Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

    N.V.    RAMANA, CJI.
1. The   present   appeal   arises   from   the   judgment   dated
26.05.2017 passed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at
Jabalpur   in   Criminal   Appeal   No.   1870/2005.   The   High
Court   dismissed   the   appellant’s   appeal   against   judgment
dated 18.08.2005 passed by the First Additional Sessions
Judge, Sidhi in Sessions Trial No. 119/2003, confirming his
conviction under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
(‘IPC’) and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959 (‘Arms
2. The   appellant   was   sentenced   to   undergo   three   years   of
rigorous imprisonment with fine of Rs.500/­ under Section
307 IPC. He was further sentenced to undergo three years of
rigorous imprisonment with fine of Rs.1,000/­ under Section
27 of the Arms Act and one year of rigorous imprisonment
with fine of Rs.500/­ under Section 25 of the Arms Act.
Appellant has undergone approximately 1 year, 7 months of
his sentence and was released on bail by this Court during
the pendency of the present appeal.
3. The   factual   matrix   as   per   the   prosecution   is   that,   on
14.02.2003   at   about   10:30   p.m.,   the   appellant   and   coaccused went to the complainant’s house and called him
outside. When the complainant came out, the appellant fired
at him with a country­made pistol. The complainant (PW2) is
stated to have run into the house and escaped injury while
the appellant and co­accused fled from the spot on their
motorcycle. The complainant’s mother (PW3) was allegedly
present in the house at the time of the incident and the
complainant’s neighbours (PW1, PW10, PW11) arrived upon
hearing the sound of gunfire. The firearm used in the alleged
incident is stated to have been recovered from the appellant,
along with an empty cartridge.
4. The   prosecution   charged   the   appellant   and   co­accused
under   Section   307/34   IPC   and   Sections   25(1B)   (a)   and
Section 27(1) of the Arms Act. After perusal of evidence on
record   and   examination   of   witnesses,   the   trial   Court
convicted and sentenced the appellant as specified above
while   acquitting   the   co­accused,   as   the   prosecution   had
failed to prove the charges against him. By way of impugned
order dated 26.05.2017, the Madhya Pradesh High Court
confirmed   the   appellant’s   conviction   and   sentence.
Aggrieved, the appellant approached this Court in appeal by
way of special leave.
5. The learned counsel for the appellant has contended that
the entire case of the prosecution is based on the testimony
of the complainant (PW2) and the hearsay evidence of his
mother (PW3), who is an interested witness, and there is no
corroborative evidence or independent witness to support
their testimonies. He has submitted that the prosecution
witnesses to both the incident as well as the alleged recovery
of the firearm have turned hostile. He has also relied on the
testimony of the IO (PW9) to state that no empty cartridges
or pellets were recovered from the place of incident, which
casts a doubt upon the prosecution’s case. Learned counsel
for the appellant has submitted that the complainant has a
close nexus with the police department as his father is a
retired Inspector and his brother and sister are also police
officers. He also submits that besides the complainant, no
witness has been produced by the prosecution who had seen
the appellant at the site of the incident. 
6. Learned   counsel   for   the   respondent­State,   on   the   other
hand, has supported the concurrent judgments of conviction
given by the courts below. He has stated that there is no
error in relying on the statements of the complainant (PW2)
and his mother (PW3), whose testimony is corroborated by
ballistic   evidence   and   seizure   of   the   firearm   and   empty
cartridge from the appellant. 
7. Heard  the   learned   counsel   on   merits   and   perused   the
material on record.
8. The  prosecution strongly relies upon the statement of the
complainant and his mother. A perusal of the statement of
the   complainant   reveals   that   the   accused­appellant   had
come in front of his house and upon asking as to why they
were here, the accused­appellant and his companion kept
quiet. The complainant asked them to leave. Thereafter, the
accused allegedly took out his country made pistol and fired
a shot at the complainant. The accused and his companion
then sped away on their bike. The complainant had already
run   inside   the   house   and   was,   therefore,   unharmed.
Subsequently, the mother of the complainant and his three
neighbours came to the scene of the occurrence. 
9. From the evidence on record, it is clear that, apart from the
complainant   and   his   mother,   the   other   independent
witnesses namely Rajat Shukla (PW1), Amit Bhasin (PW10)
and   Vikas   Shukla   (PW11)   have   denied   witnessing   the
incident. Even, the Sub­Inspector­Rahul Sharma (PW9), in
his cross examination, has stated that the abovementioned
witnesses during their police statements under Section 161
of the Cr.P.C, had indicated that they had not seen the
accused­appellant firing the shot. 
10. Under the above circumstances, the only evidence available
to prove the presence of the accused at the scene, apart from
the testimony of the complainant himself, is that of PW3, his
mother. Although, the counsel on behalf of the accused has
argued that the testimony of the aforesaid witness should
not be taken into consideration as she is an “interested”
witness, it is an established principle of law that a close
relative   cannot   automatically   be   characterized   as   an
“interested” witness. However, it is trite that even related
witness statements need to be scrutinized more carefully.
[See Bhaskarrao v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC
591; State of Rajasthan v. Madan, (2019) 13 SCC 653]
11. In the above context it is pertinent to note the statement of
the complainant (PW2) and the mother of the complainant
Deposition of PW2
In Examination­in­Chief, it is stated by PW2 that:
“… On 14th  February 2003 at 10.30 pm, I
was   at   my   home.   At   that   very   time,
Jaiprakash and Pintu had come in front of
my house on motorcycle and blew horn twice
whereupon I had come outside. When I had
come   outside   my   house   I   had   seen   Pintu
Dubey   on   driving   seat   and   Jaiprakash   as
pillion   rider,   Motorcycle   was   on.   I   asked
Pintu that­what is the purpose of coming,
whereupon   he   replied   that­Jaiprakash   has
brought me with him, so ask him. So, I had
asked Jaiprakash but he did not reply. It felt
like Jaiprakash was intoxicated So I asked
them to leave and that I will talk to them
later. Then Pintu raced the bike. As soon as
Pintu   raced   the   bike,   at   that   very   time
Jaiprakash had taken out the Country made
pistol and fired on me and they had gone
away abusing. By that time, I had run and
entered the house.
Thereafter,   two   three   people   from   the
locality   had   come.   My  mother   also   had
    come.  My neighbours named Amit Bhasin,
Vikas Shukla, Rajat Shukla had come there.
My   mother   asked   me   that­what   had
happened, so I told her about the incident.”
Deposition of PW3
In Examination­in­Chief, it is stated by PW3 that:
“… the incident is of 14th February, 2003 at
about 10.30 pm.   I was at my home.   The
voice of boys had come from outside, sound
of motorcycle also had come.   Sound was
coming from outside that – Sandeep come
outside,   whereupon   Sandeep   had   gone
    outside.       I had followed him as well.   Two
boys were sitting on motorcycle, motorcycle
was start.   It was sounding as if someone
was abusing in loud voice and they had fired
during conversation itself.   So Sandeep had
come inside immediately when fired.”
In cross­examination, it is stated by PW3 that:
“I was in the verandah first.   I  had   come
outside   when   I   heard   sound   of   gunshot.
The verandah is open from where the outer
scene is visible. It is not true to say that I
had merely heard the bang…… and even I
had witnessed it.”
Then again in cross­examination, it is stated:
“…. I was not acquainted with the accused
persons  beforehand.   It is not true to say
that I have not seen the incident…”
(emphasis supplied)
12. It must be noted that the complainant clearly states that his
mother came to the spot after the incident. On the other
hand, in the chief examination, his mother states that she
followed   the   complainant   when   he   went   outside   and
therefore,   she   witnessed   the   incident.   In   her   crossexamination, she states that she came outside when she
heard the gunshot. However, she saw the incident from the
13. Contradictions aside, it must be noted that the incident took
place   at   around   10:30   pm   in   the   night.   It   is   no­where
mentioned that the accused and PW3 were familiar to the
extent that she could recognize him in a fleeting moment
while he was speeding away on his bike. She also failed to
provide any discernable features of the accused­appellant. In
fact, she specifically states that she was not acquainted with
the accused persons. It seems highly improbable that the
mother of the complainant, PW3 instantly recognized the
appellant­accused   at   night.   No   effort   has   been   made   to
conduct   an   identification   test,   to   associate   the   accusedappellant with the alleged incident. After closely scrutinizing
the statement of PW3, mother of the complainant, we must
state that the same does not inspire confidence. 
14. The High Court and the trial Court have laid great emphasis
on the recovery of a motorcycle and a country­made pistol
from the possession of the accused­appellant. 
15. In this context, it is pertinent to note the statements of PW5
and PW8, the witnesses to the seizure:
Deposition of PW5
In Examination­in­Chief, it is stated that:
“Police   had   caught   Jaiprakash   and   found
one   country   made   pistol   while   searching
him…..   I   do   not   remember   whether   any
documentation had been done or not.  Then
Jaiprakash had been held in the lockup and
I had returned back.   Police had not seized
any vehicle before me.
It is important to note that at this stage,
the AGP sought permission to ask leading
question   to   the   witness   declaring   him
hostile……  I   do   not   remember   this   today
that whether a motorcycle had been seized
from accused Jaiprakash before me or not.”
In Cross­Examination, it is stated that:
“I know Sandeep Upadhyaya.   I have good
terms   with   him….   The   neighbours   of
Jaiprakash were not present when the Police
had done proceedings, then said that people
were there but he did not know them.   No
neighbours   of   Jaiprakash   had   signed   the
documents.     Police   had   not   called   the
neighbours of Jaiprakash.”
Deposition of PW8
In Examination­in­Chief:
Police had seized one country made pistol
from accused.   No  other  thing  other  than
pistol had been seized before me nor had
the   accused   stated   to   seize   the   same   in
my presence.
It is not true to say that one black coloured
Splendor   motorcycle   wherein   MP   17   MB
9735 was written had not been seized from
accused Jaiprakash before me.”
(emphasis supplied)
16. The sub­Inspector­Rahul Sharma (PW9) has stated in his
evidence that the alleged motorcycle and the country made
pistol were seized from the complainant’s house based on
the disclosure statement of the accused­appellant. However,
the   witnesses   to   the   seizure   (PW5   and   PW8)   have   given
varying statements regarding the same. In fact, PW5 clearly
stated   that   there   was   no   recovery   of   bike,   and   he   was,
therefore,   declared   hostile   by   the   prosecution.   Moreover,
although PW8 has stated that no other thing other than the
pistol   was   seized,   he   contradicts   himself   by   stating   that
indeed a black coloured splendor motorcycle was seized. The
aforesaid contradiction in the statement of PW8 cannot be
stated to be minor. The same, therefore, does not inspire
17. It also needs to be noted that there has been no recovery of
any   pellet,   empty   cartridge,   or   any   remains   of   the
gunpowder   from   the   spot.   In   the   absence   of   a   ballistic
report,   there   is   no   clear   connection   between   the   seized
weapon   and   the   alleged   incident.   Moreover,   even   the
complainant   had   given   a   vague   description   of   the
motorcycle. Neither the license number nor the colour or any
other   distinguishing   features   have   been   indicated   by   the
complainant. Even here, there is no linking factor between
the seized vehicle and the alleged incident.
18. Another important issue that merits consideration in the
present appeal is that the accused­appellant, in his Section
313 statement, stated that he and the complainant belonged
to opposing student parties. The accused­appellant claimed
that owing to the animosity pertaining to the elections, the
accused­appellant was falsely implicated in the matter. He
also produced two witnesses to prove his alibi. DW1 and
DW2   have  stated   that   the   accused   appellant  was   in   his
village as his mother was unwell. Moreover, the accusedappellant also pointed out to the Court that the father, sister
and brother of the complainant were all a part of the police
department.   The   accused­appellant   also   brought   to   the
notice of the Court  the fact that the complainant had also
registered   another   criminal   case   against   the   accusedappellant in which he already stands acquitted.
19. In the case at hand, the alternate version put forth by the
appellant­accused could not be ignored.  Section 313 CrPC
confers a valuable right upon an accused to establish his
innocence and can well be considered beyond a statutory
right, as a constitutional right to a fair trial under Article 21
of   the   Constitution.[See  Reena   Hazarika   v.   State   of
Assam, (2019) 13 SCC 289]
20. This   Court   in   the   case   of  Satbir   Singh   v.   State   of
Haryana,  (2021)   6   SCC   1,   while   emphasising   upon   the
significance of Section 313 CrPC, has delineated the duty of
the trial Court and held thus:
“22. It   is   a   matter   of   grave   concern   that,
often, trial courts record the statement of an
accused under Section 313 CrPC in a very
casual   and   cursory   manner,   without
specifically questioning the accused as to his
defence. It   ought   to   be   noted   that   the
examination  of   an   accused  under  Section
313   CrPC   cannot   be   treated   as   a   mere
procedural formality, as it is based on the
fundamental   principle   of   fairness.   This
provision   incorporates   the   valuable
principle   of   natural   justice   —   “audi
alteram partem”, as it enables the accused
to   offer   an   explanation   for   the
incriminatory   material   appearing   against
him. Therefore, it imposes an obligation on
the   part   of   the   court   to   question   the
accused fairly, with care and caution. The
court   must   put   incriminating
circumstances before the accused and seek
his   response.  A   duty   is   also   cast   on   the
counsel of the accused to prepare his defence,
since   the   inception   of   the   trial,   with   due
(emphasis supplied)
21. In   the   context   of   the   abovementioned   precedents,   it   is
imperative to have a look at the evidence of the defence:
Q3 On   dated   14.2.03   at   about   10:30   O’
clock   in   the   night   you   accused   and   coaccused Pintu @ Padamdhar Dubey had come
to house of complainant Sandeep Upadhyay
(PW2) situated at Arjun Nagar, Uttar Karodiya
by   Hero   Honda   Motorcycle   bearing   number
MP 17B/9795.  What do you say?
Ans: It is incorrect.  I had gone to village.
When accused Jaiprakash Tiwari s/o Girija
Prasad Tiwari has been called upon to enter
his defence, then he states that:­
I   had   not   casted   vote   in   the   favour   of
Sandeep’s candidate in the election of college.
Sandeep was in favour of N.S.U.I.   I was in
    favour   of      Vidhyarthi   Parishad  (Student
Council).   Due  to  this  reason,  I  have  been
    falsely implicated.
On asking from the accused that whether he
has to give defence evidence, then he states
that :­ I have to give defence evidence.
1. I know accused Jaiprakash and his parents.
Their house is at Maata; at Karaudia in Sidhi;
at   village   Amahatola   and   Hanumangarh,
Veldah as well.  On 14.02.2003, I had reached
the house of the accused at 9­9:15 hours at
North Karaudia and taken him to his house at
village   Maata   on   motorcycle   as   his   mother
had   fallen   sick   at   village   Maata.     We   had
reached   Maata   at   11­11.30   hours.     Then
Jaiprakash   Tiwari   had   called   the   Jan
Swasthya Rakshak at about 12 hours and got
his mother treated.  Drip had been applied to
    his mother till morning on 15th
    and at that
time two to four people were there along with
Deposition of DW2
1. I know accused Jaiprakash.  His house is in
Sidhi and at Maata as well.   On 14.2.2003,
Jaiprakash was at village Maata.   Mother of
Jaiprakash was suffering from vomiting and
diarrhea and therefore as per my information
Jaiprakash   has   been   at   village   Maata  from
11.00am till 8 am the other day on 15.2.2003.
2. I   had   myself   seen   Jaiprakash   going   to   his
house.     I   am   neighbour   of   Jaiprakash.
Jaiprakash   had   been   called   from   Sidhi   to
Maata   by   Shankardayal   as   mother   of
Jaiprakash was not well.  I had heard after 4­
6 days that Jaiprakash had been arrested for
some incident of the said date.”
(emphasis supplied)
22. In the present case, the accused while being examined had
stated himself that he had gone to his village on the date of
the incident. To support his case, he produced two defence
witnesses who have corroborated his presence in the village.
Furthermore, the accused claimed to be falsely implicated in
the   case   owing   to   political   rivalry.   However,   without
scrutinizing the aforesaid plea of the defence, the trial Court
“10.  The   accused   Jayprakash   Tiwari   has
not   stated   anything   in   his   examination
that he has been falsely implicated in the
case by  the.  prosecution witnesses  or  any
other   reason   or   motive   for   his   false
    implication. The evidence of the complainant
Sandeep is corroborated by the evidence of
Amit Bhasin_PW_10 and Vikash ­PW­11 who
had   reached   the   place   of   occurrence
immediately   after   the  incident   and   in   such
situation   the   evidence   of   the   complainant
Sandeep   Upaddhyay   and   other   prosecution
witnesses is believable and it is proved from
their evidence that on the date of incident the
accused   Jayprakash   Tiwari   had   fired   upon
the   complainant   Sandeep   Upaddhay   from
firearm katta  with knowledge and intention
under   such   circumstances   that   if   the
complainant   had   died   then   the   accused
Jayprakash Tiwari would be guilty of murder.”
(emphasis supplied)
23. In a similar manner, the trial Court refused to weigh in the
evidence   of   alibi.   The   trial   Court   while   disbelieving   the
defense witnesses observes:
“14. In such a situation the defence plea of
the accused appears to be an afterthought.
From the perusal of the evidence of the defence
witnesses   Shankerdayal   Mishra_DW_l   and
Krushnakumar   Tiwari_PW­2   it   is   clear   that
both ∙the witnesses are the neighbours of the
accused and residents of same village. Being
farmers and after a gap of two years they have
remembered the date of incident.  It   appears
that these witnesses are trying to save the
accused   by   stating   his   presence   in   their
(emphasis supplied)
24. The   High   Court   without   independently   analyzing   the
aforesaid statements and evidence, upholds the finding of
the Trial Court. The High Court observes that:
“22.   This   Court   is   in   agreement   with   the
findings   of   learned   trial   Court   that,   defence
taken by the appellant has not been suggested
any   prosecution   witness,   nor   stated   by   the
appellant during his accused statement under
Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The   plea   of  alibi  has   been   taken   by   the
appellant is after thought. Hence, no benefit is
granted in favour of the appellant with regard
to   plea   of  alibi.  Thus,   the   conviction   of   the
appellant under Section 307 of IPC, is hereby
25. In the present case, the courts below failed to scrutinize the
defence version put forward by the appellant­accused in his
Section 313 statement. The object of Section 313 of the Code
is to establish a direct dialogue between the court and the
accused. (See Asraf Ali v. State of Assam,  (2008) 16 SCC
26. The purpose of Section 313 CrPC is to provide the accused a
reasonable opportunity to explain the adverse circumstances
which have emerged against him during the course of trial.
A   reasonable   opportunity   entails   putting   all   the   adverse
evidences   in   the   form   of   questions   so   as   to   give   an
opportunity to the accused to articulate his defence and give
his explanation.  
27. If all the circumstances are bundled together and a single
opportunity is provided to the accused to explain himself, he
may   not   able   to   put   forth   a   rational   and   intelligible
explanation. Such, exercises which defeats fair opportunity
are nothing but empty formality. Non­fulfilment of the true
spirit of Section 313 may ultimately cause grave prejudice to
the accused and the Court may not have the benefit of all
the   necessary facts and circumstances to arrive at a fair
28. Such an omission does not ipso facto vitiate the trial, unless
the accused fails to prove that grave prejudice has been
caused to him. Although the counsel on behalf the accused
has not proved any serious prejudice caused to him due to
failure of the Court in framing individual circumstances;
however, considering the long pendency of the matter and
the right of the accused to have a fair and expeditious trial,
we propose to proceed and decide the matter on its own
29. It is an established principle of criminal law that the burden
of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt
is   upon   the   prosecution.   Where  an   accused   sets   up   a
defence or offers an explanation, it is well­settled that he is
not required to prove his defence beyond a reasonable doubt
but only by preponderance of probabilities.  [See M. Abbas
v.  State  of  Kerala,   (2001)  10  SCC  103]. Further, it has
been held by this Court in  Parminder  Kaur   v.  State  of
Punjab,   (2020)  8  SCC  811  that “once a plausible version
has   been   put   forth   in   defence   at   the   Section   313   CrPC
examination stage, then it is for the prosecution to negate
such defence plea”. 
30. Moreover,   it   is   the   solemn   duty   of   the   courts   below   to
consider the  defence  of the accused. The same must be
considered   with   caution   and   must   be   scrutinised   by
application of mind by the judge. The Court may accept or
reject the same, however it cannot be done cursorily. The
reasoning and the application of mind must be reflected in
writing. However, from the observations extracted above, it
is clear that the courts below have failed to undertake this
solemn duty. Rather, the evidence of the accused has been
dealt by the Court in a casual manner.
31. In   the   above   circumstances,   when   there   is   absence   of
independent evidence corroborating the statements made by
complainant, serious doubts regarding the recovery of the
alleged   motorcycle   and   the   country   made   pistol,   no
connection proved between the alleged recovered items and
the alleged incident, and the plausible version put forward
by the accused­appellant in his Section 313 statement has
not been satisfactorily responded to by the prosecution, the
case against the accused­appellant cannot be sustained.
32. It is the duty of the Court to separate the grain from the
chaff and to extract the truth from the mass of evidence. In
our opinion, the case of the prosecution is based on mere
conjectures   and   surmises. The   High   Court   and   the   trial
Court failed to consider the abovementioned circumstances
while rendering the judgment convicting the accused. The
evidence brought on record by the prosecution is insufficient
to prove the case against the appellant beyond reasonable
33. For these  reasons,  the  appeal  is,  therefore, allowed. The
conviction and sentence passed against the appellant are set
aside.   The   appellant   is   on   bail.   The   appellant   stands
discharged from the bail bonds.
AUGUST 04, 2022.


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