Jamuna Chaudhari & Ors Vs. State of
Bihar  INSC 233 (7 December 1973)
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH
CITATION: 1974 AIR 1822 1974 SCR (2) 609 1974
SCC (3) 774
CITATOR INFO :
RF 1991 SC1260 (40)
Criminal trial-Duty of investigating officer
in the matter of investigation-Penal Code-Ss. 147 and 149-Benefit of doubt.
The party of the accused and the opposite
party alleged that the other party had attacked them with deadly weapons when
each of them was lawfully engaged in work in their respective fields. In the
scuffle some members on both sides received injuries. One member of the
opposite party died as a result of the injuries.
Although the prosecution case was that only
one incident took place in a field on that day no mention was made of the
severe injury on the head of one of the men in the opposite party either in the
First Information Report or in the statements of witnesses. The F.I.R. did not
contain any of the important events in the fight nor did the investigating
officer make full enquiries with regard to the fight between the two parties.
The investigating officer had stated that, although he found injuries on the
person of one of the party of the accused, yet he had made no enquiries from
the witnesses as to how he had received these injuries.
The trial court acquitted some of the
accused, convicted the first appellant and sentenced him to imprisonment for
life and convicted the others for offenses under ss. 147 & 149.
The High Court reduced the sentence of the
first appellant to 5 years, and that of other by half.
In appeal to this Court,
HELD: The duty of the Investigating Officer
is not merely to bolster up a prosecution case with such evidence as may enable
the Court to record a conviction but to bring out the real, unvarnished truth.
In the instant case, it is apparent that the prosecution witnesses had tried to
omit altogether any. reference to at least the injuries of the first appellant
because there was a cross case in which such an admission could have been used
to support the prosecution in that case. As neither the prosecution nor the
defence has come out with the whole and unvarnished truth, so as to enable the
Court to judge where the rights and wrongs of the whole incident or set of
incidents lay or how one or more incidents took place in which so many persons
were injured, courts can only try to guess or conjecture to decipher the truth,
if possible. This may be done within limits to determine whether any reasonable
doubt emerges on any point under consideration from proved facts and
circumstances of the case. [615A-B; D-E] (2)Where so many witnesses who had an
equally good opportunity to observe what the first appellant did, did not
involve him at all and had omitted even mentioning so prominent a feature of
the occurrence as attack on the deceased, it could not be held beyond
reasonable doubt that the fatal injury to the deceased was actually caused by
the lath of the first appellant and of no other person. The first appellant was
entitled to the benefit of doubt. [616 FG] (3)The injured witnesses who have
given specific acts of the accused who struck them, could be relied upon to
convict particular accused persons. The trial court has correctly applied this
test and the use of ss. 147 and 149 against them was justified. [618 B]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal
Appeal No. 97 of 1970.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment and
Order dated the 21st January 1970 of the Patna High Court in Criminal Appeal
No. 2 ,of 1967.
610 Nuruddin Ahmad. S. N. Singh and Gyan
Sudha Misra, for the appellant.
R. C. Prasad, for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
BEG, J. Thirty-one accused persons were sent up for trial before the Additional
Sessions' Judge of Chapra on charges under Sections 147, 148, 323, 325, 326,
302/34, 302/149, Indian Penal Code. The appellant Jamuna Chaudhary was also
charged separately under section 302 Indian Penal Code. The prosecution case
may be stated as follows : On 15-7-1965 at about 8 a. m. Dukhharan Koeri, P. W.
22, his brother Sitaram Bhagat, P.W. 20, his sister-in-law Smt. Gulzaria, P. W.
12, were weeding plot No. 39, in village Rani Sariswam. Smt. Sujhani, P. W. 10,
the mother of Dukhharan, P. W. 22, Smt. Minie, P. W. 14, and Dukhharan's niece Km.
Ram Rati, P. W.
9, daughter of Sitaram, were also present
there. A crowd of 80 to 85 persons from various villages, armed with Lathis,
Bhalas, and Pharsas suddenly appeared and started attacking the unoffending
Dukhharan and his relations in field No. 39.
Names of 25 persons, including the
appellants, are mentioned in the First information Report lodged at Police
Station Mirgan. in District Saran, at 2.15 p. m. on 15-7-1965. In his evidence
Dukhharan stated that he ran away to a distance of 2 to 3 bighas to the south
but returned to the scene of occurrence when the accused had dispersed and then
he found a number of other persons lying injured. They were his brother
Sitaram, P. W. 20, Tapi Bhagat, P. W. 3, Nagina Koeri, P. W. 13, Smt. Fekani,
P. W. 17, and Laldhari who was lying unconscious and who )never regained
Injuries, proved by Dr. B.N. Dwivedy, P.W. 4,
who examined the injured on 15-7-65 between 4-45 p.m. and 7 p.m. were:
Two scratches and 4 Ecchymoses, all simple
injuries, with some blunt weapon were sustained by Dukhharan. Two Ecchymoses,
simple injuries, with a blunt weapon were' found on Fegn Bhagat. Two
Ecchymoses, simple injuries with a blunt weapon were found on Smt. Hirachia.
Smt. Phekan had one Ecchymoses, a simple injury with a hard weapon Sitaram P.W.
20, had a lacerated wound 4" x 1/2" on the head, two punctured wounds
1/2" x 1/4" x 1/2" one on the left elbow and another on the
nose, a swelling on the left forearm with compound fracture, a lacerated wound
and two red Ecchymoses.
Two of these injuries were grievous and the
Two were caused by some sharp weapon and the
rest by a blunt weapon. Tapi Bhagat, P.W. 3, had a scratch, a red Ecchymosis
and a swelling on right arm, a compound fracture and a lacerated wound, all
caused by a blunt weapon. One of these injuries was grievous. Ram Nagina had a
lacerated wound, 3 red Ecchymoses on the back, and two on the buttocks, a
punctured wound on the lower jaw and another on the right of the thumb, two of
these injuries were caused by a sharp weapon, and the rest by a blunt weapon.
Smt. Sonjharia wife of Ram Gobind Bhagat, had a swelling on the right arm, with
a simple fracture, a swelling of the left middle finger with a fracture and an
Ecchymosis. Two of these were grievous injuries. Birjhan Bhagat, P.W. 15, had a
punctured wound, a simple injury caused by a penetrating weapon. Smt.
Lachminia, P.W. 11, 611 had a swelling of the right arm with a simple fracture
and a lacerated wound. The first of these was grievous and the other simple.
Km. Ram Rati, P.W. 9, had an incised wound 2" x 1/2" x 1/2"
caused by a sharp edged weapon. Smt. Matia, wife of Ram Nagina Bhagat, had
three red Ecchymoses which were simple injuries. Smt. Sonjaria wife of Sita Ram
had a swelling and two Ecchymoses. Laldhari Bhagat-, who had become unconscious
and died subsequently had a punctured wound 1/4" x 1/2" x 1/2"
on the right thigh, a swelling 3" x 2" on the left temporal region of
the head, and a scratch 1" x 1"' on the right elbow. The first was by
a piercing weapon like a Bhala and the second, which was serious, was with a
lathi. Dr. Mehta examined as Court witness No. 1 proved the following injuries
on Ramanadan Chaudhary which he examined on 15-7-65 at 11 a.m.
1. One penetrating wound 1/2" (?) x 1/4"
x 2" on the right side of the chest in between the mid line and napple.
2. Left little and left ring finger, chopped
off except that they were hanging with a thin skin with the hand.
3. One incised wound 1" x 1/4" x
skin deep, on the back of right middle finger.
4. One incised wound 1" x 1/3" x
1/2" on the back of the right index finger.
5. One incised wound, 1-1/4" x 1/4"
x 1/4" on the front of right thumb.
Injury No. 2 , was of grievous nature and
other of simple nature.
Injury No. 1, caused by sharp pointing weapon
such as Bhala and other by sharp cutting such as pharas (?)".
All the in juries mentioned above were shown
to have been caused within 12 hours of their examination so that they could be
caused on the morning of 15-7-65.
The accused did not produce any witness in
defence. The statement of Ramanandan Chaudhary under Section 342 Criminal
Procedure Code setting out the defence version was :
Ramanandan and some others had purchased some
Shikmi land from Nathuni Dube and had grown Makai on it. When he was ploughing
one of the purchased plots numbered 30, at about 8 a.m. on 15-7-65, Dukhharan,
Sitaram, Birjan Nagina, Inder Sain, Tapi Bhagat came there and protested
against the ploughing. As Ramanandan did not pay any attention to their
protests, Dukhharan and Sitaram attacked him with Pharasas so that he fell down
and became unconscious. A Marpit took place after Ramanandan had fallen down.
The suggestion was that the party of Dukhharan itself had attacked a number of
persons who were injured. Ramanandan also filed a sale deed dated 30-8-1920
showing that he had purchased plots No. 24, 30, and 31.
The Trial Court had discarded the defence
version as it found that the marks of trampling of the crop were present in
field No. 19. It bad also held that an attempt had been made to show that the
occurrence had really taken place in plot No. 30, by some irregular marks. made
by ploughing up portions of field No. 30 so as to create evidence, 612 of some
incident there. Its view was that as seven women had been injured, it could not
be believed that Dukhharan and Sitaram and others had gone to the field of
Ramanandan to cause injuries. Its finding definitely was that the occurrence
took place in plot No. 39. It also observed that the sale deed relied upon by
the defence was too old to op.- rate as a motive for an incident on field No.
30, but, it found that there was a dispute over Shikmi land at a distance of
165 steps from the plot No. 39. According to the prosecution case, the only
incident on that day in this village occurred in field No. 39. The Trial
Court's finding that the cause of this incident was a dispute over Shikmi land
nearby was based on admissions of a number of prosecution witnesses: Phagu
Bhagat, P.W. 1; Ramjit Singh, P.W. 5, Sheodhari Bhagat, P.W. 7; Birjhan Bhagat,
Sitaram Bhagat, P.W. 20; Dukhharan Koeri,
A very extraordinary feature of the case is
that although, according to the prosecution case, only one incident took place
at about 8 a. m. in the morning in the field No. 39 belonging to Dukhharan,
over which no accused person had any claim whatsoever, yet, no mention was made
of the severe injury on the head of Laldhari which made him unconscious, either
in the First Information Report shown to have been lodged at 9.30 a. m. when
the S. 1. Radheyshyam Gupta, P. W.
23, went to the spot or in the statements of
more than three out of sixteen alleged eye witnesses. These three eye witnesses
were : Sheodhari Bhagat, P. W. 7, whose field is to the west of the field in
which Dukhharan is said to have been weeding, Birjhan Bhagat, P. W. 15, whose
field is to the north of Dukhharan's field, and Sitaram Bhagat, P. W.
20, the brother of Dukhharan who was said to
be actually weeding with Dukhharan in the same field. The other 13 eye witnesses,
namely, Phagu Bhagat, P. W. I., Tappi Bhagat, P.
W. 3, Ramjit Shah, P. W. 5 Ram Chandra
Sharma, P. W. 8, Km.
Ram Rati, P. W. 9, Smt. Sujhani, P. W. IO,
Smt. Lachminia Devi, P. W. II, Smt. Gulzaria, P. W. 12, Nagina Koeri, P. W. 13,
Smt. Minia, P. W. 14, Smt. Vekani, P. W. 17, Smt.
Marchhia, P. W. 19, and Dukhharan, P. W. 22,
make no mention whatsoever of any incident involving the coming of Laldhari to
the scene of occurrence or any attack upon him. D- ukhharan, P. W. 22, who was
in his own field with his brother Sitaram, had stated that he had run away and
come back to the field where he found Laldhari lying unconscious.
But, he did not mention even this fact in the
F. I. R. to the Investigating Officer when he came to the spot. By that time he
was bound to have seen Laldhari lying unconscious just as his brother Sitaram
saw it if he could be believed.
The omission from the F. I. R. made by
Dukhharan, was, however, not put to him. Nevertheless, the fact that the
incident was omitted and no- mention is made whatsoever of the injury of
Laldhari by thirteen alleged eye witnesses is significant in judging whether
Laldhari was injured during the incident on the field of Dukhharan for which
the F.I. R.
was lodged or in some other probably not
disconnected incident. It is very surprising that so many as thirteen eye
witnesses who, according to their own statements, were present at the scene for
the whole duration of the occurrence had not even mentioned the injury to
Laldhari if the whole occurrence was really 613 one and had taken place in plot
No. 39. And, even out of the three who mention it, only Birjhan Bhagat says
that Laldhari was attacked simply because he came there and forbade the
assailants from committing an assault This reason for the alleged attack on him
also does not appear very convincing as there were, according to prosecution
witnesses, several people objecting to any marpit.
It is true that the evidence of Dr. Dwivedy
shows that as many as fourteen persons, including Laldhari, were injured as set
out above. But, the First Information Report mentions injuries only on seven
persons as mentioned earlier. An examination of the evidence of the prosecution
witnesses reveals that practically all of them said that Rajdhari assaulted
Dukhharan with a lathi which struck his left hand, Ramayan attacked Dukhharan
with a Khoncha directed at his chest, and Muni appellant used his Khoncha to
inflict an injury on the head of Dukhharan. Beyond that, each witness appears
to have noticed only those who struck him if the witness sustained an injury at
all. Km. Ram Rati, a child of 8 years, could only state that Ram Nath had
assaulted her with a Pharsa on her left leg. Nevertheless, the witnesses were
prepared to say, in the witness box, without identifying the accused
individually, that all the accused were among the 80 to 85 persons who came to
attack Dukhharan and the members of his family, including women, without any
apparent rhyme or reason, as there was no dispute, even according to the
prosecution case, with regard to plot No. 39. That plot was admitted to be in
the possession of Dukhharan. only Dukhharan, among all the alleged eye
witnesses identified the accused individually at the trial. And, the grievance
which was set up was with regard to some Shikmi land with which the members of
the alleged mob from several villages were not shown to have had any concern.
it is not shown what possible interest these other individuals, who are said to
be the members of a mob, could conceivably have had in the dispute between
Dukhharan and some of the accused persons so as to collie and attack the
unoffending Dukhharan and members of his family without any apparent reason.
Dukhharan had stated that. he and his father
used to pay rent of Shikmi land to Tapesar Dubey and Dhanraj Dubey. He admitted
that Raghubir Chaudhary and the accused Rajdhari and Jamuna had a sale deed
executed in respect of the above mentioned Shikmi land and that they had asked
him to give up possession of the Shikmi land to which he did not agree. He also
admitted that this was the cause of the ill-feeling between him and the two
accused Rajdhari and Jamuna. He also stated that he had filed an application
before the Block Development Officer, Nathwa, for granting him a receipt in
respect of the rent of the Shikmi land, but his request was turned down.
Furthermore, he admitted that proceedings under Section 145 Criminal Procedure
Code had taken place between the parties over this land. Thus, this Shikmi land
was the cause of dispute between Dukhharan, Rajdhari, and Jamuna, accused, in
which the other accused persons could not have any real interest.
It appears to us that Radheyshyam Gupta, P.
W. 23, the Investigating Officer had not been sufficiently careful or astute in
investigating 614 the extent of truth which could or did lie behind the defence
version. He had, however, stated that the defence version was given to him as
soon as he met Ramanandan at the Hospital after the occurrence. He said
"Ramanand had stated in his fardbeyan that he had taken two Bighas of land
under sale deed from Nathuni Dubey. He also said this that while he was getting
that land ploughed, accused persons came and asked to unyoke the plough, and on
refusal Dukhharan and Sitaram assaulted him with farsa and Nagina dealt bhala
blow on his chest and on the hulla raised by him they fled away. He had made
Lalchand Bhagat, Chandrika Bhagat and Gudar Ahir as his witnesses. I had taken
their statement and they are also witnesses in the chargesheet.
He had stated the time of occurrence at 8 a. m.
and I took his statement at 10. 30 p. m. in the hospital".
The Investigating Officer had stated that he
did not find any marks of blood either in plot No. 39 or in plot No. 30.
He also said that he did not find foot prints
in plot No. 30 which is at a distance of 165 steps north east of plot No. 39.
It is true that he had stated that he found 2 or 3 gathas of maize (makai)
crops trampled upon in the north of field No. 39. He also deposed that he found
"marks of trampling towards the north of the field". About plot No. 30
where, according to the defence version, the occurrence had taken place, he
said "I found maize crops sown in plot No. 30 which were 4"-5 inches
high. I found it ploughed not properly. At places space is left un-ploughed in
between one jote (ploughed strip of land) and another.
This field appears to be ploughed in an
improper way and I found its north west corner not ploughed. The field appeared
to be freshly ploughed again." He also stated : "I found plot No. 30
in the possession of Dukhharan. I was shown papers also in connection with
Shikmi land". The Investigating Officer had stated that, although he found
injuries on the person of Ramanandan, he had made no enquiries from the
witnesses as to how the appellant Ramanandan had received these injuries. His
statement shows that he had sent Jamuna also for an injury report so that this
accused too must have been injured.
Furthermore, he had stated : "I did not
even enquire from the witnesses of this case about the foot prints and
trampling found in the Shikmi land". It is thus clear that the prosecution
had not placed the whole set of relevant facts before the Court. The accused,
not infrequently, try to conceal their injuries in such cases as they become
evidence of involvement in an incident.
615 The duty of the Investigating Officers is
not merely to bolster up a prosecution case with such evidence as may enable
the Court to record a conviction but to bring out the real unvarnished truth.
It is apparent that the prosecution witnesses had tried to omit altogether any
reference to at least the injuries of the appellant Ramanandan because there
was a cross case in which such an admission could have been made use ofto
support the prosecution in that case.
Dukhharan, however, made a very feeble and
obviously untruthful attempt to account for the injuries of Ramanandan by
saying that he had snatched a pharsa from one of' the members of the crowd and
had started swinging it around. He could not, however, state whether any one
was in jured by it. He even, stated that he did not recognise the man from whom
he had snatched the pharsa. Although he said that he knew Ramanandan from his.
childhood, he could not say whether all his fingers were present on the day of
occurrence. It was apparent that be was trying to conceal some occurrence over
the Shikmi land that morning in which the fingers of' Ramanandan were chopped
off. He admitted that there was a dispute between Raghubir, Jamuna, and
Rajdhari which had lasted 21/2 to3 years over the Shikmi land. In fact, this
dispute was given as the only cause of the incident set up by the prosecution.
As neither the prosecution nor the defence
have, in the case before us, come out with the whole and unvarnished truth, so
as to enable the Court to judge where the rights and wrongs of the whole
incident or set of incidents lay or how one or more incidents took place in
which so many persons, including Laldhari and Ramanandan, were injured, courts
can only try to guess or conjecture to decipher the truth if possible. This may
be done within limits to determine whether any reasonable doubt emerges on any
point under consideration from. proved facts and circumstances of the case.
It appears to us that the prosecution had,
rather vainly, tried to, prove that only one occurrence took place between the
parties on the morning of 15-7-1965 and that this was in the field of Dukhharan
only, and that whatever injuries were inflicted on various persons were all,
sustained in the course of that occurrence. We are unable to hold',. after ,
perusing the statements of the prosecution witnesses, that this,. part of the
prosecution version of the incident is proved beyond reasonable doubt. It does
not explain all the proved facts and circumstances, If we were to resort to
guess work and conjecture, we may be able to. infer that some incident took
place over the Shikmi land also which was shown to have been ploughed. This
ploughing was probably, earlier and led to the incident in which Ramanandan
lost his fingers,.The aggression must, at that time, have come from the party
of Dukhharan. We cannot, however, definitely come to this conclusion as no
party has led any evidence to prove what we are left only to guess and
conjecture from proved facts and circumstances. We think that there is enough indication
given by proved facts and circumstances to show that the incident in which a
number of women sustained injuries must have been the result of a legally
unjustified retaliation against an earlierattack upon Ramanandan and others.
This may also explain why, 616 persons from other villages are said to have
joined in the attack upon the party of Dukhharan probably out of sympathy for
We think that the Trial Court had, after
coming to the conclusion, on quite unsatisfactory material, that the whole
occurrence must have taken place on field No. 39, failed to examine the manner
in which the ,dispute must have originated and the occurrence developed,
perhaps by stages, into one resulting in injuries of so many persons. It
appears from the statements of persons actually injured that they were not able
to make out all the members of the crowd, which assembled, but they could
remember those who had inflicted injuries upon them.
In the circumstances brought out from the
total evidence in the case, both occular and circumstantial, we think that it
will not be safe to convict any person for any offence other than that revealed
by the injuries he is shown to have inflicted upon an actually injured witness
deposing against him. An injured witness, in any case, would not easily
substitute a wrong person for his actual assailant. It has not been shown to us
that there was motive for such substitution. it also appears to us that,
although, the actual quarrel originated and the assault began somewhere in the Shikmi
land where Ramanandan was overwhelmed by the party of Dukhharan, yet, when a
large number of persons came to the help of Ramanandan, out of sympathy for
him, it must have extended further so that the party of Dukhharan must hive
been chased, By that time, a number of women folk, who may have been working in
and around the field of Dukhharan may have come to the scene and tried to take
the side of their men folk. Hence, they too were injured. The injured witnesses
could be relied upon only for what they depose about injuries inflicted upon
them at this last stage of the whole occurrence. There may have been even short
gaps of time between the different stages.
On the evidence on record we are also left
guessing as to how Laldhari deceased could have been injured. It is true that
three out of thirteen witnesses, as already indicated above, have stated that
Jamuna gave the lathi blow which resulted in the death of Laldhari. But, we
think that, where so many witnesses, who had an equally good opportunity to
observe what Jamuna appellant did not involve Jamuna at all and omit even
mentioning so prominent a feature of the occurrence as the attack on Laldhari,
it could not be held beyond reasonable doubt that the fattal injury on Laldhari
deceased was actually caused by the lathi of Jamuna, appellant, and of no other
person. We, therefore, think that Jamuna is entitled to the benefit of doubt
which emerges on the question as to who caused that injury on Laldhari.
The Trial Court had acquitted 18 out of 31
accused persons on the _ground that no overtact had been proved against them.
It had, how..ever, convicted Jamuna Chaudhary separately under Section 302 I.
P. C. .,and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. The remaining 12
appellants, namely, Rajdhari, Muni Chamar, Ramayan, Ramanandan Chaudhary,
Kishundeo Ahir, Sheopujan Chamar, Ganga Chaudhary, Ramsewak, Palakdhari,
Swaminath, Raja Ahir and Ramnath, were convicted under Sections 326/149 and
sentenced to undergo rigorous 617 imprisonment for six years each. Appellants
Ramanandan and Sheopujan Chamar were also convicted under Section 325 and
sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment. The appellants, Rajdhari,
Sheopujan Chamar, Ganga Chaudhary and Ramnath were also convicted under Section
324 I. P. C. and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years
each. Appellants Muni, Ramayan, Kishundeo Ahir, Sheopujan Chamar, Ramsewak,
Palakdhari, Swaminath, Raja Ahir, were convicted under Section 323 and
sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year. No separate sentence
was passed against Rajdhar, Sheopujan Chamar, Ganga Chaudhary and Ramnath under
Section 148 or against Jamuna, Muni-Chamar, Ramayan, Ramanandan, Kishundeo
Ahir, Ramsewak, Palakdhari, Swaminath, Raja Ahir for conviction under Section
147 I.P.C. The sentences so passed were directed to run concurrently.
When the appellants took their appeal to the
High Court neither the evidence of the witnesses nor the cases of the
individual accused except Jamuna were discussed at all. The High Court observed
that, in view of the arguments, advanced, it would reduce the sentences of each
of the accused persons, other than Jamuna appellant, by half. So far as jamuna
appellant was concerned, it dealt with the case only to point out that the head
injury was a stray one.
This injury had been held, by the High Court
also, to be outside the scope of the common object. The High Court came to the
conclusion that the appellant Jamuna could only be convicted under Section 304
I. P. C. IInd part for the injury on Laldhari's head. Therefore, convicting him
under that section, it sentenced him to five years' rigorous imprisonment. it
maintained his conviction under Section 147 I. P. C. With the necessary
modifications, the appellants' appeals were dismissed.
We are unable to discover from the judgment
of the High Court whether the learned counsel for the appellant had confined
his submissions to those affecting the sentences or alteration of the Section
under which the appellant Jamuna was to be convicted. We can only infer, from
the observations of the High Court, that this may explain the very superficial
manner in which the case was dealt with by the High Court. We' may, however,
observe that learned counsel are expected to assist Courts in reaching a
correct conclusion in a case in which so much evidence and so many witnesses
and points worth consideration were there. The High Court had dealt with the
appeal in a very summary fashion. It would have been better if the statement of
reasons for the conclusions reached by it was more enlightening.
in view of the rather laconic judgment given
by the High Court of Patna in this case which has come up before us by special
appeal, we were inclined, at one stage, to send this case back to the High
Court for rewriting of the judgment, but, it was pointed pout, on behalf of the
appellants, that the case is quite old and would impose unnecessary hardship on
the appellants if they were to face further. proceedings in the High Court. We
have, therefore gone through the main features of the evidence ourselves. We
have for the reasons already given above come to the conclusion that, on the
evidence on record, it would not be 618 -safe to hold that it was Jamuna
Chaudhary only and not someb ody else who could have inflicted the fatal injury
on Laldhari ,deceased. Moreover, we cannot be quite definite about the
circumstances in which it was inflicted. Hence, Jamuna Chaudhary is entitled to
the benefit of doubt so far as this injury to Laldhari is concerned. We have
also come to the conclusion that the injured witnesses, ,who have given
specific acts of accused who struck them, could be relie d upon to convict
particular accused persons. This is the test which the Trial Court had
correctly employed against individual accused persons. We think that the use of
Sections 147 and 149 against them was also justified.
The High Court had reduced all sentences by
half. We maintain their convictions. But, as we are informed that the sentences
awarded have been undergone almost for the whole period by ,each convict
appellant, we think that ends of justice will be served by reducing their
sentences to the periods already undergone. The result is that we give Jamuna
Chaudhary, appellant, the benefit of doubt for the offence under Section 304 I.
P. C. and acquit him of the charge ,for it. We, however, hold Jamuna Chaudhary
guilty of offenses punishable under Section 147 I. P. C. with the other
accused. We maintain -all the convictions of the other accused persons also.
But, we reduce the sentences of the appellants for various offenses of which
they have been convicted to the periods already undergone. This appeal is
allowed .to the extent indicated above. As the sentences of all the appellants
are reduced to the period already undergone, they will be released forthwith
unless wanted in some other connection.
Appeal partly allowed.
P. B. R.