C.A. VAIDIALINGAM, J.—
1. In this appeal, by special leave, the appellant challenges his conviction and sentence imposed upon him for offences under Sections 302, 201, read with Sections 34 and 394 IPC. For the offence of murder under Section 302 he has been sentenced to death and for the offences under Sections 201 and 394 he has been sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 7 years and 10 years respectively and the sentences have been directed to run concurrently. The appellant's conviction for all these offences have been confirmed by the High Court of Allahabad, by its judgment dated November 13, 1967.
2. The prosecution case, in brief, was as follows. The appellant, who was well known to and was friendly with one Kalawati, an old woman of about 70 years of age, had called on her on the morning of September 19, 1966 and asked her to come to his Gher in the evening to take some maize which he had got ready for her. Kalawati went to the Gher of the appellant at about 4 p.m., the same day. The appellant, with the assistance of another person Kripal (since deceased) killed Kalawati by strangling her and removed from her body gold and silver ornaments which she was wearing. The dead body which was first concealed in a heap of chaff in the Gher of the appellant was later on thrown into a well known as Chamaron Wala Kuan. The tenants living in the house of Kalawati, as well as some neighbours, noticed the disappearance of Kalawati the same night and made a search which was of no avail. Later in the night of September 19, 1966 the appellant is stated to have come to the house of Kalawati and given out that the latter had gone away to the village of Garhi along with Kripal and that he had been asked to sleep in her house; but the tenants turned him away. The dead body of Kalawati was found floating in the well on the morning of September 20, 1966 and a report, Exhibit Ka-4, was lodged with the police by one Mahendra Dutt, PW 11, who was a near relation of the deceased. After inquest proceedings, the post-mortem was conducted by the Medical Officer, PW 3. The post-mortem certificate is Exhibit Ka-1. The opinion of the Doctor is that death of Kalawati is due to asphyxia as a result of strangulation.
3. The Station Officer, Mowana Police Station, on receiving information from an informer suspected the appellant as the culprit and consequently arrested him on September 21, 1966. The appellant is stated to have taken the police officers as well as certain witnesses to his house and taken out from his locked box six gold bangles, four gold ear-rings, a gold ear top and four silver lachchas. These articles were identified as the property of the deceased by PWs 1, 2 and 10.
4. The defence of the accused was one of complete denial and he also disputed the truth of any ornaments having been produced by him from his locked box after his arrest. He further pleaded that he had been falsely implicated in the case because of the hostility of the police as he has refused to give evidence in a gambling case. He also pleaded that he had been falsely implicated by the police at the instigation of one Kishan Chand, between whom and his father there had been bitter enmity in connection with certain election proceedings.
5. That Kalawati was the victim of murder is clear from the evidence of the Doctor PW 3. He has spoken to the fact that the death of Kalawati was due to asphyxia brought about by strangulation. He has also mentioned in his post-mortem certificate, Exhibit Ka-1, that there was a contusion 3½″ × 2½″ extending from the right side of the neck near the collar bone on to the upper part of the chest, and the soft tissues of the neck had been ruptured both in front and at the sides of the neck, while the hyoid bone was fractured. There were no eyewitnesses as such for the murder and for establishing the guilt of the appellant the prosecution relied entirely on circumstantial evidence. The prosecution relied on the following circumstances as proving the guilt of the accused:
“(1) That the accused was well acquainted with Kalawati and often used to visit her house.
(2) That in the morning of 19-9-1966 the accused came to Kalawati's house and asked her to come to his enclosure in the evening to fetch some maize.
(3) That at 4 p.m. on 19-9-1966 Kalawati went to the enclosure of the accused and was seen with him there.
(4) That at about 10 or 11 p.m. on 19-9-1966 the accused came to Kalawati's house and told the tenants living there that Kalawati had gone off to Garhi with Kripal and that she had sent him to sleep at the house to guard the premises.
(5) That on 21-9-1966 gold and silver ornaments belonging to Kalawati, which she had been wearing when she went to the accused's enclosure two days earlier, were recovered from a locked box in the accused's house, the key of which was produced by the accused.”
6. PWs 1, 4 and 11 have given evidence regarding Circumstance 1. PW 1 has spoken regarding Circumstance 2. PW 8 has given evidence regarding Circumstance 3. This witness has stated that he saw on the evening of September 19, 1966 Kalawati in the company of the appellant and his associate Kripal. It may be stated that this was the last occasion when Kalawati was seen alive by any of the witnesses, because, on the next morning her dead body was found in the well.
7. Circumstance 4 is spoken to by PW 1, her husband — PW 4 and PW 7. The last circumstance viz. the recovery of the ornaments belonging to the deceased on September 21, 1966 is spoken to by the two police officers, PWs 14 and 17, as well as by PW 6 who was one of the Panch witnesses for recovery, under Exhibit Ka-2, on September 21, 1966.
8. Both the learned Sessions Judge, as well as the High Court on appeal, have accepted as true the evidence of the witnesses, referred to above, and have further held that the five circumstances, relied on by the prosecution, have been fully established. Taking all the circumstances together in conjunction with the denial of the accused, the High Court, in agreement with the learned Sessions Judge, has come to the conclusion that it is the appellant who murdered Kalawati, robbed her of her ornaments and disposed of her body by throwing it into the well.
9. Mr Nuruddin Ahmed, learned Counsel for the appellant, has urged two contentions: (i) that the finding regarding recovery of ornaments at the instance of the appellant, recorded by the learned Sessions Judge and the High Court, is perverse and that no reasonable person can come to that conclusion, on the evidence on record; and (ii) that even if the recovery of ornaments at the instance of the appellant, is accepted as true, it does not lead to the conclusion that it is the appellant who committed the murder. We are satisfied that neither of these contentions can be accepted.
10. The conviction of the appellant in this case is based upon circumstantial evidence and the High Court and the Sessions Judge have accepted as true the evidence of the witnesses who speak to the various circumstances relied on by the prosecution. When there are concurrent findings on facts, this Court does not, normally, take upon itself the task of again reviewing the evidence; but, in view of the attack that the finding regarding recovery of ornaments is perverse, we have ourselves gone through the evidence bearing on that aspect, and we are satisfied, notwithstanding certain minor discrepancies, that the evidence relating to the same is true and has been rightly accepted by the learned Sessions Judge and the High Court.
11. The production of ornaments by the appellant, after his arrest, and which ornaments have been identified as belonging to the deceased, is a very strong circumstance in the chain of circumstances relied on by the prosecution. The evidence relating to recovery of ornaments is furnished by the two police officers, PWs 14 and 17 and the Panch witness PW 6. According to this evidence, the appellant was arrested on September 21, 1966 by PW 14 and the appellant agreed to produce the ornaments of Kalawati which he had kept in his house. The appellant took the police officers, PW 6 and one Bishamber Dayal to his house and, after opening the locked box which was in a room upstairs, he produced six gold bangles, four gold ear-rings, one gold ear-top and four silver lachchas. These articles have been identified by PWs 1, 2 and 10 as belonging to the deceased. These witnesses have spoken to the fact that these ornaments were normally worn by Kalawati. Minor discrepancies in the evidence of the witnesses regarding the recovery of the ornaments have been adverted to by the High Court. Quite rightly, in our opinion, the High Court has taken the view that these discrepancies do not cast any doubt regarding the truth of the ornaments having been produced by the appellant after his arrest. Therefore we cannot accept the contention of Mr Nuruddin Ahmed that the finding regarding the recovery of the ornaments at the instance of the appellant is perverse. On the other hand, we are satisfied that the said finding properly and legitimately follows from the acceptance of the evidence of the two police officers and PW 6.
12. No doubt, the mere recovery of the ornaments if it had stood by itself, without any other circumstance, may not lead to the one and only conclusion that it is the appellant who committed the murder. But the prosecution has relied on four other circumstances, referred to above, and those circumstances, taken along with the circumstance regarding the recovery of the ornaments in our opinion, lead to the conclusion that it was the appellant who had committed the murder of Kalawati.
13. The mode of evaluating circumstantial evidence has been stated by this Court in Hanumant v. State of Madhya Pradesh1 and is as follows:
“It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should in the first instance be fully established, and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.”
This principle has been reiterated by this Court in several later decisions.
14. Applying the above principles, it is clear from the findings of the two Courts, that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt of the appellant is to be drawn have been fully established, and the chain of evidence accepted by both the Courts is also complete and does not leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the appellant. Kalawati was last seen in the company of the appellant in his Gher on the evening of September 19, 1966 and the appellant has also deliberately attempted to mislead the tenants of Kalawati's house by stating that she had gone to the village of Garhi along with Kripal. After his arrest, the production, by the appellant, of the ornaments worn by Kalawati is a very clinching circumstance, which, taken along with the other circumstances, proves the complicity of the appellant in the murder of Kalawati.
15. To conclude, the appellant has been rightly convicted and sentenced for offences under Sections 302, 201, read with Sections 34 and 394 IPC. The appeal fails and is dismissed.
1 (1952) SCR 1091, 1097