witness or of circumstances like the
conduct of the person against whom it is required. Corroboration must connect
or tend to connect the accused with the time. When it is said that the
corroborative evidence must implicate the accused in material particulars it
means that it is not enough that a piece of evidence tends to confirm the truth
-of a part of the testimony to be corroborated. That evidence must confirm that
part of the testimony which suggests that the -crime was committed by the
accused. If a witness says that the accused and he stole the sheep and he put
the skins in a certain place, the discovery of the skins in that place would
not corroborate the evidence of the witness as against the accused. But if the
skins were found in the accused's house, this would corroborate because it
would tend to confirm the statement that the accused had some hand in the theft.
This Court stated the law of corroboration
ofaccomplice evidence in several decisions. One of the earlier decision is
Sorwan Singh v. State of Punjab(') and the recentdecision is Lachi Ram v. State
of Punjab('). In Sarwan Singh's case(')this Court laid down that before the
court would look into the (1)  S.C.R. 953. (2)  1 S.C.R. 243 623
corroborative evidence it was necessary to find out whether the approver or
accomplice was a reliable witness. This Court in Lachi Ram's case(') said that the
first test of reliability of approver and accomplice evidence was for the court
to be satisfied that there was nothing inherently impossible in evidence. After
that conclusion is reached as to reliability corroboration is required. The
rule as to corroboration is based on the reasoning that there must be
sufficient corroborative evidence in material particulars to connect the
accused with the crime.
In the present appeal, counsel on behalf of
the appellant ;contended that there was no corroboration of the actual
participation in the murder and secondly that accused No. 3 could be guilty of
theft 'but not of murder. The washer man said that Dinkar was his classmate and
through Dinkar he came to know accused No. 2. The washer man further said that
he used to wash the clothes of accused No. 2 -and on 27 December, 1967 Dinkar
and accused No. 2 came to the washerman's house to take out a few clothes which
he had washed for them. The washer man also said that Dinkar and accused No. 2
had with them a boy who was of fair skin and wore khaki shorts and a white
shirt, Mohan Lal Boob, an agriculturist gave evidence that on 27 December, 1967
he was watering the crops. Three persons turned up one of whom was accused No.
2 and the other was known to him by face and the third was a boy of 14 or 15
years of age, wearing khaki shorts and a shirt. Mohan Lal Boob said that he saw
all of them sitting down in the field, drank water and purchase radishes from a
woman who was sitting nearby.
It may be difficult to find corroborative
evidence of the actual killing. Dinkar showed the place of occurrence.
Eventually, a few things were discovered
there, namely, a shirt, a chain, a skull having the upper jaw with 13 teeth, a
bone, bunch of hair. These things were found on 28 January, 1968. The shirt and
the chain were identified by Dr. Nanavati and his wife to belong to Narendra. A
girl of 14 named Garadin Bride who was a classmate of Narendra said that
Narendra wore a chain similar to the one that was shown. The medical evidence
was that the bones were those of a human being probably a male. Beyond that the
medical evidence does not assist the prosecution. The' High Court found that
the death of Narendr'a was not disputed because it was put to Dinkar in cross
examination that it was Dinkar alone who killed Narendra. Therefore, the
medical evidence as to the skull and the bone is not of importance in view of
the death of Narendra. Dr. Nanavati en(1)  1 S.C.R. 243.
624 tered the house by breaking open the
lock. He found the back door left ajar. The key which was produced by Dr. Nanavati
was found to fit the lock though the lock could not be operated with the key in
view of the fact that Dr. Nanavati had broken it open for gaining entry into
There, is also evidence of Kisan Prasad that
after Christmas day in 1967 he saw a dead body which had on it khaki shorts and
white shirt. If the murder of Narendra and the theft were not parts of the same
transaction, Narendra would not have been taken out to the field to be murdered
there to eliminate the possibility of detection. The close proximity between
murder and theft points to the inescapable conclusion that they formed part of
the same transaction.
Narendra was seen alive by Kewal Ram, owner
of the betel shop on 26th December, 1967. Hira Lal, the domestic servant of Dr.
Nanavati left Deolali on 25 December, 1967. The theft could not have been
committed before the murder because in that case there would be complaint by
Narendra and the house in that case would also have been broken I open for
committing the murder. All these features prove that the murder and the theft
formed the same transaction and were committed by the same persons. Narendra
was seen alive in the company of accused No. 2 and Dinkar. That was the
evidence of the washerman as also of the agriculturist Mohan Lal Boob. These
witnesses further identified the shorts and shirt of Narendra.
Accused No. 2 produced the piece of cloth
which was identical with the cloth of the matteress cover produced by Dr.Nanavati.
Both the pieces of the cloth were of the identical design. The pledging of the
cycle by accused No. 2 is of significance. The cycle was identified both by Dr.
Nanavati and his wife. The next piece of evidence is that accused No. 2 sold
some utensils to Gadekar. One of the utensils was found to have a name thereon
There was also a piece of hand-writing with
the signature of accused No. 2 at the foot of it and that was the list of the
articles sold to Gadekar. There were some articles found from the tailor's
shop. The evidence of the tailor was that that those articles were given by
accused No. 2. The discovery of the chain which Narendra wore was identified by
Dr. Nanavati. Accused No. 2 sold a cycle carrier to Rupvate on 16 January,
1968. The sale of that article was discovered on 23 January, 1968. Dr. Nanavati
identified the cycle carrier. That identification was not challenged. All these
pieces of evidence prove the connection of accused No. 2 with the crime.
With regard to accused No. 3 it is found that
there were civil and criminal proceedings between him and Dr. Nanavati.
625 Accused No. 3 had the motive not only to
make it impossible for Dr. Nanavati to stay in the bungalow but also to commit
theft in his house. Accused No. 3 gave several articles to a, person called
Takalkar. Takalkar bad dealings with accused No. 3-in the past. Takalkar said
that accused No. 3 gave him some pieces from silver idols and other silver
articles and wanted money by disposing of the same.
Takalkar purchased the entire silver material
from accused No. 3 for Rs. 175. Takalkar also said that at the request of
accused No. 3 he kept that bag of utensils in his godown and gave the key of
the godown to accused No. 3 who afterwards returned the key The police cam,-,
to the shop of Takalkar and he was asked to produce the gunny bag which he did.
The articles in the gunny bag were taken and the articles excepting the lump of
silver were identified by Dr. Nanavati and by his wife. The identification was
not challenged in cross-examination. It is obvious that silver lump could not
be identified. At this stage it is to be noticed as to whether there is
evidence to connect accused No.3 with murder. The transaction was one composite
unit of murdering Narendra and committing theft.
The discovery of articles in the godown of
Takalkar was as a result of a statement by accused No. 2. The name of accused
No. 3 was found in the note-book of Takalkar. The relationship of father and
son between accused No. 3 and accused No. 2 is not to be lost sight of. Accused
No. 2 and 3 went together for the sale of cycle carrier to Rupvate.
The High Court rightly came to the conclusion
that there was sufficient corroboration of the evidence of Dinkar in material
particulars and that Dinkar was a reliable witness and it was proved that
accused No. 2 and 3 were guilty of the offence, In view of the fact that there
was capital sentence of accused No. 3 we went through the evidence to find out
as to whether there was any infirmity in evidence.
We have found none.
The appeal therefore fails. The accused-will
surrender to his bail. if any.
V.P.S. Appeal dismissed.