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Vijay Nathalal Gohil vs The State Of Maharashtra on 3 September, 2019

1

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(S).42 of 2010

VIJAY NATHALAL GOHIL Appellant(s)

VERSUS

STATE OF MAHARASHTRA Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

INDIRA BANERJEE, J.

1. This appeal is against the final judgment and order

dated 21.03.2009 passed by the High Court of Judicature at

Bombay in Criminal Appeal No.4 of 2003, upholding the

conviction and sentence of imprisonment of the appellant for

life awarded by the Additional Sessions Judge under Section

302 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as

‘SectionIPC’). The appellant has however been fully exonerated from

the charges under Sections 498A and Section304B IPC.

2. Stated briefly, the appellant was married to the

deceased. They had two children. The Trial Court/High Court

Signature Not Verified
found that the appellant and the members of his family ill-
Digitally signed by
KAVITA PAHUJA
Date: 2019.09.12
21:53:44 IST
treated the deceased and there were frequent altercations
Reason:

between the husband and the wife. The appellant had even

left his wife at the home of her parents at Rajkot where she
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lived for some time. However, she was later brought back and

the appellant and the deceased started living in a room

adjacent to the embroidery factory of the appellant.

3. On 21.05.1990, the appellant went to the police station

and reported the death of his wife. He stated that she had

consumed poison. His statement and the statements of some

others were recorded on the same day. It appears that the

appellant gave a bottle of poison to the police in the

presence of panchas claiming that the deceased had consumed

poison from the said bottle.

4. Thereafter investigation was started and an FIR was

registered. Postmortem examination of the body of the

deceased was conducted. The postmortem examination indicates

murder.

5. The prosecution has examined nine witnesses. It may be

pertinent to refer to the evidence of Dr. Ashok Gangaram

Shinde, the prosecution witness no.6 who conducted the

postmortem. This witness stated that there were about 13

injuries around the mouth and neck and there also internal

injuries as also internal hemorrhage. This witness also

found 19 linear abrasions and 5 contusions. The injuries

were all ante-mortem. This witness opined that it was a case

of violent asphyxial death in the form of suffocation by use

of the hands, causing smotherings.

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6. This witness being the postmortem doctor, found that

all the 13 injuries were less than 12 hours prior to death.

Significantly, the doctor (PW6) also observed that there were

more injuries on the dead body than those shown in the

panchnama that had been prepared before starting the

postmortem. These discrepancies were major and external

injuries corresponding to the internal injuries found in the

postmortem had not been recorded in the Panchnama. PW6

clearly stated that he had drawn the attention of the

Investigating Officer to the aforesaid discrepancies. The

final cause of the death was recorded in the postmortem

report as “death due to violent asphyxia with Organo

Phosphorus poisoning (unnatural)”. From the postmortem report

there can be no doubt that the death was not due to suicide

as sought to be portrayed by the appellant before the police

authorities.

7. The High Court has very rightly relied on the

statements made by the appellant under Section 313 Cr.P.C.

and also the evidence given by the brother of the deceased to

the effect that he found marks of the nails piercing the

cheeks of the deceased on both the sides as well as the

throat. There were marks of injuries on both her wrists and

marks of bangle glasses in both her wrists.

8. The appellant has, in his statement under Section 313

Cr.P.C., stated that the appellant and the deceased were
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residing together in a room adjacent to his factory. He did

not deny his presence at the place of occurrence. Reference

may be made to question nos.21, 22, 23, 24 of the statement

under Section 313 Cr.P.C. In question no.21 the appellant

was specifically asked “It is the evidence of PW3 Duttakumar

Khambe that you accused no.1 were residing with your wife in

some of the rooms of your factory. After your wife’s death

you produced one poison bottle to the police”. The appellant

replied that was correct. The appellant was again asked that

it was the evidence of PW4 Pravinchandra Parmar that the

appellant had been staying with his wife in the room of his

factory for about 2 ½ month’s prior to the incident of her

death. In reply he stated that was also correct. The next

question was that it was the evidence of PW7 Vijay Kadam and

PW8 Police Sub-Inspector Jadhav that the appellant reported

to PW8 S.I. Yadhav that his wife had died due to consumption

of poison at his residence. In answer to the aforesaid

question, the appellant said that was correct. In answer to

Question No. 24, the appellant said that the evidence of

Police Sub-Inspector Yadhav that the appellant had produced

an empty plastic bottle as proof of poison taken by the

deceased was correct.

9. The High Court has after considering the evidence in

detail upheld the conviction under Section 302 IPC. The High

Court and the Trial Court having concurred in their findings
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with regard to the guilt of the appellant, we find no grounds

for a different conclusion. The conviction under Sections

498A and Section304B IPC has been set aside as the High Court had

doubts as to whether a person could be convicted both under

Sections 302 and Section304B IPC. We need not go into this aspect

since there is no appeal by the State.

10. Much emphasis has been put on the fact that there were

no eye-witnesses and that the conviction had been affirmed on

the basis of circumstantial evidence.

11. Though the evidence may be circumstantial, the

circumstances established rule out any reasonable likelihood

of innocence of the appellant. The attempt of the appellant

to pass of the murder of the deceased as a case of suicide by

consumption of poison, notwithstanding the unexplained fresh

injuries externally visible and found ante mortem upon post

mortem examination, along with other circumstances noted

above, including in particular the circumstance that the

deceased resided with the appellant adjacent to the factory

of the appellant, establishes the guilt of the appellant

beyond reasonable doubt.

12. It was nobody’s case that the appellant was not present

at the place of occurrence when the incident took place. On

the other hand, the appellant, as per his own statement under

Section 313 Cr.P.C., handed over a bottle of poison to the
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police, stating that the deceased had consumed poison from

the bottle. This establishes his presence at the place of

occurrence. The injuries and the nail marks evince resistance

by the deceased to forcible administration of poison. The

deceased was murdered. The chain of circumstances

establishing the guilt of the appellant is complete and

unbroken.

13. We are of the view that the trial court and the High

Court rightly took the view, in effect, that the chain of

circumstances could not lead to any conclusion other than the

conclusion which has been arrived at in this case. We are

not inclined to interfere with the judgment and order under

appeal which is affirmed and accordingly the appeal

dismissed.

……………………………………………J.

(INDIRA BANERJEE)

……………………………………………J.

(SANJIV KHANNA)

NEW DELHI;

SEPTEMBER 3, 2019
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ITEM NO.119 COURT NO.14 SECTION II-A

S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Criminal Appeal No(s).42/2010

VIJAY NATHALAL GOHIL Appellant(s)

VERSUS

THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA Respondent(s)

(Heard by HON’BLE INDIRA BANERJEE AND HON’BLE SANJIV KHANNA)

Date : 03-09-2019 This appeal was called on for hearing today.

For Appellant(s) Mr. Shantwanu Singh, Adv.

Mr. Pragya Singh, Adv.

Mr. Ashok Kumar Singh, AOR

For Respondent(s) Mr. Anoop Khanduri, Adv.

Mr. Nishant Ramakantrao Katneshwarkar, AOR

UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following
O R D E R

Hon’ble Ms. Justice Indira Banerjee pronounced the judgment

of the Bench comprising Her Ladyship and Hon’ble Mr. Justice

Sanjiv Khanna.

The appeal is dismissed in terms of the signed reportable

judgment.

Pending application(s), if any, stands disposed of.

(KAVITA PAHUJA) (RAJINDER KAUR)
COURT MASTER (SH) BRANCH OFFICER

(Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)

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