State of M.P. Vs.
Sughar Singh & Ors  INSC 1907 (7 November 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NOs. 1362-1363 OF 2004
STATE OF M.P. ... APPELLANT VERSUS
C.K. THAKKER, J.
these appeals arise out of common judgment and order passed by the High Court
of Madhya Pradesh (Gwalior Bench) dated January 3, 2003 in Criminal Appeal Nos.
242 of 1991 and 253 of 1991. By the said order, the High Court allowed the
appeal filed by the accused and set aside the order of conviction and sentence
recorded by the Additional Sessions Judge, 2 Shivpuri dated October 14, 1991
in Sessions Case No. 29 of 1990.
case of the prosecution is that on October 20, 1989 Balkishan (hereinafter
referred to as `the deceased') and PW 2 Sarvan Lal were guarding their Jowar
crop and for the said purpose they had stayed during night time in their field.
Their neighbour farmers, namely, Ramprasad (PW8), Ramsingh (PW9) and Raghunath
(PW10) were also guarding over their respective crops and were in the huts
constructed in their fields. According to the prosecution, at about 3-4 a.m.
early in the morning, cattle of village Nehgawan started grazing the Jowar crop
of the deceased.
and Sarvan Lal (PW2) surrounded the cattle and started taking them to cattle
pond. At that time, all accused persons who were residents of village Nehgawan
appeared on the spot. They were armed with lethal weapons, like farsa, ballam,
luhangi, lathi, etc. They attacked Balkishan and Sarvan 3 Lal and caused
injuries to them. On the shouts of injured Balkishan and Servanlal, Ram Singh,
Raghu Nath, Ram Prasad and Ram Niwas reached there and saved Balkishan and
Sarvan Lal. The accused did not allow the cattle to be taken to cattle pond and
took away with them. While leaving the place, they threatened deceased
Balkishan and Sarvan Lal of their lives.
after the incident, deceased Balkishan and Sarvan Lal went to thana and lodged
First Information Report (FIR) at Police Station Rannod. The incident was
narrated by deceased Balkishan and Case No. 57 of 1989 of was registered
against the accused for offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323,
324 and 406 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). Both the injured were then taken
to Primary Health Centre, Rannod for medical examination. Dr. Suresh Majeji
(PW5) examined Balksihan. He also examined Sarvan Lal. Since the condition of
Balkishan was critical, he was taken to District Hospital, 4 Shivpuri. On the
way, however, Balkishan died.
Balkishan was performed by Dr. G.D. Agrawal (PW 1) on the next day i.e. on
October 21, 1989. Usual investigation was carried out, accused were arrested,
weapons were recovered at their instance and charge was framed against the accused.
They denied having committed any offence and claimed to be tried.
learned Additional Sessions Judge, Shivpuri believed the evidence of PW 2
Sarvan Lal, PW 4 Ram Niwas, PW 8 Ram Prasad, (eye witnesses) and PW 1 Dr. G.D.
Agarwal, convicted all the accused for an offence punishable under Sections
143, 302 read with 149 and 324 read with 149, 148, IPC for forming unlawful
assembly and for causing death of Balkishan and for causing grievous hurt to
Sarvan Lal in furtherance of common object. They were accordingly punished for
the offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 149, IPC for which
they were ordered to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life. For the offence 5
punishable under Section 324 read with Section 149, IPC, they were ordered to
undergo imprisonment for two years. Similarly, for an offence under Section
148, IPC, they were ordered to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years.
aggrieved by the judgment and order passed by the trial Court, the
respondent-herein preferred appeals. As stated above, the High Court, vide its
judgment and order dated January 3, 2003, set aside the order of conviction and
sentence recorded by the trial Court and acquitted all the accused mainly on
the ground that there was inconsistency between the evidence of eye- witnesses
and medical evidence.
State has challenged the order of acquittal recorded by the High Court.
was issued by this Court on March 19, 2004. Leave was granted on November 19,
2004. The matter has now been placed before us for final hearing.
have heard learned counsel for the parties.
learned counsel for the State contended that the High Court was wholly wrong in
allowing the appeal filed by the accused and in acquitting them for the
offences with which they were charged and convicted by the trial Court. It was
submitted that the trial Court, after properly appreciating the evidence of
prosecution witnesses, held that the incident in question was proved, all the
accused were members of unlawful assembly, they attacked deceased Balkishan and
Sarvan Lal. Several injuries were caused to deceased Balkishan and injured
Sarvan Lal. Participation of accused persons was proved beyond reasonable doubt
from the evidence of prosecution witnesses, namely, PW2-Sarvan Lal-injured
eye-witness and PW 4 Ram Niwas, and PW8-Ram Prasad (other eye- witnesses).
Injuries caused to deceased Balkishan and injured Sarvan Lal were proved by
medical examination. The prosecution evidence 7 also went to show that the
accused had committed the above offences in furtherance of common object of
unlawful assembly as deceased Balkishan and Sarvan Lal were taking cattle of
the accused to cattle pond. The accused did not allow the cattle to be taken to
cattle pond and attacked deceased Balkishan and Sarvan Lal with lethal weapons.
There was no inconsistency in the evidence of eye-witnesses and medical
evidence. The trial Court considered the evidence of eye-witnesses. It also
considered medical evidence and held that the incident and participation of the
accused was clearly proved.
High Court disbelieved the prosecution case on incorrect appreciation of
evidence and set aside the order of conviction.
The impugned order of
the High Court, hence, deserves to be set aside by allowing the appeal and by
restoring the order of conviction and sentence recorded by the trial Court.
learned counsel for the respondents-accused, on the other hand, supported the
order passed by the High Court.
It was submitted that
taking into account inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimony of
prosecution witnesses, the High Court extended benefit of doubt to the accused
and there is no reason to interfere with the said finding. It was also
submitted that even if this Court feels that two views are possible, benefit of
doubt ought to be extended to the accused and not to the prosecution. In any
case, in exercise of power under Article 136 of the Constitution, this Court
may not interfere with the order of acquittal recorded by the High Court and
the appeals may be dismissed.
heard learned counsel for the parties, in our opinion, the appeals deserve to
be partly allowed.
far as the contradictions in the deposition of eye witnesses and medical 9
evidence is concerned, in our opinion, the High Court was not right in coming
to the conclusion that medical evidence did not support the version of
eye-witnesses. It is clearly established from the evidence of injured eye-
witness, PW2-Sarvan Lal and PWs 4 and 8 Ram Niwas and Ram Prasad that the
prosecution witnesses were in their fields protecting the crop of Jowar in the
early morning of October 20, 1989 and the cattle entered the fields.
and injured PW2-Sarvan Lal wanted to take them to cattle pond. The said act
enraged the accused and they attacked Balkishan and Sarvan Lal which resulted
in the death of Balkishan and caused serious injuries to PW2-Sarvan Lal. There
was no reason to disbelieve the evidence of prosecution witnesses. PW2-Sarvan
Lal was injured during the same incident. The prosecution witnesses have
supported the case of the prosecution with regard to the incident as also
participation of the accused.
sustained by deceased Balkishan and injured Sarvan Lal-PW2 have been clearly
established. The main reason weighed with the High Court was that PW1-Dr. G.D.
Agrawal (PW 1) had
found seven injuries on the body of the deceased and he had opined that the
injuries were caused by hard and blunt substance. PW1-Dr. G.D. Agrawal did not
find any incise wound on the head of the deceased.
PW5-Dr. Suresh Majeji
who had examined the deceased immediately after the incident and advised him to
be taken to the District Hospital had stated that there were two incise
injuries, one on the middle of the head and the other on the medial aspect of
lower 1/3" of the right leg. According to the High Court, therefore,
medical evidence was not consistent with the prosecution evidence and the
benefit of doubt should be given to the accused.
our opinion, the High Court was not right in acquitting the accused on the
ground that there was inconsistency in the medical 11 evidence and medical
evidence is not in accord with ocular evidence of the prosecution witnesses.
Dr. Suresh Majeji (PW5), in his sworn testimony stated that he applied stitches
on the wounds of the deceased. Since his condition was serious, he was advised
to go to District Hospital but before the deceased reached there, he died. In
fact, when a question was put to PW1-Dr.G.D. Agrawal in the cross-examination
on behalf of the accused regarding injuries sustained by deceased Balkishan,
the latter replied that he did not find incise wound either on the forehead or
at the right thigh. He, however, stated; "After dressing, it is difficult
to tell about the nature of injuries". In view of the above explanation,
it was clear that the High Court committed an error in ordering acquittal on
the ground of inconsistency in medical evidence and version of eye-witnesses.
To that extent, therefore, the decision of the High Court deserves to be
far as injuries to the deceased Balkishan are concerned, he had the following
1. Incised wound 1' x
1/2" x 1/4" on the middle of the head. Margin clean cut well defined.
2. No injury seen on the
left lower limb.
3. Incised wound
d1"x1/4"4x1" deep on the medial aspect of lower 1/3" of the
right leg. Margin clean cut bleeding present, whole lower left leg below knee
joint to be left ankle joint.
4. Multiple contusions
4"x2 and 5"x2 were present on the back. Bluish red colour.
has also come in evidence that the incident took place `all of a sudden'. When
the accused saw that deceased Balkishan and Sarvan Lal were taking cattle to
cattle pond, they wanted both of them not to do so and with a view to prevent
them from taking cattle to cattle pond, the accused attacked them.
the nature of injuries, and totality of facts and circumstances, we are of the
view that the case does not fall within the definition of `murder' as defined
in Section 300, IPC punishable under Section 302, IPC, but in a case of
culpable homicide, not amounting to murder punishable under Section 304 II,
the foregoing reasons, in our opinion, the appeals deserve to be partly allowed
and are allowed by setting aside the order of acquittal recorded by the High
We, therefore, convict
The conviction of the
respondents for an offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 149,
IPC recorded by the trial Court for causing death of deceased Balkishan is
modified to an order of conviction punishable under Section 304, Part II read
with Section 149, IPC. The accused are ordered to undergo rigorous imprisonment
for six years. Conviction under Section 148, IPC as also under Section 14 326
read with Section 149, IPC for causing grievous hurt to PW2 Sarvan Lal is
maintained in view of the fact that the High Court was not right in interfering
with the order passed by the trial Court. The sentence awarded on the accused
in respect of both the offences also calls for no interference.
appeals are partly allowed and the accused are convicted for the offence
punishable under Section 304, Part II read with Section 149, IPC and they are
ordered to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six years.
Since the order of
acquittal was recorded by the High Court, the respondents-accused are ordered
to surrender to undergo the remaining period of sentence. It is needless to
clarify that the period during which the accused had remained in jail will be