Lal & Ors Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
 Insc 301 (11 May
Shah & K.G. Balakrishnan Balakrishnan, J.
first appellant, Jawahar Lal, his parents and two sisters were tried by the
court of Sessions, Gwalior, for the offences punishable under
Section 302, 120-B, 149 read with Section 34 IPC. All the five persons were
found guilty of the offences charged against them and they were sentenced to
undergo imprisonment for life. While undergoing sentence of imprisonment, the
first appellant's parents died and the remaining accused filed the present
appeal challenging their conviction and sentence. The allegations against the
appellants is that they caused the death of Narayanibai, the wife of the first
appellant, Jawahar Lal.
prosecution case is that the five accused persons hatched a conspiracy to cause
the death of Narayanibai and they doused her in kerosene and set her ablaze in
between 11 AM and 2 PM on 18.11.1980. The first appellant, Jawahar Lal and his father Shreeram
were having a cloth shop and all the accused persons were residing on the first
floor of a double storey building on rental basis. The marriage between the
deceased, Narayanibai and the first appellant Jawahar Lal took place in
February, 1975 and they had three children.
the relevant time, the eldest daughter Pinki was about 5 years of age and the
youngest son, Dhiraj was 1 year old. The first appellant, Jawahar Lal went to
the Police Station and gave a statement to PW-8 at about 3.00 PM, wherein he
stated that his sister Madhu had come to his shop and told him that his wife Narayanibai
had set fire to herself after closing the door of the room and that his sister
tried to open the door but she could not open it. He stated that on hearing
this, he came running to the house and pushed the door open and found his
wife's dead body.
Asstt. Sub Inspector, recorded the information of the incident at about 4.00 P.M. and he reached the place of occurrence and held an
inquest of the dead body. In the inquest report itself, he mentioned that the
dead body was lying on the floor and the mouth of the deceased was found open
and a piece of burnt cloth was visible in her mouth.
also noticed that the hair and torso part of the dead body, which was touching
the floor of the room, were not burnt. The body was sent for post mortem and
PW-4 and PW-9 conducted the post mortem examination. In the post mortem report
also, it was stated that the nose of the deceased was bleeding and her mouth
was open, in which a bluish cloth was found stuffed. The outer portion of the
cloth was burnt a little and on taking out the cloth from the mouth, the tongue
was found to have been pressed inwardly. The cloth stuffed in the mouth of the
deceased had completely blocked her trachea and the piece of cloth taken out
from her mouth was found emitting the smell of kerosene. The Doctor opined that
the victim Narayanibai had died of asphyxia. He also was of the view that the
death was homicidal in nature.
appellants set up the plea of alibi. The first appellant stated that he was at
the cloth-shop and his sister, Madhu had come there and told him that his wife
had committed suicide. The appellants 2 and 3 also denied their complicity in
the crime. The learned Sessions Judge found that these appellants, along with
their parents, must have caused the death of the deceased by forcibly setting
her on fire after having poured kerosene on her. The learned Sessions Judge was
of the view that the deceased Narayanibai was aged 27 years at the time of the
incident and all the appellants must have been instrumental in causing the
death of the deceased.
the post-mortem report coupled with other evidence, it is clear that the death
of Narayanibai must be homicidal.
presence of cloth found stuffed in the mouth of the deceased is a clear
indication that the assailant must have put this cloth in the mouth of the
deceased so that the victim may not cry or make a noise. From the evidence of
PW-9, Dr. D.S. Badkur, it is clear that the piece of cloth was forcibly thrust
in the mouth of the deceased and the entire respiratory valve was blocked and
even the tongue of the deceased was found pressed inwardly.
counsel for the appellants strenuously urged before us that the case of the
prosecution that the mouth of the deceased was stuffed with a piece of cloth is
not satisfactorily proved for two reasons, namely,
that the cloth was not produced as an exhibit; and that
evidence of PW-1 and PW-3 shows that there was no cloth in the mouth of the
deceased. PW-1 was a servant in the house of the appellants. He stated that he
did not see any cloth found stuffed in the mouth of the deceased. In his
cross-examination, PW-3, an inquest witness, also deposed that the mouth of the
deceased was closed but two teeth were visible and no cloth was coming out of
there is overwhelming evidence to show that the cloth was found stuffed in the
mouth of the deceased.
PW-9 , the Doctor deposed that this cloth was taken out of the mouth of the
deceased and sent for chemical examination and Ex. P-17 relates to that piece
post mortem report and the inquest report coupled with the evidence of PW-9,
clearly show that the cloth was thrust in the mouth of the decesaed.
above facts alone would rule out any possibility of the suicide by the
deceased. The other circumstances also would indicate that this was not a case
of suicide. The door of the room where the deceased died was found open and the
nature of injuries sustained by the deceased also would indicate that this was
not a case of suicide. The burns were not found all over the body. The torso
part of the body which touched the floor of the room was not found burnt. The hair
of the victim also was found not burnt.
conduct of the first appellant also shows that this is a case of murder. PW-8
deposed that on the date of the incident, at about 3.30 PM, the appellant came
to him and told that his wife had sustained burn injuries. When PW-8 asked him
how she sustained the burn injuries, the first appellant told him that she had
died also. PW-8 is related to the deceased Narayanibai as she was the sister of
the mother-in-law of PW-8. PW-8 went to the house of the first appellant and
gave him Rs.200/- to purchase material for the funeral of the deceased. He
advised the first appellant to give a statement before the Police before
performance of the funeral. It is pertinent to note that the appellant did not
tell PW-8 that his wife had committed suicide. His conduct during the relevant
time is totally suspicious.
from this, there is evidence of PW-2, Narain Das Agarwal, the brother of the
deceased and also the evidence of PW-6, the sister of the deceased. Both the
witnesses have deposed in detail that after the marriage of the deceased with
the first appellant, the deceased was being severely harassed by the first
appellant and his parents for not having brought sufficient dowry from her
witnesses deposed that the deceased Narayanibai was not being allowed to attend
any family function in the house of her brother or sister and that she was not
even allowed to write letters. PW-6 deposed that the deceased was staying in a
humiliating condition under the terror of her husband and she apprehended
danger at any moment. The evidence of PW-2 and PW-6 would clearly establish the
motive for the murder.
appellants 2 and 3 are the sisters of the first appellant. They were already
given in marriage and during the relevant time they were in the house of the
first appellant. There is no evidence that there was any sort of hostility
between these two sisters on the one side and the deceased on the other. There
is no direct evidence as to how the incident occurred. The circumstantial
evidence by itself will not show the nature and extent of participation of
these two appellants. Learned Sessions Judge assumed that it was not possible
for a single individual to cause the death of the deceased. But in the instant
case, the fact is that the deceased was made completely helpless by thrusting a
cloth in her mouth. The piece of cloth was already soaked in kerosene and it
was so forcibly thrust that it reached the deep end of the mouth of the
it is quite possible that after this assault, the victim must have been
physically rendered helpless so that there could be no resistance from her
side. In that view of the matter, it is quite possible that the murder could
have been committed by a single person. Some of the burn injuries were found to
be post mortem. This is proved by the evidence of Doctor. In a case of
circumstantial evidence, the chain of circumstances should be firmly
established and should have a tendency to unerringly point the guilt of the
accused. We are of the view that the guilt of the appellants 2 and 3, the
sisters of the first appellant is not satisfactorily established There is also
not much of evidence to prove their motive against the deceased. Therefore, we
are of the view that appellants 2 & 3 are entitled to get the benefit of
doubt. In the result, we hold that the case against the first appellant is
proved beyond reasonable doubt and we confirm his conviction and sentence under
Section 302 IPC. His conviction on other counts does not arise. As the charge
of conspiracy is not conclusively proved against appellants 2 and 3, they are
acquitted of the charges under Section 302 read with Sections 120- B(I), 149
and 34 of IPC. Their bail bonds shall be cancelled.
appeal would stand partly allowed.