Raghav Prapanna Tripathi Vs. The State
of Uttar Pradesh  INSC 205 (4 May 1962)
04/05/1962 DAYAL, RAGHUBAR
DAYAL, RAGHUBAR DAS, S.K.
CITATION: 1963 AIR 74 1962 SCR (3) 239
Circumstantial evidence--Murder--No direct
evidence-- Sufficiency of proof--inference from absconding--Inference from
non--recovery of jeep--Inference from presence of accused in house where murder
was alleged to have taken place--Indian Penal Code, ss. 176, 201, 302.
The appellants were prosecuted and committed
to the Sessions for trial. Raghav was convicted and sentenced to death under s.
302, I.P.C. He and Jai Devi, his mother, Ramanuj Das, Mohan Singh and Udham
Singh were convicted under section 201 IPC. Ramanuj Das was also convicted
under section 176 IPC. Their appeals were dismissed by the High Court. They
came to this court by special leave. The appeal of Raghav, Mohan Singh and
Udham Singh was allowed by majority, that of Ramanuj Das and jai Devi for
offence under s. 201, IPC was allowed unanimously and appeal of Ramanuj Das for
offence under s. 176 IPC was allowed by a majority.
Held (Kapur and Hidayatullaha, JJ dissenting)
that there was no direct evidence about Raghav committing the murder of Kamla
and Madhusudan. There was no direct evidence about his carrying away their dead
bodies in the jeep. There was no direct evidence about Ramanuj Das or any other
accused being a party to the removal of the dead bodies from the house. The
entire case was based on circumstantial evidence. The circumstances proved
against Raghav were not sufficient to support the finding that he had committed
the murder. The mere absconding may lend weight to the other evidence
establishing the guilt of the accused but by itself that is hardly any evidence
of guilt. It was too much to conclude from the non-recovery of the jeep that if
it had been recovered, it would have afforded evidence of existence of human
blood-stain and of its having been used to remove evidence of murder. That circumstance
had no evidentiary value. There was no evidence about the part Ramanuj Das or
Jai Devi played in the removal of the dead bodies.
The .fact that they were in the house and
could have possibly known of the removal of the dead bodies, if that was a fact
240 would not by itself establish that they assisted in the removal if the
bodies. The conviction of the appellant was not justified on the material on
Per Kapur and Hidayatullah JJ. The strained
relations between husband and wife, the motive to escape the giving of money
and land as maintenance to the wife or child, suddenly leaving the village at
night with two others and almost simultaneous disappearance of Kamla and her
son, no search for her and absolute callousness on the part of Raghav, giving
of false explanation later on and his absconding were circumstances from which
the Courts below were justified in concluding that Kamla and her son were
murdered and Raghav bad a predominant motive to commit the murder. The
inculpatory facts proved against Raghav were not capable of explanation on any
other hypothesis except his guilt. The Courts below bad applied correct
principles and found Raghav guilty and there was no reason to disagree with
their conclusions. The non-production of the jeep was a circumstance against
Raghav which the Courts below were entitled to take into consideration.
Articles like jeeps do not just disappear in thin air and when they do
disappear and cannot be traced and when the allegation is that they have been
used for carrying away the dead bodies, their nonproduction or their not being
found is a circumstance which a Court can take into consideration in
determining the guilt of an accused person.
No case under section 201 of the Indian Penal
Code had been made out against Ramanuj Das and jai Devi. What section 201
requires is causing any evidence of the commission of the offence to disappear
or giving any information respecting the offence which a person knows or
believes to be false.
It was not proved that the two appellants had
caused any evidence to disappear. There may be a strong suspicion that if from
the house dead bodies were removed or blood was washed, the persons placed in
the position of the two appellants must have had a hand in it, but still that
remains a suspicion, although a strong suspicion. There mere absconding would
not fill the gap or supply the evidence which was necessary to prove the
ingredients of section 201.
Anant Chintaman Lagu v. The State of Bombay.,
 2 S.C R. 460, Govinda Reddy v. The State of Mysore, A.I.R. 1960 S.C. 29,
Stephen Seneviratnan v. The King, A.I.R. 1936 P.C.
289, Towell's case, (1854) 2 C & K 309,
Rex v. Horry,  N.Z.L.R. 11 , Regina v. Onufrejczyk, (1955) 1 Q.B. 338,
241 Rex V. Hodge, (1833) 2 Lew. 22 7,
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 72 of 1962, Appeal by special leave from the judgment and order
dated February 8, 1962, of the Allahabad High Court in Criminal Appeals Nos,
1728 and 1739 of 1961 and Referred No. 125 of 1961.
Jai Gopal Sethi, A.N. Mulla, J.B. Goyal, C.L.
Sareen and R.L. Kohli, for the appellants, G.C. Mathur and C.P. Lal, for the
respondent, 1962. May 4. The Judgment of Das. Sarkar, Dayal, JJ., was delivered
by Dayal, J. The Judgment of Kapur and Hidayatullah, JJ., was delivered by
RAGHUBAR DAYAL, J.-Raghav Prapanna Raghul
Tripathi, hereinafter called Raghav, Ramanuj Das, Jai Devi, Mohan and Udham
Singh, appeal by special leave against the order of the High Court of
Allahabad, dismissing their appeal against their conviction by the sessions
Judge, Etawah, Raghav, was convicted and sentenced to death under s. 302 1. P.
C. He and the other appellants were also convicted of the offence under s. 201
I. P. C. Ramanuj Das was convicted of the offence under a. 176 1. P. C. also.
The prosecution case, in brief, is that
Raghav shot dead his first wife Kamla, and their son Madhusudhan, aged about 4
years, at about sunset on April 5, 1961, at their house in village Hamirpur
Roora, District Etawah The motive for this conduct is "id to be Raghav's
not caring for Kamla and ill- treating her after his marrying one Bimla in
1954. Kamla had to go to her father's place and stay there for about two years
on account of the alleged ill-treatment she got at her husband s 242 hands. She
was, however, brought back by Ramanuj Das, in 1960. He assured her father that
she would be well looked after and that he would transfer 90 bighas of land to
her and pay her Rs. 10,000/-.
It is also alleged that earlier in the day on
April 5, Ramanuj Das bad ultimately promised to Lakhan Prasad that he
would execute the necessary transfer deed on Monday following and that Raghav
left the place during their conversation in this regard. It is alleged that he
did so as he resented the idea of so much property and cash, which would have
ultimately benefited him, being made over to Kamla. This resentment is said to
have prompted Raghav to murder his wife and son that evening.
We may now mention facts to show the
connection of Ramanuj Das and other accused with Raghav which is said to have
led them to be parties to the disappearance of the evidence about the murders
in order to protect Raghav from legal punishment and thereby to commit the
offence under s. 201 1.
P. C. Lachman Das was the Mahant of the
temple in village Hamirpur Roora. Narayan Das, father of Raghav, and Ramanuj
Das were his disciples. On Lachman Das, death, Ramanuj Das succeeded him as
Mahant, though Narayan Das was the senior disciples, as Narayan Das bad taken
to secular life.
Ramanuj Das, Raghav, Jai Devi, mother of
Raghav. Raghav's wife Kamla, and Madhusudhan, all lived as a joint Hindu family
in the house in which there was the temple. Mohan Singh was a servant of
Ramanuj Das. Udham Singh was also alleged to be a servant of Ramanuj Das.
Raghav mostly lived at Lucknow with Bimla and
his sisters who were studying there. He is 243 a law graduate. He possessed a
jeep car whose registration number was U. S. J. 3807.
No information was conveyed by anyone to the
police about the numbers for about two days. Khushali, Chaukidar, lodged a
report at 9.20 a. m. on April 7, 1961, at police station Airwa Katra, District
Etawah. The Station Officer was not present at the police station. This report
may be usefully quoted here:
"Day before yesterday in the night
Raghav of my village, who is a son of Narain Das, has murdered his wedded wife
and son by firing at them with the gun of Mahant Ramanuj Das. He has gone
somewhere with the two dead bodies in a car. There is a rumour about, it in the
whole of the village. Having heard of it, I went to the Mahant who is also the
Pradhan of my village. I asked him to give me something in writing, so that I
would go to the Police Station and make a report. The Mahant then asked me to
wait and to go only after Thakur Dalganjan Singh had some. I did not listen to
him, although he kept on forbidding. I have come to make a report."
Sub-Inspector Brij Raj Singh Tomer, Station Officer, Airwa Katra, received the
copy of the first information report at 11 a. m., and immediately proceeded to
the spot and reached there at 2 p. m. He inspected the house of Ramanuj Das and
prepared the site plan. He suspected blood stains at about 11 places in the
house and took the stained plasters from those places and put them in different
packets. All the 11 packets were then sealed in a single bundle.
The Chemical Examiner found the plasters in 5
of these packets to be stained with blood. The 244 Serologist could not
determine the origin of the blood on account of its disintegration.
The positions of the plasters found
bloodstained are not clearly made out from the various documents, but, in view
of the fact that 11 stained plasters were taken in possession from over the
door in the front wall of the southern outer room or from its floor or its
wall, that at least 2 of the blood stained plasters were from the southern
outer room portions, even if the other three blood stained plasters were from
the outer wall of the northern room, the roof of the temple and the floor of the
southern inner room.
Sub-Inspeotor Brij Raj Singh Tomer did not
find any of the appellants in the village.
On April 12, 1961, Bashir Hussain, Deputy
Superintendent of police, visited the spot and recovered suspected blood-
stained earth from the parnalas of the roof of the house and also from the land
on which the water of the parnalas fell. He took 7 samples of such earth, put
them in 7 packets and sealed them in a bundle. The Chemical Examiner found the
earth of two such packets to be stained with blood. Again, the Serologist could
not determine the origin of blood due to disintegration.
On April 16, 1961, Bashir Hussain recovered
Raghav's shirt and pyjama from Snowhite, Cleaners & Dyers at Lucknow, as
they were suspected to be stained with blood. No blood was detected on the
pyjama. The Chemical Examiner found blood stains on the shirt. The Serologist
could not detect the origin of the blood.
The police failed to discover the dead bodies
of Kamla and Madhusudhan and also the jeep car.
245 Raghav surrendered in the Court of the
Magistrate at Barabanki on April 20. Mohan was arrested on April 9, Ramanuj Das
surrendered in the Court of the Judicial Officer, Bidhuna, on April 24, 1961,
Jai Devi applied for bail on April 27, presumably, she surrendered on that day.
As a result of the investigation, the
appellants were sent up for trial. All the appellants denied that they
committed the offences with and stated that they had been falsely implicated.
There is no direct evidence about Raghav's
committing the murder of Kamla and Madhusudhan. Neither is there direct
evidence about his carrying away the dead bodies of Kamla and Madhusudhan in
the jeep that night from village Hamirpar Roora as alleged for the prosecution.
There is no direct evidence about Ramanuj Das or any other accused being a
party to the removal of the dead bodies from the house. The entire case against
the appellants depends on circumstantial evidence.
We may deal with the circumstances which the
learned Sessions Judge and the High Court found established and from which they
concluded that Raghav murdered Kamla and Madhusudhan and that thereafter,
Raghav, Mohan and Udham Singh, with the connivance of Ramanuj Das and Jai Devi,
carried away the dead bodies in the jeep and disposed of them.
These circumstances are-
1. On April 5, 1961, Kamla and Madhusudhan
were in the house of Ramanuj Das.
2. Kamla and Madhusudhan were last seen alive
on April 5, 1961, in the evening.
3. On April 5, 1961, Raghav Prapanna was also
in the house of Ramanuj Das.
4. On April 5, 1961 at about 5 or 6 p.m.
three gun shots were fired on the roof of Ramanuj Das.
5. On April 5, 1961, at about 9 or 10 p. m.
Raghav Prapanna, Mohan and Udham Singh left
village Hamirpur Roora on the jeep of Raghav.
6. On April 5, 1961, at about 11 p. m. Raghav
Prapanna purchased petrol from Bidhuna Petrol Pump.
7. On April 6, 1961, at about 8. 30 a. m.
Raghav Prapanna crossed. Rawatpur barrier in
8. On April 6, 1961, Raghav Prapanna got a
post card sent by his sister that Kamla had reached Lucknow safely.
9. On April 7, 1961, blood-stained earth was
recovered from the house of Ramanuj Das from 11 different places.
10. On April 14, 1961, blood-stained earth
was recovered from the house of Ramanuj Das from 7 different places.
11. All the accused absconded after the
12. Blood-stained shirt and pyjama belonging
to Raghav Prapanna were recovered from the possession of Snow-white Dyers and
13. The police could not trace out the jeep
of Raghav Prapanna in spite of beat efforts.
On behalf of the appellants it is not dispute
hat the circumstances numbered 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 1 247 and 13 have been
established. It is contended for the appellants that the other circumstances
have not been proved and that, even if proved, all the aforesaid circumstances
are insufficient to lead to the sole conclusion that Raghav committed the
murders of Kamla and Madhusudhan and that he and the other appellants were
parties to the removal of the dead bodies.
Kamla and Madhusudhan were in the house on
April 5, 1961.
They were not seen after the evening of April
5, 1961, The third circumstance is disputed, Raghav states that he had left
Hamirpur Roora on April 4. This finds support from the statement of Sri Ram,
P.W. 3, that he had seen Raghav pass via Samain in a jeep that night. He saw
this on Tuesday, April 4, 1961 was a Tuesday. Even if he was in the village on
April 5, his presence in the house does not put him in such a position that his
omission to furnish information about the whereabouts of Kamla and Madhusudhan
or as to what happened to them should point to his committing their murders. He
was not the only person in the house to know of what happened to them. There
were other persons in the house. It is true that the circumstance of his
presence in the house and the absence of any activity on his part to make
enquiries about Kamla and Madhusudhan when they were not seen in the house on
April 6, is a conduct which is not expected from a husband, even if the relations
between the husband and the wife be strained.
The fourth circumstance that three gun shots
,were fired from the roofs of Ramanuj Das at about 5 or 6 p.m. on April 5,
cannot lead reasonably to the only conclusion or even to a reasonable suspicion
that Raghav did fire those shots, that he 248 fired them in the room and that
he shot dead his wife and son by that firing. The connection between the firing
of gun shots from the side of the roof of Ramanuj Das and the alleged murders,
seems to us to be too remote to arrive at the conclusion that Raghav had killed
his wife and son- In this connection, reference may also be made to
circumstances Nos. 9 and 10, relating to the recovery of the bloodstained earth
from the house. The blood-stained earth has not been proved to be stained with
human blood, Again we are of opinion that it would be far-fetched to conclude
from the mere presence of blood-stained earth that that earth was stained with
human blood and that the human blood was of Kamla and Madhusudhan. These
circumstances have; therefore, no evidentiary value.
The facts that Kamla 'and Madhusudhan have
not been seen since the evening, of April 5, 1961, and that blood stains, not
proved to be of human origin, were found in that room, are not sufficient for
holding that they must have been murdered, however strongly one may suspect it
in view of the unlikelihood of their having left the house for any other place.
In this connection, reference may also be
made to circumstance No. 8. Exhibit Ka-7 was addressed by Govind Kumari, sister
of Raghav, to Ramanuj Das on April 6, 1961, from Lucknow. It is stated in this
post-card that Raghav etc., had arrived safely and that as 'bhabi' had also
arrived, it was not necessary for her to cook food etc.'.
This letter, according to the post-mark,
reached Samrin Post Office on April 10, and was not delivered till April 13, to
the addressee, as he was not present, and was ultimately handed over to 249 the
Deputy Superintendent of Police, in compliance with the orders of the
Magistrate. under s. 95, Cr. P. C. It is alleged that this letter was written
at the instigation of Raghav in order to prepare evidence about Kamla's
reaching Lucknow on April 6. There is however no evidence on record about
Raghav's having a hand in the sending of this letter by Govind Kumari. She was
not examined to prove the contents of her letter and to explain to whom she
referred to as bhabi' Raghav has stated that he had gone to Lucknow along with
Rama Sewak's wife, whom he also called bhabi'.
That may be true or not. The fact remains
that there is no evidence that Govind Kumari wrote this postcard with a purpose
and at the instigation of Raghav. The evidentiary value of this postcard is nil
and the conclusions that Raghav got this. letter sent is not justified when
there is no evidence to that effect and there is no definite proof that the
expression bhabi' referred to Kamla.
Support for. the inference that the
expression 'bhabi'referred to Kamla has been found, by the Court below, from
complete omission to Govind Kumari's sending wishes to Kamla and Madhusudhan,
as it is expected that if she knew that they were at Hamirpur Roora, she would
have conveyed her wishes to them. One can normally expect this, but it is in
the statement of Lakhan Prasad, P. W. 6, that there could not have been good
relations between Govind Kumari and Kamla. Lakhan Prasad deposed that on his
asking Kamla the cause of her unhappiness for the last four years, she told him
that one Sub-Inspector Iqbal visited her father-in-law's place and had illicit
connection with Govind Kumari and that these persons, together with Raghav,
used to take wine and meat in the temple. She further told him that her
complaint to her mother-in-law in this respect 250 went un-heeded. It follows,
therefore, that omission of the usual courtesies in the postcard from Govind
Kumari need not lead to the conclusion that it was on account of the attempt to
show, when need be, that Kamla and her son had reached Lucknow and were alive
on April 6, 1961.
Circumstances 5 and 6, by themselves, are not
sufficient to lead to the conclusion that Raghav had taken the corpses of Kamla
and Madhusudhan in the jeep from the village on the night of April 5, 1961,
when there is no evidence of any witness about seeing any such things in the
jeep which might reasonably lead to the inference that they contained the dead
The 7th circumstance, does not in any way go
against Raghav, as he himself admits to have gone to Lucknow from village
Bhuwain on April 6, 1961. In doing so he would pass Rawatpur barrier. This
circumstance, in a way, supports his version and has nothing incriminating in
The 11th circumstance, as stated, is not
quite correct. All the accused did not abscond after the alleged murders.
Ramanuj Das himself was in the village till
the morning of April 7, according to the statement of Khushali, Chowkidar, who
lodged the first information report. If he and others left the house after
knowing of the report lodged by the chowkidar, that is understandable. The mere
absconding, however, may lend weight to the other evidence establishing the
guilt of the accused, but, by itself, is hardly any evidence of guilt.
The 12th circumstance, is about Raghav's
shirt being found to be stained with blood by the Chemical 'Examiner. The
bloodstain has not been proved to be of human origin. In the circumstances,
this circumstance has no evidentiary value in 251 connecting Raghav with the
offence of murder. Further,the shirt was recovered from the Dry Cleaners on
April 16. It was given to them on April 9. The murder is said to have taken
place on April 5. Bloodstain on the shirt could have been due to reasons other
than Raghav's taking part in the murder of his wife and son.
In this connection, reference must be made to
the statement of Babu Lal, P. W. 7, the proprietor of the Snowhite Cleaners
& Dyers to the effect that when Raghav gave him the shirt for washing it
was not blood-stained. He has also stated that even when the Sub-Inspector took
it in possession, it was not blood-stained. The High Court considered Babu
Lal's statement to be untrue as he had signed the recovery list which stated
that the shirt had stains suspected to be washed bloodstains. There was no
statement that the shirt had bloodstains on April 9 when it was given for
washing. Further, if the signing of the recovery list by Babu Lal as a witness
to the recovery be taken to be his statement about the correctness of its
contents, that statement would be inadmissible in evidence in view of s. 162,
Cr. P. C.
The last circumstance, as a piece of evidence
against the accused, is that the police could not trace out the jeep of Raghav
in spite of best efforts. The inability of the police to find the jeep does not
prove that the jeep, if found, would have furnished evidence against Raghav by
showing the existence of human blood-stains on its parts and thereby indicating
that it was used in removing the corpses.
If it had been recovered and human
bloodstains had been found on it, there would have been some evidence against
the accused about the jeep having been used for removing the dead bodies. But
it is too much to conclude from the non- recovery of the jeep that if recovered
252 it would have afforded evidence of existence of human bloodstains and thus
of its having been used to remove evidence of murder. This circumstance has
therefore no evidentiary value.
In this connection, we must refer to the
unusual conduct of the Magistrate in forwarding the letter of request by the
Investigating officer under a. 94 Cr. P. C., to the Jailor, requiring Raghav to
convey information in whose charge he left his jeep No. 3807 while surrendering
in Court at Bar&- banki, and the whereabouts of the jeep at the time. The
Investigating Officer could have interrogated the accused in jail, as is
usually done, of course, with the permission of the Magistrate. But, to attempt
to get written replies from the accused, is unusual, if not unwarranted under
the Code of Criminal Procedure. Any way, any reply given by the accused to such
a query of the Investigating Officer, cannot be used in evidence in view of a.
162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
We have now dealt with the pieces of
circumstantial evidence which were accepted by the Courts below and are of
opinion that those circumstances are not sufficient to support the finding that
Raghav committed the murder of Kamla and Madhusudhan.
The facts alleged to constitute motive for
Raghav to commit the murders do not necessarily provide such a motive.
Raghav married Bimla in 1954 and for seven
years he appears to have continued his marital relations with Kamla as well.
Madhusudhan was born in 1957. He may not be
showing the same affection to Kamla after his marriage with Bimla as before.
There might have been something of an estrangement in his relations towards
her. But all this would not afford a motive for murdering her, and also their
The suggestion to Ramanuj Das to TOY 253 Rs.
10,000/- to Kamla and also to transfer 90 Bighas of land to her, even if true,
need not have caused such a resentment to Raghav as to decide on murdering his
wife and son. There is nothing on the record to indicate how such a transfer of
cash and property would affect the total property of Ramanuj Das, and how,
ultimately, Raghav would be affected by it.
Apparently, Raghav would have no claim to the
property left by Ramanuj Das as a mahant of the mutt or temple. The property
would go to the successor of Ramanuj Das. Raghav who was leading a secular
life, will dot succeed to the Mahantship, just as his father Narain Das, though
a senior disciple of Lachman Das, did not succeed to it. His leaving the place
when Ramanuj Das was approached by Lakhan Das to transfer cash and land to
Kamla, does not necessarily indicate that he left as he resented the
suggestion. There is no evidence that he raised any protest at the time or
indicated by any expression that Ramanuj Das should not do so. We do not
consider it reasonable to conclude from the mere fact of his leaving the place,
that be did so on account of such keen resentment as would make him commit the
murders of his wife and son.
Lastly, there is no such circumstantial
evidence which would establish that the appellants had removed and concealed
the dead bodies. We have already referred to the absence of evidence about the
dead bodies being carried in the jeep that night by Raghav. There is no
evidence about the part which Ramanuj Das or Jai Devi played in the removal of
the dead bodies. The fact that they were in the house and could have possibly
known of the removal of the dead bodies, if that was a fact, would not by
itself establish that they assisted in the removal of the bodies. We are
therefore of opinion that no offence under a. 201 254 I. P. C. has been
established against the appellants.
Further. no offence under s. 176 1. P. C. can
be held proved against Ramanuj Das when there is no proof that Kamla and
Madhusudhan were murdered. As a member of the village Panchayat he was bound to
convey information to the nearest Magistrate or Officer-in-charge of the
nearest Police Station about the commission of an offence under s. 302, 1.
P. C., only when a murder. had been committed
and he know about it.
The conviction of the appellants for the
various offences is therefore not justified on the material on record. We
therefore allow the appeal, set aside their conviction and acquit them of the
offences they have been convicted of.
They will be released forthwith from custody,
if not required to be detained under any other process of law.
KAPUR, J.-This is an appeal against the
judgment and order of the High Court of Allahabad confirming the conviction and
sentences passed on the appellants. Of the appellants Raghav Prapanna Tripathi
was convicted of murdering his wife Kamla and his son Madhusudhan on the
evening of April 5, 1961 at Hamirpur Roora and was sentenced to death. He and
other appellants were also convicted under s. 201, Indian Penal Code for
causing the disappearance of the evidence of the crime and were sentenced to
five years' rigorous imprisonment. Appellant Ramanuj Das was further convicted
under a. 176, Indian Penal Code and sentenced to 3 months' rigorous
The conviction is based on circumstantial
evidence. This Court in Anant Chintaman Lagu v. The State, of Bombay has laid down
the principles - (1) (1960)2 S.C.R. 460.
255 which govern such cases. In that case
Hidayatullah J., at p. 516 quoting the observations of Baron Parke in Towell's
case(1) where the learned Baron laid down the principles applicable to such
cases observed that any circumstance which destroys the presumption of
innocence, if properly established can be taken into account to find out if the
circumstances lead to no other inference but of guilt. Thus what we have to see
is whether taking the totality of circumstances which are held to have been
proved against the appellants it can be said that the case is established
against the appellants i.e. the facts established are inconsistent with the
innocence- of the appellants and incapable of explanation on any hypothesis
other than that of guilt. See also Govind Reddy, State of Mysore(2). It may
also be observed here that ordinarily this court does not reassess the evidence
and reexamine the findings reached by the courts below particularly where there
are concurrent findings of fact, but it was urged before us that this is one of
those cases where the rule laid down by the Privy Council in Stephen
Seneviratne v. The king (3) applies i.e. on the evidence taken as a ,whole no
tribunal could as a matter of legitimate inference arrive at the conclusion
that the appellants are guilty. The inference of guilt of the appellants has
been drawn from a number of circumstances which, according to the appellants,
do not lead to the irresistible conclution that they are guilty and which,
according to the submission of the res- pondent, lead to only one conclusion
and one alone that the appellants have been rightly convicted and sentenced. In
order to satisfy ourselves at to the guilt of the appellants we have found it
expedient in this case to go into the evidence and see whether the conviction
is rightly based.
(1) (1854) 2 S.C.R. 309). (2) A.I.R. 1960
(3) A.I.R, 1931 P. C. 289, 299.
256 In village Hamirpur Roora which is in
Itawah district there is a religious institution of which Lachhman Das was the
Mahant. He had two chelas (disciples) the elder was Narain Das and the younger
Ramanuj Das who is one of the appellants in the present case. Narain Das got
married and was therefore excluded from succession. His wife is Jai Devi who is
also an appellant and they has several children amongst whom is their son
Raghav who is another appellant in the case and they have got younger sons and
some daughters amongst whom we need only mention Govind Kumari who is M.A.LL.B.
of the Lucknow University but she is neither a witness nor an accused in the
case. The other two accused are Mohan Singh and Udham Singh who are retainers
(if the Mahant. Raghav in the year 1950 was married to Kamla who was the
daughter of Rain Sarup, a well-to-do gentleman living in another village. In
1954 Raghav married another girl who is also an M.A., LL.B. and she and Raghav
with Govind Kumari and other sisters were living at Lucknow in a flat in
Shankarpuri. The case for the prosecution is that after the marriage the
relations between Kamla, the first wife, and Raghav were stained and she was
ill-treated by her husband and Kamla had to leave her father-in-law's house and
to go and live with her father in his village. Before this Kamla and Raghav bad
a son Madhusudhan who was born in 1957.
While Kamla was staying with her father, P.W.
Lakhan Prasad intervened and suggested to Ramanuj Das appellant to 'give to
Kamla Rs. 10,000 in cash and 90 bighas of land and this was agreed to by
Ramanuj Das and on this assurance Ramanuj Das went to Kamla's father's house
and brought back Kamla after the Bidai ceremony was perform. ed. It has I been
stated in the evidence of Ram Sarup which has been accepted by the High Court
that Ramanuj Das himself had told him (Ram Sarup) that the money and the land
would be given.
257 Sometimes in February 1961 i.e. about a
month and half before the date of the alleged occurrence Ram Sarup went to the
house of Ramanuj Das along with Lakhan Prashad P.W, He asked Ramanuj Das to
execute the document in respect of the property and also in regard to the money
and they were told by Ramanuj Das that after Raghav returned from Lucknow this
would be done. After having this talk Ramanuj Das, Ram Sarup and Lakhan Prasad
met Kamla in the house of Ramanuj Das and apprised her of this arrrangement. On
April, 4, 1961 Lakhan Prasad came to know about the arrival of Raghav and on
the following day i.e. April 5, 1961 he want to Vamanuj Das as he had been
instructed by Ram Sarup and there he found both Ramanuj Das and Raghav. Lakhan
Prasad then asked Ramanuj Das that the promise in regard to Rs.10,000 and 90
bighas of land should be carried into effect.
Thereupon it is stated that Raghav got up
abruptly and left, the place but Ramanuj Das promised to execute the document
on the day Ram Sarup could come. Lakhan Prasad told Ramanuj Das that he would
go to Ram Sarup on Saturday i.e. April 8, 1961 and bring him on the following
day i.e. April 9, 1961 and then the document could be executed on Monday, April
10,1961. This arrangement was accepted by Ramanuj Das Lakhan Prasad then went
and informed Kamla about it.
According to the prosecution both Kamla and
Madhusudan were murdered with gun shots sometime in the evening of April 5,
1961, the day the above' talk took place. These gunshots were heard by three
witnesses. The same evening Raghav left Hamirpur Roora by jeep accompanied by
appellants Mohan Singh and Udham Singh 'I hey were seen passing through the
village Samain at about 9 O'clock by P W. Sri Ram. They then proceeded to
Bidhupa where petrol was purchased from the shop of one Rain Bhajan P.W. This
was at about 258 11 P.M. Ram Bhajan saw two other persons in the jeep which was
being driven by Raghav. They then crossed the Ganga at Kanpur at the Rawatpur
Barrier at 8.30 a.m. and from there proceeded to Lucknow, A post card was sent
from Lucknow on April 6, 1961 by Govind Kumari in regard to the arrival of
Raghav and others.
It is not disputed that Kamla and Madhusudan
were not seen alive after the evening of April 5, 1961. As a matter of fact it
is admitted that she became "traceless" after Raghav left Hamirpur
Roora. On April 7, 1961, Khushali Chowkidar of the village made a First
Information Report at the police station to the following effect.
"Day before yesterday in the night
Raghav of my village,, who is son of Narain Das, has murdered his wedded wife
and son by firing of them with the gun of Mahant Ramanuj Das. He has gone some
where with the two dead bodies in a car. There is a rumour about it in the whole
of the village. Having heard of it, I went to the Mahant who is also the
Pradhan of my village. I asked him to give me something in writing, so that I
should go to the Police Station and make a report. The Mahant then asked me to
wait and to go only after Thakur Dalganjan Singh had come. I did not listen to
him, although he kept on forbidding. I have come to make a report".
The Sub-inspector-in-charge of the Police
Station had- gone in connection with some official duty and therefore the above
information was sent to him by the police. He came to Hamirpur Roora at about 2
p.m. and inspected the house where the deceased was residing. According to his
statement he did not find any one in the house; he took some witnesses along
with him and made a search of the house and there he found some patches 259
which looked like blood on the terrace and in the rooms of the first floor. He
prepared a site plan and made a memorandum of what he saw there. This site plan
and the memorandum that he prepared have been proved. He took into possession
blood stained plaster pieces from II places from inside the room, put them into
separate packets and made the packets into a bundle and sealed it. On April 12,
1961 Police Deputy Superintendent Bashir Hussain took in and the investigation
and came to the place of the occurrence and found seven other places where
there were marks which looked like blood marks and he took the earth into
These included places like Parnalas (water
spots). These were also made into a sealed parcel but unfortunately all these
articles were not sent to the Chemical Examiner till May 25, 1961 and when
examined out of 11 pieces which had been collected by the Sub-lnspector five
were found to be bloodstained and of out seven pieces collected by Deputy
Superintendent Bashir Hussian only two were found to be bloodstained. When
these articles were sent to the Serologist the origin of the blood could not be
ascertained as the blood by that time had disintegrated.
The Sub-Inspector searched for the, accused
persons but could not find any one at the house or at other places. On April
10, 1961 he arrested Mohan Singh appellant but the others could not be traced.
They excepting Raghav surrendered themselves on different dates in the
Magistrate's court in the district of Etawah Ramanuj Das on April 24 and Jai
Devi on April 27. The Sub-Inspector started a search for Raghav, looked for him
in different places in Lucknow but he could not find him nor was his jeep
found. April 20, 1961 Raghav surrendered in the court of the Magistrate at 260
Nawabganj in the district of Barabanki. In the application he stated as
follows:- "2. That Srimati Kamla daughter of Ram Swarup of village
Manchhana, P. S. Kotwali District Mainpuri, residing in my house has become traceless
along with her minor son and in this connection a strong rumour has been set
afloat by the enemies of the applicant's family to the effect that she has been
murdered." He also stated that his name was being associated with the
murder because of enmity. AD Affidavit was filed in the court of the Magistrate
by Govind Kumari sister of the appellant in which it was stated that Kamla had
run away from the house of Ramanuj Das after stealing ornaments. The jeep in
which Raghav had left Hamirpur Roora Was never found in spite of the best
efforts of the Police.
During the course of their investigations the
police recovered from the laundry of on Babulal P.W. in Lucknow a shirt and a
pyjama belonging, to appellant Raghav. The police thought that there were blood
marks both on the shirt as well as the pyjama but the Chemical Examiner only
found three minute size bloodstains on the shirt but the origin of this blood
also could not be discovered as the blood had disintegrated. The appellants
were then tried before the learned Sessions Judge who convicted them as has
been said above. The conviction was upheld by the High Court and the appellants
have come to this court by special leave.
It may be remarked that the dead body of
Kamla or her son Madhusudan was never found and this is a case where there is
no direct proof of corpus delicti. The question is whether in a case 261 like
this and on the evidence which we are going to discuss, it can be said that a
ease of murder has been proved and it has also been proved as to who committed
the murder and further whether a case under s. 201 has been made out.
There are certain facts in this case which
are not in controversy. The appellant Raghav after having been married to Kamla
for about four years married a second time. His second wife is Vimla who is a
graduate of the Lucknow University. It is not disputed that some time in 1959
Kamla with her son Madhusudan who was born in 1957 went to live with her
parents, her father being a well to-do resident of another village. She stayed
with her parents for about two years and was brought back to Hamirpur Roora sometime
in 1960. The prosecution case is that this was on the promise that she will be
given Rs. 10, 00) in cash and 90 bighas of land but this is denied by the
defence. The High Court has found this fact proved. There is again no dispute
about their (Kamla and her son Madhasudan) being alive upto the evening of
April 5, 1961. On the night between April 5 and April 6, both Kamla and
Madhusudan disappeared. They were not seen at the house of Ramanuj Das where
they were residing and where also were residing her father in-law and his
family and her husband whenever he came to the village from Lucknow where he
was a University student and where he had a flat of his own for his residence
and that of his second wife Vimla and his sisters. It is also clear on this
record that none of the members of the family i.e. Ramanuj Das, Jai Devi or any
other made the slightest attempt to trace the whereabout of Kamla and her son
after their disappearance. No report was made to the Police, no search was
made. On the other hand when the chowkidar of the village Khushali P. W., asked
Ramanuj Das 262 to give something in writing so that he could inform the Police
regarding the rumour which was afloat in the village about the murder of Kamla
and her son he told him to wait till Dalgajan Singh came. It was after this
that the chowkidar made a report at the Police Station.
The first question is as to whether Kamla and
her son were murdered and the murder was committed in the house of Ramanuj Das
as alleged by the prosecution. As we have said above both Kamla and her son
were seen alive till the evening of April 5, 1961 and they were not seen
Both the courts below have found and there is
evidence on the record that relations between Kamla and he husband Raghav were
strained and it was for that reason that she had gone away to her parents
house. Ram Swarup, Kamla's father has deposed to this and so has Lakhan Prasad
who deposed that whenever he met Kamla he found her to be unhappy.
Ordinarily amongst families such as that of
the appellant daughters-in-law do not go away to stay at their parents house
unless there is reason for it. , The High Court has considered this evidence in
regard to the relations between the husband and the wife at great length and it
is not necessary to repeat those statements of the witnesses which have been
referred to in the judgment of the High Court. We are satisfied that on this
evidence the High Court has rightly found that the relations between the two
were unhappy. In those circumstances it has to be enquired as to how and why
Kamla came back to the house of her in-laws along with her son. For that the
evidence again is of Ram Swarup and Lakhan Prasad. Somewhere in 1960 Lakhan
Prasad went to Ram Swarup and asked him that Kamla should be sent to Hamirpur
Roora and that there would be no further trouble. we also told Ram Swarup that
Ramanuj Das had decided to give Kamla a sum of Rs. 10,000 in cash 263 and 90
bighas of Land for cultivation on the understanding that she would reside at
Hamirpur Roora. On this condition Ramanuj Das came and took Kamla with him
after the bidai ceremony. On that occasion, according to ham Swarup, Ramanuj
Das told him that he would settle the money and the land as promised. Sometime
in February 1961 Ram Swarup accompanied by Lakhan Prasad went to the house of
Ramanuj Das and asked him to perform his part of the promise to which Ramanuj
Das replied that be would do so on the arrival of Raghav from Lucknow.
On April 5, 1961, the date of the alleged
murder, Lakhan Prasad went to the house of Ramanuj Das and there he had a talk
with Ramanuj Das, Raghav was also sitting near Ramanuj Das. When Lakhan Prasad
started talking about this matter Raghav got up and went away but Ramanuj Das
promised that he would execute the document on Monday April 10, 1961 and it was
arranged that Ram Swarup would also be present by them and Lakhan Prasad
informed Kamla of this fact. The defence has denied this part of the
prosecution ease and before us the evidence of Lakhan Prasad was severely
criticised and reliance was placed on the criticism of this witness by the
learned Sessions Judge. It appears that the learned Sessions Judge has been
unduly severe on Lakhan Prasad merely because of a post card which was produced
by, Ramanuj Das and proved by defense witnesses that the marriage between Kamla
and Raghav was not brought about by Lakhan Prasad but by Dafadar Singh. Lakhan
Prasad had deposed that he had brought about the marriage. It was also said
that Lakhan Prasad was unable to recognise the photograph of Govind Kumari and
other children and thus could not be very familiar with the family. But the
evidence of Lakhan Prasad gets strong corroboration from the evidence of Ram
The 264 High Court was satisfied that on that
day Ramanuj Das had agreed that he would execute such a document and we see no
reason to differ from the finding of the High Court, The fact that Ramanuj Das
was present for the settlement of money and land in favour of Kamla is amply
proved on this record and it is equally clear that when this matter was
broached in the presence of Raghav he suddenly left the place from which an
inference might well be and has rightly been drawn that he was not very happy
about this settlement.
On the same evening three shots were heard by
three witnesses P. W., Narain Singh, P.W. Lallu Singh and P. W. Babu Singh.
Both the courts below have accepted the testimony of these witnesses. We have
gone through the evidence of these witnesses and although there may be certain
points on which the testimony of. these witnesses may legitimately be subjected
to criticism, those points are Dot sufficient to detract from their evidence
that they did bear three shots being fired. The defence had put forward the
theory that it was the firing of a toy gun by the younger brother of Raghav
which these witnesses heard on that day but this plea has rightly not been
accepted by the High Court.
The question then arises whether Raghav was
in the village on April 5, the date of the murder. The case for Raghav is that
he had left on the 4th and that he was not in the village on the 5th. One fact
which has been taken into consideration against this plea is the statement of
Lakhan Prasad when he states that in the presence of Raghav the question of
settlement of land and of money was discussed and n Raghav got up and went
away. This, according to Lakhan Prasad, was on the 5th. Then 265 there is the
evidence to show that the jeep of appellant Raghav was seen in the house of
Ramanuj Das on the evening of th. This evidence is of P. W. Narain Singh who
saw the jeep in the house and of P. W. Lallu Singh who saw the jeep of Raghav
going towards the north at about 9 or 10 O'Clock on the evening of April 5,
1961 and finally the evidence of P. W. Babu Singh who says that on the same
evening he heard the sound of car at about 10 p. m. He also stated that the
only person who had a jeep or a car was Raghav. These witnesses have been
believed and after going through their evidence we are of the opinion that they
have been rightly believed. There is then the evidence of P. W. Sri Ram who
says that on April 5. at about 10 p.m. he saw the jeep of Raghav in village
Samain which is at a distance of a mile and in that jeep there were the
appellant Raghav and the two appellants Mohan Singh and Udham Singh and that
the back curtain of the jeep was drawn. This evidence was criticised on the
ground that this witness had made a mistake as to the date which was 4th and
also that he did not meet the appellant's jeep there but at another place on
the canal bank and it is argued that the statement of this witness is
compatible with the case of the defence. It appears to us that Sri Ram has made
a mistake about the date. He was deposing after a long time but corroboration
is from another source and that shows that Sri Ram must have seen the jeep on
the 5th and not the 4th. The jeep was seen at Hamirpur Roora on the 5th by two
witnesses. Raghav was seen at the house on the 5th by Lakhan Prasad and his
further movements have been traced also. Raghav took petrol from P. W. Ram
Bhajjan who states that the petrol was purchased about 10-30 P. M. or 11 p. m.
and considering the distance between Bidhauna and Samain that would probably be
the 266 time when Raghav would be in Bidhuna. The evidence of this witness was
also criticised that he made a mistake in regard to time and that petrol was
brought at 2 p. m. and not in the night. It was argued that other cash memos
bad not been taken from Ram Bhajjan which, if they had been taken, would have
shown that the petrol was taken not at 10-30 p. m. or 11 p. m. but earlier in
the afternoon. This witness has given good reasons why he remembered the time
when petrol was taken by him. He stated that two days later he heard the rumour
and then remembered the time and the date on which Raghav bad bought petrol
from him. He was criticised for not remembering the time when Raghav bought
petrol on the 4th but then he had no reason to recall that visit. In our
opinion the testimony of this witness has been rightly accepted by the courts
below. On the morning of 6th the jeep was seen at the barrier at the river
Ganga at Kanpur at 8-30 a. m. and then Raghav went to Lucknow. From the
evidence of demand of Lakhan Prasad for the Settlement of land on Kamla on
April 5, 1961 in the presence of Raghav from the fact that the jeep of Raghav
was seen in the village in the evening and his jeep was seen going from village
Hamirpur Roora and again at Samain and Bhidhuna an inference has rightly been
drawn that appellant Raghav was present in village Hamirpur Roora on April 5
and his plea that he left that village on the 4th is false.
The police was informed about the rumour in
the village of the murder of Kamla and her son on April 7 and the Sub-
Inspector Brijraj Singh Tomar came to the house of Ramanuj Das at about 2 p.m.
He went into the house and inspected the place of occurrence and prepared a
site plan and memo showing as to what he saw. This, he has sworn to be correct
and there is no reason to doubt his testimony. According to his statement he
found 267 what appeared to be blood at different places in the rooms and be
took the plaster from those places. As we have said above the origin of this
blood has not been proved because of disintegration but the fact is that blood
was found in the rooms.
The case put forward by appellant Raghav was
that he started from the village on April 4 and want to his mother's father's
house at Shah Nagla. From there he took with him his Dada Ram Sewak and the
wife of Ram Sawak whom he called Bhabhi. He started from that place on April 5,
1961 at about 12 noon, took petrol from Bidhuna and reached Samain, which he
wants us to read as Bhawain, where his mother's sister is married and where he
want to condole because the father-in-law of his mother's sister bad died and
from there he started from Lucknow on April 6, 1961 after taking refreshments.
All these facts were capable of easy proof if facts they were. Neither the Dada
nor the Bhabhi were examined The two persons who saw the appellant go in the
jeep are P. W. Sri Ram and P.W. Ram Bhajan. The testimony of these witnesses
has been believed by the courts below and with that we have agreed. Neither of
them says that they saw a woman in the jeep. If the appellant left with Mohan
Singh and Udham Sinah then there should have been four individuals in the jeep
besides the appellant at the petrol pump. That is not the statement of P. M.
Ram Bhajan nor is there any proof that as a matter of fact the father-in-law of
the appellant's mother's sister (Massi) had died or that the appellant had gone
there for the purpose of condoling or that he went there at all. We are unable
to accept this explanation given by the appellant in view of the testimony of
the witnesses who have been discussed above. Thus after the three gunshots were
fired and heard by the three witnesses, the appellant's jeep was seen leaving
the village. It was seen in Samain with 268 the two appellants Mohan Singh and
Udham Singh and it was then seen at Bidbuna "with two persons sitting at
This was on April 5. The explanation given by
appellant, therefore, is false.
When the appellant reached Lucknow his sister
wrote a letter saying that the appellant etc. had arrived and that Bhabhi had
also come and "as Bhabhi has come over here so I have not to worry about
cooking of food". The defence submit that what was meant by Bhabhi wag
Vimla or it may be Dada s wife and therefore it cannot he said that there was
any oblique motive in the writing of this post card so as to create evidence in
regard to Kamla being alive on April 6.
1951. The prosecution has rightly argued that
in this post card there is no mention of Kamla. The father, uncle and mother
and three younger children are mentioned but not Kamla or Madbusudan. To this
the reply of counsel for the appellant was that there was not much love lost
between Kamla and Govind Kumari and for that reason her name was not mentioned.
But there wag nothing against the little boy who could have been mentioned as
the other children. Even if Govind Kumari's distaste be true that is an
additional reason for saying that Kamla was not a very welcome member of the
family of her in-laws.
The appellant then was found to be absconding.
According to Sub-Inspector Tomar efforts were made to search for him in
different places where he would ordinarily be in the town of Lucknow or
elsewhere but he was not found. Ultimately he went to Nawabganj in the district
of Barabanki where on April 20, 1961 he surrendered himself before a
In the application that he made for
surrendering himself he stated, as has been said above, that Kamla d/o Ram
Swarup who was living in his house was missing and it was being 269 said by his
enemies that she had murdered and that his name had been mentioned in that
connection due to enmity and that a warrant had issued against him although be
was wholly unaware of her disappearance. This is rather an extraordinary
conduct on the part of a husband. There is nothing to indicates that any
attempt was made by the hus- band to search for the missing wife and the child
or anything was done by him in regard to that matter. He may not have worried
about the mother but what about the child? The allegation of the prosecution
that he was absconding and that when they searched for him they could not find
him is satisfactorily established on this record. We are aware that the burden
of proving everything against the appellant is on the prosecution and there is
no burden on him to disprove anything but in a case of circumstantial evidence
where there are circumstance of the kind which are proved in this case the
cumulative effect has to be seen by placing together proved facts any
conclusion drawn therefrom and in the absence of any explanation all that one
has to consider is the prosecution evidence.
There is another important circumstance' A
shirt of the appellant was recovered from a laundry on April 16. It was found
to be bloodstained although the origin of the blood has not been proved by the
prosecution. The fact remains that at three places this shirt which was given
by the appellant on April 9, 1961 was found to be blood-stained.
Counsel for the appellant argued that this
was a most innocuous circumstance because there is no proof that there was
blood on the shirt on April 9 when it was given to the laundry and that merely
three specks of blood being found on the 16th i.e. seven days later is not a
circumstance which can be taken against the appellant. With this we do not
agree. The appellant must consider himself lucky that the shirt was washed or
it would 270 have cleared him or inculpated him still more. The fact that the
blood was not visible to Babulal when the shirt was taken is not a circumstance
which goes against the prosecution case because books on medical jurisprudence-
show that bloodstains are sometimes faint and invisible by ordinary light. The
shirt was given to be laundered and Babulal will look for tears and damage and
not for stains or dirt for which the shirt was given to be cleaned. The colour
of the shirt was khaki and it is likely that the small stains would go
unnoticed. After all the shirt was given for a wash. It is true that the blood
was found on April 16, 1961 and there is no proof that it was there on April 9,
1961 but we see no reason why blood should suddenly appear seven days later on
the shirt of Raghav. When be was asked in regard to this bloodstained shirt,
his answer was "I do not know". In the circumstances the courts were
justified in taking this to be a circumstance in the chain of circumstances
which have to be placed together in order to determine whether the case has
been made out against the appellant or not.
Another very striking circumstance against
the appellant is that the jeep in which Ragbav travelled from the village to
Lucknow has vanished from the face of this earth. In spite of the beat efforts
of the police it has not been found.
Evidently the police wanted to interrogate
the appellant in regard the whereabouts of the jeep but it appears that by an
order dated April 28, 1961 the Magistrate ordered that the Investigating
Officer should issue a written order requiring Raghav to produce the jeep
"as well as to interrogate the accused", that the accused is at
liberty to say whatever be likes and he could not be compelled either to
produce the thing or to tell its whereabouts as this is his privilege under the
law. It is then that the police made an order calling upon the appellant
(Raghav) to produce the 271 jeep and of course it was never produced nor found.
His reply cannot be read under s. 162 Criminal Procedure Code and we leave have
it out of account altogether. Every possible place was searched and it is
significant that it has not been found till today and even when the evidence
was being led about its disappearance the evidence was not contradicted. by
driving the jeep to the court house and saying,, here it is. This, in our
opinion, is a circumstance which can be taken into consideration in order to,
determine the guilt or otherwise of the appellant. In the opinion of the High
Court the jeep has not been produced because it must be bloodstained, on
account of the dead bodies having been carried in it. It is quite obvious that
however much the jeep be washed the chances would be that in some crevice, in
some joint or in some bolt nut or screw, blood may still remain adhearing. But
if the jeep is not produced there can be no risk of detection and the inference
from its disappearance can be countered by arguments as it has actually been.
The non-production of the jeep is a strong circumstance against appellant
Raghav which the courts below were entitled to. take into consideration.
Articles' like jeeps do not just disappear in
this air and when they do disappear and cannot be traced as they have not been
traced in this cage and when the allegation is that they have been used for
carrying away the dead bodies their non-production or their not being found is
a circumstance which a court can take into consideration in determining the
guilt of an accused person.
It may also he added that the other
appellants were also absconding. Why the whole household went away is not just
a coincidence. If the girl and the child had disappeared in innocent
circumstances there was hardly reason for all of them to panic. None of them
proved why they were so difficult to get at or what was the urgent business
which had 272 called them away. Mohan Singh was arrested on April 9, Ramanuj
Das surrendered on April 24, and in his application he stated that be bad been
informed by A. P. Dubey that be was wanted. Jai Devi surrendered on April 27,
1961 and claimed to be a purdanashin lady and her appearance in court was
excused and she was released on bail. Thus all the accused persons were found
to be absconding and except one the other four were not arrested but they
surrendered in the court of the Magistrate and of them 3 were released on bail.
We have therefore the following circumstances
which the Courts have taken into considerations %'1) strained relations between
Raghav and his wife Kamla; (2) there was an agreement by Ramanuj Das of making
a settlement of land and money in favour of Kamla and on the insistence of Ram
Swarup father of Kamla, Ramanuj Das bad agreed that the document would be executed
on Monday i.e April 10, 1961 ;
(3) it is also proved that when the matter
was discussed in the presence of appellant Raghav whose arrival was awaited for
finalising the arrangement he got up and went away; and it is also established
that Kamla had been brought from the house of her parents on the express
condition that such a settlement would be made; (4) on April 5, 1961 appellant
Raghav was in village Hamirpur Roora and on that evening three gunshots were
fired and sometime later Raghav left in his jeep with two other appellants
Mohan Singh and Udham Singh and after Raghav left Kamla and her son were found
missing from the house; (5) although this fact was discovered the next day no
attempt was made to search for Kamla and her son; (6) Appellant Raghav and his
two companions travelled by night from village Hamirpur Roora according to
witnesses he was in a hurry and were found on the 6th morning at Kanpur and the
same day they reached Lucknow as the post card written by 273 Govind Kumari
shows. In that post card it is stated that the appellant and others had arrived
at Lucknow. The explanation of the appellant was that he left on the 4th and
took his Dada and his Bhabbi along with him but this explanation has not been
accepted and is a false explanation; (7) thereafter the appellant made himself
scarce and the police could not trace him till he surrendered himself in the
court of a magistrate at Nawabgunj where he made an application stating that
one Kamla was found missing and that he was being suspected of murdering her;
(8) why he should have gone to Nawabgunj is not quite clear and of course
neither he nor any of his relatives made any attempt to look for Kamla; (9)
when the chowkidar of the village told Ramanuj Das about the rumour in the
village of the murder of Kamla he was asked by Ramanuj Das not to make the
report till Dalganjan Singh had arrived (Dalganjan Singh we are told is an
Up-Pradhan of the Panchayat) the report was made by the chowkidar on the 4th
and the police came the same day and inspected the house of Ramanuj Das ; (10)
In the rooms upstairs blood was found at 5 places. According to the memo
prepared and deposed to in Court there were marks of blood having been wiped
off at many places and the Chemical Examiner found the marks on these various
places of plaster which had been taken into possession by the sub-Inspector to
be of blood but its origin could not be determined due to disintegration; (11)
on April 12, D. Sp. Bashir Hussain. found the blood at 2 places more in the
house of the Ramanuj Das. The origin of this blood has also not been proved due
(12) on April 16, a bloodstained shirt of
Raghav was found from a laundry; (13) no explanation is given of this blood on
the shirt and (14) on April 5, 1961 both Kamla and her son disappeared from the
fact of this earth and nobody has heard of them and no attempt has on made to
find out as to what happened to them 274 and instead false explanation was
given that Kamla had left with her child and a suggestion was made in the
cross- examination that she had eloped with one Chander Sekhar and thus had
vanished from the house. It may be stated that there is no reasons why she
should have disappeared when according to evidence she was going to get land
and money and when she had her father who could look after her and was in
affluent circumstances; (15) Coupled with this is the fact, of disappearance of
jeep in which the appellant travelled from his village to Lucknow; (16) and a
wholly false explanation was given as to the movement of the appellant Raghav.
From these circumstances the courts below came to the conclusion that the
murder was committed at the house of Ramanuj Das. We find no reason to disagree
with the conclusions drawn from the evidence that Kamla and her son Madhusudhan
are dead and they met their death by violence in the house of Ramanuj Das.
In king Horry (1) the headnote states the law
as follows:- "At the trial of a person charged with murder, the fact of
death is provable by circumstantial evidence, not withstanding that neither the
body nor any trace of the body has been found and that the accused has made no
confession of any participation in the crime.
Before he can be convicted, the fact of death
should be proved by such circumstances as render the commission of the crime
morally certain and leave no ground for reasonable doubt; the circumstantial
evidence should be so cogent and compelling as to convince a jury that upon no
rational hypothesis other than murder can the facts be accounted for." (1)
 N.Z.L.R. III.
275 This statement of the law was approved in
Regina v. Onufrejczyk(1) except as to moral certainty and that statement of the
law has received approval of this court in Anant Chintaman Lagu v. The State of
Bombay(2). It was also said in King v. Horry (3):
"That the jury, viewing the evidence as
a whole, was entitled to regard the concurrence of so many separate facts and
circumstances themselves established beyond all doubt, and all pointing to the
fact of death on or about July 13, 1942-as excluding any reasonable hypothesis
other than the death of the person alleged to have been murdered and as having,
therefore sufficient probative force to establish her death." In this
connection it would be apposite', to quote from the judgment in Lagu's case(2)
at page 506 where it was observed:- "In Rex v. Horry  N.Z.L.R. 111
where the entire case law in England was presented for the consideration of the
Court. It was pointed out by the Court that there was no rule in England that
corpus delicti must be proved by direct evidence establishing the death of the
person and further the cause that death. Reference was made to Evans v. Evans
161 E.R. 466, 491. Where it was ruled that corpus delicti might be proved by
direct evidence or by ",irresistible grounds of presumption". In the
same case it has been pointed out that in New Zeland 'the Court, upheld
numerous convictions where the body of the victim was never found." The
two cases referred to above i.e. King v. Horry(1) and Regina v. Onufrejczyk (1)
are cases of conviction (1)  1 Q.B. 388. 394. (2) 1960 12 S.C.R. 460.
(3)  N.Z. L.R. III.
276 no doubt by juries on evidence which was
wholly circumstantial but in both those cases neither the body was found nor
any trace of the body was found and there was no confession by the accused of
any participation in the crime and the conviction was based on the occurrence
of so many separate facts and circumstances all pointing to the fact of death
on or about a particular date and excluded any reasonable hypothesis other than
the death of the person alleged to have been murdered and this was held to be
of Bufficient probative force to establish death. In the present case the
circumstances which have been proved and to repeat the circumstances are,
strained relations between the husband and wife, motive to escape the giving of
money and land or maintenance to the wife or the child, suddenly leaving the
village at night with two others and almost simultaneous disappearance of Kamla
and her son, no search for her and absolute callousness or the part of Raghav,
subsequent false explanation being given and his absconding are all
circumstances from which the courts below were justified in concluding the
Kamla and her son were murdered and that Raghav had a predominent motive to
commit the murder. The High Court found that Raghav had a strong motive to
commit the murder and after taking all the circumstances into consideration
came to the conclusion that the Sessions Judge had rightly convicted Raghav of
No two cases can have the same facts but the
principles applied in placing the various links in the chain of events and
circumstances by the High Court are, in our opinion wholly correct and they
have rightly drawn the conclusion that the appellant Raghav was guilty of the
offence with which he was charged. The inculpatory facts which have been proved
were, in the opinion of the High Court, inconsistent with the innocence of the
appellant and are not capable of explanation or any other hypothesis except his
277 guilt and as was said by this Court in Govinda v. State of Mysore(1).
"In cases where the evidence is of
circum- stantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt
is to be drawn should 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 huma n probabilities the act must have been
done by the accused. The principle that the inculpatory fact must be
inconsistant with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation on
any other hypothesis than that of guilt does not mean that any extravagant
hypothesis would be sufficient to sustain the principle, but that the
hypothesis suggested must be reasonable." The evidence in this case and
the inferences drawn from the evidence by the courts below do not fall in what
was said by Baron Alderson in his charge to the jury in Re v. Hodge(2) where it
"The mind was apt to take a pleasure in
adapting circumstances to one another, and even in straining them a little, if
need be, to force them to form parts of one connected whole; and the more
ingenious the mind of the individual the more likely was it, considering such
matter, to overreach and .lm0 (1) A.I.R.1960 S.C.29.
(2)  2 Law 227.
278 mislead itself, to supply some little
link that is wanting, to take for granted some fact consistent with its previous
theories and necessary to render them complete." Therefore in our view the
courts below having applied correct principles and having found the
circumstances, to be such which can only be explained on the hypothesis of the
guilt of appellant Raghav have rightly found the appellant to be guilty. He had
the immediate motive to rid himself of the wife. His child was just as
undesirable and indeed the child could not be kept back and the mother
murdered. Jai Devi as the murderer by gun shots was out of the question.
Ramanuj' Das was trying to placate Kamla by
promising money and lands. The servants had I no reason to murder their
mistress. It is manifest that the shots must have been fired by Raghav who took
steps also to rid the bodies and the jeep which carried them. If the jeep was
not connected it would have come forth if not in the investigation at least
during the trial.
We therefore dismiss the appeal of Raghav and
see no reason to disagree with the opinion of the courts below that no sentence
other than death was called for in this case. The murder was a venal one and
had been committed to get rid of an inconvenient wife and her child.
Then the question arises whether a case is
made out s. 201 of the Indian Penal Code and if so against whom ? The two appellants
Mohan Singh and Udham Singh were with the appellant (Raghav) in his jeep and if
the dead body was taken away in his jeep as it has been held by the Courts
below that they were then the case against these two appel- lants is proved. It
is said that no one saw the dead bodies being carried. That may be so but the
conclusion drawn is from circumstantial evidence i.e. series of events which
lead to the conclusion of 279 guilt. We have already said that murder was
committed in the house of Ramanuj Das on the evening of April 5, 1961.
There was disappearance of Kamla and
Madhusudan and sudden departure of Raghav and these two appellants. They were
in a ,hurry and the back curtains of jeep were drawn. They travelled all night
and took almost 11 hours to reach the barrier at Kanpur. There is no trace of
Kamla and her child. No one has seen them since their disappearance on April 5.
From these proved facts the courts drow the inference of an offence under a.
201 Indian Penal Code which in our opinion was correct. Thus these two
appellants have been rightly convicted and their appeals are dismissed.
In regard to the case of Ramanuj Das and Jai
Devi the finding of the High Court is that the dead bodies of Kamla and her son
Madbusudan were not found in the house of Ramanuj Das and they must have
therefore been removed ; that an attempt was made to wash out the bloodstains
from inside the rooms and also outside on the roof ; that the dead bodies could
not have been removed without the knowledge and active cooperation of Ramanuj
Das and Jai Devi and further that both Ramanuj Das and Jai Devi absconded. On
this basis the conviction of these appellants was held by the High Court to be
justified. It is true that the murder was committed in the house of Ramanuj Das
and that there is the evidence to show that the blood inside and outside the
living rooms was washed and an attempt was-made to obliterate any sign of it
though it was unsuccessful. It also may be that both Ramanuj Das and Jai Devi
had knowledge of the removal of the dead-bodies but what s. 201 requires is
causing any evidence of the commission of the offence to disappear or for
giving any information respecting the offence which a person knows or believes
to be false. In this case there is no evidence of either. It is not shown that
280 these two appellants caused any evidence to disappear.
There may be a very strong suspicion that if
from the house dead bodies are removed or blood was washed, person placed in
the position of the appellants must have had. a hand in it but still that
remains a suspicion even a strong suspicion at that. It is true that they were
absconding but merely absconding will not fill the gap or supply the evidence
which is necessary to prove the ingredients of section 201 of the Indian Penal
Code. In our opinion the case against Ramanuj Das and Jai Devi has not been
There appeals must therefore be allowed and
they be set at liberty.
We have found that the murder was committed
in the house of Ramanuj Das and that disappearance of the dead bodies took
place from that house. Ramanuj Das did have the knowledge of the commission of
the murder and he took no steps to inform the police about it. In these
circumstances he has been rightly convicted under s. 176 of the Indian Penal Code
and his appeal in regard to conviction under that section is dismissed.
By COURT. The appeal of Raghav Prapanna
Tripathi, Mohan and Udham Singh is allowed by majority and that of Ramanuj Das
and Jai Devi for offence under s. 201 of the Indian Penal Code is allowed
unanimously. The appeal of Ramanuj Das for offence under s. 176 of the Indian
Penal Code is allowed by majority.