B.R. Arora, J.
1. This appeal is directed against the judgment dated 2.6,87, passed by the Additional District and Sessions Judge No. 2, Hanumangarh, by which the learned Additional Sessions Judge convicted the accused-appellants for the offences under Sections 302/34 and 201/34 I.P.C. and sentenced each of them to undergo imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs. 5000/- each and in default of payment of fine further to undergo six months' rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 302/34 I.P.C. and three years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1000/- each, and in default of payment of fine to further undergo three months' rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 201/34 I.P.C. Both the sentences were ordered to non concurrently.
2. The appellants were tried by the learned Additional Sessions Judge No. 2, Hanumangarh, for the offences under Sections 302/34 and 201 I.P.C. The case of the prosecution is that deceased Smt. Shakuntla the sister of Babu Ram was married with accused Satya Bhagwan two years before the date of the incident. It was agreed before the marriage that the girl-side will spend about Rs. 1,00,000/- but they actually spent Rs. 60,000/-. For the remaining amount of Rs. 40,000/-, a grievance was raised by the accused-side and the treatment, of Satya Bhagwan, Tejbhan and other members of the in-laws of Smt. Shakuntla were not cordial with her. Smt. Shakuntla was given beatings by the accused. About six of months before the date of the incident, Smt. Shakuntla was turned-out from the house after giving beatings. A Panchayat was held and Bhoj Raj and Banshi Dhar were sent at the shop of the accused for reconciliation and an assurance was given that Smt. Shakuntla may be taken back and they will make arrangement for the remaining amount of the dowry. They agreed to that and Smt. Shakuntla was sent to her in-laws' house. On the day of Rakshabandhan, Atma Ram-the brother of deceased Shakuntla-went to the house of the accused and on that day Shakuntla informed her brother Atma Ram to arrange the remaining amount of Rs. 40,000/-otherwise the accused would kill her. Atma Ram told her sister that he would pacify the accused. On 6.9.85, the accused first committed the murder of Smt. Shakuntla by strangulation and thereafter, after sprinkling kerosene on her, lit the fire. Accused Tejbhan thereafter gave the information Ex.P. 14 at Police Station, Hanumangarh Junction that Smt. Shakuntla D/o (late) Suraj Mai and wife of Satyabhagwan, has committed suicide at about 5.00 p.m. and at that time they were at their shop and were informed by the neighbourers that a fire had taken place in their house. This report made by Tejbhan was registered under Section 174 Cr.P.C. and PW 7 Mohan Singh reached at the place of the incident and started inquiry. During the course of inquiry, it was revealed that it is not a case of suicide but the accused has committed the murder of 3mt. Shakuntla and after committing her murder she was put to fire. The accused, after lodging the report, made the disclosure before PW 1 Banshidhar, PW 2 Alma Ram and PW 3 Babu Ram that they have committed the murder of Smt. Shkuntla. PW 3 Babu Lal Gupta -the, another brother of deceased Smt. Shakuntla thereafter lodged an F.I.R. (Ex.P. 16 ) at Police Station, Hanumangarh, on the basis of which the investigation started, the accused were arrested and the charge-sheet was submitted against the accused-appellants.
3. The prosecution, in support of its case, examined seven witnesses. The accuse, in their defence, examined eight witnesses. The case of the accused, in defence, was that they were not present at the house when the incident took place and there was no demand of dowry by them and the deceased was a lady of easy virtues and had illicit relations with other persons as accused Satya Bhagwan -the husband of the deceased -was impotent. The learned trial Court did not believe the defence version. He, also, did not believe the witnesses produced In defence and by his judgment dated 2.6.87, convicted and sentenced the accused-appellants as stated above.
4. While convicting the accused-appellants, the learned trial Court placed reliance over the extra-judicial confession made by the accused before PW 1 Banshidhar, PW 2 Atma Ram and PW 3 Babu Ram. The learned Trial Court, also, believed the medical evidence regarding the commission of murder by the accused and thereafter putting the deceased to fire. The motive suggested by the prosecution for the commission of murder of Smt. Shakuntla was, also, believed by the learned trail Court. The other circumstances, which were relied upon by the prosecution and believed by the learned trial Court were that the conduct of the accused before and after the incident was not natural and they lodged a false report at the Police Station in order to save themselves and did not take any steps to provide medical aid/help to deceased Smt. Shakuntla nor they tried to extinguish the fire and the deadbody was burning till the police reached there. It is against this judgment convicting and sentencing the appellants that the appellants have preferred this appeal.
5. It is contended by the learned counsel for the appellants that (i) there is Inordinate delay In lodging the F.I.R. (EX.P.16) by PW 3 Babu Ram, which remained unexplained and it is the result of concoction and deliberations and this F.I.R. cannot be read in evidence as it is hit by the provisions of Section 162 Cr.P.C.; (ii) the inquest report, the site inspection memo and the site-plan prepared by the investigating officer during the enquiry under Section 174 Cr.P.C. do not disclose the extra- judicial confession allegedly made by the accused-appellants and the commission of murder of Smt. Shakuntla by the accused, which clearly shows that till the time these documents were prepared and the Inquest report was sent to the doctor when the case was referred for post-mortem examination, the facts regarding making of the extra-judicial confession by the accused was not brought to the notice of the investigating officer and the story of extra-judicial confession allegedly made by the accused, has been fabricated thereafter; (iii) the investigating officer did not inform the Executive Magistrate empowered to hold inquest and no enquiry or inquest was held by the Magistrate and the enquiry, therefore, stands vitiated for the non -compliance of the provisions of Section 176(3) and (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure; (iv) the extra-judicial confession, alleged to have been made by the accused to the prosecution witnesses, is a piece of fabrication and it is untrustworthy; (v) there was no motive with appellant Smt. Vidhyawati and Tejbhan in the demand of dowry and they were not at the house at the time when the incident took-place; (vi) the investigation is a tainted one and the investigating agency, under the influence of some political leaders, proceeded with to falsely implicate the appellants; (vii) there are material contradictions and improvements in the statements of the prosecution witnesses and they have tried to falsely implicate the accused-appellants with the crime; (viii) the trial Court has not taken into consideration the circumstance that the deceased was issue-less lady and her husband was impotent , which actuated her to commit suicide; and (ix) the ingredients of the offence under Section 201 or 201/34 I.P.C. have not been proved against the appellants. Learned Counsel for the appellants, therefore, submitted that the appellants have been falsely implicated in this case and they deserve to be acquitted as the prosecution has failed to prove the case against the appellants beyond a reasonable manner of doubt. The learned Public prosecutor, on the other hand, has supported the judgment passed by the learned trial Court and submitted that the appellants have been rightly convicted and sentenced by the learned' trial Court and no case for interference is made-out.
6. Before considering the submissions made by the learned counsel for the appellants, we would first like to see the nature of the evidence produced by the prosecution in support of its case. There is no eye witness of the occurrence. The case of the prosecution mainly rests upon the circumstantial evidence. It has, therefore, to be seen: whether the prosecution has been able to prove that the chain of circumstantial evidence is complete and leave no reasonable ground to a, conclusion in consistent with the innocence of the accused and within all human probabilities show that the accused are the perpetrators of the crime: and whether all the circumstances have been fully established and the circumstances so established are conclusively- of the nature to prove the guilt against the accused-appellants ?
7. The prosecution, during the trial, produced seven witnesses. This Court, on 11.9.91, considered it proper to examine the two other Doctors who were the Members of the Medical Board and by the order dated 14-1-93, directed the trial Court to record the evidence of Dr. B.C. Sodhi, Dr. K.C. Mittal and Dr. Narendra Godara. In pursuance to this order, the learned trial Court recorded the statements of PW 8 Dr. K.C. Mittal and PW 9 Dr. Narendra Singh Godara. The Statement of Dr B.C. Sodhi (PW 6) had already been recorded by the trial Court during the trial and, therefore, the accused were given an opportunity to cross-examine this doctor, who was cross-examined by the learned counsel for the accused in the trial Court.
8. PW 1 Banshidhar, who is the uncle of deceased Smt. Shakuntla-has stated that the marriage of his niece Smt. Shakuntla took place with accused Satya Bhagwan about 2.5 years before. About Six months before the date of the incident, Babu Ram called him and1' Bhoj Raj and informed them that Smt. Shakuntla has been turned-out from the house by Tej Bhan, Satya Bhagwan and their mother after giving her beatings. On enquiry, it was revealed that she has been turned-out from the house as the accused are demanding Rs. 40,000/- because it was agreed that they will spend Rs. 1,00,000/- in the marriage but they spent only Rs. 60,000/-. After ten-fifteen days of this incident, he, Bhoj Raj and Babu Ram came to the shop of Satya Bhagwan and Tejbhan at Hanumangarh Junction. Babu Ram, in their presence, requested the accused to keep Smt. Shakuntla with them and assured that they will finalist the matter thereafter, whereupon accused Tejbhan and Satya Bhagwan became angiy and said that it will only after the payment of the balance amount of Rs. 40,000/- that the Shakuntla can live with them in peace otherwise she will be given the same treatment. Babu Ram thereafter agreed to make payment after sometime because at that time he was not having this amount and requested the accused to keep Smt. Shakuntla peacefully. The accused-party did not come to take Shakuntla and asked Babu Ram to send her and Babu Ram thereafter sent Shakuntla along with his brother Atma Ram and on the day of Rakshabandhan, Babu Ram and Atma Rum came to their shop and informed them that they are coming from the in-laws' house of their sister Shakuntla aftei*. getting the Rakhi tied and informed them that Shakuntla told them that the behaviour of the accused has not changed. Thereafter he consoled them and said that he would try to pacify the accused. After six-seven days of that incident, a day prior to Janmasthami, he was working in Mahaveer Dharamshala and after completing his work he was going to his house. In the way, near Gurudwara, accused Tejbhan met him and informed him that he, Satya Bhagwan and their mother have committed the murder of Smt. Shakuntla and after committing her murder, sprinkled kerosene oil on her and put her to fire and sought his help in pacifying Babu Ram and to save him. He stated that they have done a bad work but anyhow he is calling Babu Ram. Thereafter he went to his house, called Bhoj Raj and narrated him the incident. Thereafter Atma Ram was called and the incident was narrated to him, also, and he was asked to call Babu Ram. Atma Ram went to call Babu Ram and after sometime Babu Rain and Atma Ram came on a jeep. He narrated the incident to Babu Ram, also. Thereafter, he, alongwith Bhoj Raj, Babu Ram and Atma Ram went on that jeep to Hanumangarh Junction and reached to the house of accused situated in Indira Colony. There Babu Ram was called inside by accused Tejbhan and Satya Bhagwan and before him, all the three accused confessed that they have committed the murder of Shakuntla and requested to be excused. The naked deadbody of Shakuntla was ' lying inside the room situated an the first floor and it was burning. The police extinguished the fire. The police came there, inspected the site and prepared the Panchnama-A-Lash and various other memos and while preparing the inquest report, he gave his opinion that it Was a case of murder and the body has been put to fire after commission of the murder. In the cross- examination, this witness has stated that he disclosed to the police that the extra-judicial confession was made by all the three accused before him and he, also, heard the disclosure made by these three accused to Babu Ram but if it does not finds mention in his earlier statement Ex.D. 1 then he can have no say but the fact is that he stated so to the police. He has, also, admitted in the cross-examination that the extra-judicial confession was made by accused Tejbhan before him at the road-side and he did not enquire from him how they killed Shakuntla. He has, also, stated in the cross-examination that he gave his opinion that the accused first, committed the 'murder of Shakuntla and thereafter put her to fire on two grounds; firstly, because the light thumb of the accused was tied with the gold chain and, secondly, the accused has made the extra-judicial confession before him. Similar is the statements of PW 2 Atma Ram and PW 3 Babu Ram. They have specifically stated regarding making of the extra-judicial confession by all the three accused-appellants before Babu Ram.
9. PW 4 Mani Ram is the Photographer, who took the photographs of the deceased. PW 5 Ramjas was the Incharge of Police Station, Hanumangarh Junction, when the report Ex.P. 14 was produced by accused Tejbhan at 7.00 a. m. The report was registered under Section 174 Cr.P.C. and he, also, registered the F.I.R. EX. P. 16 on the basis of the written report submitted by Babu Ram Gupta which was sent to him through the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Hanumangarh, on 8.9.84 and thereafter the investigation was done by Mr. Mohan Singh, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Hanumangarh. PW 7 Dr. B.C. Sodhi was the Junior Specialist in Surgery, posted in Government Hospital, Hanumangarh, who, along with Dr. K.C. Mittal and Dr. N.S. Godara, conducted the post-mortem on the deadbody of Smt. Shakuntla.According to him, deceased Smt. Shakuntla had burn injuries on almost all the parts of her body. Ligature marks were not seen on the neck on account of burning, blood-clots were found in the thyroid cartrilege and larynx and right cornuae of hyoid bone was, also, found fractured. No other injuries were found on the deadbody of Smt. Shakuntla. The cause of death, according to this witness, was asphyxia due to strangulation. The burn injuries were post-death. The evidence of PW 8 Dr. K.C. Mittal and PW 9 Dr. Narendra Singh Godara, who were the Members of the Medical Board, were, also, recorded by the learned trial Court on the directions of this Court during the pendency of the appeal. They have, also, stated that blood-clots were found in the tyroid cartrilege and larynx and under the skin; right cornuae of the hyoid bone was fractured and the cause of death of Shakuntla was asphyxia due to strangulation and the burn injuries were the post-death as there was no blisters found on the deadbody. PW 7 Mohan Singh was the Deputy Superintendent of Police, who conducted the investigation and presented the challan.
10. The accused examined eight witnesses in their defence. DW 1 Mst. Surendra Kumari is a neighbour, who has stated that deceased Smt. Shakuntla was her friend and used to tell her all the secrets of her life. Shakuntla was not having any child and was not satisfied with her husband because he is important. Shakuntla's brother along with one young-boy used to come to her and there was no dispute between Shakuntla and her in-laws regarding the demand of dowry. On the day of the incident, at about one hour before, she met Shakuntla and two minutes before the incident, she had seen her working. In the cross-examination she has stated that she gave the same statement to the police when the police came at the scene of the occurrence but her statement was not recorded by the police. No complaint was made by this witness before any person for not recording her statement by the police. She has showed her ignorance wherefrom Satya Bhagwan got him treated. DW 2 Smt. Brahma Devi has stated that Krishna Asija was sitting with her in her house situated opposite the house of the accused. She and Krishna. Asija saw the fumes, coming-out from the house of the deceased and at that time Smt. Vidhya Devi was sitting in the house of Roshan Lal. She called Vidhya Devi and thereafter Vidhya Devi came but she remained sitting on a chair and could not see who went to the house of deceased. Similar is the statement of Dw 3 Krishna Asija- the other neighbour of the deceased. In the cross-examination, she has stated that she cannot say since what time Vidya Devi was sitting in the house of Roshan Lai and when the fire broke, she saw Bakshair Singh extinguishing the fire, but she was not allowed to go inside the house. DW 4 Bakshir Singh the other neighbour-has stated that on the day of the incident, at about 5.00/ 5.30 p.m., he is unwell and was sitting in the room of his house and saw the fumes coming-out from the house of the accused and at that time Satya Narain Mohta was, also, sitting in front of his house. He heard the noise and thereafter he went to the first floor of the house of the accused and was a lady burning there and she was crying. He took one bucket of water and poured the same on the burning lady. In the cross-examination he had admitted that the police never made any enquiry from him nor he himself gave any statement to the police and on the next day he went to Bikaner and remained there for one month and did not turn to Hanumangarh during those days. On pouring the water, the fire extinguished. DW 5 Jagdish Roy is the alleged mediator of the maiTiage, has stated that he arranged the marriage of Shakuntla with accused Satya Bhagwan but no talks.regarding the dowry amount took place nor any amount was agreed and both the parties remained satisfied after the marriage. About ten days before the incident, he went to enquire about the health of Tejbhan and at that time Shakuntla had gone to her parental house. He received the information regarding the death of Shakuntla and he came to Hanumangarh on 7th. At that time Satya Narain, Banshidhar and Babu Rain were present there and the police had, also, reached there. The police enquired from the residents of the locality but nobody disclosed that they had any suspicion regarding the murder of Smt. Shakuntla. In the cross-examination this witness has admitted that Tejbhan is his real brother-in-law and Satya Bhagwan is the brother of Tejbhan and Shakuntla was, also, distantly related to him. DW 6 Jodh Singh is the Mistiy, who has staled that he constructed the house of the accused and on the relevant day he was constructing the shop for the accused Tejbhan, who was present at the site. At about 5.30 p.m., a man came on a motor-cycle and informed him that fire had taken place in the house and on hearing so, Tejbhan went away. DW 7 Raj Kumar is a doctor practicing In Khandani Safakhana, Delhi who has stated that Satya Bhagwan was under their treatment and they supplied some medicines to him. DW 8 Satya Narain is the other neighbourer of the accused. He has stated that both the brothers, viz., Satya Bhagwan and Tejbhan, are living separately and on the day of the incident, at about 5.30 p. m. , he was standing out-side his house. He saw the flames coming from the room of the house of the accused. He was not well on those days. Bakshir Singh was, also, present there. He asked him to go up-stairs and sent his nephew to call Tejbhan. Certain other neighbourers, also, collected there. Shakuntla's brothers, also, came there. The police, also, came there and made certain enquiries and the brothers of the deceased and the other persons informed the police that they did not know how this happened. He has, also, disclosed that (here: was no dispute between the parties. regarding the demand of dowry. These defence witnesses are the neighbourers of the accused. The evidence of these defence witnesses have not been believed by the learned trial Court. A close reading of the statements of these witnesses do not inspire confidence. They have rightly been disbelieved by the learned trial Court. The trial Court has given cogent reasons for disbelieving these defence witnesses and we are, also, of the opinion that the evidence of these witnesses, do not inspire confidence and they have been rightly disbelieved by the learned trial Court.
11. The first contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants is that the F.I.R. EX. P. 16 is hit by Section 162 Cr.P.C. and cannot be treated as the First Information Report and even otherwise it is a belated one and has been lodged after due deliberations. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant in challenging the F.I.R. EX. P. 16 is that the information EX. P. 14 was already registered at the Police Station and the investigation had already started on the information of Tejbhan and, therefore, the subsequent information Ex. P. 16 lodged by PW 3 Babu Ram cannot be said to be an 'information'. Section 154 Cr.P.C. deals with the information in a cognizable case. It states that every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an Officer Incharge of the Police Station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his directions. Ex.P. 14 the information given by accused Tejbhan does not indicate that a cognizable offence has been committed. It only discloses that Shakuntla died in a suspicious circumstance indicating that she committed suicide. In the absence of any indication that a cognizable offence has been committed by some person, the information cannot be said to be relating to such offence. PW 7 Mr. Mohan Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, started the enquiry in the case of unnatural death under Section 174 Cr.P.C. Starting of the investigation is not the sole criteria of an F.I.R. under. Section 154 Cr.P.C. if it is not related to the commission of a cognizable offence. The report Ex. P. 14, made by accused Tejbhan, does not indicate that a cognizable offence has been committed. Unless a report indicates that a cognizable offence has been committed, it cannot be said that the information is relating to such offence and, therefore, Ex. P. 14 (the information given by accused Tejbhan) cannot take the place of an F.I.R. lodged under Section 154 Cr.P.C. and the investigation, also, cannot be said to have started thereupon. The F.I.R. Ex. P. 16, lodged by PW 3 Babu Ram, which indicates the commission of a cognizable offence committed by the accused, is, therefore, the F.I.R. lodged under Section 154 Cr.P.C. and it is not hit by Section 162 Cr.P.C. There is, also, no unexplained delay in lodging this F.I.R. Ex. P. 16. The police had already reached at the place of the occurrence.' The witnesses disclosed to the police that it is not a case of suicide committed by Shakuntla but it is a case of murder committed by the accused-appellant and after commission of the murder the accused put the dead body of Shakuntla to fire after sprinkling kerosene and lighting the fire. The witnesses disclosed this to Mr. Mohan Singh, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, and, also, filed a written report, which was received by PW 7 Mr. Mohan Singh on 7th and he forwarded the same to the Police Station on 8th and on the basis of which the F. I. R Ex. P 16 was registered. The delay in lodging the report has, therefore, been satisfactorily explained by the complainant party and the prosecution case cannot be thrown-away on the ground of delay in lodging the F.I.R. Ex. P. 16.
12. The next contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants is that the inquest report and the other documents prepared by the investigating officer do not disclose the making of the extra-judicial confession by the accused to any of the witnesses and till the post-mortem was conducted, the police proceeded with the case in the line that it is a case of suicide and not that of the murder. His further contention is that the inquest report is a document of vital importance and has to be prepared promptly and if the facts about the occurrence are not mentioned in the inquest report, it would go to show that by that time the version of the occurrence was not given. In support of his contention, learned Counsel for the appellants has placed reliance over Gurdeo Singh and Ors. v. The State 1963 PLR 409, Balwant Singh v. The State 1976 PLR 313, Banwari v. The State 1978 RLW 340, Peeru Lal and Anr. v. The State 1987 Cr. L.R. (Raj.) 183, Meharqj Singh v. The State 1994 (2) RCR 625 and Durga Devi v. The State 1992 Cr. L.R. (Raj.) 782. The''law discemable from the various authorities, on which reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for the appellants is that the inquest report is a very vital document in an investigation of a criminal case and it is expected that the prosecution story should be deliniated in the inquest report, though very briefly. It enjoins upon the prosecution agency to prepare the inquest report promptly because this is to be handed-over to the doctor alongwith the deadbody for post-mortem. In case the facts of the case are mentioned in the inquest report, it would go to show that the true version of the incident has been given about the occurrence. If the facts of the incident are not given in the inquest report, it can easily be said that the prosecution agency was not definite about the factual position. We may, however, state here that all these cases, on which reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for the appellants, were decided on their own facts and the facts of the present case are not similar to the facts in these cases, on which reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for the appellants.
13. The importance of the inquest report was considered by the Apex Court in the case of Podda Narain and Ors. v. The State of Andhra Pradesh : AIR1975SC1252 . While dealing with the nature of the proceedings under Section 174 Cr.P.C. and the importance of the inquest report, it has been held by the Supreme Court as under
The proceedings under Section 174 have a very limited scope. The object of the proceedings is merely to ascertain whether a person has died under suspicious circumstances or an unnatural death and if so, what is the apparent cause of the death. The question regarding the details as to how the deceased was assaulted is foreign to the ambit and scope of the proceedings under Section 174. Neither in practice nor in law, was it necessary for the police to mention those details in the inquest report. It is, therefore, not necessary to enter all the details of the overt- act in the inquest report. Their omission is not sufficient to put the prosecution out of the Court.
A similar controversy again came-up for consideration before the Supreme Court, in which an argument was raised that the names of the eye witnesses were not mentioned in the inquest report prepared under Section 174 Cr.P.C. and, therefore, their evidence cannot be relied upon. The Apex Court, dispelling this argument and reiteiating the view taken by it in Podda Narain's case (supra) held that in view of the judgment pronounced by this Court in Podda Narain's case, they see no force in the submission made by the learned counsel for the appellant that the evidence of the eye witnesses could not be relied-upon as their names do not figure in the inquest report prepared at the earliest point of time and the non-mentioning of the names of the eye witnesses in the inquest report is no ground to refuse to rely on their evidence.
14. The similar matter, also, came-up for consideration before the Division Bench of this Court in: Yogendra Singh arid Ors. v. The State 1979 Cr. L.R. (Raj.) 443. The Division Bench of this Court, after considering the law on the point and the various provisions of the Rules, held that the object of holding an inquest under Section 174 Cr.P.C. is simply to make an investigation and to draw-up a report of the apparent cause of the death, describing such wounds, fractures, bruises and other marks of the injuries, as may be found on the body and stating in what manner, or by what weapon or instrument, if any, such marks were inflicted. Under Section 174 Cr.P.C. read with the Rules 6.31 and 6.34 of the Police Rules, i.e, under the law, it is not necessary that the names of the assailants or the names of the witnesses should be contained in the inquest report, though in practice, the names of the assailants are mentioned in the inquest report. It will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case as to what is the effect of non- mentioning the names of the assailants or the witnesses in the inquest report. If the names of some of the accused persons or the names of some of the witnesses are contained in the inquest report, then this omission, along with other infirmities of the case, may be a serious matter in a case.
15. The same controversy again came-up for consideration before the Division Bench of this Court in: Dal Chand and Ors. v.The State of Rajasthan 1981 RCC 351 and the view taken by the Division Bench in Yogendra Singh's case (supra) was reiterated.
16. The object of holding an inquest is to ascertain the cause of death: Whether it is accidental, suicidal or homicidal? The investigation under Section 174 Cr.P.C. is limited in scope and is confined to the ascertainment of the apparent cause of the death of the victim, only. The inquest under Section 174 Cr.P.C. by virtue of the definition, has been given a legal status but does not ^occupy any higher status. It is not necessary that the details of the incident and the names of the accused and the witnesses and the manner in which the incident took should be mentioned. If in the inquest report the making of the extra- judicial confession by the accused before the aforesaid witnesses has not been indicated then merely on that basis the evidence of extra- judicial confession cannot be ignored in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Hoji v. The State of Mdhya Pradesh, and it cannot be a ground to refuse to rely on the evidence of these witnesses. The contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellant, is therefore, devoid of any force and deserves to be ignored.
17. The Next ground, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants is that the trial stands vitiated as the provisions of Section 176 (3) and (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure were not complied-with and no enquiry, as envisaged under Section 176 Cr.P.C. has been made by the learned Magistrate. The object of Section 176 Cr.P.C. is that the inquiry into a suspicious death of a person may be independently made by the Magistrate and the investigation under this Section by the Magistrate does not occupy any higher position. The Magistrate holds an inquiry under this Section acting fully in an administrative capacity as he is only to ascertain the cause of the death whether it is homicidal or suicidal and not to establish the rights of the parties. The failure of not reporting the matter to the Magistrate when three are reasonable grounds for suspicion that a cognizable offence has been committed or the failure of the Magistrate to hold an inquiry under Section 176 Cr.P.C. if it has not occasioned in any failure of justice, will not vitiate the trial in any way. When there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that a cognizable offence has been committed, the police has power to register the case and commence the investigation in that line. Even if a false accusation is brought against the accused then they would have ample opportunity to refute such charges during the trial. In the present case, the report of suicide alleged by committed by Shakuntla was lodged by appellant Tejbhan and PW 3 Babu Ram lodged the report Ex. P. 16 that the offence has been committed by the accused and his sister Shakuntla was first murdered by the accused and thereafter she was put to fire. A false report has been todged by the accused. When the report of a cognizable offence was lodged with the police and the police registered the case and started the investigation, no illegality appears to have been committed in the present case and the case of the appellant, due to non- holding of the inquiry under Section 166 Cr.P. C, has not been prejudiciously affected. The appellant had an ample opportunity to defend their case during the trial. The contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants, on this ground, is, therefore, devoid of any force.
18. The next contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants is that the extra-judicial confession is a weak type of evidence and cannot be made the basis for conviction. It has further been submitted by the learned counsel for the appellant that the evidence of PW 1 Banshidhar, PW 2 Atma Ram and PW 3 Babu Ram relating to making of extra-judicial confession by the accused before them, does not inspire confidence. A number of judgments of the Supreme Court as well as of this Court, have been relied-upon by the learned counsel for the appellants on this point, but it is not necessary to embellish this judgment with several authorities cited before us. They all are of the view that extra-judicial Confession has been treated as a weak type of evidence and when it is retracted one, it can be acted upon only if substantially corroborated by the independent circumstances and that apart the Court must be satisfied that the confessions, alleged to have been made by the accused before the witnesses, were true, voluntary and trustworthy and the circumstances, which impelled the accused to make such confessions. It has been held by the Supreme Court In the case of : State of Utter Pradesh v. M. K. Anthony : 1985CriLJ493 as under:
Extra-judicial confession appears to have been treated as a weak type of evidence but there is no rule of law nor rule of prudence that it cannot beacted-upon unless corroborated. If the evidence on the extra-judicial confession come from the mouth of witnesses which appear to be unbiased, not even remotely inimical to the accused, and in respect of whom nothing is brought out, which may tend to indicate that he may have a motive for attributing an untruful statement to the accused, the words spoken to by the witness, are clear, unambiguous and unmistakably convey that the accused is the perpetrator of the crime and nothing is omitted by the witness which made the militate against it, though after subjecting the evidence of the witness to a rigorous test, on the touch stone of credibility if it passes the test, the extra-judicial confession can be accepted and can be made the basis of a conviction. In such a situation, to go in search of corroboration it self tends to cause a shadow of about over the evidence. If the evidence of extra-judicial confession is reliable, trustworthy and beyond reproach, the same can be relied-upon and a conviction can be founded thereon.
19. The extra-judicial confession can be acted-upon provided it is true, voluntary and trustworthy and the circumstances which impelled the accused to make clean breasts before the witnesses. We have discussed the evidence of PW 1 Banshidhar, PW 2 Atma Ram and PW 3 Babu Ram, before whom the accused admitted their guilt and after considering the evidence of these witnesses, we are of the opinion that the appellants confessed their guilt before these witnesses. The evidence of these three prosecution witnesses, therefore, inspires confidence and is found trustworthy. All these three witnesses are the relatives of the deceased. PW 2 Atma Ram and PW 3 Babu Ram are the two real brothers of deceased Shakuntla and PW 1 Banshidhar is the uncle of the deceased. The appellants have committed the offence and lodged a report at the Police Station regarding commitment of suicide by the deceased and made the extra-judicial confession before these witnesses because these witnesses could be helpful to them in suppressing the matter. If they would not have taken the matter to the police, the matter could have been pacified and, therefore, after the commission of the offence the accused approached these witnesses not to pursue the matter with the police. These witnesses were the persons who could have helped the accused to save them and, therefore, there was every possibility of their making extra-judicial confession before these witnesses. It cannot be, therefore, said that the accused had no reason to make extra-judicial confession before these witnesses. The evidence of these witnesses regarding making of the extra-judicial confession by the accused before them, therefore, inspire confidence. The extra-judicial confession, made by the accused before these witnesses is true, voluntary and reliable one and the learned trial Court has not committed any illegality in believing the extra-judicial confession. The contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants, has, therefore, no merit.
20. The next contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants is that Smt. Vidhya Devi and Tejbhan were not present at the house at the time when the incident took place and had no motive to commit the murder of Shakuntla. The plea of alibi put- forth by the accused has not been believed by the learned trial Court. Cogent reasons have been given by the learned trial Court in disbelieving the plea of alibi. We are, also, of the opinion that the evidence of alibi does not inspire confidence and the plea of alibi, put-forth by the accused-appellants was rightly rejected by the learned trial Court. The accused were the inmates of the house and by that time their presence in their house was most natural.
21. So far as the motive part is concerned, according to the defence version, Satya Prakash was impotent. They had a doubt regarding the chastity of the deceased. In these lines, the questions were put to the prosecution witnesses and they have denied the suggestions. In the defence, the defence witnesses have been produced to this effect. The reputation of the family was at stake and for this reason or for the reason of demand of dowry, the accused have acted with common intention and committed the murder of Shakuntla and, therefore, the learned trial Court .was justified in believing this motive against all the three accused- appellants. Even otherwise, the absence of motive is no ground to acquit the accused when the other evidence is available on record to connect the accused with the crime. The contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants, on this count, is, also, devoid of any force.
22. The next contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants, is that the investigation in the present case is tainted one and the accused have falsely been implicated in the crime. We have gone-through the record of the case and considered the submissions made by the learned counsel for the appellants, but we are unable to agree with the view canvassed by the learned counsel for the appellants. There is nothing on record to show that the investigation in the present case was, in any way, prejudicial to the accused-appellants or was a tainted one. The contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants, has got no merit.
23. The next contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants is that there are material contradictions in the statements of the prosecution witnesses and they have made certain improvements during the trial. After going-through the statements of the prosecution witnesses, we are of the opinion that there are no such material contradictions in their statements and if any minor contradictions are there, which are natural to be crept-in due to lapse of time, the same does not affect the case of the prosecution in any way. Learned counsel for the appellants has failed to bring to the notice of the Court any material contradiction in the statements of the prosecution witnesses or any material improvement in their statements. The contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants, is, therefore, devoid of any force.
24. The next contention, raised by the learned counsel for the appellants is that Shakuntla was issue-less and a depressed lady and, therefore, she might have committed suicide. The learned trial Court has considered this circumstance, also, and the other facts regarding the charges of adultery levelled against Shakuntla by her in-laws and held that this may be a cause for committing the murder of Shakuntla by the appellants. It cannot be, therefore, said that this circumstance was not considered by the learned trial Court: Moreover, as is clear from the evidence of the three doctors, viz., Pw 6 Dr. B.C. Sodhi, PW 8 Dr. K.C. Mittal and PW 9 Dr. Narendra Singh Godara that the death of Shakuntla is the result of throttling and she did not commit suicide. All the three doctors, who were the Members of the Medical Board constituted for conducting the post-mortem examination and preparing the report and for finding-out the cause of death of deceased Shakuntla, have stated that peculiar smell of burnt kerosene oil was present and there was effusion of blood and blood-clots were present in the subcutaneous tissues around the area of thyroid cartrilege and larynx. Fractire of right cornuae of the hyoid bone was present and tongue was protruding and the tongue was caught between the teeth. There were burns on the body which were post-mortem in nature. These doctors have, also, opined that after committing the murder by throttling, the lady was put to fire as there were no signs of blisters. It is a case of clear-cut murder by throttling and thereafter putting the deadbody to fire. Modi, In his book: Medical jurisprudence and Toxicology (XXI Edition, 1989, at page 199} has stated that' it should be noticed here that hyoid bone and superior cornuae of thyroid cartrilege are not as a result of fracture of any other means than by strangulation although the laryns and trachea may fracture as a result of fall. Taylor, in his book: Principles and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence (13th Edition) at page 315 has stated that 'internal injuries are remarkably infrequent and when present, suggest that some violence has occurrence such as from a drop. In addition to soft tissues, injuries which are Intrequent fractures, may occur In both the larynx and hyoid bone. The frequency with which they occurred, vary considerably in different series. In our own practice, the fracture of thyroid cartrilege are approximately equal to fracture of the greater zone of larynx. They are considerably less commonly found in strangulation. Parikh, In his Book: Text-Book of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology, at pages No. 210, observed that 'fracture of the hyoid bone seldom occurs In hanging or strangulation by ligature. It is strongly 111 favour of throttling. When found, it is a region of cornuae which are generally squeezed violently during press, the broken ends being displaced inwards. Parikh, at page No. 661 of his aforesaid book, has further obseived that 'the hyoid is a TJ' shaped bone having blood and a greater comuae and lesser cornuae on either side of the body. The lessor corenuae is small concical eminence at angle of junction of the bond with the greater cornuae. Common injuries of this' bone are cuts and fractures. Cuts and normal encountered in a throat injuries. Fractures are encountered in hanging, stragulation, throttling and in direct trauma such as run-over injuries. Gloister, in his Treaties on Medical Jurisprudence (13th Edition, at page 183) has stated that ' fractures of the hyoid bone are common occurrence and when it is present, indicates that considerable violence has been applied.' C.J. Poison and D.J. Gee, in their Book: Essential of Forensic Medical, at page 23) have stated that 'fracture of the hyoid bone or the larynx as a result of strangulation is presumptive evidence of homicide and should be thus regarded until other possibilities have been satisfactorily excluded.' PW 6 Dr. B.C.Sodhi, in his cross- examination, has specifically stated that the fracture of the hyoid bone cannot be caused by fall nor it can be caused by any other injury and it can be caused only in the case of throttling or strangulation. In the case of throttling or strangulation, there is, also, some degree of respiratory obstruction which results in bulging of eye and protruding the tongue. The tongue, if it supervenes, is caught betweerr-the teeth. Fracture of hyoid bone, also, occurs in the case of throttling. The hyoid bone in the region of cornuae was found fractured. The tongue was protruding and caught between the teeth, as has been stated by the doctors. It is a case of murder bu throttling as is clear from the evidence produced by the proseculion by way of producing the three doctors aforesaid and after committing the murder of Shakuntla, the accused sprinkled kerosene on the dead body of Shakuntla and put her to fire.
25. From the evidence, produced by the prosecution, it is, therefore, established that Smt. Shakuntla died an unnatural death. The cause of death of Shakuntla was asphyxia due to throttling. The accused were the inmates of the house at the relevant time. No person other than the accused where living in their house. Accused Tejbhan, in the report EX.P. 14, lodged to the police, has admitted that he, Satya Bhagwan and Ashok Kumar are living jointly. No other person had an opportunity to commit the murder of Shakuntla. The accused did nothing to extinguish the fire and the corpse of Shakuntla was found burning when the police reached the place of the occurrence. The accused neither took her to hospital for medical treatment nor any doctor was called to attend her. Thereafter accused Tejbhan went to the police station and lodged the false report EX.P.14that Shakuntla had committed suicide and attempted to dissuade the investigating agency to proceed in the correct direction and made an attempt to save themselves from the penal liabilities. These circumstances complete the chain of events to prove with definiteness that the accused and the accused-appellants alone were the perpetrators of the crime.
26. The last submission made by the learned counsel for the appellants is that there is no evidence against the accused- appellants that they caused disappearance of the evidence of offence or gave und false information to screen the offender. To prove the ingredients of the offence under Section 201 I.P.C., the prosecution has to prove that: (i) the offence has been committed: (ii) the accused knew or had reasons to know the commission of such offence; (ill) that with such knowledge or belief they (a) caused any evidence of the commission of the offence to disappear; or (b) gave any information with respect to the offence which they knew to be false; (iv) that they did so with an intention of screening the offender from legal punishment; (v) committed the offence In respect of which they may be punished for imprisonment of life or the sentence of death. The accused, first committed the murder of Shakuntla by throttling and thereafter put the dead body of Shakuntla to fire and tried to cause disappearance of the evidence of the offence. Thereafter accused Tejbhan went to the Police Station and lodged the false information EX.P.14 regarding commitment of the suicide by the deceased. As such the ingredients of the offence under Section 201 I.P.C. are fully established against the appellants.
27. From the above discussion, it is proved that the accused-appellants are the perpetrators of that crimes and they have been rightly convicted and sentenced by the learned trial Court for the offences under Sections 302/34 and 201/34 I.P.C. The judgment passed by the learned trial Court convicting and sentencing the appellants for these offences, does not require any interference.
28. In the result, we do not find any merit in this-appeal and the same is hereby dismissed. Appellants Tejbhan and Smt. Vidhyawati are on ball. They may be arrested and be sent to jail to serve out the remaining sentence.