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sec. 302, 498 A = Non – Explanation of LIGATURE MARK by Accused while joining his wife in the Hospital = There was 10 cm long ligature mark of dark brown colour extending from left sternocleide mastoid to the right sternocleide mastoid below cricoids cartilage, reddish brown in colour, abrasion to be on the right side. Ligature mark encircles the neck only on front side. No encircling of the neck on the back and away from sternecleid mastoid. There was ligature of 1.5 cm wide or less than it at places (ligature used was not presented by the police at the time of postmortem examination). It was not with the body either. No abrasion/brusises on the mouth, nose, cheeks, forehead. Lips were blue. Tongue was in drawn, plinching of teeth, on opening base of tongue swollen. No injury to tough, clinching of hands present.= High Court at Shimla, acquitted the accused­respondent by allowing the appeal and set aside the order of conviction under Section 302 IPC and Section 498­A IPC with sentence thereunder, passed by the Sessions Judge, Hamirpur, HP on 13th June, 2002. = Post mortem report(PW­10/A) prepared by Dr. K.C. Chopra(PW­10) shows that there was ligature mark on the neck of the deceased. – the ligature mark of 10cm long and 1.5 cm. wide in horizontal position cannot be caused by hanging but could have been caused by strangulation. Medical evidence, therefore, completely falsify the case of accused no. 1(respondent herein). The conduct of the accused no. 1 was also not natural. When he found his wife hanging, he neither made hue and cry nor called the villagers nearby. He along with others brought down the body of the deceased. He, even thereafter, did not report the matter immediately on his own to police.= Therefore, we find that all the findings by the Division Bench of the High Court, rejecting the evidence of Dr. K.C. Chopra (PW­10) and other material witnesses including Kartar Chand (PW­3) and Prem Chand (PW­5) are clearly unsustainable, whereas those given by the Trial Court accepting the evidence of these witnesses were weighty and sound. Hence, we allow the appeal and set aside the impugned order of acquittal passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh on 16th November, 2004 and convict the accused­respondent under Section 302 IPC for the murder of his wife, Vidhya Devi and sentence him to imprisonment for life. We, thereby restore the order of conviction passed against the accused­respondent by the Trial Court. The accused­respondent shall surrender immediately to serve out the remainder of the sentence.

published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=40517

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 269 OF 2007
STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH  … APPELLANT
VERUS
JAI CHAND  … RESPONDENT
J U D G M E N T
SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J.
This appeal is preferred by the State of Himachal Pradesh
against   the   judgment   dated   16th  November,   2004     in   Criminal
Appeal No. 392 of 2002. By the impugned judgment the Division
Bench of the Himachal Pradesh High Court at Shimla, acquitted
the accused­respondent  by  allowing  the  appeal    and  set  aside
the order of conviction under Section 302 IPC and Section 498­A
IPC with  sentence  thereunder,    passed  by  the  Sessions  Judge,
Hamirpur, HP on 13th June, 2002.
2. The   respondent(herein)   Jai   Chand,   along   with   two   others
were   tried   for   offence   punishable   under   Section   302   (r/w
Section 34)IPC and Section 498­A IPC.  Learned Sessions Judge,
Hamirpur     found   Jai   Chand,   accused   no.   1  to   be   guilty   underPage 2
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Section   302   and   498­A   IPC.   He   was   sentenced   to   undergo
Imprisonment for life and to pay fine of Rs.5000/­,  in default
of payment of fine,  to undergo imprisonment for one year.  No
separate sentence under Section 498­A IPC was imposed upon the
accused.   The two other accused, namely, Prem Chand and Smt.
Nimmo Devi were acquitted.
3. The   record   reveals   that   accused   no.   1,   Jai   chand
(respondent   herein)   and   accused   no.   2,   Prem   Chand   are   real
brothers whereas accused no.3, Nimmo Devi is their sister­in­
law (Bhabhi), the wife of their  elder brother, Prakash Chand.
4. The prosecution version as unfolded during the trial may
briefly be stated as follows:
Smt.   Vidya   Devi   (since   deceased)   was   wife   of   Jai   Chand,
accused no. 1(respondent herein).  She was married to Jai Chand
in   the   year   1996.     On   13th  July,   2001,   Smt.   Vidhya   Devi   was
brought to District Hospital, Hamirpur in serious condition by
accused no. 1 for medical treatment.   The Medical Officer on
duty   had   informed   the   police,   Police   Station   at   Sadar   vide
Rapat No. 3 dated 13th July, 2001(Ex.PW­8/A) that one woman was
brought to the hospital for medical treatment  under suspicious
circumstances.  On  the said information, Sansar Chand (PW­8),
Inspector/S.H.O.  accompanied by other police officials went toPage 3
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the hospital where he found the dead body of Vidya Devi lying
in the Varanda. Roshan Lal, (PW­1), father of the deceased  was
standing near the dead body.     He made statement (Ex.PW­1/A)
that   his   son­in­law,   Jai   Chand(accused   No.1)   is   a   habitual
drunkard and under the influence of liquor, he was in the habit
of beating and treating his daughter with cruelty.  Prem Chand
(accused no.2) and Smt. Nimmo  Devi (accused no.3) also used to
taunt   and   abuse   the   deceased.   Two   years   ago,   accused   no.   1,
left   the   deceased   at   her   parents’   house.     PW­1   pacified   his
daughter that all this happens in joint families and sent her
back to matrimonial house.  In these circumstances, Vidhya Devi
committed suicide due to mal­treatment and torture by all the
accused   persons.     On   13th  July,   2001   at   about   8.30A.M.   one
Kashmir   Singh,   resident   of     his   Village   Kot,     informed   PW­1
that his daughter Vidhya Devi had been brought to the hospital
at Hamirpur where she expired.   PW­1 alongwith his son, Ajit
Singh(PW­2) went  to the hospital  and  found  Vidhya  Devi  dead.
PW­1 had noticed injuries on her person. The statement of PW­1
(Ex.PW.1/A)   was   forwarded   by   PW­8   (vide   Ex.PW­8/A)   to   the
Police Station for registration of the case.  First Information
Report (Ex.PW­6/A) was recorded by PHC Ramesh Chand( PW­6) P.S.
Sadar Hamairpur, H.P..   Investigation was conducted initiallyPage 4
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by  PW­8.   He  prepared  inquest  reports  (Ex.PW­2/A)  and  Ex.PW­
2/B).     He   wrote   an   application   (Ex.PW­8/B)   to   the     Senior
Medical   officer,   Zonal   Hospital,   Hamirpur   for   conducting   the
post­mortem   to   the   dead   body   of   the   deceased.     Photographs
(Ex.P­9 to Ex.P­14) of the dead body were also taken.     Jai
Chand (accused no. 1) was present in the hospital and he handed
over ‘dupattas’ (Ex.P­2),‘shirt’ (Ex.P­3) and ‘Salwar’ (P­6) of
the   deceased   to   PW­8   which   were   taken   into   possession   vide
memos;   (Ex.PW­2/C   and   PW­2/D)   respectively.   Thereafter,   PW­8
handed over the file for investigation to Hari Ram (PW­9).  PW­
9 collected the post­mortem repot(Ex.PW­10/A).  On the basis of
the   report,   the   case   was   converted   from   Section   306   IPC   to
under Section 302 IPC.
5.   Jai   Chand,   accused   no.   1   made     the   alleged   disclosure
statement (Ex.PW­5/A) under Section 27 of the Evidence Act to
the effect that he alongwith co­accused had hanged the deceased
with ‘Barli’ (a wooden kari placed horizontally on the walls of
the   room).     To   the   same   effect,   disclosure   statements
(Ex.PW.5/B   and   Ex.PW­5/D)   were   made   by   accused   no.   3.   Jai
Chand, accused no. 1 also got recovered one iron bucket  (Ex.P­
7)   which   was   taken   into   possession   vide   disclosure   memo(PW­
5/C).   PW­9   prepared   the   site   map(Ex.   PW­9/A)   depicting   thePage 5
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place where the accused person had put the face of the deceased
in   the   bucket   filled   with   water   and   pointed   the   place   where
her body was tied with ‘barli’ by accused persons.
6. As per, the disclosure statement of Jai Chand, (accused no.
1)  and Nimmo Devi (accused no. 3),  on the intervening  night
of 12th/13th  July, 2001, Vidhya Devi came out of the room and
went to a place where the cattle were used to be kept.   Her
husband, Jai Chand, accused no. 1 also followed her and asked
his wife to go to bed but she did not respond  thereto.  Both
of them entered into verbal fight.  Accused no. 1 at that time
dipped   the   head   of   the   deceased   in   the   bucket   full   of   water
lying there. As a result thereof, she felt suffocated and the
water entered into her mouth as well as in stomach.   Accused
no. 1 then lifted her from that place and laid her on the cot.
Accused   no.   1   called   accused   nos.   2   and   3.       Accused   no.   3
caught   hold   of   arms   of   the   deceased   whereas   accused   no.   2
caught hold of her legs. Accused no. 1 throttled the deceased
with hands and caused her death.     On finding no movement in
her body,   all the accused hanged the deceased   with dupattas
and thereafter laid the dead body of the deceased  Vidhya Devi
on a cot.  On the following morning,  Jai Chand, accused no. 1
told his mother that   his wife had become unconscious duringPage 6
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the night and now she is not speaking anything.     Jai Chand,
accused no. 1 then took her wife to the courtyard and laid her
body on a cot lying there.    The residents of the village were
informed about the death of Vidhya Devi.  One Smt. Damodri Devi
brought   some   milk   from   her   house   but   the   deceased   could   not
inhale   the   same.   Thereafter,   accused   no.   1   accompanied     by
Kartar Singh and Deepak Kumar brought the deceased on the cot
to the road side.   Prakash Chand, brother of accused no.1 who
had   gone   to   call   the   doctor,   had   brought   the   taxi   and   the
deceased was thus taken to the Zonal Hospital,  Hamirpur where
she was declared dead.   The body of the deceased was sent for
post   mortem.   PW­10,   Dr.   K.   C.   Chopra   submitted   post   mortem
report   (Ex.PW­10/A).     The   stomach   contents   including   viscera
etc. preserved by the team of doctors has been got analysed and
as per report Ext. PW­8/B, neither the contents of any poison
nor intoxicant could be detected on analysis thereof.  Thus, no
case of poisoning was found.
7.   On receipt of post mortem report (Ex.PW­10/A) and report
of   the   Chemical   Examiner(Ex.PW­8/D),     it   was   found   that   the
deceased had not committed suicide but she was killed by the
accused no. 1 by dipping her face into  a bucket of water and
strangulating her.    All the three accused were sent for trialPage 7
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for the office under Section  302 read with Section 34 IPC and
498­A IPC.
8. PW­10, Dr. K. C. Chopra, Medical officer, Zonal Hospital,
Hamirpur, H.P., in his statement stated that he alongwith Dr.
K.S.   Dogra   conducted   post   mortem   of   the   dead   body   of   Smt.
Vidhya Devi, wife of Jai Chand and observed as follows:
“EXTERNAL APPEARANCE:
Dead body was lying in supine with face in the
centre (there was no turning of face to either side).
White leathorty foam seen at both nostrils which was
more on pressing the epigastriun.   No sticky saliva
was present on the angle of the mouth.  No postmortem
staining   was   present   over   the   back   and   legs.     No
petechcial haemorrages seen over the chest or legs.
Two contusions 3×2 cm present on the left upper arm,
reddish blue in colour.  No stretching and elongation
of neck, head inclined to neither side.
LIGATURE MARK
There was 10 cm long ligature mark of dark brown
colour   extending   from   left   sternocleide   mastoid   to
the   right   sternocleide   mastoid   below   cricoids
cartilage, reddish brown in colour, abrasion to be on
the   right   side.     Ligature   mark   encircles   the   neck
only on front side.  No encircling of the neck on the
back  and  away  from  sternecleid  mastoid.    There  was
ligature   of   1.5   cm   wide   or   less   than   it   at   places
(ligature used was not presented by the police at the
time of postmortem examination).  It was not with the
body   either.     No   abrasion/brusises   on   the   mouth,
nose, cheeks, forehead.  Lips were blue.  Tongue was
in   drawn,   plinching   of   teeth,   on   opening   base   of
tongue   swollen.   No   injury   to   tough,   clinching   of
hands present.Page 8
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DISSECTION OF NECK
On dissection, there was extra vasation of blood
into   sub­subcutanous   tissue   under   ligature   mark   on
right side present.  Platysma and right sternocloide
mastoid muscle lacerated.  No laceration of sheath of
carotid   artries.     No   fracture   of   hyoid   bone   or
thyroid cartilage.   Epiglottis not cyanosed Trachea
and   larynx   were   congested   and   have   forthy   mucous.
First 2­3 rings of trachea fractured.
ABDOMEN:
Walls and peritoneum were normal. Mouth Pharynx
and   oasophagus   had   whitish   fluid.     Stomach   was
containing   500   cc   of   fluid   mixed   with   mucous   and
small   sticky   material.     Small   Intestine   was
containing   semi­digested   food   but   no   fluid   are
present.     Faecal   matters   were   present   in   large
intestine.  Liver was normal,  it was dark in colour,
on cutting dark fluid came out.  The spleen was dark
in colour and was congested.   Kidney was normal in
size   and   was   congested.     The   bladder   was   empty.
Organ   of   generation   was   normal.     There   was   no
evidence of rape or any injury.
CRANIUM SPINAL CORD
There  was  no   fracture  of   skullbone.     Brain   was
congested and also the membrane.
THORAX:
Walls, ribs, cartilages and pleurae were normal.
Larynx and trachea was congested and  contained white
fluid,   no   sand   or   mud   seen,   no   food   particles
present.   Right   and   left   lung   were   distended,   pale
grey,   indented   by   the   ribs,   heavy   cedemataous,
spongy,   pite   on   pressure.     On   pressing,   frothy
whitish   fluids   came   through   bronchials.     Heart   was
normal, left side was empty and the right was full.
No fracture/dislocation of bones were found.
9. Dr.   K.C.   Chopra   (PW­10)   also   stated   their   opinion   as   to
cause of death of the deceased.  The same is quoted hereunder:Page 9
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“In   our   opinion   deceased   died   due   to   asphyxia
caused by drowning and strangulation.   The probable
time   between   injury   and   death   was   immediate   and
between death and postmortem within 24 hours.
x x x x x x x x x
In   our   opinion   as   mentioned   in   Ex.PW­10/A
strangulation   in   this   case   was   not   caused   by
suspending   the   body.     The   chances   of   dupatta   as
ligature mark in the case were minimum,  i.e. dupatta
like Ex P­2 and P­3.  Drowning and strangulation are
possible in this case while putting the face/mouth of
deceased in bucket Ex­P­8 filled with water and with
pressure being applied.”
10. Dr.   K.C.   Chopra   (PW­10)     further   stated   that   the   post
mortem   report   was   written   by   Dr.   K.S.   Dogra   (PW­8)   and   was
signed by both  of them.
11. The accused no. 1 (respondent herein) made a plain denial
of   the   prosecution   case.   In   statement   under   Section   313
Cr.P.C.,   accused   no.   1(respondent   herein)   alleged   that
witnesses   have   falsely   deposed   against   him   being   relative   of
the deceased and due to enmity with him.  In reply to question
no. 26, the accused no. 1 stated as follows:
“Q.26 Anything else you want to say?
Ans. The   deceased   had   illicit   relations   with   my
nephew   Banku   Ram,   S/o   Shri   Rohli   Ram.     On   one
occasion   when   I   came   on   leave   to   the   house,   came
across few love letters written by said Banku Ram to
the deceased; on this I inquired from her about such
relations   and   asked   her   to   discontinue   such
relations.     On this she went to the house of her
parents and stayed there for about 3 months and when
brought   to   my   house   by   her   parents,   she   used   toPage 10
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remain   depressed.   She   has,   thus   committed   suicide
due to her  own problems and not on account  of the
alleged   torturing   attributed   to   him.   I   am   thus
innocent   and   implicated   falsely   in   this   case.     It
is, however, submitted that those letters were burnt
by   me   with   the   idea   to   maintain   cordial   relations
with   the   deceased   and   also   to   forget   whatever   as
happed in the past.”
12. The Trial Court considered the version of Kartar Chand (PW­
3)   posted   as   Primary   Education   Teacher   in   Government   High
School, Barhi,  an independent witness, Post Mortem Report (PW­
10/A), statement of   Dr. K.C. Chopra (PW­10), report and   the
testimony   of   PW­1   and   PW­2   and   held   that   “the   circumstances
reveal   that  the  deceased   has   been   done   away  to   death   by  the
said accused and none else”….”The circumstances appearing in
the prosecution evidence are conclusive in nature and leads to
the only conclusion that it is accused no.1 who has caused the
death to the deceased.”
13. The Division Bench of the High Court rejected the evidence
of   the   prosecution   witnesses   for   the   reasons   which   may   be
summed up as below:
(1) Dr. K.C. Chopra (PW­10) had no experience as a
forensic expert, therefore, his evidence cannot be
read under Section 45 of the Evidence Act.
(2) The   Division   Bench   appreciated   the   medical
evidence itself and held that there was no sign of
injuries   suggestive   of   resistance   on   the   part   ofPage 11
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the   deceased   to   establish   that   the   face   of   the
deceased   was   forcibly   thrust   into   iron   bucket
filled in with water.   Only 500cc of fluid mixed
with mucous and small sticky material was found in
the   stomach.     The   hairs   of   the   deceased   was   not
found wet.  Dr. K.C. Chopra (PW­10)  found marks of
injuries   on   the   neck   of   the   deceased   but   in   his
cross examination he stated that if the force was
applied, in that event, the bucket which was used
as   ligature   could   touch   both   the   ears.       But   no
injuries were found on the ears of the deceased or
on any part of  her mouth or head.
(3) The conduct of Jai Chand, accused no.1  would
go to show that he tried very hard to save the life
of his wife by taking her to the Zonal Hospital,
Hamirpur for medical treatment.    Had Smt. Vidhya
Devi   been   killed   by   her   husband,     he   would     not
have dare to take  the dead body of the deceased to
the   hospital   to   get   the     medical   opinion   against
himself.
14. Learned Counsel on behalf of the appellant­State submitted
that the High Court was wrong in ignoring the medical evidence
which clearly established that it was not a case of suicide but
a   case   of   homicide   which   ultimately     has   been   caused   by   the
husband of the deceased.   The High Court also failed to notice
the statement of Jai Chand, accused no. 1 (respondent herein),
husband   of   the   deceased   under   Section   313   which   is   self
explanatory that he had been keeping a hatred attitude towardsPage 12
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his wife due to her illicit relation with his nephew and which
resulted   in   motive   and   intention   to   kill   her   during   night.
This statement coupled with other circumstantial evidence leave
no doubt that the accused no.1 cannot escape himself from the
commission of offence.   Further according to the appellant as
deceased Vidhya Devi was staying with the respondent and died
unnatural   death,     it   was   for   Jai   Chand   (respondent)   being
husband   to   explain   the   circumstances   under   which   she   died.
Learned counsel also  contended  that the High  Court  failed  to
appreciate that although there is no direct evidence, chain of
circumstances   appeared   on   record   is   so   complete   to   fetch
conviction   to   the   husband   of   the   deceased   if   not   to   all   the
accused.       It   is   on   the   basis   of   disclosure   statement   of
accused no.1 a bucket which is most relevant evidence relating
to  the  medical  evidence is  recovered,  which is  sufficient  to
convict the respondent.
15. Learned   counsel   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   respondent
referred   to   the   findings   of   the   Division   Bench   of   the   High
Court in support of the respondent.
16. The principal contention   raised in support of the appeal
filed   on   behalf   of   the   State   is   that   the   medical   evidence
available on record completely supports the prosecution case.Page 13
13
Let us, therefore, have a look at medical evidence available on
record.   Post­Mortem   Report(PW­10/A)   has   already   been   noticed
above. The plea raised  by accused no. 1(respondent herein) was
that   the   deceased   died   due   to   suicidal   hanging   cannot   be
accepted for the reason that her body was not found stretched.
If   she   had   strangulated   herself,   her   body   should   have   been
stretched   and   the   fracture   of   hyoid   bones   and   thyroid
cartilages should have been there. Post mortem Report clearly
shows that there is no such fracture and the testimony of Dr.
K.C. Chopra( PW­10) supports the same. In a death case, by way
of hanging,   the tongue of the deceased should not have been
indrawn as has been noticed   in the post mortem report(Ex.PW­
10/A), but the same should have been out of the mouth.   There
being the evidence of 2­3 rings of trachea fractured, trachea,
larynx, spleen and kidney being congested is also suggestive of
the fact that it was not a suicidal death, but a homicidal one.
The team of doctors after observing so, during the examination,
have   come   to   the   conclusion   that   the   cause   of   death   was
Asphyxia   caused   by   drowning   and   strangulation.     The   probable
time between injury and death had been recorded minimum.   The
death     by   way   of   drowning   and   strangulation   can   be   caused
instantaneously.   Admittedly, it is not the case of either ofPage 14
14
the   parties   that   the   death   is   caused   by   way   of     poisoning,
however, in order to rule out the possibility in this behalf
also,   the   stomach contents including viscera etc. preserved
by the team of doctors got analysed and as per report (Ex.PW­
8/D),   neither the contents of any poison nor any intoxicant
could be detected on analysis thereof.
17. Dr. K.C. Chopra (PW­10)  is  specific while deposing in his
examination­in­chief   that   strangulation   in   this   case   has   not
been found to be caused by suspending the body.  He also ruled
out the chances of dupattas (Ex.P­2 and P­3) being the ligature
used for strangulation by the deceased and to the contrary, he
specifically   stated   that   drowning   and   strangulation   are
possible in this case by dipping the face/mouth of the deceased
into   the   bucket   (Ex.P­8)   filled   with   water   and     by   applying
force in pressing her mouth therein.
18. Much   stress   was   made   by   learned   counsel   appearing     on
behalf of the respondent that there is no possibility of the
ears   touching   the   top   of   bucket,   even   if   mouth   of   anyone   is
dipped therein and pressed with force.  An effort was thus been
made to discard the testimony of PW­10.  However, in our view,
it   is   not   so   relevant   as   to   whether     the   bucket   used   as   a
ligature was  touching the ears or not.  Page 15
15
19. It   is   true   that   post­mortem   report(PW­10/A)   is   not   a
substantive piece of evidence.  But the evidence of such doctor
cannot be insignificant.  This Court in State of Haryana v. Ram
Singh, (2002)2 SCC 426 held  as under:
“1. While it is true that the post­mortem report by
itself  is  not  a substantive piece  of  evidence,  but
the evidence of the doctor conducting the post­mortem
can by no means be ascribed to be insignificant. The
significance of the evidence of the doctor lies vis­
à­vis   the   injuries   appearing   on   the   body   of   the
deceased person and likely use of the weapon therefor
and   it   would   then   be   the   prosecutor’s   duty   and
obligation   to   have   the   corroborative   evidence
available   on   record   from   the   other   prosecution
witnesses.”
20.In   the  present   case,   the   post­mortem   was   conducted   by     a
team of doctors, namely, Dr. K.C. Chopra   and K.S. Dogra.   In
cross­examination,   no   suggestion   was   made   on   behalf   of   the
defence that they were not competent or that   Dr. K.C. Chopra
and Dr. K.S. Dogra have not expertised to perform post mortem
of a body. The viscera test was done by forensic expert (PW­8),
who submitted the report.
21. From   the   aforesaid   evidence,   it   is   clear   that   Dr.   K.C.
Chopra   (PW­10)   conducted   the   post   mortem   and   the   forensic
expert   (PW­8)   conducted   the   viscera   test.   The   High   Court
proceeded on erroneous premise to hold that  “Dr. K.C. Choopra
might have acquired  some experience as Medical Officer but hePage 16
16
is not a forensic expert to give the level of an expert witness
examined in the Court.”
22. The High Court was thus, clearly in error, in formulating
its own opinion based on conjectural premises and deciding the
case   on   the   basis   of   that,   discarding   the   opinion   of   the
medical experts regarding the nature of the injury and cause of
death. The conclusions are not sustainable otherwise also .
23. It is true that PW­1, father of the deceased, PW­2, brother
of   the   deceased   and   PW­5   Prem   Chand     belong   to   the   same
village. However   they being related to each other and being
residents   of   the   same   place   is   not   fatal   to   the   prosecution
case, because they have deposed about the facts which are not
in   controversy   save   and   except   that   the   deceased   was   being
tortured by the accused persons. However, the present case is
not a case of suicidal death of the deceased on being fed­up
with   the   torture   of   the   accused   persons,   but   a   case   of
homicidal death  and  as such, the version of PWs. 1 and 2 in
this behalf is not so material.
24. The recovery of bucket(Ex.P­8) has been proved  as the same
has been produced by accused no. 1(respondent herein) himself
before the police as recorded in memo (Ex.PW­5/C) recorded at
his instance in the presence of   Prem Chand (PW­5)   and PyarePage 17
17
Lal. As a matter of fact, the bucket was lying in the courtyard
where it is identified by accused no. 1(respondent herein) and
thereafter,   was   taken   into   possession   by   the   police.     The
reference in this  behalf can be made to the statement of Prem
Chand(PW­5) who stated that accused no. 1 had shown the bucket
to   the     police   which   was   sealed   in   a   parcel   and   thereafter
taken   into   possession   vide   recovery   memo   ((Ex.PW­5/C).     Not
only   this,   he   even   identified     the   bucket(Ex.P­8)   to   be   the
same.    The recovery of  an incriminating article from a place
which  is  open  and  accessible  to others, alone  cannot  vitiate
such   recovery   under   Section   27   of   the   Indian   Evidence   Act.
Thus,  the present is the case where there is no difficulty in
holding that the bucket(Ex.P­8) is the same which was used by
the respondent(herein) for drowning and strangulating his wife,
Vidhya Devi.
25. Kartar   Chand(PW­3)   is   an   independent   witness.     In   his
testimony, he deposed that on his way to school   on 13th  July,
2001 from his village, when he reached Village Ulehra, (native
place   of   the   accused)   around   7.15   A.M.,  he   met    accused  no.
1(respondent) and Deepak carrying the deceased on the cot   to
the road side for  carrying her to the hospital and it was the
accused no. 1(respondent herein) who told   Kartar Chand(PW­3)Page 18
18
that   as she was ill, hence being taken to the hospital.   The
accused no. 1 has thus, misrepresented the  factual position to
PW­3 which shows guilty intention on his part.   No doubt, in
reply to question no. 11,  he denied having represented  so to
Kartar Chand(PW­3) and   as per his version, the said witness
was told that  deceased had strangulated herself,  but there is
no reason to disbelieve the testimony of PW­3, as a matter of
fact, PW­3 is an independent witness.     Reply to question no.
11 shows that accused no. 1 also accepted that  PW­3 met him on
the spot in the early morning.     Therefore, it cannot be said
that the PW­3 was   interested   in the case of either of the
parties.   Not only this, as per version of PW­3, the deceased
at that time was silent and there was no movement in her  body,
meaning thereby that she was already dead in the house itself
and   in   order   to   mislead   the   village   folks   and   to   create
evidence  that he made efforts to save his wife’s life he took
her dead body to the hospital.  Such conduct on his part amply
demonstrates that it is the accused no. 1 (respondent herein)
alone who caused the death of his wife, Vidhya Devi.
26. Post   mortem   report(PW­10/A)   prepared     by   Dr.   K.C.
Chopra(PW­10) shows that there was ligature mark on the neck of
the deceased.  The opinion of the doctor is clear and definitePage 19
19
that   the   ligature   mark   of   10cm   long   and   1.5   cm.   wide   in
horizontal position cannot be caused by hanging but could have
been   caused   by   strangulation.     Medical   evidence,     therefore,
completely   falsify   the     case   of     accused   no.   1(respondent
herein).     The   conduct   of   the   accused   no.   1   was     also   not
natural.   When he found his wife hanging, he neither made hue
and cry  nor called the villagers nearby.  He along with others
brought down the body of the deceased.   He, even thereafter,
did not report the matter immediately on his own to police.
27. The act of bringing his wife, Vidhya Devi to the hospital
cannot absolve the guilt of accused no. 1(respondent herein) of
an offence committed by him. He was the best person who could
have explained the reasons for the horizontal ligature mark of
10 cm. x 1.5cm.  on the neck  of the deceased and as to why he
did not inform the matter to the villagers before bringing down
the body of the deceased.
28. Therefore, we find   that all the findings by the Division
Bench of the High Court,   rejecting the evidence of Dr. K.C.
Chopra   (PW­10)   and   other   material   witnesses   including   Kartar
Chand (PW­3)  and  Prem Chand (PW­5) are clearly unsustainable,
whereas those given by the Trial Court  accepting the evidence
of these witnesses were weighty  and sound.  Page 20
20
29. Hence, we allow the appeal and set aside the impugned order
of acquittal passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of
Himachal   Pradesh     on   16th  November,   2004   and   convict   the
accused­respondent under Section 302 IPC for the murder of  his
wife,  Vidhya  Devi  and  sentence  him  to  imprisonment  for  life.
We, thereby restore the order of conviction passed against the
accused­respondent by the Trial Court.   The accused­respondent
shall surrender immediately to serve out the remainder of the
sentence.
…………………………………………………………………………J.
(A.K. PATNAIK)
…………………………………………………………………………J.
(SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)
NEW DELHI,
JULY 3,2013

 

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