@ Harisingh Vs. State of Gujarat  INSC 789 (22 October 1997)
NANAVATI, V.N. KHARE
22ND DAY OF OCTOBER, 1997 Present:
Mr.Justive G.T. Nanavti Hon'ble Mr.Justive V.N. Khare S. Kulshreshtha, Adv. for
the appellant Mrs. H.Wahi, Adv. for the Respondent J U D G E M E N T The
following Judgment of the Court was delivered:
appeal arises out of the judgment of the Gujarat High Court in Criminal Appeal
No.97 of 1983. The High Court reversed the acquittal and convicted the
appellant under Sections 302 and 201 IPC.
prosecution case was that the appellant, who is the elder brother of one Jarnal
Singh, went to Ahmedabad with Ram Singh (deceased) and stayed in the
residential quarter of Jarnal Singh between 24th December, 1981 and 26th December, 1981 and that during that period committed the murder of Ram Singh in the
being no direct evidence the prosecution relied upon certain circumstances in
order to prove its case. It relied upon the evidence of PW-14 Musafir and PW-2 Satnam
Kaur wife of Jarnal Singh to prove that the accused and deceased had come
together to the house of Jarnal Singh on 22.12.1981 at about 2.00 p.m. or 3.0 p.m. It
also relied upon the evidence of PW-2 Satnam Kaur for establishing that both of
them stayed in the same room and that on 24.12.1981 the accused had told Satnam
Kaur that the other person who had come with him had left the house and that
the accused also left on 26.12.1981 in the morning. The trial court believed
this evidence. It further help that the body that was found from her house was
that of Ram Singh. It also held that the deceased was killed "within 4
corners of family quarter No. 197/8" But in the opinion of the trial court
has circumstances were not sufficient to complete the chain and lead to the
reasonable hypothesis that the accused alone had caused each of the deceased. The
acquitted the accused.
High Court taking note of the correct legal position in case of circumstantial
evidence scrutinised the evidence with care and also considered carefully the
reasons given by the trial court for acquitting the accused. The High Court
found that some of the findings recorded by the trial court were inconsistent
and some were perverse. After carefully scrutinising the evidence the High
Court held that it was clearly established by the prosecution that the accused
and the deceased had come together to the house of Jarnal Singh on 22.12.1981
and that they had stayed together in one room in the said house. It further
held that it was established beyond reasonable doubt that the dead body which
was found from the said room on 27th morning was that of deceased Ram Singh who
had come as a guest along with the accused. The High Court also held proved
that the deceased was seen alive till the evening of 24th. It further held that
on 25th morning the accused returned one cup of tea by saying that his
companion had gone away that the accused also left on 26th morning after taking
tea. It also held that soon after the guest had left the room was locked by her
and it was opened on 27th morning when foul smell started coming out of it. On
the basis of the medical evidence the High Court held that the probable time of
death of the deceased was between 24th evening and 26th morning.
High Court then concluded that these circumstances were sufficient to prove
that it was the accused who had killed the deceased and was, therefore, guilty
for committing his murder.
counsel for the appellant has challenged the view taken by the High Court
firstly on the ground that the prosecution has failed to establish any motive
for the accused to commit the murder In support of his submission, the learned
counsel relied upon the decision of this Court in Surinder Pal Jain vs. Delhi
Administration, JT 1993 (2) SC 206, wherein it has been held that "in a
case based on circumstantial evidence, motive assumes pertinent significance as
existence of the motive is an enlightening factor in a process of presumptive
reasoning in such a case". This Court has further observed that "The
absence of motive, however, puts the Court on its guard to scrutinise the
circumstances more carefully to ensure that suspicion and conjecture of not
take place of legal proof". This Court has not held that in the absence of
any motive an accused cannot be convicted under Section 302 IPC. Therefore, the
contention raised by the learned counsel deserves to be rejected.
next contended by the learned counsel that there was no definite evidence to
establish that the deceased had died between the evening of 24th and the
morning of 26th.
submitted that the finding of the High Court that the death must have occurred
3 or 5 days prior to the performance of the postmortem examination is really a
conjuncture. He also submitted that the probable time of death has to be stablished
on the basis of expert evidence.
learned counsel supported his contention by citing the decision of this Court
in Gambhir vs. State of Maharashtra, 1982 (2) SCC 351. It is not
necessary to deal with that decision as in this case probable time of death of
the deceased was given by the factor who has performed the autopsy. The doctor
deposed that the death had occurred 3 or 4 days before the postmortem was
conducted. Thus, according to the medical evidence, the death had taken place
sometime between 24th and 26th December, 1981. Therefore, the second contention is also rejected.
next contended that the evidence of Satnam Kaur (PW-2) is not at all reliable and
trustworthy. There being sufficient accommodation in her house, there was no
need for her to go to neighbour's house and sleep there during those nights.
Her evidence that the accused and the deceased had come together stands
corroborated by the evidence of Musafir (PW-14) and also by the fact that the
dead body was found from her house. Her explanation that the accused being the
elder brother of her husband, she was afraid of him and as her husband was out
of the town, she had thought it fit to sleep at night at the neighbour's place,
can not be regarded as unbelievable. She was a young woman aged 28 years. She
was observing 'ghunghat'. Her husband was away on duty.
these circumstances her conduct cannot be held to be unnatural.
next contended that if really the deceased was killed on 24th or 25th then foul
smell would have started coming out much earlier and she would he come to know
it before 27th morning. This submission also deserves to be rejected. The
doctor has deposed that foul smell starts coming after about 18 to 36 hours
after the death. It was winter season and the dead body was inside the room.
the body might not have started giving out bad smell earlier than the morning
of 27th. It was further submitted that as Satnam Kaur had even her police
statement under a threat that if she did not give such a statement she would be
involved in the incident, no reliance whosoever should have been placed on her
evidence. It is difficult to appreciate how for this reason her evidence given
in the Court can be discarded. She being the wife of the younger brother of the
accused it was quite likely that she did not want to state in the Court all
that she had stated before the police and, therefore, deposed bout those facts
which she could not have denied.
opinion, the High Court was right in accepting her evidence and holding that
the accused and the deceased had come together to her house, had stayed
together in one room, that after 24th evening the deceased was not seen and
that the accused had left in the morning of 26th after closing the door f that
room. The accused had denied all these facts as false. As the accused had
falsely denied these facts the High Court was right in holding that it supplied
the missing link in the chain and that the chain of circumstances being
complete it was reasonable and safe to conclude that it was the accused who had
committed murder of the deceased. As we do not find any good reason to
therefore with the view taken by the High Court this appeal is dismissed.
appellant was on bail. He is directed to surrender to custody to serve out the
remaining part of the sentence.
does not surrender, the State shall take necessary steps for the said purpose.