Singh & Ors Vs. State of Bihar  Insc
335 (7 August 2002)
Shah, Bisheshwar Prasad Singh & H.K. Sema. Bisheshwar Prasad Singh, J.
J U D
G E M E N T
appeal has been preferred by the three appellants herein i.e. Ram Anup Singh, Babban
Singh and Lallan Singh. Ram Anup Singh is the father of Babban Singh and Lallan
Singh. The appeal arises out of an incident that occurred on 27th March, 1997 in which four innocent lives were
lost. Amongst the deceased were Madan Singh, brother of Ram Anup Singh accused,
his wife Sheoji Devi, his daughter Sita Devi and his son-in-law Shambhu Sharan Dubey.
Since Madan Singh had only one daughter namely, Sita Devi, the appellants
virtually annihilated the entire family of Madan Singh who resided in village Dilman
Chapra with his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law. It is the case of the
prosecution that the daughter of Madan Singh and his son-in-law lived with him
and looked after Madan Singh and his wife and also cultivated the lands.
appellants were put up for trial before the 4th Additional District and
Sessions Judge, East Champaran, Motihari who by judgment and order dated
3/9.3.2002 in Sessions Trial No. 319/33 of 1997 found the appellant Ram Anup
Singh guilty of the offence u/s 302/34, 302/109 IPC and Section 27 of the Arms
Act and sentenced him to death u/s 302/34 IPC and 302/109 IPC.
Babban Singh and Lallan Singh were found guilty of the offence u/s 302 IPC and
Section 27 Arms Act. They were also sentenced to death u/s 302 of IPC. The
Trial Court passed no separate sentence u/s 27 of the Arms Act.
by the judgment and order of the Trial Court the appellants preferred Criminal
Appeal No. 126 of 2000 before the High Court of Judicature at Patna. The learned Additional Sessions Judge
also made a reference to the High Court for confirmation of the sentence of
death passed against the appellants which was registered as Death Reference
No.4 of 2000.
High Court after a detailed and critical scrutiny of the evidence on record
affirmed the conviction of the appellants. On the question of sentence the High
Court affirmed the sentence of death passed against the appellants Babban Singh
and Lallan Singh, but refused to confirm the sentence of death passed against
Ram Anup Singh, and instead, sentenced him to life imprisonment under the
aforesaid sections. The High Court in doing so noticed that though Ram Anup
Singh carried a licensed gun with him, and though he exhorted his sons to
finish the entire family, he did not use his gun in the course of the incident
and therefore did not cause any injury to anyone.
appellants have preferred this appeal challenging the judgment and order of the
High Court. As noticed earlier the occurrence took place on 27.3.1997 at about 6.30 a.m. in village Dilman Chapra. The investigating officer,
PW-12 of Kesaria Police Station has deposed that on that day he heard a rumor
that some persons have been killed in village Dilman Chapra in connection with
land dispute. He therefore made station diary Entry No.452, Ext.7 and
immediately proceeded to the place of occurrence. He recorded the statement of
PW-10 Babu Nand Dubey, Samdhi of Madan Singh (deceased) and father of Shambhu Sharan
Dubey, the son-in-law of Madan Singh (deceased). The report was recorded at about
8.15 a.m. on the basis of which a formal
F.I.R., Ext. 11 was registered.
report to the police PW-10, stated that his son Shambhu Sharan Dubey was
married to Sita Devi, daughter of Madan Singh about 15 years ago. Since Madan
Singh had no other issue and his daughter and son-in-law were looking after
him, he and his wife gifted their share of lands measuring about 9 Bighas to
their daughter and son-in-law. This gave a rise to strained relationship
between Madan Singh (deceased) and his brother appellant, Ram Anup Singh.
According to the informant in connection with such land dispute a Panchayati
was to be held on the date of occurrence and for that purpose he along with his
son PW-8 Rabindra Dubey, Bhagya Narain Dubey (not examined), PW-9 Shivji Dubey
his brother, PW-2 Dwarika Singh, PW-1 Mahendra Singh and PW-3 Nawal Kishore Dubey
had come to village Dilman Chapra at about 6 a.m.. At about 6.30 a.m. when they were near the kirana shop of Bhageshwar Raut,
Babban Singh and Lallan Singh armed with country made pistols and Ram Anup
Singh armed with his licensed gun came near the kirana shop.
Singh fired his gun in the air as a result of which persons nearby got scared
and concealed themselves here and there. In the meantime his son Shambhu Sharan
Dubey came on hearing the report of gun shot. On seeing him, the accused caught
him and started assaulting him. Ram Anup Singh exhorted his sons to kill him as
also the other members of the family. Upon this Babban Singh felled Shambhu Sharan
Dubey on the ground and fired at his chest causing an injury as a result of
which Shambhu Sharan Dubey died instantaneously. The accused then proceeded
towards the house of Madan Singh. Sita Devi, the daughter-in-law of informant
came out of the house. Lallan Singh caught hold of her and fired at her head as
a result of which she also died on the spot. Thereafter Madan Singh and his
wife Sheoji Devi came out of their house. Babban Singh fired at Madan Singh who
fell down and died. Similarly Lallan Singh fired at Sheoji Devi causing an
injury on her head as a result of which she also died instantaneously. Many
persons witnessed the occurrence.
basis of the FIR lodged by PW-10, Babu Nand Dubey investigation was taken up
and ultimately the three appellants were put up for trial charged variously of
offences u/s 302, 302/34 and 302/109 IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act.
prosecution examined as many as 12 witnesses to prove its case. PWs 1, 2, 3, 8,
9 and 10 are the eye witnesses. PWs 4, 5, 6, and 7 are the medical officers who
performed the post morterm examination on the dead bodies of the deceased.
PW-11 is a formal witness who proved the deed of gift, Ext.1/1 dated
16.10.1987, PW-12 is the investigating officer. We may notice at this stage
that all the eye witnesses belong to village Jamunia Jasauli, the village of
the informant. The evidence on record also discloses that village Jamunia Jasauli
is at a distance of only about half a kilometer from the village of occurrence
namely, Dilman Chapra. Though it is the case of the prosecution that a large
number of villagers of village Dilman Chapra had witnessed the occurrence,
there is also evidence on record to the effect that none of them was willing to
depose against the appellants in the case.
the informant has fully supported the prosecution case. The FIR was lodged by
him. In his deposition before the Trial Court, he stated that Madan Singh had
no son and Sita Devi was his only daughter. Madan Singh and his wife Sheoji Devi
(both deceased) gifted their entire lands to their daughter and son- in-law
through two deeds of gift. Shambhu Sharan Dubey used to look after Madan Singh
and his wife and also cultivated the lands.
Singh, the brother of Madan Singh lived separately from his brother even from before
the marriage of his daughter.
were unhappy on account of the fact that Madan Singh had executed gift deeds in
favour of his daughter and son-in-law and they were persuading Madan Singh,
deceased to get the deeds of gift cancelled and remove their daughter and
son-in-law from the village. Panchayatis were held earlier also in respect of
the gifted lands but Ram Anup Singh did not obey the decision of the Panchayat.
A Panchayati was to be held on 7th March, 1997
regarding the same dispute. Ram Anup Singh and Madan Singh jointly fixed
another date for Panchayati which was to be held in the morning of 27th March, 1997. It was in this connection that he
and the eye witnesses had come from village Jamunia Jasauli to village Dilman Chapra.
He further stated that on reaching village Dilman Chapra he had sent his son Rabindra
Dubey, PW-8 to Madan Singh and Ram Anup Singh to inform them that they had
arrived in the village for the Panchayati. Accordingly Rabindra Dubey went to
inform them. He returned after some time and told his father that Madan Singh,
deceased had told him that he was coming along with the panchas, but Ram Anup singh
was very angry and abused him. After Rabindra Dubey had returned, they heard
the sound of gun shots coming from the side of darwaza of Ram Anup Singh. They
got alarmed on hearing the sound of gun shots. Thereafter they saw the
appellants coming to the chowk (crossing), Ram Anup Singh armed with his double
barrel gun and Babban Singh and Lallan Singh armed with country made pistols.
coming to the crossing again Ram Anup Singh fired in the air. Soon thereafter Shambhu
Sharan Dubey came to the crossing.
caught hold of by Babban Singh and Lallan Singh who started assaulting him. Ram
Anup Singh then exhorted his sons to kill him and eliminate the entire family.
Thereupon Babban Singh shot at Shambhu Sharan Dubey with his country made
pistol which hit him on the left side of his chest. Shambhu Sharan Dubey fell
down and died. The witness then narrated about the manner in which the other
three persons were killed. The version given by him in court is consistent with
the version disclosed in the FIR.
the deposition of PW-10 that Shambhu Sharan Dubey married a second time with
the daughter of Chabila Singh. Since Shambhu Sharan Dubey and Sita Devi had no
issue, Sita Devi persuaded Shambhu Sharan Dubey to marry again and it was with
her consent that Shambhu Sharan Dubey remarried. The relationship between the
first and second wives of Shambhu Sharan Dubey was cordial. In fact the second
wife of Shambhu Sharan Dubey also died on 11.4.1997, since on account of grief
she stopped taking food and water and virtually starved herself to death. PW-10
further stated that at about 8 or 8.15 a.m. the Sub Inspector of Police came to the village and recorded his
statement at the darwaza of Madan Singh. He put his signature on the statement
marked Ext. 5. He mentioned about 2 deeds of gift executed by Madan Singh and
his wife in favour of Shambhu Sharan Dubey and Sita Devi. The deed of gift
relating to 9 Bighas of land was executed on 16.10.1987 which was marked as
second deed of gift as it appears from the evidence of PW-1 is dated 7.10.1983
marked as Ext.1, which related to about 1 Bigha and 12 Kathas of land.
cross examination this witness stated that he and the witnesses were 10 to 15
steps behind the accused persons when the occurrence took place. Madan Singh
had become a Sadhu and his wife also led a saintly life. He had been suggesting
to his samdhi since 1983 that the dispute should be resolved by Panchayati. He
had also talked to the villagers as well as to the accused persons in this
connection. Several Panchayatis were held since 1983. This witness admitted
that his samdhi Madan Singh, his wife Sheoji Devi and their daughter Sita Devi
had filed Title Suit against his son Shambhu Sharan Dubey. This case was got
filed by the appellants by misleading Madan Singh. The suit ended in favour of
his son Shambhu Sharan Dubey against which the plaintiffs filed an appeal but the
same was compromised. All this was done at the instance of the accused persons
who misguided his samdhi, but ultimately the matter ended in a compromise. Even
after the compromise was recorded in T.A. No.93/92, the dispute between Madan
Singh and the accused persons subsisted. The accused persons used to cut the
trees belonging to his samdhi, and such other small disputes arose from time to
time about which complaints were made to the Mukhiya of the village.
witness met his samdhi Madan Singh a day before the occurrence. He had also met
him on the 24th March when he had requested him to come for the Panchayati to
be held on 27th March.
the occurrence large number of persons, about 2000 in number, had collected
near the place of occurrence. The crowd had collected one hour after the
occurrence and he named the persons whom he recognized in the crowd. This
witness has stated that when he saw that his son Shambhu Sharan Dubey was being
assaulted he wanted to go to his rescue, but Nawal Kishore Dubey, PW-3 caught
hold of him. Similarly Shivji Dubey, PW-9 caught hold of his son Rabindra Dubey
who wanted to intervene. The firing took place from a short distance of about 2
to 2-1/2 feet.
entire occurrence took place within 15 minutes i.e. between 6.30 & 6.45 a.m.. Police Station Kesaria is situated at a distance of
about 12-13 kilometers from the place of occurrence.
have very carefully scrutinized the evidence of PW-10, who is not only the
informant, but also an eye witness. We find nothing in his rather lengthy cross
examination which may impeach his credibility. He has deposed in a
straightforward manner and we find a ring of truth in what he says. Moreover,
his evidence is fully corroborated by the medical evidence on record, and the
testimony of eye witnesses.
Singh is also an eye witness. He had come to village Dilman Chapra where he met
the informant and others near the kirana shop of Bhageshwar Raut. He has
deposed about the prevailing strained relationship between Ram Anup Singh and Madan
Singh (deceased) owing to the execution of deeds of gift by Madan Singh in favour
of his daughter and son-in-law. Ram Anup Singh wanted that the deeds of gift be
cancelled. This witness had also come in connection with the Panchayati to be
held in the morning at 6.30
a.m. He has deposed
about the occurrence in substantially the same manner as the informant PW-10.
This witness stated that the earlier deed of gift was executed by Madan Singh
and his wife on 7.10.1983 in respect of land measuring about 1 Bigha 12 Kathas.
He was a witness to the said deed of gift. That deed of gift was marked as Ext.
1. This witness also stated that the distance between villages Dilman Chapra
and Jamunia Jasauli is about half a kilometer. He admitted that there was no
written intimation about the convening of Panchayati but he was informed
verbally about it on 24th
March, 1997 at 10 O'clock in the morning. Information was sent to him by Madan
Singh (deceased) with a request that he should attend the Panchayati. The Sub
Inspector of Police had reached the place of occurrence at about 8 a.m. and the Superintendent of Police and Dy. Superintendent of
Police also arrived at about 12 noon. He had
seen the Sub-Inspector of Police recording the statement of witnesses. His statement
was recorded by the Dy. Superintendent of Police at about 12 noon. A large number of villagers of Dilman Chapra and
other villages had collected numbering about 1000.
they were present none of the villagers of Dilman Chapra made a statement before
the police. He did not hear anyone saying that any dacoity had been committed
in the house of Madan Singh.
for the appellant could not point out anything in the cross- examination of
this witness which may render his deposition unreliable or untrustworthy,
except for submitting that his testimony is too consistent to be believed.
Singh is another eye witness who had accompanied the informant to village Dilman
Chapra in connection with the Panchayati to be held on that day. His evidence
fully corroborates the testimony of PW-10 (informant) and this led counsel for
the appellants to submit that the consistency in the evidence of the witnesses
must persuade this Court to hold that they are got up witnesses. Nothing
however was shown to us in the cross-examination of this witness which may
reflect upon his veracity PW-3 Nawal Kishore Dubey also deposed as an eye
fully supported the prosecution case and deposed about the manner of occurrence
on the same lines as the informant and the other eye witnesses. He has stated
that his statement was recorded by the Police on that very day and that he was
present when the Police arrived at the scene of occurrence. He has deposed
about the manner in which the investigation was conducted and proved the
signatures of witnesses appearing on the seizure lists, Exts. 2 and 3. Nothing
has been pointed out by the counsel for the appellants which may lead us to
discard his testimony.
two eye witnesses PWs. 8 and 9 are the son and brother respectively of the
informant, PW-10. Both of them have been cross-examined at length but nothing
of significance has been elicited from them. PW-8, Rabindra Dubey is the son of
the informant and the younger brother of deceased Shambhu Sharan Dubey. He has
deposed about the marriage of his brother with Sita Devi and about the
execution of gift deeds in their favour which gave rise to unpleasantness
between Madan Singh (deceased) and Ram Anup Singh. He has asserted that he
reached the chowk of village Dilman Chapra at about 6 a.m. His father asked him to go and inform Madan Singh and Ram Anup
Singh that persons had arrived at the chowk for Panchayati . He first went to Madan
Singh where he met his brother Shambhu Sharan Singh. He was told that they will
be coming soon. Thereafter he went to the darwaza of Ram Anup Singh whom he saw
sitting with a gun. As soon as he saw him he became furious and started abusing
then returned to the chowk and reported to his father. He has narrated the
manner in which the occurrence took place. We have found nothing in the cross
examination of this witness which may lead us to suspect his testimony. His
presence appears to be quite natural since a Panchayati was to be held
concerning the lands which were gifted to his brother. It was therefore natural
for him to accompany his father to attend the Panchayati. This witness was
present when the Sub-Inspector of Police came and later the Superintendent of
Police and the Dy. Superintendent of Police arrived. He also stated that large
number of persons had assembled after the occurrence belonging to different
villages. The Sub-Inspector of Police recorded the statement of witnesses
including his statement. By 5 p.m.
recording of statements was completed. He denied the suggestion that a crowd
had assembled since a dacoity was committed in the house of Madan Singh in the
night. In fact there was no talk of dacoity.
is the evidence of PW-9 Shivji Dubey, who is the brother of the informant. This
witness has also narrated the occurrence in the same manner as the other eye
witnesses. He also mentioned the presence of other eye witnesses named in the
find that as many as six eye witnesses have been examined by the prosecution.
Nothing has been elicited in their cross-examination which may lead us to doubt
their reliability or truthfulness. The only criticism levelled against them is
that three of them are relatives of the informant and all the six belong to
village Jamunia Jasauli. It was faintly suggested that their evidence is too
consistent to be true. It is no doubt true that PWs. 8, 9, and 10 are related.
PW-9 and 10 are brothers and PW-8 is the son of PW-10, the informant. However,
having regard to the facts of this case their evidence cannot be discarded
merely on the ground that they are related to each other. There is abundant
evidence on record to establish that on 27th March 1997 a Panchayati was to be held
concerning the disputes between Madan Singh, (deceased) and Ram Anup Singh
accused. The dispute related to the lands gifted by Madan Singh to his daughter
and son- in-law. PW-10, the informant being the father of Shambhu Sharan Dubey,
son-in-law of Madan Singh, was naturally interested in attending the Panchayati.
In fact Madan Singh had requested him to attend the Panchayati. His brother and
son had accompanied him to village Dilman Chapra. Having regard to these facts,
their evidence cannot be thrown out merely on the ground that they are related
and interested witnesses. The eye witness account given by these witnesses is
natural as well as consistent. Their presence at the scene of occurrence cannot
be doubted in view of the overwhelming evidence on record. They are not only
named in the FIR but their presence is confirmed by the other eye witnesses.
then urged that all the six eye witnesses belong to village Jamunia Jasauli and
no witness from village Dilman Chapra has been examined. Apart from the eye
witnesses, even the investigating officer, PW-12 has deposed that persons
belonging to village Dilman Chapra were not willing to make a statement before
him, and therefore no witness of village Dilman Chapra could be examined as an
eye witness. It is obvious that the occurrence must have been witnessed by a
large number of persons belonging to village Dilman Chapra since it took place
between 6.30 and 6.45
a.m. in the heart of
the village. However, on account of village relationship their reluctance to
depose against the appellants can be well appreciated. The co-villagers
perhaps, did not want to get themselves involved in this affair. The eye
witnesses no doubt belong to village Jamunia Jasauli but one cannot ignore the
fact that Jamunia Jasauli is at a distant of only half a kilometer from village
Dilman Chapra. On the request of Madan Singh (deceased) and on the persuasion
of the informant these witnesses had come to take part in the Panchayati to be
held that morning. They cannot therefore be described as mere chance witnesses.
They had come to that village with a purpose and were not mere passers by. We
have found their deposition to be convincing and truthful.
consistency in the evidence of the eye witnesses is also understandable in the
facts of this case. The witnesses were known to each other and they also knew
the appellants and their victims.
occurrence took place in the morning and there was sufficient light to enable
the witnesses to identify the appellants and the deceased. The assault on the
victims was not simultaneous. They were shot dead one after the other. The
witnesses were only 10 to 15 steps behind the assailants, and had therefore the
opportunity to notice the manner in which the occurrence took place and the
role played by the appellants. There was therefore no scope for any confusion
in the mind of the witnesses. Their statements were recorded immediately after
the arrival of the Investigating Officer.
these circumstances the case of the prosecution cannot be disbelieved merely
because the testimony of the eye witnesses is consistent by raising a suspicion
that they may be got up or tutored witnesses.
feature of the case is that the occurrence took place between 6.30 and 6.45 a.m.. Soon thereafter the Sub-Inspector of Police, PW-12
reached the village on hearing a rumor after making an entry in the Station
Diary. Though the Police Station is about 13 kilometers away from the village
of occurrence, he showed great promptness in reaching the village of occurrence
at about 8- 8.15 a.m. He recorded the statement of the informant, PW-10 and
commenced investigation. There was hardly any delay in lodging the FIR, and
therefore, there was no opportunity for the informant to concoct a false story.
All the eye witnesses are named in the FIR and their presence is confirmed by
the fact that their statements were also recorded immediately by the
investigating officer. Moreover, by noon
even the Superintendent of Police and the Dy. Superintendent of Police had
reached the village of occurrence to supervise the investigation. The post-morterm
examination of dead bodies was also held on the same day by 4 different medical
officers. This is a rare case where we have found that the investigating agency
acted with great promptitude. We, therefore, do not suspect that the
prosecution concocted a false case.
Trial Court as well as the High Court have carefully scrutinised the evidence
on record. The medical evidence on record fully supports the prosecution case,
and it has been so found by the High Court as well as by the Trial Court. We
have also gone through the deposition of the medical officers. We are satisfied
that the injuries suffered by the deceased resulting in their death as found by
the medical officers, corroborate the manner of occurrence as deposed to by the
eye witnesses. Counsel for the appellants submitted that the firing was
obviously from close range, but this fact is also established by the medical
evidence on record. In fact some of the injuries bore charring marks. We are,
therefore, satisfied that the medical evidence fully corroborates the case of
set up by the appellants was that a dacoity was committed in the house of Madan
Singh on the night intervening 26th and 27th March, 1997. In the course of the dacoity all
the members of the family were shot dead by the dacoits. The appellants also
examined three witnesses to substantiate their defence. The Trial Court as well
as the High Court have carefully examined the evidence of the witnesses
examined by the defence but came to the conclusion that the defence set up by
the appellants was not supported by any reliable evidence on record. We have
carefully gone through the deposition of the defence witnesses and we find that
the conclusion reached by the courts below is fully justified. DW-1 stated that
a dacoity was committed in the house of deceased Madan Singh in which he and
his family members were killed. Many people had assembled when the dacoity was
committed but no information was given to the police by anyone.
doubt, stated that Jagarnath Rai, the Chowkidar has informed the police. The
said Chowkidar has not been examined.
assertion was made by DW-2 who belongs to village Jamunia Jasauli and claimed
to be present in village Dilman Chapra when the dacoity took place. He claimed
to have constructed a Baithka in village Dilman Chapra, but he could produce no
document to show that he owned any land in Dilman Chapra or that he had
constructed a Baithka. He also stated that no case of dacoity was registered.
So far as DW-3 is concerned he claims to have heard that dacoity was committed
in the house of Madan Singh. Obviously no value can be attached to his
is conspicuous in the evidence of the defence witnesses is the fact that though
a dacoity is alleged to have been committed, and as many as four persons lost their
lives, no one informed the police about the occurrence, even though large
number of villagers had assembled when the dacoity took place.
from the other villagers, one would have expected the appellant Ram Anup Singh,
the brother of Madan Singh, to have informed the police about the occurrence in
which four members of his brother's family were shot dead. In any event he
would have made an attempt to send information to the Police Station. It does
not appear that any such attempt was made by Ram Anup Singh.
the case that a dacoity had been committed in the house of Madan Singh was
sought to be built up for the first time at the stage of the trial. The eye
witnesses to whom such suggestion was made categorically denied having heard
anyone talk about commission of dacoity on the date of occurrence. The
Investigating Officer has also categorically stated that there was no talk
about commission of dacoity when he was in the village conducting the
investigation. There was not even a whisper about a dacoity having been
committed. No report was made to him about the commission of dacoity. One fails
to understand why when the Investigating Officer came to the village of
occurrence no one reported about the commission of dacoity, even if for any reason
it was not done earlier. Moreover, there is evidence on record that no article
was removed from the house of Madan Singh. We have, therefore, no hesitation in
rejecting the defence case as fake, and an after thought. There is no
convincing evidence on record which may even probablise the case of dacoity
having been committed in the house of Madan Singh on the night preceding the
day of occurrence.
carefully considered the evidence on record we are satisfied that the
conviction of the appellants is fully justified in the facts and circumstances
of the case.
question of sentence, it was submitted on behalf of the appellants that this
was not an appropriate case in which the extreme penalty of death was
warranted, since this case does not fall in the category of the rarest of rare
cases. It is true that as many as four innocent lives were lost and the act of
the appellants was certainly an inhuman cruel and dastardly act. However, one
aspect of the matter deserves to be mentioned while on the question of
sentence. It is not disputed that the gift deed was executed sometime in the
year 1987 which gave rise to strained relationship between Madan Singh on the
one hand and Ram Anup Singh and his sons on the other. There is evidence on
record to suggest that several Panchayatis were held to resolve the dispute.
case of the prosecution is that Ram Anup Singh even resorted to litigation and
instigated Madan Singh to file a Civil Suit against his son-in-law for
cancellation of the deed of gift. That matter was however compromised and it
appears that thereafter cordial relationship prevailed in the family of Madan
Singh. Minor disputes arose between Madan Singh and Ram Anup Singh from time to
time. However, while all these events took place over ten years, there is not
even a suggestion that the appellants ever resorted to violence or that any
untoward incident took place in the past. The appellants were no doubt
aggrieved but they did not take the law into their hands though they tried all
other non violent methods available to them, including litigation and Panchayati.
In the background of such facts one fails to understand why on the date of
occurrence suddenly the appellants decided to do away with all the members of
the family. The High Court has also considered this aspect of the matter and
found that there was nothing to suggest that the crime perpetuated by the
appellants was by way of retaliation. The High Court is right in making this
observation because there is nothing on record to suggest that any untoward
incident had taken place on the earlier day or a few days before the occurrence
which may have aggravated the situation and motivated the appellants to resort
to the drastic action of killing all the members of the family of Madan Singh.
We have a lurking suspicion that something must have happened on account of
which the appellants resorted to the mass killing. The evidence on record does
not provide any clue. It may be that the persons who could have thrown some
light on this aspect of the matter are not alive to depose, and the appellants
not willing to say anything on this aspect of the matter lest it may prejudice
their defence. We, therefore, do not have any knowledge about the immediate
cause for the occurrence. In this background the question of sentence may be
is no evidence on record to suggest that the appellants are a menace to society
as evident by their past deeds. It is not possible to conclude that they are
those who cannot be reformed or rehabilitated and that they constitute a
continuing threat to the society. In fact, apart from the incident in question,
there is not even an allegation about the appellants having indulged in such behaviour
in the past or having resorted to violence and committed any offence whatsoever.
They appear to belong to a middle class farmer family for whom land has great
value. But even so, there is nothing to suggest that they may repeat such
barbarism in future so that they would constitute a continuing threat to the
regard to all the facts and circumstances, and also having regard to the fact
that the evidence does not disclose the immediate cause of the incident, we do
not find it safe to confirm the sentence of death awarded by the High Court to Lallan
Singh and Babban Maharashtra (2002) 2 SCC 35; the accused gunned down his own
brother and his family members and also his mother. The dispute arose on
account of the fact that his brother was not willing to partition the joint
family properties. This Court held that though it was a heinous and brutal
crime, yet it did not fall in the category of the rarest of rare cases. There
was no evidence to support that the appellant in that case was a menace to
society. There was also no reason to believe that he could not be reformed or rehabilated,
and he was likely to continue his criminal acts of violence as would constitute
continuing threat to the society. The facts are somewhat similar in this case,
and therefore, on a careful consideration of all the relevant circumstances we
are of the view that the sentence of death is not warranted in this case. We,
therefore, set aside the death sentence awarded by the Trial Court and
confirmed by the High Court to appellants Lallan Singh and Babban Singh. We
instead sentence them to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life with the
condition that they shall not be released before completing an actual term of
20 years including the period already undergone by them. In appropriate cases
such sentence has been passed by this Court (See (2001) 6 SCC 296 The appeal of
Ram Anup singh calls for no interference.
result the conviction of the appellants is upheld but the sentence of death
awarded to appellants 2 and 3 Lallan Singh and Babban Singh is set aside, and
instead they are sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life as indicated above.
Subject to the modification in sentence, the appeal is dismissed.