Vs. State of M.P.  INSC 522 (16 March 2009)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 473
OF 2009 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.8631 of 2008) Heeralal ....Appellant
Versus State of M.P. ....Respondent
ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment of a Division Bench of
the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur upholding the conviction of the
appellant for offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code,
1860(in short the `IPC').
The background facts in a nutshell are as follows:
(hereinafter referred to as the `deceased') died on 18.7.1992 in District
Hospital, Chhatarpur. The appellant is the husband of the deceased.
of the deceased was not cordial with the appellant because she was not
beautiful. Beside that her brother-in-law attempted to commit rape on her and a
Panchayat was convened by the deceased. The father-in-law and uncle-in-law of
accused executed an agreement Exhibit (P-4) and assured that no such incident
shall occur in future. Consequently, the deceased on 18-6-1992 came back to her
husband house. On 19-6-1992, a quarrel took place between the appellant and the
deceased. Consequently, the appellant sprinkled kerosene oil on the deceased
and set her ablaze. On 20-6-1992, deceased was taken to Londhi hospital
wherefrom she was referred to District Hospital, Chhatarpur, where she died on
18-7-1992. FIR 2 was lodged. The dying declaration of deceased was recorded,
investigation was triggered off and after completion of investigation, the
appellant was charge sheeted. The case was committed to the court of Sessions
appellant abjured the guilt and pleaded innocence. His defence is that he
brought the deceased in burnt condition to the hospital, along with his parents
and uncle for treatment. He was apprehended by the police at the hospital. The
deceased got burnt during cooking meals, Hemwati Bai came to her working place
and informed regarding the incident. The witnesses are lying to take revenge of
prosecution examined seven witnesses while the accused appellant examined eight
witnesses in defence. After hearing the parties and on consideration of the
evidence and material on record, the trial court convicted the appellant for
offence punishable under Section 302 IPC as noted above. Aggrieved by the
judgment of conviction and sentence, an appeal was filed before the High Court
where the primary stand was that there was a lot of difference in the
statements made. There are two dying declarations (Exh.D4 and Exh.D3).
Therefore the trial court was not justified in holding the appellant guilty.
The stand of the State on the other 3 hand before the High Court was that the
first Dying Declaration (Exh.D4) was a result of pressure and therefore the
same has been rightly discarded.
Court upheld the contention of the State and dismissed the appeal.
The stand taken before the High Court was reiterated.
Undisputedly, in the first dying declaration recorded by a Nayab
Tehsildar, it has been clearly stated that she tried to set herself ablaze by
pouring kerosene on herself, but in the subsequent declaration, recorded by the
another Nayab Tehsildar, a contrary statement was made. It appears that one
dying declaration earlier was made before the Doctor. The trial court referred
to the evidence of Dr. Chaturvedi who stated that the deceased was admitted on
bed No.8, but the father of the deceased stated that her daughter was admitted
on some other bed number.
The trial court and the High Court came to abrupt conclusions on
the purported possibility that the relatives of the accused may have compelled
the deceased to give a false dying declaration. No material was brought on
record to justify such a conclusion. The evidence of the Nayab Tehsildar who
recorded Exh.D4 was examined as PW8. His statement was clear to the 4 effect
that nobody else was present when he was recording the statement.
being so, in view of the apparent discrepancies in the two dying declarations
it would be unsafe to convict the appellant.
The conviction is set aside. The appeal is allowed. Let the
appellant be released from custody forthwith unless he is required to be in
custody in connection with any other case.
....................................J. (Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
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