Hari Swarup, J.
1. Jagdish Kumar Bajpai, Jagwansh Kumar Bajpai and Sheo Kumar Bajpai have filed the above appeal against their conviction under Section 201, I. P. C. and sentences of six months' R. I. and a fine of Rs. 100/- each. Along with the accused, one Vinod Kumar Bajpai was also tried. He has been acquitted,
2. The prosecution case in brief Was that Arvind Kumar murdered his wife Smt. Sashi Devi by strangulation in the night of 21st and 22nd of October, 1969. Arvind Kumar Bajpai is the brother of Jagwansh Kumar Bajpai and Sheo Kumar Bajpai all of whom are sons of Jagdish Kumar Bajpai. In the morning the accused and Vinod Kumar Bajpai and Arvind Kumar Bajpai took the body of Smt. Sashi Devi for cremation. The relations of Smt. Sashi Devi suspected a foul play. They intervened and opened the body and found that she had been murdered and had not died a natural death. The first information report was lodged of the occurrence at 9.40 a. m. by Srikant. The Investigating Officer took the body of Smt. Sashi Devi into his custody and sent it for autopsy. After preliminary investigation the accused were put up for trial. Arvind Kumar died before the trial.
3. Besides formal witnesses, the prosecution examined Shyam Krishan Pandey (P. W. 1), Anant Kumar (P. W. 2), Sarju (P. W. 17) and Shri Kant Pandey (P. W. 18), Sarju turned hostile. Shyam Krishan Pandey is her brother. Anant Ram is neighbour of these persons. In the night at about 4 a. m. according to the witnesses, a stranger came to the girl's house, which is also in Kanpur in which town the accused also lived, and informed Shyam Krishan Pandey that Sashi Devi had died. Shri Kant Pandey and Anant Kumar Pandey thereafter went to the house of accused and wanted to see the dead body but they were not allowed to see the dead body of Sashi Devi. They suspected foul play. Anant Kumar went back and informed the relations of Sashi Devi of what he suspect-ed. Thereafter the body was intercepted in the way to cremation ground.
4. The defence taken by Jagdish Kumar Bajpai, the father of the two accused was that in the morning he was informed by Arvind Kumar that his wife Sashi Devi had died probably of heart failure. The other two appellants pleaded not guilty along with Jagdish Kumar.
5. Learned Sessions Judge on a consideration of the evidence came to the conclusion that it was established that 'the accused Jagdish Kumar and Jagwansh Kumar Bajpai and Sheo Kumar knew or had reason to believe that Sashi Devi had been murdered and they caused disappearance of evidence of murder with the intention of screening the offender Arvind Kumar'. On this finding he convicted the three appellants. Vinod Kumar was acquitted on the Court's finding that he was not proved to have knowledge of murder.
6. Learned Counsel for the appellants has contended that on the evidence on record the finding of the Court below is erroneous, and that, in any case, no offence had been made out. On the other hand the learned Counsel for the State has pointed out various circumstances from which according to him the inference can be drawn that the appellants had knowledge of the offence. The circumstances that have been proved by the prosecution evidence are as follows:
(a) All the appellants along with Arvind Kumar and his wife Smt. Sashi Devi lived in the same house.
(b) There was motive for the murder. It was stated that Arvind Kumar's, younger brother had died leaving his widow. Arvind Kumar developed intimacy with her which his wife Sashi Devi disapproved and to which she raised objection. This used to give rise to dispute among them, and on occasions Arvind Kumar used to beat her. Suggestion is that this circumstance must have been known to all the residents in the house including the appellants.
(c) That a large number of abrasions were found by the doctor at the time of post-mortem examination on the body of Sashi Devi. So many injuries could not have been caused unless Sashi Devi had put up resistance before being strangulated to death. In the course of strangulation she must have made hue and cry and her voice should have been heard by the residents in the house including the appellants.
(d) Sri Kant Pandey was not permitted to uncover and to see the face of the deceased in the house while she was lying in the house of the appellants. This had been done on the pretext that it was inauspicious for the relation of a married woman to see her dead body.
(e) No specific reply was given to the enquiry about the cause of death by Jagdish Kumar Bajpai or anybody else.
(f) When in the way to cremation ground the relations wanted to uncover the face of the girl, the appellants, resisted, and when hue and cry was raised and the body had actually been uncovered, these appellants and Arvind Kumar tried to escape and run away, but were apprehended.
7. From the aforesaid circumstances the learned Counsel for the State, contends that it is reasonable to infer that the appellants had knowledge of the fact that Sashi Devi had been murdered. It may be possible to draw the inference that Jagwansh Kumar and Sheo Kumar had that knowledge because they had given no explanation in their statements as to how they learnt about the death of the woman, but the same inference is not possible to be drawn as against Jagdish Kumar, because he definitely stated in his statement under Section 342, Criminal P. C. that in the morning his son Arvind Kumar came to his room and knocked it, and when he opened the door. Arvind Kumar informed that Sashi Devi had died, and when asked how she had died, he stated, 'It appears that she had heart failure.' From the evidence on record it further became clear that the building was three storeyed and Arvind Kumar and his wife lived on the second floor. The body was later on brought to the first floor and was covered there. There is no evidence to show that Jagdish Kumar Bajpai had a room at such a place where screams of Sashi Devi, if any, at the time of assault, might have been audible. He was father-in-law of Sashi Devi and normally he could not have examined the body to discover the real cause of death. He may not have suspected murder. It is not possible to draw any positive conclusion from the circumstances of the case that Jagdish Kumar had knowledge of the fact that Sashi Devi had been murdered and had not died a natural death.
8. Section 201, I. P. C. runs as follows:
Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed caused any evidence of the commission of that offence to disappear, with the intention of screening the offender from legal punishment, or with that intention gives any information respecting the offence which he knows or believes to be false, shall, if the offence which he knows or believes to have been committed is punishable with death, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine....
As the dead body , of Sashi Devi could have provided best evidence of the offence of her murder, the act of making it disappear would amount to an offence under Section 201, I. P. C. But in the present case, before the body could be caused to disappear, it was intercepted and the commission of the offence under Section 201 was prevented. Hence, even if the appellants were deemed to have knowledge of the offence, they will not be liable to be convicted under Section 201, I. P, C. for causing any evidence of the offence to disappear.
9. The learned Assistant Government Advocate, however, contended that the appellant will be guilty, if not by reason of causing the evidence to disappear, then by reason of their giving false information respecting the offence. There is no evidence, however, that Jaswant Kumar or Ashok Kumar appellants gave any false information about the offence, hence they cannot be convicted.
10. As regards Jagdish Kumar as discussed above, it is not possible to hold that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had knowledge of the offence or had reason to believe that the offence had been committed. Further the charge-sheet had been framed only about causing the disappearance of evidence by trying to cremate the body. The charge does not indicate that any of the appellant was being tried for giving false information of a crime. Under Section 342, I. P. C. when the accused were examined no such question was put to them. The evidence is also not sufficient for holding that Jagdish Kumar gave any information which was false to his knowledge. The only evidence which the learned Counsel for the State has been able to point out is the statement of Shrikant Pandey (P. W. 8) to the effect that when he enquired from Jagdish Kumar the cause of death, he stated that she died suddenly, and when Shrikant Pandey said that a few days ago she was quite well and asked how could she die so suddenly, Jagdish Kumar gave no answer. It is thus a case of refusing to give correct information and not a case of giving false information, Hence, in any view of the matter, none of the appellants can be convicted under Section 201, I. P. C.
11. In the result, the appeal is allowed, conviction of the appellants under Section 201, I. P. C. and the sentences awarded to them are set aside and they are acquitted of the charge. Their bail bonds are discharged. They need not surrender.