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Vijay Bahadur S/O Jai Shriram Jatav Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMadhya Pradesh Gwalior High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No.119 of 1999
Judge
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC) - Sections 302, 201, 404; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) - Section 313
AppellantVijay Bahadur S/O Jai Shriram Jatav
RespondentState of Madhya Pradesh
Appellant AdvocateShri Madhukar Kulshreshtha, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateShri Prabal Solanki, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....bhind came to know that the deceased had sold his land in village puleh to pw 22 raghuveer singh on january 3 rd ,1996 in presence of two witnesses namely appellant's father jai shriram and another witness pw 19 mansaram. a missing report about missing of the deceased kishorilal was lodged by his brother pw 5 nathuram with the police of police station, umri, district bhind on january 10 th ,1996. the appellant was arrested vide arrest memo ex.p/27 on january 22 nd ,1996. the police is alleged to have recovered rs.90,000/- from the house of the appellant on january 23 rd ,1996 pursuant to his disclosure statement, ex.p/2 and rs.5,000/- from pw 17 ashok kumar jain on january 23 rd ,1996 pursuant to appellant's disclosure statement, ex.p/13. the appellant's father jai shriram was..........bhind came to know that the deceased had sold his land in village puleh to pw 22 raghuveer singh on january 3 rd ,1996 in presence of two witnesses namely appellant's father jai shriram and another witness pw 19 mansaram. pw 11 ramnath is also alleged to have come to know that the deceased was murdered by the appellant and his father jai shriram with an intent to dishonestly misappropriate the amount of rs.1,03,000/- which the deceased had got on sale of his land to pw 22 raghuveer singh on january 3 rd ,1996. 3. a missing report about missing of the deceased kishorilal was lodged by his brother pw 5 nathuram with the police of police station, umri, district bhind on january 10 th ,1996. thereafter, the dead body of deceased kishorilal was taken out by the police on january 22 nd.....
Judgment:

1. Challenge in this criminal appeal is to the judgment of the Sessions Court dated January 21 st ,1999 in Sessions Trial Case No.123/99 whereby the appellant has been convicted for the offences under sections 302,201 and 404 IPC and sentenced to undergo various terms of imprisonment, maximum of which is life imprisonment besides fine with default stipulation.

2. As per the prosecution case, the deceased had left his village in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh on January 1 st , 1996 after telling his wife that he was going to the house of the appellant at Navalpura, District Bhind in connection with sale of his land in village Puleh which he got from his in-laws. As the deceased had not returned to his home till January 4 th ,1996 his wife sent her son Vijendra (PW 12) to the house of his 'Nandoi' Ramnath (PW 11) in search of her husband. PW 11 Ramnath on enquiries made at Navalpura, District Bhind came to know that the deceased had sold his land in village Puleh to PW 22 Raghuveer Singh on January 3 rd ,1996 in presence of two witnesses namely appellant's father Jai Shriram and another witness PW 19 Mansaram. PW 11 Ramnath is also alleged to have come to know that the deceased was murdered by the appellant and his father Jai Shriram with an intent to dishonestly misappropriate the amount of Rs.1,03,000/- which the deceased had got on sale of his land to PW 22 Raghuveer Singh on January 3 rd ,1996.

3. A missing report about missing of the deceased Kishorilal was lodged by his brother PW 5 Nathuram with the Police of Police Station, Umri, District Bhind on January 10 th ,1996. Thereafter, the dead body of deceased Kishorilal was taken out by the Police on January 22 nd ,1996 from a dry well situated in the field of Harnath in village Puleh. The appellant was arrested vide arrest memo Ex.P/27 on January 22 nd ,1996.

The appellant in his confessional statement ( Ex.P/1) given to the Police while in police custody on January 22 nd ,1996 confessed to his guilt and stated that he could recover the dead body of the deceased from the well. Two more disclosure statements of the appellants were recorded by the Police next day, i.e. on January 23 rd ,1996 and they are Ex.P/2 and P/13 in which the appellant had allegedly disclosed that he could get Rs.90,000/- recovered from his house concealed there and Rs.5000/- given by him to Ashok Kumar Jain (PW 17) for purchase of clothes, shoes etc. The Police is alleged to have recovered Rs.90,000/- from the house of the appellant on January 23 rd ,1996 pursuant to his disclosure statement, Ex.P/2 and Rs.5,000/- from PW 17 Ashok Kumar Jain on January 23 rd ,1996 pursuant to appellant's disclosure statement, Ex.P/13. FIR, Ex.P/29 was registered with the Police of Police Station, Umri on January 22 nd ,1996 with regard to the murder of deceased Kishorilal. The appellant's father Jai Shriram was arrested by the Police on 11 th April, 1996. After completion of investigation into the case, challan was filed by the prosecution against the appellant and his father Jai Shriram for proceeding against them for the offences under sections 302,201 and 404 IPC.

4. The appellant alongwith his father Jai Shriram was charged by the Trial Court for the offences under sections 302,201 and 404 IPC to which they pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The prosecution has examined total 22 witnesses in order to prove its charges against the appellant and his father. These witnesses are PW 1 Harnath, owner of the well from where the dead body of the deceased was taken out by the Police on January 22 nd ,1996; PW 2 Rajendra Singh and PW 3 Bharat Singh are the witnesses to the disclosure statement of the appellant ( Ex.P/1) pursuant to which the dead body of the deceased was recovered by the Police from the well; PW 4 Urmila Devi is the widow of the deceased and she was examined to prove that the deceased had left his house on January 1 st ,1996 after telling her that he was going to the house of the appellant at Navalpura, District Bhind in connection with sale of his land in village Puleh; PW 5 Nathuram is the brother of the deceased and was examined to prove the missing report lodged by him with the Police of Police Station, Umri on January 10 th ,1996; PW 6 Jagram, PW 7 Mahendra, PW 9 Shiv Kumar and PW 10 Raj Kumar are the relatives of the deceased and were examined to prove the recovery of the dead body of the deceased in their presence; PW 11 Ramnath is the sister's husband of the deceased and was examined to prove that he had gone in search of the deceased at Navalpura on being told about missing of the deceased from his house since January 1 st ,1996; PW 12 Vijendra Singh is the son of the deceased; PW 13 Rameshwar Dayal is a stock witness of the Police as admitted by him in his cross-examination and he was examined to prove the slip taken by the Police in possession to show that PW 22 Raghuveer Singh had promised to pay the balance sale consideration of Rs.18,000/- to the deceased after sometime; PW 14 Man Singh was a witness to the seizure memos Exs.P/13 to P/19 and he was examined by the prosecution to prove the seizure of mattress, quilt, shirt and pant of the deceased and also of Rs.5,000/- seized from PW 17 Ashok Kumar Jain pursuant to disclosure statement, Ex.P/13 of the appellant; PW 8 Gauri Shankar, PW 15 R.S.Chourasiya and PW 18 Inspector Umesh Singh Tomar are the Police witnesses connected to the investigation of the crime; PW 16 Kashi Prasad is the Patwari who had prepared the site plan,Ex.P/23; PW 17 Ashok Kumar Jain is the person from whom the investigating officer had recovered Rs.5,000/- pursuant to disclosure statement of the appellant, Ex.P/13; PW 19 Mansaram was a witness to the sale document by which the deceased had sold his land in village Puleh to PW 22 Raghuveer Singh; PW 20 Sonelal is the brother of the deceased; PW 21 Dr. Madhup Kumar had conducted autopsy of the deceased on January 25 th ,1996 and was examined to prove his postmortem report, Ex.P/31; and PW 22 Raghuveer Singh is the person to whom the deceased had sold his land in village Puleh on January 3 rd ,1996.

5. After the prosecution had closed its evidence, statement of the appellant and his father Jai Shriram under section 313 Cr.P.C. were recorded in which they denied the incriminating evidence that came on record against them and pleaded that they were falsely implicated by the Police in the present case.

6. The Trial Court on the basis of evidence that was adduced before it, acquitted appellant's father Jai Shriram, but convicted the appellant for the offences under sections 302,201 and 404 IPC as it found two circumstances against him to have been proved by the prosecution and they are (i) recovery of the dead body of the deceased from a well pursuant to his disclosure statement and (ii) recovery of Rs.90,000/- from his house on January 23 rd ,1996 pursuant to his disclosure statement, Ex.P/2 and Rs.5,000/- from PW 17 Ashok Kumar Jain pursuant to his disclosure statement Ex.P/13. The circumstance of last seen relied upon by the prosecution against the appellant was not believed by the Trial Court.

7. A perusal of the impugned judgment would show that all the public witnesses examined by the prosecution before the Trial Court have turned hostile and did not support the case of prosecution at all. The conviction of the appellant for various offences under sections 302,201 and 404 IPC by the Trial Court is only on the basis of uncorroborated testimony of the investigating officer PW 18 Umesh Singh Tomar.

8. The only question that calls for our consideration in the present appeal is whether it would be safe to sustain the conviction of the appellant merely on the basis of solitary uncorroborated testimony of the investigating officer, more so, when all the public witnesses, most of whom were related to the deceased have turned hostile to the prosecution case on material aspects.

9. As far as the principle of law applicable to the case is concerned, we have no doubt that an accused can be convicted on the solitary evidence of the investigating officer, provided it is reliable and credit worthy. On giving our anxious consideration to all the facts and circumstances of the case and the evidence of prosecution available on Trial Court's record, we are of the view that it may not be safe to sustain the conviction of the appellant only on the basis of uncorroborated testimony of the investigating officer PW 18 Umesh Singh Tomar. In our opinion, no credence can be given to the testimony of PW 18 Umesh Singh Tomar. The appellant was arrested by the Police vide arrest memo, Ex.P/27 at 17.05 Hrs. on January 22 nd ,1996. His disclosure statement, Ex.P/1 pursuant to which the dead body of the deceased was recovered from a well was recorded before his arrest at 12.30 Hrs. The dead body of the deceased was recovered from the well vide memo Ex.P/4 at 14.10 Hrs. before the appellant was arrested at 17.05 Hrs. The widow of the deceased (PW 4 Urmila Devi) has testified that the disclosure statement of the appellant, Ex.P/1 was extracted by the Police from him by use of third degree method. We find that missing report of the deceased was lodged by his brother with the Police on January 10 th ,1996. Though suspicion was raised on the appellant and his father in the missing report on January 10 th ,1996, but there was no headway in the investigation till the dead body of the deceased was recovered from the well on January 22 nd ,1996. It is not the case of the investigating officer that when he had visited the house of the appellant after receiving the missing report of the deceased on January 10 th ,1996 the appellant was found missing from his house. Rather, the investigating officer PW 18 Umesh Singh Tomar has stated in his evidence before the Trial Court that at the time of his visit to the house of the appellant, he was very much present there. If that was so, there is no explanation on record why the appellant was not interrogated by the investigating officer then and there instead of waiting till recovery of the dead body of the deceased from the well on January 22 nd ,1996. Does it not create a strong suspicion on the involvement of the appellant in the crime. In our view, it does create a suspicion on his complicity in the crime.

10. Furthermore, we find as per testimony of the deceased's widow PW 4 Urmila Devi that the deceased had left his house at Etawah, Uttar Pradesh on January 1 st ,1996 after telling her that he was going to the house of the appellant at Navalpura, District Bhind in connection with sale of his land in village Puleh and if it was so then why the deceased's widow sent her son PW 12 Vijendra to the house of her 'Nandoi' in search of her husband. This also, in our opinion, creates strong suspicion on the prosecution version regarding involvement of the appellant in the murder of the deceased.

11. PW 2 Rajendra Singh and PW 3 Bharat Singh are both witnesses to the disclosure statement of the appellant, Ex.P/1. But they both have turned hostile to the prosecution case and say that the disclosure statement, Ex.P/1 was not recorded by the investigating officer in their presence. This fact has been noticed by the Trial Court in the impugned judgment, but despite that the Trial Court has strangely taken the circumstance of recovery of the dead body at the behest of the appellant as proved only on the basis of uncorroborated testimony of the investigating officer PW 18 Umesh Singh Tomar.

12. The Trial Court also seems to have over looked the material contradiction in the testimony of the deceased's widow Urmila Devi (PW 4) and deceased's brother Sonelal (PW 20) regarding the purpose for which the deceased had left his house at Etawah, Uttar Pradesh on January 1 st ,1996. As per the deceased's widow (PW 4), the deceased had left his house on January 1 st ,1996 after telling her that he was going to the house of the appellant at Navalpura in connection with sale of his land in village Puleh whereas, as per PW 20 Sonelal he was informed by the deceased's widow that the deceased had left his house on January 1 st ,1996 in search of a bridegroom for his daughter.

13. There is no cogent evidence on record to show that the deceased was last seen in the company of the appellant before his dead body was recovered from a well on January 22 nd ,1996. In fact, the Trial Court itself has disbelieved the circumstance of last seen relied upon by the prosecution as one of the circumstances in the chain of circumstances to prove involvement of the appellant in the murder of the deceased. In our opinion, evidence of the investigating officer (PW 18) which has been made the sole basis of conviction of the appellant is of very weak type and does not inspire our confidence to prove the involvement of the appellant in the murder of the deceased. Hence, we have no hesitation in holding that the conviction of the appellant for the offences for which he has been convicted by the Trial Court is legally unsustainable.

14. For the foregoing reasons, this appeal is allowed. The impugned judgment of the Trial Court is set aside. Bail bonds of the appellant are discharged. Fine, if already deposited by him, be returned to him forthwith. Trial Court's record be sent back. This appeal stands disposed of accordingly.


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