State of U.P. Vs. Boota Singh &
Ors  INSC 142 (22 August 1978)
FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA
CITATION: 1978 AIR 1770 1979 SCR (1) 298 1979
SCC (1) 31
CITATOR INFO :
F 1989 SC1205 (18)
Appeal against acquitlal-Interference-Scope
of-High Court misreading evidence, reversing, judgement of Sessions
Court-Important conclusion arrived at by Sessions Court not displaced-High
Court overlooking important circumstances which fully prove the case.
Code of Criminal Procedure 1898-Sec.
288-Confession of accused-Use of-Corroboration by other independent evidence-
Necessity of-Satisfaction and support in extrinsic evidence- Use of.
Identification Parade-Necessity of keeping
accused baparda explained-evidence of identification-When of weak character.
Three of the four accused persons were
related to one another and the fourth was a, friend. One of them entered into a
deal for the purchase of land but found it difficult to finance the
transaction. The prosecution alleged that all of them entered into a conspiracy
to obtain money by means fair and foul and in pursuance of that they hit upon a
plan to hire a taxi, take possession of it, do away with the driver and
utilities the sale proceeds for payment of the purchase money. By giving a
false reason they hired a taxi in Dehra Dun, drove it by a forest road and
after killing the driver they changed the number plate and reached Bombay.
When they tried to sell the taxi in Bombay a
discrepancy was noticed in the chassis number whereupon respondent No. I made
good his escape. Eventually respondent no. I was caught. He made a confessional
statement before a magistrate detailing various parts played by each of the
accused. The Session Judge convicted all the respondents under ss. 30:2 read
with s. 34 IPC and also under s. 120B. All the accused were convicted of
various other offences.
On appeal She High Court reversed the
judgment of the Sessions Judge and acquitted all the respondents on the ground
that (i) since the confession of respondent No. 1 was not voluntary no reliance
could be placed on it; (ii) the evidence of identification is a very weak type
of evidence and should be closely scrutinised before reliance could be placed
on it; and (iii) the statements of P. Ws. S and 7 before the trial court were
inconsistent with their statements made before the committing magistrate.
After special leave to appeal to this Court
was granted to the State three respondents surrendered while one remained
absconding. One of the three later died.
HELD: ( 1 ) The High Court committed errors
of law and fact on most vital points. It refused to draw interences from proved
facts and has laid down legally erroneous principles on such vital and crucial
evidence as that of identification which is a valuable piece of evidence. On
the question of identification it has laid down wrong law on the basis of which
it failed to consider 299 that evidence. Regarding the confession of the
respondent it has not made a correct approach which is to take the confession
and then to find out how much of it is corroborated by other independent
evidence. The confession was discarded on irrelevant grounds based on pure
speculation. Normally this Court does not interfere with an order of acquittal
passed by the High Court but in this case the High Court has, on the one hand
misread the evidence and completely overlooked some of the important
circumstances which proved the prosecution case and on the other while setting
aside the judgment of the Session Judge has failed to displace the important
reasons given and circumstances relied on by the Sessions Judge. There are
substantial and compelling reasons for setting aside the order of acquittal
passed in favour of respondent No. 1. [333 G-H, 334 A-D] (2)(a) The High Court
was not justified in rejecting the confession or doubting its veracity on the
supposed belief that respondent No. 1 was in police custody from the time he
was produced before the magistrate to the time when the statement was recorded.
Before recording the confessional statement the magistrate put a number of
questions to the accused to satisfy himself that the confession was being made
voluntarily and without any coercion or undue influence. The respondent stated
that he was making the confession to speak the truth. The magistrate took care
to see that there was no Police officer present in the court when the
confession was recorded. The magistrate, after warning the respondent that he
was not bound to make the statement, gave him more than three hours' time for
reflection. The High Court's conjecture that the respondent must have been sent
to police custody after being produced before the magistrate is contrary to the
evidence of the magistrate. [305H, 306 A-D] (b) As the confession of the
accused was a retracted one it could be acted upon only if it is substantially
corroborated by independent circumstances. It is not necessary that a retracted
confession should be corroborated in each material particular, it is sufficient
that there is a general corroboration of the important incidents mentioned in
the confession. [308 E] In the instant case the circumstances proved by the
prosecution not only amounted to a complete corroboration of the confession but
provided additional circumstantial evidence against the respondent which are of
a conclusive nature. [308 F] (c) 'I he High Court has made a wrong approach to
the whole case by not taking the confessional statement first and then
finding,, out whether there are other circumstances corroborating the various parts
of the statement made in the confession. This may be due to the fact that the
High Court found that the confession was not voluntary and, therefore, should
be excluded from scintillation [305 E-F] (d) In the confessional statement the
respondent narrated the motive for the incident leading to the murder of the
deceased and this has been clearly corroborated by the evidence of the vendor
of the land. 'I he finding of the High Court on the question of motive is
against the weight of evidence on record. The trial court rightly pointed out
that the prosecution had proved the motive for the offence by clear evidence.
[309 H-310 B] (e) The facts mentioned in the receipt of the taxi- stand fully
corroborate the confessional statement of the respondent. The High Court
rejected this important document mainly on the ground that it was not mentioned
in the report filed with the police by the taxi-stand owner. If he did not
mention 3-526 SCI/78 300 in this report about the receipt as having been given
by the respondent, that by itself would no throw suspicion on the authenticity
of the receipt. Moreover, the. report was not really the report of murder.
containing a detailed narration of all facts. The witnesses who identified the
accused were independent witnesses and were not known to him nor did they bear
any animus against him. [310 F-G, 311 A-B, 311 G-H] (f) Although there is no
direct corroboration of the actual t assault on the deceased the circumstantial
evidence admitted in the confession and corroborated by other evidence is a
clear pointer to the fact that the deceased had accompanied the respondent from
the place. they hired the taxi to the place of murder. 'The respondents were
last seen with the deceased before the murder. Taking the circumstances before and
after the death of the deceased the murder could not be explained by any other.
reasonable hypothesis then the guilty of the respondent [324 B-C] (g) There is
enough evidence to show that the respondent deliberately changed the number
plate of the car to conceal its identity and this was done after the deceased
had been put to death. This fully corroborates his statement made in his
confession. This important document which demonstrates the incriminating
conduct of the respondent.
apart from corroborating his statement in the
confessional statement. has been completely overlooked by the High Court.
[325 C] (h) The High Court has taken an
artificial and incorrect view in holding that the confession was completely
disproved by the medical evidence. The statement of respondent No. I regarding
the death of the deceased was the only manner in which he was murdered. The
Sessions Judge has rightly explained that since only two shots were fired it
may be that no shot hit the bones but remained in the flesh and no trace could
be found because the flash had peeled off. Secondly the postmortem report
revealed that the head was served from the body and this could have been only
possible if the injury was inflicted by a gandasa. Here too since the flesh had
peeled off no trace of the injury could be found. The skeleton had been
identified hyp good and cogent evidence. This finding of the Session Judge had
not been displace(l by the High Court.[330 E-H, 331 A-B] (i) The dead body had
been found at the instance of one of the accused and this evidence is clearly
admissible under s. 27 of the Evidence Act. This has Bsc proved by independent
witnesses. 'This clearly established the identity of the corpus delecti. [331
E, G] (3) l`he High Court was wrong in laying down a universal rule of
application that the evidence of identification is a weak type of evidence.
Where a witness correctly identifies the accused at a test identification
parade held by a magistrate after observing all the essential formalities and
taking the necessary precautions and also identifies the accused in court, the
evidence of identification can be believed unless the evidence of the witness
suffers from some other infirmity. The evidence of identification becomes
strong if the witness has an opportunity of seeing the accused not for a few minutes
but for. some length OT time in broad daylight. [317 C, 318 C-D] In the present
case the respondent`s confession was proved by the evidence of witnesses who
saw him at the taxi- stand for quite some timer These evidences were in a
position to notice the features of the respondent as closely as possible. Their
evidence fully corroborates the confessional statement of the respondent. [318
E-F] 301 Budh Sen & Anr. v. State of U.P. AIR 1970 SC ]321 explained. - Ramanathan
v. State of Tamil Nadu,  3 S.C.R. 694, followed.
State of Rajashan v. Ravitha, AIR 1962 Raj.
78 FB approved.
Dhokal Singh & Anr. v. The State, ILR
(1953) 3 Raj. 762 disapproved.
(4) It is well-established that where a
person makes a statement before the trial court which is inconsistent with his
statement made before the committing magistrate, it is unsafe to place implicit
reliance on his evidence. Before a judge decides to accept the evidence brought
in under.s.288 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as true and reliable he has to
satisfy himself that this is really so. 'This satisfaction in most cases can
come in only if there is such support in extrinsic evidence as to give a
reasonable indication that not only what is said about the occurrence in
general but also what is said against the particular accused sought to be
implicated in the crime is true. But where even without any extrinsic evidence
the judge is satisfied that the evidence is true and can be safely relied upon,
the Judge will be failing in his duty in not doing so.
[321 A-E] In the instant case the evidence of
P.W. 5 and P.W. 7 fully supported the prosecution case that the accused were
seen in a hotel. P.W. 5 categorically stated that what he had stated before the
committing court was not true and thus certified that what he stated in the
trtial court was not the correct version. In his confession statement
respondent No. 1 had stated that he, along with the other accused. had taken
food in a hotel. Thus there are cogent reason and extrinsic circumstances to
lend support to the inference that the statements given by these two witnesses
before the committing magistrate were in fact true and correct and the Sessions
Judge therefore we. right in relying on those statements. On the other hand
while rejecting their statements the High Court made no effort to find out
whether the prior statements made by them before the committing court was in
fact true having regard to the facts and circumstance of the ease. The High
Court was clearly in error in rejecting the evidence of the two witness.[321 F-
H,322 C-E] Shranappa Mutyappal Halke v. State of Maharastra.
 4 SCR 589 followed.
Harprasad & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra.
 3 SCC 455 applied.
(5, Acceding. to the Confessional statement
of respondent No. 2. was not present in the forest at the time of murder. Nor
was there any evidence to show that he was with the respondent No. 1 later.
There is some force in the contention that since at the time when the
respondent was identified at the parade he had shaved off his beard and that it
would be difficult for the witnesses to identify such a person. The possibility
of mistake in identification cannot be excluded. Even the trial court has not
accepted the evidence of identification against him. In all probability
respondent No. 2 was a co- conspirator but it is unsafe to convict him when he
had been acquitted by the High Court. 1332 E-G] 302
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDlCTlON: Criminal
Appeal No. 32 of 1972.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment and
order dated 29-9-1970 of the Allahabad High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 151]
D. P. Uniyal and o. P. Rana for the
A. N. Mulla, Yogeswar Pd., S. K. Bagga and
Mrs. S. Bagga for the Respondents.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
FAZAL ALI, J.-This appeal by special leave is directed against the order of the
Allahabad High Court dated 29th September, 1970 by which the High Court
acquitted the respondents of the charges framed against them by the Sessions
Judge Dehra Dun.
The Sessions Judge, Dehra Dun by his order
dated 16th July, 1969 convicted the respondents Boota Singh, Asa Singh, Trilok
Singh and Raghubir Singh under section 302 read with section 34 I.P.C. and also
under section 120-B I.P.C. Boota Singh, Trilok Singh and Asa Singh were
sentenced to death under section 302 read with section 34 and section 120-B
I.P.C. while Raghubir Singh was sentenced to imprisonment for life for the
offence under section 302 read with section 34 and section 120-B I.P.C. The four
respondents mentioned above were also convicted under section 364 read with
section 34 and section 120-B I.P.C. and section 394 read with section 34 and
section 120-B I.P.C. and each of them were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment
for seven years under each count. Boota Singh was further convicted of the
offence under section 419, I.P.C. and section 471 read with section 465 T.P.C.
and section 47] read with section 466 T.P.C. and sentenced to rigorous
imprisonment for two years, one year and four years respectively. As three of
the respondents, viz., Boota Singh, Trilok Singh and Asa Singh were sentenced
to death, the Sessions Judge made a reference to the High Court of Allahabad
for confirmation of the sentence of death. The respondents who have been convicted
by the Sessions Judge also filed appeals against their convictions and
sentences. The appeal was heard by a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court
which reversed the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge and acquitted all the
respondents of the charges framed against them.
Thereafter. the State of U.P. preferred an
appeal to this Court and after special leave was granted by this Court the
appeal has been placed before us for hearing. At the time when the special
leave was granted, the Court issued non-bailable warrants against the four
respondents in pursuance of which Boota Singh. Trilok Singh and Raghubir Singh
surrendered hut Asa Singh remained absconding.
303 During the pendency of the appeal the
respondent Trilok Singh died and it is, therefore, manifest that the appeal so
far as this respondent is concerned has abated. Before we took up the appeal
for hearing we segregated the appeal of Asa Singh as he was absconding and
directed that the appeal against other respondents will be heard but the appeal
of Asa Singh will be kept pending.
Briefly the prosecution case may be
summarised as follows: Respondent Asa Singh and his brother Bal Singh had
entered into an agreement with Ram Lal P.W. 16 and his father Kaka Ram for
purchasing 68 bighas of land at the rate of Rs. 225 per bigha and an earnest
money of Rs. 3200/- had been paid by Asa Singh and Bal Singh at the time of the
agreement and the balance of the amount was agreed to be paid on the 25th
December, 1963. The respondent Trilok Singh had accompanied Asa Singh and the
latter went to Ram Lal for negotiating the aforesaid purchase. The prosecution
alleged that Asa Singh and Boota Singh respondents were first cousins and were
residents of Chhidarwala. Boota Singh was also related to Trilok Singh inasmuch
as Trilok sister is wedded to the cousin of Boota Singh. After the agreement,
Asa Singh appears to have found some difficulties in arranging for the money to
be paid to the vendee P.W. 16 Ram Lal and under the terms of the agreement if
the money was not paid by the due date the entire amount of earnest money of
Rs. 3200/- was liable to be forfeited. In such a situation the four respondents
entered into a conspiracy to obtain money by means fair or foul. They
accordingly hit upon a plan to obtain a taxi on hire and after taking
possession of it to do away with the driver and sell the taxi at some other
place and utilise the consideration of the sale for payment to Ram Lal towards
the balance of the purchase money. In execution of this common plan Asa Singh
remained at Doiwala while Boota Singh, Trilok Singh and Raghubir Singh went to
Dehra Dun and contacted Inder Singh P.W. 2 at Punjab Taxi Service, Dehra Dun.
Trilok Singh and Raghubir Singh remained standing at the petrol pump a few
paces away from the office of the Punjab Taxi Service. Boota Singh respondent
went in and approached Inder Singh P.W. 2 and introduced himself as K. Sharma
of the Indian Army and gave out that he was on a round for recruiting girls for
the military and for this purpose he needed the taxi on hire.
The bargain was finally struck and Inder
Singh P.W.2 agreed to provide Boota Singh with his taxi at the rate of Rs. 30
per day. Boota Singh thereafter executed a document Ex. Ka-4 in proof of the
receipt of the car and paid Rs. 50/- as advance. Lal Singh, the deceased son of
Inder Singh was the driver of the taxi and in fact the virtual owner of the
taxi. The taxi given to Boota Singh bore number UPS-6679.
Inder Singh directed Lal Singh to take the
taxi 304 with Boota Singh and his companions. Raghubir Singh and Trilok Singh
boarded the taxi when it reached the petrol pump. From Dehra Dun the taxi came
to Doiwala where the party of Boota Singh was joined by Asa Singh. Thereafter
all the members of the party took their meals at the hotel of Khem Singh P.W. 5
and Boota Singh had purchased a cake of soap from the shop of Jaidev Singh P.W.
7. Thus all the four respondents were last seen together at Doiwala by P.W.s S
and 7. From there the respondents proceeded to Chhidarwala by forest road and
after crossing some forest barriers ultimately reached Chiddarwala where it was
decided to murder Lal Singh and take complete possession of the taxi.
In pursuance of this conspiracy Lal Singh was
taken to the forest and killed by the respondents. According to the
prosecution, as disclosed in the confession of respondent Boota Singh Ex.
Ka-81, Trilok Singh first fired two shots at the deceased and then Asa Singh
dealt a gandasa blow on the neck of the deceased.
After having accomplished this nefarious feat
the respondents took the precaution of removing the number plate of the car and
substituted a new plate bearing number UPM- 3236. Thereafter, the respondents
Boota Singh and Raghubir Singh went to Ambala where they tried to get the car
with the new number insured, and finally landed at Bombay and negotiated for
the sale of the car through a broker and in this connection contacted P.W. 62
Raja Ram Narain Rane who offered to buy the car Al Rs. 16,000 out of which a
sum of Rs. 500 was to, be given to Raja Ram Narain Rane P.W. 62.
This happened on 16th December, 1963. At the
time of negotiations with Raja Ram Narain Rane, Boota Singh gave out his name
as J.P. Singh and represented that he was son of S.P., Bareilly. It appears
however that some discrepency in the chassis number and the number of the
engine was found out which raised a serious suspicion regarding the genuineness
of the car and the matter was reported to the C.I.D. by P.W. 62. On the 18th
February 1963 respondent Boota Singh along with Anand Singh P.W. 9 went to the
office of the R.T.O. at Bombay and contacted P.W. 35 Rati Lal Chhotu Bhai Desai
who was a Motor Vehicles Inspector and who was shown various papers by Boota
Singh. Desai then saw the car and discovered some tampering with the chassis
The papers were? Therefore, placed before the
Police officer and Boota Singh sensing some trouble made good his escape.
Meanwhile as Lal Singh did not return for
quite a number of days, his brother Harcharan Singh got worried and filed a
missing report before the Police Station Dalanwala, district Dehra Dun on 31st
December, 1963 wherein he expressed his apprehension that the person who had
hired the taxi may have killed Lal Singh and driven away the 305 car This
report was treated by the Police as F.I.R. and investigation was started in the
course of which the blanket of deceased Lal Singh was recovered from the forest
and the respondent Boota Singh soon after his arrest made the confession Ex.
Ka-81 before a Magistrate making a clean breast of the whole affair.
Subsequently, the respondents were identified by some of the witnesses at T.I.
parades held at Nainital and Dehra Dun. After the usual investigation, the
Police submitted a charge against all the four respondents on the basis of which
they were committed to the Court of SESSIONS and convicted and sentenced LI
The central evidence against the respondents
consists of the confessional statement made by Boota Singh on 16th March, 1964
before Mr. M. L. Sharma, Magistrate First-class who has been examined as P.W 23
and in the confession Boota Singh appears to have made a clean breast of the
entire story detailing the various parts played by him and his other
companions. The confession was sought to be corroborated by a large number of
circumstances proved by the prosecution at the trial and which will be
discussed hereafter. In fact, the motive for the murder of the deceased has
been clearly indicated in the confession and was also corroborated by the oral
evidence led by the prosecution as also the statement of Respondent Asa Singh
recorded under section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The High Court does not appear to have made a
correct approach to the present case inasmuch as it first tried to deal with
the various circumstances which went to corroborate the confession and dealt
with the confession in the last and held that as the confession was not
voluntary no reliance could be placed on the same. We should have expected the
High Court to have dealt with the confession first because that was the sheet
anchor of the prosecution case. The other circumstantial evidence adduced by
the prosecution went to corroborate dk important facts and incidents mentioned
in the confession. We have carefully perused the judgment of the trial Judge
and the High Court and we are constrained to observe-that the High Court has
neither marshalled the evidence correctly nor has it considered the effect of
some of the most important and vital circumstances which clinched some of the basic
issues arising in the case. A major part of the judgment or the High Court is
based on pure speculations and some of the reasons given by the High Court for
rejecting the prosecution evidence are based on conjectures and surmises.
We would, therefore, like to start with the
confession of respondent Boota Singh which is the pivot of the prosecution
case. It would appear that before reloading the confessional statement of the
respon 306 dent Boota Singh the Magistrate had put a number of questions to satisfy
himself that the confession was being made voluntarily and without any coercion
or undue influence. The respondent Boota Singh on being asked as to why he was
making the confession, clearly stated that he was doing so because he wanted to
speak the truth. Boota Singh further testified that he was in police custody
only for two days before making the confession and where his treatment was
good. The Magistrate also took care to see that there was no police officer
present in the court when the confession was recorded. In his deposition, the
Magistrate stated that Boota Singh was produced before him at 1.30 p.m.
On the 16th March and thereafter having
warned him he sent the respondent back in court custody and recorded the
statement at about 4.45 p.m. Thus, the respondent Boota Singh was given more
than three hours for reflection. The High Court conjectures that the respondent
Boota Singh must have been sent to police custody after being produced before
the Magistrate on 16th March at .30 p.m. his finding of the High Court is
contrary to the evidence of the Magistrate who clearly deposed thus:- "At
the time when the statement was recorded, the accused was produced by the Court
Moharrir. No Sub- Inspector was present there. There was no constable as well.
When the Court Moharrir came with the accused the accused was already in
handcuffs. I got the same removed when he came inside. The Moharrir went
outside with the handcuffs".
This statement clearly shows that after 1.30
p.m. respondent Boota Singh was in the custody of the Court Moharrir and it was
from his custody that the respondent Boota Singh was produced before the
Magistrate at 4.45 p.m. for recording the confession. For these reasons,
therefore, the High Court was not justified in rejecting the confession or
doubting its veracity on the supposed belief that the respondent Boota Singh
was in police custody from the time he was produced before the Magistrate to
the time when the statement was recorded.
Another ground on which the High Court
rejected the confession was that the respondent Boota Singh was taken by K. N.
Sharma, S.I. in police custody from 10-3-64 to ]2-3-64 and the High Court
thought that this period must have been utilised for coercing the respondent
Boota Singh to make a confession which he ultimately made four days later.
The High Court further found that Vikram
Singh P.W. 59 interrogated the respondent Boota Singh as far back as 9-1- 1964
and it is not explained by the prosecution as to why there was a delay of two
months on the part of the respondent Boota Singh for making the con 307
fessional statement. The High Court further found that immediately after the
S.I. sent the respondent Boota Singh to jail custody on 12-3-64, he submitted a
report for the confession of the respondent being recorded which throws doubt
on the voluntary nature of the confession. The High Court further conjectured
that from these circumstances a reasonable inference can be drawn that third
degrees methods must have been used by the police. With very great respect we
are constrained to say that the High Court indulged in pure speculation on this
aspect of the matter. There is absolutely nothing on record to show that the
respondent Boota Singh was tortured or beaten while in police custody.
In fact, D.W. 1 N. S. David, Assistant Jailor
District Jail Dehra Dun who was examined on behalf of the defence categorically
stated that on 12-2-1964 K. N. Sharma, S.I.
admitted the respondent Boota Singh in jail.
The witness testified that at the time when he was admitted to jail he had no
injury on his person at that time. The witness further states that there was an
entry in the relevant registers to show that Boota Singh was sent to the Court
on 16-3-1964 and there was no injury on the person of Boota Singh when he was sent
to Court. Furthermore, on his return from court to jail, there was also no
entry with respect to any injury on his person. This circumstance, therefore,
completely rules out the possibility of Boota Singh having been assaulted,
beaten or tortured by the police while in their custody. Moreover, the High
Court completely overlooked a very important fact which went to show that the
confessional statement was true and voluntary. The respondent Boota Singh in
his statement under section 342 Cr. P.C. before the committing Magistrate which
is Exhibit Ka. 113 in answer to question No. 22 stated thus :- "Bikram
Singh, Sub-Inspector and Kundan Lal Sharma, C.I.D. Inspector, took us to P.S.
Dalanwala and locked up us separately from each other. They beat me severely
and pressed and threatened me that if I did not make a statement as desired by
them, they would kill me." "There they beat me to unconsciousness and
then brought me and then pressed me to make a statement. I was not at all in my
senses, when they brought me back to the lock-up, the court had departed."
This statement was completely falsified by the circumstances indicated above
yet Boota Singh gave a complete go by to this plea taken by him before the
committing Magistrate and in his statement before the Sessions Judge he
categorically stated that he made no statement before the Magistrate, but his
signature was taken on a blank paper which was 308 converted into a confession.
In answer to question No. 21 regarding the confession having been read out to the
respondent Boota Singh, he stated thus:- "No I did not make any statement.
He obtained my signature on a blank paper" Thus, the two statements were
wholly inconsistent with each other and conclusively show that the stand taken
by the respondent which differed from court to court was absolutely false and
incredible. This circumstance goes a long way to demolish the case of the
respondent Boota Singh that the confession was extorted. We are sure that if
the High Court had noticed this glaring inconsistency in the statement of the
Respondent regarding the manner in which the confession was made it would not
have thrown out the confession as it did. On the other than hand we have
carefully perused the confession of the respondent which seem, to have a ring
of truth in it and in which the respondent has ill a very straight-forward
manner narrated the various incidents in their logical sequence. The Magistrate
has also testified on oath that he was fully satisfied that the statement of
the respondent Boota Singh was true and voluntary. The learned Sessions Judge
after considering the circumstances gave a clear finding that the confession
was true and voluntary and there was no reason to distrust it. The High Court
was, therefore, not justified in brushing aside the well reasoned finding of
the Session Judge on this point merely on the basis of speculation and the
circumstances which were in fact not proved. As however the confession was a
retracted one it could be acted upon only if substantially corroborated by independent
circumstances. It is not necessary that a refracted confession should be
corroborated in each material particular, but it is sufficient that there is a
general corroboration of the important incidents mentioned in the confession.
In the instant case, we find that the circumstances proved by the prosecution
not only amount to a complete corroboration of the confession but provide
additional circumstantial evidence against the respondent which are of a
conclusive nature. We would now deal with the confession in the light of the
observations made above.
To begin with, Boota Singh states in his
confession that he was a resident of Churkana in the District of Sheikhupur and
at the relevant time he was residing at Kichha in the District of Nainital. Asa
Singh and Trilok Singh were cousins, the sons of Chacha and Tau of each other
and live together at Chhidderwala. The sister of Trilok Singh was married to
Piara Singh, the respondent's father's sister's son at village Moonak, as a
result of which Asa Singh and Trilok Singh used to visit the respondent at
Kichha off and on. The respondent then goes 309 on to state that Trilok Singh
wanted to purchase land at Chidderwala and had paid Rs. 1200/- as earnest money
to Hans Raj. The whole transaction was for Rs. 16,000/- or Rs. 17,000/-? but as
the purchaser was short of money. Asa Singh. Trilok Singh, Raghubir Singh and
Gopi Goojar along with Boota Singh conspired together to bring some taxi from
Dehra Dun and sell the same, so that the balance of the consideration money for
the land might be paid and the sale- deed got registered. This really
constituted the motive for the incident leading to the murder of the deceased,
Lal Singh. The gist of the motive mentioned in the confession is clearly
corroborated by the evidence of P.W. 16 Ram Lal who has deposed that during the
time of the occurrence Asa Singh and his brother Bal Singh wanted to purchase
his land and the transaction was settled at the rate of Rs. 225 per bigha, and
68 bighas of land were to be sold. The purchasers had given an advance of Rs.
3200/- which was to be forfeited if the balance of the amount was not paid. The
witness further stated that as the balance of the amount was eventually not
paid, the vendor did not deliver possession of the land. Thus, shorn of the
details Ram Lal corroborates the statement of the respondent Boota Singh in the
confession regarding the transaction, whether the earnest money was Rs. 1600/-
or the consideration was more than Rs.
16,000 is a matter of detail on which even if
there is some discrepancy that will not put the prosecution case out of court,
so far as the motive is concerned. It may be mentioned here that the Respondent
Asa Singh in his statement before the Sessions Court admitted the purchase of
the land from Ram Lal and merely denied the knowledge as to whether Rs. 3200/-
had been paid as earnest money. The respondent Asa Singh statement that the
land was to be purchased by Bal Singh and not by him really makes no difference
as Ram Lal who was admittedly the purchaser was an independent witness and he
testified on oath to the transaction relating to the sale-deed which provided
the immediate motive for the murder. The High Court seems to have brushed aside
the evidence or Ram Lal merely on the ground that there was no documentary
evidence to show that there was any negotiation between the parties before the
sale-deed was executed and held that the evidence of Ram Lal was not sufficient
proof of the fact that Asa Singh was in any manner concerned with the land purchased
by Bal Singh.
In coming to this finding the High Court
completely overlooked the fact that the nature of the transaction was clearly
mentioned in the confession which has been held by us to be true and voluntary.
Once the motive mentioned in the confession was corroborated by an independent
witnesses like P.W. 16 Ram Lal whose evidence was and could not be disbelieved
by the High Court, that was sufficient to corroborate the 310 part of the
confession which related to motive. The finding of the High Court on the
question of motive appears to be against the weight of the evidence on the
record. The trial court rightly pointed out that the prosecution had proved the
motive for the offence by clear evidence.
The next circumstance mentioned in the confession
was that on 8th December, ]963 Asa Singh, Trilok Singh, Raghubir Singh, Gopi
Goojar and respondent Boota Singh started in the tractor of Asa Singh and on
reaching Doiwala Asa Singh and Gopi stopped there but the other three, namely,
Trilok Singh, Raghubir Singh and Boota Singh proceeded to, Dehra Dun by bus.
Boota Singh went to the Punjab Taxi Stand and had a talk with Inder Singh for
hiring a taxi and was ultimately successful in persuading Inder Singh to give
the taxi to him on hire at the rate of Rs. 30/- per day. The respondent further
mentioned in the confession that he paid an advance of Rs. 50/- and gave a
receipt to Inder Singh.
Thereafter, three of them proceeded to
Doiwala in the taxi hired by Boota Singh which was driven by the deceased Lal Singh
who was the son of Inder Singh. This part of the confessional statement is
fully corroborated not only by oral but also by documentary evidence. In the
first place, there is Exhibit Ka-4 which is a receipt granted by the respondent
Boota Singh to Inder Singh for the advance of Rs.
50/- which he had paid to Inder Singh for
hiring the taxi.
The receipt appears to have been signed by
the respondent as K. Sharma. The signature of the Respondent was sent to the
expert along with his admitted specimen signatures and the expert P.W. 32 Shiv
Ram Singh found that it completely tallied with the signature of the respondent
The expert had marked the signature of the
respondent Boota Singh at Exhibit Ka-4 as S-3894. Thus, the facts mentioned in
the receipt fully corroborate the statement of the respondent Boota Singh
mentioned above and the fact that the signature of the respondent Boota Singh
tallied with the signature which he had made on this document is an intrinsic
proof of the genuineness of Exhibit Ka-4. The High Court seems to have rejected
this important document mainly on the ground that it was not mentioned in the
report filed by P.W.
1 Harcharan Singh, brother of the deceased
who had lodged a written report at the Police Station Dalanwala, Dehra Dun
stating therein that the respondent had hired the taxi at the rate of Rs. 30/-
per day on the ground that he had to visit several places like Hardwar,
Roorkee, Saharanpur, Meerut, Moradabad, Mathura, Brindaban, Aligarh, Agra etc.
The description oil the car is given in the
report and the witness has expressed the apprehension that the respondent may
have killed the driver and driven away the car. By the time the report was
lodged Harcharan Singh was not in possession 311 of full facts, and therefore,
he gave a very brief report.
If he did not mention the receipt given by
the respondent in this report that by itself would not throw any suspicion on
the authenticity of the receipt more particularly when the conclusive
circumstance that the receipt contained the signature of the respondent as
found by the expert had been established. Moreover, the report was not really
the report of murder containing a detailed narration of the facts. The brother
of the deceased was naturally upset because the taxi having been taken on the
8th December had not returned for 23 days but he did not know what had
happened. In these circumstances, there was no occasion for Harcharan Singh to
mention every possible detail in this report. Furthermore, what the High Court
completely overlooked was that the respondent Boota Singh himself clearly
mentioned in his confession that he had paid an advance of Rs. 50/- and
executed a receipt.
Apart from this, there is the oral evidence
of P.W. 2 Inder Singh, P.W. 8. Pritam Singh and P.W. 14 Jagir Singh that the
respondent had approached them for hiring the taxi and he himself executed the
receipt Exhibit Ka-4 and affixed his signature in their presence. The
respondent had given out his name as one K. Sharma. Apart from the question as
to whether these witnesses correctly identified the respondent or not, there
was sufficient proof of the execution of Exhibit Ka-4. For these reasons,
therefore, we are not in a position to support the finding of the High Court
that Exhibit Ka-4 was not a genuine document. Thus, Exhibit Ka-4 being proved
must be held to the strongest possible circumstance to corroborate the
confession of Boota Singh regarding the first stage of the prosecution case,
namely, the hiring of the taxi.
Apart from Exhibit Ka-4 there is independent
and reliable evidence to show that Boota Singh and others had approached P.W. 2
Inder Singh for living the taxi on hire to respondent Boota Singh and the deal
was struck as a result of which Rs. 50/- was paid in advance. In this connection
the witnesses examined by the prosecution arc P.W. 2 Inder Singh, P.W. 8 Pritam
Singh and P.W. 14 Jagir Singh. At a T.I. parade held on 9-3-1964 at Dehra Dun
Boota Singh was identified by P.W. 2 Inder Singh and P.W. 14 Jagir Singh as the
person who had approached him for taking the taxi on hire. At the same parade
the respondent Trilok Singh was identified by P.W. 8 Pritam Singh and P.W. 14
All these witnesses were undoubtedly
independent witnesses and were not known to Boota Singh at all, nor they bore
any animus against him. There was thus no reason for them to depose falsely
against the respondents.
312 P.W. 2 Inder Singh deposes that on
9-12-63 which he was in his office along with Pritam Singh and Jagir Singh an
unbearded gentleman came to him at about 4 to 4.30 p.m. and represented that he
wanted to have a taxi car on hire. the witness goes on to say that the driver
the car was his son Lal Singh the deceased and the number of the car was UPS-
6679 and it was of Fiat make. The respondent Boota Singh whom the witness
i(identified later at a T.I.. parade settled the hiring charges at Rs. 30 per
day and paid an advance of Rs. SO/-. The respondent further gave his name as K.
Sharma and wanted the taxi for 20 clays. The witness further stated that Apart
from the respondent Boota Singh who masqueraded as one K. Sharma there were two
more Sardars near the petrol pump where the car was standing. To the same
effect is the evidence of P.W. 14 Jagir Singh an(l P.W. 2, Pritam Singh. The
learned Sessions Judge has carefully considered the evidence of these witnesses
and has accepted the same.
The High Court appears to have brushed aside
the evidence of these independent witnesses on trivial and speculative grounds.
In the first place, the High Court found that there were tell tale
circumstances in the ease which did not exclude the possibility of the
respondent Boota Singh and others having been shown to the witnesses at police
station Moonak and Dalanwala before the T.I. parade was held at Dehradun. The
circumstances relied upon by the High Court may be summarised thus: P.W. 20 Sri
Ram Bajaj admits that he had arrested Boota Singh and Trilok Singh at Moonak
and kept both of them look cd up at Police Station Moonak.
P.W. 59 Vikram Singh deposes as follows
founded Boota Singh and Trilok Singh at P.S. Moonak. They had been under
custody of the Punjab Police and they were Bapurdah." (Emphasis
On the basis of the evidence of these
witnesses the High Court suspected that the respondents must have been shown to
the witnesses at Police Station Moonak. In coming to this finding, however, the
High Court completely overlooked the evidence of these very witnesses which
completely excluded the possibility of the respondent having been shown to the witnesses.
P.W. 20 who had arrested Boota Singh and Trilok Singh categorically stated
thus:- "I arrested Boota Singh and Trilok Singh accused at Moonak in
connection with that case. I made them Bapurdah and told them that they were to
I shut Both of them at P.S. Moonak in a
Bapurdah state". (Emphasis ours) .
313 The evidence of these two witnesses
clearly shows that every possible precaution was taken to keep the respondent
Bapurdah throughout and even at the Police Station Moonak so that the
respondent may not be able to see the witnesses.
Similarly, P.W. 59 Vikram Singh clearly
stated that although he found Boota Singh and Trilok Singh at P.S. Moonak they
were in police custody and they were Bapurdah. In the face of this clear and
specific evidence where was the question for the High Court to conjecture or
speculate that the witness must have been shown to the. respondent at the
police station Moonak. the High Court ought to have decided this question on
the direct evidence of the witnesses concerned rather than on pure surmises and
The High Court particularly relied on the
evidence of P.W. 3 Amir Ahmad who had stated that he had arrested the
respondent Asa Singh on 6-1-1964 and taken him to police station Dalanwala. The
witness goes on to state that on 8-]- 1964 the Station officer took him to
Moonak and he went along with him. The witness further state(l that there. were
three Sardars with them and one of them was known as Gyani and there were two
drivers, one of them was Jagir Singh and the other was Pritam Singh. Thus, the
inference the High Court draws from this evidence is that the respondent Asa
Singh was shown to the witnesses Pritam Singh and Jagir Singh who were brought
together from Dalanwala to Moonak.
The trial Court discussed the evidence of
this witness and gave cogent reasons for rejecting the testimony of the witness
particularly when the witness was a disgruntled one having been suspended on a
criminal charge and therefore, would be ready to oblige the defence. Moreover,
the Sessions Judge while criticising the evidence of this witness observed as
follows:- "The defence examined Amir Ahmad (P.W. 3) who was posted as a
Head Constable, Karanpur outpost, Dehra Dun. He stated that Asa Singh was
arrested by him on 6- 1-64 near Roadways Stand, Dehradun and that he took him
to P.S. Dalanwala. In cross-examination he admitted that he did not make any
entry as to the arrest of Asa Singh on 6-1-64 in the General Diary, that he
left the accused at the Police Station without getting any entry made because
it was the work of the officers. He admitted that he used to get entries of
arrival and departure of accused made at the. Police Station and he signed the
same. He was unable to explain why he did not ll adopt the same procedure in
this instance. The alleged explanation that he did not get an entry made
because he had no 314 warrant does not appeal to reason.......... He also
admitted that he was being prosecuted for murder by Meerut C.I.D. and that
Meerut C.I.D. was responsible for his arrest. He has, therefore, a grudge with
the Meerut C.I.D. He did not know Asa Singh before he arrested him. He had no
warrant for his arrest. He was not given any direction for the arrest of the
He merely knew that the Station officer had
left for his arrest. In the circumstances it was not expected of him to have
arrested accused Asa Singh. The entire statement of the witness is
untrustworthy and unconvincing." None of the reasons given by the learned
Sessions Judge appear to have been displaced by the High Court and were not
even noticed by it. In view of the admission made by this witness it is
extremely doubtful if the witness in fact had arrested Asa Singh and his entire
story appears to be a pure fabrication. For these reasons, therefore, the High
Court was not at all justified in relying on the evidence of P.W. 3 at its face
Reliance was also placed on the evidence of
P.W. 27 Mahendra Singh who states thus:
"On 6-1-64 S.O. Vikram Singh Head
Ahmad, Constables Raja Ram, Pritam Singh, Tej
Ram, Mathma Singh and I reached Manak. There was none from the public from us.
We started from Dehradun on 8-1-64.
I do not remember the time when we started
We reached Mannak in the Right of 8th and
9th. We did not go to Police Station Manak. We stayed at Mannak in the night of
8th and 9th. We had gone there to arrest Boota Singh and "others".
The High Court appears to have made much of
the alleged admission of the witness in the case that P.W. 3 Pritam Singh had
accompanied the police party to Moonak where Boota Singh was arrested, and
there fore, there is a possibility that Pritam Singh might have been shown to
Boota Singh. In the first place, the witness says nothing of the sort and the
High Court appears to have misread the evidence of this witness. The words used
by the witness are "Constables Raja Ram, Pritam Singh, Tej Ram, Mathma
Singh and I reached Mannak`' which clearly indicate that he refers to Pritam
Singh Constable and not to Pritam Singh witness. The witness has further
clarified this fact by making a categorical statement "that there was none
from the public with us." Merely because there was a constable by the name
of Pritam Singh it could not be inferred that P.W. 27 had referred to the
witness 315 and not to the constable. Even so, the evidence discussed above
clearly shows that the respondents were kept Bapurdah and concealed from the
view of the witnesses. We are, therefore , unable to agree with the finding of
the High Court on this point which is not based on proper appreciation of the
evidence of P.W. 27.
Apart from this in a recent judgment in
Ramanathan v. State of Tamil Nadu(1) this Court approving the decision of the
Full Bench of the Rajasthan High Court in State of Rajasthan v. Ranjita(2) and
disapproving an earlier decision of the same High Court in Dhokal Singh and
Anr. v. The State(::) observed as follows:- "It appears however that the
Learned counsel was not aware of a later decision of the Full Bench of the
Rajasthan High Court in State of Rajsthan v. Ranjita in which Dhokal Singh's
case was referred for the purpose of laying down the correct law on the
following matters:- (1) Whether it is necessary that entries should be made in
the various Police records of the precautions that were to be taken for keeping
the accused persons ba-parda while under Police custody.
(2) Whether it should be specified in the
warrant of commitment of the accused, when he is sent to the judicial custody
that he is to be kept ba- parda till the identification parade takes place, and
what precautions should the jail authorities take for keeping the accused
(3) Whether necessarily entries should be
made in the jail records for keeping the accused ba-parda while he is in the
judicial lock up".
The Full Bench of the High Court examined the
matter and held that the propositions laid down in Dhakol Singh's case could
not be regarded as a rule of law and had been far too broadly laid down to
merit acceptance even as practical propositions and could only lead to the
accentuation of the difficulties of honest investigating officers and truthful
The Full Bench answered the questions as
follows:- "(1 ) It is not necessary that entry should be made in the
various police records of the precautions that were taken for keeping the
accused persons ba- parda while under police custody.
(l)  3 S.C.R. 694.
(2) A.I.R.. 1962 Raj. 78.
(3) I.L.R. (1953) 3 Rajasthan 762.
4-.526 SCI/78 316 (2) It is also not
necessary to specify in the warrant of commitment of the accused when he is
sent to judicial custody that he is to be kept ba-parda till The identification
parade takes place, nor it is necessary to specify the precautions that the
jail authorities are to take for keeping the accused ba- parda.
(3) It is also not necessary that entries
should be made in the jail records for keeping the accused ba- parda while he
is in the judicial lock up." In the instant case we have already pointed
out that there is positive and definite evidence that the respondent was kept
ba-parda wherever he was.
Finally, the High Court relied on the
circumstance that Boota Singh was taken from Moonak to Sangrur and thence to
Delhi for a T.I. parade but the T.I. parade ultimately never took place. In
this connection, the High Court relies on the affidavit of Vikram Singh where
the deponent states in para 2 as follows:- "In the present case, I took
the witnesses to Delhi Jail on 24.2.64 for the purpose of identification of the
accused Boota Singh and Trilok Singh. On 26.2.64 at about 8 A.M. I came back to
Dehradun along with the witnesses".
The High Court infers that as the respondents
Boota Singh and Trilok Singh were brought for identification at Delhi and the
witnesses were also there, there is a possibility of the witnesses having been
shown to the respondents at Delhi on the 25th or 26th February, 1964. The High
Court however completely overlooked para 4 of the affidavit of this very
witness where he stated thus:- "I and the witnesses remained together and
during that period the accused Trilok Singh and Boota Singh did not meet and
the witnesses nor did they see us anywhere".
Thus, from the affidavit of this witness it
is clear that although the respondents were brought to Delhi they were not at
all allowed to meet or see the witnesses. In view of this clear statement there
was absolutely no reason for the High Court to have conjectured that the
respondents must have been shown to the witnesses at Delhi. This finding of the
High Court is based on no evidence.
Apart from this, there is another intrinsic
circumstance which shows that the respondents were never shown to the
witnesses. Even though, according to the High Court, Pritam Singh was one. Of
the witnesses who had an opportunity to see respondent Boota Singh yet it
appears 317 when the T.I. parade took place at Dehra Dun on 9th March, 1964
Pritam Singh was not able to identify Boota Singh who was identified only by
law. 2 Inder Singh and P.W. 14 Jagir Singh. This completely negatives the
suggestion that Pritam Singh could have seen the respondents either at Moonak
or Delhi in which case he would have felt no difficulty in identifying the
respondent Boota Singh. In view of this circumstance, therefore, we are unable
to sustain the finding of the High Court on this point and we are of the
opinion that the High Court appears to have reversed the well considered
finding of the Sessions Judge without any legal justification.
Another ground on which the High Court
rejected the identification of P. Ws. 2, 8 and 14 was by laying down an extra
ordinary principle of law, viz., that the evidence of identification is a very
weak type of evidence and should be closely scrutinised before reliance is
placed on it. The High Court observed as follows:- "There can be no two
opinions about the fact that the evidence of identification is a very weak type
of evidence and should be closely scrutinised before reliance is placed on it.
Reliance can in this connection be also made to the recent decision of the
Supreme Court in Budh Sen and Anr. v. State of U.P."(1) In support of its
view the High Court relied on a decision of this Court in Budh Sen & Anr.
v. State of U.P.
(supra). We feel that the High Court has
completely misdirected itself on this point. In the first place, the decision
of this Court relied upon by the High Court does not at all apply to the facts
of the present case. In Budh Sen & Anr. v. State of V.P. (supra) what was
held by this Court was that where an accused is not known to the witness from
before and there is no T.I. parade, but the witness identifies the accused for
the first time in court suck an identification is valueless. In this
connection, this Court has observed as follows:- "As a general rule, the
substantive evidence of a witness is a statement made in court. The evidence of
mere identification of the accused person at the trial for the first time is
from its very nature inherently of a weak character. The evidence in order to
carry conviction should ordinarily clarify as to how and under what
circumstances he came to pick out the particular accused person and the details
of the part which the accused played in the crime in question with reasonable
particularity. The purpose of a prior test identi- (1) A.I.R. 1970 S.C. 1321.
318 fication , therefore, seems to be to test
and strengthen the trustworthiness of that evidence. It is accordingly
considered a safe rule of prudence to generally look for corroboration of the
sworn testimony of witnesses in court as to the identity or the accused who
ar`e strangers to them, in the form of earlier identification proceeding."
When this Court held that evidence of identification for the first time at the
trial was of a weak character, it merely meant that where the evidence of a
witness in court is not tested by prior identification parade held in jail not
much reliance can be placed on such a evidence. This is however not the case
here, nor can we take the aforesaid said decision to lay down a rule of
universal appellation that the identification evidence is a very weak type of
evidence. Where the witness correctly identifies the accused at a T.I. parade
held by a Magistrate after observing all the essential formalities and taking
the necessary precautions and then identifies the accused also in court the
evidence of identification can be believed unless the evidence of witness
suffers from some other infirmity.
Moreover, the evidence of identification
becomes stronger if the witness has an opportunity of seeing the accused not
for a few minutes but for some length of time, in broad day light, when he
would be able to note the features of the accused more carefully than on seeing
the accused in a dark night for a few minutes. In the present case, it is
mentioned in the confession of Boota Singh and is proved by the evidence of
P.Ws. 2, 8 and 14 that the respondent the a talk with P.W. 2 Inder Singh in the
presence of other witnesses for quite some time and struck a deal regarding the
taxi and gave a receipt to Inder Singh. These witnesses, therefore, were in a
position to notice the features of the respondent Boota Singh as closely as
possible. In the circumstances therefore, we are unable to agree with the High
Court that the evidence of identification of these witnesses is a weak type of
evidence. We also disapprove the universal rule of application laid down by the
High Court that the evidence of identification is a weak type of evidence. For
the reasons given above we see no reasons to distrust the evidence of P.Ws. 2,
8 and 14 arid we hold that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt
that the respondent Boota Singh had approached Inder Singh for hiring the taxi
and Inder Singh allowed Boota Singh to take the taxi along with his son Lal
Singh, deceased. In view of the fact that Inder Singh and Jagir Singh identified
Boota Singh at T. I. Parade which has been proved by Magistrate M. L.
Sharma, P.W. 23 there was no reason to
distrust the evidence of identification of these two witnesses as against Boota
Singh. For the same reasons there was no reason to distrust the evidence of
P.W. 8 Pritam Singh and P.W. 14 Jagir Singh when 319 they had identified the
respondent Trilok Singh at a r. 1.
parade and also in court. The finding of the
High Court on this point is, therefore, wholly incorrect both in law and on
Thus, the evidence of the aforesaid witnesses
fully corroborates the confessional statement of Boota Singh in regard to the
first stage of the prosecution case, namely, the circumstances relating to the
hiring of the taxi.
The next circumstance mentioned in the
confession is that after hiring the taxi the party of the respondent went to
Doiwala where they were found by Asa Singh and Gopi. All of them took tea in a
hotel. This fact is also corroborated by the evidence of P.W. 5 Khem Singh and
P.W. 7 Jaideo Singh which appears to have been rejected by the which Court on
grounds which are not legally sound. To begin with, the respondent Boota Singh
made a clear admission that he, Asa Singh and Lal Singh and others had tea at
the hotel in Doiwala. P.W. 5 Khem Singh deposed in court that he knew Lal
Singh. Two years ago Lal Singh had taken food in his hotel along with 4 or 5
persons who were not known to him. He further gays that he knew Asa Singh and
he does not remember whether Asa Singh was among the persons who had taken food
at his hotel. Although the witness had made quite a different statement before
the committing court even in his statement before the Sessions Court he does
not disprove the prosecution case because he admits that Lal Singh and 4 or 5
others had taken food in the hotel and he does not know whether Asa Singh had
taken the food there or not. Before the committing Court, the witness had
stated that Lal Singh and others had taken food in his hotel in the beginning
of the month of December and the payments was made by all of them collectively.
He had also stated that of these persons who had taken food at the hotel had
come out of the taxi of Lal Singh and stayed there for about 10 to 15 minutes.
He has also stated that Asa Singh and Trilok Singh had also' come to take food.
The witness, was, however, declared hostile because he resiled from the
statement made before the committing court and after his attention was drawn to
the statement, the aforesaid statement was transferred under Section 288 and in
law became substantive evidence. His statement before the committing court is
Exhibit Ka-72. In this statement he deposed as follows:- "My hotel is at
the Chaurrah Bazar in Doiwala. In the beginning of the month of December, 1963
it was the time of 6 p.m. I was at my hotel. On the evening of that day these
men came by a car to take food. The shop of Jaideo Singh is in front of my
shop. These men took food at my 320 shop. Dola Singh is called Jaideo Singh as
well. He is present in the Court. He came to take his tea when these men were
eating their food. Then he went back to his shop out of these men Trilok Singh
and Asa Singh accused pre sent in Court were known to me from before.
The car belonged to Lal Singh. He too was
known to me from before. After taking their food these four men along with Lal
Singh went away by the car towards Rishikesh. Out of those four men, two men
were not known to me".
In his statement in court the witness
categorically stated that the statement he had made before the committing court
was correct. But in cross examination he made out a new case that the statement
before the committing court was made at the instance of the police. Indeed, if
it was so, he would have at once complained to the committing Magistrate.
Similarly, P. W. 7 Jaideo Singh completely
resiled from his statement which he made before the committing court which was
also transferred under section 288 Cr. P.C. Before the Committing Court the
witness had stated that he had gone to take tea in the hotel of Khem Singh and
found Asa Singh.
Trilok Singh and Lal Singh were taking food
together. He knew these persons from before except respondent Boota Singh whom
he identified at a validly held T.I. parade and thereafter in the court of the
committing Magistrate. The witness tried to explain in court that counsel for
the respondent dictated the report to the reader who took down the same and
thereafter he affixed his signature. He further Admitted that he did not tell
the Magistrate that he would like to read the statement made by him. He further
admitted that he did not say anything to the Magistrate in regard to pressure.
It is, therefore, clear that the statement of the witness be fore the
committing court was true and he is falsely resiling from the same in order to protect
the respondent. lt passes one's comprehension that the committing Magistrate
would allow counsel for the plaintiff to dictate the statement to the reader
when in law the Magistrate has to record the statement`himself. The witness
further admits that whatever he said before the Committing Magistrate was not
due to police pressure. In these circumstances, therefor, there are intrinsic
circumstances which clearly go to show that the statements the two witnesses
had made before the Committing Magistrate were true. The law on this legal
aspect of the matter has been laid down by this Court in the case of Shranappa
Mutyappa Halke v. State of Maharashtra(1) where this Court observed as
follows:- (1)  4 S.C.R. 589.
321 "The question how far evidence in
the Committing Court given by a witness who resiles from it at the Trial in
Sessions and which is brought in as evidence at the Trial under section 288 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure requires corroboration or not, has engaged the
attention of most of the High Courts in India in numerous cases."
"Where a person has made two contradictory statements on oath it is plainly
unsafe to rely implicitly on his evidence. In other words, before one decides
to accept the evidence brought in under section 288 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure as true and reliable one has to be satisfied that this is really so.
How can that satisfaction be reached ? In most cases this satisfaction can come
only if there is such support in extrinsic evidence as to give a reasonable indication
that not only what is said about the occurrence in general but also what is
said against the particular accused sought to be implicated in the crime is
true. If there be a case- and there is such infinite variety in facts and
circumstances of the cases coming before the courts that it cannot be
dogmatically said that there can never be such a case-where even without such
extrinsic support the Judge of facts after bearing in mind the intrinsic
weakness of the evidence, in that two different statements on oath have been
made, is satisfied that the evidence is true and can be safely relied upon, the
Judge will be failing in his duty not to do so." This case was followed in
a later decision of this Court in Har Prasad & Ors. v. The State of Madhya
Pradesh(1). Applying the dictum laid down by this Court to the facts of the
present case we find that the following facts are established:
1. P. W. S Khem Singh and P.W. 7 Jaideo Singh
fully supported the prosecution case regarding the presence of Boota Singh and
others at the hotel of Khem Singh, P.W.5.
2. P. W. S Khem Singh has categorically
stated that what he had stated before the committing court was true and has
thus certified that what he stated in the court was not the correct version,
but the correct version was what he stated before the committing Magistrate.
3. The fact that respondent Boota Singh along
with Asa High, Trilok Singh and Lal Singh and others had taken (1)  3
322 food at Doiwala at the hotel of Khem
Singh is clearly mentioned in the confession of Boota Singh.
4. So far as P. W. 7 Jaideo Singh is
concerned, the reason given by him for deposing before the committing court is
wholly unacceptable viz., that the statement of the witnesses before the
committing court was not recorded by the Magistrate but was dictated by the
plaintiff's lawyer to the reader of the Magistrate.
This statement is palpably absurd and has
been made for the first time in Court for the purpose of helping the
respondent. Thus, there are cogent reasons and intrinsic circumstance to lend
support to the inference that the statements given by these witnesses before
the committing court were in fact true and correct, and the Sessions Judge,
therefore, was right in relying on those statements namely Ka-72 and 73. The
High Court appears lo have brushed aside the evidence of P.W.5 Khem Singh and
P.W. 7 Jaideo Singh only on the ground that these witnesses had made two
inconsistent statements on oath and made no effort to. find out as to whether
the prior statement made by them before the committing court was in fact true
having regard to the facts and circumstances mentioned above. In our opinion,
the High Court was clearly in error in rejecting the evidence of the witness on
the grounds that it did. In doing so the High Court has not followed the dictum
laid down by this Court in the case of Shranappa Mutyappa Halke v. State of
Maharashtra (supra). I thus, the fact that after hiring the taxi belonging to
Inder Singh, Boota Singh and others along with Lal Singh reached Doiwala is
clearly established and is fully corroborate(l by the evidence of P.W.5 Khem
Singh and P.W. 7 Jaideo Singh as discussed above. Thus, this part of the
confession of the respondent Boota Singh appears to be fully corroborated and
it has been established that after taking the Fiat Car No. UPS 6679 Boota Singh
and party including Lal Singh who was driving the car left for Doiwala where
they stayed for some time.
The next statement in the confession is that
from Doiwala the respondent Boota Singh and his party proceeded to Chidderwala
in the same car (UPS6679). The respondent also mentioned that at the forest
outpost Gopi affixed his signature. This fact is corroborated by the evidence
11 Digambar Dutt Bandola and P.W. 13 Bacchu
Ram and Exhibit Ka-74. P.W. 11 Digambar Dutt Bandola states in his evidence
that in December, 1963 he was a clerk at the Song Bridge, Doiwala and was in
charge of the register of the Toll Barrier. The witness proves the entry at
page 6 of the register about 323 the passing o'; a Fiat car bearing No.
UPS-6679 going from Dehra Dun to Rishikesh at 6.00 in the evening. This entry
is marked as Exhibit Ka-74. This evidence, therefore, fully corroborates the
statement of Boota Singh in his confession that from Doiwala the party
proceeded to Chidderwala (which is on way of Rishikesh) and that Gopi had
signed the register at one of the forest outposts which is proved by Exhibit
Ka-74. It would thus be clear that up to this spot original number of the Fiat
car, viz., UPS-6679 was retained, because the evidence shows that the number
was changed after the murder of Lal Singh. The High Court has not at all
considered the effect of this document nor has it referred to the evidence of
P.W. 11 Digamber Dutt Bandola, who is an independent witness. In fact, as
pointed out by us, the High Court has made a wrong approach to the whole case
by not taking the confessional statement first and then finding out whether
there are other circumstances corroborating the various parts of the statement
made in the confession. Perhaps, this may he due to the fact that the High
Court found t-hat the confession was not voluntary and therefore should be
excluded from consideration`n. We have already indicated the reason why this
conclusion of the High Court was manifestly wrong and not legally supportable.
According to Exhibit Ka-74 the car driven by
Lal Singh passed the forest barrier at about 6 p.m. It appears that there was
another barrier at a small distance from Song Bridge which is called the
Bhamiawala outpost. The evidence of P.W. 13 Bacchu Ram is to the effect that he
was posted in December, 1963, at this outpost and he made entries in the
register of vehicles passing through the forest road.
According to the witness, the car bearing No.
UPS-6679 crossed this barrier on 8-12-1963 at 6.15 p.m. and the concerned entry
in the register is Exhibit Ka-10. According to the witness, one Lt. K. S.
Chimni had signed the register and he gave out the number of car as UPS-662O
but the witness checked from the number plate and found that the correct number
was UPS-6679. The prosecution alleged that the signature made by Lt. K. S.
Chimni was actually made by the respondent Boota Singh himself, but as his
signatures were not sent to the expert, there was no proof of the fact that it
was the respondent Boota Singh who had signed the entry. Having regard to the
identity of the car there could be no doubt that somebody else signed as Lt K.
S. Chimni, but the occupants of the car were the respondents Boota Singh and
his party including Lal Singh and it may be possible that Gopi who according to
Boota Singh in his statement may have affixed his signature at the outpost as
Lt. K. S. Chimni.
The respondent Boota Singh then goes on to
state that all of them drank wine at the house of Asa Singh and chalked out a
programme 324 of committing the murder of Lal Singh for the purpose of taking
exclusive possession of the car and in pursuance of this conspiracy except
respondent Raghubir Singh all the four, namely, Boota Singh, Asa Singh, Trilok
Singh and Gopi took Lal Singh to the forest. Trilok Singh fired two shots at
Lal Singh and Asa Singh dealt a Gandasa blow on the neck of the deceased.
Thereafter the respondents took off the clothes of the deceased and set fire to
them and left the dead body in the same condition. Although there is no direct
corroboration of the actual assault on Lal Singh, the circumstantial evidence
admitted in the confession and corroborated is a clear pointer to the fact that
Lal Singh had accompanied the respondent right from Dehra Dun up to Chidderwala
forest where he was murdered. . Thus, the respondents were last seen with Lal
Singh before the murder.
Therefore, taking the circumstances before
and after the murder of Lal Singh, the murder of Lal Singh cannot be explained
by any other reasonable hypothesis except the guilt of the respondent. Even the
fact that the dead body was left in the condition in the forest itself is
corroborated by the discovery of the skeleton of the deceased Lal Singh from
the forest, his clothes which have been clearly found by the Session Judge as
belonging to the deceased Lal Singh and this finding has not been displaced by
the High Court.
We shall deal with this aspect in greater
detail when we take up the question of corpus delecti which has been argued
with great vehemence by Mr. Mulla. At the moment we are confining ourselves to
the nature of the corroboration of the confessional statement of Boota Singh.
The respondent Boota Singh then says that he along with Trilok Singh and
Raghubir Singh went to sell the car at Bombay and all the three of them drove
the car by turns. The respondent Boota Singh further says that having come out
of the forest he signed the register at the forest outpost and changed the
number plate of the car to UPM-3236. This portion of his statement is
corroborated by the evidence of P.W. 12 Mangali who was the chowkidar at Gola
Thappar outpost in 1963. He deposes that Exhibit Ka-11 is the register of the
outpost and as he is illiterate the entries used to be made by the owners of
the cars. It is manifestly clear that when the car passed this outpost it must
have been after the murder of Lal Singh had already been committed and the
number plate of car had been changed, as admitted by respondent Boota Singh in
his confessional statement. The relevant entry is Exhibit Ka-27 and is dated
8.12.1963 and shows that a car bearing No. UPM-3236 passed the check post on
8.12.1963. This entry is signed by respondent Boota Singh as K. Sharma at two
places which are marked by the expert as Q-2040 and Q-2039.
The signatures made by the respondent Boota
Singh were 325 sent to the expert along with the specimen signatures Exhibits
Ka-53 and 53A and which were numbered by the expert as Q-3885 and 3886 and the
expert has opined that the signatures K. Sharma made on this entry namely
Q-2040 and 2039 (Exhibits Ka-27-28) have been made by the same person whose
specimen signatures have been taken and which are marked by the expert as
Q-3885 and 3886 vide evidence of P.W. 32 Shiv Ram and his reports Exhibit Ka-64
and 65 wherein he has given the detailed reasons for his opinion.
Learned counsel for the respondent was not
able to repel the opinion of the expert. This, therefore, clearly shows that
the respondent Boota Singh had deliberately changed the number plate from UPS
6679 to UPM 3236 to conceal the identity of the car and this was done after Lal
Singh had been put to death. This, therefore, fully corroborates the statement
made by Boota Singh in his confession. This important document which
demonstrates the incriminating conduct of the respondent Boota Singh apart from
corroborating the statement made in the confessional statement has been
completely overlooked by the High Court.
It may also be mentioned here that not only
did the specimen signature of respondent Boota Singh on Exhibit Ka-53 tally
with his signature in the register Exhibit Ka-11 but even the words 'UPM-3236'
written by him have been found by the expert to be in the writing of respondent
Boota Singh. Thus, it is established by unimpeachable evidence that the
respondent Boota Singh not only made the entry in the register Exhibit Ka-11
but also changed the number plate of the car to UPM-3236 with a view to conceal
the identity of the car.
The scene then shifts to Ambala where,
according to the prosecution, Boota Singh accompanied by Raghubir Singh and
others went to Ambala and got the car insured. P.W. 27 Balwant Singh Bhalla
deposes that on 11.12.63 a man filled up the insurance form Exhibit Ka-29 and affixed
the signatures as J.P. Singh, and handed over the same to the witness who was
the agent of North India General Insurance Company. A bare look at the form
Exhibit Ka-29 clearly shows that the insurance form was filled for a period of
one year i.e. from 11.12.63 to 10.12.64. Unfortunately, however, the learned
Sessions Judge has rightly pointed out that the prosecution did not get the
respondent Boota Singh identified by the witness P.W. 29 Balwant Singh nor did
he get the signatures made by the respondent Boota Singh as J.
P. Singh sent to the expert for examination
with his other specimen signatures. Even excluding these facts from
consideration what has been prove(l by the evidence of this witnesses is that a
car bearing no. UPM-3236 had been insured for one year with the company of the
witness at Ambala. It has already been established, as indicated 326 above,
that it was the respondent Boota Singh alone who had changed the number plate
of the car in question, namely, UPS-6679 into UPM-3236 and that this is the car
which was taken on hire by Boota Singh and others and was carrying them right
from Dehra Dun to Doiwala, Rishikesh and further.
The car also undoubtedly reached Ambala when
one of the occupants of the car, whoever he may have been, contacted P.W. 29
Balwant Singh and got the car insured for one year.
To this extent, this is an important link in
the chain of circumstantial evidence which if considered cumulatively
corroborates the confession and also serves as a circumstance against the respondent
Needless to repeat that Boota Singh had
already made a clear statement in the confession that after leaving the dead
body. he along with Trilok Singh and Raghubir Singh proceeded to Bombay to sell
the car and that the number of the car was change(l to UPM-3236. The evidence
of P.W. 29 Balwant Singh and the insurance form clearly establish that the car
which had carried these three persons reached Ambala on the 13th December, 1963
as stated by Balwant Singh P.W.29. The respondent Boota Singh then goes on to
state that at Bombay he stayed for 3 or 4 days first in a Gurdwara and then in
Amrit Hotel and negotiated for the sale of the car through a broker and when
the deal was settled the respondent received an advance of 200 but the intending
purchaser insisted that the registration of the car should be changed into that
of Bombay. Thereafter the respondent Boota Singh and Trilok Singh went to
R.T.O's office, Raghubir Singh having stayed back at the hotel. The respondents
learnt there that the police was in their pursuit, so the party left the car
and came back. So far as the present occurrence is concerned, the confession
ends here but the respondent goes on to narrate another incident in which also
the respondent tried to get another taxi. It not necessary for us to dwell on
this aspect of the matter, because that is the subject matter of another case.
The fact however that the respondent was prepared to make a clean breast not
only of the facts of the present case but also of the other incident clearly
shows that he was speaking the truth exhibiting real sense of penitence flowing
from the pricking of his conscience.
This part of the confessional statement is
fully corroborated by the evidence led by the prosecution which we will discuss
hereafter. The respondent Boota Singh has clearly stated in his confession that
after going to Bombay he contacted a broker for negotiating the sale of the
P.W. 9 Anand Singh states that he was plying
a taxi at Bombay. On 17.12.63 he met the three persons at National Petrol Pump,
Bombay with a 1962 model Fiat car having number plate bear 327 ing number
UPM-3236. The witness paid an advance of Rs.
200/- and got a receipt in the name of
Nirbhai Ram Narsic Das. The witness further states that of the three persons
who met him two were Sardars and one was without a beard.
The persons who was without beard gave out
his name as J. P. Singh and he affixed his signature on the receipt. On
18.12.63 Boota Singh as J. P. Singh took him to the office of the Ex R.T.O. for
getting the registration number changed at Bombay. The witness also says that
the total price settled between the parties was Rs. 16,200. Thereafter the so
called J. P. Singh went inside the office and the witness remained outside and
waited right up to 6 in the evening but J. P. Singh did not return. The C.I.D.
Police, Bombay thereafter took the car into custody along with all other
papers. The witness gave the receipt given to him by the respondent Boota
Singh. The witness had identified the respondent Boota Singh at Dehra Dun and
Raghubir Singh at Nainital at an identification parade held by a Magistrate.
The witness also identified Boota Singh
before the Sessions Court. The witness was subjected to a searching cross-
examination, but nothing of importance appear to have been elicited.
P.W. 62 Raja Ram Narain states that he was a
broker dealing with the motor cars. On 14-12-63. three persons came to sell a
fiat car of 1962 model bearing No. UPM-3236. He had a talk with the person who
named himself as J. P. Singh and represented himself to be son of S. P.
Bareilly. He demanded Rs. 18,000 for the car and offered a commission of Rs.
500 to the witness. The witness accordingly searched for a customer. The
customer after examining the chassis and the engine number of the car became a
little suspicious and asked the witness to verify the same and was not willing
to purchase unless the car was a genuine one. The witness then reported the
matter. to Shri D. Silva and the motor vehicle Inspector P.W. 30 Gulzar Singh
deposes that he was attached to the crime branch of the C.I.D., Bombay in
on 9.12.63 his officer Shri Silva informed
him that car bearing No. UPM-3236 seems to be a stolen property and an enquiry
should be made from the R.T.O's office. The witness went to the R.T.O.s office
and took the car into his custody. After some time the man named Anand Singh
came there and gave him a receipt relating to an advance payment of Rs. 200/-.
The witness then took the documents from the R.T.O's office including the
driving licence and the insurance certificate etc. Thus, it would appear that
two independent witnesss from Bombay, viz., P.W. 9 Anand Singh and P.W. 62 Raja
Ram Narain Rane proved that the respondent Boota Singh contacted them for sale
of the car and had shown the car to them. But as there was some discrepancy in
the chassis number 328 and the engine number P.W. 62 Raja Ram Narain Rane
became a little suspicious. Both these witnesses identified the respondent
Boota Singh at Dehra Dun at a T.I. parade held by P.W. 23 M. L. Sharma as
discussed above. Thereafter they identified the respondent Boota Singh both in
the committing court and the Sessions Court.
P.W. 62 Raja Ram Narain Rane had
categorically stated that he had not seen the respondent Boota Singh anywhere
in the intervening period i.e. between the time when he visited him at Bombay
and the T.I. parade held at Dehra Dun.
Similarly, P.W. 9 Anand Singh has also
identified the respondent Boota Singh both in the identification parade and in
court. In fact P.W. 9 Anand Singh had identified Raghubir Singh also. The
evidence of these witnesses fully corroborates the facts stated by the
respondent Boota Singh in his confession which have been detailed above. The
High Court has made no real attempt to consider the intrinsic evidence of these
two independent witnesses which lends full and complete assurance to and
provide an independent corroboration of the confession made by Boota Singh. All
that the High Court says is that for the reasons it had given for rejecting the
other witnesses on the question of identification these two witnesses cannot be
The High Court completely overlooked the fact
that there was no question on these witnesses from Bombay having been shown to
the respondent before the T.I. parade. There is not an iota of evidence to
suggest this. Similarly, we have pointed out that the view of the High Court on
the nature of identification evidence was clearly wrong. In these
circumstances, therefore, as a matter of fact the High Court has not at all
considered the evidence of these two witnesses which fully supports the
prosecution case and the finding of the High Court, therefore, in rejecting the
evidence of these two witnesses is vitiated by the circumstances mentioned
Apart from the facts mentioned above, there
is an unimpeachable circumstantial documentary evidence to prove the Bombay
incident. Exhibit Ka-34 is a declaration form dated 16.12.63 which was given by
the respondent Boota Singh in connection with the registration of the car at
This is signed by him as J. P. Singh at two
places; the signatures being Ka-34 and the number given by the expert is 2045.
Exhibit Ka-66 which is the form for registration of vehicle in Bombay dated
18.12.63 which is also signed by the respondent Boota Singh as J. P. Singh and
his signature is Ka-36, the expert number being 2046.
There is another declaration form dated
18.12.63 which is signed by the respondent Boota Singh as J. P. Singh. and the
signature is Exhibit Ka-39. There is another signature which is Ka-40. These
329 two signatures bear the expert numbers 2048 and 2048A.
Exhibit Ka-59 is dated 18-12-63 and contains
two signatures of Boota Singh as J. P. Singh, viz., Exhibit Ka-59 and 60.
The expert numbers of the signatures are 3895
Reference to the evidence of expert P. W. 32
Shiv Ram Singh would show that all these signatures fully tallied with the
specimen signatures of the respondent Boota Singh taken during the
investigation, and the signatures J. P.
Singh are Exhibits 53 and 54. Thus, the
prosecution has adduced conclusive evidence to prove that the car seized by the
Police at Bombay was the same which was hired by the respondent Boota Singh and
others from P.W. 2 Inder Singh at Dehra Dun. This fact is proved both by oral
and documentary evidence discussed above and a very well reasoned finding on
this point has been given by the Sessions Judge which runs thus:- "In Ex.
Ka-2 agreement entered into between Lal Singh and Jasbir Singh of Auto Linkers
Financiers, the particulars of the car are given as Fiat 1100, 1962 Model
chassis No. D 950261. These particulars are identical with those of UPM 3236
seized by the Bombay Police. Thus the prosecution has been able to establish
that the car seized by the Bombay Police was the one which the accused Boota
Singh along with his companions hired from M/s Punjab Taxi service." The
learned Sessions Judge has also pointed that the original plate exhibit Ka-51
had been recovered by P.W. 18 Vikram Singh from the Car UPM 3236 and sent to
P.W. 26 Shariq Alvi who found that there was tampering with the number of the
plate. Brij Kishore of R.T.O's office Bareilly stated that UPM 3236 was a fake
number inasmuch as it related to a station wagon belonging to a Junior
Government High School, Pakkwara, District Moradabad. Harcharan Singh, Inder
Singh and Mahendra Kaur have also identified the car in question to be the same
car which was hired by the respondent Boota Singh on 8th December, 1963. These
facts have not been challenged by the defence. Even the High Court has not
reversed the finding of the Sessions Judge on this point. Before closing this
part of the case we might advert to an argument advanced before us by Mr. Mulla
regarding the specimen signature of the respondent Boota Singh taken by the
Police during investigation. Mr. Mulla submitted that the act of the
investigating officer in taking the specimen signature of the respondent Boota
Singh was hit by section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code and also amounted
to testimonial compulsion so as to violate the guarantee contained in Article
20(3) of the Constitution. The matter 330 is no longer res integra and is
concluded by a decision of this Court in the case of State of Bombay v. Kathi
Kalu Oghad & ors.(1) where the Court observed as follows:- "That is
why it must be held that by giving these impressions or specimen handwriting,
the accused person does not. furnish evidence against himself. So when an
accused person is compelled to give a specimen handwriting or impressions of
his finger, palm or foot, it may be said that he has been compelled to be a
witness; it cannot however be said that he has been compelled to be a witness
against himself." It was also held that merely taking a specimen
handwriting does not amount to be giving a statement so as to be hit by Section
162 Cr. P.C. In view of this decision of the Court, Mr. Mulla did not pursue
the point further.
Another important comment made by the High
Court against the confession was that the manner in which the deceased Lal
Singh had k been killed, according to the statement of Boota Singh in his
confession, is completely disproved by the medical evidence inasmuch as there
is no evidence of any gun- shot injury having been received by Lal Singh nor is
there anything to show that he received any Gandasa injury. With due respects
we are constrained to observe that the High Court has taken a very artificial
and incorrect view of the matter in this regard. The dead body was recovered
three weeks after the death of the deceased:
During this period the naked body was ex
posed to wind and weather. The skeleton was burnt and the flesh had peeled off.
The learned Sessions judge has rightly explained that as only two shots were
fired at the deceased according to the Statement of Boota Singh in his
confession, it may be that no shot hit the bone but remained in the flesh which
having peeled off, no trace of gun shot injury could ever be found. Therefore,
it is not a circumstance to show that there is any real inconsistency between
the confessional statement of the respondent Boota Singh and the medical
evidence. As regards the injury said to have been inflected by a Gandasa, the
same is proved by the circumstantial evidence and the nature of the skeleton or
Lal Singh found in the forest. According to the postmortem report, the lower
cervical vertebra was separated from the rest . of the skeleton at the level of
the joint and the head was found at a distance From the body. This would mean
that the head was severed from the body and this could have only been possible
if the injury was . inflicted by a Gandasa as the entire flesh had peeled off
and traces of (1)  3 S.C.R. 10.
331 the injury had obliterated by passage of
time. The skeleton remained in the forest exposed to rain and in these
circumstances we could not expect to find any mark of injury on the skeleton
the fact however is that the skeleton has been indentified to be that of the
deceased Lal Singh by good and cogent evidence as found by the Sessions Judge
which finding has not been displaced by the High Court. It is obvious that the
statement of Boota Singh regarding the death of the deceased was the only
manner in which he was murdered. For these reasons, therefore, we are unable to
agree with the High Court that the manner in which the deceased is said to have
been assaulted according to the confessional statement has not been proved by
This brings us to an argument put forward
before us by Mr. Mulla learned counsel for the respondents that there was no
reliable evidence to prove the identity of the corpus delecti. We are, however,
unable to accept this contention.
The learned Sessions Judge has given a very
well reasoned finding on this point which has not been reversed by the High
To begin with, the body of the deceased was
recovered at the instance of respondent Asa Singh and this fact was proved by
P.W. 17 Sher Singh and P.W. 31 Jasmer Singh and the Investigating officer P.W.
59 Gulzar Singh. This evidence is clearly admissible under section 27 of the
Evidence Act. The only comment made was that Sher Singh had some enmity with
Asa Singh. the learned Sessions Judge, however, pointed out that there was no
long standing, enmity between Asa Singh and Sher Singh. There were some proceedings
about 8 or 9 years age and there were some proceeding under section 127/ 117
Cr. P.C.. after the occurrence which is wholly irrelevant. No comment has been
made as to why Jasmer Singh should not be believed. In this view of the matter
the evidence of the recovery of the dead body at the instance of Asa Singh has
been proved not only by the Investigating officer Gulzar Singh but by two
independent witnesses. Sher Singh and Jasmer Singh. This, therefore. clearly
establishes the identify of the corpus delecti as being that of Lal Singh.
Apart from this some clothes Exhibits l 3 14. l 5 were recovered lying at a
distance of 3 Lo 4 yards from the body and this recovery has also been proved
by Sher Singh, Jasmer Singh and Inder Singh. Portions of these clothes were
burnt which fully corroborates the confessional statement of Boota Singh where
he had stated that after taking out the same from the dead body of Lal Singh
they had set the clothes on fire. It H appears, however, that for some reason
or the other only a very small portion of the clothes were burnt.
5-526 SCI/78 332 Another important evidence
which clenches the issue was the recovery,- of Exhibit Ka-8 a dry cleaning
receipt from the pocket of the coat of Lal Singh which is Exhibit Ka-13.
This receipt bears the signature of Lal
Singh. P.W. 3 who was the salesman at Dehra Dyeing and Dry Cleaners deposed
that on g. 11.63 Lal Singh had given a pant for dry cleaning and had been given
receipt Exhibit Ka-8, the duplicate of which was with the dry cleaning shop and
it has also been produced and is exhibit Ka-52. This, therefore, completely
clinches the issue and shows that the dead body could have been of none else
than that of Lal Singh. Mr. Mulla suggested that this receipt may have been
introduced by the police in the pocket of the coat during investigation. There
is however no evidence to prove this fact. Nothing has been shown why the
police officers would have gone to the extent of fabricating the evidence
against the respondents. For these reasons, therefore, we find ourselves in
complete agreement with the finding of the learned Sessions Judge that the
skeleton recovered from The forest was that of Lal Singh and we accordingly
overrule the argument of Mr. Mulla on this point.
Lastly, Mr. Mulla vehemently contended that
there ii no legal evidence against Raghubir Singh. Admittedly, according the
confessional statement of Boota Singh, Raghubir Singh was not present in the
forest at the time when Lal Singh was murdered. There is no evidence to show that
Raghubir Singh was present at Ambala. It is true that P.W. 2 Inder Singh and
other witnesses had identified Raghubir Singh as having accompanied the
respondent Boota Singh to Dehra Dun and he has also identified as accompanying
Boota Singh by P.W. 9 Anand Singh, but it was contented that as. at the time
when the respondent Raghubir Singh was identified at the parade he had shaved
off his beard, it would be difficult for the witness to identify when at the
time they saw him he had a beard. There appears to be some force in this
There is clear evidence to show that when
Raghubir Singh was identified he had no beard it all. Tn these circumstances,
therefore, the possibility of mistake in identification cannot be excluded.
Even the trial Court has not accepted the evidence of identification against
him. In all probability Raghubir Singh was there and was a co- conspirator as
stated by the respondent Boota Singh himself but in view of the circumstances
mentioned above, we find it unsafe to convict him when he has been acquitted by
the High Court. We should not be taken as holding that the confession of the
respondent Boota Singh so far as Raghubir Singh is concerned is false. Infact
we believe it to be true, but as a matter of extra caution we would like to
give benefit of doubt to Raghubir Singh.
333 Thus, in short the entire confession of
the respondent Boota Singh is not only corroborated by the evidence discussed
above but is reinforced by the independent evidence plus identification which
has been proved by the prosecution and accepted by us. The offence of
conspiracy is also proved.
The trial Court has rightly pointed out that
the charge under section 465/471 I.P.C. has been proved. There is direct
evidence of P.W. 35 Ratilal Chhoto Bhai Desai who has correctly identified
Boota Singh that he signed as J. P.
Singh in his presence on the papers relating
to the registration of the car at Bombay. The signatures made by him are
Exhibit Ka-59 and 60 and the documents concerned are Exhibit Ka-34, 36 and 39.
The expert P.W. 32 Shiv Ram Singh has clearly stated that Exhibits Ka-38 to 40
were in the handwriting of Boota Singh. It has also been proved as held by the
trial Court that these documents were presented by Boota Singh for the purpose
of obtaining registration number from the R.T.O. Bombay in respect of the
stolen car. Thus, we fully agree with the finding of the trial Court that the
change under section 4651471 and 466/471 I.P.C. has been clearly proved. Apart
from this, it has also been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent
Boota Singh impersonated as one k. Sharma to Inder Singh and falsely
represented to him that he was a military officer in search of recruitment of
girls in the Army and on this belief he induced Inder Singh to deliver the taxi
to him on hire whereas Boota Singh had no intention whatsoever of returning the
car. The intention to cheat Inder Singh by Boota Singh was clearly proved. In
these circumstances, the charge under section 419 I.P.C. has also been proved
beyond doubt. . The High Court has neither referred to the evidence on those
charges nor considered the same but has taken a short course of rejecting the
entire prosecution case after finding that the confession was not worthy of
credence mainly on speculation as pointed out by us. Furthermore, it has also
been proved that Boota Singh and others murdered the deceased Lal Singh with a
view to take sole possession of the car, and, therefore, the charge under
section 394/34 I.P.C. is also proved.
Thus, on a full and complete consideration of
the evidence and circumstances of the case we find that the High Court has
committed errors of record and has overlooked important circumstances and has
drawn more on imagination than on the proved evidence in the case. On the question
of identification it has laid down a wrong law on the basis of which it failed
to consider that evidence. The confession of the respondent was discarded by
the High Court on irrelevant grounds based on pure speculation. Normally, this
Court does not interfere with an order of acquittal passed by a High Court but
in this case we find mat the High Court has misread the evidence and has re 334
versed the judgment of the Sessions Judge without displacing important
conclusions arrived at by the Sessions Judge. The High Court has overlooked
important circumstances which fully proved the case. Even regarding the
confession it has not made a correct approach which is first to take the
confession and then to fin(l out how much of it is corroborated by other independent
Thus with due deference to the view taken by
the Judges of the High Court we find that the High Court committee errors of
law and fact on most vital points. It has refused to draw inferences from
proved facts which are irresistible and has laid down legally erroneous
principles on such vital and crucial evidence as that of identification which
is a valuable piece of evidence. The High Court has on one hand completely
overlooked some of the important circumstances which amply proved the
prosecution case and on the other while setting aside the judgment of the
Sessions Judge has failed to displace the important reasons given and
circumstances relied on by the Sessions Judge. Taking therefore an overall
picture of the whole case we find that there are substantial and compelling
reasons for setting aside the order of acquittal passed by the High Court in
favour of respondent Boota Singh.
For these reasons, therefore, we are unable
to sustain the judgment of the High Court. We accordingly allow the appeal of
the State against Boota Singh set aside the judgment of the High Court and
convict respondent Boota Singh of offences under section 302 read with section
34 and Section 120-B I.P.C. and sentence him to undergo life imprisonment for
these offences. The respondent Boota Singh is also convicted under section 364
read with section 34 and section 120-B I.P.C. and Section 394 read with section
31 and section 120-B I.P.C.: and sentence him to undergo rigorous imprisonment
for seven years under each count.
Boota Singh is also convicted under section
419 I.P.C. 471 read with section 465 I.P.C. and section 471 read with section
466 I.P.C. and is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years, one
year and four years respectively. All the sentences are to run concurrently.
The respondent Boota Singh who is on bail shall surrender and serve out the
remaining portion of the sentence.
The appeal against Trilok Singh abates as he
The appeal against Asa Singh will be taken on
later after he surrenders. The appeal against Raghubir Singh is dismissed and
the order of` the High Court acquitting him is confirmed.