U.P. Vs. Mundrika & Ors  INSC
638 (12 December 2000)
State of Uttar Pradesh has filed this appeal by special leave putting in issue
the judgment of the High Court whereby Mundrika, Brindaban Mouria and Ram Asrey,
the three accused respondents have been acquitted setting aside the conviction
of Mundrika under Section 302 & the other two under Section 302/34, I.P.C. Brindaban
Mouria, the accused respondent No.2 had expired during the pendency of appeal
in the High Court. Apparently it is a mistake, rather an act of carelessness to
have impleaded him as respondent No.2 in the memo of special leave petition.
charge against the three accused persons related to the homicidal death of one Dharamdeo
caused on 20.10.1982 at about noon in Village
Raghunathpur, Police Station Harpur Budhat, District Gorakhpur. Smt. Kabutra,
P.W.1, is the mother of the deceased Dharamdeo. She had an agricultural land in
village Raghunathpur wherein gram crop was sown at the time of the incident. On
19.10.1982, four persons namely Ori, Lachhan, Ragghu and Musafir were seen
up-rooting the crop in the field of Kabutra which was objected to by her and
her brother-in-law Shyam Lal. On 20.10.82 again Ori and Lachhan were seen
up-rooting the gram crop of Kabutra and also ploughing into her field. Kabutra
and Shyam Lal again protested. There was a scuffle. Mundrika threatened that
the entire family of Smt. Kabutra would be finished and he would see the matter
being settled through the police station.
the parties appeared to have lodged reports with the police station. Shambhu
Singh, P.W.5, with the help of a few police constables reached at the site of
the dispute and found Dharamdeo, the deceased, his uncle Shyam Lal, Ori and one
another exchanging hot words and grappling with each other. They were arrested
under Section 151, Cr.P.C. and taken to the police station in a jeep. At or
about 12.30 p.m. an entry was made in the general
diary of the police station. The incident took place at a point of time when
the persons, including Dharamdeo, brought to the police station were in the
process of being sent to the police lockup from outside the police station. At
that point of time Ram Asrey, the appellant, hit Dharamdeo with his hands from
behind aiming at the head of Dharamdeo, as a result of which he fell down.
Accused Brindaban instigated the accused Mundrika to strangulate Dharamdeo by
his neck whereupon Mundrika pressed the neck of Dharamdeo causing his
instantaneous death on the spot. A crowd had collected at the place of the
incident. Some people in the crowd were shouting that Dharamdeo had an attack
of epilepsy and some were shouting that Dharamdeo was killed. Gorakh Singh,
P.W.4, the Station Officer was taking his lunch while Shambhu Singh, P.W.5,
Sub-Inspector was busy in the office making some entries in the record. Both of
them rushed out of the police station and found Dharamdeo lying on the ground.
Dr. Ramesh Chandra, a nearby physician, was called who examined Dharamdeo and
declared him dead. Information was given to the District Magistrate and the
Senior Superintendent of Police in as much as Dharamdeo had died while he was
in police custody. Inquest and usual investigation followed. At the end the
three accused persons were charge sheeted and put up for trial. The trial court
hold the accused Mundrika guilty of offence under Section 302 IPC. The accused
Ram Asrey and Brindaban Mouria were found guilty of an offence under Section
the three were sentenced to imprisonment for life by the learned Session Judge.
All the three appealed. As already stated, the accused Brindaban Mouria died
during the pendency of the appeal and his appeal abated. The remaining two have
been acquitted as in the opinion of the High Court the prosecution case was not
proved to hilt.
conviction rests on the testimony of three eye witnesses namely Smt. Kabutra,
P.W.1, Shiv Dass, P.W.2 and Bhullar Prasad, P.W.6. The High Court has in very
many details scrutinised the testimony of all the three witnesses and found
their statements conflicting with each other and unworthy of reliance. As to Smt.
Kabutra, P.W.1, the High Court has found that she was not even present at the
time of the incident. She had heard rumours in the village of Dharamdeo having died at the police station. Whereafter she had swung
into action. The High Court has also found that Ram Asrey, the appellant, was
not even previously known to Smt. Kabutra and it was not satisfactorily
explained as to how his name found place in the statement of Smt. Kabutra.
was a litigation going on in Revenue Courts between Smt. Kabutra and accused Brindaban
Mouria. The possibility of the latter having been falsely implicated could not
be ruled out. A written report of the incident was lodged by Smt. Kabutra at
the police station but therein the manner of assault resulting into the death
of Dharamdeo is not mentioned and no satisfactory explanation was assigned for
this material omission in the F.I.R. As to Shiv Dass, P.W.2, the High Court has
found that his statement was recorded belatedly three months after the date of
the incident. This unexplained gross delay in the recording of the statement of
a material eye witness throw a serious doubt as to whether he was really an eye
witness or not.
manner in which the deceased was assaulted and died was narrated by Shiv Dass
in a way which was materially at divergence with the narration of the incident
given by Smt.
There were material contradictions between his court statement and the
statement recorded by the investigating officer under Section 161 Cr.P.C.. In
the opinion of the High Court it was extremely doubtful, if not impossible, to
hold that he was an eye-witness. From the testimony of Bhullar Prasad, P.W.6, a
third version of the incident was spelt out. He was one of the police personnel
attached with the police station and it appeared that he was giving a cautious
statement so as to save himself. On a critical appreciation of the testimony
available on record, the High Court held __ the conclusion is irresistible that
the truth has been attempted to be obliterated in such a manner so as to screen
the real offender or create doubt about the persons put in the dock as accused
and, therefore, challan of the accused was an eye wash for the general public.
perusal of the judgment of the High Court it appears that Dharamdeo, the
deceased, who was apprehended by the police and was in their custody died
during the course of his being brought to the police station and being put up
in the lockup. People of the village were agitated on the death of Dharamdeo
whilst in police custody and so the record was manipulated by police people and
false story cooked up to hush up the incident. The High Court has made a strong
observation in this regard and directed the record of the police station to be
thoroughly examined by holding a departmental enquiry so as to bring to book
such of the police personnel who may be found guilty of misconduct or
negligence or dereliction of duty resulting into the death of Dharamdeo whilst
he was in the custody of police.
heard the learned counsel for the parties and having gone through the evidence
available on record, we are of the opinion that no fault can be found with the
reasoning assigned and the findings arrived at by the High Court. The appeal
is, therefore, dismissed. The judgment of the High Court acquitting the accused
respondents is maintained. We hope that departmental proceedings in accordance
with the observations made by the High Court were initiated and pursued to
their logical end.