K.N. Saikia, J.
1. This Criminal Hills Reference is under the Assam Frontier (Administration of Justice) Regulations, 1945 from the judgment of the Deputy Commissioner convicting the opposite party under Section 302 I.P.C. sentencing him to imprisonment for life.
2. Lumi Tayum (shortly 'Tayum') of Laa village in Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh married Lumi Yari (P. W. 2) of Hipu village paying bride's price according to their Miri custom. As destiny would design it, the accused Laa Tagum (shortly, 'Tagum'), a co-villagery developed illicit relationship with Lumi Yari (shortly, 'Yari') even since sometime after she gave birth to her first child. The case of their illicit relation was heard on three occasions by the Laa Village Council and accordingly three DAPOs were performed first time paying two 'kahis', two 'majis' and one pig; after one year', for the second time, paying one 'maji', Rs. 50/- and one pig; and for the third time, paying one 'maji', and rupees 50/-. Meanwhile Yari became mother of three children. Yet Tagum would not give up his illicit relationship with her. In the third 'mel', the Village Council directed both Yari and Tayum to leave Laa village and go to Hipu village. Accordingly they settled in Hipu village with Yari's brother, wherefrom Tayum went to work as C.P.W.D. labourer at Tamen. On 9-7-76 Yari came to her husband for taking home some rice, which the latter purchased, and both slept that night in Beitoluk's house where Tayum was staying.
At night Tagum came and poked a thin stick at Yari through a slit of the bamboo wall. Yari got up, came out and finding that it was already twilight, picked up the rice and departed for Hipu village. On way near the Tasker garden she met Tagum who, after a coitus, asked her to accompany him, but when she replied that she had a suckling baby at home and if the baby died he would not be able to pay the price, Tagum threatened her saying that if she did not accompany him, ha would kill her with his arrow and throw her dead body in the river. Frail Yari accompanied him and proceeded through the jungle and stayed four nights by the PAA stream near Laa village. In the morning on 10-7-76, Tayum informed P. W. 1, Nido Techi, M.L.A. that his wife was missing and he was in search of her. Nidu Techi informed Laa village that both Yari and Tagum were missing. The villagers began to search; and on 14-7-76 one Bini Yabin of Laa village informed that two persons were plucking chillies from her cultivation and that seeing her they ran away and those might be Yari and Tagum. The search party followed their footsteps.
On 16-7-76 Tayum learnt that his wife and Tagum were hiding in the Budi jungle near Laa village. A party of five persons including Tayum, continued the search and found a spot as if some one had spent the night there. A little before that, Tayum started the search separately from the others. One Milli Tochu of the the search party first saw Tagum who tried to run away, but was apprehended in Ya Lipi along with Yari who was ahead of him. Tagum had a dao and a bow and arrows with him. Both were taken to Laa village and detained in La Tat's house for two nights. Then they were escorted to Tamen and similarly detained in Patna Techi's house for the night but that very night Laa Tagum managed to escape. The Laa village people went on search for him. Relatives searched for Tayum who failed to return from Budi jungle, though Yari and Tagum were found. Next morning Lumi Todik came to inform in Tamen that the dead body of Tayum had been found buried in Budi jungle. Milli Tochu and Nido Techi found Tagum on 19-7-76 about a Km. from Tamen, at 3-30 P. M. and he was at once apprehended and brought to Tamen. Nido Techi informed the C. O. (Circle Officer), Naga before whom Tagum admitted his guilt.
3. On 19-7-76 itself Nido Techi (P. W. 1) submitted F.I.R. to Circle Officer, Raga who arrived, arrested Tagum and Yari who were kept tied by the villagers, proceeded to Budi jungle with the doctor, next day to the place of occurrence led by Nido Techi and caused the dead body of Tayum to be exhumed, got it examined by the doctor and handed it over to the relatives. Tagum was charged under Section 302 I.P.C. while Yari was charged under Section 109 I.P.C. Both pleaded not guilty.
4. Ten P. Ws., including the Doctor (P. W. 9) and the Investigating Officer (P. W. 10) but no D. Ws., were examined at the trial. On 25-6-77 the Public Prosecutor filed a petition praying that the co-accused Yari be examined as P. W. Yari was asked if she wanted to turn as approver and stand as p. W. on condition of pardon, and she having agreed to tell the truth, was examined as P. W. 2.
5. The learned trial court on the basis -of evidence discussed the questions when was Tayum killed; why he was killed; how far Yari's evidence was corroborated; what was the intention of the accused; whether there were extenuating circumstances; how the dead body of Lumi Tayum came to be buried in Budi jungle, and ultimately found that Tagum, the accused, had intentionally caused the death of Tayum on 16-7-76 in Budi jungle and buried the dead body and convicted him under Section 302 I.P.C. and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. Yari having fulfilled the conditions prescribed Under Section 306 Cr. P.C. was let off. Hence this reference.
6. P. W. 1, Nido Techi, M.L.A. deposes that he himself sent information to Laa village that Yari and Tagum were missing and were to be searched, after Tayum informed him that his wife was missing. On 16-7-76 Tayum came to him and told him that Yari and Tagum were in a jungle near Laa village and the witness told him that he should not go personally there but that some others should go and persuade them to come away. The witness further told him that he should not accompany the party because anything could happen between him and Tagum when they came face to face. The witness accordingly sent a letter to Laa Tama, G. B. of Laa village through Tayum. On 18-7-76 the people of Laa village brought Yari and Tagum before him and it was, decided that the village council should meet that evening to settle the case. However, as Tayum did not turn up the case could not be taken up. Consequently Tagum was kept tied in Ratan Tochi's house and Yari was also kept tied in the witness's house. Thai-night itself Tagum managed to escape, which was detected only in the next morning. Both the witness and the G. B were anxious that a murder might be committed an information was sent to search for Tayum as nobody knew where he was and neither Yari nor Tagum told that they had seen him. On 19-7-76 at about 8 or 9 A. M. Lumi Tedik came to inform in Tamen that the dead body of Tayum had been found. Since Tagum had already escaped on 18th night, information was sent to all villagers to apprehend him. Ratan Tat and Milli Tochu, the former carrying a dao and the latter bow and arrows, while returning after search, came face to face with Tagum at a curved portion of the river bank and immediately Tochu aimed his bow and arrow at Tagum who, though had a dao on his shoulder, came near and Tochee and Tat caught hold of him, tied ana brought to witness's house at Tamen. He sent information to Circle Officer, Raga, and went with the latter to the place of occurrence. Tayum's body was found buried in a kind of pit caused due to digging of wild potato, with the head downwards, the bottocks upwards, and the knee bent, covered with earth, and then with dry leaves to camouflage it. The dead body was dug out. There were injuries on the body and a hole in one eye. The Medical Officer (P- W. 9) who also accompanied conducted improvised post-mortem.
7. On 19th itself Yari told the witness and many others that while she and Tagum were together in the jungle eating a wild root celled 'Meng', Tayum appeared and was first seen by Tagum who at once shot him with a poisoned arrow at his eye and immediately Tayum fell down and then with his dao Tagum cut Tayum, and seeing this she cried why Tayum was killed at which Tagum threatened her too asking if she also wanted to die, and she ran away in fear to some distance. The witness further staled that when Tagum was apprehended on 19th evening and was told that the fact against him was known and so why he should not disclose, then Tagum wanted that Yari should be produced and accordingly when she was brought near him he asked her if she had told what had happened to which she replied in the affirmative and accordingly Tagum too told that he killed Tayum and that when his life was about to be extinct he had told Yari that she too should be the partner and so she cut the victim's penis.
8. In cross-examination the witness said that he was the M.L.A. of Toto Raga Constituency and Tayum's village fell within it; that he deposed what actually he was told by others; but what he stated was fact.
9. P. W. 2, Yari, examined on 25-6-77, was aged 26 years. She deposed that she did not know what for her husband was killed. Tagum wanted to marry her forcibly and refund her bride price, but the village council did not agree and so she went to settle in Hipu village and lived in Limu Toma's house, a relative of her husband. Tagum had sexual intercourses with her forcibly saying he wanted to marry her though he knew that she was Tayum's wife. While living with her brother at Hipu village she once came to Tamen where her husband was working as C. P. W. D. labourer to get rice for her children and spent the night in Bee Taluk's house with her husband. She, her child and her husband were sleeping in the night together, with the child in between and herself by the bamboo wall. While she was sleeping some one pushed through the bamboo wall a small slick and when she came out to see what it was, she found that it was already twilight and so she picked her rice and started for Hipu village. On the way she met Tagum in the Tusker garden on the road to Ziro and after a coitus he asked her to accompany him to which she replied that she had a suckling baby at home and if he died he would not be able to pay the price at which Tagum threatened her that he would kill her with arrow and throw her dead body into river and so in fear she accompanied him and proceeded through jungle in between Shimul village and Tamen and they reached PAA stream near Laa village, stayed four nights near that stream and one day they had gone to pick up chillies from a LUCH cultivation land and when the owner saw them they ran away hiding following the Gochem track. Next day they reached near Laa village and in one spot they saw a plant named 'Meng', of which root could be eaten. So Tagum started cutting it and when they were eating it, Tayum appeared and asked her to return with him. She was feeling for her children, and before she could speak anything, Tagum shot at her husband's eye with his arrow, then cut with dao at the back of her husband, neck and here and there right, and left. Seeing this ghastly scene she was terrified and began shouting. The dao used by Tagum was her husband's own dao which had been taken. down from his body when he himself fell down after he was hit by the arrow. When Tayum was first cut with the dac in the neck he rolled down and Tagum again went down. and cut right and left-When she shouting, Tagum -threatened to kill her too and so she ran away. She did not see whether her husband was dead or not because being terrified she ran away. Thus her husband was murdered by Tagum She did not run far and Tagum came before her and threatened that if she would not accompany him he would kill her and also said that he heard the sound of others coming with her husband and he would kill them too. in fear she followed him and travelled upwards and on the way they met Ratan Tat who at once caught hold of her by hand and asked her to go with him and argument started between Tat and Tagum when Laa Ekho appeared on the spot and she and Tagum were taken to Laa village and were kept in Laa Tat's house wherefrom they were taken to Tamen where she was kept in Nido Toshi's house while Tagum was kept tied in Ratan Techi's house. She did not disclose anything as she was afraid because Tagum had said that he would escape and kill some other persons. She said that when she and Tagum were brought to Tamen it was decided to settle the case but since her husband was not present it was postponed. She further disclosed that the death of her husband having been known she was asked by Nido Techi and Ratan Techi and she told them that Tagum had killed her husband and that her husband wanted to take her back and that Tagum first shot the arrow and then cut Tayum with a dao and that she did not instigate Tagum to kill her husband; and that then the Circle Officer came and took them both to Raga.
10. In cross-examination Yari said that her baby was about 3 months; that her husband was as young as the accused, being of her own height and fair; that she knew the accused Tagum when her first born was already carried on her back and since then she had illicit relationship with him; that her youngest child was sired by Tagum; that because she had children she did not tell Tagum that she loved him and wanted to marry him; that he did not invite Tagum, but the latter used to say that he would not leave her; that she liked her own husband more; that she would not have gone to live with the accused, but if her husband died a natural death she would have become Tagum's wife, but she would not be happy as she would be concerned with her children's welfare; that Tagum used to say that as he or his parents had no property so she did not like to marry him as he would not be able to pay the bride price; that she told Tagum that if he wanted to marry her as his wife he should pay the price of her children too; that if her husband died due to disease or any other cause she would have married Tagum; that she did not inform Tagum when she came to Tamen from Hipu to meet her husband; that she was in the jungle with Tagum for six days; that she wanted to go to the Circle Officer, Raga and report; that she told Tagum that if her baby died he would be responsible; that she did not instigate Tagum to kill her husband when he appeared before them; that after the death of her husband she was anxious that her husband's family might kill her; that her husband did not pull her but stood face to face with her at a distance of about 2 metres and asked her if she could go back with him or not; that there was no exchange of words between her husband and Tagum; and that her husband first did not take out his dao. She denied the suggestions that she held her husband by his hand and asked Tagum to cut him or that she fell her husband down on his dao which cut him as a result of which he died. She said that it could not be so as there was injury on the back of his neck; and denied that after her husband died she caught hold of Tagum and fled to the jungle. She also denied the suggestion that to save herself, though she killed her husband, she was not standing in the court to give evidence against Tagum.She said that if she was telling lie, Dani Poli would cut her.
11. Having tasted live's sad satiety, Tagum preferred to forsake Yari and in his statement under Section 313 Cr. P.C. on 24-8-77, when he was aged 22 years, he stated that it was Yari who used to come to him voluntarily; that he did not push any stick or meet Yari in Tamen; that he and Yari were hiding in Budi jungle about 3 Km. from Laa village eating 'Meng' when suddenly Yari told him that Tayum was approaching and the latter attacked him with his dao and hit his 'nara' which he was carrying on his back and he fell down as Tayum was stronger than him. Before this Yari attacked Tayum with his own dao. He (Tagum) did not shoot any arrow or injure Tayum with a dao. Yari cut him on the head and body and when he asked her why she was doing so she told that it was because she wanted to live with him (Tagum). As soon as Yari killed her husband she ran away ahead and he did not compel her in anything. He further said that he was very severely tied and con-fined in Ratan Techi's house at Tamen but at night Yari came and released him and being hungry he went to his own village, Kaa, for taking food and Yari promised to follow him. He also stated that Yari had buried Tayum there as soon as she murdered him. When asked about his confession he said that he was very badly beaten and did not know and he did not make any confession; that he left his dao and bow and arrows at his house. He also said that when Tayum was killed by Yari he began rolling down and in fact his body touched his (Tagum's) as a result he too was covered with blood; and that the exhumed dead body was that of Tayum; that the injuries on the body were caused by Yari and he died instantaneously. He identified the dao (M-Ext. l) to be his and said that it was not seized from him but someone was sent to bring it from his village Laa where he kept it with his bows and arrows. He said that once Yari had taken his small dao to kill her husband and the dao was still with him.
12. Thus there can be no doubt that only Yari and Tagum could say how Tayum was killed and buried. There was in fact no controversy as to the antecedent and surrounding facts and circumstances under which Tayum happened to be killed. There could also be no doubt that if Yari's evidence was relied and acted upon Tagum would be the murderer and the learned trial Court relied upon it. The question is whether it was justified in doing so, and what would be its effects?
13. Under Section 306 Cr. P.C. with a view to obtaining the evidence of any person supposed to have been directly or indirectly concerned in or privy to an offence to which that section applied, the specified court trying the offence, at any stage of the inquiry or trial, may lender a pardon to such person on condition of his making a full or true disclosure of the whole of the circumstances within his knowledge relative to the offence and to every other person concerned, whether as principal or abettor in the commission thereof. This section applies to any offence triable exclusively by the Court of Session and to any offence punishable with imprisonment which may extend to seven years or with a more severe sentence. We find that the conditions prescribed under the section have been fulfilled in respect of Yari in this case. But, how far her evidence can be relied on?
14. Under Section 114 of the Evidence Act the court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to facts of the particular case. Under its Illustration (b) the Court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit, unless he is corroborated in material particulars. Under Section 133 of the same Act an accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person; and a conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.
15. In Bhuboni Sahu v. The King AIR 1949 PC 257 : 50 Cri LJ 872 it has been observed by the Privy Council, commenting on Section 133 and Illustration (b) of Section 114 of the Evidence Act, that whilst it is not illegal to act on the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice, it is a rule of prudence so universally followed as to amount almost to a rule of law that it is unsafe to act on the evidence of an accomplice unless it is corroborated in material respects so as to implicate the. accused; and further that the evidence of one accomplice cannot be used to corroborate the evidence of another accomplice. The rule of prudence was based on the interpretation of the phrase 'corroborated in material particulars' in Illustration (b). Delivering the judgment of the Judicial Committee, Sir John Beaumont observes that the danger of acting on accomplice evidence is not merely that the accomplice is on his own admission a man of bad character, who took part in the offence and afterwards to save himself betrayed his former associates, and who had placed himself in a position in which he can hardly fail to have a strong bias in favour of the prosecution; the real danger is that he is telling a story which in its general outline is true, and it is easy for him to work into the story matter which is untrue.
16. In Hameshwar v. State of Rajasthan : 1952CriLJ547 pointing out the difficulty of formulating principles of the nature and extent of the corroboration required when it is not considered safe to dispense with it, reference was made to the following rules expounded by Lord Reading in Basker-ville's case (1916) 2 KB 658 at pp. 664 to 669.
It would be impossible, indeed it would be dangerous, to formulate the kind of evidence which should, or would be regarded as corroboration. Its nature and extent must necessarily vary with the circumstances of each case and also according to the particular circumstances of the offence charged. But to this extent the rules are clear.
First, it is not necessary that there should be independent confirmation of every material circumstance in the sense that the independent evidence in the case, apart from the testimony of the complainant or the accomplice, should in itself be sufficient to sustain conviction. As Lord Reading says:
Indeed, if it were required that the accomplice should be confirmed in every detail of the crime, his evidence would not be essential to the case, it, would be merely confirmatory of other and independent testimony.
All that is required is that there must be 'some additional evidence rendering it probable that the story of the accomplice (or complainants is true and that it is reasonably safe to act upon it.
Secondly, the independent evidence must not only make it safe to believe that the crime was committed but must in some way reasonably connect or tend to connect the accused with it by confirming in some material particular the testimony of the accomplice or complainant that the accused committed the crime. This does not mean that the corroboration as to identity must extend to all the circumstances necessary to identify the accused with the offence. Again, all that is necessary is that there should be independent evidence which will make it reasonably safe to believe witness's story that the accused was the one, or among those, who committed the offence. The reason for this part of the rule is that:
a man who has been guilty of a crime himself will always be able to relate the facts of the case, and if the confirmation be only on the truth of that history, without identifying the persons, that is really no corroboration at all ....It would not at all tend to show that the party accused participated in it.
Thirdly, the corroboration must come from independent sources and thus ordinarily the testimony of one accomplice would not be sufficient to corroborate that of another. But of course the circumstances may be such as to make it safe to dispense with the necessity of corroboration and in those special circumstances a conviction so based would not be illegal.
Fourthly, the corroboration need not be direct evidence that the accused committed the crime. It is sufficient if it is merely circumstantial evidence of his connection with the crime. Were it otherwise, 'many crimes which are usually committed between accomplices in secret, such as incest, offences with females' (or unnatural offences) 'could never be brought to justice'.
17. In Asar Ali v. State AIR 1954 Assam 27 : 1954 Cri LJ 40, the following observation in Bhola Nath v. Emperor AIR 1939 All 567 : 40 Cri LJ 856 was relied on:
The question whether the approver is or is not a reliable man and whether his statement should be taken into consideration or should be rejected depends on the circumstances of each case. Where the approver makes positively false statements in respect of a particular point and yet the evidence produced in the case goes to prove beyond any doubt that in other respects his evidence is trustworthy and is fully corroborated by very his evidence produced, it would be wrong in that case to suggest that because the approver has made a wrong statement on a particular point his whole evidence should be rejected.
Their Lordships repelled the contention that the whole of the statement of the approver must be discarded if some parts of it have been found to be unreliable.
18. In Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab : 1957CriLJ1014 it has been observed that it must never be forgotten that before the Court reaches the stage of considering the question of corroboration and its adequacy or otherwise, the first initial and essential question to consider is whether even as an accomplice the approver is a reliable witness. If the answer to this question is against the approver then there is an end of the matter, and no question as to whether his evidence is corroborated or not falls to be considered. In other words, the appreciation of an approver's evidence has to satisfy a double test. His evidence must show that he is a reliable witness, and that is a test which is common to all witnesses. If this test is satisfied the second test which still remains to be applied it that the approver's evidence must receive sufficient corroboration. This lest is special to the cases of weak or tainted evidence like that of the approver,
19. In Sheshanna Bhumanna Yadav v. State of Maharashtra : 1970CriLJ1158 , it has been held that the law with regard to appreciation of approver's evidence is based on the effect of Sections 133 and 114, Illustration (b) of the Evidence Act, namely, that an accomplice is competent to depose but as a rule of caution it will be unsafe to convict upon his testimony alone.
20. The primary meaning of accomplice is any party to the crime charged and someone who aids and abets the commission of crime. The nature of corroboration is that it is confirmatory evidence and it may consist of the evidence of second witness or of circumstances like the conduct of the person against whom it is required. Corroboration must connect or tend to connect the accused with the crime. When it is said that the corroborative evidence must implicate the accused in material particulars it means that it is not enough that a piece of evidence tends to confirm the truth of a part of the testimony to be corroborated. That evidence must confirm that part of the testimony which suggests that the crime was committed by the accused. The first test of reliability of approver and accomplice evidence is for the Court to be satisfied that there is nothing inherently impossible in evidence. After that conclusion is reached as to reliability, corroborator, is required. The rule as to corroboration is based on the reasoning that where must be sufficient corroborative evidence in material particulars to connect the accused with the crime.
21. In Dagdu v. State of Maharashtra : 1977CriLJ1206 reiterating the above principles, it has been observed (at p. 1211 of Cri LJ):
There is no antithesis between Section 133 and illustration (b) to Section 114 of the Evidence Act because the Illustration only says that the Court 'may' presume a certain state of affairs. It does not seek to raise a conclusive and irrebuttable presumption.
and that it is hazardous, as a matter of prudence, to proceed upon the evidence of a self-confessed criminal, who, in so far as an approver is concerned, has to testify in terms of the pardon tendered to him. The risk. involved in convicting an accused on the testimony of an accomplice, unless it is corroborated in material particulars, is so real and potent that what during the early development of law was felt to be a matter of prudence has been elevated by judicial experience into a requirement of rule of law. All the same, it is necessary to understand that what was hardened into a rule of law is not that the conviction is illegal if it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice but (hat the rule of corroboration must be present to the mind of the Judge and that corroboration may be dispensed with only if the peculiar circumstances of a case make it safe to dispense with it.
22. In Chonampara Chellappam v. Stale of Kerala : 1979CriLJ1335 it has been ruled that the law is well settled that the court looks with some amount of suspicion on the evidence of an accomplice witness which is a tainted evidence and even Section 133 of the Evidence Act clearly provides that the evidence of an accomplice witness should not be accepted unless corroborated. At the same time, it must be remembered that corroboration must be in respect to material particulars and not with respect to each and every item however minor or insignificant it may be. Actually the requirement of corroboration is a rule of prudence which the Courts have fallowed for satisfying the test of the reliability of an approver and has now been crystallized into a rule of law. It is equally well settled that one tainted evidence cannot corroborate another tainted evidence because if this is allowed to be done then the very necessity of corroboration is frustrated. Their Lordships referred to Piara Singh v. State of Punjab : 1969CriLJ1435 ; Mohd. Hussain Umar Kochra v. K.S. Dalipsinghji : 1970CriLJ9 and King v. Baskerville (1916) 2 KB 658, where it has been held (at p. 1337 of Cri LJ):
We hold that evidence in corroboration must be independent testimony which affects the accused by connecting or tending to connect him with the crime. In other words, it must be evidence which implicates him, that is, which confirms in some material particular not only the evidence that the crime has been committed, but also that the prisoner committed it...The corroboration need not be direct evidence that the accused committed the crime; it is sufficient if it is merely circumstantial evidence of his connection with the crime.
23. While applying the above tests and guidelines to the facts of the instant case, we also bear in mind that the woman who could deceive her husband may also be prone to deceive her paramour, and that craving for life is stronger than lust. We, however, find that Yari has made no secret of the dilemma she fell into because of illicit advances of Tagum. Her natural love towards her husband and children is manifest. She had to leave Laa village and settle in Hipu village wherefrom she went to her husband at Tamen to procure rice for her children and she was returning with that rice. She had been telling Tagum that if he wanted to buy her as his wife, he would be required to pay not only her bride price but also the price of her children, which Tagum was not capable of. Yet Tagum would not leave her. She told Tagum in the jungle that if she was not allowed to go and her suckling baby died he would be responsible for it. On Tayum's death she was worried, for her husband's relatives might punish her, and for her children. She made no secret of Tagum having perhaps sired her last child. Even the fact that when she was sleeping with her husband in His Taluk's house someone poked a small stick through a slit in the wall was disclosed by her. She gives a vivid description of what happened during the 6 days of her jungle life with Tagum and how they were apprehended, tied and confined. She could in no way be said to have conspired with Tagum to kill Tayurn, as it could not be expected that Tayum would at all appear before them in Budi jungle in the way he did. If she was bent on killing her husband it could have been earlier caused during her absence. The description of the murder given by her is naturally probable. Even Nido Techi (P. W. 1) apprehended that something of the kind might happen if Tayum happened to be face to face with Tagum; and accordingly, he advised Tayum himself not to go with the search party.
24. When Tagum escaped on 18 th night, then also the villagers apprehended that some murder might take place. Yari disclosed about the murder to the villagers on 19th itself. Considering all the above facts, we find Yari to be a reliable witness and thus satisfying the first test of an approver.
25. The next question is whether there is corroboration? P. W. 1, Nido Techi, P. W. 3 Laa Eka, P. W. 4 Ratan Tat, P. W. 5 Milli Techu, and P. W. 8 Laa Takar, father of Tagum all corroborate Yari'g statements about her illicit relationship with Tagum and the circumstances under which she happened to be with the latter in the Budi jungle. (After considering the evidence His Lordship proceeded). Thus Yari's evidence is corroborated by these witnesses and by circumstantial evidence. Her evidence that it was Tagum who killed Tayum is naturally probable, and it is also corroborated by medical evidence. P. W, 9. Dr. W. W. Lamare, who accompanied the Circle Officer, Raga to the place of occurrence and the dead body was exhumed and one relative of the deceased identified it to be that of Tayum. It was found buried with the head downwards and buttocks upwards and a cane was found tied around his neck. The body was found swollen, and semi decomposed with foul smell. The following injuries were found:
(a) One cut injury on the head in the occipital region about 4 inches long, the cranial bone was fractured and brain matter came out on recovering the body.
(b) The left eye was found to be completely decomposed.
(c) One cut injury on the right lateral side of the- neck which extended to the back of the neck, about 8 inches long and 4 inches deep.
(d) One cut injury on the right shoulder, length about 5 inches and depth about one inch.
(e) In the left hand the middle finger was severed at the proximal inter phalangal joint.
(f) The middle and ring fingers of the right hand were also severed at the meta carpo phalangal joint.
26-27. In his opinion Tayum died instantaneously of severe haemorrhage and shock due to the cut injuries. (After considering the evidence his Lordship proceeded).
28. The learned Counsel for the accused submits that there is some discrepancy between what Yari said before the Investigating Officer and what she said before the Court. Before the Investigating Officer she did not mention any shooting of arrow by Tagum at Tayum's eye while before court she did not mention about cutting of Tagum's para by Tayum. Curiously enough. Yari was not confronted with the above statement. Counsel also points out that no blood was seen on the dao and on the clothes of Tagum nor at the place of occurrence.
29. As Yari was not confronted with the statement the apparent discrepancy could not be explained. Even if it amounts to a discrepancy it is minor and will not justify overlooking the corroboration in other material particulars as was held in AIR 1954 Assam 27: 1954 Cri LJ 40 and : 1979CriLJ1335 . As regards absence of bloodstain on the dao it may have been cleaned by the accused before it was taken from him. As regards blood stains at the place of occurrence it is not clear whether on the summer days from 16th to 20th July there was any rainfall in that hilly area. Besides, Tayum rolled down hill; and his body was dragged to the place where it was buried. As regards the submission of absence of blood stain on. Tagum's clothes the accused himself stated 'when Tayum was killed by Yari he began rolling down and in fact his body touched mine as a result I too was covered with blood'. This showed that his clothes were blood-stained which could be natural in a murder of the kind. But it could not be so unless he was the murderer and not Yari who had no blood-stains on her clothes.
30. From the above facts we find that there is independent corroboration of Yari's evidence in material particulars so as to establish that Tayum was murdered, and to connect Tagum with the crime; and the learned trial court rightly relied on her evidence. (After discussing the evidence his Lordship proceeded).
31. In view of the foregoing discus-sons we find no infirmity in the judgment of conviction and sentence under S- 302 I.P.C. passed by the trial Court and we accordingly confirm it under Regulation 30 of the Assam Frontier (Administration of Justice) Regulation, 1945.
D. Pathak, Acting. C.J.
32. I agree.