& Ors Vs. State of Bihar  INSC 480 (29 April 1997)
RAY, K.T. THOMAS
six appellants before us were among the 14 accused arrayed in the Sessions
court indicted for the murder of one Ram deo Yadav during the wee hours on 30th October, 1975.
the Sessions Court convicted all the thirteen accused of the offences of
rioting and murder (with the aid of section 149 IPC) the High Court confirmed
the conviction only in respect of the seven appellants before us. They have
been sentenced to imprisonment for life for the offence of murder and to
rigorous imprisonment for two years for the offence under section 148, Indian
are Simple : Deceased Ram deo Yadav and his son Gajendra Yadav (PW 8) after
their dinner at home went to a nearby field presumably for watching the crop
went to sleep on a wooden plank in one field while his son (PW 8) slept in the
adjoining field. Some time after midnight these appellants and few others came to this place armed with lethal
weapons such as spears (bhala) and gupti and surrounded Ram deo Yadav, dragged
him out and showered bloody assault on him with the weapons. Gajendra Yadav (PW
8) on hearing the sound of a commotion woke up and rushed to the scene with his
torchlight and saw the assailants attacking his father. He made a hue and cry,
but somebody among the assailants snatched away his torchlight. By then a few
of the neighbouring cultivators rushed to the scene. The assailants who
succeeded in inflicting large number of injuries on the deceased fled from the
place with the weapons. Ramdeo Yadav who sustained extensive wounds died on the
Yadav went to the local Police Station and lodged the complaint on the basis of
which FIR was registered. After completing investigation the case was
charge-sheeted against the fourteen accused.
is no dispute that Ram deo Yadav was murdered at the time and place mentioned
by the prosecution. The large number of anti-mortem injuries observed by the
doctor who conducted the autopsy have been detailed in the post-mortem
certificate. Some of the injuries have perforated his vital organs and without
difficulty we could observe that deceased would have died instantaneously.
the eye-witnesses examined by the prosecution the evidence of PW5 - Sipehi Yadav,
PW6 - Harilal Yadav and PW8 - Gajendra Yadav was found reliable by the Sessions
High Court did not act on the evidence of Harilal Yadav (PW 6). However, the
evidence of PW 8 was found quite reliable, yet the High Court chose to confirm
the conviction only as against the appellants since the version of PW 8 was
corroborated by PW 5 only in respect of them.
senior counsel confined his arguments to assailing the evidence of PW 5 and PW
8 and contended that the said evidence should not have been relied on due to
certain drawbacks high-lighted before us. According to the learned counsel, as
the High Court did not rely on the evidence of PW 8 in regard to the acquitted
accused it should have been a logical step to spurn down his evidence even in
regard to the appellants as well.
is not a case where the High Court declined to act on the testimony of PW 8. In
fact, High Court has observed in clear terms that there is no reason to reject
the evidence of PW 8, though High Court was not inclined to base a conviction
on his evidence without corroboration from other materials. If the High Court
thought it unsafe to convict any of the accused on the uncorroborated evidence
of a single eye-witness it does not mean that the evidence of the witness
stands castigated. It is no stigm a against the evidence of any eye-witness if
the Court only wanted re- assurance from yet other sources. The corroboration
was what the court required as a matter of prudence and as a step of caution.
The premise of the contention of the learned counsel that evidence of PW 8 has
been stigmatised is, therefore, erroneous.
point upon which learned counsel harped heavily was the failure of the
investigating officer to seize the torchlight which the eye-witnesses claimed
to have flashed for witnessing the occurrence. We are unable to appreciate this
argument. If the accused had used a torchlight or if the victim had a
torchlight with him during the occurrence there would be much force in
insisting that the investigating officer should have seized it as the same
could be used as a material object during trial but a torchlight used by the
witness to see the occurrence cannot be equated with the torchlight used buy
the victim or the assailants in the encounter for evidentiary purposes. Non
seizure of such a torchlight cannot, therefore, be considered as a lapse on the
part of any investigating officer, much less a ground for impairment of the
testimony of the eye-witness concerned.
lastly contended that the weapons which the eye- witnesses identified in the
hands of the appellants are totally incompatible with the injuries found on the
dead body of the deceased. Apparently, those were sharp cutting weapons. One of
them could have been a pointed and sharp weapon. All the injuries of the
deceased were incised wounds and two of them had penetrated into the body and
perforated some of the vital organs. The doctor who conducted the autopsy has
said in evidence that the injuries which he noticed could have been caused with
of the points raised before us by t he learned counsel for the appellants is
capable of changing the conclusion reached by the High Court against the
we dismiss the appeal.