Patil Vs. State of Maharashtra  INSC 2033 (28 November 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1264 OF 2005
BABASAHEB APPARAO PATIL -- APPELLANT (S) VERSUS
D.K. JAIN, J.:
appeal arises out of the judgment rendered by the High Court of Judicature at
Bombay, in Criminal Appeal No. 686 of 1988, confirming the conviction of the
appellant for offence under Section 302 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal
Code, 1860 (for short `IPC').
many as four accused came to be tried by the Addl. Sessions Judge, Solapur in
Sessions Case No.198 of 1987.
These persons were
Babasaheb Apparao Patil - Accused No.1, Tanaji Manikrao Patil - Accused No.2,
Appasha Dharmarao Patil - Accused No.3 and Prakash Limbanna Koli - Accused
No.4. The Trial Court convicted all the accused for the said offence and
sentenced them to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of
Rs.1000/- each, with default stipulation. All the convicts preferred an appeal
to the High Court. Although accused No.2 and 4 expired during the pendency of
the appeal, yet the High Court dealt with their appeals as well. The High Court
confirmed the conviction of the appellant herein and accused No.2 but acquitted
the remaining two accused, giving them the benefit of doubt.
to the prosecution in village Boramani, District Solapur, there are two rival
parties. Manikrao Patil was the leader of one party and the deceased - Baburao
Vibhute was the leader of the other party. Tanaji Manikrao Patil - 2 Accused
No.2 is the son of Manikrao Patil. Babasaheb Apparao Patil-Accused No.1 and
Appasha Dharmarao Patil - Accused No.3 are cousin brothers of Tanaji. Prakash
Limbanna Koli-Accused No.4 is not related to other three accused but was known
to them. On 7th June, 1989, one Abhimanyu Rama Bhagare had assaulted the said
Manikrao Patil, father of Accused No.2 by using a Sattur.
Abhimanyu was a good
friend of the deceased Baburao Vibhute. Manikrao suspected that assault on him
by Abhimanyu had been instigated by the deceased Baburao and therefore, he held
a grudge against him.
19th June, 1986, the deceased - Baburao Vibhute, Sidram Birajdar (PW-10)
Sarpanch of village Boramani, Prakash Rajguri (PW-11), driver of the deceased
and one Suresh Rokade left for Solapur by jeep because the deceased had some
work there. On completion of the work, at around 3.00 p.m. they started the
return journey. On their way, they stopped at hotel Khansaheb to take some
snacks. But since vegetarian snacks were not available, they procured beer from
outside and had it in the hotel. At the hotel, Prakash (PW-11) saw Shivaji
Rajguru (PW-26), who was in the service of the deceased and had owed some money
to him. He, accordingly informed the deceased, who demanded money from Shivaji
but on his failure to oblige him, he belaboured him and made him sit in the
jeep to take him to his village. When the jeep came near the village of
Shivaji, his wife (PW-19) stopped it. The deceased got down from the jeep and
was talking with the wife of Shivaji.
conversation was going on, another jeep came from the side of Solapur. All the
four accused got down from the jeep. Accused No.1 was armed with a pistol;
Accused No.2 got down
wielding an instrument like jamiya (dagger); Accused No.3 came to the rear side
of the jeep of the deceased and grabbed him from behind; Accused A-2 gave a
dagger blow on his stomach. When the deceased fell down on the ground, Accused
No.1 fired a bullet shot at his chest. On seeing the assault, Sidram (PW-10)
ran away out of fear. At a nearby petrol pump, he boarded a truck and 4
reached Hyderabad. Prakash (PW-11) the driver of the jeep, also fled from the
scene and on reaching Solapur, he went to the house of his uncle (PW-18) and
narrated the entire incident to him.
19th June, 1986 itself, at about 9.10 p.m., a phone call was received by CPI
Bhaskar Patil (PW-28) from an unknown person informing him about the murder of
Baburao Vibhute. The said informant is stated to have disclosed that the murder
had been committed by Babasaheb Patil - Accused No.1 and Tanaji Patil - Accused
No. 2. PW-28, after making the entry in the station diary regarding the
telephonic message, conveyed the information to PSI Annasaheb Patil (PW-33), attached
to the Taluka police station within whose jurisdiction the murder had been
committed. On receiving the information, the police sprung into action. At the
place of occurrence, Panchnama of the scene of occurrence was prepared, the
jeep and some articles alongwith the dead body were seized. The body of Baburao
was sent for post mortem. At the civil hospital, 5 Dr. Kanki (PW-20) performed
the post mortem and found as many as 15 injuries on the person of the deceased.
The injuries included a fire arm injury over abdomen near left postal margin,
four deep incised wounds over abdomen, four stab wounds over chest, one incised
wound over left side at lumber region and exit wounds of pellets. Lungs,
kidneys, liver, spleen were also injured. Doctor opined that these injuries
were sufficient to cause death and the death was caused on account of shock and
haemorrhage and due to injuries sustained by the deceased over abdomen, chest
and to visceral organs. On completion of investigations, which included
recording of confessional statements of Accused No.2 and Accused No.4, who also
produced the weapons of offence (2 daggers and one country made pistol),
chargesheet was filed against all the accused.
accused abjured their guilt and accordingly, the trial was held. The
prosecution examined as many as 33 witnesses to support its case. No evidence
was produced in defence. Upon consideration of the evidence, as noted 6 above,
the trial court convicted all the four accused for offence punishable under
Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC. Appellant's (Accused No.1)
conviction having been confirmed by the High Court, he has come up before us in
this appeal. The other convict - Accused No.2 expired during the pendency of
his appeal in the High Court.
counsel for the appellant contended that the trial court as also the High Court
committed serious error in relying on the wholly unreliable testimony of PW-10
and PW-11, examined by the prosecution as eye-witnesses, inasmuch as there are
contradictions and discrepancies in their evidence. It was argued that the
story of PW-10 going to Hyderabad is inherently improbable and was a make up to
cover the delay of three days in recording of his statement by police on 23rd
June, 1986. It was also submitted that it was very improbable that Prakash (PW-
11), an employee of the deceased, stated to have seen the entire incident did
not disclose the name of the accused to his uncle Kisan Ingale (PW-18) when he
met him 7 immediately thereafter and furthermore instead of reporting the
occurrence to the police he went to his uncle's house and narrated the incident
to him. It was pleaded that all the accused had been falsely implicated on
account of rivalry between the two factions in the village.
counsel appearing on behalf of the State, on the other hand, supported the
judgment of the High Court and submitted that the evidence of the two
eyewitnesses, coupled with the medical evidence and the recovery of weapons of
offence clearly prove the case against the appellant.
carefully gone through the judgments of the courts below, we feel that in the
light of the evidence on record, the view taken by the High Court is correct.
noted earlier, the mainstay of the prosecution is the testimony of Sidram
(PW-10) and Prakash (PW-11) who claimed to be eye witnesses of the occurrence.
Both the courts below have found their evidence creditworthy and 8 have held
that the minor contradictions in their testimony were not sufficient to affect
the credibility of their evidence.
The discrepancies in
the evidence of PW-10 highlighted before the High Court on behalf of the
appellants were: (i) his non-mentioning of non-availability of vegetarian food
in the hotel and drinking of beer as recorded in his statement by police (ii) belabouring
of Shivaji by Baburao after returning to the hotel. Similarly, the alleged
omissions on which emphasis was laid were : (i) non-mentioning of the deceased
falling on his back after receiving the first jamiya blow and (ii) the firing
of bullets at the chest of the deceased. As regards PW-11, the alleged
contradictions were again with regard to his going to the market to purchase
beer and the deceased, Sidram and Suresh having beer at the hotel. The stated
omission was again about the bullet being fired at the chest of the deceased.
already noted, the High Court has come to the conclusion, and in our opinion,
rightly, that the contradictions brought on record pertaining to the bringing
9 and drinking of beer are not directly related to the incident and cannot be
said to be material contradictions. Similarly, the alleged omission relating to
the firing being on the chest of the deceased has also been held to be not a
material omission because there is no omission in the statement as regards the
firing by the appellant on the deceased.
is to be borne in mind that some discrepancies in the ocular account of a
witness, unless these are vital, cannot per se affect the credibility of the
evidence of the witness.
the contradictions are material, the same cannot be used to jettison the
evidence in its entirety. Trivial discrepancies ought not to obliterate an
other wise acceptable evidence. Merely because there is inconsistency in
evidence, it is not sufficient to impair the credibility of the witness. It is
only when discrepancies in the evidence of a witness are so incompatible with
the credibility of his version that the court would be justified in discarding
10 the proper
approach which needs to be adopted while appreciating the evidence of a
witness. It was observed as under:
appreciating the evidence of a witness, the approach must be whether the
evidence of the witness read as a whole appears to have a ring of truth. Once
that impression is formed, it is undoubtedly necessary for the court to
scrutinise the evidence more particularly keeping in view the deficiencies,
drawbacks and infirmities pointed out in the evidence as a whole and evaluate
them to find out whether it is against the general tenor of the evidence given
by the witness and whether the earlier evaluation of the evidence is shaken as
to render it unworthy of belief. Minor discrepancies on trivial matters not
touching the core of the case, hyper-technical approach by taking sentences
torn out of context here or there from the evidence, attaching importance to
some technical error committed by the investigating officer not going to the
root of the matter would not ordinarily permit rejection of the evidence as a
whole. If the court before whom the witness gives evidence had the opportunity to
form the opinion about the general tenor of evidence given by the witness, the
appellate court which had not this benefit will have to attach due weight to
the appreciation of evidence by the trial court and unless there are reasons
weighty and formidable it would not be proper to reject the evidence on the
ground of minor variations or infirmities in the matter of trivial details.
Even honest and truthful witnesses may differ in some details unrelated to the
main incident because power of observation, retention and reproduction differ
1 (1985) 1 SCC 505 11
had again emphasized that while appreciating the evidence, the court should not
attach undue importance to minor discrepancies. The discrepancies which do not
shake the basic version of the prosecution case may be discarded.
the discrepancies which are due to normal errors of perception or observation
should not be given importance. The Court by calling into aid its vast
experience of men and matters in different cases must evaluate the entire
material on record as a whole and should not disbelieve the evidence of a
witness altogether, if it is otherwise trustworthy.
gone through the evidence of PW-10 and PW-11, we are in complete agreement with
the High Court that the aforenoted contradictions are not directly relating to
the incident and cannot be said to be material contradictions affecting the
credibility of the evidence of both the eye witnesses viz. PW-10 and PW-11.
Similarly, the so-called 2 1988 (Supp) SCC 241 omission of not mentioning the
exact portion of the body of the deceased where the shot had been fired cannot
be said to be a significant omission because there was no omission as regards
the firing by the appellant on the deceased. In his testimony, PW-10 has given
graphic details of the occurrence. Similarly, PW-11, the driver of the jeep, in
his evidence, has narrated the incidence which corroborates with the version of
PW-10. The evidence of these two witnesses stands corroborated by the medical
evidence, which clearly shows that several blows were given to the deceased by
jamiya (dagger) and a fire arm injury was also found over the abdomen of the
deceased. The conduct of PW-11 in going to the house of his uncle instead of
reporting the incident to the police cannot be said to be unnatural, impairing
the creditworthiness of his evidence.
conduct of a witness varies from person to person. It cannot be a cast iron
reaction to be followed as a model by every one witnessing such event.
Different persons would react differently on seeing any serious crime and their
behaviour and conduct would, therefore, be Therefore, having witnessed a
dastardly murder, it was not unnatural for the said witness to go to his uncle
and, therefore, the courts below were justified in not rejecting his evidence
merely on that score.
we are unable to agree with learned counsel for the appellant that the trial
court as well as the High Court have failed to appreciate properly the evidence
on record. We are convinced that the conclusions of the courts below, that the
appellant had committed the offence of murder of Baburao Vibhute, are supported
by acceptable evidence. We do not find any legal or factual infirmity in the
impugned judgment warranting interference. The appeal is dismissed accordingly.
(D.K. JAIN) 3 (1999) 8 SCC 649