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State of M.P. Vs. Dhannalal Moruji - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1961CriLJ238
AppellantState of M.P.
RespondentDhannalal Moruji
Cases ReferredMt. Gajrani v. Emperor
Excerpt:
- madhya pradesh nagar tatha gram nivesh adhiniyam (23 of 1973)section 50(4) proviso (as inserted by act of 2004): [dipak misra, krishna kumar lahoti & rajendra menon, jj] preparation of town development scheme proviso prescribing time limit held, object of amendment is to remove hardship caused to citizens and to provide time limit to consider objections and suggestion and to provide a deeming clause so that the authority would act in quite promptitude. proviso unequivocal, categorical and unambiguous and does not permit any other kind of construction but a singular one. section 50 (4) proviso (as inserted by act of 2004): [dipak misra, krishn kumar lahoti & rajendra menon, jj] preparation of town development scheme held, proviso is not retrospective. scheme already finalised will.....h.r. krishnan, j.1. this is an appeal by the state of madhya pradesh from the order of the fifth additional sessions judge, indore, dated 29-7-1959, acquitting the respondent dhannalal lorwal of charges under sections 302, 307, 328, i.p.c. the case depended purely on circumstantial evidence and is of considerable interest on account of the very nature of the offence, which was nothing short of an attempted mass murder by arsenic poisoning, certainly committed by somebody; intrinsic limitations of handwriting examination, however expert and conscientious the examiner and, in general the quantum of corroborating circumstantial evidence necessary to justify the conviction of any person on account of identity sought to by established by evidence of handwriting.2. the non-controversial facts.....
Judgment:

H.R. Krishnan, J.

1. This is an appeal by the State of Madhya Pradesh from the order of the Fifth Additional Sessions Judge, Indore, dated 29-7-1959, acquitting the respondent Dhannalal Lorwal of charges under Sections 302, 307, 328, I.P.C. The case depended purely on circumstantial evidence and is of considerable interest on account of the very nature of the offence, which was nothing short of an attempted mass murder by arsenic poisoning, certainly committed by somebody; intrinsic limitations of handwriting examination, however expert and conscientious the examiner and, in general the quantum of corroborating circumstantial evidence necessary to justify the conviction of any person on account of identity sought to by established by evidence of handwriting.

2. The non-controversial facts of the case are that a most shocking attempt at mass murder by arsenic poisoning took place on the morning of 7th December 1958 in one of the sections of the Malwa Mills - a well known industrial establishment at Indore, The practice in that section - as possibly in other sections of the mill also - was for the employees on the morning of the first working day of each week which would usually be Monday to perform pooja of some religious pictures and to share the prasaad usually some sweets.

This seems to be going on for some time. Apparently it was in the choice of the individual workers in that section to foot the bill for the sweets - especially of the senior and the better paid ones. On that morning it seems to have been the turn of one Tularam, an employee who had recently got a sort of promotion to the position of 'head cut-looker'. He came at the usual hour but one other employee had come earlier, probably to attend to some work left over from the previous evening.

When Tularam came let us say round about 7-0 a.m. he found on his table quite a large number of packets containing pedas most of them name-labelled on the wrappings, which had been torn out of a recent copy of a Diwali number brought out by an Indore newspaper. In addition, some more quantity had been thrown in for distribution to those who had been for gotten in the name labels and who might have come in temporarily as badlis.

There was a covering letter in Hindi ostensibly written and signed by one Jagrupsingh Sengar, a real person who had, however, left employment in that section some years before and had settled elsewhere in the State. The letter itself was a straightforward one congratulating: Tularam on his promotion enquiring about other employees and offering those persons the sweets which the writer had got from Ujjain. It even apologised that some of the pedas had got broken by the inevitable jolting when the stuff was being brought by bus.

The writer said that much as he would have liked to meet Tularam and the other brothers, he had to leave in a hurry to see some of his relations. It ended in one salutation to all and with' further inquiries about another of the brothers Very naturally Tularam. was greatly impressed and' called the other employees, he got the packets distributed by names to those who had been given packets, others either shared out of the named packets or took a portion of the general lot.

3. Things went on happily for an hour or so, till one by one all the employees began to show symptoms, some vomitting and purging and others feeling depressed and all of them with a feeling that there was some thing seriously wrong. Considering the very generality of the reaction, it did not take them long to find out that this had something to do with the sweets. Of the eaters, one Halu succumbed earliest. At 10 O'clock or so, he began to purge and vomit violently and by 11-30 he was dead.

In the interval others had started on a similar way. On the advice of the mill doctor, the whole lot of them at least 25 in number as the names have been given, were removed in an ambulance to the M, Y. Hospital at Indore itsel. Possibly, there were some more who also went to the hospital but of whom no record has been kept. Be that as it may, the doctors at the hospital who at the first instance began to treat the patients for gastric enteritis soon found that it was a case of serious arsenic poisoning. Meanwhile yet another man named Shrinarayan also died.

But having seized on the true nature of the illness, the doctors could save the 23 others; but only after they had suffered very serious pain and had been in the hospital as in-Patients for varying terms ranging from 3 to 11 days. It is of interest to note even at this place that the respondent who was an employee of the mill, behaved as if he also shared the symptoms, went in the ambulance to the hospital, and also stayed there for some days. But there is nothing in the evidence to show either that he was really poisoned or that he was only acting a part so as to kill suspicion.

4. The doctors and the Chemical Analyser have given evidence of a conclusive nature, that the sweets in most of the packets, and the loose pieces as well, contained arsenic The quantity has not been definitely proved. It might have varied widely as the solid had been ground into the sweets, The reaction of the eaters also varied in intensity. Certainly, arsenic had been put in most if not in alt the pedas.

This excludes any accidental mishap and shows that somebody had done this deliberately intending that the eaters should suffer the effects of poisoning. What he does not seem to have reckoned is that his method would not distribute the poison uniformly and further that different persons would have reacted at different rates. The moment the first one or two succumbed, there would be a panic and those tough enough to withstand the first shock would go for treatment and thereby escape the fate that the poisoner had intended for them. This is exactly what happened-

5. A crime like this is the most difficult one to investigate and for some time nothing particular seems to have turned up. No doubt Jagrupsingh Sengar P, W. 26 was sent for from his place in district Jalon of Uttar Pradesh and shown the letter and the wrappers; he asserted that he knew nothing about it and had not either come to Indore or planted the poisoned sweets. There has been examination of the handwriting but Jagrup's statement had to be admitted.

Then the investigation brought out, that) obscure things had been happening in a co-operative credit society run in that section of the Malwa Mills. Obscure as they are, these are by no means unusual in co-operative societies. Small groups were formed, each member supporting the other in turn as surety for loans. It was alleged in this connection that the present respondent who was one of the employees had helped some men to borrow loans on finger prints given by himself but described as belonging to others either as borrowers or as sureties.

They were repayable in instalments, some of -which instalments were to begin soon after this incident. Then a theory commended itself that the respondent had a motive to get rid of as many as possible of those whom he had impersonated, that the forgeries might not be detected when these instalments were claimed and refused by the ostensible borrowers or sureties.

Still it is not clear how even the death of the ostensible borrower or surety would prevent detection, as the legal representatives could pursue it and the borrowers and sureties being employees, any number of genuine finger prints -would be available in the muster roll of the mills. Anyway, on this theory and possibly on other materials, the respondent was arrested on charge of murder by poison and attempted murder of and administering a stupifying drug to 23 others.

6. On 4-1-1959, that is, about a month after the incident, the respondent was taken probably from the hospital where he had to be left for treatment for some ailment unconnected with the poisoning) to Bohra Bazaar which is a mohalla in Indore city. It is said, there he pointed out a house of a hakimji called Akbarali. As it was midnight, the hakim had to be called out of bed and was asked by the police whether he knew the respondent.

He replied that he knew the respondent to be a neta, which in a sense is correct as his own statement is to the effect that he was a leader, and had done his pilgrimage to Russia, and on his return had rivalry in leadership with certain people who according to him engineered the case. Anyway Akbarali's statement further is that he had sold four tolas of white arsenic to this neta about a month before that night, and that he had another quantity left over, of about 38 tolas which he made over to the police.

The stuff he gave to the police was of course white arsenic. So far there is no difficulty and we would only hava to assess the evidence of the hakim and whether his word should carry any weight in the circumstances of the case; but the prosecution account is that the hakim's shop was 'discovered' directly as a result of the information given by the accused and part of the statement to the effect 'that he bought four tolas of arsenic from hakim Akbar AH' should be admitted in evidence.

The propriety of admitting this evidence will be considered in time; but it may be added here, that out of the alleged four tolas of arsenic nothing was recovered from the accused, and it is altogether impossible that this enormous quantity had been used in the sweets. The picture is of a grain or so in each of them and even if there had been 100 pieces and every one of them had it, the quantity would be a fraction of a tola.

7. Some more pieces of evidence were seriously alleged; one that a few days before the incident, the accused had bought a Diwali number of the newspaper 'Jagran', that is the same number though not necessarily the same copy, some sheets out of a copy of which had been used to wrap the sweets packets. Another piece suggested is that on the day previous to this incident, he was grinding something in a small mortar. Again, he is supposed to have said on one occasion that case was going to be started on a party basis,

8. At the request of the police, the accused respondent wrote two Hindi passages which are exhibits 113 and 115. They are no doubt in his handwriting; but two other papers ostensibly signed by him but in which neither the recital nor the signatures have been proved Exs. 114 and 116 were recovered from the mill office. All these four were treated as standards for comparison of handwriting. The Government handwriting expert was invited to compare the respondent's handwriting with those of the covering letter and name labels.

He did so, assuming that all the four were in the handwriting of the respondent, with the handwriting in Ex. P/1 the covering letter to Tularam, aud the various wrappers on which the names were written which have also been exhibited. He gave the opinion that all those writings that is, the latter group were those of the respondent and could be proved to be so in spite of the attempt at concealment.

9. As against this, the respondent denied everything, He said that there were people ill-disposed towards him because he was leading a group of labourers against the leadership of another person and the latter was anxious to get him out of way. So, when a serious crime was Committed, they engineered things and got him into trouble,

10. The learned Sessions Judge was inclined to hold that the letters might have been in the handwriting of the appellant. He was also, inclined to hold that the person who had written the covering letter and the labels was the very person who had knowingly put arsenic in the sweets; but since the handwriting expert's evidence was insufficient by iteself and unreliable, he was not prepared to find definitely that it was the respondent.

Secondly, he held believing the hakim that the respondent had bought four tolas of arsenic shortly before the incident. Thirdly, he also believed that the respondent had something to do with the taking of loans on forged finger-prints; hut on the whole, he was not prepared to find in these circumstances that it was the respondent who had written the letter and had planted the sweets. Accordingly he acquitted him.

11. In appeal the learned Government Advocate has taken us through the oral evidence as well as through the various exhibits and has very ably argued, firstly, that the same person wrote Ex. P/l and the names on the labels as had written Exs, 113 and 115. No doubt the expert has treated and though wrongly, Exs, 114 and 116 also as standards; but it is possible to separate the opinion based on Exs. 113 and 115 alone; that goes to establish the identity of the writers, Exs. 113: and 115 were no doubt written by the respondent, and it follows that Ex. P/l the covering letter and the labels were also written by him. Secondly, it is urged that the arsenic was introduced in the sweets by the very person who wrote the letters and the labels.

Thirdly, even making allowance for the non conclusive nature of handwriting expert's evidence, the circumstances justify a conviction as there is other evidencc strengthening the expert evidence; for example, the learned Sessions Judge himself had believed that the respondent bought four tolas of arsenic from hakim Akbar Ali a day or two before the incident. The residue of the arsenic had not been recovered, but all the same it was for the accused to show what he had done with the arsenic and how he had disposed of it; ha has not shown it.

12. Again, the purchase of the Diwali number, the fact of the respondent grinding something, support, according to the Government Advocate in a small measure, the prosecution account that he had ground arsenic for introducing into these sweets. Above all, there is the motive. The respondent had been shown to be a party to certain bogus loans taken, from the cooperative society and as instalments were falling due, there was the likelihood of the whole thing coming out.

If the respondent had succeeded in getting rid of most of these persons, it would become impossible, and at all events very difficult. Finally, the obvious answer to the respondent having himself gone to the hospital is that he was not separately examined by the doctor and there are no objective data on, his himself having taken arsenic. It might after all be that not having taken the sweets, or having taken those without the poison, he was still pretending to suffer from those symptoms.

13. In an appeal against acquittal, the High Court should make a two line approach; proceeding on the factual findings of the lower court to see whether its conclusions are so perverse as to call for interference; secondly; to see, if the findings themselves are based on logic, and are not in themselves perverse. On the facts found, the Sessions Judge was not prepared to convict; here, in addition, some findings themselves do call for reconsideration.

Not that we would necessarily allow the appeal, if we accept all the factual findings of the learned Sessions Judge, but on the face of it, some of them though favourable pro tanto to the prosecution, are not sound. For example, the finding that the respondent had bought four tolas of arsenic from Hakim Akbar Ali. Neither does this so called discovery emerge from any information given by the respondent, nor can the evidence of Hakim Akbar Ali carry any conviction, as evidence.

14. On the former, the requirements are that a person in police custody should give information; this will most often be in the form of a statement. On behalf of the respondent, it is argued that the same statement was repeated before the panchas, having been already made once before the police officer so that even if a discovery was made as a consequence of the second statement, it cann,ot come under Section 27 of the Evidence Act because the statement to the police officer has not led to any discovery. It is unnecessary to examine the argument at any length because this is fallacious and arises out of a confusion between a statement on the one hand and information on the other.

Most often, they are used indiscriminately which is harmless as long as a basic distinction Is noted. But when it is not, confusion results. Information is actually the content or substance of a statement and may be the same in several statements which may substantially be repetitions. The discovery for the purposes of Section 27 need not be the direct consequence of this or that statement, but should be the direct consequence of this or that information. So, where the information is one and the same, it is immaterial if the statement is repeated. That is the position here. So the repetition as such does not affect the value of this information for what it is worth. 15. The real difficulty for the prosecution is that whether or not there was information, there is no discovery. It is unnecessary to give a gist of the case-law as it has taken a definite shape, and the earlier doubts and difficulties have been settled by a ruling of the Supreme Court. Firstly, the discovery should be of a palpable physical fact; secondy, it should be the finding of some thing which had been partly or wholly concealed and which might have not been found out, at least at that time, except as a consequence of the statement. When there is no concealment obviously there is no discovery.

Now, whatever the respondent stated to the officer, the 'discovery'' that was directly made as a direct consequence is the existence of the shop of Hakim Akbar Ali in Bohra Bazar. The box containing 38 tolas of arsenic was not discovered as a result of the information given by the respondent but was produced by the hakim himself on demand by the police, so that it is not directly connected with any information given by the accused.

Certainly, the discovery of the shop if one might so call it, or as for that matter, the discovery of Akbar Ali-is not a discovery at all. The shop was not kept underground. Nor was Akbar Ali in concealment. The police went and knocked his door at about midnight knowing his house which was in an open street in the city. In this connection the remarks made by the Allahabad High Court in Mt. Gajrani v. Emperor AIR 1933 All 394 are:

'It frequently happens that evidence of such actions by accused as pointing out various places is tendered to criminal Courts, but we consider that' the correct procedure is for the accused to be taken by a Magistrate and not by a police officer while these inquiries are being made'.

The point to note is that when the accused is taken round by the police and shows this or that place, there is really no discovery until the place is itself a palpably physical object which has been in full or partial concealment and would not have been remarked or seized or produced but for the information conveyed by the accused. Then and then alone does it come under Section 27. On the other hand, if it is merely a statement that the accused went to this or that place and got this or that article, then the statement would not be evidence unless made to a Magistrate. In the present case, what the accused said to the police officer is not admissible.

16. This leaves what Akbar Ali stated in this Court. One has only to read his evidence to see that he is of the type that can be truly described as a public menace, and is at all events an accomplice. He is giving a statement when the police pull him out of his bed at midnight and ask him about something which, on the face of it, was a highly improper, if not a definitely criminal, act on his part.

He is brazen enough to assert that he keeps large quantities of arsenic without any licence or control and sells it in any quantity to anybody who says that he wants it for preparing medicine without ever keeping a record of the sales or even knowing the name of the purchaser. Whether or not this sort of trade in poison is allowed by law, a person who does it is the very last witness to be believed in a case of murder by the very poison that he admittedly sells without any control Or caution.

In the present instance, he claims to have sold four tolas which is very large quantity simply because the accused looked like a neta or a political leader and said that he wanted to grind it and make some 'bhasma'. Soon after the sale, there was this happening which must inevitably have been a great local sensation at Indore. Yet this hakim who lives at Indore1 did not report to anybody that a few days earlier he had sold four tolas of arsenic to a person whom he could at least point out if he could not name. Looked at in any way, the statement given by Akbar Ali in Court is altogether untrustworthy.

17. About the purchase of the Diwali number of 'Jagran' and the supposed grinding, we need not waste much time except to note that; they are altogether of no evidentiary value. The special number must have been Sold in thousands or at least in hundreds, and some at least would have been about six weeks after the Diwali reached the wastepaper basket. The fact that the respondent had bought a copy and sheets of the same special number had been used to wrap the sweets need not at all be connected.

There was just one possibility, namely, of finding a mutilated copy of the Diwali number with the respondent missing the very pages which had been used to wrap the sweets. That at leas would have been something; but that is not the position here. No copy was recovered from the respondent. Nor can anybody attach the least; value to the fact that on the previous day, somebody saw the respondent grinding something in a mortar.

18. This takes us to the alleged motive. Motive is in any case not of much consequence if the evidence as such is either sufficiently strong to support conviction or altogether inconclusive. It may, however, be of some assistance in a small number of borderline cases. As will appear presently, this is not a borderline case; but a good deal of time and attention has been devoted to the alleged motive and it is worth examining it. The learned Sessions Judge himself thinks there was some motive.

19. There is a co-operative society of which the employees in this section are members. It is a credit society and as usual in hard times, there has been a scramble for loans. Every application for loan has to be supported by the offer of a surety. But the system here has been that by mutual suretying the total amount raised by a group can be a multiple of the solvency or the normal creditworthiness of the members of that group.

The allegation regarding the respondent is that he impersonated some borrowers or sureties giving his finger-prints, but describing them as those of other persons. The motive alleged is obscure, but it is perfectly understandable that the respondent played a part in the raising of bogus loans in the name of other persons; that could have been examined closely in a case for forgery. But that is not the present one. In the present; one, this has been adduced as possible motive.

The instalments for repayment were falling due soon in December. It is seriously alleged that the respondent had a motive to get rid of all the ostensible borrowers and sureties so that his doings might not come out. Frankly, I do not see much point in the motive. Whether the borrower or the surety is alive or dead, the claim would be opposed by himself or his legal representatives. If the borrower had not borrowed and the surety had not stood surety, then there would be a denial. This would lead to the examination of the finger-prints concerned by comparing them with standard ones.

Even if the borrower or the surety is dead, hundreds of undisputable standards would be available in the muster roll as these persons had been in the employment of the Malwa Mills and had been drawing their money against signed or fingermarked receipts week after week over considerable periods. So it would be too far-fetched for anybody to imagine that by butchering the lot of them, the forgery would not be detected. Moreover if We imagine that five or ten people were in the opinion of the respondent fit to be murdered, there was no point in trying to poison five to ten times as many persons; the larger the number the greater the possibility of many persons escaping,

20. The next point is whether the respondent himself apparently suffered all the symptoms of arsenic poisoning. No doubt the possibility of; his acting a drama is there. But there is really no evidence. In fact, going with the whole crowd in the ambulance to the hospital, there was certainly the danger of the bluff being called off by the doctors at that end. If it is likely that he ate some of the sweets, he could not have done it if he knew that there was poison.

Since the powdered arsenic was being worked into broken pedas, it was conceivable that a few pieces remained arsenic free, by plan or by chance; it is theoretically conceivable that the poisoner spotted the free ones, and picked them out when his turn came; but this should have required very exceptional nerve and would at the same time have evoked the suspicion of the other employees who were eating the pedas in their own turn. At all events, the learned Sessions Judge himself cannot be held to have acted perversely in taking the view, that the respondent himself ate the sweets and so he may not have been the person who had poisoned them.

21. Thus, on the whole, the allegation of motive and conduct and the general circumstances are not of any great help to the prosecution.

22. This leaves the evidence on the handwriting which at all events has been considered by the prosecution as the strongest line and the most important evidence. The theory is that the labels and the letter were written by the very person who had poisoned the sweets. I do not see why it should be so. He might have asked some other person, perfectly innocent of the intended poisoning to write for him. All that can be said is that the person who wrote the label, whether innocent or guilty, could know at whose instance they were being written and the sweets being sent. Even this would be a great thing because once the writer is spotted the sender of the sweets could be pursued. If he is himself the sender, then it is simplicity itself.

23. In principle the identity established by handwriting evidence is just as good or as poor as the identity established by any other evidence. If the handwritting expert's evidence in any particular case is sufficient to establish the identity of the offender, there is altogether nothing wrong in the Court basing its conviction on that alone. But the practical difficulty is that expert evidence on handwriting is of a class by itself and basically unlike other expert evidence, let us say on poisons or blood or fingerprint.

Even when it comes from the best and most conscientious of experts it does not carry that degree of absolute or relative certainty as the other types of expert evidence do. This is intrinsic. Expert evidence on handwriting, is only evidence of certain tendencies, and nothing more than general or average tendencies which can also be affected by the state of mind of the writer, hurry, self-consciousness, or desire to conceal, and the like.

This contrasts with the objective and impersonal nature of the criteria by which the nature of a poison, or the kind of the blood Or the characteristic of a fingerprint are established. In these, we are dealing with objective facts ascertainable by analysis, tests and even count under a microscope, which are independent of anybody's volition. Whether one wants to conceal himself, or is self conscious or in frightened, the blood will invariably be human blood of the particular group to which it belongs.

Similarly, the poison administered to somebody will answer to the same chemical tests, whatever the state of his mind, and the lines, loops, islands and slip shorts in a fingerprint will continue to be precisely the same, whatever may be the mental condition of the owner. Thus', however, difficult a particular problem regarding these things be, a competent and conscientious expert can bring out the facts and Place them before the Court.

With handwriting, however, there is no objective fact but only the tendencies in the manner of writing to be ascertained by enlarging the writing and piecing out the most common or frequent features. Being tendencies they are not invariable and there are always departures. The experts, however, would assert that the departures will be a minority, and by the large each writing will have certain predominant tendencies.

But the trouble is to separate the so called predominant or fundamental tendencies from the variations of a casual nature or ones brought about by self-consciousness, hurry or intention to conceal. Before giving an opinion the expert should be able to collect the tendencies in the standard handwriting, and an equally sufficient number of such tendencies in the disputed one in practice this often becomes a very difficult problem indeed.

24. In the present instance, the position is further complicated. Two. specimens were taken for the purposes of examination and they are Exs. 113 and 115. There are, of course, he suspected writings in P/.1 and the name labels. Whatever the special circumstances, the standards were undoubtedly written by the respondent. But two more specimens wrongly called standards were put into the expert's hand as being equal in this regard to Exs. 113 and 115.

But really no witness has come to assert in an acceptable manner that Exs, 114 and 116 have also been written by the respondent. More than that, Ex. 114 is itself by two hands, the signature which is ostensibly that of the respondent and the body which apparently is not from the one who has signed. The expert was thus tied down to wrong standards, and started with the assumption that the two Exs. 114 and 116 were really written by the same person as wrote Exs. 113 and 115.

Thus his attempt to spot the standard tendencies was itself based on wrong premises. No doubt here and there he speaks of the two standards, that is 113 and 115, but the basis of the comparison are the four standards two of which were definitely misleading. Obviously, a good many of the supposed common features would go out, if the two unproved standards Exs. 114 and 116 had been eliminated.

25. Another difficulty for the prosecution is that in the circumstances, the material was such that even the best of the experts cannot give any satisfactory opinion. The suspected handwritings were, as the expert himself notes, concealed handwritings; in other words, ones in which the writer himself takes care to introduce what he considers to be features unusual in his handwriting. Whether he succeeds or not is another matter but this handwriting assumes in such a case a certain amount of deliberateness.

On the alternative possibility that the poisoner did not himself write the letter and the labels, but asked somebody else to do so, the whole comparison is beside the point. The two standards, On the contrary, while being certainly those of the respondent, were made by him to order. Here again, they are selfconscious but in a manner quite different from the self consciousness of the suspected handwritings.

26. The suspected handwritings, one and all of them, have the top-hanging strokes usual in the Hindi print, while the standard handwriting in Exs. 113 and 115 does not have a top Stroke on a single letter, and not a trace of it, indicating an attempt to conceal this. This by itself may not establish that the handwritings are different; but this is a point. The expert himself has admitted which is of course obvious, that when the standard is fast written and the suspected handwriting slow, opinion may not be as satisfactory as where both of them are written at about the same speed

Then come the special features as to spelling and the like in which also there is not much agreement, Besides this, there are the shapes or one or two letters in which there is a material difference. Thus considering the circumstances in which the expert was working in the present case, the results of the comparison could not be conclusive. So I would hold in. agreement with the learned Sessions Judge that the handwriting evidence in the case is not so conclusive as to justify conviction. There is a very considerable element of doubt.

27. There are a few subsequent events which have also been mentioned as evidence of the respondent being the poisoner, Narayanprasad P.W, 46 says that he got a packet but it was ekadashi and therefore he did not forthwith eat the sweets but retained them. Sometime later the respondent went and asked for the packet and got it. Meanwhile other People had already began to show symptoms. It is difficult to understand even if it is true how this is of any sinister significance.

One of the employees being a strict observer of ekadashi was not eating the sweets; another comes and takes it, as after all he is not observing ekadashi so strictly. A similar story is given by Feli, another employee P.W. 54 but; the learned Sessions Judge has given good reason why ho would believe that Feli was given no packet of his own, but was only given prasad out of the loose stuff.

28. It is said that some days afterwards, when the whole lot of them had returned from the hospital, the respondent caught hold of the feet of one Gopaldas saying that he was afraid 'that a case was going to be started on party lines'. It is difficult to understand how this can, be connected with the poisoning at all. It does appear that some people in the mill occasionally touch the feet of some others and the probability of a case being started on party line is far too general to refer to this incident.

29. All things considered, though the offence was a very serious one, the evidence adduced was not such as convince one that it was the respondent that had put poison in the pedas. In these circumstances, it cannot be said that the acquittal was perverse or there were compelling reasons to call for our interference.

30. The state appeal is, therefore, dismissed.

Newaskar, J.

31. I agree.


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