VASUDEV vs STATE of M.P.

VASUDEV vs STATE of M.P. - Supreme Court Case 2022

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 388   OF 2021
VASUDEV …APPELLANT
Versus
STATE of M.P. ...RESPONDENT
JUDGMENT
J.K. Maheshwari, J.
       Arising out of the judgment dated 14.02.2020 passed in
Criminal Appeal No. 622 of 2009 by the High Court of Madhya
Pradesh, judicature at  Jabalpur, confirming the judgment dated
7.3.2009 in S.T. No. 185 of 2006 passed by the 6th  Additional
Sessions   Judge   (Fast   Track   Court),   Chhatarpur,   the   present
Special Leave Petition has been   filed,       in which leave was
granted directing to call for the record.  However, this appeal has
been registered and heard on priority basis as the appellant
being the senior citizen.
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2. The case of the prosecution in brief  is that on 15.6.2006,
Sub   Inspector   R.S.   Bagri   (PW6)   along   with   Sub­Divisional
Officer  Dr. Sanjay Agrawal (PW10) reached village Mahoi Kala
on   having   information     at   Police   Station   Sarwai     that
absconding   accused     Rajesh   Shukla   was   hiding     with   his
associate members in the said village.     It was also informed
that accused Rajesh Shukla was beside   the house of Jhallu
Kachhi of the said village.  The police personnel of nearby police
stations were  called  at Village Mahoi Kala.   Thereafter, under
the command of S.D.O.P. Dr. Sanjay Agrawal (PW10), police
parties were prepared to apprehend the accused. The police
parties surrounded the house of Jhallu Kachhi.   Dr. Sanjay
Agrawal (PW10) challenged the accused persons to surrender
and   come out   of the house of Jhallu Kachhi.   The accused
Rajesh Shukla did not surrender and open the fire on the police
personnel from inside the house.  The police parties retaliated
the   firing.     After   sometime,   the   accused   Rajesh     Shukla
expressed  his   wish   to   surrender.    Accordingly,   the   accused
Rajesh Shukla  along with accused/appellant Vasudev Shukla
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surrendered before the police and they were taken into custody.
After   surrendering,   one   315   bore   rifle   along   with   19   live
cartridges and 5 empty cartridges were recovered from accused
Rajesh Shuka, whereas   one 12 bore double barrel gun along
with 20 live cartridges and 7 empty cartridges were recovered
from   accused   Vasudev   Shukla.     The   first   information   was
registered as Exb. P­18.   The weapons, so surrendered, had
been seized at the police station along with live cartridges  Exb.
P­4 to P­6.     The accused persons were arrested   vide arrest
panchnama   Exb.   P9   and   P10.     After   completion   of   the
investigation, challan was filed.  As the  case was triable  by the
Court of Sessions, therefore, it was committed to the competent
court,   where   the   charges   under   Sections   307/34   read   with
Section 3/25(1B)(a) and Section 27/34 of the Arms Act were
framed against both the accused.   The accused abjured their
guilt   and     demanded   trial   by   taking   a   defence   of   false
implication.     Appellant­Vasudev     specifically taken defence
that after coming back from the jail, he had surrendered his
son Rajesh in P.S. Sarwai.  The police personnel have prepared
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a   false   case   sitting   in   the   police   station,   implicating   the
appellant and c­accused Rajesh Shukla in this case.
3. Prosecution   has   examined   as   many   as   16   witnesses,
while the accused has not examined any witness in defence.
Trial   Court,   after   referring   the   statement   of   the   witnesses,
convicted the accused persons on taking pretext  that they were
aware regarding the challenge of the police party for surrender.
Instead of surrendering,  the accused persons fired gun shots,
which were retaliated by the police party.  After sometime, both
the accused   had surrendered throwing their guns.  The Trial
Court, further observed that guns so seized, may fire and the
used and un­used  cartridges of 315 bore as well as a 12 bore
double barrel gun were seized, which finds support from the
FSL Report Exb. P­17A regarding use of the said guns.  As the
accused persons were holding the guns, without any license,
therefore,   they   have   been   convicted   for   the   charges   under
Section 307/34 IPC read with Section 3/25 (1B)(a) and 27 of
the Arms Act and directed to undergo R.I. for four years with
fine of Rs. 2,000/­ and  R.I. for two years with fine of Rs. 1000
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and R.I. for three years with fine of Rs. 1000 respectively  with
default   sentences.     It   was   directed     by   the   Court   that   the
aforesaid sentences shall run concurrently.
4. The judgment passed by the Trial Court was challenged
before the High Court by filing Criminal Appeal No. 622 of
2009.     As the appellant Rajesh Shukla died on 19.2.2016,
therefore, his appeal was dismissed as abated, while  the appeal
of the appellant Vasudev Shukla has been dismissed confirming
the judgment of Trial Court in toto.
5.     Shri H.K. Chaturvedi, learned counsel   appearing for the
appellant has argued with vehemence that as per the case of
prosecution itself, there was no apprehension of abscondment
of appellant.  From the statement of prosecution witnesses, it is
clear that deceased co­accused Rajesh Shukla was allegedly
said to be hiding himself in the house of Jhallu Kachhi and not
the appellant.   The prosecution witnesses have not named and
seen   the   appellant   firing   on   them,   having   intention   and
knowledge to commit the murder.  As per the seizure Exb. P­5,
12  bore  double barrel  gun,  20 live cartridges  and 7  empty
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cartridges were seized from him. FSL report Exb. P­17A clearly
indicates that  there was  disparity to match TC (A2 L.B.) for the
firing pin impression to Exb.  EC 6,7,8,9,12.  Therefore, those
five  cartridges were not fired through the left barrel of 12 bore
gun Exb. A­2.  Similarly, the right barrel of 12 bore gun Exb.
A­2 , had not been used in firing because it was cut and short
by which weapon could not be matched with the cartridges.  It
is further urged that as per the testimony of the witnesses, it is
clear that  they had not seen firing any of the accused on police
party. It is said the object of the fire was towards hill  and not
towards   the   accused   persons   as     is   apparent   from   the
statement   of   H.C.   Akbar   Singh   Gaur   (PW5).   In   such
circumstances, the prosecution has failed to prove the intention
and   knowledge   to   commit   an   act   which   may   amounting   to
commission of an offence   attempt   to murder.   In absence
thereto, the conviction of the appellant for an offence under
Section 307/34 of IPC is contrary to the settled proposition  of
law.  In support of his contention, reliance has been placed on
the judgment of this Court in the case of   Parsuram Pandey
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and others  vs.  State of  Bihar,     AIR 2004 SC 5068.     It is
further urged that  the right barrel of 12 bore gun seized from
appellant was cut and short, making it impossible to fire from
this weapon and the empty cartridges have not been fired from
left barrel as apparent from FSL report  Exb. P­17A.  Therefore,
the offence under Section 27 of the Arms Act has not been
made out.  Even assuming that the offence under Section 25(1­
B)(a) is made out, sentence as awarded by the Trial Court is two
years, which the appellant has already served as per the report
available   on   record.     Therefore,   while   setting   aside   the
conviction   and   the   sentence   for   an   offence   under   Sections
307/34 and 27 Arms Act, appellant  may be directed to  be
released 
6. Per   contra,   Shri   Mukul   Singh,   learned   counsel
representing the State submits that the Trial Court and the
High Court have rightly convicted and sentenced the appellant
by the impugned judgment, however interference in this appeal
is not warranted in exercise of power under Article 136 of the
Constitution of India.
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7. After hearing learned counsel for the parties, first of all, it
is required to be seen what are the ingredients to prove an
offence under Section 307 of IPC.  On perusal of the provisions,
it is apparent that whoever does any act, with intention or
knowledge, which may cause death and in furtherance   to the
said intention and knowledge, he was doing an act towards it.
However, it is required to be seen  by the evidence brought on
record by the prosecution whether the ingredients to prove, the
case of prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, the charge under
Section 307/34 IPC  have been  established.  In this regard, the
star witnesses of the prosecution are  ASI J.P. Verma (PW 4),
H.C. Akbar Singh Gaur  (PW5), SDOP  Dr. Sanjay Agrawal (PW
10),     H.C. Uday Raj Singh (PW14), S.I. Arvind Singh Dangi
(PW15) and S.I. R.S. Bagri (PW16). As per their testimonies, it is
apparent that an information of hiding by the deceased accused
Rajesh   Shukla   with   his   associates   in   the   house   of   Jhallu
Kachhi of village Mahoi Kala was received.   In their statements,
it is not said that appellant was with him. The police personnel
of nearby police stations were   called   at Village Mahoi Kala.
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Thereafter, under the command of S.D.O.P. Dr. Sanjay Agrawal
(PW10), police parties were prepared to apprehend the accused.
The   police   parties   were   deputed   in   different   directions   and
warning to surrender was given to Rajesh Shukla. On such
warning, as stated by them, firing was made from inside the
house of Jhallu Kachhi. H.C. Akbar Singh Gaur (PW5) in crossexamination clearly said  that the said firing was towards the
hill area and not towards the police party. None of the said
prosecution witnesses have seen the appellant firing on police
party,   with   intention   or   knowledge   to   commit   an   offence,
proving his guilt. Subsequently, as alleged, Rajesh Shukla and
appellant had surrendered along with guns before the police
party.     As   per   the   said   testimony,   it   is   apparent   that   the
intention and knowledge to commit an act by them towards the
police party has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Simultaneously, as per the statement of prosecution witnesses,
it has come on record that all the proceedings   including the
arrest, seizure  have been prepared at the police station and not
on   the   spot.     However,   defence   as   taken   by   the   appellant
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appears   to   be   plausible,   and   creates   reasonable   doubt   in
proving   the   guilt   by   prosecution.   It   is   not   out   of   place   to
mention that  three independent witnesses  Shivnath Anuragi
(PW7), Barra (PW8)  and Jhallu Kachhi (PW13), in whose house
incident   had   taken   place,   had   not   supported   the   case   of
prosecution.   As   per   the   cross­examination   of   prosecution
witnesses, it is apparent that Santosh Shukla was present on
the   spot.   He   was   having   good   relations   with   the   SHO   and
inimical   with   the   accused   Rajesh   Shukla.   However,   being
independent person, why in his presence, the seizure and the
arrest   were not made by police, is not explained and highly
doubtful.     There   is   no   independent   witness   in   any   of   the
proceedings though may be available.   The High Court, while
convicting  the  appellant   by  the  impugned  judgment,  merely
observed that   because accused were prized goons   and were
absconding and as per the deposition, it could not  be said that
the appellant No. 2 was not involved  because he was arrested
on   spot   and   taken   to   police   station.   In   this   regard,     it   is
required to observe that the prosecution is required to prove its
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case beyond reasonable doubt and the conviction cannot be
based   merely   on the basis of presumption to   rule out the
presence of accused.    It is to further observe  that as per FSL
Report Exb. P­17A, it is clear that from the right barrel of 12
bore gun,   Exb. A­2,   fire could not   be done and the empty
cartridges, which were received, have not been fired from the
left barrel.  Therefore, the use of 12 bore gun which was seized
from the appellant   is not proved along with live and empty
cartridges. As the use of the gun itself  is not established by the
FSL report, therefore, the conviction under Section 27 Arms Act
also is not justified.   Considering   all these aspects, in our
considered  opinion, the ingredients of Section 307/34 IPC and
Section   27   of   the   Arms   Act   have   not   been   proved   by   the
prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, proving the guilt of the
accused/appellant.
8. In view of the foregoing, the Trial Court and High Court
committed   error in convicting   the appellant for the charge
under   Section   307/34   IPC   read   with   Section   27   Arms   Act.
Therefore,   we   allow   this   appeal   in   part   and   set­aside   the
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conviction and sentence for  the said charges, and acquit the
appellant for the same, except   of the charge under Section
25(1B)(a) of the Arms Act. The   appellant   has   already   served
the sentence for the charge under Section 25(1B)(a) of the Arms
Act, therefore, if he is not required in any other case,   be
released forthwith from jail.
9. Accordingly, this appeal is allowed in part and disposed
of.
………………………….J.
[ INDIRA BANERJEE ]
……………………………J.
[ J.K. MAHESHWARI ]
NEW DELHI;
FEBRUARY 1, 2022.
  
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