Supreme Court of India
Satpal vs State Of Haryana on 1 May, 2018Author: J Navin Sinha NON­REPORTABLE IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1892 OF 2017 SATPAL ………APPELLANT(S) VERSUS STATE OF HARYANA …..RESPONDENT(S) JUDGMENT

NAVIN SINHA, J.

The appellant assails his conviction under Section 302 read with Section 201 I.P.C., by the Additional Sessions Judge, Hissar in   case   No.54­SC   (RBT)   of   2008,   affirmed   by   the   High   Court, based on the last seen theory. 

2. PW­7, Krishan Kumar lodged an F.I.R. on 11.09.2007 with regard to his missing nephew, the deceased Kapil Kumar who was thirteen   years   old.   The   deceased   had   gone   to   the   village   the
Signature Not Verified previous evening at about 6:00 PM to deliver milk to customers.
Digitally signed by
NARENDRA PRASAD
Date: 2018.05.01
18:40:46 IST
Reason:

The   witness   and   his   relative   PW­9,   Richhpal   had   seen   the 1
deceased with the appellant at about 9:00 PM on the Khairpur Road, Sarangpur, going on a bicycle together. The deceased did not   return   home   at   night.   His   dead   body   was   found   the   next morning lying concealed in a heap of dry fodder in the fields of Subhash.   The appellant was stated to have had an altercation with the deceased a few days ago with regard to payment of milk. The disclosure by the appellant under Section 27 of the Evidence Act after his arrest, led to recovery of the atlas bicycle belonging to PW­7, and the milk can with the name of the witness inscribed on it.

3. Learned Counsel for the appellant assailing the conviction, submitted   that   the   dead   body   was   found   at   a   considerable distance from where he was last seen with the deceased and in the   opposite   direction.     It   is   highly   unlikely   that   the   appellant would   have   carried   the   dead   body   for   the   long   distance.     The recovery is planted, as the second seizure witness Kheda had not been examined.  The appellant would not have hidden the bicycle and the milk can near his own house to facilitate his implication. The story of the milk can and an altercation few days earlier in 2
Court, were improvements as no such statement had been made by PW­7 in the FIR or statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C.  4. There was a contradiction between the evidence of PW­7 and PW­9   with   regard   to   intimation   given  to   the  Sarpanch   at  night itself.   There was also a contradiction between the statement of the two witnesses with regard to time when the dead body was discovered   and   the   police   reached   the   spot.     There   was   no evidence  with regard  to the bicycle as belonging to PW­7.   The father of the deceased, PW­8, Subhash had come to the village in the morning itself looking for his son which is suggestive that the deceased was missing since earlier creating doubts about the last seen theory.   Alternately, if the deceased was missing since the previous   night,   the   conduct   of   PW­7   in   not   informing   PW­8   at night itself was highly unnatural.  PW­7 and PW­9 were thus not reliable   witnesses.     To   sustain   a   conviction   on   basis   of circumstantial   evidence,   it   was   necessary   that   all   links   in   the chain   of   circumstances   must   be   complete   leading   to   the   only hypothesis for guilt of the accused.  If there were any missing link in   the   chain   of   circumstances   and   the   possibility   of   innocence cannot   be   ruled   out,   the   benefit   of   doubt   must   be   given   by
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acquittal.  Any recovery on basis of confession, under Section 27 of the Evidence Act, cannot form the basis for conviction.  5. Learned counsel for the State submitted that the deceased was last seen with the appellant the previous night at about 9.00 PM going on a bicycle and did not return at night.  The dead body was found next morning in the vicinity of the area they were last seen   together.     The   post­mortem   conducted   on   12.09.2007   at 2:15 PM estimates the time elapsed since death as 24­36 hours and which coincides with when the deceased was last seen with the appellant.   Motive for the crime existed.   The conduct of the appellant   in   absconding   after   the   occurrence   is   also   an incriminating factor against him.  PW­7 had identified the bicycle as belonging to him and the milk can had his name inscribed on it.  

6. We   have   considered   the   respective   submissions   and   the evidence on record.  There is no eye witness to the occurrence but only circumstances coupled with the fact of the deceased having been last seen with the  appellant.   Criminal jurisprudence and 4
the   plethora   of   judicial   precedents   leave   little   room   for reconsideration of the basic principles for invocation of the last seen   theory   as   a   facet   of   circumstantial   evidence.     Succinctly stated,   it   may   be   a   weak   kind   of   evidence   by   itself   to   found conviction upon the same singularly.  But when it is coupled with other circumstances such as the time when the deceased was last seen with the accused, and the recovery of the corpse being in very   close   proximity   of   time,   the   accused   owes   an   explanation under   Section   106   of   the   Evidence   Act   with   regard   to   the circumstances under which death may have taken place. If the accused offers no explanation, or furnishes a wrong explanation, absconds,   motive   is   established,   and   there   is   corroborative evidence available  inter alia  in the form of recovery or otherwise forming a chain of circumstances leading to the only inference for guilt of the accused, incompatible with any possible hypothesis of innocence, conviction can be based on the same.  If there be any doubt or break in the link of chain of circumstances, the benefit of doubt must go to the accused.  Each case will therefore have to be examined on its own facts for invocation of the doctrine.  5
7. Both PW­7 and PW­9 have consistently stated having seen the deceased going with the appellant on a bicycle at 9.00 PM the previous   evening.     The   deceased did not return  home at night. The appellant was also not to be found at home.   The corpse of the deceased was recovered the next morning hidden in a heap of fodder in the fields.  The FIR was lodged promptly on 11.09.2007 naming the appellant as a suspect.   An FIR is not to be read as an encyclopedia requiring every minute detail of the occurrence to be   mentioned   therein.     The   absence   of   any   mention   in   it   with regard   to   the   previous   altercation,   or   the   presence   of   the   milk can, cannot affect its veracity so as to doubt the entire case of the prosecution.   The   altercation   suffices   to   establish   motive.   The appellant has not led any evidence regarding his not being in the company of the deceased or that they had subsequently parted ways.   The   appellant   has   not   led   any   evidence,   despite   his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. that he would do so, why he did not return home at night or his whereabouts otherwise. PW­8, father   of   the   deceased,   was   informed   in   the   morning   of 11.09.2007   by   PW­7   after   which   he   came   to   the   village.   The
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deceased was a thirteen year old hardly in a position to resist the appellant.  We see no reason why the two witnesses being related to the deceased would depose falsely and shield the real offender, especially when the appellant has not given any reason or led any evidence for his false implication.   

8. The post­mortem was done on 12.09.2007 at about 2:15 PM by   PW­12,   Dr.   Sunil   Gambhir   opining   that   death   was   due   to strangulation by manual throttling.  The time elapsed since death has been estimated as 24 to 36 hours.  The witness has deposed that death could be estimated to have occurred at about 10.00 PM on 10.09.2007.  The body has been recovered in the vicinity of where the deceased was last seen with the appellant.   The fact that it may be in the opposite direction is hardly relevant. 9.    The   recovery   of   the   atlas   cycle   on   the   confession   of   the appellant,   identified   by   PW­7   as   belonging   to   him,   as   also   the recovery of the milk can on the same basis with the name of PW­7 inscribed on it with nail polish and the fact that the appellant was absconding   after   the   occurrence   till   his   arrest   on   16.09.2007
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are additional incriminating factors which complete the links in the chain of circumstances.  The recovery having been proved by PW­7, the failure to examine the other seizure witness, Kheda, is of no consequence. 

10. In the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case, we find no reason to interfere with the conviction of the appellant.  11. The appeal is dismissed.

………………………………….J.
 (Kurian Joseph) ………………………………….J.
 (Mohan M. Shantanagoudar) .……….………………………..J.
   (Navin Sinha) New Delhi,
May 01, 2018 8

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