Narayan Vs. State of
Rajasthan  INSC 414 (25 February 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 386 OF 2009
(Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.4362 of 2008) Narayan ..Appellant versus State
of Rajasthan ..Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Rajasthan High
Court at Jodhpur upholding the conviction of the appellant for offences
punishable under Sections 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short
the `IPC') and confirmed the judgment and order of conviction and sentence
passed by learned Additional District and Sessions Judge, Fast Track, Udaipur.
facts in a nutshell are as follows:
An unknown dead body
was found in an iron barrel drum at a bus- stand, Unjha. It is alleged that on
16.10.1995 at the bus-stand, Unjha some unknown person hired a handcart of one
Malla and instructed the cart man to carry the barrel drum to the Railway
Station and, in the meantime, he assured to reach there. But, the said unknown person
did not reach at the railway station and, ultimately, the cart owner Malla
brought back the said barrel drum to bus-stand. In the evening the barrel drum
began to emit bad smell and, therefore, information was given at the police
post. The police opened the barrel drum and found therein the corpse of Mst.
Whereabouts of the
dead body were not known and a photo was published in the newspaper in
pursuance of which Babu Meena (PW6) and Chandulal (PW20) came and identified
the dead body to be of their sister Hunji, who was living with appellant
Narayan as his wife at Kotara. The Unjha police registered the case and since
information was given by way of statements of Babu Meena and Chandulal and
other relatives of the deceased that the incident took place at Kotara, through
the Superintendent of police, the file of the case was sent for investigation
to the Police Station, Kotara where regular FIR was registered at No.136/95
under Sections 302 and 201 IPC.
investigation commenced. Charge sheet was filed after investigation.
As the accused
pleaded innocence, trial was held. As the prosecution version rested on
circumstantial evidence, the trial court referred to various circumstances to
come to the conclusion that the accused was guilty of the charged offences.
Accordingly, the conviction and sentence were recorded.
The appeal as noted
above was preferred before the High Court. The primary stand was that the
circumstances highlighted by the prosecution do not lead unerringly to the
guilt of the accused. The High Court did not find any substance in the plea and
as noted above the same was dismissed.
support of the appeal learned counsel for the appellant submitted that there is
no evidence worth the name to connect the appellant with the crime and the
circumstances highlighted by the trial court and the High Court do not lead
unerringly to the guilt of the accused appellant.
counsel for the respondent-State on the other hand supported the judgment of
the High Court affirming that of the trial court.
has been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely
on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when
all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with
the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh
v. State of Rajasthan AIR (1977 SC 1063);
Eradu and Ors. v.
State of Hyderabad (AIR 1956 SC 316); Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR
1983 SC 446); State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors.
(AIR 1985 SC 1224);
Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350); Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v.
State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890). The circumstances from which an inference as
to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt
and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to
be inferred from those circumstances. In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR
1954 SC 621), it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion
drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be
such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home
beyond any reasonable doubt.
may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy and
Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996) 10 SCC 193, wherein it has been observed thus:
"In a case based
on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from
which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such
circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances
should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence.
Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of
the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".
Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down
that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy
the following tests:
circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be
cogently and firmly established;
circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards
guilt of the accused;
circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is
no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was
committed by the accused and none else; and (4) the circumstantial evidence in
order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of
any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence
should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be
inconsistent with his innocence.
State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, (1992 Crl.LJ 1104), it was pointed out
that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the
evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour
of the accused must be accepted. It was also pointed out that the circumstances
relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative
effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the
hypothesis of guilt.
Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence"
(Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case
of circumstantial evidence: (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal
inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the
factum probandum; (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts
the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; (3) in all cases,
whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced
which the nature of the case admits; (4) in order to justify the inference of
guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the
accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than
that of his guilt, (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the
accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".
is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but
it should be tested by the touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial
evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.
Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC
343), wherein it was observed thus:
"It is well to
remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the
circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in
the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should
be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the
circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and 7 tendency and they should
be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In
other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave
any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the
accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the
act must have been done by the accused."
reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State
of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial
evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the
chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by
false defence or plea. The conditions precedent in the words of this Court,
before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully
established. They are:
(1) the circumstances
from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established.
The circumstances concerned `must' or `should' and not `may be' established;
(2) the facts so
established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the
accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis
except that the accused is guilty;
(3) the circumstances
should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;
(4) they should
exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 8 (5) there
must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground
for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show
that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.
aspects were highlighted in State of Rajasthan v. Raja Ram (2003 (8) SCC 180),
State of Haryana v. Jagbir Singh and Anr. (2003 (11) SCC 261), Kusuma Ankama
Rao v State of A.P. (Criminal Appeal No.185/2005 disposed of on 7.7.2008) ,
Manivel and Ors. v. State of Tami Nadu (2008(9) JT 31)and Raju v. State by
Inspector of Police (SLP(Crl) No.4467 of 2008 decided on 4.2.2009)
highlighted by the trial court and the High Court are as follows:
1. Accused was living
with Hunji as a couple before the occurrence.
2. Death of Hunji was
committed by strangulation, and dead body was recoverd in a trunk at Unjha.
9 3. Accused was
absconding after selling his all belongings i.e.
cow, buffalo etc.
Accused disappeared for a long period of 4-5 years.
4. Accused had hired
a Jeep on rent in which he loaded all his goods and had gone to Unjha in which
a trunk also contained the dead body of deceased which was recovered from such
trunk in Unjha. Identification of such trunk has also been proved by witnesses.
5. Motive of crime
has been also proved by evidence of prosecution that he was keen to take other
women, and he has killed his wife Hunji for removing him from the scene.
our considered opinion the circumstances highlighted by the trial court and the
High Court clearly establish the guilt of the accused appellant.
There is no scope for
interference in this appeal which is accordingly dismissed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)