Everyone has a right to waive and to agree to waive the advantage of a law made solely for the benefit and protection of the Individual in his private capacity, which may be dispensed with, without infringing any public right or public policy.
|Case name:||Ram Chander & Ors. Vs State of Haryana|
|Case number/Citation:||Criminal Appeal No. 658-659 Of 2010|
|Court:||Supreme Court of India Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction|
|Bench:||Shri Justice A.K. Sikri Shri Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre|
|Decided on:||January 02, 2017|
|Relevant Act/Sections:||Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 148, Section 149, Section 201, Section 302); Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (Section 82, Section 83, Section 299, Section 313; Constitution of India (Article 136)|
- BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
- One Hari Singh (since dead) was married to Messo (deceased). They had three daughters, namely, Dholi alias Krishna, Sumitra and Raj Bala. Raj Bala was the youngest of all aged around 15 years. Dholi and Sumitra were married. Hari Singh has two brothers, namely, Sohan Lal (accused-since dead) and Bhoop Singh. Sohan Lal has four sons, namely, Ram Chander, Randhir, Ram Kumar and Om Parkash. Messo has on sister Guddi (PW- 9) who is married to Bhoop Singh.
- Messo and Raj Bala were living in one house at village Arnianwali. Guddi was their neighbour. Messo was searching for a suitable boy for Raj Bala and selected one boy from a place called Manak Dewan. The engagement ceremony was accordingly fixed for 22.09.1996. On 20.09.1996, around 3 p.m. Sohan Lal along with his four sons, came to the house of Messo and asked her to cancel the marriage of Raj Bala with the boy from Manak Dewan. He then threatened Messo that in case she did not agree to his proposal then both (Messo and Raj Bala) would not see the sun next day.
- Being afraid from the threat, Messo asked her daughter Dholi to immediately go to her brother Ram Sarup at village Dhigtania and inform her about the incident. On 21.09.1996, in the early hours when Dholi and Ram Sarup accompanied by the Sarpanch of village Dhigtania reached to the house of Messo and Raj Bala, they both were missing. They noted that Guddi was weeping and was in state of shock.
- When they inquired from her about the whereabouts of Messo and Raj Bala, Guddi told them that Sohan Lal and his four sons had come in the night and murdered Messo and Raj Bala, burned their bodies and carried the remains of the dead bodies and ashes in a cart driven by tractor from her house to an unknown place.
- The procedural history is:
On 21.09.1996, FIR No. 197 (Ex-PA-1) was registered by Dholi at Police Station Nathusari Chopta naming Sohan Lal and his four sons (appellants herein) as accused for committing the murder of Messo and Raj Bala. The police then started the investigation, collected evidence and arrested the accused. The accused made disclosure statements about the manner in which ashes/bones of both the deceased were disposed of in a nearby canal known as Sheranwali Canal and also disclosed the place where the weapons used in commission of the offence and tractor with cart were kept.
- After the investigation, the case was committed to the Court of Sessions and the accused persons were charged for offences punishable under sections 148, 302 read with Section 149 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. On 07.08.1997, Om Parkash escaped from police custody from Civil Hospital Sirsa. Proceedings under sections 82 and 83 of the CrPC, 1973 were initiated against him. He was declared “Proclaimed Offender” and proceedings under section 299 of the code were ordered to be taken up against him.
- After completion of the trial, the Trial Court (ASJ, Sirsa), vide judgment dated 27.07.1998, convicted Sohan Lal, Ranbir @ Randhir, Ram Chander and Ram Kumar for the offences mentioned supra and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year each under Section 148 IPC. All four accused were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years each for the offences punishable under Section 201/149 IPC. All the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
- Om Parkash was arrested on 22.02.1999 and was convicted for his offences u/s 148, 302/149 and 204/149 IPC. Against the judgment of conviction and order of sentence dated 27.07.1998, Sohan Lal and Ors. filed Criminal Appeal No. 448-DB of 1998 before the High Court. Om Parkash filed a separate criminal appeal no. 395-DB of 2000 against the order of conviction dated 07/08.09.2000.
- The appeals mentioned supra were heard together. By impugned judgment dated 12.08.2008, the High Court dismissed both the appeals. During the pendency of the appeals before the High Court, Sohan Lal died, therefore, appeal against him stood abated. Aggrieved by the said judgment, all the accused have filed these appeals by special leave before the Supreme Court questioning the legality and correctness of their conviction and sentence.
- ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:
- Whether the conviction of the appellants by the sessions court and the high court is valid or not?
- Whether the statement of Guddi (PW-9) is credible or not because of her closeness with the deceased family?
- RATIO OF THE COURT:
- The court heard Mr. Naresh Kaushik, learned counsel for the appellants (accused) and Mr. Sanjay Kumar Visen learned counsel for the respondent (State). Learned counsel for the appellants while assailing the legality and correctness of the impugned order, reiterated the same submissions which were pressed in service though unsuccessfully by the appellants before the two courts below resulting in their conviction.
- The submissions mainly focused on the factors that the appellants were falsely implicated in the incident, lack of evidence against the appellants, no credibility on the evidences found against the accused and that the two courts erred in placing reliance on the evidence of the so-called eye-witness Guddi (PW-9), also, according to learned counsel her testimony if scanned properly would neither inspire confidence and nor will command creditability due to her close relationship with the deceased family.
- In reply, learned counsel for the respondent supported the impugned order and contended that since both the courts below, on proper appreciation of the evidence, have held that the appellants were involved in the commission of the offence in question and committed brutal murder of two innocent ladies, and further both the courts have given cogent reasons while rejecting their submissions and hence there arises no reason to interfere in the impugned order.
- The court emphasized on the fact that it is not the function of this court to re-assess evidence and an argument on a point of fact which did not prevail with the courts below cannot avail the appellants in this Court with reference in the case of Lachhman Singh and others Vs State (AIR 1952 SC 167). As observed by the court, the main findings of the Sessions Court were affirmed by the High Court after appreciating the oral evidence.
- The court held that This Court, being the last Court of appeal, does not re-visit and re-appreciate the entire oral evidence de novo in its jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution unless there are strong and prima facie reasons to do so pointing out therein any apparent legal and jurisdictional error prejudicing any rights of the accused.
- However, this court considered it just and proper to have a re-look to the evidence of material witnesses with a view to find out whether the concurrent findings of the two courts below are based on proper appreciation of evidence or any of these findings call for any interference.
- On scanning all the evidence, the court has the opinion that both the courts below were justified in accepting the evidence of Guddi (PW-9) for resting appellants’ conviction upon it. The court finds that it is not possible to give description of an incident in such graphic manner and that too by a middle aged illiterate housewife unless she had actually seen such incident and why should Guddi (PW-9) give evidence against the appellants and falsely implicate them when there is no evidence to prove their previous animosity and nothing could be brought out to shake her testimony in cross-examination.
- The court cited its own cases like Dalbir Kaur and Ors. Vs State of Punjab (1976) 4 SCC 158, and Harbans Kaur and Anr. V. State of Haryana, (2005) 9 SCC 195 wherein it was observed that“There is no proposition in law that relatives are to be treated as untruthful witnesses. On the contrary, reason has to be shown when a plea of partiality is raised to show that the witnesses had reason to shield actual culprit and falsely implicate the accused.”
- The court further relied upon Namdeo V. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 14 SCC150 which had lain down that a mere relation or acquaintance of the witness to the victim cannot be a ground for disqualification of the testimony. Also, addressing the contention that no independent witness from village other than Guddi was examined, the court held the incident had taken place during midnight when all the villagers were fast asleep.
Also, no evidence was adduced to prove that near the place of incident, there were many houses and lastly, had the injury been caused by the Gun Shot, it would have created some noise in the nearby locality and attract the attention of the villagers. Such was, however, not the case because the weapon used in commission of the offence was ‘Gandasa’. Evidence on record was sufficient to establish gulit.
- The court held that Merely because no expert opinion was obtained to prove as to whether bones recovered were human or animal bones, in our view, would not weaken the case of prosecution in the light of overwhelming evidence available on record to prove the complicity of the appellants.
- DECISION HELD BY COURT:
- Appeals were dismissed.
- Bails of any accused who was out were cancelled and were directed to be taken into custody.