Ramnarain Vs. State of Rajasthan
 INSC 22 (31 January 1973)
CITATION: 1973 AIR 1188 1973 SCR (3) 463 1973
SCC (3) 805
CITATOR INFO :
RF 1991 SC1463 (5)
Indian Penal Code-Accused convicted under s.
467 and 120B- Application under s. 561-A of the Cr. P. C. not considered-
Whether there was grave miscarriage of justice.
The appellant was alleged to have entered
into a conspiracy with others, to persuade members of the public to part with
money for purchasing residential plots in a village, 'Khand Gawadi' and in
furtherence of this conspiracy, they were alleged to have forged sale
proceedings pattas, and the signatures of others on such pattas and sale
The appellant himself affixed his signatures
as Sarpanch and put the seat of the village panchayat on the forged documents.
The trial court held the appellant guilty of the offences of conspiracy under
s. 120-B and he was also found guilty of the offences under s. 467 1. P. C. On
appeal the High Court confirmed the appellant's conviction on both these
counts, but reduced his sentence. The appellant's grievance before this Court
was that non-consideration of his application under s. 561-A Cr. P.C. dated
April 7, 1970, which was filed on May 1, 1970, but neither listed nor beard and
has resulted in grave miscarriage of justice. On 18th May 1970, the Hon'ble
High Court made an order as follows : "Perused application dated 7-4-1970
1 have decided the case on 17-4-1970 and
there is, therefore, no question of saying anything on the merits now".
The second point strongly presented by the appellant is that the appellants
conviction was based solely on the testimony of P.W. 1, the approver, whose
evidence has not been corroborated in material parts.
Allowing the appeal, HELD: (i) The
application under s. 561-A Cr. P.C.
should have been disposed of after hearing
the appellant's counsel and its disposal without such hearing was clearly wrong
and unjust. The appellant has a just grievance against the manner in which this
application was disposed of. He had a right to be afforded a reasonable
opportunity of being heard in support of his application, and the disposal of
this case in the chamber of the learned judge without giving him such
opportunity cannot be appreciated [469H] (ii) Section 133 of the Indian
Evidence Act, expressly provides that an accomplice is a competent witness and
the conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds on uncorroborated
testimony of an accomplice. But this Section has to read along with
illustration (b) to s. 114. Section 114 empowers the court to presume the
existence of certain facts and the illustrations elucidate what the court may
presume. Illustration (b) in express terms says : 'that an accomplice is
unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material particulars. The
statute thus permits the conviction of an accused person on the basis of un-
corroborated testimony of army accomplice. But the rule of prudence embodied in
Illustration (b) of s. 114 strikes a note of warning that the court will not
generally believe an accomplice unless be is corroborated in material parts.
This rule is guided by long experience and
has become a rule of prudence for general application. [470C-G] 464 (iii) So
far as the charge under s. 120-B, 1. P.C. is concerned, in almost every case of
conspiracy, it is generally a matter of inference, direct independent evidence
being seldom. Inferences are normally deduced from acts of parties in pursuance
of apparent criminal purpose in common between them. In the present case, the
only evidence is of the approver and the trial court expressly observed that
there is no other direct evidence of conspiracy. Therefore the charge of
conspiracy cannot be sustained from the evidence available. [475G-476B] In the
present case, on the existing evidence, the appellants conviction under s.467
I.P.C. was wholly unsustainable. Therefore, the appellants' conviction must be
set aside. [475F]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 105 of 1970.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated April 17, 1970 of the Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur in S.
B. Cr. Appeal No. 283 of 1967.
Nuruddin Ahmad F. S. Dave and Subhag Mal
Jain, for the appellant.
K. Baldev Mehta, for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
DUA, J.-In this appeal by special leave from the judgment of the Rajasthan High
Court Ram Narain, appellant, challenges his conviction for the offences under
ss. 467 and 120B, I.P.C. He,, along with three others, had been committed for
trial in the court of Sessions Judge, Kota on ten charges for offences under
ss. 467, 468, 420 and 120B, I.P.C. It is not necessary to reproduce all the
charges and it would suffice if we set out the charges under S. 467 and 120B,
I.P.C., because by the impugned judgment of the High Court the appellant's
conviction was sustained only on charges under these two sections. Those
charges are :
"I That you between the months of
November, 1959 to January, 1960, at your house at Dadvada entered into a
conspiracy with Sarvashri Madan Mohan, Badriprasad and Bakshi Gajpatsingh and
others, to commit off ences of forgery using forged documents as gen uine and
of cheating the public, Municipal Board and the Government in respect of the
sale of some pieces of land belonging earlier to the Gram Panchayat Khandgawari
in favour of Moolsingh, Mukatbeharilal and Surajsingh and that you did some act
to wit forged the Proceedings of the Pattas in favour of the above said persons
and the signatures and the thumb impressions, of the Panchas of the defunct
Gram Panchayat and made false entries in the Cash Book of the said Panchayat of
;he year 1957-58 at pages 42 and 45 and affixed the 465 seal of that Gram
Panchayat and put your signatures on the Pattas so forged, all in the capacity
of the Surpanch of that Gram Panchayat besides agreement to commit the offences
under sections 457, 468 and 420, of the I.P.C. punishable with rigorous
imprisonment for over two years and thereby committed an offence punishable
under section 120B of the I.P.C. and within my cognizance.
(2) That during the same period, you forged
Patta proceedings in antedates in respect of the sale of land 30'X35' belonging
earlier to the defunct Gram Panchayat Kandgaonri in favour of Shri Surajsingh
and put your own signatures on the forged document purporting to be valuable
security to wit, the patta in favour of Surajsingh and gave it to Shri
Surajsingh and that you thereby committed an offence punishable under section
467, of the I.P.C. and within my cognizance.
(5) That during the same period, you forged
patta proceedings in antedates in respect of the sale of land 50'X 50'
belonging earlier to the defunct Gram Panchayat Khandgaonri in favour of Mukat
Behari and put your signatures on the forged document purporting to be a
valuable security to wit the patta in favour of Mukat Beharilal and gave it to
Shri Mukat Behari and that you thereby committed an offence punishable under
section 467 of the Indian Penal Code and within my cognizance.
(8) That during the same period you forged
patta proceedings in antedates in respect of the sale of land 30'X30' belonging
earlier to the defunct Gram Panchayat Khandgaonri, in favour of Shri Moolsingh
and put your own signatures on, the forged document purporting to be valuable
security to with the patta in favour of Shri Moolsingh and gave it to Shri
Moolsingh and that you thereby committed an offence punishable under section
467 of the I.P.C. and within my cognizance." Village Khand Gawadi had
before October, 1958 a panchayat of which Gangaram (P.W. 3) was the Sarpanch
and the appellant its Up-Sarpanch. In the months of April and May, 19S8 the
appellant officiated for the Sarpanch because the latter (Gangaram) was busy in
connection with his daughter's marriage. By means of a gazette notification
(No. 1128 8/F.
1 (a) 48L 59/A/55 dated 16-10-58) the
Rajasthan Government extended the limits of the municipal council, Kota,
amongst other villages, to Khand 466 Gawadi also. The Municipal Council took
over charge from the Gram Panchayat of this village on January 7, 1959.
According to the prosecution version during
the months of November, 1959 to January, 1960, long after the village panchayat
had ceased to exist, the appellant entered into a conspiracy with the other
accused persons (tried along with him in the sessions court) and Bhanwarlal son
of Bapulal (who became an approver and appeared as P.W. 1 in the case) to cheat
the members of the public, the Municipal Council, Kota and the Government. The
modus operandi for carrying out the object of this conspiracy was to persuade
such members of the public as were amenable to their persuasion to part with
money for purchasing residential plots in village Khand Gawadi; and in
furtherance of this conspiracy they forged sale proceedings and pattas by
ante-dating them and forging signatures of the other Panchas on such pattas and
sale proceedings. The appellant himself affixed his signatures as Sarpanch and
put the seal of the village Panchayat on the forged documents. The trial, as is
obvious, from the charges reproduced above, was confined to the sale
proceedings and pattas in the names of Mool Singh, Mukat Beharilal and Suraj
Singh. Bhanwarlal (P.W. 1), who was also stated to have been a party to this
conspiracy was granted pardon and having become an approver appeared as a
witness in support of the prosecution. The Sessions Judge, after considering
the prosecution evidence and the evidence of the defence witnesses, produced by
the appellant, upheld the prosecution case against the appellant holding that
he and the approver, Bhanwarlal, had joined hands in forging the sale
proceedings and pattas mentioned in the charges and also in forging thereon the
signatures of the other Panchas.
In fact, according to the trial court, it was
the appellant who had dragged Bhanwarlal into 'the conspiracy and their
activities were motivated by a desire to cheat the Municipal Council, Kota, the
members of the public and the Government of Rajasthan by making them part with
possession of their valuable land in village Khand Gawadi for nominal Drice. On
this finding the offence of conspiracy under s. 120B was held proved against
the appellant. He was also held guilty of the offence under s. 467, I.P.C.
Charges under the other sections were held not proved. The appellant was
accordingly sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for three years and a fine of
Rs. 200 under s. 120B and to rigorous imprisonment for two years and a fine of
Rs. 200 under s.
467, I.P.C. In default of payment of fine the
appellant was directed to undergo six months' further rigorous imprisonment in
each case. Both the substantive sentences were directed to be concurrent. The
other accused persons Bakshi Gajpat Singh, Madan Mohan and Badri Prasad were
On appeal the High Court affirmed the
appellant's conviction on both these counts but reduced his sentence to
rigorous imprisonment for 15 months and a fine of Rs. 200 on each count. The
sentences of imprisonment were directed to be concurrent.
In default of payment of fine the appellant
was directed to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for three months on each
In this Court Shri Nuruddin Ahmad, the
learned counsel for the appellant at the outset pointed out that in the High
Court an application had been made on behalf of the appellant on April 7, 1970
to recall Gangaram (P.W. 1) for cross-examining him and also for examining
Mukat Beharilal and M. L. Parekh Deputy Superintendent of Police in charge, as
court witnesses, but although arguments were addressed on that application at
some length the High Court did not care to deal with the, matter or even to
refer to it in its judgment. In this connection our attention was drawn to
Annexure D to the petition for special leave in this Court.
Anenexure D is said to be a copy of the
application filed in the High Court by Shri V. S. Dave, Advocate for the
appellant, under s. 540, Cr. P.C. The material part of Annexure D reads :
"1. That in the above noted appeal
prosecution examined Ganga Ram P.W. 3 as a witness.
2. That Gangaram besides the present
complaint Ex. P-19 also lodged a complaint against appellant for offence under
sections 409, 477, I.P.C. and the accused appellant has been acquitted in the
3. That the judgment in case under sections
409 and 477, I.P.C. was delivered subsequent to the examination of Gangararn as
P.W. 3 and as such he could not be cross-examined in respect of his earlier
complaints and fact of enmity and false concention of cases against the
appellant could not be put to him.
4. That appellant has also been convicted for
forging the, patta alleged to have been given to Mukat Beharilal.
5. That Mukat Behari Lal has been withheld by
6. That the appellant has learnt that Mukat
Behari Lal filed a writ petition in this Hon'ble Court in respect of the said
patta and- same is said to have: been decided in his favour.
7. That since the subject matter of patta of
Mukat Behari Lal has been adjudicated upon by this Hon'ble Court his
examination in this Hon'ble Court as a witness is essential to the just
decision of this case and as also the production of judgment will have
important bearing in the case.
8. That the Deputy S. P. who conducted the
investigation of this case has also not been produced and same has caused great
prejudice to the case of the appellant as the appellant could not bring on
record as to from whose custody the documents Ex. P-5, P-6, P-9 and P-12
9. That the examination of aforesaid three
Witnesses is essential to the just decision of the case.
It is, therefore, prayed that your lordships
would be pleased to accept this application recall Gangaram P.W. 3 for further
cross- examination and also call Mukat Behari Lal and the Investigating Officer
as Court wit- nesses or grant permission to appellant to summon them." Our
attention was also invited to Annexures E and F to the Special Leave Petition.
Annexure E is a certified copy of a slip of the Court Reader in single Bench
Cr. A. No. 283 of 67, Ramnarain v. State in the High Court of Judicature for
Rajasthan at Jodhpur. That slip reads :
"This application was found lying in the
Chamber of Hon'ble Gattani J. How this application was placed and who placed
this application there.
Sd/- Bansidhar Reader 27-4-70" Annexure
F a certified copy of the order dated April 29, 1970 of Deputy Registrar of the
High Court in the said Criminal Appeal, which was also brought to our notice,
"The application has been shown to
Hon'ble Gattani j. and according to the direction of his Lordship the
application be kept on the file.
Sd/- G. K. Sharma Dy.Registrar" On April
30, 1970 an application was presented on behalf of the appellant in the High
Court under s. 561-A. Cr. P.C.
This application, according to the appellant,
was filed on May 1, 1970 but it was neither listed nor heard in court.
The following order dated May 18, 1970 (as
translated into English) was recorded by the learned Judge in Hindi :-
"Perused the applications dated 7-4-70 and 30- 4-70 presented on behalf of
46 9 I have, decided the case on 17-4-70 and
there is therefore no question of saying anything on the merits now. As far as
I remember Shri Chiranjilal Agarwal did mention during the course of the
arguments on 7-4-70 that he wanted to present an application. Then I had told
him that if the application is presented it will also be taken into
Thereafter during the course of the arguments
no application was presented before me.
I never saw the application dated 7-4-70 in
my Chamber, nor anyone said anything to me on 29- 4-70 about this application.
Sd/- H. D. GATTANI J." The appellant's
grievance before us is that non- consideration,, of his application dated April
7, 1970 has resulted in grave miscarriage of justice. Developing this point it
has been contended, that the manner in which this part of the case was dealt
with suggests non-application of judicial mind by the High Court to the case as
The second point strongly pressed by Shri
Nuruddin Ahmed' is that the appellants conviction is based solely on the
testimony of Banwari Lal (P.W. 1), the approver, whose evidence has not been
corroborated in material particulars, connecting the appellant with the alleged
offence in question. The appellant's conviction is, therefore, unsustainable.
P.W. 1, according to the appellant's, submission, is a wholly unreliable
witness add his 'evidence is so seriously discrepant and unconvincing on vital
points that it is. highly dangerous to place any reliance on it.
The sustenance of the appellant's conviction
on the approver's evidence in this case Would be a travesty of justice, said
the counsel. We were taken. through the relevant record of the evidence by the
counsel for both. ,- ides on this part of the case.
Now so far as the first grievance is
concerned, the appellants submission cannot be summarily brushed aside as we
feel there is prima facie material calling for a further probe into the matter.
But as in our view even if the first contention were to prevail the question of
recording additional evidence, as requested on behalf of the appellant, would
have to be considered and since, in our opinion,, the appeal has to be allowed
on the second point, we deem it unnecessary to express any considered opinion
on the first point. We would, however, like to point out that the application
under s. 561-A, Cr. P.C. should have been disposed of after hearing the
appellant's counsel and its disposal without such hearing was clearly wrong and
The appellant has a just grievance against
the manner in which this application was disposed of. He 470 had a right to be
afforded a reasonable opportunity of being heard in support of his application
and we are unable to appreciate the disposal of this application in the
chambers without giving him such opportunity. The counsel for the State was
also unable to explain the divergence between the order of the Deputy Registrar
dated April 29, 1970 and the learned Judge's observation in his order dated May
18, 1970 that no one had said anything to him on April 29, 1970 about the
application dated, April 7, 1970. This divergence has also left on our minds a
somewhat unhappy impression with respect to the whole matter. We need say
nothing more on this point.
Turning to the second point we may first
state the legal position relating to the testimony of an approver. Section 133,
Indian Evidence Act, which falls in Ch. IX dealing generally with witnesses,
expressly provides that an accomplice is a competent witness and the conviction
is not illegal merely because it proceeds on uncorroborated testimony of an
accomplice. In other words, this section renders admissible such uncorroborated
testimony. But this section has to be read along with illustration (b) to s.
114 which falls in Ch. VII, dealing with Burden of Proof.
Section 114 empowers the court to presume the
existence of certain facts mid the illustrations elucidate what the court may
presume, and make clear by means of examples as to what facts the court shall
have regard in considering whether or not the maxims illustrated apply to a
given case before it..
Illustration (b) in express terms says that
an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material
particulars : two examples are also given to further explain this subject. The
statute thus permits the conviction of an accused person on the basis of
uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice but the rule of prudence embodied in
illustration (b) of s. 114 strikes a note of warning cautioning the court that
an accomplice does not generally deserve to be believed unless corroborated in
material particulars. This rule of caution is traceable to the fact that an
accomplice witness from the very nature of his position is a suspect. This rule
is guided by long human experience and has become a rule of prudence of general
application. The 'courts. therefore, consider it prudent to look for
corroboration in material particulars for sustaining the conviction of an
accused person. An approver who is admittedly guilty of the crime is an
accomplice who has betrayed his associates and has apparently sought pardon for
saving his own skin. In other words he has purchased complete immunity for his
prosecution at the expense of his associated by agreeing to give evidence
against them for the prosecution. He is. therefore, presumed not to be a man of
high character or a fair witness. His pardon being conditional, to pleased the
prosecution 'he may well weave some false detail into the true details of the
prosecution story and may also falsely involve some innocent per- 471 son. There
is thus a real danger of his telling a story true in. general outline but
containing some untruth which he can easily work into the story. It is for this
reason that the courts as a matter of prudence and caution anxiously look for
some corroboration to satisfy their conscience that the approver's testimony
which is clearly admissible is also worthy of belief. One can of course
visualise an accomplice who is genuinely repentant for the commission of his
crime and truly desires to make a clean breast of the whole, affair by way of
penetance. But even in such cases the court has to judicially determine the
extent to which his uncorroborated testimony can be considered as trustworthy
by looking to the other relevant material and the attending circumstances on
the basis of which the accused can be safely convicted. The rule which seems to
emerge from the foregoing discussion and judicial decisions is that the
necessity of corroboration as a matter of prudence except when it is safe to
dispense with such corroboration must be clearly present to the mind of the
It is in this background that the court is
required to determine the nature and extent of corroboration of an approver's
evidence necessary in a given case for sustaining the conviction of the accused.
The corroborating evidence, broadly stated, must connect' or tend to connect
the accused with the crime charged. This is so because of the danger of the
approver introducing some innocent person or persons into an otherwise true
prosecution story. Such evidence, however, need not by itself be sufficient for
sustaining the conviction of the accused- for in that case the evidence of the
approver would be wholly unnecessary and mere surplus age.
Before considering the evidence on the record
it may be borne in mind that the court should evaluate the evidence of an
approver de hors the corroborating pieces of evidence for if his testimony is
itself uninspiring and unacceptable justifying its rejection outright, then, it
would be futile and wholly unnecessary to look for corroborating evidence.
It is only when the approver's evidence is
considered otherwise acceptable that the court applies its mind to the rule
that his testimony needs corroboration in material particulars connecting or
tending to connect each one of the accused with the crime charged. The offences
for which the appellant has been convicted, it may be recalled, are of
conspiracy with the approver (P.W. 1) as contemplated by S.
120-B, I.P.C., and forgery of valuable
security as contemplated by s. 467, I.P.C. Before us the counsel for the State
clearly confined his contention to the forgery of valuable security as the real
gravamen of the charge against the appellant, of course, in addition to the
charge of conspiracy. We have, therefore, to consider the evidence bearing in
mind the ingredients of these two offences.
472 So far as the charge under S. 120-B,
I.P.C. is concerned the ,only evidence is of the approver and the trial court
expressly observed that there was no other direct evidence of conspiracy. After
considering the case with respect to the offence under S. 467, I.P.C. we will
turn to the charge of the substantive offence of conspiracy.
Before dealing with the evidence on the
offence under S. 467 it may be recalled that the present case was initiated at
the instance ,of Ganga Ram, ex-Sarpanch, (P.W. 3) and some, others when they
presented a complaint (Ex. P-19) on March 18, 1961 to the Collector, Kota, long
after the charge of the Panchayat had been taken over by the Municipal Council.
Ganga Ram appears also to have earlier made
some, complaints to the other officers but as nothing had come out of those
complaints the Collector was approached with an allegation of misappropriation
against Ram Narain in March, 1961. The Municipal Council, it is noteworthy, did
not care to initiate the prosecution.
Bhanwar Lal, the approver, appearing as P.W.
1 has deposed that in June, 1958 he wanted to buy a plot of land for building
his ,own house at Kota where he had been transferred from Udaipur as Train Clerk,
Kota Junction. He was introduced to the appellant through one Kanhaiyalal. He
gave to the appellant an application for that purpose and also paid Rs. 40
towards the price of the land and the appellant gave him a patta for a piece of
land measuring 30'X45' without showing him its exact location. Inspite of
repeated requests the appellant did not show him the plot on certain pretexts
for about four or five months. And then he showed him a plot measuring on
30'X35'. On objection being raised the appellant promised to give to P.W. 1
some more land elsewhere. It appears that the approver and the appellant had by
then become quite intimate. The approver gave to the appellant a contract for
filling up the foundation for a house and also paid him about Rs. 8 or 9
hundred for which he took no receipt. The approver also started teaching the
appellant's children as a private tutor without ,charging anything. It was due
to this intimacy that the appellant is said to have asked the approver to help
him in completing the proceedings of some incomplete patta cases of the Gram
Panchayat. Bhanwar Lal, approver, who ultimately agreed to do this work went to
the appellant's house where he found one Mehta, Secretary of the Mandi
Committee, Madan Mohan Vijay and Badri Prasad. The appellant introduced the,
approver to Mehta and Madan Mohan and asked them to complete the Panchayat
records according to his directions. According to the approver he had prepared
about 200 pattas and order sheets, in about eight or ten days' time. It is
unnecessary to go into the remaining evidence of the approver at this stage.
Suffice it to say that from his evidence it is not at all clear as to what
interest the approver bad in helping the appellant in what is described as the
forgery of the various documents. His evidence, therefore, seems, prima facie,
to be unimpressive and hardly trustworthy. The charge under s.
467, as already observed, is confined to four
pattas issued in favour of Suraj Singh, Mool Singh and Mukat Behari. Two pattas
issued in favour of Suraj Singh are Exs. P5 and P6 and one patta each in favour
of Mool Singh and Mukat Behari are Exs. P 9 and P 12 respectively. Before
taking up these instances and scrutinising this evidence, we may point out that
there is no evidence worth the name and no argument was urged before us to
attempt to show that in the case of the patta in question either the
consideration received was less than the market value or the, amount realised
had been misappropriated and not duly deposited and credited in the appropriate
account. There is thus no question of unlawful gain or loss by cheating
any-body. Now s. 467 provides for punishment for forging a document which
purports to be a valuable security or a will etc. We ,are concerned with the
offence of forging a valuable security. Forgery is defined in s. 463, I.P.C.
according to which whoever makes a false document or part of a document with
intent to. cause damage or injury to the public or to any person or to support
any claim or title or to cause any person to part with property or to enter
into any express or implied contract or with intent to commit fraud or that
fraud may be committed, commits forgery. Section 30, I.P.C., defines
"valuable security" to be a document which purports to be a document
whereby any legal fight is created, extended, transferred, restricted,
extinguished or released or whereby any person acknowledges that he lies under
legal liability or has not a certain legal right. We are, therefore, concerned
only with forgery of valuable security. The fact that the pattas were granted
in favour of the three persons mentioned above irregularly or contrary to any
rules or directions applicable to such patt as would be wholly immaterial
except to the extent it supports the case of forgery against the appellant.
In so far as the case of Suraj Singh is
concerned there are two pattas Exs. P 5 and P 6, both dated May 5, 1958. The
two plots measuring about 100 sq. yds. each were allotted to Suraj Singh for a
consideration of Rs. 37.50 each with an additional sum of Rs. 2 each as plan
fee. The consideration money has been described in these pattas to be
"Bhaint". It is expressly recited in these pattas that the requisite,
fee of Rs. 30.50 has been deposited vide Rokarpanna. These pattas are signed by
the appellant and clearly there can be no question of forging anybody's
signatures, so far as these two documents are concerned. Exhibit P-4 is the
order sheet with respect to Suraj Singh. According to the approver he, the
appellant and Badri Prasad, had fabricated the signatures of Ghasi and Babulal
and the thumb impression of Panch Bhanwarlal (P.W. 8) on Ex. P-4. Except for
the approver's bald statement there is no 474 other evidence in support of this
assertion. Babulal who was produced as P.W. 5 expressed his inability to say
either way whether Ex. P-4 bore his signatures. He is illiterate and, according
to his own evidence, can only put his signatures which also he is unable to
identify. Ghasi was not produced by the prosecution. He was, however, produced
in defence as D.W. 2 for admitting his signatures on Ex. P- 11, the order sheet
relating to Mukat Behari's case. But when he appeared as a defence witness
neither the prosecution nor the defence asked him any questions with respect to
Ex.P-4. The omission on the part of the prosecution to question him about Ex.
P-4 in the absence of any cogent explanation is, in our opinion, quite
significant. Some evidence has been led with respect to entries in Ex. P- 1,
the cash book of the Gram Panchayat but since the charges we are concerned with
are under s. 467 and 120B, I.P.C. it is unnecessary, as indeed, irrelevant, to
refer to that evidence. Before us the counsel for the State expressly confined
his case to the forgery of the pattas which, according to him, constitute
valuable security within the contemplation of s. 467. With respect to Suraj
Singh, therefore, we do not have any reliable evidence which can be said to
corroborate the approver, assuming the, approver's evidence to be acceptable
which we are not inclined to hold.
We now turn to Mool Singh's patta Ex. P-9.
This patta relates to an area measuring 100 sq. yds. and the consideration is
stated to be Rs. 30 with an additional sum of Rs. 2 as plan fee. Here again,
the consideration is described as "Bhaint". Exhibit P-9 also contains
an assertion that the requisite amount of Rs. 32 had been deposited vide
Rokarpana. This patta is also signed by Ram Narain and there is no question of
forging anyone else's signatures. The order sheet relating to this patta is Ex.P-8
which is signed by the appellant and also purports to be signed by Onkar and
Ghasi. The position of this patta is no better than that of Ex. P-5 which is in
favour of Suraj Singh.
Mukat Behari's patta is Ex. P-12 and is for
an area measuring 227 sq. yds. and 7 sq. ft. The consideration is stated to be
Rs. too, inclusive of Rs. 2 as plan fee. Here also the amount is, stated to
have been deposited as per Rokarpana and the receipt is signed by one M. B.
The order sheet relating to this patta is Ex.
P-11 which purports to bear the signatures of Ghasi and Madan Lal, Ghasi (D.W.
2) has deposed about his signatures on Ex. P1 1, as already noticed. Mukat
Behari's case,, if anything, becomes more doubtful because, of the evidence of
Suraj Singh was produced as P.W. 2 but he did
not support the prosecution and was allowed to be cross-examined by the public
prosecutor. Quite clearly his evidence does not show that he was in any way
cheated by the appellant. Shri Ganga Ram, the original complainant, has
appeared as P.W. 3.
According to him he 47 5 had taken over
charge from the appellant on August 31, 1958 and continued to work as Sarpanch
till the charge was handed over to the Municipal Council or the Municipal
Board. When he want to the office of the Municipal Board to hand over charge,
according to his own statement, the appellant had also gone with him. It was
after the abolition of the Panchayat that he learnt that the appellant was
selling land and issuing pattas and it was then that lie made the complaint Ex.
P-19. Before handing over charge also he had made certain complaints against
the appellant on which Shri Mehta, the Division Panchayat Officer had made
enquiries but those complaints were not substantiated. From his evidence it
seems clear that the relations between him and the appellant were far from
cordial. Indeed, the appellant had also complained against this witness of
keeping some money belonging to the Panchayat. Even otherwise his evidence is
wholly unimpressive and is difficult to accept on its face value.
Again, when we consider the evidence, of
Madan Lal (D.W. 1) and Ghasi son of Ramlal (D.W. 2) both Panchas of the
Panchayat in question upto 1958 and the evidence of Ganesh Ram (P.W. 4) the
evidence of the approver becomes still more unacceptable. Madan Lal has stated
that he was a Panch of Khand Gawari Panchayat upto 1-959 and a piece of land
was sold to Mukat Behari in 1958 when he was present in the meeting of the
Panchayat. Signatures on Ex. P-11 were identified by him. The Panchayat also
sold pieces of land to Mool Singh and Suraj Singh. On his evidence Ex. P-1 1 is
clearly a genuine document. Ghasi (D.W. 2) also admits his signatures on Ex.
P-11. In face of his evidence it is not understood how his signatures can be
held to be forged.
Ganga Ram (P.W. 4) has deposed that he was
not literate and could only sign his name. After so deposing he expressly
stated that he was unable to identify his own signatures.
His evidence, therefore, also losses its
importance. In face of this material, we find that the appellant's conviction
under s. 467. I.P.C. is wholly unsustainable on the existing evidence. The
approver's testimony is most uninspiring and there is no corroboration worth
We now turn to the charge of criminal conspiracy
under s.120-B, I.P.C. as a separate and distinct offence independent of the
offence under s. 467, I.P.C. No doubt in almost every case of conspiracy it is
generally a matter of inference, direct independent evidence being sold on, if
ever, forthcoming. But inferences are normally deduced from acts of parties in
pursuance of apparent criminal purpose in common between them. Of such criminal
acts the evidence in the case under appeal has not been accepted by us. The
evidence of the approver (P.W. 1) who would of course be competent to prove the
substantive charge of conspiracy, which has not been believed by us with
respect to forgery is not easy to accept with respect to the charge, of
conspiracy. His version with regard 15-L796Sup.C.I. /73 476 to it is far from
convincing. Though he claims to have prepared 200 pattas and order sheets,
evidence regarding only four was led and that too not trustworthy. For the
first time he disclosed the story to the police after arrest in expectation of
help from them. On his evidence uncorroborated as it is, the charge of
conspiracy as framed cannot be sustained. We have, therefore, no option but to
allow this appeal, quash the appellant's conviction and acquit him.
G.C. Appeal allowed.