Chauhan & Raj Nath Chauhan Vs. State of Assam  INSC 392 (31 July
Thomas & R.P. Sethi.
The appellant was charged under Sections 302 and 326 IPC for having caused the
death of four persons of a family, namely, Mr.Babani Charan Das, Assistant
Engineer, PWD, Morigaon Division, aged 37 years, his wife Smt.Minati Das, aged
about 30 years, their daughter aged 2-1/2 years and Ms.Smriti Rekha Das, sister
of Babani Charan Das aged about 22 years. He was also charged to have caused
injuries with the sharp edged weapon to Smt.Jayanti Das, the mother of the
deceased No.1 and Shri Rajen Hazarika, neighbourer of the deceased. On proof of
charges, the Trial Court convicted the appellant of the offences punishable
under Sections 302, 326, 325 and 323 IPC. As he was sentenced to death under
Section 302 IPC, the Trial Court did not feel the necessity of awarding
separate punishments for offences under Sections 326, 325 and 323 IPC. The
Trial Court submitted the entire proceedings to the High Court for confirmation
of the sentence. The appellant also filed an appeal against the order of
conviction and sentence passed by the Trial Court.
the Criminal Death Reference No.1 of 1998 and Criminal Appeal No.109 of 1998
were disposed of by the judgment impugned in this appeal by confirming the
conviction and sentence awarded by the Trial Court. Not satisfied with the
impugned judgment, the appellant has preferred the present appeal in this
have heard the learned amicus curaie appearing for the appellant and the
learned counsel for the respondent.
have also perused the record and minutely examined the evidence led in the
case. The report recording mental state examination of the appellant has also
been examined by us.
amicus curaie has submitted that as there was no direct evidence available in
the case it would not be safe to convict and sentence
the appellant for the offence of murder as has been done by
the courts below. We are not satisfied with this submission. It is generally
believed and accepted that the witnesses may lie but the circumstances cannot.
The Trial Court has enumerated the circumstances appearing against the accused
On the fateful day, inmates of the house present were Bhabani Charan Das, his
wife Minati Das, his only daughter Darathi Das and his sister Smriti Rekha Das
and the accused Ramdeo Chauhan alias Rajnath Chauhan. Another inmate of the
house, mother of Bhabani Charan Das was absent on that day.
All the four members of the ill-fated family were found dead and their dead
bodies were lying in three different rooms in pool of blood and all the doors
and windows of the house were closed and the front door was under lock to give
an impression that inmates of the house had gone somewhere.
that time, only alive person present in the house was the accused and no
prudent person would believe that he had no knowledge that all the inmates of
the house were lying dead inside the rooms.
Intentionally he gave false information to PW5 that all four inmates of the
house were sleeping in their rooms.
When PW5 entered into the room and shouted sleeping the ugly scene, she was
attacked by the accused Ramdeo Chauhan alias Rajnath Chauhan.
Perhaps, if the handle of the spade would not have been broken during tussle
there was every possibility of killing PW5 by the accused with the spade.
also attacked Rajen Hazarika (PW1) when he went to save the old lady from his
Conduct of the accused in attacking and assaulting PW5 and PW1 is another actor
indicating his involvement in the ghastly crime.
The accused also led the police to recover the spade used in commission of the
crime which was used in commission of the crime which was seized and exhibited
in the court.
Lastly, the confessed his guilt." The Trial Court has rightly concluded
that the prosecution had fully established the existence of aforesaid@@
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in itself which lead to the only conclusion that the accused had committed the
crime for which he was charged. The High Court also after examining the
statement of the witnesses, the recovery memos and the confessional statement
of the accused came to the conclusion:
entire evidence brought on the record of the case, in our considered view,
creates a chain of circumstances with no missing link which points to the guilt
of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Minor contradictions and
inconsistencies here and there in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the
present case do not create any doubt about the prosecution case." Both the
courts below have concurrently concluded that the incriminating circumstances
in the case are such which lead only to the hypothesis of the guilt and
reasonably exclude every possibility of innocence of the appellant. It has also
rightly been found that the circumstances proved against the appellant form
themselves into a complete chain unerringly pointing to his guilt.
Court has in Malempati Pattabhi Narendra v.
Maruthi Prasad & Anr. [2000 (5) SCC 226 has ruled that in an appeal under
Article 136 of the Constitution of India normally the concurrent findings of
fact relating to appreciation of evidence would not be re- opened. In the
present case we do not feel and find any good ground to deviate from the
general practice. No circumstance has been referred to requiring
re-appreciation of evidence. We have thus no hesitation in upholding the
conviction of the appellant as recorded by the Trial Court and confirmed by the
Sentence During the pendency of the appeal it was suggested that the appellant
might have been deprived of his senses at the time of occurrence or caused the
deaths on account of sudden provocation. As the accused had been convicted and
sentenced to death we thought that in the interests of justice we should have a
report from the competent expert of mental illness. Consequently the
arrangements were made to keep the appellant under observation in the mental
hospital at Tejpur, Assam. The members of the family of the appellant were also
directed to be contacted for ascertaining his antecendents. The experts of the
mental hospital at Tejpur were directed to prepare a report regarding all
aspects relating to cognitive faculties (present and past) to the extent
ascertainable by them within a period of one month from the date of our order
passed on 29.3.2000.
obedience to our directions the appellant was admitted for observation in the
hospital and was kept under observation with effect from 10.4.2000 to 20.4.2000.
During the aforesaid period his ward behaviour, socialisation, personal
hygiene, food intake and sleep patterns were periodically observed. His mental
state was also periodically examined by psychiatrists independently. He was
examined by a Medical Board headed by Dr.J.C. Sarmah, SDM & HC as Chairman,
the other members of the Board being Dr.K. Pathak, Asstt.Professor, Psychiatry
and Dr.B.S Neog, M&HO-I, Psychiatry. To gather antecedents, history of the
appellant and his family, his father was interviewed by the Medical Board on
12.4.2000. The appellant was also permitted to meet his father in order to
watch his emotional reaction during the interaction. The Board has reported:
history: As mother did not come, detail history regarding birth is not
available. So far father can remember it was uneventful normal delivery. His
mile-stone development was normal. There is no history of neurotic traits in
the childhood. He was quarrelsome and irritable since childhood. From 10 years
of age he became increasingly quarrelsome and started quarreling with neighbours
and friends very frequently for trivial reasons.
was not involved in physical fighting or any other activities like stealing,
gambling etc. His performance in the school was average. No abnormality was
observed in his behaviour during childhood.
he was 14 years old, that is about 7-8 years back, one day he ran away from
home and remained untraced. The father tried to find him out and searched
everywhere possible. But there was no message from him. Then after 6 months Rajnath
Chauhan (Ramdeo) was brought to his home by the police. Father says that then
only then came to know that Rajnath (Ramdeo) was involved in murder case. Rajnath
admitted before parents about committing the murder, but did not disclose
anything in detail, according to father.
says that before leaving home there was no abnormality observed in Rajnath's behaviour
except irritability. Ramdeo was on parole for about 8 months.
this period he was at home and then also no abnormality was noticed in his behaviour.
He was helping in house-hold chores and sleep was normal.
of physical illness:
is no history of any major physical illness in the past. There is no history of
epilepsy or head injury. At present on physical examination his physical
parameters are normal.
is no history of mental illness in both paternal and maternal side.
during hospital stay:
initial period of his stay in the hospital he was tense, anxious and was
uncooperative. He was not talking properly and replied in monosyllabic terms on
repeated persuation. From second day onwards he started cooperating.
the period of his stay no abnormality is observed in his behaviour and emotion.
Gradually he started socialising with hospital staff though it is not
spontaneous. His sleep pattern is normal. He maintained personal hygiene. Food
intake is normal. He shows the tendency of dramatization at times.
and general behaviour - Ramdeo Chauhan sits comfortably throughout the
interview sessions. He is dressed properly. He maintains eye to eye contact. He
is cooperative. Personal hygiene is maintained.
is slow and hesitant initially. Later on normal flow and rate is observed.
Speech is relevant and coherent.
of speech patterns are observed.
and affect are euthmic, submissive in nature and congruity is present.
abnormality in the thought process is observed.
is no perceptual disorder.
function - consciousness is clear.
can be drawn and it is sustained.
- immediate, recent and remote memory are intact.
- In relation to time place and person are intact.
and personal judgment - intact, when asked his reaction to three different
situations he gave rational answers.
test- He could tell the similarities between different pairs of items.
test: He says that he does not know any proverb - which is normal considering
his socio-economic back ground and prolonged confinement.
is intact: He knows the reason why he is in jail and now prays for his release.
from observation of behaviour and mental state examinations at present his
cognitive faculties are found within normal limit. From the available informations
gathered about his past, there is no evidence to suggest abnormalities in
mental faculties also in the past." It may also be pointed out that when
during the trial the appellant was examined for determination of his age, a
team of doctors headed by Dr.Bhushan Candra Roy had found that "the
individual was mentally sound on the date of examination. Tntelligence and
memory were average on the date of examination". In view of what has been
noticed hereinabove, it cannot be said that the appellant was, in any way,
deprived of his senses even temporarily at the time of commission of offence.
It appears from his confessional statement, which has been duly proved, that he
had prepared himself for committing this ghastly crime of murdering four
innocent persons. There is no doubt in our mind that the murders have been
committed by the appellant after previous planning which involved extreme
brutality. This Court in Balwant Singh vs. State of Punjab [1976 (1) SCC 425] has ruled that
only for special reasons which are required to be stated, the death sentence
can be passed. It is not possible to catalogue the special reasons justifying
the passing of the death sentence which are required to be determined under the
facts and circumstances of each case.
Singh v. State of Punjab [1980 (2) SCC 684] this Court held:
"...for making the choice of punishment or for ascertaining the existence
or absence of "special reasons" in that context, the court must pay
due regard both to the crime and the criminal. What is the relative weight to
be given to the aggravating and mitigating factors, depends on the facts and
circumstances of the particular case. More often than not these two aspects are
so intertwined that it is difficult to give a separate treatment to each of
is so because 'style is the man'. In many cases, the extremely cruel or beastly
manner of the commission of murder is itself a demonstrated index of the
depraved character of the perpetrator. That is why, it is not desirable to
consider the circumstances of the crime and the circumstances of the criminal
in two separate water-tight compartments. In a sense, to kill is to be cruel
and therefore all murders are cruel. But such cruelty may vary in its degree of
culpability. And it is only when the culpability assumes the proportion of
extreme depravity that "special reasons" can legitimately be said to
exist." Commission of the crime in a brutal manner or on a helpless child
or the woman or the like were held to be such circumstances which justify the
imposition of maximum penalty. In Magahar Singh v. State of Punjab [1975 (4) SCC 234] this Court held
that "for pre-planned cold blooded murder death sentence is proper".
Trial Court, after referring to various judgments, concluded: "In the case
in our hand, it is apparently a pre-planned, cold-blooded, brutal quadruple
murder. It is relevant that the murder was committed in the most brutal manner
with severe cruelty inflicting number of injuries on each victim including a
female baby hardly of 2-1/2 years of age and two helpless women. They were
murdered while they were in deep sleep after lunch keeping the doors and
windows of the house open without suspecting any foul play from any quarter. It
is, in my view, a rarest of the rare cases which is of exceptional nature.
Facts and circumstances of the case justify the extreme penalty provided U/S
accused seems to be a menace to the society and in my view, sentence of life
imprisonment would be altogether inadequate, because the crime is so brutal,
diabolical and revolting as to shock the collective conscience of the
community. Extreme penalty, in my view, is necessary in such cases to protect
the community and to deter others from committing such crime." The High
Court also referred to various judgments of this Court and found on facts:
cannot be any manner of doubt that in the present case murders have been
committed by the accused after pre- meditation with a motive to commit a theft.
The crime can be described to be heinous, dastardly, gruesome and cruel.
persons asleep have been killed in a merciless manner by the accused who has no
value for human lives. The crime committed by the accused falls within the
aggravating circumstances as it has been committed after previous planning
involving extreme cruelty. The murders in the present case involve exceptional
depravity. In view of all this the question arises whether the single
circumstance of the accused being too young should be good enough for us to
award lighter punishment or not. We have not been able to lay our hands upon
any observations of the Apex Court and none has been brought to our notice
during the course of arguments that even if all the aggravating circumstances
are present in a particular given case, single circumstance of the accused
being too young or too old would outweigh other aggravating circumstances and
the court must on the basis of a single circumstance grant lighter punishment.
Having given our deep and thoughtful consideration and after giving due weight
to the mitigating as well as aggravating circumstances which have been referred
to above, we are of the view that the accused in the present case must be given
death sentence. The present is one of the rarest of rare cases in which
infliction of extreme penalty is called for." It is true that in a civilised
society a tooth for tooth, and a nail for nail or death for death is not the
rule but it is equally true that when a man becomes a beast and menance to the
society, he can be deprived of his life according to the procedure established
by law, as Constitution itself has recognised the death sentence as a
permissible punishment for which sufficient Constitutional provision for an
appeal, reprieve and the like have been provided under the law. It is true that
life sentence is the rule and death sentence is an exception. We are satisfied
that the present case is an exceptional case which warrants the awarding of
maximum penalty under the law to the accused/appellant. The crime committed by
the appellant is not only shocking but it has also jeopardised the society. The
awarding of lesser sentence only on the ground of the appellant being a youth
at the time of occurrence cannot be considered as a mitigating circumstance in
view of our findings that the murders committed by him were most cruel, heinous
and dastardly. We have no doubt that the present case is the rarest of the rare
requiring the maximum penalty, imposable under law. There is no merit in this
appeal which is dismissed. The conviction of sentence passed by the Trial
Court, as confirmed by the High Court, is upheld.