RAM NIWAS VERSUS STATE OF HARYANA

RAM NIWAS VERSUS STATE OF HARYANA


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 25 OF 2012
RAM NIWAS      ...APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
STATE OF HARYANA    ...RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
B.R. GAVAI, J.
1. This appeal challenges the judgment and order passed by
the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh dated 16th
March   2009,   thereby   dismissing   the   appeal   filed   by   the
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas, which was filed challenging the
judgment and order dated 11th/12th January 2005 passed by the
learned   Sessions   Judge,   Sonepat,   thereby   convicting   the
appellant for the offences punishable under Section 302 and 201
of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC” for short) and sentencing
him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life and to a fine of
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Rs.5,000/­, in  default of payment  of fine to further undergo
rigorous imprisonment for two years under Section 302 IPC and
to suffer imprisonment for three years and to a fine of Rs.2,000/­
in   default   of   payment   of   fine   to   further   undergo   rigorous
imprisonment for one year.  Both the sentences are directed to
run concurrently.  
2. The prosecution case, in brief, is thus:
2.1 Deceased   Dalip   Singh,   Bhim   Singh   (P.W.10),   and   the
complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) are brothers.  Pale, son of
Bhim Singh (P.W.10), was married to Sunita, daughter of
Chander Singh and the sister of the accused/appellantRam Niwas.  After the death of Pale, his wife Sunita along
with her minor son went to her parental house in village
Rewli.   Deceased Dalip Singh, Bhim Singh (P.W.10), and
complainant­Deep   Chand   (P.W.9)   wanted   Sunita   to   be
married to Rampal son of deceased Dalip Singh.  As such,
on 7th March 2003, all three of them had gone to the house
of   Chander   Singh,   father   of   the   accused/appellant­Ram
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Niwas   with   the   proposal   of   remarriage   of   Sunita   with
Rampal son of deceased Dalip Singh. 
2.2 It is the prosecution case that all three of them reached
village  Rewli  and  went  to  the   house  of  Chander  Singh,
father of the accused/appellant­Ram Niwas at around 5.00
p.m. on 7th  March 2003. At around 7.30 p.m., deceased
Dalip   Singh   and   accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   started
taking liquor and at that time the proposal of marrying
Sunita with Rampal was mentioned.   On such mention
being made, accused/appellant­Ram Niwas got angry and
started   abusing   deceased   Dalip   Singh.     However,
complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim Singh (P.W.10)
intervened and pacified the accused/appellant­Ram Niwas.
Thereafter, both of them after having their meals went to
the first floor to sleep.
2.3 On the morning of 8th  March 2003, at around 6.30 a.m.,
when   the   complainant­Deep   Chand   (P.W.9)   and   Bhim
Singh (P.W.10) went to the drawing room of Chander Singh,
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deceased  Dalip Singh  was  not  seen  there.    They  asked
about the whereabouts of deceased Dalip Singh from the
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas, who told them that he had
gone for answering the call of nature.  Both of them waited
for deceased Dalip Singh for about half an hour, but he did
not   return.   Therefore,   they   again   asked   the
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas about the whereabouts of
deceased   Dalip   Singh,   but   they   did   not   receive   any
satisfactory reply.
2.4 It   is   further   the   prosecution   case   that   after   the
complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim Singh (P.W.10)
came to the courtyard, they felt the smell of the burnt
human body.  The complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) again
enquired   from   the   accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   about
deceased   Dalip   Singh.   Then   the   accused/appellant­Ram
Niwas   became   nervous   and   replied   that   when   deceased
Dalip Singh had proposed to marry Sunita with his son
Rampal then he had pressed the throat of deceased Dalip
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Singh and strangulated him to death.  In order to destroy
the evidence, the dead­body of the deceased Dalip Singh
was burnt, but the same could not be burnt completely.
The dead body of deceased Dalip Singh was concealed in
Paraal (Paddy Fodder).   Thereafter, the complainant­Deep
Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim Singh (P.W.10) after removing the
Paddy   straw   found   the   partially   burnt   dead   body   of
deceased Dalip Singh wrapped in a piece of Plastic palli.
Thereafter, the complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim
Singh   (P.W.10)   expressed   their   resentment   towards   the
accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas,   and   on   hearing   their
resentment, the accused/appellant­Ram Niwas fled away
from the spot.  The complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) and
Bhim   Singh   (P.W.10)   went   to   their   village   Bhawar   and
returned back with other family members to village Rewli in
the evening.  
2.5 The complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) lodged a report with
the   Police   station   at   4.45   p.m.     On   the   basis   of   the
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statement of the complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9), a First
Information Report (“FIR” for short) came to be registered at
5.00 p.m.
2.6 Upon completion of the investigation, a charge­sheet came
to be filed in the Court of learned Judicial Magistrate First
Class, Sonepat.   Since the case was exclusively triable by
the Sessions Court, it came to be committed to the learned
Sessions Judge, Sonepat. 
2.7 Charges came to be framed for the offences punishable
under   Sections   302   and   201   of   the   IPC.     The
accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   pleaded   not   guilty   and
claimed to be tried.     At the conclusion of the trial, the
learned   Sessions   Judge,   Sonepat   passed   orders   of
conviction and sentence, as aforesaid.  Being aggrieved, the
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas preferred an appeal before
the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh.  The
same came to be dismissed.  Hence the present appeal.  
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3. We have heard Mr. Rishi Malhotra, learned Advocate­onRecord   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   accused/appellant­Ram
Niwas and Mr. Birendra Kumar Choudhary, learned Additional
Advocate General appearing on behalf of the State of Haryana.  
4. Mr. Rishi Malhotra, learned counsel, submitted that from
the perusal of the postmortem report, it is clear that it is not
proved beyond reasonable doubt that the dead­body on which
the postmortem was conducted was of deceased Dalip Singh.  He
submitted that Dr. Sanjeev Malhotra (P.W.5) has admitted that
the   face   of   the   dead­body   of   which   he   had   carried   the
postmortem was not recognizable.  He therefore submitted that
in the absence of the prosecution proving that the dead­body
was of deceased Dalip Singh, the conviction was not sustainable.
He further submitted that the evidence of the complainant­Deep
Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim Singh (P.W.10), which is relied upon by
the learned Sessions Judge, Sonepat as well as the High Court,
is totally unreliable. He submitted that the conduct of the said
witnesses is totally unnatural.   He submitted that from their
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evidence, it is seen that after they had seen the dead­body, they
went all the way to their village Bhawar and returned back in the
evening.   He submitted that when the Police Station was at a
distance of about one and a half kilometers from the place of the
incident,   their   conduct   in   not   going   to   the   Police   Station
immediately and informing about the incident creates a serious
doubt about the prosecution case.  He therefore submits that the
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas is entitled to be acquitted of all
the charges charged with.  
5. Mr.   Birendra   Kumar   Choudhary,   learned   AAG,   on   the
contrary, submitted that both the courts below, upon correct
appreciation   of   evidence,   have   concurrently   found   the
accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   to   be   guilty   of   the   offences
charged with.   He submitted that the accused/appellant­Ram
Niwas   has   made   an   extra­judicial   confession   before   the
complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim Singh (P.W.10).  He
submitted that the said extra­judicial confession is corroborated
by   the   recovery   of   ‘ash’   concealed   in   a   plastic   cover   on   the
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memorandum   of   the   accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   under
Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (“Evidence Act” for
short).   He therefore submitted that no case is made out for
interference with the findings of fact, recorded by the learned
Sessions Judge, Sonepat as well as by the High Court. 
6. To   examine   the   correctness   of   the   findings   of   the   High
Court, it will be apposite to scrutinize the evidence on record.
7. Dr. Sanjeev Malhotra (P.W.5) has conducted postmortem
examination of the dead­body of deceased.  In his evidence, he
stated that the dead­body was lying naked.  It was showing deep
burns   all   over   the   body.     It   was   also   emitting   the   smell   of
kerosene.   The hair and scalp were missing.   Eye balls, eyelashes, and both ears were burnt out.  Both lips and the nose
were also burnt.  He has categorically stated in his examinationin­chief that the face of the dead­body could not be recognized.
He has also stated in his examination­in­chief that both feet
were   missing.   Dr.   Sanjeev   Malhotra   (P.W.5),   in   his   crossexamination, has given a clear admission to the following effect:
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“It   is   correct   that   the   body   was   not
recognizable.  ………..”
8. The   complainant­Deep   Chand   (P.W.9),   in   his   evidence,
states that on 7th March 2003, he along with his two brothers,
namely, Bhim Singh (P.W.10) and deceased Dalip Singh had
gone to village Rewli.  He states that all the three brothers had
gone to village Rewli to ask for Sunita’s hand in re­marriage for
Rampal,   son   of   his   brother   deceased   Dalip   Singh.       After
reaching   the   village   Rewli   at   around   5.00   p.m.,   they   met
Chander Singh and his son accused/appellant­Ram Niwas.  He
further   states   that   after   some   time,   accused/appellant­Ram
Niwas brought a bottle of liquor and he along with his father
Chander Singh and his brother deceased Dalip Singh started
taking liquor.   He further states that upon the deceased Dalip
Singh proposing the re­marriage of Sunita with his son Rampal,
there was a minor altercation between them.  He states that he
and Bhim Singh (P.W.10) persuaded both sides to not fight. After
taking their meals, the accused/appellant­Ram Niwas told him
and Bhim Singh (P.W.10) to go to the first floor to sleep, since
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the   accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   and   deceased   Dalip   Singh
wanted to have some talk.   Thereafter, they went to sleep on the
first floor.  
9. Complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) further states that in the
morning   when   they   had   gone   to   the   drawing   room   of   the
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas at around 6.30 a.m. and asked
about   their   brother   the   deceased   Dalip   Singh,   the
accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   told   them   that   deceased   Dalip
Singh had gone to ease himself.  After waiting for about half an
hour, when deceased Dalip Singh did not return, they again
enquired   from   the   accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   about   the
deceased   Dalip   Singh.     Thereafter,   accused/appellant­Ram
Niwas told them that he had murdered deceased Dalip Singh.
On being enquired about the dead­body of deceased Dalip Singh,
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas told them that he had kept the
dead­body concealed in the paraal (paddy fodder).  They also felt
the foul smell of burning.  They went there and saw the deadbody of deceased Dalip Singh, wrapped in a plastic palli and
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lying   in   a   heap   of   paraal   and   also   in   a   burnt   condition.
Thereafter, he and Bhim Singh (P.W.10) ran away from there
since they had  an  apprehension  that  accused/appellant­Ram
Niwas might kill them also.   He states that they, thereafter,
straightway went to their village Bhawar and on the same day
after taking 4­5 persons from the village, he came to Murthal
Adda and at the turning of Engineering College, they met the
Police and informed about the incident.  
10. In his cross­examination, complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9)
admitted that parents of Sunita had come to his village Bhawar
at the time of Chhamahi and Barsi ceremonies of Pale.  He has
further admitted that they did not talk with the parents of Sunita
regarding   the   re­marriage   of   Sunita   with   Rampal   on   those
occasions.  He has further admitted that according to customs in
their   society,   the   remarriage   of   a   widow  or   Karewa   is   to   be
solemnized on the occasion of Chhamahi and Barsi.  It will be
relevant to refer to the following admissions in the evidence of
the complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9):
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“After seeing the dead body we not raise any
alarm   and   none   came   at   the   spot   in   our
presence. Sunita was also 'present in village
Revli   on   that   day.   We   did   not   tell   even   to
Sunita or any body else in the village. We went
to our village Bhawar through a jeep and bus.
Police station Murthal is situated at a distance
of one and ∙half ∙kilometer from village Revli.
We did not inform the police of P.S. Murthal.
We reached in our village at about 9:00 A.M.
We   came   back   in   a   jeep.   Subhash,   Ganga,
Prem,   Raju,   Sher   Singh,   Pappu   etc.   had
accompanied us to village Revli. We did not
inform any police station which falls on the
way   back   to   village   Revli.   However,   police
station Baroda, Gohana, Mohana, sonepat and
Murthal falls on the way.”
11. It   could   thus   clearly   be   seen   from   the   evidence   of   the
complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) that after seeing the dead­body
of deceased Dalip Singh, they did not raise any alarm.  He has
clearly   admitted   in   his   deposition   that   there   are   residential
houses   on   one   side   of   the   house   of   accused/appellant­Ram
Niwas.     He   further   admitted   that   they   reached   their   village
Bhawar at around 9.00 a.m.  They waited till 2.30/3.00 p.m. to
inform the Police.  He has further admitted that between village
Rewli and his village Bhawar, Police Station Baroda, Gohana,
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Mohana, Sonepat, and Murthal are on the way.   They did not
give intimation to any of these Police Stations either on their way
to village Bhawar or while returning to Murthal.  
12. The evidence of Bhim Singh (P.W.10) is to the similar effect.
13. Apart from the ocular testimony of the complainant­Deep
Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim Singh (P.W.10), the only incriminating
circumstance, on which the prosecution relies is the recovery of
‘ash’   and   ‘plastic   can’   on   the   memorandum   of   the
accused/appellant­Ram Niwas under Section 27 of the Evidence
Act. 
14. It   could   clearly   be   seen   that   even   according   to   the
complainant­Deep Chand (P.W.9) and Bhim Singh (P.W.10), after
they saw the dead­body of the deceased Dalip Singh in paraal
(paddy fodder), they did not inform anyone in the village.   No
doubt that how a person responds to a situation is differ from a
person to person.  However, the conduct of the said witnesses in
not informing anybody in the village Rewli and thereafter going to
their   village   Bhawar   in   the   morning,   returning   back   in   the
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afternoon and not informing five Police Stations, which were in
between village Bhawar and village Rewli cast a serious doubt
with regard to the truthfulness of their version.   It is further
difficult to believe the testimony of these witnesses that in the
night, the deceased Dalip Singh was done to death, set on fire in
a paraal (paddy fodder) and they did not come to know about the
same till the accused/appellant­Ram Niwas told them about the
same next morning.   In the evidence of these witnesses, it has
clearly come out that there are houses surrounding the house of
the   accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas.     The   prosecution   version
appears improbable that such an incident took place in an area
surrounded by houses.  The prosecution has also not examined
any independent witness residing nearby so as to lend credence
to the prosecution’s version.  
15. The prosecution relies on the extra­judicial confession made
by the accused/appellant­Ram Niwas to these witnesses. This
Court in the case of  S.  Arul  Raja  vs.  State  of  Tamil  Nadu1
,
1 (2010) 8 SCC 233
15
after   considering   the   earlier   judgments   of   this   Court,   has
observed thus:
“48. The   concept   of   an   extra­judicial
confession   is   primarily   a   judicial   creation,
and   must   be   used   with   restraint.   Such   a
confession   must   be   used   only   in   limited
circumstances,   and   should   also   be
corroborated   by   way   of  abundant   caution.
This   Court   in Ram   Singh v. Sonia [(2007)   3
SCC 1 : (2007) 2 SCC (Cri) 1] has held that
an extra­judicial confession while in police
custody cannot be allowed. Moreover, when
there is a case hanging on an extra­judicial
confession,   corroborated   only   by
circumstantial   evidence,   then   the   courts
must treat the same with utmost caution.
This   principle   has   been   affirmed   by   this
Court   in Ediga   Anamma v. State   of
A.P. [(1974) 4 SCC 443 : 1974 SCC (Cri) 479]
and State   of   Maharashtra v. Kondiba
Tukaram Shirke [(1976) 3 SCC 775 : 1976
SCC (Cri) 514] . It is significant to observe
that A­1 has subsequently sought to retract
this   statement   upon   his   arrival   in   Tamil
Nadu.”
16. We therefore find that it will not be safe to base conviction
solely on the basis of the alleged extra­judicial confession made
by the appellant to these witnesses.  
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17. The   only   other   circumstance   on   which   the   prosecution
relies   is   the   seizure   of   ‘ash’   kept   in   the   plastic   bag   on   the
memorandum   of   the   accused/appellant­Ram   Niwas   under
Section 27 of the Evidence Act.     Satish Kumar (P.W.11), the
Investigating Officer (I.O.), in his deposition has clearly admitted
that the disclosure statement made by the accused/appellantRam Niwas was made in the lock­up of the police station.  He has
further   admitted   that   though   independent   witnesses   were
available, inasmuch as the Police Station is in the heart of the
city, he had not called any independent witness as ‘Panch’ of the
said memorandum.   As such, the reliance on the said seizure
also is of no help to the prosecution case.   It is further to be
noted that Dr. Sanjeev Malhotra (P.W.5), in his evidence, has
admitted that it was difficult to recognize the face of the deadbody.  From the postmortem, it is also not established that the
death was homicidal.  
18. The prosecution case rests on circumstantial evidence.  The
law   with   regard   to  conviction   on   the  basis   of   circumstantial
17
evidence has very well been crystalized in the judgment of this
Court in the case of Sharad Birdhichand Sarda vs. State of
Maharashtra2
, wherein this Court held thus:
“152. Before   discussing   the   cases   relied
upon by the High Court we would like to cite
a few decisions   on   the   nature, character
and                 essential   proof required   in   a
criminal   case   which     rests     on
circumstantial  evidence        alone.   The
most  fundamental  and  basic    decision of
this Court is Hanumant v. State of Madhya
Pradesh [AIR 1952 SC 343 : 1952      SCR
1091 : 1953 Cri LJ 129] . This case has been
uniformly followed and applied by this  Court
in a large number of later decisions       upto­date,   for   instance,   the   cases   of Tufail
(Alias) Simmi v. State of Uttar Pradesh [(1969)
3   SCC   198:   1970   SCC   (Cri)   55]     and
Ramgopal v. State   of   Maharashtra [(1972)   4
SCC   625:   AIR   1972   SC   656].   It   may   be
useful to extract what Mahajan, J. has laid
down         in Hanumant case [AIR 1952 SC
343 : 1952 SCR 1091 : 1953 Cri LJ 129] :
“It is well to remember that in in cases
where the evidence is of a circumstantial
nature, the circumstances from which the
conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should
in the first instance be fully established,
and all the facts so established should be
consistent only with the hypothesis of the
2 (1984) 4 SCC 116
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guilt  of  the  accused.  Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature
and tendency and they should be such as
to exclude every hypothesis but the one
proposed   to   be   proved.   In   other   words,
there must be a chain of evidence so far
complete as not to leave any reasonable
ground for a conclusion consistent with
the innocence of the accused and it must
be such as to show that within all human
probability the act  must have been done
by the accused.”
153. A close analysis of this decision would
show that the following conditions must be
fulfilled before a case against an accused can
be said to be fully established:
(1) the circumstances from which the
conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should
be fully established.
It   may   be   noted   here   that   this   Court
indicated that the circumstances concerned
“must   or   should”   and   not   “may   be”
established. There is not only a grammatical
but   a   legal   distinction   between   “may   be
proved” and “must be or should be proved”
as   was   held   by   this   Court   in Shivaji
Sahabrao   Bobade v. State   of
Maharashtra [(1973) 2          SCC 793 : 1973
SCC (Cri) 1033 : 1973 Crl LJ 1783] where
the observations were made :           [SCC
para 19, p. 807 : SCC (Cri) p. 1047]
“Certainly, it is a primary principle that
the accused must be and not merely may
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be guilty before a court can convict and
the mental distance between ‘may be’ and
‘must   be’   is   long   and   divides   vague
conjectures from sure conclusions.”
(2) the facts so established should be
consistent only with the hypothesis of the
guilt of the accused, that is to say, they
should not be explainable on any other
hypothesis   except   that   the   accused   is
guilty,
(3) the circumstances should be of a
conclusive nature and tendency,
(4) they should exclude every possible
hypothesis except the one to be proved,
and
(5) there must be a chain of evidence so
complete as not to leave any reasonable
ground for the conclusion consistent with
the innocence of the accused and must
show that in all human probability the act
must have been done by the accused.
154. These five golden principles, if we may
say   so,   constitute   the   panchsheel   of   the
proof   of   a   case   based   on   circumstantial
evidence.”
19. This Court has held that there has to be a chain of evidence
so complete so as not to leave any reasonable ground for a
conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and
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must show that in all human probability the act must have been
done by the accused.  It has been held that the circumstances
should be of a conclusive nature and tendency.  This Court has
held   that   the   circumstances   should   exclude   every   possible
hypothesis except the one to be proved.   It has been held that
the accused ‘must be’ and not merely ‘may be’ guilty before a
Court can convict. 
20. It is settled law that the suspicion, however strong it may
be, cannot take the place of proof beyond reasonable doubt.  An
accused cannot be convicted on the ground of suspicion, no
matter how strong it is. An accused is presumed to be innocent
unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  
21. In the present case, we find that the prosecution has utterly
failed   to   establish   the   chain   of   events  which   can   be   said  to
exclusively lead to the one and only conclusion, i.e., the guilt of
the   accused.     In   that   view   of   the   matter,   we   find   that   the
judgment and order of the learned Sessions Judge and that of
the High Court are not sustainable.  
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22. The appeal is therefore allowed.  The judgment and order of
conviction and sentence dated 11th/12th  January 2005 of the
learned Sessions Judge, Sonepat and the judgment and order of
the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh dated 16th
March 2009, dismissing the appeal of the accused/appellantRam Niwas are quashed and set aside.  The accused/appellantRam Niwas is acquitted of all the charges charged with. The bail
bonds shall stand discharged.  
23. Pending applications, if any, shall stand disposed of.  
…….........................J.       
[B.R. GAVAI]
………………....…….........................J.
[PAMIDIGHANTAM SRI NARASIMHA]
NEW DELHI;
AUGUST 11, 2022
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