The State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. V/s Babu Ram Upadhyay

If the prosecution proves the existence of a motive it would be well and good for it, particularly in a case depending on circumstantial evidence, for, such motive could then be counted as one of the circumstances.

Case name:The State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. V/s Babu Ram Upadhyay
Case number:Appeal (crl.) 279-281  of  1995
Court:Supreme Court of India
Bench:K.T. Thomas Y.K. Sabharwal
Decided on:11/04/2000
Relevant Act/Sections:Section 302, IPC Section 27 of the Evidence Act Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
  • The case revolves around Babu Ram who was convicted for murdering 3 members of his family viz-a-vis his father, his mother and his brother and then buried the corpses in his own backyard. Babu Ram is the eldest son of Devi Dayal (father) and Champa Devi (mother).
  • He had two brothers namely Sitaram and Radheshyam and two sisters Tarawati and Chakrawati. Sitaram lived with his parents and his brother Babu Ram and both the sisters lived in their nuptial homes, while Radheshyam lived separately.
  • The prosecution had projected that Babu Ram wanted his share of property but his parents did not accept the demand. And this became a root cause for the murder on 25.11.90 he murdered his father, mother and brother with the help of his other 4 accompalices and buried the corpses in the backyard.
  • Babu Ram told everyone who was worried about his parents and brothers had gone to a temple and haven’t returned since then and when continuously questioned he burst out and showed the spot where he buried corpses.
  • Devi Dayal’s brother filed a FIR in Mohammedpur Police Station and lodged a complaint at 11.30 A.M. The Sessions Judge had convicted him with very harsh punishments under Sec 302 IPC but when the case was dragged to High Court, the hearings of the Sessions Court were reversed.
  • The Sessions Court found the evidence sufficient to convict the appellant however the High Court differed by holding the evidence to be of purely circumstantial nature and held that mere motive cannot be a sufficient case for conviction where evidence is lacking.
  • By the present appeal, the State of Uttar Pradesh challenged the acquittal.
  • Whether motive can play an important role in cases where evidence is lacking?
  • Whether the evidences had been properly entertained?
  • The evidence in the present case was of highly circumstantial nature since the witnesses PW-1 and PW-5 had gone hostile. However, PW-6 and PW-7 stuck to their confessions that the respondent had confessed killing the three victims along with his four accomplices and had buried the bodies within the compound.
  • The court differed with the High Court and held that the motive can be relied upon especially in cases of circumstantial evidence. No doubt, if the prosecution proves the existence of a motive it would be well and good for it, particularly in a case depending on circumstantial evidence, for, such motive could then be counted as one of the circumstances.
  • However, it cannot be forgotten that it is generally a difficult area for any prosecution to bring on record what was in the mind of the respondent. Even if the Investigating Officer would have succeeded in knowing it through interrogations that cannot be put in evidence by them due to the ban imposed by law.
  • The court relied on Nathuni Yadav vs. State of Bihar {1998 (9) SCC 238} and State of Himachal Pradesh vs. Jeet Singh {1999 (4 SCC 370}. it is a sound principle to remember that every criminal act was done with a motive but its corollary is not that no criminal offence would have been committed if the prosecution has failed to prove the precise motive of the accused to commit it.
  • The court observed that It is not possible to understand the rationale of the reasoning that if an Investigating Officer did not instruct the person who drew up the site plan to note down certain details that would render the testimony of material witnesses unreliable.
  • When the prosecution succeeds in showing the possibility of some ire for the accused towards the victim, the inability to further put on record the manner in which such ire would have swelled up in the mind of the offender to such a degree as to impel him to commit the offence cannot be construed as a fatal weakness of the prosecution.
  • The court established that an offender who attempts to mislead others need not necessarily arm with a ready foolproof explanation to any cross-question from his listeners. Quite often such offenders might try to advance explanations which strike them momentarily when they are compelled to explain incongruous aspects.
  • When the respondent was tried under Sec. 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, he had answered he has stated that the three deceased had gone to the temple to participate in the festival. If that was his own stand even at the last stage, what is the need for the High Court to say that respondent would not have stated so to PW-6 and PW-7?
  • The High Court has chosen to sidestep another incriminating circumstance which is based on Section 27 of the Evidence Act. On the strength of the statement made by the respondent two spades and a bloodstained “sadari” were recovered by the Investigating Officer.
  • Investigating Officer had come to know that the accused had allegedly made extra judicial confession but for the reasons best known to him he did not think it proper to interrogate the accused, who was present throughout on the spot. The statement of DW-1 was also not taken into account.
  • Court in Dudh Nath Pandey vs. State of Uttar Pradesh {1981 (2) SCC 166}held that Defence witnesses are entitled to equal treatment with those of the prosecution; and courts ought to overcome their traditional instinctive disbelief in defence witnesses. It was held that quite often the accused tell lies and the prosecution witnesses also do the same thing.
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Hon’ble High Court. However, the court did not impose an extreme penalty on the convict, rather it ordered for life imprisonment under Sec 301 of IPC.
  • It was ordered by the Sessions Judge to take the respondent in custody if it isn’t.

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