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Evidentiary value of Circumstantial Evidence – Extra Judicial Confession – Recovery of Wrist Watch of 1971 – with inscription of letters VPS – not possible – as inscription of letters was possible only from 1997 – fact of recovery failed to prove – Earlier statement , the co – accused not mentioned the name of appellant – in earlier statement co accused named one Rohtas took the Wrist watch – Prosecution failed to prove the chain – Trial court rightly acquitted the accused – where as High court wrongly convicted the accused on the basis of extra-judicial confession which was partly proved but not in toto -Total misreading of extra judicial confession – Apex court held that In case of circumstantial evidence, each circumstance must be proved beyond reasonable doubt by independent evidence, and the circumstances so proved must form a complete chain without giving any chance of surmise or conjecture and must also be consistent with the guilt of the accused. None of the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution and accepted by the High Court can be said to be the probability of the appellants’ guilt or involvement in the commission of the crime. Therefore, for the reasons recorded hereinabove, the judgment and order of the High Court is set aside; the appeals are allowed and the accused are acquitted forthwith. = Dhan Raj @ Dhand … Appellant versus State of Haryana …Respondent = 2014(May. Part) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41532

 Evidentiary value of  Circumstantial Evidence – Extra Judicial Confession – Recovery of Wrist Watch of 1971 – with inscription of letters VPS – not possible – as inscription of letters  was possible only from 1997 – fact of recovery failed to prove – Earlier statement , the co – accused not mentioned the name of appellant – in earlier statement co accused named one Rohtas took the Wrist watch – Prosecution failed to prove the chain – Trial court rightly acquitted the accused – where as High court wrongly convicted the accused on the basis of extra-judicial confession which was partly proved but not in toto -Total misreading of extra judicial confession – Apex court held that In case of circumstantial evidence, each  circumstance  must  be  proved beyond reasonable doubt by independent evidence, and the circumstances so proved must form a complete chain without giving any chance of surmise or conjecture and must also be consistent with the  guilt  of  the  accused. None of the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution and accepted  by the High Court can be said to be the probability of the appellants’ guilt or involvement in the commission of the crime. Therefore, for the reasons recorded hereinabove, the judgment and  order of the High Court is set aside; the appeals are allowed and  the  accused are acquitted forthwith. =

 

Co-accused Sanjay, while in custody  of  Delhi  Police

   for a different case, made a statement about the occurrence of this case.    =

Sanjay  in  his  disclosure

   statement states that Dhan Raj and Badal,  the  appellants  herein,  were

   associated with him in the commission of the crime and that Dhan Raj  had

   taken away the briefcase and Badal took the wrist-watch of the  deceased.

   Furthermore, in his statement, Sanjay disclosed that he had  concealed  a

   Kirpan along with his blood stained clothes near Sadli Road, and  he  got

   the same articles recovered as well. Dhan Raj and Badal were arrested  on

   February 4, 1997 and recovery of briefcase and wrist-watch was  effected.

   Subsequently, on completion of investigation, a challan was presented  in

   the court.=

 In order to discuss the correctness of the order of conviction,  we  now

   proceed by considering the four grounds on which the High  Court  relied.

   

We would first discuss the reliance placed on the evidence given  by  the

   co-accused Sanjay. 

The co-accused Sanjay in the course  of  investigation

   by his confessional statement being an  extra-judicial  confession  dated

   February 4, 1997 named the accused appellants as his accomplices  in  the

   murder and robbery and stated that Dhan Raj and Badal took the  briefcase

   and wrist watch of the deceased  respectively.  

However,  in  an  earlier

   confessional statement dated January 25, 1997 made in  the  investigation

   in FIR No. 32 of 1997, Sanjay has named  Rohtas  as  his  accomplice  and

   stated that he only took the wrist watch and the brief case and from  the

   same confession the car of the deceased was recovered.   

From  the  later

   confession, the Kirpan and blood stained clothes were recovered.

 

 

10.  It is well established that extra-judicial confession has been  treated

   by this Court as weak evidence in  the  absence  of  a  chain  of  cogent

   circumstances, for recording a conviction (See: Gopal Sah  vs.  State  of

   Bihar[1], and Pancho vs. State of Haryana[2]). 

It was held  in  Sahadevan

   and Anr. vs. State of Tamil Nadu[3] that if an extra judicial  confession

   suffers from material discrepancies or inherent improbabilities then this

   Court cannot base a conviction on the same.  

In the present  case,  there

   is an apparent discrepancy in the confession statement of Sanjay and  the

   same is a glaring one as he has named different accomplices in  the  same

   crime  in  his  two  confessional   statements.   

Furthermore,   Sanjay’s

   confessional statements only connect him to the car and the  Kirpan,  his

   statement that the accused  appellants  took  the  wrist  watch  and  the

   briefcase in the absence of other evidence except  the  recovery  of  the

   same does not establish that anything  beyond  the  fact  that  they  may

   possess stolen goods. 

In no manner does the later statement  of  the  co-

   accused supports  that  the  accused  appellants  were  involved  in  the

   commission of murder. 

In the case of Pancho vs. State of Haryana  (supra)

   this Court did not convict  the  accused  Pancho  on  the  basis  of  the

   confession statement of the co-accused in the  absence  of  other  cogent

   evidence, inspite of the  belated  recovery  of  the  alleged  weapon  of

   murder.

 

The objects which were

   recovered were two common articles,  not holding much value and  it  does

   not seem rational that any accused would keep  such  incriminating  items

   connecting themselves to a crime with them in their house. 

Regarding  the

   recovery of the wrist watch from Badal and its identification  by  Shanti

   Devi PW7, we concur with the opinion of the  Trial  Court.  The  relevant

   extract of the judgment of the trial court is reproduced hereunder:

 

      “She further stated that she saw the wristwatch  Ex.P2 in  the  Police

      Station on 13.4.1997 and she identified the  watch  because  alphabets

      VPS were written  on the watch. This statement of PW7 does not inspire

      confidence because it does not appeal to the  common  sense  that  the

      wrist watch which was allegedly purchased in the year 1971 at the time

      of marriage of the deceased, could not carry the writing of  alphabets

      VPS thereon uptil 1997. Otherwise also, it  does  not  appeal  to  the

      common sense that a person would write any word on the wrist watch  to

      connect him in this fashion.  If these alphabets would  have  actually

      been written on the wrist  watch,  the  complainant  would  have  also

      mentioned this fact in the FIR because complainant was none  else  but

      the real brother of the deceased”

 

=

 

 Thus, we find many loopholes in the case of the prosecution and  grounds

   on which the High Court has convicted the accused  appellants.  

We  would

   refer to the  decision  of  this  Court  in  Munish  Mubar  v.  State  of

   Haryana[8] wherein Dr. Justice Chauhan  has  very  aptly  and  succinctly

   stated the following:

 

      “The circumstantial evidence is a close companion of  factual  matrix,

      creating a fine network through which there can be no escape  for  the

      accused, primarily because the said facts, when taken as a  whole,  do

      not permit us to arrive at any other inference but one indicating  the

      guilt of the accused.”

 

A court has to examine the entire evidence in  its  entirety  especially  in

case of circumstantial evidence and ensure that  the  only  inference  drawn

from the evidence is the guilt of the accused. 

If more  than  one  inference

can be drawn then the accused must have the benefit of doubt as  it  is  not

the court’s job to assume and only when guilt  beyond  reasonable  doubt  is

proved then it is fair to record conviction.

 

17. In case of circumstantial evidence, each  circumstance  must  be  proved

   beyond reasonable doubt by independent evidence, and the circumstances so

   proved must form a complete chain without giving any chance of surmise or

   conjecture and must also be consistent with the  guilt  of  the  accused.

   

None of the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution and accepted  by

   the High Court can be said to be the probability of the appellants’ guilt

   or involvement in the commission of the crime.

 

18. Therefore, for the reasons recorded hereinabove, the judgment and  order

   of the High Court is set aside; the appeals are allowed and  the  accused

   are acquitted forthwith. 

The appellant in Criminal Appeal No.703/2011  is

   already out on bail granted by this  Court;  the  appellant  in  Criminal

   Appeal No.1410/2010 is directed to be set at liberty  forthwith,  if  not

   required in any other case.

2014(May. Part) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41532

 

CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD, PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE

Reportable
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1410 of 2010
Dhan Raj @ Dhand … Appellant
versus
State of Haryana
…Respondent
WITH

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 703 of 2011

Badal …
Appellant
versus

State of Haryana
…Respondent

 
J U D G M E N T

Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.

1. These appeals arise from the impugned judgment of the High Court of
Punjab and Haryana wherein vide a common judgment dated February 26,
2010, the High Court disposed of Criminal Appeal No. 496-DB of 1999,
Criminal Appeal No. 510-DB of 1999, Criminal Appeal No. 719-DB of 2009
and Criminal Revision No. 334 of 2000. The present appeals however arise
out of Criminal Appeal No. 496-DB of 1999 filed by accused Dhan Raj
challenging the judgment of conviction and order of sentence dated
September 25 and 27, 1999 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge,
Jhajjar in Sessions Case No.21 of 21.5.1997/13.08.1998 and Criminal
Appeal No. 719-DB of 2009 filed by the State of Haryana against the
judgment of acquittal dated February 18, 2009 passed by the Sessions
Judge, Jhajjar in Session Case No.73 of 21.5.1997/17.3.2008, acquitting
the accused Badal of the charges framed against him.
2. The High Court in the present matters convicted the accused appellants
on the basis of circumstantial evidence by the impugned judgment. It has
been well established by leading judicial precedents that where the
prosecution’s case is based on circumstantial evidence, only the
circumstantial evidence of the highest order can satisfy the test of
proof in a criminal prosecution. In order to base conviction on
circumstantial evidence the circumstantial evidence put forth by the
prosecution should establish a complete unbroken chain of events so that
only one inference is drawn out from the same. If more than one inference
can be drawn then the accused should be entitled to the benefit of doubt.
3. In the present appeals we therefore would evaluate the case of the
prosecution in terms of the evidence brought on record and the statements
and discovery made in the course of investigation.
4. The case of the prosecution revealed in the first appeal (being Crl.A.
No.1410 of 2010) is that the deceased Vijaypal was serving a doctor who
was posted in the Dispensary of Village Kheri Jat and residing at
Jhajjar. On January 24, 1997 he left for his dispensary from his home at
9.45 a.m. by a Maruti car which did not have a registration number.
Sukhbir Singh (PW 13), a dispenser posted at Kheri Jat informed Harpal
Singh (PW 6), brother of deceased that the dead body of Vijaypal was
found in a field of village Bizidpur where Harpal Singh went with
Sukhbir Singh and found the body in a side posture bearing injuries from
a sharp-edged weapon. There was blood on the ground and the Maruti car
was found to be missing. Harpal Singh filed an FIR and investigation was
initiated. Post mortem was also performed. The wife of the deceased
disclosed that the deceased had with him a briefcase and a wrist-watch
when he left home. Co-accused Sanjay, while in custody of Delhi Police
for a different case, made a statement about the occurrence of this case.
Subsequently, his production warrants were obtained and he was arrested
for the present murder on February 4, 1997. Sanjay in his disclosure
statement states that Dhan Raj and Badal, the appellants herein, were
associated with him in the commission of the crime and that Dhan Raj had
taken away the briefcase and Badal took the wrist-watch of the deceased.
Furthermore, in his statement, Sanjay disclosed that he had concealed a
Kirpan along with his blood stained clothes near Sadli Road, and he got
the same articles recovered as well. Dhan Raj and Badal were arrested on
February 4, 1997 and recovery of briefcase and wrist-watch was effected.
Subsequently, on completion of investigation, a challan was presented in
the court.
5. The case of the prosecution in the second appeal is also the same.
However, the accused were tried separately as the accused Badal was
arrested later.
6. After perusing the material brought on record, we would narrate the
facts as they appear to us. However, as the preliminary facts are the
same, for convenience’s sake, they are narrated from the trial in
Criminal Appeal No. 1410 of 2010 and the trial in Criminal Appeal No. 703
of 2011 will be discussed separately.
1. Vijaypal (the deceased herein) was posted as a doctor in the Kheri Jat
village dispensary and he was residing at Jhajjar. As per the
statement of Raj Singh (PW 15), who was the elder brother of the
deceased and stayed in the deceased’s house, on January 24, 1997 at
about 9.45 a.m., Dr. Vijaypal left his home for the dispensary in his
Maruti car, the registration of which was awaited; that after a few
minutes, the accused Sanajay, Dhan Raj and Badal in a four-wheeler
reached the deceased’s home and inquired about him and disclosed their
names afterwards, whereafter they immediately left towards Delhi.
Later in the day, Sukhbir Singh (PW 13) a dispenser posted at Village
Kheri Jat, informed Harpal Singh (PW 6), the younger brother of the
deceased, and the complainant that the dead body of Vijaypal was found
lying in the wheat crop bearing injuries caused by a sharp edged
weapon with blood on the ground nearby and the car of the deceased was
also found to be missing. On the basis of the statements of Harpal
Singh, FIR No. 26 of 1997 was registered and investigation was
initiated with the conduction of the post-mortem and the recording of
statement of the witnesses by the Investigating Officer.
2. The statement of the wife of the deceased being PW 7 which was
corroborated with the statement of Sub-Inspector Brij Pal (PW-10)
revealed that the deceased also had with him a wrist watch and a
briefcase when he had left his home, which were also missing. On the
next day, accused Sanjay was arrested by the Delhi Police in a case
under Section 411 of the Indian Penal Code arising out of FIR No. 32
of 1997 and from him, the car of the deceased (determined after the
engine and chassis-number of the car were tallied) was recovered.
While in custody of Delhi Police, he made a statement about the
present case on January 25, 1997. In the said statement, it must be
noted that he named one Rohtas as his accomplice and stated that
Rohtas only took the wrist-watch and the briefcase of the deceased.
3. Subsequently, Sanjay’s production warrants were obtained and he was
arrested by the Haryana Police on February 4, 1997 in the present case
arising out of FIR No.26 of 1997 and therein he made a disclosure
statement averring that appellants Dhan Raj and Badal were associated
with him in the commission of the crime and that Badal had taken away
the wrist-watch of the deceased and Dhan Raj had taken away the
briefcase. It must be noted that there is a discrepancy between the
two statements of Sanjay.
4. Furthermore, Sanjay’s disclosure led to the recovery of a Kirpan
concealed by him and blood-stained clothes, as specified in the
statement. The blood on the Kirpan was found to be human blood by the
Forensic Science Laboratory, Madhuban. It appears that the accused
Dhan Raj was also arrested on February 4, 1997 and the recovery of the
briefcase was effected. Accused Badal remained absent during the trial
inspite of issuance of warrant of arrest and he was declared a
proclaimed offender but he was arrested later and subsequently the
recovery of the wrist-watch was effected. The briefcase and the wrist-
watch were duly identified by Shanti Devi (PW 7) as possessions of the
deceased.
5. As per the report of Dr. Rajinder Rai (PW-5), who had conducted the
post-mortem of the deceased’s body, there were seven injuries found on
the body, and, in his opinion, death was due to shock and haemorrhage
as a result of multiple injuries which were ante mortem in nature and
sufficient to cause death might have been committed by a Kirpan.
6. The investigation was completed and the challan was duly presented in
court. The case was duly committed to the Court of Sessions vide order
dated May 8, 1997 and charge under Section 302 of the Indian Penal
Code was framed against Sanjay and under Section 302 read with Section
34 and Section 392 read with Sections 395 and 397 of the Indian Penal
Code, against the two accused wherein they pleaded not guilty and
sought for a trial. At this point, it is pertinent to mention that the
trial of accused Badal was conducted separately as he was arrested
later. In the course of the trial, twentythree witnesses were examined
by the prosecution to prove its case. The statement of the appellant
Dhan Raj was recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, wherein he has pleaded that he has been falsely implicated
and that the Sub–Inspector has fabricated a false recovery in
collusion with one Rohtas @ Maharaja who was also arrested in the
matter. The case of the prosecution was based on circumstantial
evidence and the trial court after hearing the parties vide judgement
dated September 25, 1999 convicted and sentenced the accused Sanjay
and Dhan Raj ordering imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs. 2,000/-
under Section 302 read with Section 341 of the Indian Penal Code along
with rigorous imprisonment for eight years and a fine of Rs. 1,000/-
each under Section 392 read with Section 397 of the Indian Penal Code
and the sentences to run concurrently. Vide judgment dated February
18, 2009, the trial court acquitted the accused Badal.
7. As the accused Badal was tried separately and was acquitted in the
trial, we find it pertinent to discuss the same briefly. A case under
Section 302 read with Section 34 and Section 392 read with Sections
395 and 397 was made against accused Badal and the other co-accused
and they were charge-sheeted by an order dated June 4, 1997. Badal was
arrested (as stated in the order of the Trial Court dated February 18,
2009) on February 20, 2007 and then his trial began with the earlier
witnesses in the trial of Dhan Raj and Badal being recalled and
recorded against the accused Badal. He was examined under Section 313
of Cr.P.C. wherein he pleaded not guilty and claimed that he was
falsely implicated and that he never made any disclosure statement
and no recovery was effected from him.
8. In the said trial, the findings of the court were that the deceased
was murdered in Bizidpur by several knife blows on his person while on
his way to Kheri Jat. That evidence of PW1 to PW7 recorded in the
earlier trial did not amount to material evidence against the accused.
The statement of Shanti Devi being PW7 regarding the wrist watch of
the deceased that the wrist watch recovered from Badal is the same
that belonged to the deceased as the initials ‘VPS’ were written on
the same, does not inspire confidence; there is no corroboration of
that fact and that it does not seem logical that a person will write
something like this on his wrist watch. Further, it was noted that the
prosecution failed to connect the accused with the recovery of the
wrist watch in view of a decision of the High Court that there was no
sufficient motive. The Trial Court also pointed out that the case of
the prosecution that the deceased was robbed and killed on the road
and his dead body was left on the road itself, is not supported by
any evidence as the dead body was found in the fields and that the
prosecution failed to answer how the dead body reached there. It was
also noted that in the Kutcha area where the body was found no foot
prints of the accused were found by the investigating agency.
9. On the basis of the aforementioned findings, the Trial Court acquitted
the accused appellant and concluded that charges against the accused
were not proved beyond reasonable doubt as the case of the prosecution
was highly doubtful and that PW9 to PW18, who were the material
witnesses, did not give any material and conclusive evidence against
the accused appellant.
10. Aggrieved by the judgments of the trial court, accused appellant Dhan
Raj filed Criminal Appeal No. 496-DB of 1999 and the State of Haryana
filed Criminal Appeal No. 719-DB of 2009 before the High Court of
Punjab and Haryana. The High Court in its impugned judgment held that
the case of the prosecution is based on circumstantial evidence and
that in the backdrop of the existing facts the chain of circumstantial
evidence is complete and the involvement of the accused in robbery and
commission of murder and robbery is established. Thus, the High Court
upheld the conviction of the appellant accused Dhan Raj and convicted
the appellant Badal on same grounds as those of Dhan Raj and Sanjay.
11. Aggrieved, the appellants Dhan Raj and Badal filed the present appeals
and the matter came before us.
7. The High Court convicted the accused appellants and Sanjay the other co-
accused on the basis of circumstantial evidence. However, we will confine
ourselves only to the circumstantial evidence produced against the
accused appellants. The High Court relied firstly, on the statement of
the wife of the deceased Shanti Devi (PW7) wherein she stated that the
deceased wore a HMT wrist watch gifted to him at the time of his marriage
by her parents and was carrying a briefcase with the sticker of the
initials ‘VPS’ when he left his house on January 24, 1997 and that the
same were missing when the body of the deceased was found in the fields.
Secondly, reliance was placed on the statement of the Raj Singh (PW-15),
the brother of the deceased, wherein he has stated that when he was
visiting his brother the deceased on January 24, 1997 after the deceased
had left the three accused came to the deceased’s house and enquired
about him after disclosing their names. Thirdly, the High Court relied on
disclosure statement of the co-accused Sanjay on the basis of which the
blood stained clothes and the Kirpan were recovered and he had stated
that Dhan Raj had taken away the briefcase and the wrist watch was taken
away by Badal. Fourthly, the High Court greatly relied on the two
disclosure statements of the accused-appellants on the basis of which the
recovery of the briefcase and wrist watch was made.
8. It was also noted by the High Court that the blood on the Kirpan was
human blood and that injuries inflicted on the deceased might be caused
by a Kirpan as per the opinion of the Doctor. While commenting on the
completeness of the circumstantial evidence it was further noted that the
truthfulness of the testimony of Sanjay was proved on the basis of the
recovery of the car. Furthermore, it was noted that the fact that the
deceased was carrying a briefcase and a wrist watch has been proved with
the statement of Shanti Devi. Thus, on the basis of the above, the
disclosure statements of the accused appellant and the disclosure
statement of co-accused Sanjay were treated as clinching evidence proving
their involvement by the High Court.
9. In order to discuss the correctness of the order of conviction, we now
proceed by considering the four grounds on which the High Court relied.
We would first discuss the reliance placed on the evidence given by the
co-accused Sanjay. The co-accused Sanjay in the course of investigation
by his confessional statement being an extra-judicial confession dated
February 4, 1997 named the accused appellants as his accomplices in the
murder and robbery and stated that Dhan Raj and Badal took the briefcase
and wrist watch of the deceased respectively. However, in an earlier
confessional statement dated January 25, 1997 made in the investigation
in FIR No. 32 of 1997, Sanjay has named Rohtas as his accomplice and
stated that he only took the wrist watch and the brief case and from the
same confession the car of the deceased was recovered. From the later
confession, the Kirpan and blood stained clothes were recovered.
10. It is well established that extra-judicial confession has been treated
by this Court as weak evidence in the absence of a chain of cogent
circumstances, for recording a conviction (See: Gopal Sah vs. State of
Bihar[1], and Pancho vs. State of Haryana[2]). It was held in Sahadevan
and Anr. vs. State of Tamil Nadu[3] that if an extra judicial confession
suffers from material discrepancies or inherent improbabilities then this
Court cannot base a conviction on the same. In the present case, there
is an apparent discrepancy in the confession statement of Sanjay and the
same is a glaring one as he has named different accomplices in the same
crime in his two confessional statements. Furthermore, Sanjay’s
confessional statements only connect him to the car and the Kirpan, his
statement that the accused appellants took the wrist watch and the
briefcase in the absence of other evidence except the recovery of the
same does not establish that anything beyond the fact that they may
possess stolen goods. In no manner does the later statement of the co-
accused supports that the accused appellants were involved in the
commission of murder. In the case of Pancho vs. State of Haryana (supra)
this Court did not convict the accused Pancho on the basis of the
confession statement of the co-accused in the absence of other cogent
evidence, inspite of the belated recovery of the alleged weapon of
murder.
11. In view of the above, we are of the opinion that reliance on the extra-
judicial confession of the co-accused is misplaced.
12. Owing to the later confessional statement of co-accused Sanjay, the
accused appellants were arrested and subsequently on the basis of the
disclosure statements of the accused appellants and corroboration by
Shanti Devi (PW 7), wrist-watch and the briefcase were recovered. Owing
to the interdependence of the above evidence, we will discuss the same
together. The prosecution relied on the disclosure statements of the
accused appellants, the subsequent recovery of the briefcase and wrist
watch on the basis of the same and the statement of Shanti Devi
corroborating that the recovered wrist watch and briefcase belonged to
the deceased. After considering the evidence on record, we find that no
proper recovery has been made in the present case. The objects which were
recovered were two common articles, not holding much value and it does
not seem rational that any accused would keep such incriminating items
connecting themselves to a crime with them in their house. Regarding the
recovery of the wrist watch from Badal and its identification by Shanti
Devi PW7, we concur with the opinion of the Trial Court. The relevant
extract of the judgment of the trial court is reproduced hereunder:

 

 
“She further stated that she saw the wristwatch Ex.P2 in the Police
Station on 13.4.1997 and she identified the watch because alphabets
VPS were written on the watch. This statement of PW7 does not inspire
confidence because it does not appeal to the common sense that the
wrist watch which was allegedly purchased in the year 1971 at the time
of marriage of the deceased, could not carry the writing of alphabets
VPS thereon uptil 1997. Otherwise also, it does not appeal to the
common sense that a person would write any word on the wrist watch to
connect him in this fashion. If these alphabets would have actually
been written on the wrist watch, the complainant would have also
mentioned this fact in the FIR because complainant was none else but
the real brother of the deceased”

 

 

 

 
Furthermore, it appears to us that the recovery has not been corroborated
by any proper independent evidence. Moreover, recovery of an object is not
a discovery of fact, as per the decision of this Court in Mano vs. State of
Tamil Nadu[4]. Recovery must be of a fact which was relevant to connect it
with the commission of crime. Therefore, even if the recovery of goods is
reliable then it does not indicate that the accused appellants committed
the murder and the only admissible fact which can be inferred is that they
are in possession of stolen goods.

 

 

13. We would refer to the decision of this Court in Madhu vs. State of
Kerala[5] the facts of which are relevant in the present case. In the
said case, the body of the deceased was found near her home with her
ornaments on her person missing. On the basis of the information
furnished by the accused recovery of the said ornaments was made. This
fact coupled with the sighting of the accused near the place of crime
was the basis for conviction. However, this Court reversed the
conviction on the ground that said recovery and sighting of the accused
near the deceased do not lead to the sole conclusion that murder was
committed by the accused only. In State of Rajasthan vs. Talevar and
Anr.[6] also it was held that where the only evidence against the
accused is recovery of stolen property, then although circumstances may
indicate that theft and murder might have been committed at the same
time, it is not safe to draw an inference that the person in possession
of stolen property had committed murder. Also the recovery of looted
articles at the instance of the accused could not be relied upon in
absence of any details as to when and where such recovery was made and
in absence of any confession of commission of offence by the accused.
Besides, the seizure of the goods was not corroborated by any
independent witness in the present case.
14. The abovementioned circumstantial evidence was supported with the
statement of Raj Singh (PW-15), that when he was visiting his brother the
deceased on January 24, 1997 after the deceased had left, the three
accused came to the deceased’s house and enquired about him after
disclosing their names. Before discussing the admissibility of the said
statement, we would refer to the landmark decision of this Court in
Sharad Birdichand Sarda vs. State of Maharashtra[7] regarding
circumstantial evidence, where this Court held regarding the question of
the accused last seen with the deceased held that where it is natural for
the deceased to be with the accused at the material time, other
possibilities must be excluded before an adverse inference can be drawn.
It is evident from the above that this Court refrains from drawing
adverse inferences in a factual matrix which points out toward the guilt
of the accused. Thus, we will consider the statement of Raj Singh also in
the same light. As per the statement of Raj Singh, the three accused had
come asking for the deceased but in the absence of other corroborating
evidence and independent evidence, it is not established that the accused
appellants had abetted the co-accused Sanjay in the commission of the
crime. Also it can be the defence’s case that the said statement has been
added as an afterthought to strengthen the case of the prosecution. We
have found no material on record which corroborated the statement of Raj
Singh who is an interested witness. Furthermore, there is no other
evidence which indicates or established the presence of the accused
appellants near the place of commission of crime. Also, as noted by the
Trial Court in the trial of Badal, no footprints were found in the
surrounding Kutcha area where the body of the deceased was found.
15. We have noticed in the case of Madhu vs. State of Kerala (supra) facts
of which were discussed earlier, that this Court inspite of the factum
that the accused were sighted close to the place of occurrence at around
the time of occurrence reversed the conviction as guilt was not
established. In the present factual matrix, it is only an interested
witness stating that the accused had come asking for the deceased. This
factum alone does not establish guilt as no other evidence is found that
they were near the Bizdipur area where the crime was committed or had
visited the house of the deceased. For establishing the guilt on the
basis of circumstantial evidence, it is also to be taken into account
that the chain of circumstantial evidence must be completed. It appears
from the facts that the said chain of circumstantial evidence cannot be
concluded in the manner sought to be done by the prosecution. The
circumstances must be conclusive in nature. In the instant case, after
analysing the facts, it appears to us that there is a gap between the
circumstances tried to be relied upon to hold the appellants as guilty.

 
16. Thus, we find many loopholes in the case of the prosecution and grounds
on which the High Court has convicted the accused appellants. We would
refer to the decision of this Court in Munish Mubar v. State of
Haryana[8] wherein Dr. Justice Chauhan has very aptly and succinctly
stated the following:

 

 
“The circumstantial evidence is a close companion of factual matrix,
creating a fine network through which there can be no escape for the
accused, primarily because the said facts, when taken as a whole, do
not permit us to arrive at any other inference but one indicating the
guilt of the accused.”

 

 

 

 

 
A court has to examine the entire evidence in its entirety especially in
case of circumstantial evidence and ensure that the only inference drawn
from the evidence is the guilt of the accused. If more than one inference
can be drawn then the accused must have the benefit of doubt as it is not
the court’s job to assume and only when guilt beyond reasonable doubt is
proved then it is fair to record conviction.

 

 

17. In case of circumstantial evidence, each circumstance must be proved
beyond reasonable doubt by independent evidence, and the circumstances so
proved must form a complete chain without giving any chance of surmise or
conjecture and must also be consistent with the guilt of the accused.
None of the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution and accepted by
the High Court can be said to be the probability of the appellants’ guilt
or involvement in the commission of the crime.

 

 
18. Therefore, for the reasons recorded hereinabove, the judgment and order
of the High Court is set aside; the appeals are allowed and the accused
are acquitted forthwith. The appellant in Criminal Appeal No.703/2011 is
already out on bail granted by this Court; the appellant in Criminal
Appeal No.1410/2010 is directed to be set at liberty forthwith, if not
required in any other case.

…………………………………..J.
(Chandramauli Kr. Prasad)

 
…………………………………..J.
(Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
New Delhi;
May 9, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

———————–
[1] (2008) 17 SCC 128
[2] (2011) 10 SCC 165
[3] (2012) 6 SCC 403
[4] (2007) 13 SCC 795
[5] (2012) 2 SCC 399
[6] (2011) 11 SCC 666
[7] (1984) 4 SCC 116
[8] (2012) 10 SCC 464

———————–
23

 

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