Rajvi Roop Singh, J.C.
1. The appellant N. Brajabidhu Singh has been convicted by the learned Sessions Judge of Manipur under Section 302, I.P.C. and sentenced to imprisonment for life. He has appealed to this Court being aggrieve with the judgment of learned Sessions Judge.
2. The facts of this case fall within a narrow ambit and may be succinctly stated as follows:
The appellant N. Brajabidhu Singh and the deceased Kh. Chura Singh were living in separate houses within the same compound in village Thangmaiband Polem Leikai, P.S. Imphal and their relations were strained due to litigation which was going on between them since long about the land. It is alleged by the prosecution that on 21.11.62 al about 8.00 a.m. the deceased Kh. Chura Singh was making cakes of cow dung and the appellant was making fencing of latrine very close to the place where the deceased was sitting. There is no evidence on the record to show, how the quarrel started between them. But it is said that the appellant attacked the deceased with a khukri and caused 4 injuries on his person. When he attacked the deceased P.W. 1 Kh. O. Thanil Devi and P.W. 3 Kh. O. Nanglembi Devi who were in the house seeing this assault raised an alarm and on that the appellant ran away with the khukri. When the appellant left the place of occurrence the witnesses went near the deceased and saw his injuries. Thereafter Kh. O. Thanil Devi (P.W. 1) the wife of the deceased sent for her son and on his arrival she asked him to go and report the matter at the Police Station. Kh. Thamphajao Singh (P.W. 2) son of the deceased went to the Police Station, Imphal and at about 11.50 a.m. lodged the report.
On this report a case under Section 326 I.P.C. was registered against the appellant and Shri Nelson (S.I.) started investigation. He went to the hospital and saw the injuries of the deceased. Thereafter he went to the place of occurrence and prepared the site plan, Shri Kh. Chura Singh (deceased) who was admitted in the hospital for the treatment of the injuries died on 22.11.62 at 3.00 p.m. On his death the Investigating Officer altered the offence from Section 326 to under Section 302 I.P.C. Shri Shyamananda Singh (S.I.) P.W. 12 took the investigation in his hand and prepared the inquest report and thereafter sent the dead body with a constable to Dr. K. Gopal Singh (P.W. 10). Dr. Gopal Singh performed post-mortem examination on the dead body of the deceased on 23.11.62 at 7.30 a.m. He found the following ante-mortem injuries on the dead body:
1. One stiched up wound 7' ' 2' on the antro labral surface of the middle area of left arm.
2. One stiched up wound 4' 1 1 ' on the upper one third of the labral surface of right arm. The upper end was 2' below the right shoulder joint and lower end was latering.
3. One incised wound 1' bone deep on the medial surface of the right leg.
4. One stiched up longitudinal 5' ' 1' on the back. The upper end was 1 below the right ufrascapular region and the lower end was 3' away from second lumber vertebra. All the visera were normal. Except tear of right pleura. The pleura cavity was full of blood. On dissection compound fracture of 9th, 10th and 11th of right ribs was found at the line of right infrascapular. There was also compound fracture of left humarous and right forearm. According to him (Doctor) all the above injuries might have been caused by sharp weapon. After seeing Exbt. M-1 the Doctor stated that these injuries could have been caused by it. According to him the cause of death was as a result of shock and haemorrhage due to above injuries. He also stated that these injuries were in the ordinary circumstances sufficient to cause his death.
3. After receipt of the post-mortem report the Investigating Officer recorded the statements of some more witnesses. He arrested the accused on 5.12.62, and thereafter at his instance recovered the Khukri Ext. M/1 on 6.12.62 The Khukri was stained with blood, therefore, it was sent to Chemical Examiner and Serologist for examination. The Serologist after examination sent the articles back to the Investigating Officer. The Investigating Officer after completion of the investigation submitted the charge sheet against the appellant under Section 302 I.P.C. on 8.6.63 in the Court of Additional District Magistrate, Manipur. The A.D.M., Manipur, after preliminary inquiry committed the appellant to the Court of Sessions Judge to stand his trial under Section 302 I.P.C.
4. Before the Sessions Judge the appellant when examined pleaded a complete denial of his participation in the occurrence. He pleaded that the deceased fraudulently got his land mutated in his name and due to that a litigation is going on between them. Due to this enmity P.W. 2 Kh. Thamphajao Singh, son of the deceased has got him falsely roped in this case. As regards the recovery of the blood stained Khukri he stated that it was not recovered at his instance. He also disowned its ownership. He led no evidence in his defence.
5. The prosecution in order to substantiate the offence under Section 302 I.P.C. against the appellant examined 13 witnesses. The learned Sessions Judge after consideration of the entire prosecution evidence and all aspects of the case convicted the appellant as noted above. The appellant being aggrieved with this judgment of the learned Sessions Judge has filed this appeal.
6. In this case the first point for consideration is whether the deceased Kh. Chura Singh died on 22.11.62 at 3.00 p.m. due to the injuries caused by Khukri. The death of Kh. Chura Singh as a result of the injuries caused by Khukri on 22.11.62 is well established, and is in fact not disputed. The learned Counsel for the appellant too at the very out set frankly conceded that in the face of preponderate, direct and circumstantial evidence he does not contest the factum of the death of Kh. Chura Singh on 22.11.62. I too feel that he has rightly conceded in view of overwhelming direct and circumstantial evidence on the record.
7. The next and main question for decision is how Kh. Chura Singh was killed and by whom. The prosecution case rests mainly on the evidence of P.W. 1 and P.W. 3 direct witnesses to the occurrence and the recovery of the Khukri at the instance of the appellant. The learned Sessions Judge on the strength of this evidence came to the conclusion that the appellant is guilty.
8. The learned Government Advocate while supporting the prosecution story also relied on the evidence of P.W. 1 Kh. O Thanil Devi and P.W. 3 Kh. O. Manglembi Devi and the recovery of the Khukri at the instance of appellant. The learned Counsel for the appellant on the other hand vehemently urged that the evidence of the two eye-witnesses is palpably false and they have been set up by the Police in order to create direct evidence in the case. After excluding their testimony there is no other testimony direct or circumstantial on which conviction can be based. I shall, therefore, proceed to discuss and weigh in meticulous detail the evidence of the two eye-witnesses.
9. The P.W. 1 Khoirom Ongbi Thanil Devi who is the widow of the deceased has stated that at about 8 or 9 a.m. she was in the compound of the house and heard an alarm saying 'Thangna Yalle' (stabbed) and upon that she looked towards that side and saw the appellant with a blood stained Khukri in his* towards that side and the appellant managed to run away towards the west with the Khukri in his hand. When she reached near her husband who was about 61 years of age found him bleeding profusely from the injuries. Thereafter, she sent for her sons and when they came the deceased was taken to the hospital for treatment and the report was lodged at the Police Station, Imphal. P.W. 3 Khoirom Ongbi Manglembi Devi, who was also inside the house at the time of occurrence has fully corroborated her testimony. There is absolutely no justifiable ground for distrusting the evidence of these 2 P.Ws. The evidence of P.W. 1 could not be assailed in any manner. In this case a thorough and searching cross-examination of these two eye witnesses has brought forth minor discrepancies in certain place, but the so-called discrepancies do not effect the merits of their testimony. Moreover, minor discrepancies are bound to occur in the testimony of witnesses due to lapse of time. They have also no motive to implicate the appellant falsely in such a heinous crime. I, therefore, think that their testimony is entitled to great weight and has to be accepted. It follows, therefore, that this evidence is sufficient to bring home the charges to the appellant.
10. The learned Counsel for the appellant contended that P.W. 1 and P.W. 3 are the close relations of the deceased, whose relations-with the appellant were strained due to dispute about land and as such they had a motive for falsely implicating the appellant, therefore, their testimony should not be relied upon. This is a fact that both the eye-witnesses are close relations of the deceased but the relationship of the prosecution witnesses to the murdered' man is no ground for not acting upon their testimony, if it is otherwise reliable in the sense that the witnesses were competent witnesses who could be expected to be near about the place of occurrence and could have seen what happened at the time of occurrence. Similarly, it is wrong as a general proposition to discard a witness merely because he is interested. The evidence must be discarded or accepted on the merits of that evidence and not merely because a man is interested. It is true the Court will need extra caution in evaluating the evidence of an interested person. The proposition that when the eye-witnesses to the occurrence are interested persons, there should be corroboration of their testimony by independent witnesses is not of universal application. The mere fact that any witness is related to the deceased is not a ground for regarding him as an interested witness. The imputation of interestedness could be made only in cases where it is shown that the witnesses are in-imically disposed towards the prisoner.
It is only when it is established that there is either discord or hostility between the accused person and the witnesses that the evidence of a witness could be treated as tainted. In good many of the cases, the witnesses would be either relations of the deceased or friends of his and on that ground alone their evidence could not be discarded. No doubt, if the circumstances are such as to throw doubt on the trustworthiness of the witnesses, it may not be safe I to rest a conviction on such evidence. A witness is normally to be considered independent unless he or she springs from sources which are likely to be tainted and that usually means unless the witness has cause, such as enmity against the accused, to wish to implicate him falsely. Ordinarily a close relative would be the last person to screen the real culprit and implicate an innocent person. It is true, when feelings run high and there is personal cause for enmity, that there is a tendency to drag in an innocent person against whom a witness has a grudge along with the guilty, but foundation must be laid for such a criticism and the mere fact of relationship far from being a foundation is often a sure guarantee of truth. However, it is not possible to make any sweeping generalisation. Each case must be judged on its own facts. These observations are only made to combat what is so often put forward in cases before Courts as a general rule of prudence. There is no such general rule. Each case must be limited to and be governed by its own facts.
11. In the instant case both the eye-witnesses are natural witnesses to the occurrence. In this case the occurrence took place in their house at 8 or 9 a.m. in broad day light and they were present in the house at the time of occurrence. The P.W. 1 was only 18 feet away from the place of occurrence and there was also absolutely no obstruction in her way in seeing the occurrence. The appellant was her next door neighbour and was fully known to her, therefore, there was no difficulty for her to recognise the appellant. The P.W. 3 was also inside the house, and she on hearing the cry of her father-in-law came out of the house and saw the appellant standing near the deceased with a Dao in his hand. In view of these facts it is not proper to doubt the testimony merely because they happened to be related to the deceased. If there had been something which could throw doubt on the truthfulness of these witnesses in that case it would not have been safe to rest a conviction on their testimony. But this is not so in this case as pointed out above.
Besides, they are the close relations of the deceased, therefore, they would be the last person to screen the real culprit and implicate an innocent person in such a heinous crime. Moreover, P.W. 3 was divorced by the son of the deceased only a few days after the occurrence as such it cannot be said that she was interested in the prosecution case. From the record it appears that the prosecution from the very beginning alleged that due to the question of her divorce she became ignotized with the family of the deceased, therefore, she did not like to support the prosecution case. I, therefore, find that both these witnesses are natural and truthful witnesses and their testimony could not be discarded solely on the ground of their being near relation of the deceased.
12. The learned Counsel for the appellant further urged that the P.W. 1 Kh. O. Thanil Devi according to her statement before the Sessions Judge stated that she saw the incident after hearing the alarm raised by her daughter-in-law. According to her daughter-in-law she first came out of the house on hearing the cry of her father-in-law and then saw the appellant standing by the side of the deceased with a dao in his hand and thereafter she raised an alarm. When she raised an alarm the appellant started running away, therefore, how could P.W. 1 see the appellant committing the offence. According to these facts she could only see the back of the appellant.
13. But this contention is devoid of force as there is no such contradiction in their statements. The P.W. 1 in her statement before the Sessions Judge has no where stated that she saw the occurrence after hearing the cry of her daughter-in-law. In this case this is a fact that the deceased on receiving the injuries raised an alarm. The P.W. 1 has stated before the Sessions Judge that on hearing the alarm saying 'Thangna Yalle' (stabbed) looked towards that side and saw the appellant standing near the deceased with a blood stained Khukri. From this it is clear that she first heard the cry of her husband and thereupon saw the occurrence. In this statement she has nowhere mentioned that she first heard the cry of her husband and then saw the occurrence. Besides, she in her statement before the Committing Magistrate has also stated the same facts, that is, she saw the incident on hearing the cry of her husband.
Moreover, she was near the kitchen garden and only 12 to 18 feet away from her husband where he was making cakes of cow dung and the appellant was making the fence of the latrine, therefore, she must be the first person to hear the cry of her husband. The P.W. 2 was inside the house so she came out of the house on hearing the cry of her husband and thereupon she raised an alarm. This part of her statement gets corroboration from the statement of P.W. 1. If P.W. 1 had been inside the house in that case it might have been possible for her to come out of the house on hearing the cry of her daughter-in-law. But this is not so in this case, I, therefore, find that both the eye-witnesses are truthful witnesses and the learned Sessions Judge rightly believed their testimony in convicting the appellant.
14. Now the only other evidence against the appellant is the recovery of the blood stained Khukri Ext. M/1 at his instance. The learned Sessions Judge has also placed reliance on this circumstantial evidence while convicting the appellant. But the learned Government Advocate at the time of arguments frankly conceded that the recovery of the Khukri does not come within the mischief of Section 27 of the Evidence Act. On the close scrutiny of the evidence on the record I too feel that he has rightly conceded on this point. The recovery of the Khukri Ext. M/1 is innocuous. In this case the occurrence took place on 21.11.63 and the appellant was arrested on 5.12.63 and the Khukri was recovered on 6.12.63 from the possession of P.W. 4 Iboton Singh at the instance of P.W. 5 Ch. Ibotombi Singh.
This type of recovery of the Khukri does not help the prosecution in any way. But it is very sad that in this case the investigating officer neither tried to arrest the appellant before 5th December, even though he was present there throughout nor took proper steps to recover the incriminating article according in Section 27 Evidence Act. From the conduct of the investigating staff it appears that either they are highly inexperienced or they intentionally tried to help the accused. But such thing should be deprecated. This is all the evidence that has been led by the prosecution to connect the appellant with the crime. But from direct evidence of the two eye-witnesses as pointed out above, I find that the prosecution has succeeded in establishing the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
15. In the result, I dismiss this appeal and confirm the conviction and sentence passed against the appellant by the learned Sessions Judge.