Raj Vs. State of Haryana  INSC 286 (17 September 1990)
Beevi, M. (J) Fathima Beevi, M. (J) Kania, M.H.
1991 AIR 37 1990 SCR Supl. (1) 492 1991 SCC Supl. (1) 14 JT 1990 (4) 524 1990
Trial--Extra-judicial confession--Evidentiary value of--Whether can be relied
upon by Court for convic- tion.
appellant was convicted under s. 302 IPC for murder- ing his wife. The
prosecution case was that on the fateful day the deceased had taken meals to
the appellant while he was working in the field near his tubewell. Her
dead-body was recovered two days later in a nearby drain. He made an
extra-judicial confession the same day at the panchayat in the presence of PWs
3, 4 and 5 to the effect that he had killed his wife in the wheat field and
threw the dead-body in the drain at night after removing her ornaments. The FIR
was lodged thereafter in the presence of the appellant and the fact of his
statement was recorded therein. The weapon of offence, the kassi, and the
ornaments were recovered from the hut near the tubewell at his instance. PW 3
narrated the events that preceded the occurrence. PWs 4 and 5 fully
corroborated the evidence of PW 3 in that the appellant had confessed his guilt
in their presence. The evidence was accepted by the trial court.
High Court sustained the conviction on the view that various circumstances
conclusively proved the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
appeal it was contended for the appellant that the extrajudicial confession
even if true, was not voluntary but induced on the promise that he would he
pardoned and the same having been retracted could not form the basis for a
conviction in the absence of any material corroboration.
1. The High Court was right in its conclusion and there was no ground for
extra-judicial confession, if voluntary can be relied upon by the court alongwith
other evidence in con- victing the accused. The 493 value of the evidence as to
the confession depends upon the veracity of the witnesses to whom it is made.
Though the court requires the witness to give the actual words used by the
accused as nearly as possible but it is not an invaria- ble rule that the court
should not accept the evidence, if not the actual words but the substance were
given. It is for the court having regard to the credibility of the witness to
accept the evidence or not. When the court believes the witness before whom the
confession is made and it is satis- fied that the confession was voluntary,
conviction can be rounded on such evidence.
the instant case, the fact that the appellant made the confession is proved by
cogent evidence. He and his father were brought before the panchayat held in
the presence of PWs 3, 4 and 5. He was questioned and was asked to speak the
truth. This prompting by the panchayat does not amount to inducement or threat.
The testimony of PW 4, a lambardar, and PW 5, the Sarpanch being responsible
persons could not be doubted in the absence of any material to show that they
had been motivated to falsely implicate the appel- lant. The circumstances
under which the statement was made leaves no room for doubt that the confession
The discovery of the dead body from the drain through the wheat field, presence
of blood in the field, recovery of gold ornaments from the roof of the hut and
blood stained kassi from the hut near the tubewell were material circumstances
providing connecting links in the chain of circumstantial evidence. The
appellant when exam- ined did not offer any explanation except to deny his in- volvement.
PW 3 had testified to the fact that the deceased had complained about the illtreatment
by her husband. In the light of such evidence, it is preposterous to maintain
that she may have been assaulted by some unidentified assailant somewhere in
the fields and the appellant had been falsely implicated in the offence.
circumstances thus proved were conclusive of the guilt of the appellant and
incapable of being explained on any other reasonable hypothesis. Conviction
has, therefore, to be maintained.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal No. 206 of 1979.
the Judgment and Order dated 27.9. 1978 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 17 13 of
A.S. Sohal and S.K. Jain for the Appellant.
Singh and A.G. Prasad for the Respondent.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by FATHIMA BEEVI, J. Raj Kumari (20), the
daughter of Ishar Dass. was married to the appellant Baldev Raj a year before
her tragic death in February, 1975. It appears that all was not well with the
couple. Raj Kumari left for her parents house in village Raison 75 Kms. away
from her matrimonial home in village Urlana Khurd. She stayed with her parents
for some days complaining ill-teatment by the husband. On the assurance of the
father-in-law, she was sent back with her husband hardly a couple of months
before the incident on 14.2. 1975. On that fateful day, it is said that Raj Kumari
took meals to the appellant who was working in the wheat field near his tubewell.'
Raj Kumari did not return home.
dead-body was discovered in the drain on 16.2. 1975.
injuries were seen on her person. Complaint was lodged at the police station on
February 16, 1975 at about 5.30 P.M. against the appellant who was finally chargesheet- ed
for the offence under section 302 and 201, I.P.C. The learned Sessions Judge
convicted the appellant under section 302, I.P.C., and sentenced him to undergo
imprisonment for life. The High Court dismissed the appeal against the con- viction
and sentence. This appeal by special leave is di- rected against the judgment
of the High Court.
conviction of the appellant is based on circumstan- tial evidence only. The
main item of the evidence consists of the extrajudicial confession stated to
have been made by the appellant in the presence of Ishar Dass (PW-3). Ramji Dass
(PW-4) and Satnam Dass (PW-5) at the panchayat on 16.2. 1975. besides the recovery
of incriminating articles at the instance of the appellant and the motive as
spoken to by Ishar Dass. According to the prosecution, on 15.2.1975 the
appellant's father Hakam Chand contracted Ishar Dass when Raj Kumari was found
missing from 14.2. 1975. Ishar Dass arrived at village Urlana Khurd accompanied
by Satnam Dass, Sarpanch of his village, and others. At the panchayat held in
the presence of Ramji Dass, Nand Lal, Satnam Dass and others, the appellant
stated that he killed his wife in the wheat field and threw the dead-body in
the drain at night after removing her ornaments. PWs 3, 4 and 5 testified the
fact but Nand Lal (DW-I) did not support the prosecution version. It is also
the prosecution case that the appellant was handed over to and arrested by the
police at the time the complaint was lodged after the 495 discovery of the
dead-body and that the appellant had pro- duced the kassi and the gold
ornaments concealed in the hut near the tubewell. PW-10. the Sub-Inspector of
Police, deposed to having interrogated the appellant and effected the recovery
on the basis of the statements made by the appellant. Ishar Dass (PW-3)
narrated the events that pre- ceded the occurrence and also proved the letter
he had received from the appellant's father when Raj Kumari was staying with
him. He also stated the circumstances under which he happened to be at the panchayat
on 16.2. 1975 along with the others after being informed by Hakam Chand. PWs 4
and 5 fully corroborated the evidence of PW-3 in that the appellant had
confessed his guilt in their presence. The evidence was accepted by the trial
court and the High Court to sustain the conviction against the appellant.
argument on behalf of the appellant that the medical evidence is conflicting
with the prosecution case was re- jected by the High Court finding that the
ante-mortem in- juries found on the body of Kumari could have been caused with
the weapon recovered even on the statement made by the Doctor (PW-1). The
recovery of the bloodstained earth from the wheat field near the tubewell,
recovery blood-stained kassi and the ornaments worn by Raj Kumari by PW-10 in
the opinion of the High Court lent assurance to the statement mad,: by the
appellant before the panchayat. The High Court was of the view that the various
circumstances conclusively proved the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable
main contention advanced on behalf of the appellant before us is that the High
Court failed to appreciate the inherent infirmities in the prosecution evidence
and that there is no legal evidence to support the findings. It was maintained
that the testimony of PWs 3, 4 and 5 relating to the extra-judicial confession
is discrepant and incredible, that the confession even if true, was not
voluntary but induced and the same having been retraced cannot form the basis
for a conviction in the absence of any material cor- roboration.
learned counsel for the appellant contended that the High Court had refused to
give benefit of doubt to the accused despite facts apparent on the face of the
record any interference is called for. The extra-judicial confession, according
to the learned counsel, being a very weak piece of evidence, could not have
been accepted as true or voluntary in view of the admission made by the
prosecution witnesses and improvement in the story given by Ishar Dass. He
pointed out that at the panchayat the appellant was induced to make a statement
on the 496 promise that he would be pardoned and therefore the confes- sion is
this Court does not interfere with the concur- rent findings of the facts of
the courts below in the ab- sence of very special circumstances or gross errors
of law committed by the High Court and violation of the well estab- lished
principles of the appreciation of circumstantial evidence, which results in
serious and substantial miscar- riage of justice to the accused. We heard the
learned coun- sel at length. We find that the High Court was right in its
conclusion and there is no good ground for interference.
first information was lodged by Ishar Dass at the police station where the
appellant was also present. In the first information report itself Ishar Dass
has narrated the story of the panchayat having been held in the presence of PWs
4 and 5 and the appellant having made the confession.
accompanied Ishar Dass from village Raison. It is difficult to hold that these
persons hailing from another village would have been in a position to influence
the local people against the appellant and foist a case against him.
(Ramji Dass) substantially supported the prosecution case. The courts below
have carefully analysed the evidence and accepted the same. As rightly pointed
out by the High Court, we find no merit in the submission that the medical
evidence is not in consonance with the prosecu- tion case. The facts that the
autopsy was held nearly 72 hours after the injuries were caused and the
witnesses were examined long after the weapon was recovered are relevant in
appreciating the evidence of the medical witness. The evi- dence of this
witness read as a whole is only consistent with the case that the injuries
could have been caused with the weapon. The fact that the appellant made the
confession is proved by cogent evidence. The circumstances that his father was
present throughout and the appellant himself did not protest when he was
present at the police station nega- tives the suggestion of inducement or
threat. The discovery of the dead-body from the drain through the wheat field,
presence of blood in the field, recovery of gold ornaments from, the roof of
the hut and blood stained kassi from its premises near the tubewell are
material circumstances pro- viding connecting links in the chain of
circumstantial evidence. The appellant when examined did not offer any
explanation except to deny his involvement. Ishar Dass testified to the fact
that Raj Kumari had complained about the ill-treatment by her husband. In the
light of such evidence, it is preposterous to maintain that the deceased may
have been assaulted by some unidentified assailant somewhere in the fields and
the appellant 497 had been falsely implicated in the offence.
confessional statement is not a long narration. The substance of the statement
is that the appellant killed his wife and threw the dead-body in the drain.
PW-4 is the Lambardar of village Urlana Khurd and PW-5 the Sarpanch of Gram Panchayat
of village Raison. The fact that a panchayat was held at village Urlana Khurd
is admitted even by the hostile witness Nand Lal (DW-I). Ishar Dass when
informed by Hakam Chand at his village that Raj Kumari was found missing
entertained suspicion. He met his villagers and proceeded to the appellant's
village the next day, along with the Sar- panch and other persons. The panchayat
was held there on 16.2. 1975. The appellant and his father were brought before
the panchayat. The appellant was questioned and was asked to speak the truth
and then the appellant with folded hands said that he murdered his wife in the
wheat field when she came there with meals and later threw the dead-body in the
drain. The prompting by the panchayat does not amount to inducement or threat
and the circumstances under which the statement was made leave no room for
doubt that the confes- sion was voluntary.
extra-judicial confession, if voluntary, can be relied upon by the court along
with other evidence in con- victing the accused. The value of the evidence as
to the confession depends upon the veracity of the witnesses to whom it is
made. It is true that the court requires the witness to give the actual words
used by the accused as nearly as possible but it is not an invariable rule that
the court should not accept the evidence, if not the actual words but the
substance were given. It is for the court having regard to the credibility of
the witness to accept the evidence or not. When the court believes the witness
before whom the confession is made and it is satisfied that the confession was
voluntary, conviction can be rounded on such evidence. Keeping these principles
in mind, we find that the confession has been properly accepted and acted upon
by the courts below and there is no scope for any doubt regarding the
complicity of the appellant in the crime. The confession of the appellant was voluntary.
The testimony of PW-4 and PW-5 being responsible persons could not be doubted
in the absence of any material to show that they had been motivated to falsely
implicate the appellant. The very presence of the appellant and his father with
the party of Ishar Dass throughout the operation upto lodging of com- plaint at
the police station dispel any suspicion against the prosecution case and
clearly point to the truthfulness of the same. We are, therefore, unable to
find any infirmity in the confession which has been accepted and relied upon by
the courts below.
The circumstances proved are conclusive of the guilt of the appellant and
incapable of being explained on any other reasonable, hypothesis. Conviction
has therefore to be maintained. The appeal is accordingly dismissed. The appel-
lant who is on bail shall surrender to custody to undergo the sentence of