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sentence reduced =we have no hesitation in holding that the Courts below were justified in recording an order of conviction against the appellants. We, however, feel that in the facts and circumstance of the case the sentence imposed upon the appellants is somewhat harsh and needs to be suitably reduced. We accordingly modify the sentence recorded by the trial Court as affirmed by the High Court to the 5

REPORTABLE
A village scene in central Chhattisgarh

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 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA



 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION



 CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.2025-2028 OF 2011




Birbal B. Chouhan & Anr. etc.etc. ...Appellants



 Versus



State of Chhattisgarh etc. etc. ...Respondents





 J U D G M E N T





T.S. THAKUR, J.



              

1. The appellants in these appeals were tried by the Second 


Additional Session Judge, Raipur for offences punishable under 


Sections 399 and 402 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 in 


Sessions Trial No.103/92, convicted and sentenced to undergo 


rigorous imprisonment for a period of five years on both 



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counts. Criminal Appeals No.603/1993, 634/1993, 881/1993, 


1172/1993, 1173/1993 and 1174/1993 filed by the appellants 


having been dismissed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh, 


Bilaspur by its order dated 9th July, 2010, the present appeals 


have been filed to assail the correctness of the said judgment 


and order. 



2. Briefly stated, the prosecution case against the appellants 


was that on 10th February, 1992, (PW1) Lokesh Agarwal was 


travelling from Pusaur to Raigarh on a motorbike with his friend 


Rashid late in the evening when he saw eight to ten persons at 


Kota Tarai near airport holding sticks in their hands. They tried 


to stop and then chase the duo who fled from the spot and 


went straight to Raigarh Police to report about the incident. 


Sub-Inspector A.K. Khan (PW5) recorded the report and 


informed Stations Incharge at Kotwali Raigarh and Pusaur with 


a request to them to reach the spot. The police constituted four 


smaller groups to approach the place where the appellants 


were said to be sitting under a tree with lethal weapons in their 


hands. The appellants were surrounded and asked to surrender 


whereupon they tried to escape from the spot but the police 



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party apprehended the appellants along with the arms they 


were carrying besides eatables and liquor. Some of those 


assembled on the spot, made their escape good under the 


cover of darkness. 



3. On completion of investigation into the case a charge 


sheet was filed against eleven persons for offences punishable 


under Sections 399 and 402 IPC. The jurisdictional Magistrate 


soon thereafter committed the appellants to stand trial before 


the Sessions Judge, Raigarh, who made over the case to the 


Second Additional Sessions Judge, Raigarh. 



4. Before the trial Court, the prosecution examined nine 


witnesses while five witnesses were examined in defence. The 


prosecution also relied upon the seizure of weapons like a 


Sword, Daggers, a betel axe and sticks from the appellants 


including a torch, bottle of liquor, some eatables and a candle. 


The trial Court eventually found the appellants guilty of the 


offences with which they were charged and sentenced them to 


undergo imprisonment for five years on each count as already 


mentioned above. Four of the accused persons namely, 


Jageshwar, Shani Rawat, Palu Ram and Hiravan @ Ahiravan 


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were, however, given the benefit of doubt and acquitted by the 


trial Court. The trial Court held that the accused persons had 


gathered at a desolate place, at the dead of night tried to stop 


Lokesh Agarwal (PW1) and being armed with lethal weapons 


were preparing to commit offences which act was punishable 


under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC. 



5. The High Court in appeal reappraised the evidence 


adduced by the prosecution and defence and affirmed the 


findings recorded by the trial Court holding that the appellants 


before the High Court who were residents of different villages 


had gathered with lethal arms at an unearthly hour in a 


desolate place under a tree with no explanation for their 


conduct whatsoever much less an acceptable one. The High 


Court was of the view that the evidence adduced by the 


prosecution was cogent and acceptable leaving no room for 


interference with the order of conviction and sentence recorded 


by the Trial Court. The present appeals assail the correctness 


of the above judgment of the High Court as noticed earlier.



6. Along with the Special Leave Petitions the appellants 


made a prayer for exemption from surrender by them which 


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was declined by the Judge-in-Chamber by order dated 8th 


November, 2011. Eight of the convicts then surrendered while 


Paharia @ Goverdhan and Goverdhan Khasia, petitioners in SLP 


No.21927 and 21929 did not. Special Leave Petitions filed by 


the said two convicts were, therefore, dismissed by an order of 


this Court dated 10th February, 2011.



7. We have heard learned counsel for the parties for the 


remaining eight appellants and perused the orders under 


challenge. Learned counsel for the appellants has not been 


able to point out any error of fact or law in the order passed by 


the Courts below. Even otherwise the orders under challenge 


do not suffer from any legal infirmity nor do they suffer from 


any perversity in the appreciation of evidence adduced by the 


parties. In that view, therefore, we have no hesitation in 


holding that the Courts below were justified in recording an 


order of conviction against the appellants. We, however, feel 


that in the facts and circumstance of the case the sentence 


imposed upon the appellants is somewhat harsh and needs to 


be suitably reduced. We accordingly modify the sentence 


recorded by the trial Court as affirmed by the High Court to the 



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extent that instead of five years the appellants shall stand 


sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 


three years only on both counts. Sentences awarded shall run 


concurrently.



8. Appeals are disposed of with the above modification. 





                             



 ......................................J.

 (DR. B.S. CHAUHAN)





 ......................................J.

New Delhi (T.S. THAKUR)

November 14, 2011





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