Rai Vs. State of Punjab  INSC 583 (9 July 1997)
PUNCHHI, S. B. MAJMUDAR
appellant who was convicted by the Trial Court for murder for his wife
unsuccessfully carried the matter in appeal before the High Court having lost
there has landed in this Court by way of this appeal by special leave. A few
relevant facts leading to these proceedings deserve to be noted at the outset.
Facts The appellant is a practising doctor having two clinics, one is at
Village Pakhopura in Amritsar District in State of Punjab. That clinic is run as a part of
his residential house where his wife Madhu Bala aged 24 years met a tragic end.
His other clinic is at Village Ratoke situated at a distance of about one kilometre
from his residential house. The appellant was married to aforesaid Madhu Bala
about one and a half year prior to the incident that took place on 04th September 1985. The case of the prosecution is
that after his marriage with said Madhu Bala neither the appellant nor his
mother got satisfied with the dowry which she brought and they continuously
went on complaining about its insufficiency. On that account they used to
ill-treat. About four and a half months earlier to the date of the incident Madhu
Bala relations about ill- treatment and the demand for T.V. set, a refrigerator
and a scooter and also about their complaining that Madhu Bala had not been
presented with a watch by per parents. The evidence led by the prosecution at
the stage of the trial showed that P.W. 4 Brij Bhushan brother of Madhu Bala
accompanied by this maternal-uncle Roshan Lal and Des Raj who had acted as a
go-between for getting the appellant married to Madhu Bala, contacted the
appellant-accused and the other accused, his mother Indra Wati, who is
acquitted by the Trial court, and talked to them and informed them that they
could not meet the demand as they were poor and accused should not ill-treat Madhu
Bala on that score. The prosecution case further is that the accused confessed
their quilt and promised not to repeat such demands in future and also promised
not to ill-treat Madhu Bala. In the meantime Madhu Bala gave birth to a son.
That happened about two months prior to the date of the incident. An intimation
was sent about the birth of the child to the appellant but he did not visit the
house of his in-law. About 16-17 days before the occurrence Madhu Bala's
mother-in-law Indra Wati, the acquitted accused, visited the house of parents
of Madhu Bala to take her back. While taking her back she expressed
dissatisfaction about the customary presents made to the child and remarked,
addressing Madhu Bala, that her parents has not given her anything at the time
of marriage and even after the birth of the son she was going empty-handed.
came the date of the occurrence, that is, 04 the September 1985 on which day Madhu
Bala met and unnatural death at the residential house of the accused, her
about the same was conveyed on 05th September 1985, that is on the next day, to the relations of Madhu Bala about her
death. They started for village Pakhopura and on reaching Sirhali, on way to Pakhopura,
they received information that dead body of Madhu Bala had already been removed
to Tarn Taran. They then visited the hospital at Tarn Taran where they felt
that the post-mortem examination as Tarn Taran might not be fair. An
application was moved by them to Sub-Division Magistrate for carrying out
post-mortem examination by doctors at Amritsar. Under direction of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, therefore,
post-mortem was carried out by a Board of Doctors at Amritsar. P.W. 4 Brij Bhushan gave his
statement to the police authorities on the basis of which First Information
Report was recorded and the case was registered against the appellant and his
to the registration of the said case appellant accompanied by Sarpanch Sohan
Singh had already visited Police Station Chola Sahib and had lodged Report No.
18 on the night of 04th
September 1985 itself
alleging that his wife had committed suicide by hanging herself. When Assistant
Sub-Inspector Balbir Singh visited the place of incident pursuant to the
aforesaid report by the appellant he found the dead body of Madhu Bala hanging
with `dupatta' around and the neck and her legs were tied to the foot of the
cot. Usual steps towards investigation were undertaken.
examination on the dead body of Madhu Bala was carried out by a Board of
Doctors consisting of Dr. Jagdish Gargi. P.W. 1, Dr. H. Rai and Dr. R.K. Goria.
Out of them Dr. Gargi was examined as P.W. 1. Other were tendered for cross
examination. Dr. Gargi, P.W. 1 stated that he along with Dr. H. Rai and Dr.
R.K. Goria carried out the post- mortem on the dead body of Madhu Bala on 06 September 1985 at 11.15 a.m. He found that there was a brownish ligature mark 2 cm broad
encircling the neck horizontally, sparing the skin below the right angle of the
mandible as well as interiorly 4 cm below the remus of the mandible. He also
found two further injuries on the dead body as under :
reddish brown abrasion 20 x 2 cm on the right side and front of the abdomen,
extending horizontally from the right iliac fossa forward and medially.
Reddish brown abrasion 0-3 x 0.2 cm on the dorsum of the right foot, 3 cm proximal
to the base of the big toe.
to Dr. Gargi the aforesaid two injuries were ante-mortem while ligature mark on
the neck was post-mortem.
of the deceased was preserved and sent to Chemical Examiner for analysis. The
Skin removed from the side of the ligature mark was also preserved for being
pathologically examined by the Professor and the Head of Pathology Department, Amritsar. The Chemical Examiner in his
report stated that there was blood alcohol concentration of estimated 322.0
mgms/100 mls of blood. Alcohol and organophosphorus compound were detected in
the viscera. The pathologist confirmed that there was no evidence of congestion
and inflammatory exudate in the section of the skin. On the basis of this
report the doctors confirmed that the ligature mark around the neck of the
deceased was post- mortem and other injuries were ante-mortem. In the opinion
of Dr. Gargi the death was due to organophosphorus poisoning and alcohol. Dr. Prem
Wadhera, P.W. 12 who had examined the piece of skin taken out from the neck of
the deceased confirmed that the examination of the skin showed that the
ligature mark at the seat of the skin indicated that it was a post-mortem mark.
light of this evidence led at the trial the learned Sessions Judge, to whom the
case was committed by the Committal Court,
came to the conclusion that the prosecution had brought home the offence under
Penal Code to the appellant-accused. But so far as his mother, accused no.2 was
concerned, she was given benefit of doubt. Learned Trial Judge rejected the
theory propounded by the defence that the deceased the theory propounded by the
defence that the deceased had committed suicide and had got herself
strangulated. It was on the other had found that it was the accused who had
administered poison to the deceased by mixing it with alcohol which the
deceased was made to drink and consequently the appellant was sentenced to
imprisonment for life. As noted earlier, the appellant carried the matter in
appeal without any success and that i how he is before us in these proceedings.
Contentions Learned senior counsel for the appellant vehemently submitted that
this is a case of circumstantial evidence and the chain of circumstances is not
complete. He submitted that the appellant was at his clinic at the other
village at the relevant time. That as he was recently blessed with a male child
there was no occasion for him to murder his wife.
on the contrary the evidence showed that she was in a depressed state of mind
and, therefore, there was all possibility of her committing suicide by hanging
herself. It was next contended that in any case it was for the prosecution to
bring home the charge of murder to the appellant. That there are varieties of organophosphorus
compound and all may not be equally lethal. In any case there was no evidence
no record to show that the trace of organophosphorus compound detected in the
viscera of the deceased was sufficient to prove fatal and in the absence of
such evidence led by the prosecution the benefit of doubt must go to the
accused and not to the prosecution. In support of this contention reliance was
placed on two decision of this Court in the case of Jose alias Kolli Jose v.
The State of Kerala (1973) 3 SCC 472 at page 474 para 5 and in the case of Smt.
Phino v. State of Punjab (1975) 4 SCC 119 at page 122 as well on a decision of
the Allahabad High Court in the case of State v. Fateh Bahadur & Ors. AIR
(45) 1958 Allahabad 1 at para 10 of the Report. He,
therefore, submitted that the appellant deserves to be acquitted of the charge
of murdering his wife.
other hand learned counsel for the respondent submitted that both the courts
below have concurrently held on appreciation of relevant evidence that it was
the appellant and no one else who could commit the murder of his wife. That she
had died at his own residence. That he was having his other clinic only one
kilometer away from his residence and it was very easy for him to go to his
clinic at the relevant time after liquidating the deceased. That the theory of
suicide by the deceased was patently false as the ligature mark was found to be
post-mortem by the doctors and it is impossible to even allege that a dead
person would hang herself and, therefore, it was a false case tried to be made
to misled the investigating agency and precisely for that reason the appellant
rushed to the police authorities and gave a wrong version about the incident.
That as the appellant resided with the deceased at the relevant time in his residential
house where his wife met her untimely death, the inference drawn by both the
courts below against the appellant that is was he and no one else who had
committed the murder of his wife, can be said to be well justified on record of
the case. That his earlier conduct of harassing the deceased an nagging her in
connection with the dowry demand, his conduct of not even visiting his in-law
house when he was blessed with a son and his subsequent conduct of giving false
version of the incident before the police and not intimating the in-laws on the
date of the incident itself and subsequently his absconding from the place of
occurrence are all pointer to his guilty mind and, therefore, his appeal
deserves to be dismissed.
have given our anxious consideration to these rival contention. Certain salient
features of the case which are well established on record and which, in our
view, project a complete chain of circumstantial evidence against the accused
deserve to be noted at this stage -
death of Madhu Bala had occurred at the residential house of the appellant.
appellant was not happy with the dowry brought by Madhu Bala at the time of
marriage and had motive to get rid of Madhu Bala who instead of forcing her
parents to give articles demanded by the accused, had sent her relations to
prevail upon him to withdraw the demand and accused also had given promise of
treating her properly in future. This aspect of the case is well established by
the evidence of P.W. 4 Brij Bhushan.
has been brought out in his cross-examination to falsify his version.
false version was given by the appellant before the police that Madhu Bala had
died by committing suicide.
version is completely falsified by medical evidence of Dr. Jagdish Gargi, P.W.
1. Dr. Gargi in his evidence stated that there is normally trickling of the
saliva from the angle of the mouth of the deceased which stains the cloths of
the deceased. He had specifically observed the cloths worn by the deceased in
this case. He found no stains of saliva on the body of the deceased. This
version could not be effectively challenged in the cross-examination of the
witness. It is also pertinent to note that a young girl of 24 years, mother of
an infant of two and a half months having allegedly taken half a bottle of
liquor could not have remained in sense to hang herself later on by
self-strangulation. The entire defence version to say the least was
preposterous and violated all basic norms of probabilities and was an affront
to common sense.
the theory of suicide is ruled out it has to be held that deceased died a
homicidal death in the residence of appellant who himself is a practising
doctor. The medical evidence and the report of the Chemical Examiner clearly
show that deceased Madhu Bala lost her life as a result of administration of organophosphorous
compound mixed with alcohol. It is required to be noted that Madhu Bala who was
a young Brahmin girl aged 24 and who had recently given birth to a mala child
who was two and a half months old, is found to have consumed half a bottle of
liquor which contained the mixture of organophosphorous compound.
Chemical Examiner's Report showed that the blood alcohol concentration was
estimated as 322 mgms/100 mls and, therefore, on a rough estimate the deceased
could be said to have consumed about 400 cc of alcohol. Such type of dose would
not have been voluntarily taken by her but would have been administered the
Chemical Examiner's Report also shows that once the organophosphorus compound
along with 400 cc of alcohol was administered to the deceased, the
concentration of said compound went to such a high degree that it travelled in
the blood stream and poison was detected in her blood sample no. IV which was a
sealed bottle containing blood of the deceased. Thus it could easily be seen
that sufficient quantity of poison was administered to the deceased so that it
could enter her blood stream and result in her death. Under these circumstances
it is not possible to agree with the contention of learned senior counsel for
the appellant that the prosecution had failed to bring home to the accused the
charge of having administered sufficient quantity of poison which could prove
fatal. In fact it has proved fatal.
administration of poison to the deceased could not be treated by way of
accident or a voluntary act on her part as she by herself would have no
occasion to commit suicide leaving her male son of two and a half months in the
is also well established that the appellant was a medical practitioner having
two clinics. Therefore he had every facility and opportunity coupled with the
knowledge that the lethal dose of huge quantity of poison which by itself was
very pungent was required to be diluted by mixing it up with alcohol before it
could be administered to anyone.
two ante-mortem injuries detected by the doctors on the body of the deceased
clearly indicated that she had resisted before the in-take of aforesaid
quantity of alcohol mixed with poison. In this connection Dr. Gargi stated that
he could not rule out the possibility of these injuries being result of a
scuffle if the deceased resisted the administration of alcohol or organophosphorous
compound. Consequently the aforesaid circumstance clearly proved that death of Madhu
Bala was result of administration of alcohol and adequate quantity of organophosphorous
compound which proved fatal.
accused had created a false evidence of hanging by rushing to the police on the
same night of the incident which obviously was an attempt to side-track the
investigating agency. This was a strong indicator about his guilty mind.
Furnishing such false information to the police about the cause of death
inevitably pointed to his guilt.
subsequent conduct of not immediately informing his in-law and relatives of the
deceased and his absconding from the scene of offence for couple of days till
he was ultimately arrested which conduct though by itself might not be
conclusive, becomes a clinching circumstance in the light of the aforesaid
tell-tale pre-existing circumstances well established on record and which
clearly point an accusing finger to the appellant and no one else.
the household to the appellant apart from his wife, the deceased and the
co-accused, his mother who is acquitted, there was his younger brother who in
no circumstance could be alleged to have committed this heinous crime. By a
process of elimination, therefore, it was appellant-doctor who being
dissatisfied with his in-laws and with his wife can be said to have liquidated
the aforesaid circumstances, therefore, must be treated to have represented a
complete chain of circumstantial evidence leading to the inevitable conclusion
that it was the accused and no one else who was responsible for this heinous
crime which deprived a young woman of 24 years of her life at the threshold of
existence and also in turn deprived a two and a half months old infant of his
mother. Consequently there is no escape from the conclusion that the prosecution
has brought home to the appellant- accused the charge of murdering his wife
beyond shadow of any reasonable doubt.
result this appeal fails and is dismissed.