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Mst. Sundari Vs. the State of Rajasthan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.B. Criminal (Jail) Appeal No. 274/75
Judge
Reported in1982WLN(UC)110
AppellantMst. Sundari
RespondentThe State of Rajasthan
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....and informing the witness about the murder being committed by smt. regarding the statement of the witness that the accused had told him about killing her brother and then throwing in the well, the contention of the learned public prosecution is that effort to conceal the facts of her commuting the murder of her husband would have been the reason for her telling a lie at the time. be it as it may, at least this much is wall established that chokha had seen her dropping the stones in the well. advani submits that this sentence may be taken to mean that something had happened to the accused, meaning thereby that her husband had fallen in the well. 7) has stated about the accused telling her that she had thrown her husband in the well. the attention of the witness was drawn to her police..........and judicial magistrate, gulabpura had conducted the identification parade on july 2, 1974 and witness chokha correctly identified the appellant in that parade. regarding the statement of the witness that the accused had told him about killing her brother and then throwing in the well, the contention of the learned public prosecution is that effort to conceal the facts of her commuting the murder of her husband would have been the reason for her telling a lie at the time. be it as it may, at least this much is wall established that chokha had seen her dropping the stones in the well. despite lengthy cross-examination nothing could be elicited from the statement of chokha so as to brand him a lier. in such circumstances the learned trial judge has rightly placed reliance on the.....
Judgment:

Kanta Bhatnagar, J.

1. This appeal is directed against the judgment passed by the learned Sessions Judge, Bhilwara dated March 24, 1975 by which in a trial for the offence Under Section 302 Indian Penal Code, the appellant Smt. Sundari was held guilty for the murder of her husband and sentenced to imprisonment for life for that offence.

2. Briefly stated the facts of the case giving rise to the trial of the appellant and the present appeal are as under: Smt. Sundari was married to Banshilal, son of Mohan Brahmin, resident of Ratanpur seven or eight years prior to the alleged incident. The relations between the spouses were not cordial. Smt. Sundari was not staying with her husband even for a day or two whenever she was brought by him. On June 25, 1974 Smt. Sundari had gone to the field with her husband and both of them were taking bath at separate places. After sometime Smt. Sundari was seen dropping stones in the well by Chokha (P.W. 3) who was grazing his herd of camel on the nearby hillock. Getting perplexed en being detected Smt. Sundari went to Chokha and beseeched him not to disclose to any body what he had seen. On being asked by Chokha as to why she was throwing the stones in the well, she told him that she had killed her husband and then dropped him in the well. She then went away towards the village. Chokha went to Girdhari and Onkar who were ploughing their fields in the neighbourhood and informed them about the accused throwing stones in the well. They informed him that the woman was the wife of Banshi Maharaj. The appellant went to Smt. Narbada (P.W. 6) and Smt. Badami (P.W. 7) and told them about husband falling in the well. The villagers got the dead body of Banshi out from the well. There were four or five injuries on the dead body P.W. 2 Nathulal Sharma, Chairman of Vikas Panchayat, Ratangarh, Tehsil Asind got the report Ex. P. 2 scribed by Heeralal Peon and sent the same with one Nenu Regar to police station. On receiving that report Station House Officer Ojha entrusted the investigation to Head Constable Girdhari Singh (P.W. 12) of police station, Asind. In the night a constable was sent for keeping a watch over the dead body. On June 26, 1974 Girdharisingh left for the site for investigation and reached the well known as 'Tapiyon' where the dead body of Banshilal was lying. He noted five injuries on the dead body and prepared the panchanama of the dead body. He also inspected the site, and prepared the site plan and site inspection memo. The blood stained 'dhoti' which Banshilal was wearing was taken in possession and sealed. The blood soaked earth was also taken in possession from the place where the dead body of Banshilal was placed after being taken out from the well. On June 26, 1974 the appellant Sundari was arrested. There being stains of blood on the 'ghaghra' and 'saree' she was wearing, the same were taken id possession and sealed. The investigation was then taken by Shri R.S. Sharma (P.W. 13) Circle Officer, Gulabpura. On interrogation the appellant, while under custody, informed the Circle Officer for getting recovered the axe and clothes hidden by her in her house. In pursuance of that information she got recovered one axe, one turban and one under-wear. The Circle Officer sealed all the seized articles during the course of investigation. They were later on sent for chemical examination and Serological test. The report of the Serologist is Ex. 13.

3. After completion of necessary investigation charge sheet against the appellant was filed in the court of Munsif and Judicial Magistrate, Gulabpura The learned Magistrate finding a prima-facie case exclusively triable by the court of sessions, committed the appellant to the court of Sessions Judge, Bhilwara to stand his trial. The learned Judge charge sheeted the appellant for the offence Under Section 302 Indian Penal Code and recorded her plea. She denied the indictment and claimed to be tried. To substantiate his case prosecution examined fourteen witnesses in all. The appellant in her statement Under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure totally denied all the allegations levelled against her and stated that she was shown to Chokhi (P.W.3) prior to the identification parade. No defence witness was examined.

4. The appeal has been filed from the Jail. As the appellant was unrepresented, Mr. B. Advani was appointed Amicus Curiae to plead on her behalf in this appeal.

5. We heard Mr. B. Advani, learned Amicus Curiae and Mr. H.N. Calla, learned Public Prosecutor for the State and carefully examined the record of the case.

6. The learned Amicus Curiae strenuously contended that Chokha (P.W. 3), on whose testimony the prosecution case rests, is not reliable and therefore the conviction of the appellant based on circumstantial evidence cannot be said to be justified.

7. At the very outset we may observe that there is no direct evidence in the case and the prosecution case hinges on the circumstantial evidence. The circumstances relied on by the prosecution are, the strained relations between the appellant and her husband deceased Banshilal, she was last when with Banshilal at the well by her father-in-law Mohan (P.W. 9) and Sohan (P.W. 6), Chokha seeing her dropping stones in the well and her confession before him; her extra judicial confession before Smt. Narbada and Smt. Badami her sisters-in-law; her conduct to the occurrence; recovery of 'ghaghra' and 'saree' suspected to have blood on them and the recovery of the axe in pursuance of the information furnished by her.

8. From the statements of Mohan, Smt. Badami (P.W. 7) and Smt. Narbada (P.W. 8) it is established that the relations between the appellant and her husband since their marriage, seven or eight years prior to the date of the incident, were not cordial. All these witnesses have stated about her running away to her father's house whenever brought by her in-laws and never staying there for more than a night or so. Mohan, father of the deceased has stated that Banshi and Sundari had no love for each other and they used to quarrel a lot. That, whenever Sundari was brought, she, after staying for a day, used to return to her father's house. According the witness only two days prior to the occurrence Banshi had brought Sundari from her father's village.

9. Mr. Advani stressed that strained relations cannot in all cases be a cause for commission of a henious crime like murder. We agree with the argument. The strained relations between the husband and wife in itself need not lead to the conclusion that she might have committed the crime to get rid of her husband, but if there are other circumstances pointing to her guilt, this circumstance will assume importance as a connecting link in the chain of the prosecution case.

10. Another circumstance brought against the appellant is that she was last seen with Banshilal, while alive at the field. Mohan (P.W. 9) has stated that on the date of the occurrence he had returned from the field leaving the deceased and the accused at the field as they were taking bath there. Sohan (P.W. 6) has stated that on the date of occurrence he had gone, to village-Tiloli in search of his she-buffalo. That at about 1.00 p.m. while he was returning with the she-buffalo he had seen the accused taking bath at the well of Mohan. That at that time her husband Banshi was lying in the shade of Bamboo tree, near the well. The witness further stated that on seeing him, Banshi got up and asked him to smoke the 'Bidi'. That, the witness asked him if he was going to his house and was told by the deceased that he would go to the house after taking bath. The witness then went away to his house with his she-buffalo. From the statement of these two witnesses, it is evident that the accused was seen in the company of Banshilal at the well and thereafter the latter met his death and his dead body was taken out from the well in injured condition.

11. The most important circumstance in the case is the act of the appellant dropping stones in the well. Chokha (P.W. 3) who was on the nearby hillock, grazing herd of camels saw the appellant doing so. The appellant got perplexed on being detected by Chokha. She therefore, went to him and beseeched him not to disclose that fact to any body. According to Chokha the appellant was at that time trembling and he took her to bean evil spirit. The witness got frightened and asked the appellant as to why she was dropping stones in the well and was told that she had killed her husband and then threw him in the well.

12. Mr. Advani, learned Amicus Curiae vehemently pressed that the story narrated by Chokha is not at all believable. The reason given is, that, the woman could not have told about her throwing her husband in the well. Another criticism levelled by Mr. Advani against the evidence of Chokha is that he had not stated this fact before Onkar and Girdhari. According to Mr. Advani, even if, it is assumed for the sake of argument that the witness getting perplexed while telling the fact to Girdhari and Onkar confined the narration only to what he had actually seen i.e. dropping of stones by the accused in the well, still non-examination of Girdhari and Onkar by the prosecution throws doubt on the veracity of the version given by Chokha (P.W. 3) and his presence there.

13. Another point raised by Mr. Advani against the veracity of the deposition of Chokha is that he being of another village could neither be present near the site of occurrence nor in a position to identify the lady.

14. So far as the presence of Chokha at the site is concerned, he was resident of the neighbouring village and his grazing camels near about the place of the occurrence was not unnatural. Mohan (P.W. 9) father of the deceased has also stated about the presence of Chokha at the time of the dead body being taken out of the well and informing the witness about the murder being committed by Smt. Sundari. According to Chokha, Onkar and Girdhari had told him that the woman, he was talking about, was the wife of Banshi Maharaj. These two witnesses have, of course, not been examined by the prosecution to substantiate the contention of Chokha that he had told them what he had seen. The learned Public Prosecutor has submitted that even if these two persons would have been examined, their evidence being hearsay would not have been of any value. In our view, these two persons, if examined, would have atleast corroborated the testimony of Chokha whether he was present there on the hillock at the time and had immediately told them what he had seen. But their non-examination by itself would not be sufficient to discard the testimony of Chokha if it otherwise inspires confidence. It is pertinent to note that in view of the fact that Chokha was not knowing the accused before hand, the investigating agency had taken care to arrange for the identification parade. Shri Janki Vallabh, Munsif and Judicial Magistrate, Gulabpura had conducted the identification parade on July 2, 1974 and witness Chokha correctly identified the appellant in that parade. Regarding the statement of the witness that the accused had told him about killing her brother and then throwing in the well, the contention of the learned Public Prosecution is that effort to conceal the facts of her Commuting the murder of her husband would have been the reason for her telling a lie at the time. Be it as it may, at least this much is wall established that chokha had seen her dropping the stones in the well. Despite lengthy cross-examination nothing could be elicited from the statement of Chokha so as to brand him a lier. In such circumstances the learned trial Judge has rightly placed reliance on the statement of Chokha to base the conviction of the appellant.

15. Smt. Badami (P.W. 7) and Smt. Narbada (P.W. 8) are the sisters-in-law (Bhawaj) of deceased Banshilal. Both of them have stated about the appellant going to them and telling 'BAAT BEET GAI MANSU'.

16. The interpretation of this sentence by the Public Prosecutor is that the witness admitted that something had happened by her. On the other hand Mr. Advani submits that this sentence may be taken to mean that something had happened to the accused, meaning thereby that her husband had fallen in the well. At the trial Smt. Badami (P.W. 7) has stated about the accused telling her that she had thrown her husband in the well. The attention of the witness was drawn to her police statement where in she had stated that on being asked as to whether she had not pushed her husband in the well, the accused replied that he was sleeping in the 'ghera' (the place near the well). Even if the sentence uttered by the accused before the two ladies may not fall exactly within the ambit of extra-judicial confession, her conduct in telling this fact in an easy way was sufficient to raise suspicion in their minds against her and so Badami informed Mohan, father of the deceased about Sundari dropping Banshi in the well.

17. The abnormal conduct of the appellant is also a strong circumstance against her. Assuming for the sake of arguments that she was not responsible for Banshi felling in the veil, still, she being there and not raising a cry for help is an unnatural conduct. Even before the ladies she did not express any sorrow for what had happened. In the natural course of events the wife, even if the relations with the husband were not cordial would have wept or expressed some sorrow for the unnatural death of her husband.

18. So far as the recovery of the clothes from the person of the appellant and the axe in pursuance of the information furnished by her ere concerned, the learned trial Judge has not placed any reliance on this part of the prosecution and rightly so. The reason is that there is no report of the Chemical Examiner. These articles were not sent to the Serologist for examination.

19 From the above discussion, we find ourselves in perfect agreement with the learned trial Judge that the evidence against the appellant, though circumstantial only was sufficient to connect her with the commission of the crime. The prosecution having established beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant was the perpetrator of the murder of her husband, there is no reason to interfere with the findings of the learned trial Judge.

20. Consequently, the appeal having no merits is dismissed.


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