Bombay High Court Shri Wilfred Rozario Fernandes-vs-The State Of Maharashtra on 7 December, 2010
Bench: A.M. Khanwilkar, A.P. Bhangale
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IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Appeal No. 1345 of 2002
Shri Wilfred Rozario Fernandes
Aged – Adult,
R/o. c/o. Maria D’Souza, Room No.2,
Tank Pakhadi, Sahar Village,
Mumbai – 99.
(At present lodged in Yerwada Central Prison,
Pune) ..Appellant (original Accused)
The State of Maharashtra ..Respondent (original Complainant)
Mr. N.N. Gavankar i/b. Mr. Arfan Sait – advocate for the petitioner. Mr. J.P. Yagnik – APP for the State.
CORAM:- A.M.KHANWILKAR &
A.P. BHANGALE, JJ
JUDGMENT RESERVED ON : DECEMBER 01, 2010.
JUDGMENT PRONOUNCED ON : DECEMBER 07, 2010.
JUDGMENT (PER A.P. BHANGALE, J)
The Appeal is directed against the Judgment and order dated 21st 2 apeal 1345.02.sxw
October, 2002 passed by Additional sessions Judge, Greater Bombay in Sessions Case No.12 of 1998 whereby the Appellant was convicted of the offence punishable under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and was sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay fine in the sum of Rs 1000/- in default to undergo further imprisonment of three months.
2. Briefly stated facts of the prosecution case are as under :- On 05th October, 1997 Police had received intimation that a dead body of an unidentified male with throat injuries is lying in Talav Pakhadi Maidan, Sahar Village, Andheri (East). Police proceeded to the spot to ascertain identity of the person. Information gave rise to C.R. No. 959 of 1997 under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. Inquest (Exh. 7) was held on 6th October, 1997. Pair of slippers, blood smeared chopper, blood sample from the wounds of the dead body were seized under the Panchnama. The dead body was referred for the postmortem examination. Dr. M.P. Sangle performed autopsy over the dead body identified by Harisingh Bhajansingh Bogati as that of his son Sachin Harisingh Bogati. The dead body was handed over to said Harisingh for last rites. During the course of investigation it was revealed that deceased Sachin and the accused 3 apeal 1345.02.sxw
were friends and were last seen together in the late night of 5th October, 1997. On enquiry from the sister of the accused it was revealed that the accused left for Goa on the morning of 6th October, 1997. Police proceeded to Goa to trace the accused but could not trace him. The accused chose to surrender at Sahar Police Station through his Advocate Mr. Savant. PSI Sarode (PW-19) arrested the Accused. During the interrogation it was revealed that the Accused had visited Belgaum and stayed at Lodge. Police along with the Accused had visited Shivbhavan Lodge at Belgaum and a blood stained Shirt (Art. 3) was discovered under Panchnama pursuant to disclosure statement made by the Accused recorded under the Panchnama (Exhibit 40 and 40A). Statement of the Manager of the Lodge was also recorded. Documents were collected as evidence regarding stay of the Accused at the Lodge. Chopper (Art. 1) was seized from the spot of offence under Panchnama. Similar Choppers were seized from the house of Maria (Sister of the Accused) under the Panchnama (Exh. 12). On 12th October, 1997 the Accused had led panchas and police to the spot of offence (Panchnama Exh. 18 and 18 A). Clothes of the accused as well as clothes of the deceased were seized under the Panchanma (Exh. 22). The muddemal articles were sent to C.A. under letter dated 7th October, 1997, 20th October, 1997 for the chemical analysis. C.A. reports were received (Exh. 62 and 4 apeal 1345.02.sxw
Exh. 63 collectively). Upon completion of the investigation, on 26th December, 1997 the chargesheet was submitted before the Learned Metropolitan Magistrate, 22nd Court who committed the case to the court of Sessions by order dated 22nd December, 1997. Charge was framed at Exh.
1. The Appellant pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. His plea was recorded at Exh. 2.
3. At trial Prosecution examined 24 witnesses to prove its case and closed its evidence. No defence evidence was led .
4. Learned Counsel for the Appellant submitted that the Prosecution had failed to complete the chain of circumstances as to bring home guilt to the Appellant. Reliance is placed upon the ruling in Aloke Nath Dutta-vs- State of West Bengal (2007) 12 SCC 230. It is contended that the Investigating Officer was under obligation to obtain signature of the Appellant below the alleged disclosure statement purportedly made by the Appellant but no signature was obtained, therefore, the evidence as to discovery of blood stained weapon ought to have been excluded by the Trial Court. Learned Counsel relied upon the ruling in Haribhau Ganpati Bhalerao vs. State of Maharashtra 2002 ALL M.R. (cri.) 305 the 5 apeal 1345.02.sxw
Bombay High Court had taken the view making reference to the ruling in Jackaran Singh vs. State of Punjab AIR 1995 SC 2345 that when recovery memo did not contain signature of the accused or his thumb impression, it detracts materially from the value to be attached to the recovery. The Division Bench of this court concluded that the piece of evidence can not be relied upon to sustain the conviction. Learned Counsel further submitted that regarding evidence as to discovery of the blood stained shirt from Belgaum, the evidentiary value is lost as both the incriminatory part as well as discovery has been exhibited together. Therefore, there was every chance that the trial judge to get influenced by the incriminatory portion of the disclosure statement. Reliance is sought to be placed upon Aloke Nath Dutta’s case (2007)12 SCC 230 .
5. Learned A.P.P. for the State submitted that the chain of circumstances in this case was so complete so as not to leave any doubt about the complicity of the accused in this case. Regarding submission advanced by the defence that signature of the accused was not obtained below the disclosure statement and therefore disclosure was not admissible against the accused ,he made reference to the ruling in State of Rajasthan vs. Teja Ram & others 1999 SCC(cri) 436 in Para 30 after the Apex court 6 apeal 1345.02.sxw
examined legal position and observed thus:-
“30. The resultant position is that the Investigating Officer is not obliged to obtain the signature of an accused in any statement attributed to him while
preparing seizure memo for the recovery of any article covered by Section 27 of the Evidence Act. But; if any signature has been obtained by an investigating officer, there is nothing wrong or illegal about it. Hence, we cannot find any force in the contention of the learned Counsel for the accused that the signatures of the accused in Ex.P 3 and P 4 seizure memo would vitiate the
evidence regarding recovery of the axes.”
The Apex Court had restored the conviction and sentence recorded by the Trial Court.
6. In the instant case there was no evidence of any eye witness to disclose the actual incident of Murder. The prosecution has placed reliance only upon circumstantial and documentary evidence to prove its case. A chain of circumstances which are revealed in the evidence led by the prosecution appeared thus;-
PW-1 Suresh, a police constable of Sahar Police Station, who was informed by a social worker Ms. Tawade (PW-2) about the dead body lying in Talav Pakhadi ground, reported the fact that it was a dead body of a 7 apeal 1345.02.sxw
male, aged about 20-25 with injuries on its neck, a blood stained chopper (Art. 1) was also located near the dead body. FIR (Exh. 4 was lodged on 6th October, 1997. The social worker Ms. Meena Tawade(PW-2) confirmed the fact that she came to know about the fact from one Shiv Bahadur and Abhay Bhosale who had gone towards Talav to answer Nature’s call. PW-3 Abdul Gani acted as Panch witness at the time of inquest Panchnama (Exh. 7) drawn about the dead body lying and observations made about the injuries and blood stained Chopper lying near the dead body. Shri Harisingh Bogati (PW-4) – father of the deceased Sachin Bogati was examined to prove the fact that on Sunday, 5th October, 1997 Sachin had gone for Garba at about 9.30 p.m., and did not return. Later when police took him to J.J. Hospital, the dead body of Sachin was identified by him. He had claimed the dead body of his son for last rites after the postmortem examination was over. PW-5 Amarnath was examined to prove that clothes of the deceased (Art. no. 2 collectively) were seized under Panchnama. PW-6 gave evidence about the chopper ( Art. 1) that it was like that of another Chopper seized from Maria (Sister of the Appellant) under Panchnama (Exh.12). The chopper (Art. 1) was found stained with human blood of ‘B’ group which is blood group of the deceased (Sachin) on blade and handle. We can summarize as well discuss 8 apeal 1345.02.sxw
the circumstances disclosed in the evidence as follows: (a)The Appellant-accused and the victim Sachin were last seen together in close proximity of time, prior to the incident of murder. The Appellant Wilfred, victim Sachin and Siraj (PW-7) were residents of the same locality and were friends. Siraj knew Sachin Bogati as well as the Appellant- accused Wilfred. He gave evidence that both of them were friends and they used to be fighting between them. They used to go out for movies, they used to quarrel over money and then compromise also. On 4th October, 1997 they had attended ‘Garba’ dance. Due to some talk between them over money, Sachin had slapped the Accused Wilfred at about 8.00 to 8.30 p.m. On the next day on 5th October, 1997, at evening when Siraj was talking with Sachin at Sahar, the accused Wilfred had joined them. They had talk and some “Masti,” (friendly physical aggression of give and take), they had enjoyed beer which was brought by accused. There was talk over money between Sachin and the accused Wilfred as Sachin was demanding money from Wilfred, who did not pay anything. Sachin had slapped Wilfred. Therafter they went to watch Garba which had continued up to 00.30 hours. After watching Garba PW-7 returned to 9 apeal 1345.02.sxw
his home while Sachin and Wilfred were last seen going away together. Sachin was not seen thereafter. PW-7 identified clothes (Art. 2 colly.) of the deceased Sachin as well as the clothes of the accused (Art. 3 colly.) seen by him when they were last seen together as deposed by him in the course of his evidence. So far as the ‘last seen’ aspect is concerned it is necessary to take note of two decisions of the Apex court. In State of U.P. v. Satish [2005 (3) SCC 114] it was observed thus:
“22. The last seen theory comes into play where the time-gap between the point of time when the accused and the deceased were seen last alive and when the deceased is found dead is so small that possibility of any person other than the accused being the author of the crime becomes impossible. It would be difficult in some cases to positively establish that the deceased was last seen with the accused when there is a long gap and possibility of other persons coming in between exists. In the absence of any other positive evidence to conclude that the accused and the deceased were last seen together, it would be hazardous to come to a conclusion of guilt in those cases. In this case there is positive evidence that the deceased and the accused were seen together by witnesses PWs. 3 and 5, in addition to the evidence of PW-2.”
In Ramreddy Rajesh Khanna Reddy v. State of A.P. [2006 (10) SCC 172] it was observed thus:
“27. The last-seen theory, furthermore, comes into play where the time 10 apeal 1345.02.sxw
gap between the point of time when the accused and the deceased were last seen alive and the deceased is found dead is so small that possibility of any person other than the accused being the author of the crime becomes impossible. Even in such a case the courts should look for some corroboration”.
(See also Bodhraj v. State of J&K (2002(8)SCC 45).)” (b) The next circumstance relied upon to corroborate the prosecution case is that, the Appellant-accused Wilfred was unemployed and resided with his sister Maria(PW-11) and his brother-in-law (PW-10). (c) Another important circumstance is that there used to be quarrels between the Accused Wilfred and the victim Sachin and prior to the incident there was one such quarrel in which the Accused was slapped by the victim Sachin. That itself was sufficient to have generated the stew in the mind of the Appellant Wilfred to settle the score with Sachin.
(d) The Accused and the victim were last seen together at midnight between 5th October, 1997 and 6th October, 1997 by their common friend Siraj (PW-7). In the case in hand, PW-7 Siraj deposed that he was common friend of Appellant Wilfred and the deceased Sachin. According to Siraj he had last seen the deceased Sachin and the 11 apeal 1345.02.sxw
Appellant Wilfred when they were together. Wilfred and Sachin went away together at about 00.30 hours during the intervening night between 5th October, 1997 and 6th October, 1997 while he left their company and returned home. It appears further in evidence of the prosecution that the Appellant left Mumbai for Goa in the early morning of 6th October, 1997 and then to Belgaum. PW -10 Lynden is brother-in- law of the Appellant Wilfred (Sister’s Husband). According to Lynden, the Appellant resided with him and was not doing any work in the year 1997. On the night of the incident Wilfred came late at night and left early in the morning for Goa. This evidence was unchallenged as witness was not cross examined by the defence. Furthermore, there was no explanation from the Appellant in his statement recorded under section 313 of the Cr. P. C. as to why the Appellant went to Goa so abruptly that too without informing any one and then stayed at lodge in Belgaum and why a blood stained shirt was discovered at his instance. It appears from the evidence of PW-17 Shri Uday who is conducting a ‘Subhash General Stores” at tank Pakhadi that on 5th October, 1997 during Navratri days he had seen Sachin when he came to buy coffee bite chocolates, bidi, matchstick, cigarettes and after about half an hour later he had also seen Wilfred 12 apeal 1345.02.sxw
who came to buy food articles-snacks described as ‘Chakli’ and ‘Masala seng’. This evidence also remained unchallenged in cross- examination.
(e) The circumstance that the Accused absconded to Goa and thereafter stayed at Shivbhavan Lodge at Belgaum going away immediately at early morning after the incident was nothing but to hoodwink the investigating agency until wisdom dawned upon him to surrender at Sahar Police station on 10th October, 1997 along with the letter dated 10th October, 1997 (Exh. 35) from his Advocate Mr. Savant. According to PSI Chandrakant Sarode (PW-19) the Appellant was wanted accused in C.R. no 959 of 1997. Clothes of the accused except his shirt worn at the time of incident,namely trouser, banian, jangya (underwear), articles 3 and 4 collectively were seized under the Panchnama (Exh. 29) when the accused was arrested. (f) A blood stained shirt was discovered at the instance of the accused pursuant to his disclosure statement. PW-21 Arun Gholse, who acted as panch on 14th October, 1997 during the Panchnama (Exh. 40 and 40 A) deposed as to disclosure made by the accused which led to 13 apeal 1345.02.sxw
discovery of a blood stained shirt from Shivbhavan lodge at Belgaum. PW-21 also identified the Shirt from the clothes (Art.3 collectively before the Court). The evidence of the panch witness remained unshaken in his cross examination. PW- 22 Manager of Shivbhavan Lodge, Belgaum, gave evidence that Appellant Wilfred had came on 7th October, 1997 to the Lodge and stayed in room no. 33, second floor and gave purpose of his visit as business and gave his address as Church Pakhadi Road no. 2 at Bombay-400 099. Accordingly an entry was made in the register.(Exh. 43/43A). He checked out of the Hotel on 8th October, 1997 at 12.30 p.m.
(g) Spot of the offence was pointed out by the Appellant under disclosure Panchnama dated 12th October, 1997 (Exh. 18 and 18 A) (h) PW 20 Dr. M.P. Sangle deposed about the postmortem examination in which he observed ante-mortem injuries described as i) Incised wound transversely placed on right neck starting 3 cm away from chin @ body of mandible 18cm x 8 cm x vertebra deep (C-2 – C-3) C-2 vertebra shown incised wound. ii) Incised wound transversely placed size 10 cm x 2 cm x bone deep on the neck of the 14 apeal 1345.02.sxw
level of Adam’s apple . The doctor deposed that he had observed corresponding internal injuries. The death was unnatural due to cut throat injury. The doctor also opined that aforesaid injuries were necessarily fatal as they were deep reaching up to vertebra, could be caused with a sharp edged weapon such as a Chopper (Art -1) shown to him. In cross examination Dr Sangle stated that it was very unlikely that victim can run away in such type of injuries. (i) Furthermore, the Appellant has failed to offer any explanation for his abscondance to Goa and then to Shivbhavan lodge in Belgaum. There is no explanation about the seizure of blood stained shirt discovered at his instance, under panchanama.
7. In Trimukh Maroti Kirkan vs. State of Maharashtra 2006 (10) SCC 681 it has been held:
“The normal principle in a case based on circumstantial evidence is that the circumstances from which an
inference of guilt is sought to be drawn must be cogently and firmly established; that those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards the guilt of the accused; that the circumstances taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and they should be incapable of explanation on any
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hypothesis other than that of the guilt of the accused and inconsistent with their innocence.”
The Apex court further observed that:-
“If an offence takes place inside the privacy of a house and in such circumstances, where the assailants have all the opportunity to plan and commit the offence at the time and in circumstances of their choice, it will be extremely difficult for the prosecution to lead evidence to establish the guilt of the accused if the strict principle of circumstantial evidence, as noticed above, is insisted upon by the courts. A judge does not preside over a criminal trial merely to see that no innocent man is punished. A judge also presides to see that a guilty man does not escape. Both are public duties. The law does not enjoin a duty on the prosecution to lead evidence of such character which is almost impossible to be led or at any rate extremely difficult to be led. The duty on the prosecution is to lead such evidence which it is capable of leading, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case. Here it is necessary to keep in mind Section 106 of the Evidence Act which says that when any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him.”
In Trimukh’s case(Supra), the Appellant husband was charged with Section 302 and Section 498A of the IPC. The deceased was his wife. The Supreme Court reiterated the principle as to proof of the prosecution case by circumstantial evidence and further observed as follows: “In a case based on circumstantial evidence where no eye-witness account is available, there is another principle of law which must be kept in mind. The
principle is that when an incriminating circumstance is 16 apeal 1345.02.sxw
put to the accused and the said accused either offers no explanation or explanation which is found to be untrue, then the same becomes an additional link in the chain of circumstances to make it complete. This view has been taken in a catena of decisions of this Court.”
The above observations by the Apex court in the judgment indicate that false explanation can form as an added link in the chain of circumstances to make it complete connecting the accused to the crime.
8. All the circumstances established in this case taken together were clear pointers towards the guilt of the Appellant for homicidal death of Sachin and penal liability of the Appellant for it. False answers given by the Accused as against chain of tell a tale circumstances established by the prosecution, in his statement recorded under section 313 of the Cr. P. code furnished additional link against the Accused. The incriminating circumstance relating to blood stains found on his shirt of the same group of blood which belonged to the deceased Sachin was a fact within the special knowledge of the Appellant. He could, not therefore, keep silent and say that the obligation to prove his guilt rested entirely on the prosecution to prove its case. The principle is well settled. The provisions of Section 106 of the Evidence Act itself are unambiguous and categorical in laying down the proposition that when any fact is especially within the knowledge of a 17 apeal 1345.02.sxw
person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. Thus, if a person is last seen with the deceased, he must offer an explanation as to how and when he parted company the deceased. He must furnish an explanation when blood is detected on his clothes, which must appear to the Court as probable and satisfactory. It the accused adduced a reasonable explanation, he must be held to have discharged his burden. If he fails to offer an explanation in respect of facts by keeping mum when questioned regarding fact within his special knowledge, he fails to discharge the burden cast upon him by Section 106 of the Evidence Act. Thus in a case resting on circumstantial evidence if the accused fails to offer a reasonable explanation in discharge of the burden placed on him, that itself furnishes an additional link in the chain of circumstances proved against him. Section 106 does not shift the burden of proof in a criminal trial, which is always upon the prosecution but it lays down the rule of appreciation of evidence to the effect that when an accused does not throw any light upon facts which are especially within his knowledge and explanation if given could not support any theory or hypothesis compatible with his innocence, the Court can consider his failure to adduce any reasonable explanation, as an additional link which can complete the chain.
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9. The trial court gave cogent reasons to record findings as to guilt of the Appellant Wilfred for murder of Sachin(victim ) in this case. For reasons stated above we do not find any infirmity in the conclusion of guilt arrived at by the learned Additional sessions Judge, Greater Bombay. Thus, we do not find any convincing ground to interfere with the findings of fact by the trial court below. The Appeal lacks merit and is hereby dismissed. (A.P.BHANGALE, J) (A.M.KHANWILKAR, J)