Murder; Dhal Singh Dewangan Vs. State of Chhattisgarh [Supreme Court of India, 23-09-2016]

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 302 – Murder inside House – the prosecution, on the basis of admissible evidence on record, has not proved its case against the appellant. The appellant, therefore, deserves to be acquitted.

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 302 – Murder – Circumstantial Evidence – The law regarding appreciation of cases based on circumstantial evidence is clear that the chain of evidence must be so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved namely the guilt of the accused. The circumstances do not form a complete chain of evidence as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the appellant nor do the circumstances exclude every possible hypothesis except the guilt of the accused.

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 302 – Murder – Unconscious of Accused – Accused was lying unconscious at the scene of occurrence is accepted by all the prosecution witnesses including the Investigating Officer, who sent the appellant to the Primary Health Centre for medical attention. Since he was sent by the Investigating Officer himself, the prosecution ought to have placed on record the material indicating what made him unconscious, what was the probable period of such unconsciousness and whether the appellant was falsely projecting it. However, nothing was placed on record. Neither any doctor who had examined him was called as witness, nor any case papers of such examination were made available. In the absence of such material, which the prosecution was obliged but failed to place on record, his explanation cannot be termed as false. The explanation that he knew nothing as he was unconscious cannot be called, ‘absence of explanation’ or ‘false explanation’. So the last item in the list of circumstances cannot be taken as a factor against the appellant.

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 302 – Murder – Unconscious of Accused – the accused was lying unconscious and no material having been placed on record clearly indicating that the appellant was falsely projecting to be unconscious, the hypothesis that the appellant could be innocent is a possibility.

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 302 – Murder – Finger Prints – The prosecution did not gather the finger prints either in the house or even on the iron knife which was allegedly used for committing the offence in question. If the finger prints on the knife were to be that of the appellant alone, such factor could certainly have weighed against the appellant. However, the absence of such conclusive material coupled with other circumstances on record do suggest reasonable possibility of the hypothesis of innocence of the accused.

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 302 – Murder – Clothes of the accused – the clothes of the accused were not seized immediately at the place of occurrence. Apart from the fact that the clothes were not seized immediately at the place of occurrence, if the appellant was found lying in the room in an unconscious state with five dead bodies around, the possibility that his clothes had otherwise got stained with blood which was spotted everywhere including the verandah cannot be ruled out. Therefore, this circumstance is not conclusive in nature and tendency which could be considered against the appellant.

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 302 – Murder – House – The site map shows the house to be a single storey structure with a verandah and court-yard open to sky. Though the door of the house which opened in the gali was stated to have been bolted from inside, the rooms were not locked and the possibility of a person/persons other than the inmates of the house getting into the house cannot be ruled out.

Murder inside House


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(Ranjan Gogoi) (Prafulla C. Pant) (Uday Umesh Lalit) JJJ.

September 23, 2016

CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 162-163 OF 2014

DHAL SINGH DEWANGAN ….. Appellant

Versus

STATE OF CHHATTISGARH …. Respondent

J U D G M E N T

Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

1. These appeals by special leave challenge the judgment and order dated 08.08.2013 passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur in Criminal Reference No.4 of 2013 and in Criminal Appeal No.563 of 2013 affirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 302 IPC and confirming the sentence of death awarded by the Sessions Judge, Durg in Sessions Trial No.96 of 2012. The appellant was awarded death sentence on six counts for having caused the deaths of his wife and five daughters on 19.02.2012. While granting special leave to appeal by order dated 17.01.2014 this Court stayed the execution of death penalty till the disposal of the present appeal.

2. The appellant along with his wife Thaneswari aged about 32 years and five daughters, namely, Nisha, Lakshmi, Sati, Nandini and Sandhya, aged 15, 14, 13, 8 and 5 years respectively and his mother Kejabai (examined as PW-6 in the trial) was residing in Village Mohandipat, P.S. Arjunda, Chhattisgarh. Their house, a single storey structure with five rooms, a verandah and a courtyard, opened in a gali. Opposite to this house, were the houses of Aman Dewangan, Khemlal Dewangan and Derha Dewangan. On either side of their house the immediate neighbours were Bhan Singh Dewangan on one side and Yogendra Sahoo on the other. The appellant with his wife and two daughters had gone to attend a marriage at Nagpur on 11.02.2012 and had returned to the village at about 4-5 p.m. on 19.02.2012. After having dinner everyone had gone to sleep by about 8:00 p.m. Nisha, Lakshmi, Sati and Nandini were with their grandmother Kejabai in one room while the appellant, his wife and daughter Sandhya had slept in the adjoining room.

3. According to the prosecution, at about 1:30 a.m. on 20.02.2012 a report vide General Diary Entry No.671 was made by PW-1 Ishwar Pradhan and PW-2 Santosh Kumar, Village Kotwar. The entry Ext.P-37 was certified in the General Diary by PW-13, Sub-Inspector Krishna Murari Mishra and was to the following effect: