06 Jul 2121

The full evidence must be considered in conjunction with the other evidence on record - Supreme Court of India

Case : Rakesh and Ors. v. State of U.P. and Anr. Criminal Appeal No. 556 of 2021

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : Justice Dr Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and Justice M. R. Shah

Decided on : 06 Jul 2121

The Relevant Statutes

Section 302, 34, 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 4, 25 of the Arms Act, 1959

Brief Facts & Procedural History

1. Suresh was tried by the learned trial court for killing one Bhishampal Singh in an event, which was punishable under Section 302 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The involvement claimed to A1 – Rakesh was that he utilised a country-made handgun and injured the victim. Suresh and Anish – A2 & A3 are accused of assaulting the dead with their respective knives. That, following a complete trial, the learned trial Court found all of the accused guilty of the offence punishable under Section 302 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced them all to life in prison. The defendants were also found guilty of offences punishable under Sections 4/25 of the Arms Act, 1959 for which the learned trial Court issued a separate sentence. The learned trial Court relied primarily on the depositions of PW1 and PW2 – eyewitnesses, as well as medical evidence and the testimonies of Dr Santosh Kumar – PW5, who did the post-mortem on the deceased's body, in condemning the defendants.

2. All the accused, feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgement and order of conviction and sentence passed by the learned trial Court convicting them for the offence punishable under Section 302 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and imposing a life sentence, as well as for the offences under the Arms Act, filed a Criminal Appeal before the High Court. The High Court has dismissed the abovementioned appeal and confirmed the accused's conviction for the charges under Section 302 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the sentence imposed of life imprisonment in the challenged judgement and order.

3. Original accused no.1 –Rakesh and accused no.3 –Anish has preferred this appeal, feeling offended and unhappy with the impugned decision and order of the High Court. Suresh, the initial accused number two, does not appear to have filed an appeal.

The Issue(s) of the Case

Whether impugned judgment and order dated 10.09.2018 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad valid?

The Observations of the Court/Commission

1. Honourable Supreme Court of India observes that PW2 said that he arrived at the location after receiving the message, what is necessary is to understand and evaluate the evidence as a whole. PW2 has said that no such statement was provided by him to the police and that he has no idea how such a remark was recorded in his statement when a particular question was posed to him that in his statement before the police, he stated that he reached afterwards. The defence has not asked any questions of the person/IO who taped PW2's statement. In light of the full deposition, we believe the prosecution has succeeded in establishing the presence of PW1 and PW2 at the time and location of the event. They have been discovered to be trustworthy and dependable.

2. Honourable Supreme Court of India also observes that at the maximum, it may be claimed that A2 and A3 inflicted injuries to the dead body since, according to them, they caused injuries after the deceased fell and died after being shot with a pistol. As a result, A2 & A3 argue that they could not have been convicted of the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 since they inflicted the injuries to the deceased corpse. However, it is important to highlight that A2 and A3 were convicted under Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Apart from that, there is no evidence on record to show that the deceased was injured by knives by A2 and A3 and that the deceased was injured by knives by numbers 2 through 8 by the time he died. The defence has placed a lot of faith in PW1's deposition, in which he admitted that following the gunshot injury, the dead fell and died. He does not state, however, that when A2 and A3 caused injuries with knives, the deceased was already dead. As a result, the defence has failed to establish and show that the deceased was dead at the time he received injuries nos. 2 to 8 from the knives used by A2 and A3.

3. Honourable Supreme Court of India also observes that according to the witnesses/eyewitnesses, the weapon used was a ‘dagger,' not a ‘knife,' and what was found was a ‘knife,' and PW2 has since updated his deposition, claiming that the other defendants inflicted injuries with knives. On behalf of the defence, even the doctor acknowledged during cross-examination that it is highly unlikely that the injuries were caused by sharp cutting weapons on both sides. It should be emphasised, however, that the doctor responded to the question that was posed to him. The full evidence must be considered in conjunction with the other evidence on record.

4. A single statement here or there, especially in response to a question posed by the defence during cross-examination, cannot be considered sufficient. Even yet, it should be emphasised that what the Doctor/Medical Officer says can only be described as his opinion. He was not present at the time of the occurrence. PW1 and PW2 have claimed that the other defendants used knives to inflict the blows. Medical data and PW2's deposition both support this theory. The sharp cutting weapon is sufficient for injuries nos. 2 to 8. Injuries 2 to 8 are on various areas of the body and demonstrate the other accused A2 and A3's purpose and action. As a result, they have been correctly convicted of the offence punishable under Section 302 Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 34 Indian Penal Code, 1860.

5. The prosecution established and confirmed their attendance and participation by questioning PW1 and PW2, both of whom were deemed to be reliable and trustworthy witnesses. On behalf of the defence, even the doctor acknowledged during cross-examination that it is highly unlikely that the injuries were caused by sharp cutting weapons on both sides. It should be emphasised, however, that the doctor responded to the question that was posed to him. The full evidence must be considered in conjunction with the other evidence on record.

6. Honourable Supreme Court of India also observes that the prosecution has been successful in demonstrating the motivation in this case. The dead and the accused had a long history of animosity – A1. At the request of A1, the deceased was also facing charges under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. The defence has failed to establish any conditions that would allow them to be wrongfully accused in the case.

The Decision Held by the Court

1. Honourable Supreme Court of India held that the accused was correctly convicted by the learned trial court and the High Court for the offence punishable under Section 302 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

2. In the case of A1, there is direct proof against him shooting the dead with the pistol. As a result, even he might be found guilty of the offence punishable under Section 302 Indian Penal Code, 1860 without recourse to Section 34 Indian Penal Code, 1860. As previously stated, both courts below correctly convicted A1 for the offence punishable under Section 302 Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as the other accused – A2 and A3 – for the offence punishable under Section 302 Indian Penal Code, 1860, using Section 34 Indian Penal Code, 1860 as a tool. In these circumstances, the appeal fails and ought to be rejected, and it is dismissed accordingly.

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