IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1702 OF 2008
Rajendra Singh … Appellant
State of Uttaranchal … Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Aftab Alam, J.
1. This appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated April 30,
2008 passed by the Uttarakhand High Court in Government Appeal No.1174
of 2001 (Old No.303 of 1991). By the impugned judgment, the High Court
allowed the Government Appeal, set aside the judgment of acquittal
rendered by the trial court, and finding the appellant guilty of the offence of
murder convicted him under section 302 of the Penal Code and gave him the
sentence of rigorous imprisonment for life.
2. The case of the prosecution is based on a written report dated July 26,
1988 submitted at Police Station Dehradun by one Vijay Singh s/o Puran
Singh Rana (hereinafter referred to as “the informant”). In the written reportPage 2
it was stated that the informant’s elder brother, namely, Kishan Singh Rana
(the deceased) was a peon in the Bank of India, Rajpur Road Branch,
Dehradun. He had given a pair of pants and some cloth for stitching to
Rajendra Singh tailor (the appellant), whose shop is on the road just near
their house. The appellant did not return the stitched clothes even after
several days and on the evening prior to the date of occurrence, there was a
quarrel between the informant’s brother and the appellant on that issue. On
July 26, 1988 (the date of occurrence) the informant’s brother had gone to
the bank as usual on his motor cycle. He returned from the bank at about
1.00 p.m. and as he reached in front of the appellant’s shop, he got down
from the motor cycle as the road was broken at that point. At that instant, the
appellant came out of his shop carrying a pair of scissors in his hands;
hurling abuses, he came down to the road and attacked the informant’s
brother with the scissors with the intent to kill him. In order to save his life,
Kishan Singh Rana ran down the road but the appellant chased him and
caught him after some distance in front of Chintamani’s house. At that spot
he gave the informant’s brother many blows by the scissors, one after the
other. Kishan Singh Rana fell down bleeding on the road. It was further
stated in the written report that besides the informant, Makhan Singh
(PW.2), Laxman (Motor) Auto Mechanic (not examined) and his sister-in-
law, Deepa (the wife of the deceased – PW.3) and many other persons and
women of the area witnessed the occurrence. After assaulting the deceased,
the appellant fled away from there. It was further stated in the written report
that Makhan Singh took the informant’s brother to Dun Hospital, where he
was declared brought dead. The written report concluded with the request to
take legal action against the appellant.
3. The written report submitted by Vijay Singh was incorporated in the
first information report (report No.230) giving rise to criminal case
No.483/88/-under section 302 IPC, P.S. Dehradun.
4. The police after investigation submitted charge-sheet and the
appellant was put on trial on the charge under section 302 of the Penal Code.
5. In support of the charge, the prosecution examined 11 witnesses.
PW.1, PW.2 and PW.3 are the eye witnesses of the occurrence, of whom
PW.1 is also the first informant. PW.4 is one of the witnesses of the recovery
of blood stained and plain earth and a chappal from the place of occurrence.
He also identified his signature on the site plan (Ex.Ka-3) of the place of
occurrence. PW.5 is another witness of the recovery of blood stained and
plain earth, two chappals and one sandle from the place of occurrence. He
identified his signature on the seizure memo (Ex.La-3). PW.6 and PW.7 are
witnesses of the recovery of the scissors from the appellant’s shop. PW.8 is
the doctor who had conducted post-mortem on the body of the deceased.
PW.9 is a formal witness, the scribe of the chik FIR. PW.10 is a SubInspector of Police who had examined the place of occurrence and had
seized the articles from there. PW.11 is the Investigating Officer of the case.
6. The trial court found that there were a number of discrepancies in the
depositions of the eye-witnesses and held that the prosecution was not able
to establish the charge against the appellant. It, accordingly, acquitted the
appellant by the judgment and order dated November 16, 1990.
7. The State Government filed an appeal against the judgment of the trial
court and the High Court took the view that the reasons given by the trial
court for not accepting the statements of PW.2 and PW.3 were specious and
quite untenable. The High Court found that both PW.2 and PW.3 are wholly
reliable witnesses and there was no reason not to accept their evidences. It,
accordingly, set aside the judgment passed by the trial court and convicted
and sentenced the appellant, as noted above.
8. The appellant is now in appeal before this Court.
9. Before proceeding to examine the ocular evidence adduced by the
prosecution in support of its case, we may first see the medical evidence. As
noted above, PW.8 conducted the post mortem on the body of Kishan Singh
Rana on July 27, 1987. He found as many as 16 injuries on the body of the
deceased which are as under:-
“1. Stab wound 2.5 cm x 1 cm x cavity deep on left side of
chest, 9 cm below left nipple midline direction backward and
2. Stab wound 1.5 cm x .5 cm x muscle deep on left side of
abdomen, 8 cm below injury No.1 and 11 cm away from the
3. Stab wound 4 cm x 1.5 cm x cavity deep on left side of
abdomen direction medially backward and downward.
4. Contusion 6 cm x 4 cm on back of left elbow and arm.
5. Contusion 22 cm x 3 cm on right arm extending from right
shoulder up to elbow (front aspect).
6. Lacerated wound 2 cm x 1 cm on right side of forehead x
scalp deep, 6 cm above outer angle of right eye.
7. Stab wound 3 cm x 1 cm x cavity deep on right side of chest
lower part on ant axillary line 12 cm below right nipple going
upward medially and backward, 12 cm below right nipple.
8. Stab wound 2.5 cm x 1 cm x cavity deep on right side of
chest in post axillary line 6 cm behind injury No.7.
9. Stab wound 3 cm x 1.5 cm on back of right side x cavity
deep going downwards backwards 7 cm below injury No.8.
10. Stab wound 2 cm x 1 cm on right buttock x muscle deep 15
cm below injury No.9 and 5 cm away from vert. column.
11. Stab wound 1.5 cm x .5 cm x cavity deep on right side of
back, 5 cm away from injury No.9 direction medially and
12. Stab wound 2.5 cm x 1 cm on right side of back x cavity
deep, 6 cm above injury No.11 direction medially and forward.
13. Stab wound 3 cm x 1.5 cm on right side of chest x cavity
deep over right back, 10 cm away from injury No.12 over the
inferior angle of scapula direction forward, medially and
downwards, 10 cm above injury No.12.
14. Stab wound 2.5 cm x 1 cm on right side of back of chest 8
cm above injury No.13 and 15 cm away from midline over the
upper part of scapula. Direction backward, medially and
15. Stab wound 1.5 cm x .5 cm x cavity deep 5 cm away from
vert. column and 8 cm away from injury No.14.
16. Stab wound 3 cm x 1.5 cm x chest cavity deep on left side
of lower chest back going downward forward and medially 4
cms away from midline, at L2 level.”
10. Here, it may be noted that apart from injuries 4 and 5 which are
contusions that may have been caused due to fall, the rest 14 are stab
injuries. The medical evidence is, thus, quite consistent with the prosecution
case that the deceased was killed by inflicting injuries by a pair of scissors.
11. Let us now come to the ocular evidence.
12. The informant Vijay Singh who is the younger brother of the deceased
was examined as PW.1. In his examination-in-chief he fully supported the
prosecution case but in course of cross-examination in paragraph 12 of his
deposition he stated as under:-
“……….. On the day of occurrence I had gone to school. I had
come back from school at 2.30 P.M. when I came back then I
was informed that my brother was killed. People were weeping
in the house. Then I had gone to hospital. Scissor blow was not
given in my presence.”
13. It is for the reason of this statement that the trial court discarded the
evidence of PW.1.
14. It is difficult to fault the trial court for rejecting the evidence of PW.1
but let us now see the evidences of PW.2 and PW.3.
15. It is undeniable that both PW.2 and PW.3 fully supported the
prosecution case in regard to the assault by the appellant on the deceased
with a pair of scissors. PW.3, the wife of the deceased also deposed before
the court regarding the genesis of the occurrence i.e., the quarrel between the
deceased and the appellant that had taken place on the evening before the
date of occurrence over the appellant’s failure to return the clothes given by
the deceased for stitching even after a number of days. Further, the
deposition of PW.3 in regard to the assault by the appellant on the deceased
is quite graphic.
16. The trial court, however, highlighted certain discrepancies between
the statements of PW.2 and PW.3 and for that reason found them to be
unreliable. Those very discrepancies were emphasized by the counsel for the
appellant to urge before this Court that the judgment of the trial court was
quite sound and the High Court was in error in reversing that judgment and
holding the appellant guilty of the charge.
17. In order to appreciate the view taken by the trial court and the
submissions made on behalf of the appellant in its support we may advert to
the depositions of PW.2 and PW.3.
18. PW.2 Makhan Singh stated before the court that at the time of the
occurrence he was not a tenant of the deceased. He further said that he had
not said to Darogaji that he was a tenant in the house of Kishan Singh and
he did not know how he (Darogaji) had so written in his statement. He
further stated that in those days he was not working in any factory and he
had not said that he was working in a factory. He had given (the No.) 119/3
as his address. That house belonged to the deceased. He was a resident of
Tehri Garhwal and the deceased too was a resident of Tehri Garhwal. They
thus, belonged to the same place. They also belonged to the same caste. He
knew Kishan Singh and Rajendra Singh from before. He also said that he
had no relationship with Kishan Singh.
19. PW.2 was recalled for further evidence. On recall he reiterated that he
had no relationship with the deceased Kishan Singh. He was then shown an
application that was marked as Exhibit Ka-10 and he admitted that it was
written in his hand and it was given at the Drona Hotel. In that application it
was stated that his “Chachera Bhai” (paternal cousin), Kishan Singh had
met with a tragic accident and for that reason he was unable to report for
duty from July 26 to July 30, 1988. He further stated that he had given the
number of the house of Kishan Singh because the place where he stayed had
20. PW.3, the wife of the deceased denied before the court that Makhan
Singh lived in their house as a tenant. She further said that Makhan Singh
lived in Indra Colony and she did not know Makhan Singh before the
occurrence. She further said that she had seen him first when the occurrence
took place and she came to know his name when it was said to her by the
police. The police had come to her house at 5.00 to 6.00 P.M. She did not
remember whether or not Makhan Singh was with them at that time.
21. The Investigating Officer was examined as PW.11. No question was
asked to him with reference to any statement of Makhan Singh recorded
under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He, too, was recalled
for further evidence and on recall he said that Makhan Singh addressed
Deepa-PW.3 as “Bhabhi”.
22. In the statement of the appellant recorded under section 313 of the
Code of Criminal procedure, the court put to him the following question:-
“It has come in the statement of Shri Naresh Pal Yadav,
SI PW.11 that Makhan Singh had called Deepa as “Bhabhi”.
What do you have to say in this regard?
Ans.: She is real Bhabhi (sister-in-law). Witness Makhan
Singh lives with his Bhabhi.”
23. The depositions of PW.2 and PW.3 are discussed by the trial court in
paragraph 13 of its judgment where it made the following observations:
“Now, there remains the testimony of Makhan Singh Rana
(PW.2) and Smt. Deepa PW.3. Makhan Singh Rana (PW.2)
tried to conceal the relationship between him and the deceased.
Makhan Singh PW.2 stated that he had no relationship with
Kishan Singh, deceased. He further stated that he was not the
tenant of Kishan Singh. He further stated that he had not told
the Investigating Officer that he was the tenant of Kishan Singh
in that house, but the Investigation Officer stated in his
statement that Makhan Singh told that he was the tenant and he
gave the address of his house 119/3 Nai Basti. Naresh Pal
Yadav, SHO PW.11 stated that Makhan Singh told Deepa as his
Bhabhi. Makhan PW.2 stated in his re-examination that he had
written in the application Ex. KA-10 Kishan Singh as cousin
brother. He stated that this fact was written in the application
wrongly, but he has not stated the reasons why this fact was
written in the application wrongly. Moreover, Ghanshyam Das
DW.2 stated that the application for Ration-Card of Makhan
Singh was on the address of 119/3 Nai Basti, Chukhuwala.
Smt. Deepa PW3 also stated in his (sic. her) cross-examination
that Makhan Singh was not the cousin of her husband. She
stated in her cross-examination that she did not know Makhan
Singh before the incident. When this accident took place she
knew the name of Makhan Singh. The police personnel told the
name of Makhan Singh, then she knew the name of Makhan
Singh. Thus both the witnesses Makhan Singh PW2 and Smt.
Deepa PW3 are intentionally concealing their relationship. It is
highly strange that Smt. Deepa does not know the name of her
24. The above quoted passage from the trial court judgment suffers from
some errors of fact. We have perused the evidence of PW.11 more than
once but we failed to notice any statement in his deposition that Makhan
Singh had given his address as house No.119/3, Nai Basti and had told him
that he was a tenant of the deceased. As a matter of fact, it was PW.2,
Makhan Singh himself who truthfully accepted that in his statement before
the Investigating Officer he had given his address as No. 119/3 which was
the house of Kishan Singh, the deceased. In his statement on recall he had
also explained that he had given the address of the house of the deceased
because the place where he lived had no clearly ascertainable address.
Moreover, both he and the deceased came from the same place and belonged
to the same caste and he knew the deceased from before. He repeatedly
denied that he lived in the house of the deceased as a tenant and there is no
reason not to accept his statement.
25. Further, calling Deepa as “Bhabhi” does not at all mean that Makhan
Singh was a blood relation of Kishan Singh Rana. “Bhabhi” is a common
form of address for the wife of someone who is known from before.
Moreover, Makhan Singh had clearly said that both he and Kishan Singh
Rana belonged to Tehri Garhwal and they were also of the same caste and
further that he knew Kishan Singh Rana from before. In those
circumstances, to call the wife of the deceased as “Bhabhi” was quite natural
for him but at the same time it did not, by any means, show that he had any
blood relationship with the deceased.
26. Coming now to Ex.Ka-10, it needs to be noted that that was an
application for leave of absence given where he was working. It is a
common failing to try to justify the unsanctioned absence from work by
making out excuses and by taking some liberty with actual facts. Therefore,
in his application for condoning the absence for four days, if he said that his
cousin had met with a tragic accident, it cannot be inferred that the deceased
was actually his cousin and in court he was trying to conceal the
27. We see no reason for the trial court to come to the conclusion that
PW.2 and PW.3 were speaking falsely and were trying to hide the
relationship between PW.2 and the deceased or that he lived in the house of
the deceased as a tenant.
28. In the first place no such inference is possible on the basis of the
depositions of PW.2 and PW.3 and secondly and more importantly even if it
is assumed for the sake of argument that the depositions of PW.2 and PW.3
were incorrect in regard to the relationship between PW.2 and the deceased
and in regard to PW.2 living in the house of the deceased as a tenant at the
time of occurrence, we fail to see how that can be the ground to reject their
deposition entirely even though it is perfectly sound in respect of the main
prosecution case. In our system of law, the maxim falsus in uno, falsus in
omnibus is not followed.
29. Here, it is to be stated that the learned counsel appearing for the
appellant submitted that the deposition of PW.3 was quite unreliable as it
contained certain statements that were either incorrect or quite
inconceivable. He referred to paragraph 20 of the deposition of PW.3 where
she said that the first fight (between her husband and the appellant) took
place on the verandah of the shop; that blood also spilled on the verandah of
the shop and further that the first fight on the verandah of the shop went on
for about 10-15 minutes. He also referred to paragraph 21 of the deposition
of PW.3 where she said that the accused held the scissors with both hands
and opened both the handles of the scissors and then attacked with one hand
at her husband.
30. Learned counsel submitted that there was no verandah in front of the
shop of the appellant and the manner of assault as described by PW.3 was
31. We are unable to accept the submission that on the basis of the
statements pointed out by the counsel the deposition of PW.3 is liable to be
rejected. The statements relied upon by the counsel were made by PW.3
under the stress of cross-examination. She is a housewife and apparently not
highly educated. She has a limited vocabulary and an imperfect capacity to
describe the manner of assault on her husband. Her statement especially in
paragraph 21 is obviously in answer to some convoluted question by the
cross-examiner, to which she replied as best as she could.
32. We find the testimonies of PW.2 and PW.3 wholly reliable and see no
reason not to accept the same.
33. Apart from the evidences of PW.2 and PW.3, there are other
circumstances that lend credence to the prosecution case.
34. The Investigating Officer (PW.11) stated that he arrested the appellant
at 8.00 p.m. on July 28, 1988. In course of interrogation he volunteered to
produce the scissors used for killing the deceased from his shop. He took
the Investigating Officer to his shop, opened it with the keys kept in his
pocket and recovered the blood stained scissors from under the shop counter
and produced it before the Investigating Officer.
35. PW.6 stated that on July 28, 1988, while he was going to the house of
the deceased, he met the police people in Indira colony (the place where the
occurrence took place). The appellant was also with them. The police
people brought the appellant to his shop and got it opened and on the asking
of the Daroga, the appellant picked up a pair of scissors from the counter of
his shop and handed it to the police. A recovery memo was prepared and the
signatures of the witness and one Bhim Singh were taken on the recovery
36. On a careful consideration of the materials on record and the
submissions made on behalf of the appellant and the State, we are of the
view that the High Court has rightly rejected the view taken by the trial court
as wholly untenable and has rightly accepted the evidences of PW.2 and
PW.3 in order to bring home the guilt of the appellant.
37. In the light of the discussion above, we find no merit in the appeal. It
is, accordingly, dismissed.
38. The bail bonds of the appellant are cancelled and he is directed to
surrender within four weeks from today, failing which the trial court is
directed to take all possible measures to apprehend him to make him
undergo the remaining sentence.
(Ranjana Prakash Desai)
April 11, 2013.