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Circumstantial Evidence – Suspecting the paternity of child – Husband took the child and walked away – child disappeared – after 20 minutes – over heard from the husband while saying that he threw the child in well to his mother – she was threatened with dire consequences – on the next day after arrival of her relatives – she lodged complaint – Harassment proved – motive proved – last seen proved – chain completed – nothing to suggest any thing about the innocence of the accused = REVUTAPPA … APPELLANT Versus STATE OF KARNATAKA … RESPONDENT = 2014 ( January – Vol – 1) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name =41178

Circumstantial Evidence – Suspecting the paternity of child – Husband took the child and walked away – child disappeared – after 20 minutes – over heard from the husband while saying that he threw the child in well to his mother – she was threatened with dire consequences – on the next day after arrival of her relatives – she lodged complaint – Harassment proved – motive proved – last seen proved – chain completed – nothing to suggest any thing about the innocence of the accused =   On 27/8/2000, when her close relatives came from Jadarbabaladi to console  her, she mustered courage and told them that the appellant had thrown  her  child in the well which resulted in his death.   They immediately took her  to  the Police Station and lodged a complaint.  Offences under  Sections  323,  302, 201, 506 read with Section 34 of the IPC were registered.   The body  of  the deceased child was exhumed after getting appropriate permission.   The  dead body was sent for post-mortem examination.   The  post-mortem  report  stated the cause of death as “asphyxia as a result of drowning”.   3.    On completion of investigation, the appellant was  charged  and  tried for offences punishable under Sections 498A, 323, 302, 201,  506  read  with Section 34 of the IPC along with his mother Kallawwa who  was  arraigned  as Accused 2. whether the death was homicidal or accidental.   PW-1 Siddakka  has,  in  her evidence, described how she was ill-treated in her matrimonial  house.   The appellant disowned the paternity of the  child.   After  the  birth  of  the child, PW-1 Siddakka was not allowed to perform  ‘Simant’  ceremony  of  her child.  She went to her parent’s house.  Her father performed  the  ceremony and named the child ‘Arun Kumar’.  Thereafter, for one year, she was in  her parent’s house.  She went to her matrimonial house along with her uncle  PW- 13 Ishwarappa.  She was not allowed to stay there.  She  went  back  to  her parent’s house.  Thereafter, demand for money  was  made.   PW-1  Siddakka’s parents paid the amount.  PW-1 Siddakka went back to the  appellant’s  house because the appellant assured  her  that  he  would  treat  her  well.   The appellant took her and the child to stay with him  in  the  farmhouse.   The harassment, however, continued.  On  the  day  of  the  incident,  when  the appellant and PW-1 Siddakka  were  working  in  their  field,  she  saw  the appellant taking the child towards their  hut.   After  15-20  minutes,  she went to the hut to see  where  her  child  was.   She  heard  the  appellant telling his mother that he had thrown the child in the well.  She rushed  to the well and removed the dead child from the well. The appellant  threatened her and told her not to disclose the true story to anyone.  He asked her  to tell the people that the child died due to snake bite.  Out  of  fear,  PW-1 Siddakka did not inform anyone about the incident.  The  child  was  buried. It is only when her relatives came to console her that  she  told  them  the true story.  A complaint was,  then,  lodged.   Investigation  was  started. After completion of investigation, the appellant was tried as aforesaid. We have gone through the evidence  of  PW-1  Siddakka.   Her  evidence inspires confidence.  We have noted that after  seeing  her  son’s  clothes, she began to weep in the court and sat  down  for  sometime  without  saying anything.  A mother would never  allow  the  person  who  killed  her  child escape punishment.  She would also not involve a  wrong  person.   We  place implicit reliance on PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence.  8.    PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence  is  corroborated  by  the  evidence  of  her brother PW-10 Chanabasappa and her uncle PW-13 Ishwarappa, in all  respects.  We have noted that some of the witnesses have  turned  hostile.   But  that does not, in any way, affect the substratum of the prosecution  story.   The prosecution has successfully proved that there was a strong motive  to  kill the child because the appellant suspected the  fidelity  of  PW-1  Siddakka. He had disowned the paternity  of  the  child.   The  prosecution  has  also proved that the child and the  appellant  were  last  seen  together.   Most clinching circumstance in this case is the conduct of the  appellant.   PW-1 Siddakka’s parents were informed about the death  of  the  child  after  the burial.  She was threatened and told not to tell the true story  to  anyone. She was asked to tell everyone that the child died due to snake bite.   This conduct of the appellant, examined in the background of  the  strong  motive and the fact that he was last seen with the child, establish that it is  he, who threw the  child  in  the  well.   The  medical  evidence  supports  the prosecution case that the child died due to drowning and not  due  to  snake bite.

 2014 ( January – Vol – 1) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name  =41178

SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI

NON-REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 760 OF 2005
REVUTAPPA … APPELLANT

Versus

STATE OF KARNATAKA … RESPONDENT

JUDGMENT
(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.

1. This appeal is forwarded to this Court by the Jail Authorities. It
is directed against the judgment and order dated 8/10/2012, passed by the
Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court in Criminal Appeal No.1721 of
2001, whereby the High Court confirmed the judgment of the Sessions Court
convicting the appellant for offences punishable under Sections 302, 323,
506, 201 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code and sentencing him, inter
alia, to life imprisonment.

2. The prosecution story could be shortly stated. Complainant Siddakka
was married to the appellant, five years prior to 25/8/2000 i.e. from the
date of the incident. After the marriage, the appellant started
suspecting Siddakka’s fidelity and when she gave birth to a male child,
he told her that the child is not of his lineage and is an illegitimate
child. Prosecution story further goes on to say that during the relevant
time, Siddakka and the appellant were staying in a hut situated in the land
belonging to the appellant along with their child. On 25/8/2000, when
Siddakka was plucking the green gram fodder along with her son and the
appellant was ploughing the other portion of the field, she saw the child
going towards the appellant. The appellant stopped ploughing and took the
child towards the farmhouse. After sometime, when Siddakka could not find
her child, she went near the hut. She overheard the appellant telling his
mother that he had thrown the child in the well of Allisab. On hearing
this, she ran towards the well of Allisab, picked up the dead child from
the well and returned to the hut. The appellant threatened her with dire
consequences if she disclosed the incident to anyone. She was forced to
tell others that the child died of snake bite. Thereafter the child was
buried. Out of fear she did not disclose the incident to anyone. On
27/8/2000, when her close relatives came from Jadarbabaladi to console her,
she mustered courage and told them that the appellant had thrown her child
in the well which resulted in his death. They immediately took her to the
Police Station and lodged a complaint. Offences under Sections 323, 302,
201, 506 read with Section 34 of the IPC were registered. The body of the
deceased child was exhumed after getting appropriate permission. The dead
body was sent for post-mortem examination. The post-mortem report stated
the cause of death as “asphyxia as a result of drowning”.

3. On completion of investigation, the appellant was charged and tried
for offences punishable under Sections 498A, 323, 302, 201, 506 read with
Section 34 of the IPC along with his mother Kallawwa who was arraigned as
Accused 2. The prosecution examined 19 witnesses. It’s most important
witness is PW-1 Siddakka, who lost her one-and-half year old son because of
the appellant’s cruel act. Her evidence is corroborated by her brother PW-
10 Chanabasappa and uncle PW-13 Ishwarappa. The appellant did not adduce
any evidence. He denied all allegations. The defence suggested that the
child saw a peacock; followed it; went to the field where the well was
situated, fell into it and died.

4. The trial court acquitted Accused 2, the mother of the appellant of
the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC. It, however,
convicted the appellant for the said offence and sentenced him to life
imprisonment. Both of them were found guilty of offences punishable under
Sections 323, 506, 201 read with Section 34 of the IPC and were sentenced
for the said offences. On appeal, the High Court set aside the conviction
and sentence of Accused 2. The appellant’s conviction and sentence was,
however, confirmed in its entirety. Hence, this appeal.

5. Shri Mithilesh Singh, learned counsel for the appellant submitted
that the prosecution case is based on circumstantial evidence. However, the
circumstances do not point unerringly to the guilt of the appellant. They
may at the most raise some suspicion, but suspicion, however, strong cannot
take the place of proof. Counsel submitted that the court will have to
cautiously examine each circumstance for the purpose of recording a verdict
of guilty or giving benefit of doubt to the accused. In support of his
submissions, counsel relied on Padala Veera Reddy v. State of Andhra
Pradesh & Ors.[1] and Tarseem Kumar v. Delhi Administration[2]. Shri V.N.
Raghupathy learned counsel for the State of Karnataka, on the other hand,
submitted that the evidence adduced by the prosecution leaves no scope for
doubt about the appellant’s involvement in the crime in question. Counsel
submitted that the appeal be, therefore, dismissed.

6. There is no dispute about the fact that the child died due to
drowning. Medical evidence is clear on this point. The question is
whether the death was homicidal or accidental. PW-1 Siddakka has, in her
evidence, described how she was ill-treated in her matrimonial house. The
appellant disowned the paternity of the child. After the birth of the
child, PW-1 Siddakka was not allowed to perform ‘Simant’ ceremony of her
child. She went to her parent’s house. Her father performed the ceremony
and named the child ‘Arun Kumar’. Thereafter, for one year, she was in her
parent’s house. She went to her matrimonial house along with her uncle PW-
13 Ishwarappa. She was not allowed to stay there. She went back to her
parent’s house. Thereafter, demand for money was made. PW-1 Siddakka’s
parents paid the amount. PW-1 Siddakka went back to the appellant’s house
because the appellant assured her that he would treat her well. The
appellant took her and the child to stay with him in the farmhouse. The
harassment, however, continued. On the day of the incident, when the
appellant and PW-1 Siddakka were working in their field, she saw the
appellant taking the child towards their hut. After 15-20 minutes, she
went to the hut to see where her child was. She heard the appellant
telling his mother that he had thrown the child in the well. She rushed to
the well and removed the dead child from the well. The appellant threatened
her and told her not to disclose the true story to anyone. He asked her to
tell the people that the child died due to snake bite. Out of fear, PW-1
Siddakka did not inform anyone about the incident. The child was buried.
It is only when her relatives came to console her that she told them the
true story. A complaint was, then, lodged. Investigation was started.
After completion of investigation, the appellant was tried as aforesaid.

7. We have gone through the evidence of PW-1 Siddakka. Her evidence
inspires confidence. We have noted that after seeing her son’s clothes,
she began to weep in the court and sat down for sometime without saying
anything. A mother would never allow the person who killed her child
escape punishment. She would also not involve a wrong person. We place
implicit reliance on PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence.

8. PW-1 Siddakka’s evidence is corroborated by the evidence of her
brother PW-10 Chanabasappa and her uncle PW-13 Ishwarappa, in all respects.
We have noted that some of the witnesses have turned hostile. But that
does not, in any way, affect the substratum of the prosecution story. The
prosecution has successfully proved that there was a strong motive to kill
the child because the appellant suspected the fidelity of PW-1 Siddakka.
He had disowned the paternity of the child. The prosecution has also
proved that the child and the appellant were last seen together. Most
clinching circumstance in this case is the conduct of the appellant. PW-1
Siddakka’s parents were informed about the death of the child after the
burial. She was threatened and told not to tell the true story to anyone.
She was asked to tell everyone that the child died due to snake bite. This
conduct of the appellant, examined in the background of the strong motive
and the fact that he was last seen with the child, establish that it is he,
who threw the child in the well. The medical evidence supports the
prosecution case that the child died due to drowning and not due to snake
bite.

9. It is surprising how defence suggested that the child went after a
peacock; fell in the well and died. The well was an unused well. The scene
of offence panchnama discloses that grass and thorny bushes were
surrounding it. It would be impossible for a one-and-half year old child
to walk such a distance, jump over the thorny bushes and fall in the well.
This is, indeed, a far-fetched and astonishing suggestion. Besides, in his
statement under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C., the appellant has not come out
with this explanation. The child was last seen with him. It was for him
to explain how the child fell in the well. He has not done so. He has not
discharged the burden which had shifted to him under Section 106 of the
Evidence Act. Adverse inference needs to be drawn against him. In fact,
this silence forms an additional link in the chain of circumstances.

10. It is true that in a case based on circumstantial evidence, the court
has to be cautious. Each circumstance must be carefully examined. The
chain of circumstances must be complete and it must be unerringly point to
the guilt of the accused. It is also true that suspicion, however strong,
cannot take the place of proof. Having examined this case in light of the
settled principles laid down in Padala Veera Reddy and Tarseem Kumar, we
are of the opinion that the prosecution has successfully established its
case. The circumstances have been fully established. The established
facts are consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the
appellant. There is absolutely no scope for any reasonable ground for a
conclusion consistent with the innocence of the appellant. There is no
merit in the appeal. The appeal is dismissed.
.………………………………………..J.
(Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya)
.…………………………..J.
(Ranjana Prakash Desai)
New Delhi;
January 24, 2014.
———————–
[1] 1989 Supp. (2) SCC 706
[2] 1994 Supp. (3) SCC 367

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