1. Ramprasad Rajput of Tillage Chhidgaon in Harda tahsil has been convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge, Hosbangabad, under Section 302, Penal Code, of the murder of a woman Mt. Rewa and has been sentenced to death. There was also a charge of robbery against him under 6, 892, Penal Code, in respect of Mt. Bewa's ornaments for which offence also he has been convicted and sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment. He baa appealed from his convictions and there is also a reference before us for confirmation of the sentence of death.
2. Mt. Rewa was the wife of one Laxman who is an adopted son of Mt. Punia (p. W, 5) of village Chhidgaon. They all lived in the house of Mt. Punia. The accused Ramprasad was in the service of the family as an agricultural servant some years ago and during that time criminal intimacy developed between the accused and Mt. Rewa. According to the evidence of M6. Punia, Mt. Rewa due to this intimacy favoured the accused and used to give him grain and money from the house stealthily. When these things came to notice, the accused was dismissed from service. He however continued the intrigue and occasionally visited the house to meet Mt. Rewa and she continued the practice of giving doles to the accused.
3. On 4th September 1947 Mt. Rewa left the house at about 10 A. M. to go to the family field for weeding. When she did riot return by the evening, inquiries were started. She sometimes used to go away to her mother's house at Harda and it was thought that she may have gone away to Harda. Laxman was not in the village he having gone to Harda two days previously. That day in the morning before 'Mt. Rewa left for the field, the accused had called at the house and had sat with her and talked with her. Mt. Punia therefore thought that the accused might have some information of Mt. Rewa's design if she had decided to go away to Harda. She accordingly went in the night to the accused to inquire from him if he knew anything about Rewa's whereabouts. The accused replied that he did not know and when Mt. Punia proposed t that he should go with her servant to Harda in search of Mt. Rewa, the accused declined to accompany the servant also on the pretext that his lantern was out' of order. Mt. Punia sent her servant Hari to Harda. Mt. Rewa was not of course found at Harda, and the servant returned with Laxman from Harda on 6th September 1947.
4. But before the servant returned, Mangilal (P. W. 4) had noticed the dead body of Mf. Rewa lying in a pool of water in the bed of Chhotanala as he happened to go to the nala after his cattle. Since ho was aware that Mt. Rewa was missing since two days previously, he gave the information in the village. Hasan AH (P. W, 4), the mukaddamgumasta then went to the nala with the kotwars, Mfc. Punia and other men of the village and the dead body was at once identified as of Mt. Rewa, Mt. Punia had known the ornaments which Mt. Rewa used to have on her person and which were on her when she left the house on 4th September 1947 to go to the field, Those ornaments were missing from the corpse. It wag also seen that the feet of Mt. Rewa had been severed from the legs above the ankles and this was thought to have been done to facilitate removal of the silver kadas which had been on her legs, Mt, Puma described the other ornaments which Rewa had on her person at the time of her going from the house, They were two silver Akadyas or Bakad Belyas and a silver Tagli which she wore round her neck and silver churaa 8 in number which she wore on her arms. All these were missing. She had ear-rings also in the lobes of her ears but one ear-ring on the left ear was still on the corpse and only that on the right ear was missing.
5. Brijlal Kotwar (P. W, 13) was sent by the mukaddam Hasanali to the police station with a written report and at the police station first information report Ex, P-4, was taken from Brijlal on 6th September 1947 at 6-45 P. M. In thiS loss of the ornaments which the woman used to put on has been mentioned. The Station Officer K, R. Dhote (p. w, 22) went immediately to the village and held an inquest on 7th September 1947, in the morning. Exhibit P-9 is the inquest report. This mentions that the dead body was in a state of advanced decomposition and the skin was peeling off, The panehas had noticed that besides the cutting off of the feet, there were other injuries also on the dead body. Two incised injuries have been mentioned in this report as being visible on the neck on both sides. The wounds on the right side have been noticed as being particularly deep and the neck being thereby half severed, Another incised injury two incheap deep was noticed on the left wrist. It is also mentioned that round the neck there was a bela rope i. e, accord made out of a creeper which appeared to be put on the neck in the form of a noose. The report Ex. P-9 has been proved by the evidence of Hasan Ali (p. W. 9), Umarao Singh (p. w. 15) and Station House Officer K. R. Dhote (p. w. 22).
6. After the inquest the dead body was sent to SeoniMalwa for post mortem examination. This examination was performed by Dr. Ganguli (P, W. 6), Assistant Medical Officer in charge of the hospital there. He examined the dead body at about 5-30 p, M. the same day and he has re-corded the post mortem report ex. P-l. In this he has stated that though in the information furnished by the police there was mention of the injuries on the dead body and of the bela rope being round the neck, he did not find any cord round the neck and no injuries could be detected.
Dr. Ganguli has stated that he found the body in an advanced state of putrefaction and in the places where the incised wounds were alleged to have been seen by the police on the neck, the Wrist and the head, as in most other places the soft tissues had been eaten up by maggots and maggots big and small were still crawling in places of those injuries. He could not, therefore, record any opinion about the alleged injuries nor about the cause of death. In his evidence before the Court he has also stated that as part of the post mortem examination he had opened the abdomen and cut out the organs, heArticle liver and lungs. These were replaced in their positions and the body was then stitched up. In the post mortem report he had recorded that he had found the skull and vertebrae healthy but brain was decomposed and in somiliquid stage. Before the Sessions Court he has .added that 'he had sawed the skull and had found the brain in the semi liquid condition after removing the scalp.'
7. Dr. Ganguli sent his report to the police and the corpse was handed over to the relatives of the deceased who carried out its burial. Mt. Punia (p. W. 6) has given evidence that she arranged for the burial and was present in the graveyard at the time it was carried out. The report of Dr. Ganguli did not appear to the police to be satisfactory. The police started querying him. His replies are given in Ex. P-2, These also were not considered to be satisfactory. He in fact reiterated what he had already recorded in the post mortem report. The Additional District Magistrate was then movied by the police for exhumation of the dead body and its re-examination by another medical officer.
8. Exhumation was permitted and this was carried out under the supervision of Dt. R. M. Golwalkar (p. w. 10), the Assistant Surgeon in charge of the Harda Hospital who was sent to SeoniMalwa for this purpose. He was also charged with the examination of the dead body after it was exhumed. He did this on 7th October 1947, exactly one month after the burial had taken place. Dr. Golwalkar has recorded a detailed report about this exhumation and examination which is Ex. P 8. The contents of this have been proved by him by his evidence as P. W. 10, In the report he has recorded that 5 persons whom he has named who were said to have taken part in the burial had identified the grave of Mt. Rewa and that the bed-sheets (Godadees) and a piece of cloth which had belonged to the deceased and had been covering the dead body before burial were found lying over the grave and that those five persons and Mt. Punia had identified those clothes also as belonging to Mt. Rewa. In his evidence before the committing Court, Ex. P-29, Dr. Golwalkar stated that the exact spot of the burial was recognised by the five persons who had buried the body and he gave their names. He also stated that two covering bed-sheets (Godadees) and one piece of cloth were still lying by the side of the grave when he exhumed it and the above named persons and Puma identified them as belonging to the deceased.
9. Dr. Golwalkar in his examination of the body recorded in the report (Ex. P-8) which he has proved by his evidence Ex. p-29 in the committal Court and in his evidence as P. W. 10 found as was expected that the flesh was eaten up in several places and the face had altogether disappeared. The two feet were severed from the legs which of course was the condition in which Rewa's body had been buried. He found that the head also was completely separated from the trunk but the skull was intact. He has described some incised wounds which he noticed on the corpse. He found that the vertebral arch of the 7th cervical vertebrae showed chopping off in triangular area of 1/2', 1/2' 1/2' sides and he has given his opinion that this injury to the vertebrae may be due to the woman having been chopped with an axe and that the injury on that part was likely to be fatal. He has also stated that the cutting of the arteries on the severance of the legs as also other injuries which he noticed on the body were likely to be fatal. About the skull he has mentioned that he found it intact. Ha could not of course give any opinion whether the injuries which he had detected were ante mortem or post mortem.
10. Meanwhile after the inquest the police proceeded with the investigation on the theory that the woman had been done to death by violence apparently by striking her down with an axe with the object of robbing her of her ornaments. It appears that suspicion was soon directed towards the accused because it appear, ed from the statement of Mt. Puma that before Mt. Rewa had left the house the accused had called on her and talked to her and a man Attar (P. W. 16) had stated that when Mt. Rewa had gone out of the house at 10 A. M. he had seen the accused meeting her in a lane in the basti and talking to her. He had seen them together in this way at a distance of 100 paces from him. This was the last time that Rewa was seen alive by any one in the village.
11. The accused was therefore questioned and on his information certain ornaments belonging to the deceased were traced out. It was found that on fifth September 1947 the accused had pawned the pair of Bankad Belyas, Article A, belonging to the deceased with Hazarilal (P.W. 7) of Timarni. One chura belonging to the deceased was found on a shelf in the house of the accused and the remaining ornaments which were said to be missing from the person of the deceased were kept buried by the accused on the mendh of his field (vide evidence of Umraosingh P. w 16). From the person of the accused his dhoti and shirt were seized because some bloodstains were observed on them, An axe was also seized from the house of the accused.
12. We feel no manner of doubt on the evidence that Mt. Rewa met with a violent death and that she was killed on 4th September 1947. (Their Lordships discussed the medical reports' of Dr, Ganguli (P. W. 6) and Dr. Golwalkar (P. W. 10) and held that Dr. Ganguli was careless in his post mortem examination. They also gave theii finding that what was exhumed was the dead body o Mt. Rewa. They accepted Dr. Golwalkar's description of the injuries which he had noticed and his opinion as to their nature. Their Lordships then proceeded.)
13. If the evidence of Dr. Golwalkar can be-accepted and we see no reason to doubt or discredit his evidence then it is proved beyond doubt that Mt. Rewa was killed by dealing her blows with a sharp heavy weapon on the neck. It is only in this way that her death on the same day after she left the house in perfect health can be accounted for. The injuries on the left wrist and severance of feet may have been effected after she was already killed and it is not a case of her being killed by chopping off of the feet.
14. In fact the accused did not question the fact of Mt. Rewa having been murdered. All that he stated on the point of her death when ho was questioned before the Committing Magistrate and in the Sessions Court was that he did not know how she came to be killed. We find that Mt. Rewa was killed in the circumstances which would bring the offence of the person who killed her within the definition of murder. The real point is whether the appellant has been proved to have committed the murder. The circumstances which have been relied on to bring home this charge to the accused are as folio we : i) That the deceased and the accused ware last seen together; (ii) one man Mangilal (P. W. l) had seen the accused on 4th September 1947 near the spot where the dead body was later found on 6th September 1947; (iii) discovery of the ornaments belonging to the deceased by the accused and his possession of those ornaments; (iv) bloodstains found on the dhoti and the shirt, Arts, o and p which were seized from the person of the accused after this crime.
15. The accused has not disputed that the ornaments of the deceased were in his possession and that he discovered them but as to this the defence which he adopted was that Mt. Rewa. had herself given those ornaments to him. She was in criminal intimacy with him and was planning to run away with him to Harda and for securing necessary amount which would be required for the expenses in connection with such elopement she bad handed over those ornaments to him about 4 or s days before she left her house on 11th September 1947. It is significant that this defence was adopted by him for the first time in the Sessions Court. Before the Committing Magistrate he was not even prepared to admit that there was any criminal intimacy between him and Rewa, and about the possession of the ornaments he offered no explanation though he admitted that he had pledged her BanKad Belyas with Hazarilal and had also concealed the remaining ornaments by burying them on the mendh of his field. When he was asked whether all those ornaments belonged to Mt. Rewa he stated that he did not know.
16. That the accused was seen by Attar (P. W. 16) in the company of the deceased on 4th September 1947 after she left her house may be believed. The witness saya that the accused met her in one lane in the basti and he bad some conversation with her. He saw this from a distance of about 100 paces. It is pointed out that the spot where they were thus seen together would be at a distance of nearly 3000 feet from the place where the dead body was found on 6th September, and it is argued that the circumstance of the accused being with Mt. Rewa at such a long distance would not be of help for considering that he must be the person who killed her, This was the time when the deceased was last seen alive and at that time she was in the company of the accused. This is a material circumstance though we think that if it were the only circumstance to be considered in the case it should not have been of much help in fixing the guilt on the accused. In the present case we have to consider it along with other circumstances. (Their Lordships considered some evidence and proceeded.)
17. The possession of the ornaments by the accused soon after her death is undoubtedly a very strong piece of evidence against the accused. We do not think that the accused's explanation of possession of these ornaments is in the least probable. (After discussing the evidence on this matter, their Lordships continued.)
18. At the time when the accused gave information about these ornaments and discovered them he is said to have made statements to the police officer which are Exs. P-16 and P-18. The accused admits having made those statements but the argument on his behalf is that those statements are not 'admissible under Section 27, Evidence Act. Belying on the case of Mt. Jamunia v. King.Empmrr I.L. R. (1986) Nag. 78 : A.I.R. 1936 Nag. 200 : 37 Cri. L.J. 1047 it is urged that it was necessary to show that these ornaments were connected with the Crime of murder of the deceased, the connection being shown by some such circumstance as presence of blood on the ornaments and only when such connection could be established those statements leading to the discovery of the ornaments would have been admissible under Section 27, Evidence Act. This is the view which has been taken in that case about the application of B. 27, Evidence Act, and we are in agreement with it.
19. Mere proof that the ornaments discovered had been on the person of the deceased woman before her death would not necessarily mean that they were connected with the crime of murder, If however bloodstains would be detected on these ornaments, presence of blood could sufficiently indicate their connection with the murder and so any statement made leading to their discovery would become admissible under Section 27, Evidence Act.
20. There was suspicion of bloodstains on two of the ornaments discovered by the accused, viz., the Bankad Belyas Article A which had been pledged with Hazarilal and the chura Article w, which the accused produced from his house. About Bankad Belyas the Chemical Examiner in his report (Ex. P. 26) had stated that he did not examine them as stains were few and minute and were likely to be used up in the preliminary examination in the laboratory. He therefore sent them on to the Imperial Serologist. The Serologist's report is Ex, P-81 and it says that the Bankad Belyas were bloodstained but the blood stains were disintegrated and their origin could not be determined. The chuda Article W was not sent for examination at all. We therefore have no proof that any of these ornaments discovered by the accused had any stains of human blood from which it could be inferred that they were connected with the offence of murder.
21. One of the ornaments Tagli Article B which the deceased had worn round her neck and which the accused discovered from his field was found to have two cut marks which the prosecution alleged had been received on the ornaments in the act of killing the woman with the axe. We do not know precisely the position of the injuries which the deceased had received on her neck and whether they were in the part of the neck corresponding to these cut marks on the ornament. In the absence of any proof we cannot find that the cut marks on Article B connect it with the murder.
22. Another article discovered by the accused was an axe Article N. About this, the Chemical Examiner's report is that it gave benzidine test foe blood but the presence of blood on it could not be confirmed speetroscopically and the Imperial Serologist has stated that the axe was not found bloodstained. The statements of the accused Exs. P-16 and p. 18 which are alleged to have been made prior to the discovery of the ornaments and the axe cannot be used against him under Section 27, Evidence Act.
23. There is no bar however to the fact of discovery of and the possession of the deceased's ornaments by the accused being used against him. In Kallam Narayana v. King.Emperor 56 Mad. 231 : A.I.R. 1933 Mad. 233 : 34 Cri. L.J. 48 it has been held that under Section 114, Evidence Act, the Court is entitled, if it appears reasonable in all the circumstances of the case, to draw an inference that an accused person committed a murder or took part in its commission, from the facts that he is found in posses. sion of property proved to have been in the possession of the murdered person at the time of the murder or is able to point out the place where such property is concealed and admits having concealed it there and that he fails to give any explanation of his possession of the property which can reasonably be accepted.
24. We have therefore to consider the explanation which the accused has offered about the possession of these ornaments which he now admits had belonged to Mt. Rewa, (Their Lord-ships considered the explanation offered by the accused that the ornaments were given to him by Mt. Rewa herself about 4 days before her disappearance and held that it could not be believed. Their Lordships then continued,)
25. The accused's possession of the ornaments belonging to the deceased woman soon after her murder is material evidence against the accused not only on the charge of robbery but also on the charge of murder. In Emperor v. Ghintamoni Shahu A.I.R. 1930 cal. 879 : 31 Cri. L.J. 1229 Pearson and Jack JJ. have made the following observations:
The learned Judge In his charge has rightly referred to the prinoiple cited in Emperor v. Neamatullah 17 C.W.N. 1077 : 14 Cri. L.J. 556 that the possession of stolen goods recently after the loss of them may be indicative not merely of the offence of larceny, or of receiving with guilty knowledge, but of any other more aggravated crime which has been connected with theft; this particular fact of presumption commonly forms also a material element of evidence in cases of murder, which special application of it has often been emphatically recognized. The presumption would be particularly applicable where, as in the present case, there is satisfactory proof that the necklace was habitually worn by the deceased and that she was actually seen to be wearing it on the evening be/ore the murder.
These observations have our respectful concurlence and they are quite apposite to the facts proved in this case.
26. Another circumstance which _ has been proved against the accused is the presence of bloodstains on his dhoti and shirt, Arts, o and p. He has admitted that they were seized from him and that they belonged to him. About these the Chemical Examiner's report, Ex. p 26, is that minute bloodstains were detected on these articles and the Imperial Serologist's report, Ex. P-31, states that they are stained with human blood. The accused offered no explanation of bloodstains on these garments. They are no doubt described by the Chemical Examiner as minute and if the bloodstains were the only circumstantial evidence to be considered against the accused their minuteness would have rendered this evidence inconclusive. But here we have to consider this piece of evidence as one of the several circumstances proved against the accused and the cumulative effect of them all.
27. The accused's version that Mt. Rewa had been murdered by her other relatives is so violently absurd that we have no hesitation in rejecting it. We find here one thing which has been proved beyond doubt, namely that Mt. Rewa had the ornaments on her person when she left the house and when she was last seen alive and that the circumstances in which she was found killed, severance of her feet and disappearance of her ornaments, show that she was murdered for the sake of her ornaments. The accused was the person with whom she had been last seen alive though it was at a spot a considerable distance away from the stop where she was killed. All the ornaments which were missing from her person have been traced out to be in possession of the accused and were with him soon after 4th September 1947 on which she must have been killed. The explanation offered by him about the possession of the ornaments has been found not to be acceptable, The stains of human blood though minute have been found on his dhoti and shirt and he has not been able to give any satisfactory explanation. When all these circumstances are considered together we can only come to this conclusion that the accused was the person who committed the murder of Mt. Rewa and removed the ornaments from her body.
28. We accordingly uphold the convictions of the accused both under Sections 302 and 892, Penal Code, This was a brutal murder for the sake of ornaments of a woman who due to love intrigue had been confiding in the accused. There is absolutely no extenuating circumstance and the penalties imposed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge are quite proper. We accordingly confirm the sentences including the death sentence and dismiss the appeal.