& Ors. Vs. State of Jharkhand  INSC 2155 (12 December 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2020 OF 2008
[Arising out of SLP (CRL.) No. 2276 of 2007] RAVISHWAR MANJHI & ORS. ...
S.B. SINHA, J.
and one Raghu Manjhi, since deceased, along with four others were tried for
commission of offences under Sections 302/149, 307/149, 326/147/148/324 and 326
of the Indian Penal Code.
occurrence is said to have taken place on or about 31.10.1997 at about 2.00
p.m. at village Simultand within the jurisdiction of Chandan Kiyari (Bangaria
Assistant Thana) Police station in the district of Bokaro. First Information
Report (FIR) in relation to the said incidence is said to have been recorded at
3.45 p.m. in the complainant's (Suresh Kumar Das, P.W.10) house. In the FIR, it
was alleged by the complainant that when his father Nagender Nath Das
(deceased) and uncle Manpuran Das were sitting in front of their house after
taking meal, he heard a noise (hulla) whereupon he came out and saw Ravishwar
Manjhi, son of Berda Manjhi armed with `iron tenta', Jaleshwar Manjhi, son of
Veda Manjhi armed with `tangi', Kala Chand Manjhi, son of Berda Manjhi, Santu
Manjhi son of Balesar Manjhi armed with `bhala', Raghu Manjhi son of late Nakul
Manjhi armed with `bhala' and Umakant Rajak armed with `bhala' were assaulting
his father and uncle. He raised an alarm whereupon his other uncle Gour Das
came to rescue them. Jaleshwar Manjhi assaulted him also with a `tangi' as a
result of which he had received an injury on the palm of his right hand.
Manpuran Das, his uncle sustained injuries on his left armpit, on left knee
joint and on the left side of the head. Jaleshwar Manjhi caused tangi blow to
his father. When he wanted to take his father with him then Ravishwar Manjhi
pierced iron tenta (ballam) on the right side of the back of his father and
fled away. The motive for commission of offence was stated to be objection by
his father from creating nuisance by the accused in front of their house. In
the FIR, it was said to have been recorded that the dead body of Nagender Nath
Das was lying on the road and Gour Das was lying in injured condition and Puran
Das was lying in the state of unconsciousness.
Ram A.S.I., however, stated that on the said date he had received a phone call
informing him that a fight was going on at village Simultand. On the basis of
the said information, he recorded a `Sanha' and proceeded towards the place of
occurrence. However, admittedly, the said `Sanha' has not been produced. He,
furthermore, did not disclose as to from whom he received the information.
another fard-beyan of Ravishwar Manjhi (accused No.5) was recorded by one Alok
Kumar, the Investigating Officer of the present case. He, however, had not been
examined by the prosecution.
the FIRs were lodged at about 10.15 p.m. in the Chandankiyari Police Station.
Whereas FIR No. 104
was recorded against the appellants under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 324,
326, 307 and 302 of the Indian Penal Code, FIR No. 105 was registered against
the complainant party under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 324, 342, 448 and 354
of the Indian Penal Code.
case of the appellants as stated in the said FIR No. 105 lodged by the accused
No. 5 is that the deceased had trespassed into his house and tried to outrage
the modesty of Chinta Muni Majhian, wife of his younger brother and when she
raised alarm, appellants tried to save her. The deceased, however, was armed
with a tangi wherewith he assaulted on both the appellants. He called all his
family members who also were armed with lethal weapons. Appellants were
assaulted causing injuries to them. The injuries sustained by the appellants
Ravishwar Manjhi and Jaleshwar Manjhi were examined by the SHO Chandankiyari
Police Station. He prepared injury reports of the appellants and sent them to
the hospital for further treatment.
injured, however, were sent to the private clinic of P.W. 11 - Dr. Ratan
Chandankiyari there is a government hospital. It is also not in dispute that
there is a hospital of Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), a public sector
undertaking at Amlabad in which one of the injured witnesses was an employee.
They, however, chose
to go to village Chas which is at a distance of 22 kilometers from the place of
occurrence and were admitted in the clinic of P.W.11.
conducted on 1.11.1997 at about 11.30 a.m. in the Sadar Hospital, Bokaro by Dr.
Avinash Kumar Chaudhary (P.W. 12). The injuries observed by him in his
post-mortem report on the deceased were as under:
wound 5" x 1 =" x cranial cavity deep on the left side of the
forehead obliquely placed and extending to the right parietal region of the
scalp with obvious commuted fracture of frontal bone on the left side;
(ii) Abrasion 2
=" x 1 =" over front of left shoulder wrist;
(iii) Abrasion 1
=" x =" over left shoulder;
wound with sharp margins 1 =" x <" x 5" deep over the right
renal area 1" away from the L2 spine (v) On dissection, the doctor had
found the cranial vault fractured and the margins and brain matter were torn,
lacerated and contused over the left asterior half extending to the right
hemisphere; The penetrating would was 5" deep and in its area had
lacerated right kidney bodily through out its breadth.
It had also
perforated the peritoneum and the ascending column of the large gut and part of
the small intestine. The soft tissue and pours of the aforesaid would was
lacerated. The abdominal cavity was filled with blood clots, faecal matter and
other intestinal material.
The doctor had
further observed that an iron rod with a spear shaped head with two spikes
(tenta) was found stuck in the body which he had removed and handed over to the
In the opinion of the
doctor, the death occurred due to injury no. (iv), which was caused by a sharp
weapon and due to cardiac respiratory failure on account of the internal and
external hemorrhage and injury to the vital organs like brain, kidney and
both the cases, chargesheets were filed on 31.12.1997.
The following charges
were framed against the accused under Sections 302/149, 307/149, 326/147, 148,
324 I.P.C. on 23.4.1994 by Additional District & Sessions Judge, IInd
Bokaro at Chas, which read as under:
"FIRST - That
you, on or about the 31st day of October 97 at 2 pm at village Simultand P.S.
Chandankiyari, Distt. Bokaro all of you in furtherance of common object did
commit murder by intentionally or knowingly causing the death of Nagendra Nath
Das and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 302/149 of the
Indian Penal code, and within my cognizance.
SECONDLY- That you,
on or about the same date of same time at same place all of you in furtherance
of common object did (sic) act it namely assaulted with deadly weapons with
such intention or knowledge under such circumstances, that if by that act you
had caused the death of Manpuran Das @ Puran Chandra Das and (2) Gour Das you
would have been guilty of murder and thereby committed an offence punishable
Section 307/149 of the Indian Penal Code, and within my cognizance.
THIRDLY- That you, on
or about the same date of same time at same place voluntarily caused grievous
hurt to (1) Manpuran Das @ Puran Chandra Das and (2) Gour Das by means of Tangi
which is an instrument for cutting and thereby committed an offence punishable
under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code, and within my cognizance.
FOURTHLY- That you,
on or about the 31st day of October 1997 at 2 pm at village Simultand P.S.
Chandankiyari, Distt. Bokaro all of you were a member of unlawful assembly and
in prosecution of the common object of the said assembly committed the offence
of rioting and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 147 of the
Indian Penal Code, and within my cognizance.
FIFTHLY - That you,
on or about the same date of same time at same place were a member of unlawful
assembly and did in prosecution of the common object of that assembly commit
the offence of rioting and at that time you were armed with a deadly weapons
namely, Tanta, Tenta (Ballam), Bhala etc. and thereby committed an offence
punishable under Section 148 of the Indian Penal Code, and within my
SIXTHLY- That you, on
or about the same date of same time at same place voluntarily caused hurt to
(1) Manpuran Das @ Puran Chandra Das and (2) Gour Das by means of Tangi which
is an instrument for cutting and thereby committed an offence punishable under
Section 324 of the Indian Penal code, and within my cognizance."
were also framed against the prosecution witnesses under Sections 147/149,
323/149, and 342/149 respectively by Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Chas,
Bokaro on 12.7.1999, which read as under:
you, on or about the 31st day of October 1997 at village Simultand P.S.
Chandankiyari, Distt. Bokaro being a member of an unlawful assembly committed
rioting in the prosecution of common object of an unlawful assembly and thereby
committed an offence punishable under Section 147/149 of the Indian Penal Code,
and within my cognizance.
SECONDLY- That you,
on or about the same day of same at same voluntarily caused hurt to informant
Ravishwar Manjhi and his younger brother Jaleshwar Manjhi in the prosecution of
common object of an unlawful assembly and thereby committed an offence
punishable Section 323/149 of the Indian Penal Code, and within my cognizance.
THIRDLY- That you, on
or about the same day of same at same wrongfully confined to informant and his
younger brother in the prosecution of common object of an unlawful assembly and
thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 342/149 of the Indian
Penal Code, and within my cognizance."
the cases were taken up for hearing by different courts. It is, however, stated
that the cases lodged by the accused persons is still pending in the Court of
Judicial Magistrate, Bokaro.
the learned Sessions Judge, Seventeen witnesses were examined on behalf of the
prosecution. P.W.1- Manpuran Das, P.W.7-Parmeshwar Das, and P.W. 9-Gour Das
were injured witnesses. P.W. 2- Rajan Das (Pradeep Kumar Das), P.W.
3-Dhaneshwar Das (Dhona Das), P.W. 6 Khagendra Nath Das, P.W. 8-Neelam Devi and
P.W. 10- Suresh Kumar Das (Informant) were said to have witnessed the
occurrence. P.W. 4 Chinta Haran Das and P.W. 5-Mantu Das were also said to have
witnessed a part of the occurrence.
Kejriwal in whose Nursing Home the injured were admitted, P.W. 9 Gour Das and
Puran Chand Das were admitted, P.W. 12- Dr. Avanish Kumar Choudhary, the
Autopsy Surgeon, P.W. -16 - Dr. P.S. Kashyap, who is said to have examined
Parmeshwar Das (P.W. 7), P.W.17- Shankar Ram, A.S.I. who had recorded the
fard-beyan of P.W. 10 and conducted the inquest were also examined.
Officer, however, was not examined.
examined two defence witnesses, namely, Sahdeo Mahto (D.W. 1), a police
constable for proving the fard-beyan, FIR and charge-sheet filed against the
complainant party and Dr. Virendra Kumar (D.W.2) who had examined the accused
Ravishwar Manjhi and Jaleshwar Manjhi.
learned trial judge did not place any reliance upon the evidence of P.W.7
Parmeshwar Das, who claimed himself to be an injured eyewitness.
The learned trial
judge further did not believe the allegation of giving a `tangi' blow by
Umakant Rajak on the head of Manpuran Das. It was, however, held that Jaleshwar
Manjhi had caused grievous injury by a `sharp weapon' on the left palm of Gour
Das and Raghu Manjhi caused grievous injury on the left knee joint by a `sharp
weapon' to Manpuran Das and the accused Kala Chand Manjhi also caused grievous
injury on the left scapula of Manpuran Das by a `sharp weapon'. Accused
Jaleshwar Manjhi was found to have been assaulted the deceased by giving severe
blow by `tangi' on the head causing fracture of the frontal bone and the brain
matter was torn. Ravishwar Manjhi pierced Tenta in the back of the deceased.
On the basis of the
aforementioned finding, the accused persons were convicted and the following
sentences were imposed:
Name of accused
Convicted under Sentence awarded Section Ravishwar Manjhi 302, 148 I.P.C. Life
imprisonment and 2 years RI respectively.
Jaleshwar Manjhi 302,
148 & 326 Life imprisonment and 2 yrs. RI I.P.C. and 5 yrs. RI respectively
Kala Chand Manjhi 326 and 148 I.P.C. 5 yrs. RI and 2 yrs. RI respectively Raghu
Manjhi 326 and 148 I.P.C. 5 yrs. RI and 2 yrs. RI respectively Santu Manjhi 148
I.P.C. 2 yrs RI Uma Kant Rajak 148 I.P.C. 2 yrs. RI
High Court by reason of the impugned judgment has dismissed the appeal
preferred by the appellants herein.
Abhijit Sengupta, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants would
(i) The genesis and
origin of the occurrence has been suppressed by the prosecution.
(ii) The injuries on
the person of the accused having been denied, the prosecution witnesses must be
held to be not reliable as they suppressed material points.
of the Investigating Officer has caused serious prejudice to the accused.
(iv) Actual place of
occurrence, namely, whether it was in front of the house of the appellant
Jaleshwar Manjhi or in front of the house of the deceased, has not been firmly
(v) The prosecution
having not sent the blood stained earth which was collected by P.W.17 for
chemical examination, the defence version must be held to have been proved.
(vi) The prosecution
witnesses should not be believed as inordinate delay was caused in obtaining
(vii) The station
diary (Sanha) on the basis whereof P.W. 17 was said to have reached the place
of occurrence having not been produced, the appellants were seriously
prejudiced wherefor adverse inference should be drawn.
(viii) The materials
brought on record cast a serious doubt in regard to the time of recording of
the fard-beyan as investigation had commenced even on the basis of the station
diary, and thus the FIR was inadmissible in evidence.
(ix) There was no
reason for the injured to obtain treatment from a private Hospital although
there was Government hospital near the place of occurrence.
(x) The courts below
in their judgments did not consider and discuss the evidence as regards the
charge of forming an unlawful assembly, and thus, the prosecution must be held
to have failed to prove that the appellants formed a common object to commit
(xi) Statements of
the prosecution witnesses having been recorded after the medical evidence was
available to them, no reliance thereupon shall have been placed by the courts
(xii) Statements of
the accused persons - appellants were not properly recorded under Section 313
of the Code of Criminal Procedure which caused a grave prejudice.
(xiii) The courts
below made out a third case which was not supported by the evidence on record
and which is impermissible in law.
description of weapons in the FIR had affected the testimonial value of the
witnesses which improbalize the prosecution case.
(xv) Both the cases
should have been tried by the same court and one after another.
(xvi) In any view of
the matter, the appellants must be held to have exercised their right of
private defence in view of the injuries sustained by them.
Ratan Kumar Choudhuri, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State of
Jharkhad, on the other hand, would contend:
(i) As P.W. 17 has
been examined by the prosecution who has recorded the FIR, non- examination of
the Investigating Officer was not of much significance.
(ii) Statements of
P.W.1, P.W. 3 and P. 7 could not have been recorded as they were admitted in
(iii) The injured
persons and the deceased were taken to Chas as it was found necessary that they
receive treatment in the referral hospital at Chas and the same having been
found to be closed, the injured were then admitted to the Nursing Home which
was at Chas.
(iv) The prosecution
has proved the genesis of the occurrence.
(v) The learned
Sessions Judge as also the High Court arrived at the finding of guilt of the
accused, upon proper analysis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and in
that view of the matter the impugned judgment should not be interfered with.
(vi) Appellants had
formed a common object on the spot and in view of the nature of injuries
inflicted on the deceased as also on the injured persons, prosecution must be
held to have proved formation of the unlawful assembly.
learned Sessions Judge as also the High Court did not record any finding that
all the accused persons formed a common object.
There was no
premeditation on the part of the accused. Two of the accused have been found
guilty under Sections 302 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code and other accused
under Sections 326 and 148 thereof.
Mr. Sengupta may be
correct in his submission that the prosecution has not come out with the
genesis of the occurrence. We also do not know as to why both the cases were
not taken up by the same court one after the other. We furthermore fail to
understand as to how a criminal case of 1999 is still pending in the Court of
Judicial Magistrate, Bokaro.
learned Sessions Judge as also the High Court appeared to have proceeded on the
premise that as the appellants had not been able to prove their defence, and
therefore, the prosecution version should be accepted. The approach of the
courts below was, thus, not correct.
The investigation was
carried out in a slipshod manner. The FIR clearly showed that even before
lodging of the FIR, investigation had started. The inquest was conducted,
bloodstained grassand soil had been seized and the dead body was sent for post-mortem.
is beyond anybody's comprehension that if the incident had taken place at about
2'O clock and it took about one and half hours for P.W. 17 to reach the village
Simultand, how the FIR was recorded at about 3.45 p.m. while the inquest report
was prepared at about 4.05 p.m. and blood stained grass and soil was seized at
about 5.00 p.m. The injured persons received grievous injuries.
It was expected that
they would be rendered some medical help at the earliest. They were unconscious
and, thus, they should have been sent for treatment to a nearby hospital. It
was absolutely necessary that at least some medical help is rendered to them.
They reached Dr.
Kejriwal's Nursing Home at about 7.00 p.m. The following injuries were noticed
by P.W.11, in his own words:
"On Gour Das I
found following injuries:
1. Incised wound in
left palm 9 cm x 1 cm cutting or superficial (illegible)
2. Abrasion on left
shoulder joint. Aged within 6 hours. No. 1 by sharp instrument, 2nd by hard
substance. No.1 grievous in nature and 2 simple.
On Puran Chand Das
found following injuries:
1. Lacerated wound on
scalp 5 cm x 0.6 cm x .5 cm avulsing on muscles.
2. Incised wound on
(illegible) left scapula .10 cm x 1.2 cm.
3. Incised wound
(illegible) left knee joint 8 cm x 10 cm. age within 6 hrs. Number one caused
hard blunt object and another by sharp instrument. All the injuries are
grievous the two injuries re in pen and signature Exh.4 and 4A.
In response to all
the relevant questions, his standard answer was "I do not remember".
the prosecution case is correct that the dead body as also the injured persons
were brought to the referral hospital, the same having been found to be closed,
the injured were admitted in the Nursing Home, there was no reason as to why a
police personnel did not accompany them. Itis also strange that neither the
exact location of injury on the head of the Puran Das was stated nor
description of the said injury had been furnished by the Doctor. He was also
not in a position to say whether injury No. 3 was from the front or behind.
According to him all injuries could be caused by similar weapons. He, in his
injury report, even did not mention the colour of injury.
all the other prosecution witnesses were admitted in the hospital on the same
day, P.W. 7 is said to have been admitted on the next day although he had
suffered a grievous injury. It is not known whether he had been given any
medical aid or not. Statement of none of the witnesses was recorded either on
the day on which the occurrence had taken place or the day after.
1 was examined after the `Shradh Ceremony' of deceased was over which would be
about twelve days after the death. P.W. 3 stated that he was examined after one
month. Statement of P.W. 7 was also taken after he was discharged from
hospital, i.e., at least after a week.
Officer in a case of this nature should have been examined. His examination by
the prosecution was necessary to show that there had been a fair investigation.
no site plan was prepared. There is nothing on record to show as to the exact
place where the occurrence had taken place. It is stated that the house of the
parties is divided by a road. If that be so, it was all the more necessary to
pin point the exact place of occurrence to ascertain who was the aggressor.
doubt, a life is lost and two persons suffered grievous injuries but we must also
notice the injuries suffered by two of the appellants as was disclosed by Dr.
Virendra Kumar (D.W. 2) in his evidence.
"On 31.10.1997 I
was posted at M.O. at Chandankiyari. On that day at 9.30 p.m. I examined
Ravishwar Manjhi s/o Berga Manjhi P.S.Chandankiyari, District Bokaro and found
1) Incised wound 1
=" x 1/6" x 1/6" over left palm ventrally below (illegible) of
thumb by sharp cutting substance.
2) Scratches at four
places over both sides of back and upper portions due to sharp cutting
instrument 6" and 5"
3) Incised wound at
two places over right palm posteriorly 4" x ="
x 1" deep and
2" x <" x <" by sharp cutting instrument.
4) Age within 12
hours. 1 and 2 simple and 3 grievous.
On the same day I
examined Jaleshwar Manjhi, w/o Berga Manjhi of same village and found following
1) Incised wound at
two places over head posterior and interior by sharp cutting substance 3"
x =" x skin deep over top of head posteriorly.
2) 2" x
<" x skin deep over front head.
3) Complain of pain
on whole body without illegible. Injury with 12 hours simple.
The patient Ravishwar
Manjhi was referred for X-ray and on receipt of the report both injuries on
palm were found to be grievous.
injuries being grievous in nature, the prosecution owed a duty to explain the
It is unfortunate
that the High Court did not take serious notice of the nature of injuries
suffered by the appellants, relying on the decision of this Court in Ayodhya
Ram alias Ayodhya Prasad Singh and Ors. vs. State of Bihar [(1999) 9 SCC 139],
wherein only minor injuries were suffered by the accused persons.
of seven eyewitnesses, P.W. 7 was not believed by the courts below. P.Ws. 4 and
5 were not present exactly at the place of occurrence. They are said to have
witnessed only a part of the occurrence. All other eyewitnesses were related to
the deceased. However, we do not hesitate to add that only on that ground their
evidences should not be disbelieved.
was no enmity between the parties. Only a case under Section 107 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure was pending against them. Even in respect thereof, no
documentary evidence was brought on record to show as to when the said
proceeding was initiated and at whose instance. The prosecution witnesses
merely supported the prosecution case that a death had taken place and two
witnesses suffered grievous injuries but it was absolutely necessary in the
facts and circumstances of this case to show that the accused were the aggressors.
It was for that reason the genesis of the prosecution case must be held to have
very fact that the appellants had gone back to their house to come out with
arms andcaused injuries on the person of the deceased and injured persons may
or may not be correct, but even accepting the prosecution case to be correct,
evidently the prosecution party also went to their house and brought weapons
from their house. If it is accepted that the appellants were armed with such
deadly weapons, it must also be accepted that the prosecution witnesses would
also be armed with such weapons. It is, inter alia, for this reason the
production of `Sanha' entry was necessary.
We are not oblivious
of the fact that a mere information received on phone by a Police Officer
without any details as regards the identity of the accused or the nature of
injuries caused by the victims as well as the name of the culprits may not be
treated as FIR, but had the same been produced, the nature of information
received by the police officer would have been clear. It is interesting to note
that the High Court in its judgment recorded the following:
given by the prosecution witnesses that they could not notice the injuries, if
any, on the person of the above named appellants on account of the fact that
they themselves had sustained injuries and one of their own having sustained
fatal injuries had died at the spot and the assault continued hardly for less
than five minutes whereafter the assailants had fled away, appears to be a
reasonable explanation as far as the injured witnesses are concerned. This,
however, does not apply to the other eye witnesses, since they had an
opportunity to see the entire occurrence from the beginning to end. From the
evidence adduced by the prosecution and that by the defence, it appears that
both sides had indulged in a free fight with each other in course of which,
members of both the parties had sustained injuries. In the FIR of the counter
case instituted by the appellant Ravishwar Manjhi, a feeble attempt to explain
the injuries found on the person of the members of the prosecution party has
been made. It is contended that it was in exercise of right of private defence
by the appellants while resisting the advances made by the deceased that some
injuries may have been caused to the deceased and other members of his
there was a free fight which might have taken place and where both the parties
were armed with deadly weapons and suffered injuries, all the appellants could
not have been convicted under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The entire
case should have been viewed by the courts below from that angle. The case was
required to be considered in the light of the defence case. The High Court
opined that the deceased was accosted by the appellant not in their house, but
outside their house on the road is not a matter of moment, particularly when
the High Court itself recorded that house of the deceased Nagender Nath Das and
that of the appellant Ravishwar Manjhi wereopposite to each other with a road
(alley) dividing the same. If the dead body was lying on the alley, it matters
little as to whether it was in front of the house of the appellant or the
plea of the appellants as regards exercise of the right of private defence has
been negatived by the High Court only on the ground that the right to private
defence had ceased immediately after the deceased had retreated from their
house. But what has not been considered is the causa causan of the incident.
Whether the outraging
of modesty of a female member of the family of the accused was the reason
giving rise to the occurrence is a question which should have been considered.
If that be so, it was for the prosecution to prove that attempt on the part of
the appellants to cause injuries was not as a result of previous enmity but for
a different purpose.
If the allegations
made in the FIR that the appellants were drunk was correct, it was obligatory
on the part of the P.W. 17 and consequently the Investigating Officer to get
the said fact established. Medical evidence does not suggest the same. This
aspect of the matter was not brought to the notice of the Doctor treating the
accused. There were, thus, two versions. Both were probable and if that be so,
the plea of exercise of right of private defence raised by the appellant
deserved serious consideration.
was no material brought on records to show that the appellants were the
aggressors. If everything had happened within a short span of time as is
alleged by the prosecution, namely, the appellants were causing nuisance which
was objected to by the deceased; they went to their respective houses; came
armed and started assaulting the deceased and other injured persons, it was
also necessary for the prosecution to prove as to how accused persons received
injuries. It is now a well settled principle of law that the accused can show
that they were entitled to exercise right of private defence from the materials
on records brought by the prosecution.
places where the injuries had been inflicted also assume significance. If
theprosecution witnesses are to be believed, the first injury was caused on
hand. It was thereafter injuries were caused on other parts of the person of
the prosecution witnesses and the last injury was caused by `tenta'.
In Chanan Singh vs.
State of Punjab [(1979) 4 SCC 399, this Court held:
"It is true that
the defence case also has not been accepted by the High Court but once there is
a probability of the accused having acted in self- defence, that is sufficient
to entitle him to an acquittal." In Bishna Alias Bhiswadeb Mahato &
ors. vs. State of W.B. [(2005) 12 SCC 657], this Court noticed that a right of
private defence need not specifically be taken and in the event the court on
the basis of the materials placed on record is in a position to come to such a
conclusion, the court may act thereupon. It was held:
"74. 'Right of
private defence' is not defined. Nothing is an offence in terms of Section 96
of the Indian Penal Code, if it is done in exercise of the right of private
defence. Section 97 deals with the subject matter of private defence. The plea
of right of private defence comprises the body or property. It, however,
extends not only to person exercising the right; but to any other person. The
right may be exercised in the case of any offence against the body and in the
case of offences of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass and attempts
at such offences in relation to property. Sections 96 and 98 confer a right of
private defence against certain offences and acts. Section 99 lays down the
limit therefor. The right conferred upon a person in terms of Section 96 to 98
and 100 to 106 is controlled by Section 99. In terms of Section 99 of the
Indian Penal Code, the right of private defence, in no case, extends to
inflicting of more harm than it is necessary to inflict for the purpose of
defence. Section 100 provides that the right of private defence of the body
extends under the restrictions mentioned in the last preceding section to the
voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant if the offence
which occasions the exercise of the right be of any of the descriptions
enumerated therein, namely, "First - Such an assault, as may reasonably
cause the apprehension that death will otherwise be the consequence of such
assault; Secondly - Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension
that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such assault". To
claim a right of private defence extending to voluntary causing of death, the
accused must show that there were circumstances giving rise to reasonable
grounds for apprehending that either death or grievous hurt would be caused to
him. The burden in this behalf is on the accused." 30. Yet again in
Surendra & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra [(2006) 11 SCC 434], this Court
"26. We are not
unmindful of the fact that in all circumstances injuries on the person of the
accused need not be explained but a different standard would be applied in a
case where a specific plea of right of private defence has been raised. It may
be true that in the event prosecution discharges its primary burden of proof,
the onus would shift on the accused but the same would not mean that the burden
can be discharged only by examining defence witnesses.
27. The learned
courts below committed a manifest error of law in opining that the Appellants
had not discharged the initial burden which is cast on them. Even such a plea
need not be specifically raised. The Courts may only see as to whether the plea
of exercise of private defence was probable in the facts and circumstances of
32. In regard to the
duty of the prosecution to explain the injuries on the part of the accused,
this Court observed:
`78. Section 105 of
the Evidence Act casts the burden of proof on the accused who sets up the plea
of self- defence and in the absence of proof, it may not be possible for the
court to presume the correctness or otherwise of the said plea. No positive
evidence although is required to be adduced by the accused; it is possible for
him to prove the said fact by eliciting the necessary materials from the
witnesses examined by the prosecution. He can establish his plea also from the
attending circumstances, as may transpire from the evidence led by the
79. In a large number
of cases, this Court, however, has laid down the law that a person who is
apprehending death or bodily injury cannot weigh in golden scales on the spur
of the moment and in the heat of circumstances, the number of injuries required
to disarm the assailants who were armed with weapons. In moments of excitement
and disturbed equilibrium it is often difficult to expect the parties to
preserve composure and use exactly only so much force in retaliation
commensurate with the danger apprehended to him where assault is imminent by
use of force. All circumstances are required to be viewed with pragmatism and
any hyper technical approach should be avoided.
80. To put it simply,
if a defence is made out, the accused is entitled to be acquitted and if not he
will be convicted of murder. But in case of use of excessive force, he would be
convicted under Section 304 IPC."
31. In Satya Narain
Yadav v. Gajanand & Anr. [2008 (10) SCALE 728], this Court held:
"14. As noted in
Butta Singh v. The State of Punjab (AIR 1991 SC 1316), a person who is
apprehending death or bodily injury cannot weigh in golden scales in the spur
of moment and in the heat of circumstances, the number of injuries required to
disarm the assailants who were armed with weapons. In moments of excitement
and disturbed mental equilibrium it is often difficult to expect the parties to
preserve composure and use exactly only so much force in retaliation
commensurate with the danger apprehended to him where assault is imminent by
use of force, it would be lawful to repel the force in self- defence and the
right of private defence commences, as soon as the threat becomes so imminent.
Such situations have to be pragmatically viewed and not with high-powered
spectacles or microscopes to detect slight or even marginal overstepping. Due
weightage has to be given to, and hyper technical approach has to be avoided in
considering what happens on the spur of the moment on the spot and keeping in view
normal human reaction and conduct, where self-preservation is the paramount
consideration. But, if the fact situation shows that in the guise of
self-preservation, what really has been done is to assault the original
aggressor, even after the cause of reasonable apprehension has disappeared, the
plea of right of private-defence can legitimately be negatived. The Court
dealing with the plea has to weigh the material to conclude whether the plea is
acceptable. It is essentially, as noted above, a finding of fact."
32. We may notice
that the learned Sessions Judge, while examining Jaleshwar Manjhi, did not put
any question to him as to whether he had killed the deceased or assaulted
33. For the reasons
aforementioned, we are of the opinion, that it is possible for the court to
arrive at the conclusion that the appellants were entitled to exercise their
right of private defence.
The appeal is
allowed. Ravishwar Manjhi (accused No. 5), Jaleshwar Manjhi (accused No. 6) and
Kala Chandra Manjhi (acused No.3) who are in custody are directed to be set at
liberty and released forthwith unless wanted in connection with any other case.
The bail bonds of
Santu Manjhi (accused No. 4) and Umakant Rajak (accused No. 1) shall stand
DECEMBER 12, 2008
ITEM NO.1D COURT NO.4 SECTION IIA (For Judgment) RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS SUPREME
COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2020 OF 2008 (Arising out of SLP(Crl.) No.
2276/2007) RAVISHWAR MANJHI & ORS. Appellant(s) VERSUS STATE OF JHARKHAND
Respondent(s) Date: 12/12/2008 This matter was called on for pronouncement of
For Appellant(s) Mr.
Mr. Azim H. Laskar,
For Respondent(s) Mr.
Ratan Kumar Choudhuri,Adv.
Hon'ble Mr. Justice
S.B. Sinha pronounced the Judgment of the Bench comprising of His Lordship and
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Cyriac Joseph.
For the reasons
mentioned in the singed judgment, the appeal is allowed.
(accused No.5), Jaleshwar Manjhi (accused No.6) and Kala Chandra Manjhi
(accused No.3) who are in custody are directed to be set at liberty and
released forthwith unless wanted in connection with any other case. The bail
bonds of Santu Manjhi (accused No.4) and Umakant Rajak (accused No.1) shall
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