Patil Vs. State of Maharashtra  Insc 384 (6 May 2004)
Raju & Arijit Pasayat. Arijit Pasayat, J.
(also described as accused) calls in question legality of the judgment rendered
by a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court holding the appellant guilty for
the offence punishable under Sections 302 and 404 of the Indian Penal Code 1860
(in short 'the IPC') by reversing the judgment of acquittal rendered by the
Trial Court. Sentence of imprisonment of life and two years respectively were
imposed for the aforesaid two offences.
facts which led to trial of the accused are as follows:
(hereinafter referred to as the 'deceased') was the first wife of the accused.
Since her relationship with the accused and her in-laws was strained she along
with her 3 daughters Suvarana (PW-2), Vanita (PW-4) and Vaishali and a son
Vijay stayed separately in village Sangli. In the said village in another
house, accused along with his second wife Sushila, his parents and three
17.9.1983, the accused came to deceased's house.
about 11.00 a.m. a quarrel between him and Suman
took place. The same was seen by Vanita (PW-4). Thereafter at about 3.00 p.m. the same day, deceased went along with the accused who
was having a sickle and a rope to bring fodder. In the evening, the accused
returned alone to the house and told Vanita (PW-4) that deceased had gone to Nagaon
Kavathe. The same evening at about 8.00 p.m. the accused went to the house of one Yeshwant Pandurang Jadhav (PW-6)
and confessed to him that he had murdered his wife. Later around 1.00 to 1.30
a.m. he went to the house of the police Patil, Bhagwan Vithoba Patil (PW-5) and
also confessed before him that he murdered his wife and had thrown the corpse
into a well. Both Yeshwani Jadhav and Bhagwan Patil are said to have asked the
accused to report the matter to the police. In the morning Bhagwan Patil along
with village Kotwal and some others went to the well situated in the field of Bhimrao
Kadam and found the corpse of Suman floating on the water inside it. He asked
the village Kotwal to guard it and himself proceeded to police station Tasgaon
with the accused. On 18.9.1983 at about 10.30 a.m. the accused went to Tasgaon Police Station and gave information that
his wife Suman accidentally died and her corpse was floating in the well
situated in the land of one Bhimrao Kadam. On the said report (Ex. 29) a case
of accidental death was registered and investigation was undertaken. During
investigation, several materials were collected and the charge sheet was filed.
order to further its accusations, during trial prosecution placed reliance on
the evidence tendered by ten witnesses. The accused pleaded innocence. Since
there was no eye witnesses to the occurrence, prosecution relied on following
circumstances in support of its case. They are as follows:
Conduct of the respondent immediately before and after the incident;
Extra judicial confession;
Discovery of blood stained articles and mangalsutra in the pointing out of the
Finding of the blood in the nail cuttings of the respondent.
Trial Court by a cryptic order held that the circumstances were not
substantially established and, therefore, directed acquittal.
State of Maharashtra questioned correctness of the said
judgment. By the impugned judgment the High Court held that there was no proper
application of mind and that erroneous conclusions have been arrived at by the
trial court. Accordingly the conviction was made and sentence imposed as
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the accused submitted that the Trial
Court had analysed the factual position and the evidence on record in detail.
being conscious of the fact that the appeal was against the judgment of
acquittal, the High Court placed reliance on unimportant aspects and reversed
the finding of acquittal. It was pointed out that the alleged extra judicial
confessions were not admissible in law and the conduct of accused or recoveries
of articles or finding of blood on the nail clippings of the accused on which
the High Court has placed strong reliance are really of no circumstance.
response, learned counsel for the State submitted that the High Court has elaborately
detailed as to why it felt the conclusions of the Trial Court to be erroneous.
No infirmity in the conclusions has been pointed out.
analysing factual aspects it may be stated that for a crime to be proved it is
not necessary that the crime must be seen to have been committed and must, in
all circumstances be proved by direct ocular evidence by examining before the
Court those persons who had seen its commission. The offence can be proved by
circumstantial evidence also. The principal fact or factum probandum may be
proved indirectly by means of certain inferences drawn from factum probans,
that is, the evidentiary facts. To put it differently, circumstantial evidence
is not direct to the point in issue but consists of evidence of various other
facts which are so closely associated with the fact in issue which taken
together they form a chain of circumstances from which the existence of the
principal fact can be legally inferred or presumed.
been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely on
circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all
the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the
innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh v.
State of Rajasthan (AIR 1977 SC 1063), Eradu v. State of Hyderabad (AIR 1956 SC 316), Earabhadrappa v.
State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446), State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi (AIR 1985 SC 1224), Balwinder Singh v.
State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350) and Ashok Kumar Chatterjee
v. State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890). The
circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn
have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely
connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those
circumstances. In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR 1954 SC 621) it was laid down that where the case depends upon the
conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances
must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring home the
offences beyond any reasonable doubt.
also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy v. State
of A.P. (1996 (10) SCC 193), wherein it has
been observed thus :
In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the
circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully
proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the
circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain
of evidence. Further, the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the
hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his
Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. (AIR 1990 SC 79) it was laid down
that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy
the following tests:
circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be
cogently and firmly established;
circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards
guilt of the accused;
the circumstances, taken cumulatively, should form a chain so complete that
there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the
crime was committed by the accused and none else; and
circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and
incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of guilt of the
accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the
accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence."
State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava (1992 Crl. LJ 1104) it was pointed out
that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the
evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour
of the accused must be accepted. It was also pointed out that the circumstances
relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative
effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the
hypothesis of guilt.
Alfred Wills in his admirable book `Wills' Circumstantial Evidence' (Chapter
VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of
facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and
beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum;
burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact,
which infers legal accountability;
all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must
be adduced which the nature of the case admits;
order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be
incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation,
upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt; and
there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of
right to be acquitted.
is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but
it should be tested by the touchstone of law relating to circumstantial
evidence laid down by this Court as far back as in 1952.
Govind Nargundkar v. State of M.P. (AIR 1952
SC 343) it was observed thus:
is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial
nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn
should be in the first instance be fully established, and all the facts so
established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the
accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency
and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to
be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as
not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the
innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human
probability the act must have been done by the accused." A reference may
be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while
dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that the onus was on the
prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in
the prosecution cannot be cured by a false defence or plea. The conditions
precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on
circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are :
circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully
established. The circumstances concerned must or should and not may be
facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt
of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other
hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;
circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;
should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and
must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground
for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show
that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.
rightly contended by learned counsel for the State that the Trial Court had
proceeded in the matter rather casually and there was no proper application of
mind or even discussions regarding all the relevant evidence on record. Since
the Trial Court had failed to properly analyse the evidence, the High Court was
duty bound to examine the matter in greater detail and to record its
conclusions. It is true that when on the evidence brought on record two views
are possible and the Court has taken a view which is possible interference by
the Appellate Court would not be proper.
where the consideration reflects total non- application of mind, interference
is not only desirable but proper. We find that extra judicial confession which
was claimed to be before PWs 5 and 6, was unjustifiably discarded by the Trial
Court. The evidence of PW-6 was discarded on the ground that he was not very
close to the accused and not a person on whom the accused could repose
confidence. It is brought on record that the accused and PW-6 were in fact at
earlier point of time classmates and schoolmates. They also used to live close
to each other. Obviously, it is not impossible that the accused could repose
confidence on him. The extra judicial confession before PW-6 was clear, cogent
and appears to have been made in the normal course without any pressure. The
conduct of the accused after the incident and discovery of blood stained
articles and the mangalsutra have been established by tendering cogent
evidence. The presence of blood in the nail clippings of the accused was also a
noted by this Court in Dayanidhi Bisoi v. State of Orissa (2003 (9) SCC 310),
the presence of blood in the nail clipping may not be sufficient by itself to
fasten guilt on the accused; but when it is considered with other evidence and
found acceptable can provide additional weightage to the prosecution case. The
Trial Court did not seem to consider objectively the evidence in the right
perspective and had merely on surmises and conjectures, without proper
application of mind directed acquittal. The High Court analysed the evidence in
greater detail and exhaustively having regard to the perfunctory manner of
consideration undertaken by the trial Court. We find no infirmity in the
reasoning indicated by the High Court to discard the view of the trial Court.
The disclosure made in the post mortem examination as to the nature of injuries
found on the body of the deceased- head, knee joints etc., would belie the
claim of drowning or death by suicide. The cause of death as per medical
opinion was stated to be "shock due to big sub-dural hematoma of fracture
of base of the skull". Any affirmance of the judgment of the trial Court
in this case, by the first appellate Court would have resulted in grave
miscarriage of justice.
judgment of the High Court though one of reversal was well merited supported by
sound reasons and based on overwhelming evidence and therefore does not warrant
interference. Appeal is accordingly dismissed. The bail bonds of the accused
are cancelled and he shall surrender to custody to serve remainder of sentence.