Trimukh Maroti Kirkan Vs. State of Maharashtra  Insc 643 (11 October 2006)
Mathur & R.V. Raveendran G. P. Mathur, J.
Maroti Kirkan has filed this appeal against the judgment and order dated
27.7.2005 of Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court by which the appeal filed by
State of Maharashtra was allowed and the order dated 21.4.1997 passed by the
learned Additional Sessions Judge, Nanded was set aside and the appellant was
convicted under Section 302 IPC and was sentenced to imprisonment for life and
a fine of Rs.2,000/- and in default to undergo six months RI. By the same
judgment and order, the appeal filed by the appellant challenging his
conviction under Section 498-A IPC and the sentence of two years RI and a fine
of Rs.1,000/- and in default to undergo RI for three months was dismissed.
case of the prosecution, in brief, is that the deceased Revata @ Tai daughter
of Dattarao resident of village Umatwadi was married to the appellant Trimukh Maroti
Kirkan (for short 'Trimukh') nearly seven years before the incident which took
place on 4.11.1996 in village Kikki. Maroti Kamaji Kirkan (for short 'Maroti')
is the father and Nilawatibai Maroti Kirkan (for short 'Nilawati') is the
mother of the appellant Trimukh and they are residents of village Kikki. The
appellant who is the husband and Maroti and Nilawati used to ill-treat the
deceased Revata and used to harass her on account of non- payment of Rs.25,000/-
by her parents for the purpose of purchasing a tempo for the appellant. Whenever,
the deceased Revata came to her parental home, she used to disclose to her
family members the ill- treatment and harassment meted out to her. She came to
her parental home at the time of Panchami festival in the year 1996 and stayed
there for about 15 days. During this period also she disclosed that on account
of non-fulfilment of demand of Rs.25,000/- by her father, the appellant and her
in-laws (Maroti and Nilawati) used to harass her.
was often beaten and was not provided food. After the Panchami festival, the
father of Revata took her to the appellant's house in village Kikki and
requested the appellant and her in-laws not to ill- treat her. He, however,
told them that he is not in a position to fulfil their demand of Rs.25,000/- on
account of his weak financial condition. A few months thereafter, Dattarao
received information from a person of village Kikki that Revata had died due to
was also given by the Police Patil of the village to P.S. Nanded (Rural) that Revata
had died due to snake bite and on the basis of this information, a case as A.D.
No.42 of 1996 was registered in accordance with Section 174 Cr.P.C. at the
ASI and some police personnel went to the village, held inquest over the dead
body and after preparing the spot panchnama sent the same for post-mortem
examination. The appellant Trimukh himself showed the place of incident where
the victim had been allegedly bitten by snake and had died. The post-mortem
examination conducted on the body of Revata disclosed that she had died due to
asphyxia as a result of compression of neck. Dattarao, father of the deceased
then lodged an FIR of the incident at 4.30 p.m. on 5.11.1990 at the police station and a case was then registered under
Section 302 IPC. During the course of investigation, the police recorded
statements of some witnesses. The appellant was arrested and while in custody
he made a disclosure statement on the basis of which some recoveries were made.
After completion of investigation, chargesheet was submitted against three
persons, viz., the appellant Trimukh and his parents, viz., Maroti and Nilawati.
learned Sessions Judge, Nanded framed charges under Section 498-A IPC against
all the three accused and also under Section 302 IPC against appellant Trimukh.
The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried. In order to establish
its case the prosecution examined 14 witnesses and filed some documentary
evidence. The accused in their statement denied the prosecution case and stated
that Revata had died on account of snake bite. The learned Sessions Judge
convicted all the three accused under Section 498-A read with Section 34 IPC
and sentenced them to two years RI and a fine of Rs.1,000/- and in default to
undergo RI for three months. The appellant was, however, acquitted of the
charge under Section 302 IPC. All the three accused preferred Criminal Appeal
No.158 of 1997 before the High Court challenging their conviction and sentence
under Section 498-A IPC read with Section 34 IPC while the State of Maharahstra preferred Criminal Appeal No.220 of
1997 challenging the acquittal of Trimukh under Section 302 IPC. The High Court
allowed the appeal preferred by Maroti and Nilawati accused and their
conviction under Section 498-A IPC was set aside and the appeal preferred by
the appellant was dismissed. The appeal preferred by the State of Maharashtra
was allowed and the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC and was
sentenced to imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs.2,000/- and in default to
further undergo six months RI. Both the sentences were ordered to run
Since the present appeal has been filed under Section 2(a) of the Supreme Court
(Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 1970 and the High Court
has reversed the order of acquittal and has convicted the appellant under
Section 302 IPC, it will be appropriate to briefly consider the evidence on
record. PW1. Dattarao is the father and PW.2 Rukmabai is the mother of the
deceased Revata and they are residents of village Umatwadi. Both of them have
deposed that the marriage of the deceased with the appellant took place nearly
7 years back in which they had given Rs.20,000/- in cash besides clothes and
utensils. Whenever deceased came to her parental home, she used to complain
that she was being harassed and ill-treated on account of demand of money. They
have further deposed that last time the deceased came to their house on the
occasion of Panchami festival when she told them that the appellant wanted to
purchase a tempo and, therefore, her in-laws and also the appellant were asking
her to get Rs.25,000/- from her parents. The deceased also informed that
occasionally she was not provided food and was beaten on account of
non-fulfillment of the demand of Rs.25,000/-. They have further deposed that
the deceased stayed with them for about 15 days and thereafter PW.1 Dattarao
escorted her to her matrimonial home and informed her in-laws that he was not
in a position to give Rs.25,000/- and further requested them not to ill-treat
her. A few days before the Diwali festival a person came from village Kikki and
informed that Revata had died on account of snake bite. Thereafter, PW.1, PW.2
and their sons and two daughters-in-law went to village Kikki which is about 25
kilometers from their village Umatwadi. On reaching there they saw that the
body of Revata had been placed in a sitting posture with her back resting on
the wall and a strip of cloth had been tied along her mouth. PW.1 has further
deposed that subsequently he lodged an FIR on 5.11.1996 at the police station.
a suggestion was given to both the witnesses that the marriage of the deceased
had taken place about 10 years back, but both of them specifically denied and
stated that the marriage had taken place 5-6 years back. PW.1 has further
deposed that he removed the cloth which was tied along the mouth of the
deceased and noticed marks of injury around the neck and cheek and there were
no bangles on her hands. PW.3 Balasaheb, who is cousin of PW.1 and is resident
of village Umatwadi, has deposed that whenever Revata came to her parental
home, she always came to his house as well. She used to narrate about the
ill-treatment meted out to her by the appellant and her in-laws as they were
demanding an amount of Rs.25,000/- for purchasing a tempo for the appellant. He
has further deposed that in the evening of 4.11.1996 two persons from village Kikki
came to his village and informed PW.1 and others that Revata had died on
account of snake bite. The witness has further deposed that next day in the
morning he went to village Kikki along with several other persons of his
village and saw the body of the deceased. There were injury marks around the
neck, cheek, hand and other parts of the body.
is another cousin of PW.1 and is resident of the same village Umatwadi. His
statement is almost similar to that of PW.3 Balasaheb. PW.5 Girjabai is a
resident of village Kikki and her house is very close to the house of the
accused in the same village. She has deposed that the deceased Revata used to
visit her and she had often told her that on account of non-fulfilment of
demand of money by her parents, she was being ill-treated by her in-laws and
husband (appellant). She has further deposed that she used to console the
deceased and tell her that the ill-treatment being meted out to her would
gradually stop. She has further stated that at about 3-3.15 p.m.
date of the incident she was informed that Maroti's daughter- in-law had died
due to snake bite. She immediately rushed to the house of Maroti and saw the
body of the deceased. There were marks of injury on the neck and cheek and
there were no bangles on her hands. This witness is no doubt distantly related
to the deceased as her husband's mother is sister of PW.2 but nothing material
has come out in her cross-examination which may discredit her testimony
regarding the demand of Rs.25,000/- by the appellant and his parents and also
the ill-treatment being meted out to the deceased. It was suggested to her in
her cross-examination that the deceased was suffering from T.B. and asthma and
also that she used to have occasional chest pain but it was emphatically denied
PW.8 Madhvrao is the real brother of accused Maroti and the appellant is his
nephew. In his examination-in-chief he stated that he did not know how Revata
had died and he had not witnessed any incident. The witness was declared as
hostile and in his cross- examination by State counsel he admitted that the
appellant Trimukh used to ply a tempo. PW.6 Maroti son of Ramrao Telange and
PW.7 Venkat, both residents of village Kikki, have deposed that while in the
custody of the police the appellant said that he would show the spot where the
incident had taken place. Thereafter he had taken the police party and the
witnesses to the field of his father Maroti and on his pointing out a pair of
ladies chappal, broken pieces of bangles and a sickle lying there were
recovered and the appellant had further said that the ladies chappal belonged
to his wife. The aforesaid articles were taken into possession by the Police
Inspector and a panchnama was prepared which was signed by them. PW.7 has
further deposed that on the pointing out of the appellant his shoe was
recovered which was taken in possession by the police and panchnama was drawn
on which he has put his signature. PW.9 Digamber who was a witness of inquest
turned hostile, but in his cross-examination he stated that he went to the
house of accused Maroti at about 9.00 a.m. and had seen the body of the
deceased with a piece of cloth tied around her mouth.
further admitted that when the police was recording the panchnama, he had said
that there was no mark of snake bite on the body of the deceased and that he
had put his signature on the inquest panchnama. PW.11 Vilas and PW.12 Nilawati
whose agricultural land is situate near the agricultural land of Maroti accused
turned hostile. PW.13 Digamber son of Madhavrao who is also a resident of
village Kikki, also turned hostile. However, he admitted that he had heard that
Revata had died due to snake bite and further that a tempo is owned by Maroti
which is plied by the appellant Trimukh.
PW.14 Devichand, Assistant Sub Inspector of Police, P.S. Nanded (Rural) has
deposed that on the basis of the information given by the Police Patil, an
Accidental Death Case was registered at 12.30 p.m. on 5.11.1996 at the police station and he was entrusted with the
inquiry of the same. He came to the village Kikki, held inquest on the body of
the deceased and sent the same for post-mortem examination.
prepared the panchnama which was signed by the witnesses.
the report of the post-mortem examination had been received and the FIR had
been lodged by PW.1 Dattarao at 4.30 p.m. on 5.1.1996, a case was registered under Section 302 IPC. He had
arrested the appellant and while he was in custody some recoveries were made
regarding which a panchnama was prepared and was signed by the witnesses. He
has further deposed that he asked the appellant Trimukh as to how the incident
took place and then he had shown the scene of offence in a field and on his
pointing out he had recovered a pair of ladies chappal, pieces of bangles and a
sickle from the spot. In his cross-examination PW.14 has stated that when he
had reached the hose of accused Maroti in village Kikki after registration of
an Accidental Death Case, he had found the body of the deceased inside a room
in a sitting posture with her back taking support from the wall.
PW.10 Dr. Hanumant Vasantrao Godbole conducted post- mortem examination on the
body of the deceased Revata between 2.00 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. on 5.11.1996 and found the following ante mortem injuries
on her person :-
Swelling of left cheek seen (contusion). Abrasion of about 1.5 c.m. diameter
seen over left cheek, lower aspect near angle of mandible, reddish.
Abrasion of 1.5 x 1 c.m. over right zygomatic region of face reddish.
Five abrasions over left shoulder over superior and middle aspect, size ranging
from 0.5 x 1.5 x .5-1 c.m.
Contusion over chin, inferior aspect, 4 x 3 c.m. reddish- bluish.
Abrasion over right shoulder, medial most aspect, 2 x 1 c.m. reddish.
Contusion over cheek (left) lateral to chin, 2 x 2 c.m., reddish bluish.
Abrasion over left side of neck, upper most aspect, 3 c.m.
and just above in relation with injury no.1 in this column, reddish, 1 x 0.5 c.m.
Abrasion over right shoulder, 1.5 c.m. posterior to injury no.5, 3 x 2 c.m.
Irregular large abrasion over neck, anteriorly involving upper and lower
aspect, and extending to right side, reddish graze-type, on lower aspect
involving sternoclavicular joints, upper aspect anteriorly (in the middle) from
above thyrid cartilage. Dimension 7 c.m.
cartilage, about 4.5 c.m. below thyrid cartilage, maximum width over lower most
aspect of neck, near sternoclavicular joints. At few places abrasion, dark
brown colour, intermingled with reddish areas. (Suggestive of multiple
irregular abrasion intermingling with each other).
internal examination revealed the following injuries :-
Contusion under scalp left temporal area, 4 x 4 c.m. reddish, swollen,
occipital areas 7 x 5 c.m., reddish swollen.
dissection of neck, about whole of the anterior and lateral aspect of neck
(structures i.e. subcutaneous tissue muscles) showed infiltration of blood
(ecchymosed). Ecchymoses also seen at sternoclavicular joint, upper part of
sternum. No evidence of fracture of hyoid bone/thyrid cartilage or ribs. Lymps
nodes in neck region-congested. Thyroid cartilage and trachea showed reddish
patches of haemorrhage externally and on opening.
witness has opined that the death was caused due to asphyxia as a result of
compression of neck. He deposed that the general and specific chemical testing
did not reveal any poison and had there been a snake bite then poison would
have appeared in the blood. He further deposed that the injuries present on the
neck of the deceased could be caused if the throat is pressed with a shoe with
force and the victim is pulled at the opposite direction by holding her hands.
accused did not examine any witness in their defence.
accused admitted in reply to question no.14 that the dead body was kept resting
in sitting position and a strip of cloth was tied to the mouth.
From the evidence adduced by the prosecution the following circumstances are
marriage of Revata with the appellant Trimukh had taken place about 5-6 years
appellant Trimukh used to ply a tempo.
There was a demand of Rs.25,000/- by the appellant and his parents from the
parents of the deceased. The deceased was being ill-treated and was
occasionally not given food on account of the fact that the demand of money had
not been met.
The deceased had told her parents about the fact that she was being ill-treated
and occasionally she was not given food, whenever she visited her parental home
and last time on the occasion of Panchami festival. She had also told about the
said fact to her neighbour PW.5 Girjabai of village Kikki.
After the death of Revata the appellant and his parents informed some persons
in the village as also the family members of the deceased that she had died on
account of snake bite.
When PW.1, PW.2, PW.3 and PW.4 reached the house of the accused in village Kikki,
they found the body of the deceased in a sitting posture with her back taking
support from the wall.
Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police also found the body in the same position.
The post-mortem examination revealed that Revata had died due to asphyxia as a
result of strangulation and not on account of snake bite.
Certain recoveries like chappal of the deceased, broken pieces of bangles were
made at the pointing out of the appellant. A shoe was also recovered at his
the case in hand there is no eye-witness of the occurrence and the case of the
prosecution rests on circumstantial evidence. The normal principle in a case
based on circumstantial evidence is that the circumstances from which an
inference of guilt is sought to be drawn must be cogently and firmly
established; that those circumstances should be of a definite tendency
unerringly pointing towards the guilt of the accused; that 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 they should be incapable of explanation on any hypothesis other
than that of the guilt of the accused and inconsistent with his innocence.
The demand for dowry or money from the parents of the bride has shown a
phenomenal increase in last few years. Cases are frequently coming before the
Courts, where the husband or in-laws have gone to the extent of killing the
bride if the demand is not met.
crimes are generally committed in complete secrecy inside the house and it
becomes very difficult for the prosecution to lead evidence. No member of the
family, even if he is a witness of the crime, would come forward to depose
against another family member.
whose evidence may be of some assistance, are generally reluctant to depose in
Court as they want to keep aloof and do not want to antagonize a neighbourhood
family. The parents or other family members of the bride being away from the
scene of commission of crime are not in a position to give direct evidence
which may inculpate the real accused except regarding the demand of money or
dowry and harassment caused to the bride. But, it does not mean that a crime
committed in secrecy or inside the house should go unpunished.
an offence takes place inside the privacy of a house and in such circumstances
where the assailants have all the opportunity to plan and commit the offence at
the time and in circumstances of their choice, it will be extremely difficult
for the prosecution to lead evidence to establish the guilt of the accused if
the strict principle of circumstantial evidence, as noticed above, is insisted
upon by the Courts. A Judge does not preside over a criminal trial merely to
see that no innocent man is punished. A Judge also presides to see that a
guilty man does not escape. Both are public duties. (See Stirland v.
of Public Prosecution 1944 AC 315 quoted with approval by Arijit Pasayat, J.
in State of Punjab vs. Karnail Singh (2003) 11 SCC 271). The law does not
enjoin a duty on the prosecution to lead evidence of such character which is
almost impossible to be led or at any rate extremely difficult to be led. The
duty on the prosecution is to lead such evidence which it is capable of
leading, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case. Here it is
necessary to keep in mind Section 106 of the Evidence Act which says that when
any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of
proving that fact is upon him. Illustration (b) appended to this section throws
some light on the content and scope of this provision and it reads:
is charged with traveling on a railway without ticket. The burden of proving
that he had a ticket is on him." Where an offence like murder is committed
in secrecy inside a house, the initial burden to establish the case would
undoubtedly be upon the prosecution, but the nature and amount of evidence to
be led by it to establish the charge cannot be of the same degree as is
required in other cases of circumstantial evidence. The burden would be of a
comparatively lighter character. In view of Section 106 of the Evidence Act
there will be a corresponding burden on the inmates of the house to give a
cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed. The inmates of the house
cannot get away by simply keeping quiet and offering no explanation on the
supposed premise that the burden to establish its case lies entirely upon the
prosecution and there is no duty at all on an accused to offer any explanation.
somewhat similar question was examined by this Court in connection with Section
167 and 178-A of the Sea Customs Act in Collector of Customs, Madras & Ors.
v. D. Bhoormull AIR 1974 SC 859 and it will be apt to reproduce paras 30 to 32
of the reports which are as under :
cannot be disputed that in proceedings for imposing penalties under Clause (8)
of Section 167 to which Section 178-A does not apply, the burden of proving
that the goods are smuggled goods, is on the Department.
is a fundamental rule relating to proof in all criminal or quasi-criminal
proceedings, where there is no statutory provision to the contrary. But in
appreciating its scope and the nature of the onus cast by it, we must pay due
regard to other kindred principles, no less fundamental, of universal
application. One of them is that the prosecution or the Department is not
required to prove its case with mathematical precision to a demonstrable
degree; for, in all human affairs absolute certainty is a myth, and as Prof.
Brett felicitously puts it - ''all exactness is a fake". El Dorado of absolute proof being
unattainable, the law, accepts for it, probability as a working substitute in
this work-a-day world. The law does not require the prosecution to prove the
that it requires is the establishment of such a degree of probability that a
prudent man may, on its basis, believe in the existence of the fact in issue.
Thus, legal proof is not necessarily perfect proof; often it is nothing more
than a prudent man's estimate as to the probabilities of the case.
The other cardinal principle having an important bearing on the incidence of
burden of proof is that sufficiency and weight of the evidence is to be
considered - to use the words of Lord Mansfield in Blatch v. Archer (1774) 1 Cowp.
63 at p.65 "according to the proof which it was in the power of one side to
prove, and in the power of the other to have contradicted". Since it is
exceedingly difficult, if not absolutely impossible for the prosecution to
prove facts which are especially within the knowledge of the opponent or the
accused, it is not obliged to prove them as part of its primary burden.
Smuggling is clandestine conveying of goods to avoid legal duties. Secrecy and
stealth being its covering guards, it is impossible for the Preventive
Department to unravel every link of the process. Many facts relating to this
illicit business remain in the special or peculiar knowledge of the person
concerned in it. On the principle underlying Section 106, Evidence Act, the
burden to establish those facts is cast on the person concerned; and if he
falls to establish or explain those facts, an adverse inference of facts may
arise against him, which coupled with the presumptive evidence adduced by the
prosecution or the Department would rebut the initial presumption of innocence
in favour of that person, and in the result prove him guilty. As pointed out by
Best in 'Law of Evidence', (12th Edn. Article 320, page 291), the
"presumption of innocence is, no doubt, presumptio juris;
every day's practice shows that it may be successfully encountered by the
presumption of guilt arising from the recent (unexplained) possession of stolen
property", though the latter is only a presumption of fact. Thus the
burden on the prosecution or the Department may be considerably lightened even
by such presumption of fact arising in their favour. However, this does not
mean that the special or peculiar knowledge of the person proceeded against
will relieve the prosecution or the Department altogether of the burden of
producing some evidence in respect of that fact in issue. It will only
alleviate that burden to discharge which very slight evidence may suffice.
supplied) The aforesaid principle has been approved and followed in Balram
Prasad Agrawal v. State of Bihar & Ors. AIR 1997 SC 1830 where a married
woman had committed suicide on account of ill- treatment meted out to her by
her husband and in-laws on account of demand of dowry and being issueless.
The question of burden of proof where some facts are within the personal
knowledge of the accused was examined in State of West Bengal v. Mir Mohammad Omar & Ors. (2000)
8 SCC 382. In this case the assailants forcibly dragged the deceased Mahesh
from the house where he was taking shelter on account of the fear of the
accused and took him away at about 2.30 in the night. Next day in the morning
his mangled body was found lying in the hospital. The trial Court convicted the
accused under Section 364 read with Section 34 IPC and sentenced them to 10
years RI. The accused preferred an appeal against their conviction before the
High Court and the State also filed an appeal challenging the acquittal of the
accused for murder charge. The accused had not given any explanation as to what
happened to Mahesh after he was abducted by them. The learned Sessions Judge
after referring to the law on circumstantial evidence had observed that there
was a missing link in the chain of evidence after the deceased was last seen
together with the accused persons and the discovery of the dead body in the
hospital and had concluded that the prosecution had failed to establish the
charge of murder against the accused persons beyond any reasonable doubt. This
Court took note of the provisions of Section 106 of the Evidence Act and laid
down the following principle in paras 31 to 34 of the reports :
The pristine rule that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the
guilt of the accused should not be taken as a fossilised doctrine as though it
admits no process of intelligent reasoning. The doctrine of presumption is not
alien to the above rule, nor would it impair the temper of the rule. On the
other hand, if the traditional rule relating to burden of proof of the
prosecution is allowed to be wrapped in pedantic coverage, the offenders in
serious offences would be the major beneficiaries and the society would be the
this case, when the prosecution succeeded in establishing the afore-narrated
circumstances, the court has to presume the existence of certain facts.
is a course recognised by the law for the court to rely on in conditions such
Presumption of fact is an inference as to the existence of one fact from the
existence of some other facts, unless the truth of such inference is disproved.
of fact is a rule in law of evidence that a fact otherwise doubtful may be
inferred from certain other proved facts. When inferring the existence of a
fact from other set of proved facts, the court exercises a process of reasoning
and reaches a logical conclusion as the most probable position. The above
principle has gained legislative recognition in India when Section 114 is incorporated in the Evidence Act. It
empowers the court to presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely
to have happened. In that process the court shall have regard to the common
course of natural events, human conduct etc. in relation to the facts of the
When it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that Mahesh was abducted by
the accused and they took him out of that area, the accused alone knew what
happened to him until he was with them. If he was found murdered within a short
time after the abduction the permitted reasoning process would enable the court
to draw the presumption that the accused have murdered him. Such inference can
be disrupted if the accused would tell the court what else happened to Mahesh
at least until he was in their custody." Applying the aforesaid principle,
this Court while maintaining the conviction under Section 364 read with Section
34 IPC reversed the order of acquittal under Section 302 read with Section 34
IPC and convicted the accused under the said provision and sentenced them to
imprisonment for life.
Ram Gulam Chaudhary & Ors. v. Sate of Bihar (2001) 8 SCC 311, the accused
after brutally assaulting a boy carried him away and thereafter the boy was not
seen alive nor his body was found. The accused, however, offered no explanation
as to what they did after they took away the boy. It was held that for the
absence of any explanation from the side of the accused about the boy, there
was every justification for drawing an inference that they have murdered the
boy. It was further observed that even though Section 106 of the Evidence Act
may not be intended to relieve the prosecution of its burden to prove the guilt
of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, but the section would apply to cases
like the present, where the prosecution has succeeded in proving facts from
which a reasonable inference can be drawn regarding death. The accused by
virtue of their special knowledge must offer an explanation which might lead
the Court to draw a different inference.
a case based on circumstantial evidence where no eye- witness account is
available, there is another principle of law which must be kept in mind. The principle
is that when an incriminating circumstance is put to the accused and the said
accused either offers no explanation or offers an explanation which is found to
be untrue, then the same becomes an additional link in the chain of
circumstances to make it complete. This view has been taken in a catena of
decisions of this Court. [See State of Tamil Nadu v. Rajendran (1999) 8 SCC 679 (para 6); State of U.P. v. Dr. Ravindra Prakash
Mittal AIR 1992 SC 2045 (para 40); State of Maharashtra v. Suresh (2000) 1 SCC 471 (para 27); Ganesh Lal v. State of Rajasthan (2002) 1 SCC 731 (para 15) and Gulab
Chand v. State of M.P. (1995) 3 SCC 574 (para 4)].
Where an accused is alleged to have committed the murder of his wife and the
prosecution succeeds in leading evidence to show that shortly before the
commission of crime they were seen together or the offence takes placed in the
dwelling home where the husband also normally resided, it has been consistently
held that if the accused does not offer any explanation how the wife received
injuries or offers an explanation which is found to be false, it is a strong
circumstance which indicates that he is responsible for commission of the
crime. In Nika Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh AIR 1972 SC 2077 it was
observed that the fact that the accused alone was with his wife in the house
when she was murdered there with 'khokhri' and the fact that the relations of
the accused with her were strained would, in the absence of any cogent
explanation by him, point to his guilt. In Ganeshlal v. State of Maharashtra (1992) 3 SCC 106 the appellant was
prosecuted for the murder of his wife which took place inside his house. It was
observed that when the death had occurred in his custody, the appellant is
under an obligation to give a plausible explanation for the cause of her death
in his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. The mere denial of the prosecution
case coupled with absence of any explanation were held to be inconsistent with
the innocence of the accused, but consistent with the hypothesis that the
appellant is a prime accused in the commission of murder of his wife.
State of U.P. v. Dr. Ravindra Prakash Mittal AIR
1992 SC 2045 the medical evidence disclosed that the wife died of strangulation
during late night hours or early morning and her body was set on fire after
sprinkling kerosene. The defence of the husband was that wife had committed
suicide by burning herself and that he was not at home at that time. The
letters written by the wife to her relatives showed that the husband
ill-treated her and their relations were strained and further the evidence
showed that both of them were in one room in the night.
held that the chain of circumstances was complete and it was the husband who
committed the murder of his wife by strangulation and accordingly this Court
reversed the judgment of the High Court acquitting the accused and convicted
him under Section 302 IPC. In State of Tamil Nadu v. Rajendran (1999) 8 SCC 679 the wife was found dead in a hut which
had caught fire. The evidence showed that the accused and his wife were seen
together in the hut at about 9.00 p.m. and
the accused came out in the morning through the roof when the hut had caught
fire. His explanation was that it was a case of accidental fire which resulted
in the death of his wife and a daughter.
medical evidence showed that the wife died due to asphyxia as a result of
strangulation and not on account of burn injuries. It was held that there
cannot be any hesitation to come to the conclusion that it was the accused
(husband) who was the perpetrator of the crime.
the earlier part of the judgment we have given a resume of the evidence which
is available on record. The appellant was plying a tempo in order to earn his
livelihood. It is fully established that the deceased Revata was being
ill-treated and harassed on account of non- fulfilment of demand of Rs.25,000/-
which the appellant wanted for purchasing a tempo. The deceased Revata was
often beaten and was sometimes not given food. After Revata had been murdered,
information was sent to her parents that she had died on account of snake bite,
which was reiterated when they reached the house of the appellant in village Kikki.
In fact, everyone in the village had been told that Revata had died on account
of snake bite and the Police Patil, believing the said information to be true,
had lodged an Accidental Death Report at the police station. The medical
evidence, however, showed that she had died on account of asphyxia due to
of the deceased was purposely placed in a sitting posture with her back taking
support of the wall so that no one may suspect that she had actually been
killed as a result of strangulation and may believe the version of snake bite
given by the appellant and his parents. The appellant in his statement under
Section 313 Cr.P.C. did not offer any explanation as to how she received the
injuries which were found on her body. Recovery of some articles of the
deceased was made at the pointing out of the appellant. The circumstances
enumerated above unerringly point to the guilt of the accused and they are
inconsistent with his innocence.
The High Court was, therefore, perfectly right in allowing the appeal filed by
the State and in convicting the appellant under Section 302 IPC and sentencing
him thereunder. We, therefore, do not find any merit in the appeal, which is