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Murder – Circumstantial Evidence – mere Recovery of M.O. with out connection – confession before police not admissible – admissible portion cycle two knives – Apex court held that With regard to Section 27 of the Act, what is important is discovery of the material object at the disclosure of the accused but such disclosure alone would not automatically lead to the conclusion that the offence was also committed by the accused. In fact, thereafter, burden lies on the prosecution to establish a close link between discovery of the material object and its use in the commission of the offence and further held that It is settled position of law that suspicion however strong cannot be a substitute for proof. In a case resting completely on the circumstantial evidence the chain of circumstances must be so complete that they lead only to one conclusion, that is, the guilt of the accused. In our opinion, it is not safe to record a finding of guilt of the appellant and the appellant is entitled to get the benefit of doubt. We, therefore, allow the appeal and set-aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant. = CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 639 OF 2011 Sangili @ Sanganathan …Appellant Versus State of Tamil Nadu …Respondent = 2014 – Sept. Month – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41901

Murder – Circumstantial Evidence – mere Recovery of M.O. with out connection – confession before police not admissible – admissible portion cycle two knives – Apex court held that With regard to Section 27 of the Act, what is  important  is  discovery of the material object at the disclosure of the accused but such  disclosure alone would not automatically lead to the conclusion that  the  offence  was also committed by the accused.  In fact,  thereafter,  burden  lies  on  the prosecution to establish a close link  between  discovery  of  the  material object and its use in the commission of the  offence and further held that  It is settled position of law that suspicion however strong cannot  be a substitute for proof.  In a case resting completely on the  circumstantial evidence the chain of circumstances must be so complete that they lead  only to one conclusion, that is, the guilt of the accused.  In  our  opinion,  it is not safe to record a finding of guilt of the appellant and the  appellant is entitled to get the benefit of doubt.  We, therefore,  allow  the  appeal and set-aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant. =

on 12.6.2002 at  about  5.15

p.m., there was a phone call from  the  appellant  herein  to  the  deceased

which was initially  picked  up  by  PW-1.  According  to  PW-1  the  caller

identified himself  by  his  name  (same  as  the  appellant).   After  some

conversation with the caller the deceased went out by bicycle informing  his

parents that he would return soon.  Unfortunately, he  never  returned.=

On  the  same  day,  the  appellant  was  arrested  at  about  8  p.m.

According to the prosecution, the appellant made  a  confessional  statement

which led to certain recoveries.

The admissible portion  of  the  statement

made by the appellant is Ex.P5.  On the basis of  such  a  statement,  PW-15

altered the First Information Report (FIR) and  registered  the  case  under

Section 302 IPC and dispatched the FIR to the Court.

Thereafter,  he  went

led by the accused to the spot from where the dead body of the deceased  was

recovered around 9.45 p.m.

Thereafter, he got  the  inquest  conducted  and

prepared a report Ex.P18 around  2.30  a.m.  i.e.  in  the  early  hours  of

15.06.2002.

The dead  body  was  sent  to  the  hospital  for  post  mortem

examination.  PW-15 thereafter proceeded to the house of the  appellant  and

seized MOs 7 and 8 (two knives) from  the  backyard  of  the  house  of  the

appellant.

They proceeded further to the house of PW-9 at around 3.30  a.m.

at the instance  of  the  appellant  and  recovered  the  bicycle,  M.O.  1.

Subsequently, Nagarajan (A2 who  was  acquitted  by  the  trial  court)  was

arrested. After completion of the investigation, PW-16 Inspector  of  Police

who succeeded PW-15 (in office) filed the charge sheet.=

 

Mustkeem alias Sirajudeen v. State of  Rajasthan,  (2011)

11 SCC 724, this Court observed as under:

“24.  In a most celebrated case of this Court, Sharad Birdhichand  Sarda  v.

State of  Maharashtra,  (1984)  4  SCC  116,  in  para  153,  some  cardinal

principles regarding the appreciation of circumstantial evidence  have  been

postulated.

Whenever the case  is  based  on  circumstantial  evidence  the

following  features  are  required  to  be  complied  with.

It  would   be

beneficial to repeat the same salient  features  once  again  which  are  as

under: (SCC p.185)

“(i)  The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is  to  be  drawn

must or should be and not merely ‘may be’ fully established;

(ii)   The  facts  so  established  should  be  consistent  only  with   the

hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should  not  be

explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;

(iii)        The  circumstances  should  be  of  a  conclusive  nature   and

tendency;

(iv)  They should exclude every possible hypothesis except  the  one  to  be

proved; and

(v)   There must be a chain of evidence so complete  as  not  to  leave  any

reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the  innocence  of  the

accused and must show that in all human probability the act must  have  been

done by the accused.”

25.  With regard to Section 27 of the Act,

what is  important  is  discovery

of the material object at the disclosure of the accused but such  disclosure

alone would not automatically lead to the conclusion that  the  offence  was

also committed by the accused.

In fact,  thereafter,  burden  lies  on  the

prosecution to establish a close link  between  discovery  of  the  material

object and its use in the commission of the  offence.  

What  is  admissible

under Section 27 of the Act is the information leading to discovery and  not

any opinion formed on it by the prosecution.”

(emphasis supplied)

26.   It is settled position of law that suspicion however strong cannot  be

a substitute for proof.  In a case resting completely on the  circumstantial

evidence the chain of circumstances must be so complete that they lead  only

to one conclusion, that is, the guilt of the accused.  In  our  opinion,  it

is not safe to record a finding of guilt of the appellant and the  appellant

is entitled to get the benefit of doubt.  We, therefore,  allow  the  appeal

and set-aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant.   The  appellant

be set at liberty unless required in any other case.

 

2014 – Sept. Month – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41901

Reportable
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 639 OF 2011

Sangili @ Sanganathan …Appellant

Versus

State of Tamil Nadu …Respondent

J U D G M E N T
Chelameswar, J.

1. This appeal arises out of the judgment dated 6th January 2010 of the
Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in Criminal Appeal No.506 of 2004.

2. By the impugned judgment, the High Court confirmed the appellant’s
conviction and sentence of imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs.10000/-
under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short “IPC”) awarded
by the Sessions Court, Madurai in Sessions Case No.490 of 2003.

3. The deceased Muthuramaligam was a high school going child studying
Plus-Two. PWs 1 and 2 are his parents. PW-5 Ramathilaga another young
girl was also a student of the same school where the deceased was studying.
The appellant herein was working for the father of PW-5.

4. According to the case of the prosecution, on 12.6.2002 at about 5.15
p.m., there was a phone call from the appellant herein to the deceased
which was initially picked up by PW-1. According to PW-1 the caller
identified himself by his name (same as the appellant). After some
conversation with the caller the deceased went out by bicycle informing his
parents that he would return soon. Unfortunately, he never returned. On
14.06.2002 at about 10 a.m., PW-1 went to the Oomachikulam Police Station
and lodged a complaint Ex.P1 to the effect that Muthuramaligam was missing.

5. PW-12 Head Constable received the complaint and registered a Crime
No.204 of 2003. PW-15 Tr. Ponnuchamy is the Inspector of Police of the
abovementioned police station.

6. On the same day, the appellant was arrested at about 8 p.m.
According to the prosecution, the appellant made a confessional statement
which led to certain recoveries. The admissible portion of the statement
made by the appellant is Ex.P5. On the basis of such a statement, PW-15
altered the First Information Report (FIR) and registered the case under
Section 302 IPC and dispatched the FIR to the Court. Thereafter, he went
led by the accused to the spot from where the dead body of the deceased was
recovered around 9.45 p.m. Thereafter, he got the inquest conducted and
prepared a report Ex.P18 around 2.30 a.m. i.e. in the early hours of
15.06.2002. The dead body was sent to the hospital for post mortem
examination. PW-15 thereafter proceeded to the house of the appellant and
seized MOs 7 and 8 (two knives) from the backyard of the house of the
appellant. They proceeded further to the house of PW-9 at around 3.30 a.m.
at the instance of the appellant and recovered the bicycle, M.O. 1.
Subsequently, Nagarajan (A2 who was acquitted by the trial court) was
arrested. After completion of the investigation, PW-16 Inspector of Police
who succeeded PW-15 (in office) filed the charge sheet.

7. In all prosecution examined 16 witnesses apart from marking 18
documents and producing 8 material objects to establish the guilt of the
appellant herein. The prosecution case rests on the circumstantial
evidence. The circumstances are:
(i) That the deceased was trying to woo PW-5 which was objected to by the
appellant herein and in that context there was an earlier incident of
beating up of the deceased by the appellant;

(ii) That the deceased left the house on the fateful day on receiving call
from the appellant and never returned thereafter;

(iii) That the appellant knew as to where the dead body of the deceased was
lying and also the place where the bicycle of the deceased was available;

(iv) The appellant also knew where MOs 7 and 8 (two knifes) which are said
to have been used for killing the deceased were hidden.

8. The trial Court on the basis of the abovementioned circumstances
recorded a conclusion that the appellant is guilty of murdering
Muthuramaligam which finding is confirmed by the High Court.

9. Shri R. Balasubramanian, the learned senior counsel for the appellant
argued that the evidence on record is wholly inadequate to record the
finding of guilt against the appellant. (a) It is submitted that PWs 3 to
5 who were examined to establish the motive and the background for the
offence turned hostile. Therefore, there is no evidence on record to
establish the motive. (b) With regard to the fact that the deceased left
his residence on the fateful day on receipt of a phone call from the
appellant herein is not clearly established as there is nothing in the
evidence of PW-1 to indicate that he knew the appellant prior to the
telephonic conversation and he could identify the voice of the appellant.
Assuming for the sake of argument that the caller identified himself by the
name “Sangili”, it is not conclusive that the caller was the appellant
herein. There is no evidence on record that anybody saw both the deceased
and accused together on the evening of the fateful day. (c) The
recoveries made pursuant to Ex.P5 are highly doubtful as the evidence of PW-
7 who happens to be the Panch witness both before the arrest of the
appellant and also various recoveries made pursuant to Ex.P5 is full of
contradictions and does not inspire any confidence in the truthfulness of
the witness.

10. On the other hand, Mr. M. Yogesh Kanna, learned counsel appearing for
the State argued that the concurrent findings of fact recorded by both the
courts below ought not to be interfered with and this Court would not re-
appreciate evidence in exercising its jurisdiction under Article 136.

11. There cannot be any second opinion that this Court in exercise of its
jurisdiction under Article 136 does not re-appreciate evidence. But when
the submission is that it is a case of no evidence at all, we are bound to
examine the matter.

12. We have gone through the judgments of the trial court and the High
Court. We are sorry to place on record that both the judgments leave much
to be desired.

13. There is no discussion as to the basis on which the courts below
reached the conclusion that there was a motive for the appellant to kill
Muthuramaligam. PWs 3 to 5 who are examined to prove the motive, turned
hostile. PW-1 is the only other witness who spoke about the motive but he
does not claim any personal knowledge of the motive. At best the evidence
of PW-1 with respect to motive is only hearsay evidence.

14. Coming to the circumstance that the deceased left his residence on
the fateful day after receiving the call allegedly made by the appellant
herein, the prosecution sought to establish the said fact on the basis of
the evidence of PW-1 and PW-8, of whom PW-8 turned hostile. PW-1 the father
of the deceased stated in his evidence that on the fateful day the deceased
received a phone call from the appellant herein at about 5.15 p.m. which
call was initially picked up by him and on his enquiry the caller
identified himself by his name “Sangili”. In his cross-examination he
clearly admitted that he neither saw nor knew the appellant before his
arrest by the police. He did not know anything about the appellant’s place
of residence, father’s name etc. The only other witness who was examined
in this context was PW-8 who allegedly stated before PW-15 Inspector of
Police that on the fateful day the appellant accompanied by another person
went to the telephone booth where PW-8 was said to be working and made a
phone call to the deceased. As noticed, PW-8 did not support the
prosecution case. That being the case, there is no legally admissible
evidence on record to come to the conclusion that the deceased left the
house only after being called up by the appellant herein.

15. The other circumstance relied upon by the prosecution accepted by
both the Courts is the recovery of MOs 1 (bicycle) and 7 & 8 (two knives)
at the instance of the appellant pursuant to the statement before the
police, the admissible portion which is Ex.P5.

16. PW-7 Mathivanan is the Panch witness along with Shenbagamoorthy (who
was not examined), for the arrest of the appellant and also for the
recovery of abovementioned material objects.

17. PW-9 Chinnathambi is the person according to whose evidence on
12.6.2002 at about 7 p.m. the appellant herein left MO-1 bicycle at his
residence. However, the appellant never went back to take the bicycle. On
the other hand, in the early hours of 15.6.2002 at around 3.30 a.m. PW-15
and others came to his residence and seized the bicycle MO-1.

18. The learned counsel for the appellant argued that there are
discrepancies in the evidence of PW-7 and, therefore, his evidence cannot
be relied upon and his evidence should be discarded. There is nothing else
on record to establish the trustworthiness of the recovery of the MOs 1
(bicycle) and 7 & 8 (two knives) at the instance of the appellant.

19. The learned counsel also argued that PW-9 never stated that when the
police party led by PW-15 came to seize MO-1 from his residence, the police
party was accompanied by the appellant and, therefore, the recovery of the
bicycle is also unreliable piece of evidence.

20. We have carefully scrutinized the evidence of PWs 7 and 9. We find
one aspect, which is material, and is quite intriguing. As per the
prosecution, the appellant had made confessional statement; there is a
recovery of blood; recovery of knife; and recovery of bicycle. In the
panchnama drawn for these recoveries, there is only one person who has
allegedly witnessed these recoveries, namely PW-7 Mathivanan, son of
Thangamani. Though this by itself may not be very suspicious, when we
examine this aspect in conjunction with other evidence emerging on record,
such recoveries become little doubtful. The Investigating Officer himself,
who appeared as PW-15, has stated in his deposition that the witness who
signed the confessional statement of the appellant is not Mathivanan, son
of Thangamani, thereby doubting the identity of PW-7. The manner in which
PW-7 reached the spot and was allegedly requested by the Investigating
Officer to accompany him to witness the recoveries is also shrouded in
mystery. Further, in his chief-examination he stated that on that day from
8.00 p.m. to the next morning 3.30 a.m. he was with the Police on the
request of PW-15. In his cross-examination he stated that he was taken to
the police station at about 6.00 p.m. for a short while and let off by the
Police thereafter. All these facts taken together, which are not
considered by the Courts below, make the recoveries little doubtful.

21. It is to be emphasized at this stage that except the so-called
recoveries, there is no other circumstances worth the name which has been
proved against the appellant.
22. To sum up what is discussed above, it is a case of blind murder.
There are no eyewitnesses. Conviction is based on the circumstantial
evidence. In such a case, complete chain of events has to be established
pointing out the culpability of the accused person. The chain should be
such that no other conclusion, except the guilt of the accused person, is
discernible without any doubt. In the present case, we find, in the first
instance, that the appellant was roped in with suspicion that it was a case
of triangular love and since he also loved PW-3, he eliminated the deceased
when he found that the deceased and PW-3 are in love with each other.
However, we are of the view that this motive has not been proved. The
evidence of last seen is also not established. Father of the deceased only
said that the deceased had received a call and after receiving that call he
left the house. In his deposition, he admitted that he had not seen the
appellant before and he did not recognize his voice either. Therefore, he
was unable to say as to whether the phone call received was that of the
appellant. Proceeding further, we find that the deceased was not seen by
anybody after he left the house. When we look into all these facts in
entirety in the aforesaid context, we find that not only the chain of
events is incomplete, it becomes somewhat difficult to convict the
appellant only on the basis of the aforesaid recoveries.

23. In Mani v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2009) 17 SCC 273, this Court made
following pertinent observation on this very aspect:
“26. The discovery is a weak kind of evidence and cannot be wholly relied
upon and conviction in such a serious matter cannot be based upon the
discovery. Once the discovery fails, there would be literally nothing
which would support the prosecution case….”

24. There is a reiteration of the same sentiment in Manthuri Laxmi
Narsaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2011) 14 SCC 117 in the following
manner:
“6. It is by now well settled that in a case relating to circumstantial
evidence the chain of circumstances has to be spelt out by the prosecution
and if even one link in the chain is broken the accused must get the
benefit thereof. We are of the opinion that the present is in fact a case
of no evidence.”

25. Likewise, in Mustkeem alias Sirajudeen v. State of Rajasthan, (2011)
11 SCC 724, this Court observed as under:

“24. In a most celebrated case of this Court, Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v.
State of Maharashtra, (1984) 4 SCC 116, in para 153, some cardinal
principles regarding the appreciation of circumstantial evidence have been
postulated. Whenever the case is based on circumstantial evidence the
following features are required to be complied with. It would be
beneficial to repeat the same salient features once again which are as
under: (SCC p.185)

“(i) The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn
must or should be and not merely ‘may be’ fully established;

(ii) The facts so established should be consistent only with the
hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be
explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;

(iii) The circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and
tendency;

(iv) They should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be
proved; and

(v) There must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any
reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the
accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been
done by the accused.”

25. With regard to Section 27 of the Act, what is important is discovery
of the material object at the disclosure of the accused but such disclosure
alone would not automatically lead to the conclusion that the offence was
also committed by the accused. In fact, thereafter, burden lies on the
prosecution to establish a close link between discovery of the material
object and its use in the commission of the offence. What is admissible
under Section 27 of the Act is the information leading to discovery and not
any opinion formed on it by the prosecution.”
(emphasis supplied)
26. It is settled position of law that suspicion however strong cannot be
a substitute for proof. In a case resting completely on the circumstantial
evidence the chain of circumstances must be so complete that they lead only
to one conclusion, that is, the guilt of the accused. In our opinion, it
is not safe to record a finding of guilt of the appellant and the appellant
is entitled to get the benefit of doubt. We, therefore, allow the appeal
and set-aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant. The appellant
be set at liberty unless required in any other case.

………………………….J.
(J. Chelameswar)

……………………..….J.
(A.K. Sikri)
New Delhi;
September 10, 2014
———————–
15

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