Rai Vs. State of Bihar  INSC 14 (2 February 1999)
& N. Santosh Hegde. Nanavati, J.
is an appeal filed by the convicted accused after obtaining leave of this
court. Leave was granted limited to the question of sentence only. The
appellant has been awarded death sentence and, therefore, what we have now to
consider is whether the death sentence is justified in view of the facts and
circumstances of this case.
is found proved against the appell1ant is that on 12.10.91 at about 5.30 a.m., in view of the land dispute with deceased Krishnandan
Rai, he gave one blow to Krishnandan with 'Hasua' - a sharp edged weapon. It 1s
also held proved that when Bir Bahadur Rai, son of Krishnandan came there
running, hearing shouts of his mother, Nagendra Rai. who was with the
appellant, caught him and made him bend down and the appellant gave him three
or four blows with 'Hasua' and severed his neck.
Sessions Court considering the facts and circumstances of the case and the role
played by the appellant imposed death sentence upon him. The other accused - Nagendra
Rai has been sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life. Both the accused
challenged their conviction by filing separate appeals. The Sessions Court also
made reference to the High Court for confirmation of death sentence. The High
Court agreeing with the findings recorded by the trial court confirmed the
conviction and also the order of sentence. Accordingly, the appeals filed by
the accused were dismissed and the reference was accepted.
was submitted by the learned counsel for the appellant was that this case
cannot be regarded as a rarest of rare case and therefore death penalty should
not have been imposed upon the appellant. It was also submitted that there was
a land dispute between the deceased and the accused and that had led to the
present incident. He also submitted that though an attempt was made to prove
conspiracy, pre-meditation and pre-planning, there was no reliable evidence to
prove that it was in pursuance of any conspiracy that the appellant had
committed murders of Krishnandan and Bir Bahadur.
have carefully gone through the evidence of the witnesses in order to find out
the circumstances under which the assault on Krishnandan and Sir Bahadur had
the evidence of Lagan Deo Kumar - P.W.7, son of deceased Krishnandan, it
appears that In between the house of the deceased and the accused, there is
some vacant land and a dispute regarding the same was going on between the
accused and the deceased. An order favourable to the accused was passed by the
court but the litigation was still pending. From his evidence and the evidence
of the Investigating Officer, it appears that the disputed land is situated
between the houses of the accused and the deceased.
evidence of P.W.9 - Ramji Rao, who is an independent witness discloses that
while he was sitting near the door of his house on the date of the incident at
about 5.30 a.m.,he saw the appellant and Nagendra Rai going towards their house
from their cattle shed in great fury. The appellant Rajendra Rai was carrying Hasua
at that time. He admitted that he had made no attempt to stop Rajendra Rai (the
appellant) nor the persons whose houses are in between had tried to do so or
follow him. In reply to the question, he further stated that the mood of Rajendra
Rai was not good and because of this reason he had followed him. One more
significant answer given by this witness in his cross-examination is that the
villagers had assembled at the place of the incident .just before the assault
had taken place. Thus his evidence clearly indicates that the accused
wh1"te working in the cattle shed saw the deceased tying his buffalo on
the disputed land and therefore he went to that place and gave one blow on his
back which led to his death.
came to be killed as he had gone to that place hearing shouts of his mother.
This does not appear to be a case where the murders of Krishnandan and Bir Bahadur
were committed because of any pre-meditation and in a cold blooded manner.
the Sessions Court and the High Court have failed to consider tha abova
referred facts and circumstances and have erroneously proceeded on the basis
that the accused committed the murders in pursuance of a conspiracy, with
pre-meditation and in cold blooded manner. Having gone through the evidence, we
find that there is no justification for taking such a view. On the contrary,
the evidence discloses that the act of Krishnandan in tying his buffalo and
using that land had infuriated the appellant and thus the incident had happened
all of a sudden.
the facts and circumstances of this case, we are of the view that this case
cannot be regarded as a rarest of rare case where the penalty of death would be
justified. We, therefore, allow this appeal and modify the order of sentence by
reducing it to life imprisonment.