Aniruddha Singh & Ors Vs. State of M.P  INSC 948 (16 May 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1163 OF 2006 Aniruddha
Singh & Ors. .....Appellant(s) Versus State of M.P. ....Respondent (s)
HARJIT SINGH BEDI, J.
1. This appeal by special arises
out of the following facts.
2. On 1st August, 1991 at about
6.00 p.m. Dharmendra Singh PW 2 and Rajendra Singh, Bhawar Singh, Ram Chandra
Singh, Mandatar Singh, Mahendra Singh and Krishna Kunwar Bai and her husband
Dhyanpal Singh deceased having taken their buffaloes for grazing were returning
to the village. As they reached near the field 2 known as `Goyrawali Beed', the
accused armed with Dhariyas, Farsis, Swords, and lathies surrounded them.
Anirudha Singh Patwari exhorted
the other accused to kill Dhyanpal Singh and on his exhortation, Pradyumna
Singh inflicted an injury with his sword on Dhyanpal Singh and Narendra Singh
(since acquitted) caused a Dharia blow on his person whereas Anand Singh caused
an injury with a Farsi whereas all the other accused Surendra Singh, Balram
Singh, Manohar Singh, Pratap Singh, Krishna Singh caused injuries with lathies.
Dhyanpal Singh fell on the ground
bleeding profusely. At that moment his son, PW 2 Dharmendra Singh, and one PW
14 Poona Balai also reached the spot and on account of the noise raised by them
PW 5 Mandatar Singh and Gopal Singh also rushed that side. Dhyanpal Singh was
taken in a tractor belonging to PW 11 Mahendra Singh towards the hospital but
he succumbed on the way. PW 1 Krishna Kunwar Bai, the wife of the deceased,
thereupon went on to the Police Station along with her son Dharmendra Singh and
lodged the First Information 3 Report at 8.45 p.m. The police then reached the
place of occurrence and made the necessary inquiries. The Trial Court found
that Anand Singh, one of the accused was a Juvenile and his case was
accordingly transferred to the Juvenile Court whereas the other accused were
brought to trial. The Trial Court examined the evidence in extenso and observed
that both the parties i.e. accused as well as the victims were very close
relations of each other, Dhyanpal Singh deceased being the real brother of
accused Aniruddha Singh. The Trial Court then assessed the prosecution evidence
and observed that there was no reason to disbelieve the four eye witnesses who
had supported the prosecution version and that their evidence was also
corroborated by the medical evidence inasmuch as the injuries found on the dead
body could have been caused with the weapons allegedly used by the accused. The
Trial Court further observed that as the enmity between the parties appeared to
have been long festering as the dispute with regard to the two bighas of land
which Dhaynpal Singh claimed as his own 4 but was disputed by his brother and
nephew, it was appropriate that an assessment be made with regard to the
involvement of each of the accused. The Trial Court, thereafter, on a minute
examination, held that as the four eye witnesses were not unanimous with
respect to the exact role of the some of the accused, they were entitled to the
benefit of doubt and having so observed acquitted accused Balram Singh, Krishna
Singh, Narendra Singh and Surindra Singh but convicted the present appellants
for offences under Sections 302/149 IPC and sentenced them to undergo
imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs.5000/- each and in default of payment of
fine to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years.
The High Court in appeal confirmed
the judgment of the trial court. It is in these circumstances that the present
appeal has been filed.
3. Mr. S.K. Gambhir, the learned
senior counsel for the accused - appellant has argued that the presence of PW 3
Bhagwan Singh and PW 4 Parkash Kunwar had to be ruled out as the prosecution
case itself revealed that they 5 had been at a distance of about 220 meters
when the incident had happened and as such they could not have seen the actual
assault. He has in this case referred to the statement of PW9 the Patwari and
PW17 the Investigating Officer. He has also submitted that PW3 had been
identified as Bhagwan Singh but the person mentioned in the FIR was one Gopal
and as such the presence of PW3 was also doubtful for this additional reason as
well. He has also emphasized that a minute examination of the eye witnesses
account revealed that Aniruddha Singh had been attributed only a Lalkara and
had caused no injury and that the eye witnesses were discrepant with regard to
the individual rolls of the other accused as well. He has also pointed out that
the fatal injury with a Dharia on the head had been attributed to Narendra
Singh and as he had been acquitted by the Trial Court, it was apparent that the
vicarious liability under Sections 302/149 of the I.P.C was not made out as the
accused had intended causing only hurt to the deceased. He has in support of
the last argument cited 6 Ishwar Singh vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh AIR Tamil
Nadu (1992) Supp 3 SCC 161, Tara Devi vs.
State of U.P. (1990 ) 4 SCC 144,
Jaspal Singh vs.
State of Haryana (1976) 4 SCC 303.
4. Dr. N.M. Ghatate, the learned
senior counsel has, however, pointed out that the Trial Court itself had
separated the grain from the chaff and in that process had given the benefit of
doubt to four of the accused and had held the present appellants guilty on
account of the fact that the eye witnesses' account relating to their
involvement was supportive of each other and was also corroborated by the
medical evidence. He has also pointed out that the presence of PW1 and PW2, the
wife and son of the deceased, could not be doubted under any circumstances and
that in the background that a melee had occurred involving a large number of
assailants it would be unreasonable to expect an accurate blow by blow account
of the incident and that the Court was 7 therefore obliged to make an over all
assessment of the evidence.
5. At the very outset, it must be
remembered that the incident had taken place at about 6.00 P.M. leading to
serious injuries to Dhyanpal Singh. An attempt had also been made to remove him
to the hospital in a tractor belonging to PW Mahendra Singh but he had
succumbed along the way whereafter PW 1 had gone to the Police Station 10 kms
distant to lodge the First Information Report. It has also come in the evidence
of Dr. Anoop Kumar Kamthan PW 13 that the dead body had been received in the
hospital at 9.00 P.M. the same evening. It is therefore apparent that the very
promptness of the FIR is a factor which must be kept in mind while evaluating
the prosecution story. It is true that PW 3 and PW 4 were at a distance of 220
meters from the place of incident. PW 3 Bhagwan Singh is a relative of both the
accused and the deceased whereas PW 4 Prakash Kunwar is the daughter of
Dhyanpal Singh deceased.
Both the witnesses, were unanimous
in saying that 8 before the actual assault, they had heard Krishna Kunwar Bai
PW 1 screaming in alarm and calling for help and on which they had run in that
direction and seen the actual incident. Mr. Gambhir has, however, pointed out
that Bhagwan Singh's name had not figured in the First Information Report and
the story which had been projected was some what difficult to believe and it
appeared that he had been prevailed upon to become a false witness. We find
that Bhagwan Singh's presence may be some what doubtful as his statement Ex.D-3
had been recorded two days after the incident and that too in the Police
Station and his name also did not figure in the First Information Report, but
even assuming that Bhagwan Singh's presence could be doubted, there is no doubt
whatsoever with regard to the presence of PW 1 Krishna Kunwar Bai, PW 2
Dharmendra Singh and PW 4 Prakash Kunwar. We are also of the opinion that the
eye witnesses account is supported by the medical evidence which shows the
presence of 12 injuries on the dead 9 body caused with several different types
of weapons. The injuries are re-produced as below:
"Incised wound 3 cm x 1 x
bone deep, right parietal region, clotted blood all around. On exploration all
layer ecchymosis with blood. Fracture of the parietal bone. There was
extradural and intracranial haemorrhage seen.
Lacerated wound 2 cm x 1 cm x
bone deep with haematoma in area of 6 cm x 4 cm., parieto occipital region.
Haemotoma with swollen 4 cm x
4 cm area, over the left parietal region. Extradural haemorrhage seen.
swollen 10" x 6" right lower left thigh. On exploration compound fracture
of femur bone was seen.
with swelling 6" x 4" area middle of left fore arm. Fracture of radius and ulna
Deformity with swelling
4" x 4" over the right hand fracture of metacarpal bone of IInd, 3rd
and 4th Fingers.
cm x 2 cm over the right chest.
Incised would 6 cm x 2 cm x
one forth finger is amputed form its base and IIIrd finger is attached to skin.
cm x 2 cm Right back below scapula.
cm x 2 cm over the right back L1, L2, L3 level.
around the left ankle 6 cm x 6 cm.
cm x 4 cm area around right elbow joint.
6. Mr. Gambhir has laid great
stress on his submission that as only injury No.1 was on the head and the
others being on vital parts of the body indicated that there was no common
object of the unlawful assembly to murder Dhyanpal Singh. We, however, beg to
differ as the very genesis of the incident i.e. the motive for the attack and
the manner in which the complainant party had been waylaid by several persons
armed with lethal weapons and the fact that a large number of injuries with
several fractures had been caused, show that the accused party had come with
the intention of settling scores with Dhyanpal Singh.
7. Much emphasis has been laid by
Mr. Gambhir on the possibility as to the participation of Aniruddha Singh
accused. He has pointed out that from the evidence, it appeared that the fatal
injury on the head of the deceased had been caused by Narendra Singh (since
acquitted) with a Dharia and in this view of the matter the only role which
could be attributed to Aniruddha Singh was that of a Lalkara i.e. an exhortion to
the other accused.
8. It has, however, been pointed
out by State Counsel that as a matter of fact, Aniruddha Singh had caused
injury No.1 and not Narendra Singh and that the trial Court had dealt with this
matter in extenso and after going through the eye witnesses' account observed
that it was Aniruddha Singh who had caused the said injury to the deceased with
an axe and the mere fact that the First Information Report was silent on this
aspect would not dislodge the prosecution story in the face of overwhelming eye
witnesses' testimony. Moreover, it needs to be reiterated that as per the
evidence, 12 Aniruddha Singh, was the leader of the accused party and in the
forefront of the land dispute. The judgments cited by Mr. Gambhir based on
their own facts, can thus have no relevance to the facts of the case.
9. We are, therefore, of the
opinion that there is no merit in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed.
( S.B. SINHA)