Plea of Self-defence; Brij Lal Vs. State of Rajasthan [Supreme Court of India, 17-08-2016]

Penal Code, 1860 – Ss. 302, 307 & 324 r/w. 34 – Arms Act, 1959 – Ss. 25 & 27 – Evidence Act, 1872 – S. 105 – Murder – Plea of self defence – Held, there is overwhelming evidence produced by the prosecution, affirming that the crowd which had gathered at the place of occurrence, consequent upon the shouting of PW-1, was unarmed. There is also evidence on the record of the case to authenticate, that all the villagers were only persuading the accused and his co-accused, not to insist on carrying out their threat, to murder PW-15. The testimony of the prosecution witnesses also demonstrates, that there was substantial distance between the villagers, and the place at which the accused were standing in the opposite of the house of S. Not only PW-1, but also PW-15, expressly deposed that none of the neighbours and co-villagers, was armed. Moreover, the reiteration by the witnesses, that the crowd comprised of men, women and children, by itself is sufficient, to infer that the neighbours and co-villagers were not aiming at causing any harm or injury to the accused-appellant or the co-accused. It cannot be overlooked, that one of the deceased was a woman, and one of the injured was a child of 5 years. On taking into consideration the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case, especially the absence of any material evidence produced by the appellant (to demonstrate that gunshots fired by the accused and the co-accused were in self-defence), the instant contention cannot be accepted. There is no evidence to demonstrate, that the accused and the co-accused were actually attacked, and it was as a matter of self-defence that they fired at the crowd, with their pistols. Therefore find no merit in the contention, advanced by counsel for the appellant.


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(Jagdish Singh Khehar) (Arun Mishra) JJ.

August 17, 2016

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 991 OF 2010

Brij Lal Vs. State of Rajasthan

J U D G M E N T

Jagdish Singh Khehar, J.

1. According to the allegations levelled in the complaint, the appellant–Brij Lal and Mohan Lal – PW-15 were both employed in the Irrigation Department of the State Government. They were both holding the posts of Gauge Reader. They also resided in government quarters at Suleman-ki-Head, close to one another. The appellant–Brij Lal allegedly used to hurl abuses at Mohan Lal – PW-15 under the influence of liquor. Some others, including Kashi Ram, co-accused, used to side with the appellant – Brij Lal, in his misbehaviour with Mohan Lal – PW-15. In order to settle the dispute amicably Mohan Lal – PW-15 called a “panchayat” (council). The endeavour of Mohan Lal – PW-15, through the panchayat, proved unsuccessful. Eventually, he addressed a communication dated 18.8.1983, to the Assistant Engineer of the Irrigation Department, highlighting the inimical attitude of the appellant–Brij Lal. Since the said complaint also did not lead to any 1 fruitful result, Mohan Lal – PW-15 quit his government accommodation, and took up rental accommodation in the house of Mohan Ram – PW-1.

2. The incident which has given rise to the present appeal, occurred on 30.9.1983 at around 9 p.m., at the house of Mohan Ram – PW-1, i.e., the premises to which Mohan Lal – PW-15 had shifted, to keep himself away from the appellant–Brij Lal. At the time of occurrence, Mohan Lal – PW-15 was present in the said premises, along with his wife and children. It was alleged, that the appellant–Brij Lal and the co-accused – Kashi Ram hurled abuses at Mohan Ram – PW-1, who was sitting outside, in front of his house. The appellant and the co-accused asked Mohan Ram – PW-1, to call out Mohan Lal – PW-15, as they wanted to kill him. It was the assertion of Mohan Ram – PW-1, who eventually lodged the complaint, that he had requested the appellant–Brij Lal and the co-accused – Kashi Ram, not to create any trouble at his house. He asked them to fulfill their intentions at some other place. Unmindful of the advice tendered by Mohan Ram – PW-1, the appellant and the co-accused started hurling abuses at Mohan Ram – PW-1. At that juncture, Mohan Ram – PW-1 realized, that the accused and the co-accused were in possession of pistols. Mohan Lal – PW-15, having heard the appellant and the co-accused hurling abuses, and also, threatening to kill him, scaled the boundary wall of the premises, and hid in the flour mill of Milkha Singh, located in close vicinity of the house of Mohan Ram–PW-1.

3. Hearing the altercation and the phone-calls made by Mohan Ram – PW-1 and Mohan Lal – PW-15, neighbours and co-villagers, came to the place of occurrence. They too requested the appellant – Brij Lal, and the co-accused – Kashi Ram, to go away. Instead of leaving, the accused-appellant, as well as, the co-accused openly proclaimed, that they would not leave without killing Mohan Lal – PW-15. Under the pressure of the neighbours and the co-villagers, they moved towards the front of the house of Sultan Bhat, located in front of the house of Mohan Ram–PW-1. At that juncture, the neighbours and the co-villagers went towards the spot at which the accused-appellant – Brij Lal and the co-accused – Kashi Ram had retreated, and again requested them to desist from their intentions. According to the assertions made in the complaint, at the instance of the co-accused – Kashi Ram, the appellant – Brij Lal fired at the gathering. Om Prakash and Sultan Bhat received bullet injuries from the shots fired by Brij Lal. Om Prakash died on the spot. Sultan Bhat was rendered unconscious. He was removed to hospital, where he died on the following day, i.e., on 1.10.1983. Kashi Ram also fired from the gun in his possession. It hit Mst. Munni Devi (a woman), who also died on the spot. In the firing under reference, Labh Singh and Sheria (a 5 year old boy) were also injured. The report of the above incident was lodged by Mohan Ram – PW-1, on 1.10.1983 at 12.05 a.m.

4. It is also relevant to mention, that the appellant – Brij Lal and the co-accused – Kashi Ram got themselves admitted to a hospital. As soon as they heard about the death of Sultan Bhat, they ran away from the hospital. The appellant – Brij Lal was however, arrested on 10.10.1983. Based on the disclosure statement made by him, a bore pistol and an empty cartridge were recovered. The co-accused – Kashi Ram was successful in evading his arrest. After investigation, the appellant – Brij Lal was charged under