Ramesh Bhai & ANR.
Vs. State of Rajasthan  INSC 821 (24 April 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NOs. 868-869 OF 2004
Ramesh Bhai & Anr. ..Appellants versus State of Rajasthan ..Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Rajasthan High
Court upholding the conviction of the appellants for offences punishable under
Sections 302, 120B and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the `IPC').
Two appeals filed by the appellants were disposed of by a common judgment.
Learned Additional Sessions Judge, Abu Road, Sirohi had convicted the appellant
version in a nutshell is as follows:
On 12.01.1996 a
missing person report about Purshottam Bhai was submitted by Smt. Jashoda Ben
to the Police Inspector, Police Station, Nadiad. On this application, Inspector
Arvindbhai Patel (PW 21) started investigation on 16.1.1996. Since in the
application the name of Jasbhai r/o Nadiar was mentioned so he reached Nadiad
and started investigation of the case. Jasbhai was not found at his home. His
son's wife Rekha met him there and she was interrogated. On 18.1.1996, Jasbhai
was found at home and he was interrogated. The statement of Jasbhai was
Jasbhai said that
Ramesh Patel and Narvar Singh both have cheated him jointly in purchasing his
house. On 18.1.1996 the statements of Jashodaben were recorded and copy of the
agreement of sale of the house of Jashodaben was submitted. Thereafter the
statements of Rameshbhai and Narpat Singh were recorded. Both the accused
persons Narvar Singh and Ramesh accepted that they had taken Purshottam Bhai
and his wife on a visit to Ambaji at Abu Parvat and in Abu Parvat at sunset
point they made them drink coffee by pouring sleeping pills in it. After
drinking coffee, Purshottam Bhai became unconscious and he was given five
injections of poison. Jashoda Ben was not unconscious therefore they could not
give her injections. After giving him injections of poison, Purshottambhai died
and they wrapped his dead body in a sheet and placed it in the room. This room
was hired at Raghunath Dharamshala. Therefore Narvat Singh left Dharamshala and
Ramesh told Jashoda that Purshottam Bhai had gone to Ambaji alongwith Narvar
Singh and he asked her to go to Ambaji. Taking Jashoda with him, Ramesh came to
Ambaji. Leaving Jashoda alone at Ambaji, both the accused persons fled away. On
19.01.1996 Inspector Arvind Bhai Patel reached Abu Parvat Police Station taking
Jasbhai, Ramesh and Narvar Singh with him and in the morning all the three
accused persons were handed over to the Abu Parvat Police.
After completion of
investigation, charge sheet was filed. Since accused persons abjured guilt,
trial was held.
The trial court found
that though the case of the prosecution rested on circumstantial evidence, the
circumstances clearly established the accusations.
In appeal the High
Court upheld the conviction as recorded.
support of the appeal learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the
circumstances highlighted do not establish the accusations.
counsel for the respondent-State on the other hand supported the judgment.
has 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 and Ors. v. State of Hyderabad
(AIR 1956 SC 316); Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446); State
of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 1224); Balwinder Singh v. State of
Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350);
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 the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.
may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy and
Ors. 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 innocence....".
Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down
that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy
the following tests:
5 "(1) the
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;
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 (4) the circumstantial evidence in
order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of
any other hypothesis than that of the 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 circumstantial evidence: (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal
inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the
factum probandum; (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the
existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; (3) in all cases,
whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced
which the nature of the case admits; (4) in 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, (5) if 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 touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial
evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.
Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC
343), wherein it was observed thus:
"It 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."
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 onus was on the prosecution to prove that the
chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by
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:
(1) The 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' established;
(2) The 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;
(3) The circumstances
should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;
(4) They should
exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and (5) there
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.
aspects were highlighted in State of Rajasthan v. Rajaram (2003 (8) SCC 180),
State of Haryana v. Jagbir Singh and Anr. (2003 (11) SCC 261) and in State of
U.P. v. Ram Balak & Anr. [2008 (13) SCALE 541.]
admitted position is that the dead body was found on 20 th January, 1996
whereas accused persons were stated to have been seen in the company of the
deceased on 8th and 9th January, 1996. PW 9, the wife of the deceased admitted
that the parties separated on 9th January, 1996. The missing person's report
was lodged on 12th January, 1996 by PW 11 the nephew of the deceased.
only evidence which appears to have been pressed into service by the
prosecution was that the injections were recovered from a lane near the house
of the accused.
is to be noted that the High Court recorded a finding as if it was proved
through the prosecution evidence and medical evidence and the report of Doctor
that the cause of death of the deceased was `Organo Phosphorous' which was
administered to him. This finding is apparently wrong. The doctor's opinion as
is evident from Exh.P15-1 that the cause of death was not possible to be noted
because the body was decomposed.
to the FSL report Exh.P4 medicine called Diazepam "Tranquilizer" was
found in the stomach intestine, lever, heart, kidney and lungs etc. In view of
the shaky nature of the evidence adduced it would be unsafe to convict the
appellants. The conviction as recorded by the trial court and upheld by the
High Court stand quashed. The appellants are set at liberty forthwith unless
required to be in custody in connection with in any other case. We place our
appreciation for the able manner in which Mr. Shiv Kumar Suri, learned Amicus
Curiae assisted the court.
appeals are allowed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)