Vs. State of Gujarat  INSC 402 (21 December 1990)
S.R. (J) Pandian, S.R. (J) Reddy, K. Jayachandra (J)
1991 AIR 917 1990 SCR Supl. (3) 668 1992 SCC Supl. (1) 567 JT 1991 (1) 1 1990
Penal Code 1860: Sections 300, 302 and 304 Part II-Deceased--Whether committed
suicide by taking poison or was murdered by her husband--No direct evidence to
prove either of the versions--Guilt of appellant/husband to be drawn from
circumstantial evidence--Held on facts--Defence theory of suicide----Complete
hoax-Falsely invented to escape guilt, legal punishment and drift course of investi-
gations-blow given to deceased on vital part of body con- taining vital
organ--Held act done only with knowledge that it is likely to cause death.
Evidence Act, 1872: Sections 3, 11 and 45 Alibi--Plea of--Appreciation of
evidence--Opinion of medical witness--Doctor's evidence--Consideration of case
based on circumstantial evidence-Nature of proof of commission of offence--Necessary
appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 459 of 1987 was married to one Varsha on 4th December 1982. After the mar- riage, she came to Ahmedabad
and stayed with her husband who was in joint family. After having stayed for
about a month with her husband, she returned to her parents' place at Bombay. The husband took her back to the
matrimonial home after about a month.
prosecution alleged that even during her stay with her husband for about a
month, the matrimonial life was not happy as the lady members of the house used
to taunt her.
was not even allowed to see and freely talk to her father and brother in
private when they used to visit her.
7.7.1983 she wrote a letter Exh. 18 to her parents in- forming them that she
was being ill-treated by her husband and in laws and other relatives
complaining that her father did not give her anything at the time of marriage,
and that only Almighty could save her from threatened danger.
the receipt of this letter, the father contacted the appellant's 669
father-PW15, to come to meet him personally. Thereafter, there was a chain of
correspondence between the parents of both the wife and the husband. While this
was going on, the wife was found lying dead in her bed in her matrimonial home
on the morning of August
the case of the appellant-husband that a chit Exh. 80 was seen underneath a
pillow, said to have been written by the deceased herself that she was
committing suicide on her own volition by consuming sleeping pills as she was
in love with a boy at Bombay and her demand for divorce was not acceded to by
her husband. The medical officer PW3 examined her and declared her to be dead.
There- after, the police was informed that she had committed sui- cide.
Sub-Inspector of Police (PW 17) held the inquest over the dead body and sent a
report Exh. 10 stating that it was a suicidal death. After the inquest, the
dead body was sent to the Civil Hospital for post-mortem, The parents of the
deceased on being informed that their daughter was in a serious condition
rushed to Ahmedabad from Bombay. The dead body was brought to the
appellant's house in the morning of August 2, 1983 and thereafter the cremation took
father of the deceased (PW 5) having suspected some foul play and that the
death was not of a natural one, sent letters to the Commissioner of Police the
Home Minister, IGP and Chief Justice of Gujarat and wanted the matter to be
investigated. The matter was examined and further investiga- tion was taken up
on January 7, 1984 by the Investigating Officer (PW
21) who after recording the statement of wit- nesses and receiving the opinion
of the Handwriting Expert laid the charge sheet and arrested the appellant in August 16, 1984. The defence of the appellant was
one of denial.
Trial Court found the appellant guilty of having committed the murder of his
wife and convicted him under Section 302 IPC and sentenced him to imprisonment
also charged for two other offences viz. under Sec- tion 196 IPC that he
attempted to use the chit Exh. 80 as a true or genuine evidence knowing that it
was false and fabricated one, and another under Section 498A that he subjected
his wife, the deceased to cruelty thereby driving her to commit suicide.
appeal, the High Court held the appellant guilty of the offence punishable
under Section 304 Part III PC, and not under Section 302 IPC and sentenced him
to rigorous imprisonment for five years.
The appellant filed an appeal to this Court challenging his conviction and
sentence, and the State of Gujarat also
preferred an appeal on the ground that the evidence makes out a case for an
offence punishable under section 302 IPC.
appeal to this Court it was contended on behalf of the appellant-accused
relying on the evidence of the doctor PW11 and the Sub-Inspector PW17 that the
deceased should have been suffering from malaria resulting in splenic fever and
that she would have collapsed while violently vomiting and sneezing by taking
excessive doses of sleeping pills or barbiturates and that a fail from the cot
might have caused all the internal injuries, showing no visible marks of
external injuries, Strong reliance was also placed on the chit Exh. 80 in
support of the defence theory that it is a case of suicide and that the
deceased has unfolded her mind therein that she had already fallen in love with
her lover at Bombay and that her marriage with the appellant had been solemnised
against her will, and as the appellant had refused to accede to her request for
divorce she was commit- ting suicide.
behalf of the State it was contended that the offence was one of murder within
the ambit of Section 300 IPC, and that the punishment provided thereunder
should be imposed.
the Appeal, this Court,
1. There is no direct evidence to prove whether the deceased committed suicide
by taking poison on account of the alleged failure in love or whether she was
murdered by her husband. Therefore, the guilt or otherwise of the appellant has
to be drawn only from the circumstantial evidence. [676F]
a case in which the evidence is of a circumstan- tial nature the facts and
circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is said to be drawn by the
prosecution must be fully established beyond all reasonable doubt and the facts
and the circumstances so established should not only be consistent with the
guilt of the appellant but also they must entirely be incompatible with the
innocence of the accused and must exclude every reasonable hypothesis con- sistent
with his innocence. [676G] Gambir v. State of Maharashtra,  2 SCC 351; Rama Nand and Ors. v. State of Himachal Pradesh,  1 SCC 511; Prem Thakur v.
State of Punjab,  3 SCC 462; Earabhadrapa
alias Krishnappa v. State of Karnataka,
 2 SCC 330; Gian Singh v. 671 State of Punjab,  (Suppl.) SCC 676 and Balvinder singh v. State of Punjab,  1 SCC 1, referred to.
80 is not proved to be under the handwriting of the deceased and, therefore, no
reliance can be placed on this document. [684A]
appellant has failed in his attempt to prove the defence theory of suicide
which is fanciful and incredible.
Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra,  4 SCC 116 at 184 and Lakshmi Singh and Ors. v.
State of Bihar,  4 SCC 394, referred to.
Admittedly, Varsha was found dead in her bed-room PW13 is the witness who
speaks of having seen Varsha lying on her cot. This witness is none other than
the wife of the younger brother of PW15 the father of the appellant. It is
found from her evidence that when all the family members pushed Varsha's room a
little the door had opened. This indicates that the door was not locked from
inside. There- fore from these circumstances, one could safely infer that Varsha
had slept in her room with her husband on the inter- vening night of 31.7.1983
and 1.8.1983 and that the appel- lant had came out of the room and that Varsha
was found dead in her bed. [687G-688F]
witnesses PW13, 14, 15 and 16 have attempted to create the defence of alibi
saying that the appellant was not present in the house on the night of
31.7.1983. These four witnesses are none other than the aunt, parents and
brother of the appellant and their evidence is highly taint- ed with
interestedness. Even in their attempt at creating alibi, there is no consistent
version in that while PW13 would state that the appellant left the house on the
evening of 31.7.1983, PWs 14 and 15 would go to the extent of saying that the
appellant was not in the house even from 30.7.1983 till the morning of
1.8.1983. According to PW.23 it was the appellant who came to his house at
about 8.00 a.m. on the morning of 1.8.83 on a
scooter and took him to the scene house to examine Varsha. The inconsistent
evidence of PWs 13, 14 and 15, whose testimony is highly interested, has to be
thrown overboard in view of the abundant circumstances appearing in the case
demonstrably showing that the appel- lant was in his bed room on the night of
31.7.1983. It further transpires from the evidence of PWs 14 and 15 that the
appellant used to come to the house late in the night and sleep in his bed
room. [688G-689B] 672
boggles one's mind that as to how the appellant suddenly appeared in the scene
house in the early morning of 1.8.1983 when he had been away from the house for
two days as per the evidence of PWs 14 and 15. The various compulsive
circumstances appearing against the appellant, when examined in proper
perspective, lead to only one conclusion that the appellant was in the scene
house on the fateful night and that he knew the cause of death of his wife and
that he has now come forward with a completes false defence that he was away
from the house. [689D-E]
defence theory of suicide is a complete hoax and an incredulous one falsely
invented by the appellant in order to escape from his guilt and the legal
punishment, and also to drift the course of the investigation. [690B]
deceased Varsha did not die by taking any sleep- ing pills or consuming
poisonous substance but only on account of external severe pressure on region
of pancreas and spleen. [686B] Taylor's
Principles and Practice of Medical Jurispru- dence, Vol. I (1965 Edn.) p. 253;
Parikh's Textbook of Medical Jurisprudence, p. 353; Modi's Medical
Jurisprudence and Toxicology ed. by CA Franklin: Harrison's Principles of
Internal Medicine, (11th Edn.) Butterworth's Medical Dic- tionary, referred to.
The appellant in his statement under Section 313 Cr. P.C. has stated that he
did not go to the cremation grounds as the elders had asked him not to go and
that he did not enquire as to why he was not to attend the cremation of his
life. This is one more clinging circumstance raising same suspicion about the
conduct of the appellant. [689C]
The High Court has also examined the nature of the offence proved to have been
committed by the appellant, and has rightly held that even though he may not
have had the intention to cause death, his act is done with the knowledge that
it was likely to cause death and therefore he had committed the offence
punishable under Section 304 Part II I PC and was required to be convicted and
punished for the same. [690D-F]