//
you're reading...
legal issues

MURDER OF WIFE= In Trimukh Maroti Kirkan v. State of Maharashtra, (2006) 10 SCC 681, this Court held as under: “Where an accused is alleged to have committed the murder of his wife and the prosecution succeeds in leading evidence to show that shortly before the commission of crime they were seen together or the offence takes place in the dwelling home where the husband also normally resided, it has been consistently held that if the accused does not offer any explanation how the wife received injuries or offers an explanation which is found to be false, it is a strong circumstance which indicates that he is responsible for commission of the crime.”= inescapable conclusion that appellant had been doubting the character of his wife and therefore, had adequate motive to eliminate her. In spite of the fact that he had been in the same room, he failed to furnish any explanation as under what circumstances his wife was found dead. Particularly, in view of the fact that the courts below had excluded the theory of suicide. The same conclusion stands fully fortified by the fact that the saree of deceased was lying in the corner of the room and the version given by the appellant that he had found his wife hanging with a saree around her neck and he cut the same by knife stands fully falsified as in such a fact-situation, part of the saree should have been found hanging with the ceiling of the room. The conduct of the appellant that he had given a false information to his in-laws and while dead body was lying in his house he stayed in a Krishna Guest House; further that he had absconded from the city itself, suggest that he is guilty of the offence. 20. In view of the above, we do not find any cogent reason to interfere with the judgments and orders of the courts below. The appeal lacks merit, and is accordingly dismissed.

Page 1

 

The Andhra Pradesh High Court in Hyderabad.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court in Hyderabad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2038 of 2011
Ravirala Laxmaiah …Appellant
Versus
State of A.P. …Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.
1. This appeal has been preferred against the judgment and order
dated 13.7.2010, passed by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at
Hyderabad in Criminal Appeal No. 302 of 2007, concurring with the
judgment and order dated 5.2.2007 of the Ist Additional Sessions
Judge, Mahabubnagar, Andhra Pradesh, in Sessions Case No. 83 of
2006, whereby and whereunder the appellant was found guilty of the
offences punishable under Sections 302 and 404 of the Indian Penal
Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as `the IPC’), and was sentencedPage 2
to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of
Rs.100/-, in default of payment of which, simple imprisonment for a
period of three months under Section 302 IPC; and for the offence
punishable under Section 404 IPC, rigorous imprisonment for a period
of three years, was imposed on him. However, both the sentences
were directed to run concurrently.
2. Facts and circumstances giving rise to this appeal are that:
A. Balamani (deceased) was the second wife of the appellant.
Their marriage was solemnized in 2002, for which her father had
given dowry of Rs.20,000/-, gold earrings, a ring and silver anklets
etc. Appellant became suspicious of the fidelity of his wife, and began
to beat her up at times. The deceased went to live in the house of her
parents because of the ill-treatment meted out to her by the appellant.
However, upon the advice of the elders in her family, she decided to
go back to the appellant. The appellant and the deceased were taken
by G. Balaiah (PW.3), the paternal uncle of deceased to Hyderabad,
and there he was engaged in coolie work. Here too, the appellant and
Balamani (deceased) would often quarrel, and the appellant would
beat her. They eventually returned to their village, and 15 days prior
to the said incident, the appellant had taken Balamani (deceased) to
2Page 3
Srisailam and here they had worked at Eagalapenta, attending to the
petty works in and around the colony for some time. D.V. Subbaiah
(PW.2), a neighbour, had seen the appellant and the deceased
quarrelling, and as a result thereof, had also noticed Balamani
(deceased) weeping.
B. On 12.7.2003, Dasu Krishnaiah (PW.1), father of the deceased,
received a telephone call from the appellant, wherein he was informed
that Balamani was suffering from a severe stomach ache. The next
day, the appellant again made a call to the neighbours of Dasu
Krishnaiah (PW.1) and asked them to give a message to Dasu
Krishnaiah (PW.1), asking him to come to Eagalapenta. However,
Dasu Krishnaiah (PW.1) was unable to reach there. The next day, at
about 10.30 A.M., the appellant telephonically informed Dasu
Krishnaiah (PW.1) that Balamani had committed suicide. Dasu
Krishnaiah (PW.1) immediately rushed by jeep, alongwith his family.
On the way, they met the appellant at Santa Bazar at Achampet. The
appellant then informed them that Balamani had committed suicide by
hanging herself in the `G’ Type Labour Quarters, Near the Krishna
Guest House, Eagalapenta. Even on being requested by Dasu
Krishnaiah (PW.1), the appellant refused to accompany them and
3Page 4
instead, escaped from there. The family of Balamani (deceased) had
thereafter reached the `G’ type quarters, and here they found that the
dead body of Balamani (deceased) was smelling, and that from it,
blood was flowing out of the house over its threshold. The dead body
of the deceased was lying on the floor, and two granite stones lay near
the head of the dead body. There were tears on certain parts of the
body of deceased, which clearly indicated that there had been attempts
made to forcibly snatch off her gold ornaments.
C. Dasu Krishnaiah (PW.1) filed an FIR regarding the incident on
15.7.2003, alleging that the appellant had killed Balamani on the night
of 12.7.2003, by strangulation. Her nose and ears were viciously cut,
and all her gold ornaments and anklets had been stolen.
D. The police had recovered the dead body of Balamani, and had
got the autopsy performed upon it. The appellant had been
absconding, and thus could be arrested only on 15.7.2003. On the
basis of the disclosure statement that was made by the appellant, the
ornaments of Balamani, deceased, had been recovered in the presence
of two panch witnesses, namely, Ganjai Niranjan (PW.8) and Syed
Aktharali (PW.9). After completion of the investigation, a chargesheet
4Page 5
was filed on 28.10.2005. Charges were framed on 17.8.2006 against
the appellant, for the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 404
IPC.
E. After the conclusion of the trial, the learned Additional
Sessions Judge convicted and sentenced the appellant vide impugned
judgment and order dated 5.2.2007, as has been referred to
hereinabove.
F. Aggrieved, the appellant preferred an appeal before the High
Court, which was dismissed vide impugned judgment and order dated
13.7.2010.
Hence, this appeal.
3. Dr. Aman Hingorani, learned counsel appearing for the
appellant has submitted, that the present case was one of suicide by
hanging, and that the same most certainly did not involve homicide by
strangulation, as it is evident from the post-mortem report, as well as
from the deposition of Dr. K. Padmavathi (PW.10), both of which
clearly suggest, that death had been caused as a result of suicide by
hanging. Even otherwise, there exist serious discrepancies and
inconsistencies in the depositions of the witnesses. There was no
5Page 6
motive whatsoever, for the appellant to commit the murder of his
wife. All the recoveries are fake, and the material objects, particularly
jewellery and other items have been planted by the police to falsely
implicate the appellant in the case, as recovery witnesses of the
jewellery, particularly Ganjai Niranjan (PW.8) and Syed Aktharali
(PW.9), do not support the recovery of the aforementioned items.
The mere appearance and admission of their signature/thumb
impression on the memo of recovery, does not prove the recovery.
Thus, the appeal deserves to be allowed.
4. Per contra, Shri Gagandeep Sharma, learned counsel appearing
for the respondent, has opposed the appeal, contending that opinion of
Dr. Padmavathi (PW.10) could not be a piece of conclusive evidence.
It is not necessary that the medical report, as well as the deposition of
Dr. K. Padmavathi (PW.10) suggest the theory of suicide by hanging,
and not of homicidal death by strangulation. The inconsistencies in
the depositions of the witnesses are minor, and the same natural, as
the evidence of the said witnesses was recorded after the lapse of a
long period from the date of incident. The appellant had doubted the
fidelity of his wife, and had therefore nursed a grudge when she had
gone alongwith her paternal uncle G. Balaiah (PW.3) alone.
6Page 7
However, she had been taken by G. Balaiah (PW.3) alongwith her
sister. The concurrent findings of fact recorded by the courts below do
not warrant any interference. The appeal lacks merit and is thus, liable
to be dismissed.
5. We have considered the rival submissions made by the learned
counsel for the parties, and perused the record.
6. The Trial Court has appreciated the evidence of all the
witnesses, including medical evidence.
So far as the recoveries are concerned, undoubtedly, Ganjai
Niranjan (PW.8) and Syed Aktharali (PW.9), do not support the
recoveries of the ornaments. However, they have admitted to their
signature/thumb impression(s) being present on the recovery memos.
7. D.V. Subbaiah (PW.2) is a circumstantial witness, and has
deposed that being a neighbour of the couple referred to herein, he
was fully aware of the fact that the appellant had in fact ill-treated his
wife, and that there quarrels often arose between them. The deceased
Balamani would cry a lot.
7Page 8
8. G. Balaiah (PW.3), the paternal uncle of deceased has deposed
that he had taken the deceased and her sister alongwith him from
Hyderabad, and the same had become an issue with respect to which
the appellant would quarrel bitterly with the deceased Balamani, as he
doubted her character and he presumed that G. Balaiah (PW.3) had
taken her alone from Hyderabad. Thus, it is indirectly suggested that
owing to the suspicious mind of the appellant, he had believed that
there had existed a questionable relationship between the deceased
and G. Balaiah (PW.3).
9. The Trial Court, after considering the entire evidence on record
has recorded the following findings:
(i) The conduct of the appellant towards his wife was not cordial,
and there existed adequate material on record to prove that the
accused had in fact been beating and harassing his wife intentionally.
(ii) The evidence on record conclusively proves that the appellant
had a deep rooted motive to somehow eliminate his wife, and the
reason for this was the suspicion he had with respect to her character,
particularly after she had travelled with G. Balaiah (PW.3) alone (in
his opinion), from Hyderabad to Bommanapally.
8Page 9
(iii) The recovery witnesses Ganjai Niranjan (PW.8) and Syed
Aktharali (PW.9) particularly as regards the recovery of the jewellery
of the deceased, do not support the case of the prosecution, but they
have admitted to their signature/thumb impression(s) appearing on the
panchnama Ext.P-4.
(iv) Indisputably, the panchnama Ext.P-4 is in relation to material
objects 1 to 3, i.e. in relation to the ornaments belonging to the
deceased Balamani.
(v) The appellant has not offered any explanation as regards the
gold ornaments of his wife being in his possession. He had been fully
aware of the death of his wife from the very beginning.
(vi) The appellant had been in the company of his wife at the time
of her death, and had been last seen with her. It is not the case of the
appellant that any other person could have come and committed the
crime.
(vii) The evidence on record fully excludes the theory of suicide, and
establishes the cause of death as homicidal.
(viii) The appellant had been giving misleading information to Dasu
Krishnaiah (PW.1), the father of the deceased.
9Page 10
(ix) The appellant had stayed in a guest house, leaving the dead
body of his deceased wife lying in the house, and had subsequently,
after meeting the family members of the deceased, absconded, and
could only be apprehended after several days.
(x) Any inconsistencies, embellishments or discrepancies in the
evidence are minor, and do not go to the root of the case.
10. The High Court has re-appreciated the entire evidence on
record, and has concurred with the conclusions arrived at by the Trial
Court, observing as under:
That the appellant had been with the deceased at the time of her
death. He had furnished false information to the family members of
the deceased, and the recovery of the jewellery of the deceased from
the house of the accused had been made at his behest. The defence put
forward by the appellant stating that the deceased had committed
suicide by hanging herself at their residence, was not acceptable. The
tears present on the body of the deceased indicated the forcible
snatching of her ornaments.
11. So far as the medical evidence is concerned, the High Court has
dealt with the opinion of Dr. K. Padmavathi (PW.10), who has
10Page 11
referred to Modi’s Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology, wherein it
has been stated that, “hyoid bone and superior cornuae of the thyroid
cartilage are not, as a rule, fractured by any other means other than by
strangulation”, although the larynx and the trachea may, in rare cases,
be fractured as a result of a fall. The postmortem has revealed that the
fracture of the hyoid bone is characterised by the absence of
hemorrhage in the tissues around the fracture.
Furthermore, the High Court has dealt with the factual matrix of
the case and has relied upon the statement of Dasu Krishnaiah (PW.1),
who has deposed that the sari of the deceased had been thrown into a
corner of the room, and that it had not been cut into two pieces as was
suggested by the appellant accused. The appellant has suggested that
he had cut the sari with a knife, and had let the dead body of his wife
onto the floor. As an observation of the scene of the offence does not
indicate that the remaining piece of sari had been found on the ceiling,
and the prosecution has established the other facts regarding them last
being seen and living together. The case against the appellant stands
fully proved, and the theory that the deceased had committed suicide
by hanging herself, is a false plea taken by the appellant, which in
11Page 12
itself is an additional link connecting the appellant to the commission
of offence.
12. So far as the medical evidence is concerned, the issue involved
herein is no more res integra.
This Court dealt with the issue in Ponnusamy v. State of
Tamil Nadu, AIR 2008 SC 2110, and observed as under:
“20-21. It is true that the autopsy surgeon, PW 17, did
not find any fracture on the hyoid bone. Existence of
such a fracture leads to a conclusive proof of
strangulation but absence thereof does not prove contra.
In Taylor’s Principles and Practice of Medical
Jurisprudence, 13th Edn., pp. 307-08, it is stated:
‘The hyoid bone is ‘U’ shaped and composed of
five parts: the body, two greater and two lesser
horns. It is relatively protected, lying at the root of
the tongue where the body is difficult to feel. The
greater horn, which can be felt more easily, lies
behind the front part of the strip muscles
(sternomastoid), 3 cm below the angle of the lower
jaw and 1.5 cm from the midline. The bone ossifies
from six centres, a pair for the body and one for
each horn. The greater horns are, in early life,
connected to the body by cartilage but after middle
life they are usually united by bone. The lesser
horns are situated close to the junction of the
greater horns in the body. They are connected to
the body of the bone by fibrous tissue and
occasionally to the greater horns by synovial
joints which usually persist throughout life but
occasionally become ankylosed.
Our own findings suggest that although the
hardening of the bone is related to age there can
12Page 13
be considerable variation and elderly people
sometimes show only slight ossification.
From the above consideration of the anatomy it
will be appreciated that while injuries to the body
are unlikely, a grip high up on the neck may
readily produce fractures of the greater horns.
Sometimes it would appear that the local pressure
from the thumb causes a fracture on one side only.
While the amount of force in manual strangulation
would often appear to be greatly in excess of that
required to cause death, the application of such
force, as evidenced by extensive external and soft
tissue injuries, make it unusual to find fractures of
the hyoid bone in a person under the age of 40
years.
As stated, even in older people in which
ossification is incomplete, considerable violence
may leave this bone intact. This view is confirmed
by Green. He gives interesting figures: in 34 cases
of manual strangulation the hyoid was fractured in
12 (35%) as compared with the classic paper of
Gonzales who reported four fractures in 24 cases.
The figures in strangulation by ligature show that
the percentage of hyoid fractures was 13. Our own
figures are similar to those of Green.’
22. In Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 41 under the
title — Fracture of the Hyoid Bone in Strangulation:
Comparison of Fractured and Unfractured Hyoids from
Victims of Strangulation, it is stated:
‘The hyoid is the U-shaped bone of the neck that
is fractured in one-third of all homicides by
strangulation. On this basis, post-mortem
detection of hyoid fracture is relevant to the
diagnosis of strangulation. However, since many
cases lack a hyoid fracture, the absence of this
finding does not exclude strangulation as a cause
of death. The reasons why some hyoids fracture
and others do not may relate to the nature and
magnitude of force applied to the neck, age of the
13Page 14
victim, nature of the instrument (ligature or
hands) used to strangle, and intrinsic anatomic
features of the hyoid bone. We compared the
case profiles and xeroradiographic appearance
of the hyoids of 20 victims of homicidal
strangulation with and without hyoid fracture (n
= 10, each). The fractured hyoids occurred in
older victims of strangulation (39 ± 14 years)
when compared to the victims with unfractured
hyoids (30 ± 10 years). The age dependency of
hyoid fracture correlated with the degree of
ossification or fusion of the hyoid synchondroses.
The hyoid was fused in older victims of
strangulation (41 ± 12 years) whereas the
unfused hyoids were found in the younger victims
(28 ± 10 years). In addition, the hyoid bone was
ossified or fused in 70% of all fractured hyoids,
but, only 30% of the unfractured hyoids were
fused. The shape of the hyoid bone was also
found to differentiate fractured and unfractured
hyoids. Fractured hyoids were longer in the
anterior-posterior plane and were more steeply
sloping when compared with unfractured hyoids.
These data indicate that hyoids of strangulation
victims, with and without fracture, are
distinguished by various indices of shape and
rigidity. On this basis, it may be possible to
explain why some victims of strangulation do not
have fractured hyoid bones.’
23. Mr Rangaramanujam, however, relied upon Modi’s
Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology, 23rd Edn. at p.
584 wherein a difference between hanging and
strangulation has been stated. Our attention in this
connection has been drawn to Point 12 which reads as
under:
Hanging Strangulation
Fracture of the
larynx and
Fracture of the
larynx and trachea –
14Page 15
tracheaVery rare and that
too in judicial
hanging
Often found also
hyoid bone.
24. A bare perusal of the opinion of the learned author
by itself does not lead to the conclusion that fracture of
hyoid bone, is a must in all the cases.”
13. Dr. Aman Hingorani has submitted that in the present case, the
post mortem report is completely silent about the ligature mark and its
characteristics, as a result of which it cannot be said that the present
case was one of homicidal strangulation/throttling as alleged by the
prosecution. Dr. Hingorani has placed a very heavy reliance on
Modi’s Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology wherein after
emphasizing that “hyoid bone and superior cornuae of the thyroid
cartilage are not, as a rule, fractured by any other means other than by
strangulation”, has given the differences between hanging and
strangulation in tabulated form, two of them being as follows:
Hanging Strangulation
Ligature Mark –
Oblique, noncontinuous placed
high up in the neck
between the chin
and the larynx, the
base of the groove
of furrow being
hard, yellow and
Ligature Mark –
Horizontal or
transverse
continuous, round the
neck, low down in the
neck below the
thyroid, the base of
the groove or furrow
being soft and
15Page 16
parchment like
Scratches,
abrasions and
bruises on the face,
neck and other
parts of the body –
Usually not present
reddish
Scratches, abrasions
and bruises on the
face, neck and other
parts of the body –
Usually not present
14. However, in view of the binding decision referred to
hereinabove, we concur with the reasoning that has been given by the
Trial Court, as well as by the High Court and are not in a position to
accept the submissions made by Dr. Aman Hingorani.
15. It is a settled legal proposition that in a case based on
circumstantial evidence, where no eye-witness’s account is available,
the principle is that when an incriminating circumstance is put to the
accused and the said accused either offers no explanation for the
same, or offers an explanation which is found to be untrue, then the
same becomes an additional link in the chain of circumstances to
make it complete. (Vide: State of U.P. v. Dr. Ravindra Prakash
Mittal, AIR 1992 SC 2045; Gulab Chand v. State of M.P., AIR
1995 SC 1598; State of Tamil Nadu v. Rajendran, AIR 1999 SC
3535; State of Maharashtra v. Suresh, (2000) 1 SCC 471; and
Ganesh Lal v. State of Rajasthan, (2002) 1 SCC 731).
16Page 17
16. In Neel Kumar @ Anil Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2012) 5
SCC 766, this Court observed :
“30. It is the duty of the accused to explain the
incriminating circumstance proved against him while
making a statement under Section 313 CrPC. Keeping
silent and not furnishing any explanation for such
circumstance is an additional link in the chain of
circumstances to sustain the charges against him.
Recovery of incriminating material at his disclosure
statement duly proved is a very positive circumstance
against him. (See also: Aftab Ahmad Anasari v. State
of Uttaranchal, AIR 2010 SC 773)”
17. In cases where the accused has been seen with the deceased
victim (last seen theory), it becomes the duty of the accused to explain
the circumstances under which the death of the victim has occurred.
(Vide: Nika Ram v. The State of Himachal Pradesh, AIR 1972 SC
2077; Ganeshlal v. State of Maharashtra, (1992) 3 SCC 106; and
Ponnusamy (supra).
18. In Trimukh Maroti Kirkan v. State of Maharashtra, (2006)
10 SCC 681, this Court held as under:
“Where an accused is alleged to have committed the
murder of his wife and the prosecution succeeds in
leading evidence to show that shortly before the
commission of crime they were seen together or the
offence takes place in the dwelling home where the
17Page 18
husband also normally resided, it has been consistently
held that if the accused does not offer any explanation
how the wife received injuries or offers an explanation
which is found to be false, it is a strong circumstance
which indicates that he is responsible for commission of
the crime.”
(See also: Prithipal Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Anr.,
(2012) 1 SCC 10)
19. In view of the above discussion, we reach the inescapable
conclusion that appellant had been doubting the character of his wife
and therefore, had adequate motive to eliminate her. In spite of the
fact that he had been in the same room, he failed to furnish any
explanation as under what circumstances his wife was found dead.
Particularly, in view of the fact that the courts below had excluded the
theory of suicide. The same conclusion stands fully fortified by the
fact that the saree of deceased was lying in the corner of the room and
the version given by the appellant that he had found his wife hanging
with a saree around her neck and he cut the same by knife stands fully
falsified as in such a fact-situation, part of the saree should have been
found hanging with the ceiling of the room. The conduct of the
appellant that he had given a false information to his in-laws and
while dead body was lying in his house he stayed in a Krishna Guest
18Page 19
House; further that he had absconded from the city itself, suggest that
he is guilty of the offence.
20. In view of the above, we do not find any cogent reason to
interfere with the judgments and orders of the courts below. The
appeal lacks merit, and is accordingly dismissed.
………………………………J.
[DR. B.S. CHAUHAN]
……….………………………….. J.
[DIPAK MISRA]
NEW DELHI;
MAY 28, 2013
19

 

About advocatemmmohan

ADVOCATE

Discussion

Comments are closed.

Blog Stats

  • 2,884,317 hits

ADVOCATE MMMOHAN

archieves

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,905 other followers

Follow advocatemmmohan on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: