Rairamrup Singh & Ors Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh  INSC 12 (8 January
MUKHERJEE, S.P. KURDUKAR M.K.
APPEAL NO. 286 OF 1989 WITH CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 287 OF 1989
five appellants in these three appeals were tried for offences punishable under
Sections 147, 304 (Part II) read with Section 149, and 330 IPC. The allegations
against them were that on September 17, 1982 they committed rioting and in course thereof caused bodily injuries to Phoola
Devi of village Phera with a view to extorting confession from her which
ultimately resulted in her death on September 23, 1982. The trial Court acquitted one of
them namely, Sukhpal (the sole appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 460 of 1989)
and convicted the other four under Section 304 (Part II) read with Section 34
IPC and sentenced each of them to suffer rigorous imprisonment for five years.
Assailing the judgment of the trial Court the four convicts preferred an appeal
and the State of Madhya
Pradesh, in its turn,
filed another appeal against the acquittal of Sukhpal and for enhancement of
sentences of the other four appellants. In disposing of the two appeals by a
common judgment, the High Court set aside the acquittal of Sukhpal and
convicted him under Section 304 (Part II) read with Section 149 IPC and
dismissed the other appeal. The above judgment of the High Court is under
challenge in these three appeals which have been heard together.
was a Major and the other four appellants were constables of the Special Armed
Force (S.A.F), Gwalior and at the material time they were
camping at Chhatarpur to look after the law and order situation there. At the
time of her health Phoola Devi was a member of the Janpad Panchayat and Gram Panchayat
and was a social worker of the same area.
to the prosecution the appellants used to indulge in anti-social activities and
were responsible for gambling and illicit distillation. As their such
activities had created a terror among the villagers Phoola Devi took up the
cudgels against them. On August 5. 1982 the Company Commandant of S.A.F. was to
visit the village and Phoola Devi had planned to submit a representation to him
complaining about the illegal activities of the appellants.
visit was, however, cancelled. It is alleged that the appellants had learnt
about such move of Phoola Devi.
further prosecution case is that on September 17, 1982 at or about 8 A.M. the appellants entered into the house of Phoola Devi on the
pretext that they had information that she was having in her possession
contraband qanja and unlicensed pistol. Phoola Devi was, however, not in the
house at that time and her nephew told them that there was no such material. In
the meantime Phoola Devi came back home and denied the accusation levelled
Sukhpal then abused her and appellant Ramrup Singh caught hold of her hair and
started beating her. She was dragged outside the house and then taken towards
the police station. While being taken to the police station, the appellants
continued to beat her with lathis and a Beshram stick. At the police station
they let her go on an assurance that she would pay Rs. 150/- and would not
lodge any complaint. Phoola Devi, however, went to Chhatarpur and lodged a complaint
on September 18, 1982. She was then sent for medical
examination by Dr. S.K. Dixit (P.W.4), who examined her and gave his report
(Ex.P-2). Thereafter Phoola Devi left the village out of fear and went to the
nearby town of Banda (Uttar Pradesh) where she died on September 23, 1982. Her death was reported at Kotwali,
Bandavide. Dr. Vishal Chand (P.W.5) performed the autopsy and gave his report
with his opinion that Phoola Devi died of rupture of liver and excessive
bleeding. On receipt of the report of the post-mortem examination and after
completion of investigation police submitted chargesheet against the
appellants completely denied the charges levelled against them. Their
contention was that on September
17, 1982 an unlicensed
pistol was recovered from the possession of Phoola Devi and hence they brought
her to the police station. She however managed to run away from there and they
did not know how she met with her death later on. According to the appellants
she used to manufacture illicit liquor with the connivance and assistance of Devi
Dayal (P.W.1), Dasharath Prasad (P.W.2) and Baby (P.W.3) and others and they
were falsely implicated in the case at their instance.
sustain the charges levelled against the appellants the prosecution examined Devi
Dayal (P.W.1), Dasharath Prasad (P.W.2) and Babu (P.W.3) as eye-witnesses,
besides two doctors and the Investigating Officer. On appreciation of the
medical evidence the trial Judge firstly held that the prosecution succeeded in
establishing beyond doubt that Phoola Devi met with her death due to rupture of
her liver caused by an injury on her chest. After recording the above finding
the trial Judge considered and discussed the evidence of the eye-witnesses and
held that owing to the assault by four of the appellants (except Sukhpal) with lathi
and stick she sustained the above injury, besides others. As regards Sukhpal,
the trial Judge held that though he was present on the spot he was not in any
way liable for the death of Phoola Devi as he did not take part in the assault.
After reappraising the evidence the High Court concurred with all the findings
recorded by the trial Judge against the four convicted appellants; and in
reversing the acquittal of Sukhpal the High Court observed that merely because
he did not give any beating to the deceased it did not mean that his case was
distinguishable from the others for, admittedly, the other four appellants were
working under his command. According to the High Court when the evidence of
eye-witnesses unmistakably pointed to the fact that all the accused persons
went to the house of Phoola Devi together to search the same and when Sukhpal
headed the group he ought to have, if he was not a party to the assault,
stopped such beating. As he did not take any such step it was evident that he
had approved of the action of the other members of his group who were working
under his direction and, therefore, he was also a party to such assault. With
the above findings the High Court recorded the impugned conviction against him.
have heard the learned counsel for the appellants at length and considered the
entire evidence on record. Our such exercise persuades us to hold that the
findings that have been recorded by the High Court against the five appellants
are proper and justified and no interference in respect thereof is called for.
the evidence of the eye witnesses is considered in the light of the respective
cases of the parties it stands fully established that the appellants came
together to the premises of Phoola Devi on the plea that they wanted to search
it. If the defence contention that on such search an unlicensed pistol was
recovered was true, it was obligatory on their part to prepare a seizure memo
in respect of the same and then register a case against Phoola Devi.
it must also be said, if really she had managed to run away from the police
station after she was brought there under arrest, it was expected that not only
there would be some daily diary entry in the police station in support thereof
but also a prosecution launched against her for escaping from lawful custody.
In absence of any evidence either oral or documentary to support the defence
story we are unable to accept the same. We hasten to add that we are not
unmindful of the settled principle of law that the prosecution must stand on
its own feet and not on the weakness of the defence but, then these telltale
circumstances not only falsify the defence story but also land credence to the
prosecution case that to wreak their vengeance on Phoola Devi for her having
lodged complaint against them to their superiors that the appellants came to
her house on the false pretext of searching for unauthorised firearms and
forcibly took her to the police station - beating her all the way - as
testified by the three eye- witnesses.
however contended on behalf of the appellants that even if it was assumed that
the story as given out by the eye-witnesses was true the appellants could be
held guilty only for an offence under Section 323 IPC, and not 304 (Part II)
IPC, in view of the nature of injuries found by Dr. S.K. Dikshit (P.W.4) who
first examined Phoola Devi.
learned counsel for the appellants submitted that having regard to the facts
that she died six days after the alleged assault at a different place and that
Dr. Vishal Chander (P.W.5), who held autopsy, found some more injuries on her
person it was evident that she met with her death owing to injuries she
carefully gone through the evidence of the two doctors we do not find any
substance in this contention. It is of course true that while Dr. Dikshit found
four injuries on the person of Phoola Devi Dr. Chander found six. The reason
for such discrepancy as to the number of injuries is not far to seek. The two
injuries which were found by Dr. Chander - and not by Dr. Dikshit - were on the
gluteal region (the buttocks) and needless to say those could not have been
noticed without disrobing the victim. It is not unlikely therefore that Dr. Dikshit
did not, keeping in view her modesty, examined her thoroughly but consequent
upon her death Dr. Chander was free from such inhibition.
next get from the evidence of the two doctors that both of them found contusion
on the right side of the chest (breast) of Phoola Devi besides other injuries.
Dr. Chander testified that on internal examination he found that the liver was
ruptured and opined that shock and excessive bleeding owing to such rupture was
the cause of her death.
cause of such rupture according to Dr. Chander, was the above contusion (which
was described by both the doctors as injury No. 3). Since the above injury was
earlier seen by Dr. Dikshit, it is obvious that the victim sustained the same
in the incident in question and not later on, as contended by the defence. As
according to Dr. Chander the above contusion was sufficient in the ordinary
course of nature to cause death the offence that was committed by causing the
above injury cannot but be one under Section 304 (Part II) IPC. We, therefore,
find no reason to disturb the concurrent findings of the learned Courts below
that the four appellants (whose conviction was upheld by the High Court) were
responsible for the death of Phoola Devi. As regards the appellant Sukhpal, we
are of the view that the High Court was fully justified in setting aside his
acquittal. The evidence on record clearly demonstrated that out of spite, he
along with his men went to the premises of Phoola Devi on the false pretext of
searching the same, brought her out and dragged her to the police station while
assaulting her on the way which ultimately resulted in her death. All the
appellants including Sukhpal are therefore guilty of the offence of committing
culpable homicide not amounting to murder in prosecution of their common
therefore, uphold the conviction of appellant Sukhpal under Section 304 (Part
II)/149 IPC and alter the conviction of the other four appellants from Section
304 (Part II)/34 IPC to 304 (Part II)/149 IPC.
now to the question of sentence we feel that the appellants should adequately
compensate the members of the deceased's family for the atrocities they
committed taking advantage of the haplessness of Phoola Devi. We, therefore,
while reducing their substantive sentence of rigorous imprisonment from five
years to three years direct the appellant Sukhpal to pay a sum of Rs. 20,000/-
and each of the other four appellants a sum of Rs. 10,000/- as fine. In default
of payment of fine, Sukhpal will suffer rigorous imprisonment for two years
more and the four others one year more. The entire fine, if realised, shall be
paid to the heirs of deceased Phoola Devi as compensation. The appellants, who
are on bail, shall now surrender to their bail bonds to serve out the sentence.
appeals are thus disposed of.