In our opinion, considering the Full Bench judgment of this court, in case of Shaikh Husseinsab, the four documents produced namely certified copy of injury certificate and the three panchamas dated 13.07.1984 which were proved in Sessions Case No.102 of 1987 can be read in evidence before this court.
Equivalent Citation: 2008(27)CriminalCC366
IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
Criminal Appeal No. 548 of 1990
Decided On: 12.06.2008
Appellants: Subhash Babu Patil
Respondent: State of Maharashtra & Anr.
Respondent: State of Maharashtra & Anr.
F.I. Rebello & K.U. Chandiwal, JJ.
F.I. Rebello & K.U. Chandiwal, JJ.
1. The appellant herein was convicted of the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/- or in default to undergo R.I. for four years. Against the conviction and sentence the appellant preferred an appeal against the judgment dated 17.07.1990. A learned Bench of this court by their judgment dated 01.03.2007 partly allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant of the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, however, convicted the appellant under Section 304-11 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to suffer R.I. for 10 years and fine of Rs.5,000/- and in default of fine imprisonment for one year. The appellant aggrieved preferred an appeal before the Supreme Court being Criminal Appeal No. 18 of 2008. By order dated 04.01.2008 considering that the appellant was not represented at the time of hearing, the learned Supreme Court was pleased to set aside the judgment of this court and remand the matter to this court for fresh disposal.
This matter had been placed before us on 02.05.2008 and has since been heard.
2. The appellant herein was charged along with his father Babu Vithal Patil and 13 others for various offences including rioting and for knowingly causing death of one Dilip Baburao Deshmukh. Alternatively, the charge was framed against the accused and his father for the offence punishable under Section 302 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code. In support of their case, the prosecution has examined three eye witnesses including the complainant PW No.2 Pramod Deshmukh. According to prosecution the recovery of weapon used in the assault was also made at the instance of the appellant and his father. The doctor who conducted the post mortem was examined as PW No.6. Two police officers were examined being PW No.10 Pardeshi, PSI, who initially commenced the investigation and PW No.11 Satishchandra who subsequently carried on the investigation and filed charge-sheet.
The defence moved an application under Section 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which was allowed, to place on record the injury certificates of the two accused and another. So also produced panchanamas from Sessions Case No.102 of 1987. We also find that similarly the prosecution applied and were permitted to produce on record evidence of deposition of PW Nos.6 and 2 in Sessions Case No.102 of 1987 which was a complaint filed by the accused herein against the complainant herein and others. The learned Judge was pleased to direct that the said evidence be also taken on record.
3. At the hearing of this appeal, on behalf of the appellant, the learned counsel has firstly submitted that the prosecution has been unable to discharge their burden of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It is submitted that there are inherent improbabilities in the case of the prosecution considering the complaint filed by the accused themselves and the panchanamas prepared in that case. It is further submitted that the recoveries itself are doubtful considering the evidence of the panch witnesses and further in so far as purported recovery done at the instance of the appellant herein, there is nothing on record to indicate that at the time the iron rod was attached and sent to the C.A. it was sealed. Alternatively it is submitted that it is only deceased Dilip who suffered one injury on the head. From the evidence which has come on record through PW No.10 it is clear that the deceased Dilip had been to the police station along with complainant PW No.2, Though PW No.10 asked him as to how the injuries were occasioned, he has not deposed to the said fact. Two plans were exhibited through PW No.1 Vishwanath Thakur based on the spot panchanamas in the present case and in Sessions Case No.102 of 1987 shows that there was blood in front of the house of the appellant. There is also evidence to show that the appellant suffered injury with a stick and in these circumstances it was open to the appellant in the right of self defence to have hit a blow. The fact that only one blow was inflicted itself would indicate that the appellant did not exceed his right of self defence. In the third alternative, it is submitted that considering that there was only one blow on the head of the deceased Dilip, and no further injuries were inflicted, the case at the highest would fall under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code consequently the conviction of the appellant under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code ought to be set aside.
On the other hand, on behalf of the prosecution, the learned APP submits that through the evidence of the three eye witnesses and the recovery of the articles of assault, the prosecution has clearly established the guilt of the accused. In so far as evidence of PW No.10 as to Dilip being at police station, it is submitted that it has only come in the cross examination. It is further submitted that the appellant did not further ask questions as to whether at the time deceased Dilip was conscious or unconscious. It is therefore, submitted that the conviction be confirmed.
4. Before considering the evidence, we shall first deal with the issue, whether it was open to the learned Judge after PW No.1 had produced a map and that was exhibited, to have de-exhibited the said exhibit after PW No.1 was re-called as a witness and had produced the second map.
The defence had raised an objection to de-exhibiting but the same was disallowed by the learned Judge. The explanation given by the prosecution is that the first map which was produced was in respect of the complaint filed by the appellant herein and as such was the wrong map and the correct map is the one produced thereafter at the stage of the re-examination. We are unable to support the order passed by the learned Judge, de-exhibiting Exh.22 which was already on record. It was open to the learned court to have permitted the second document to come on record on the ground that the first document was wrongly exhibited by re-calling the witness to correct the error. However, once the document is exhibited nothing has been pointed out to us the law which permits de-exhibiting an exhibit which is already exhibited. A document once exhibited form part of the record. To that extent the order of the learned Judge de-exhibiting Exh.22, is set aside. Exh.22 would form part of the record and consequently can be considered in evidence.
5. The next issue is whether it was open to the learned Judge to permit the appellant (accused) to produce evidence, both in the form of documents (injury certificate, panchanamas) and statements recorded of the appellant and other witnesses in Sessions Case No.102 of 1987. Section 294 reads as under:
Section 294. No formal proof of certain documents - (1) Where any document is filed before any Court by the prosecution or the accused, the particulars of every such document shall be included in a list and the prosecution or the accused, as the case may be or the pleader for the prosecution or the accused, if any, shall be called upon to admit or deny the genuineness of each such document....
It is therefore, clear that when the genuineness of the document has not been disputed and is taken on record and marked, such evidence may be read in any enquiry, trial or proceedings under the Code, without proof of the signature of the person to whom it purports to be signed. Otherwise, the documentary evidence has to be proved in the manner laid down. The Evidence Act, defines document and evidence. Section 3 defines document and evidence to mean:
"Document" means any matter expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks or by more than one of those means, intended to be used, or which may be used, or the purpose of recording that matter.
"Evidence" means and includes : (1) all statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry; such statements are called oral evidence.
(2) all documents including electronic records produced for the inspection of the Court, such documents are called documentary evidence...
Evidence is therefore, understood to mean both oral and documentary evidence. A Full Bench of this court had an occasion to consider the scope of Section 294 and the evidentiary value of the documents so produced in the case of Shaikh Farid Hussinsab v. The State of Maharashtra, 1983 Cr. LJ 487. Considering Sections 293 and 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the court after considering the scope of Section 293 which contemplates dispensation of the proof of the authenticity of some documents which depends not so much on the oral evidence of the author as on the efficacy of the mechanical process through which the concerned data is collected, observed that Section 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure makes the same rule applicable when the authenticity of the documents has not been disputed and "documents covered by both these sections stand on par and are receivable in evidence without anything more." The court then observed that:
Section 294 of the Code dispenses with the proof of every document when it becomes formal on its genuineness not being disputed. It does not contemplate existence of any class of documents as such, requiring formal proof. It is Section 293, however, which does deal with a certain category of documents which can be received in evidence without proof. The language of the two sections is distinct enough to admit of any mistake. Secondly every, document is required to be proved by its author unless he cannot be made available for evidence due to unavoidable reasons. Thirdly genuineness of any document is a condition precedent for its relevancy. It is difficult to conceive of any relevant document which can be relied on even if not genuine.
While answering the reference in that case which included post mortem notes, the court observed as under:
We accordingly hold that sub-section (3) of Section 294 of the Code covers post mortem notes and every other document of which genuineness is not disputed. Thus such documents can be read in evidence as genuine without the formal proof...
The Andhra Pradesh High Court was considering receipt of certified copies of some documents. It took a view that Section 294(3) would apply to private documents and not to public documents since the question of proof or signature in the certified copies of the public documents does not arise and the expression "read in evidence has to be understood in that context. See Mohd.Akbar v. State of A.P., 2002 Cr. LJ 3167. We do not propose to comment on the said judgment considering the Full Bench Judgment of this Court.
In our opinion, considering the Full Bench judgment of this court, in case of Shaikh Husseinsab, the four documents produced namely certified copy of injury certificate and the three panchamas dated 13.07.1984 which were proved in Sessions Case No.102 of 1987 can be read in evidence before this court. The other aspect of the matter is that as the evidence has been allowed to be produced by the accused, it can only be read as defence evidence.
6. The prosecution has sought to establish their case through eye witnesses account of the complaint PW No.2 Pramod Deshmukh, PW No.3 Sunanda Deshmukh and PW No.4 Gulab Deshmukh. PW No.2 Pramod Deshmukh has deposed that he along with his mother and aunt on 02.07.1982 at had gone to the agricultural land for sowing paddy. After about an hour two bullocks belonging to the appellant accused entered their land followed by Subhash. When Subhash was asked to take away the bullocks by his mother he replied arrogantly. They worked on their land till and they returned back. Within an hour of their returning back, Subhash and his father Babu and mother came to their house and at that time after hearing noise of the accused Subhash, he along with his mother who were inside the house came out and saw the accused who were inside the court yard abusing them. They were questioning each other when Subhash slept the witness on his left cheek. He was rescued by his mother and neighbour Ravindra. After five minutes, accused Subhash returned with an iron bar along with some other accused. At that time his cousin brother Dilip came to the place of incident from his house and asked the accused not to quarrel. Accused Subhash according to this witness dealt iron bar blow on the upper side of the head of Dilip. Dilip immediately fell down having sustained head bleeding injury. At that time, other accused were pelting stones. According to him, some of the accused ladies put chilly powder in the eyes of Dilip. He along with witness Ravindra, Ananta and Gulab lifted Dilip and carried him to the house of his cousin brother Sharad. At that time Dilip was unconscious. Then he alone went to Khopoli Police Station which is at the distance of 12 kms and lodged his complaint. Dilip died after five days. During the whole of this period, Dilip was unconscious and nobody could talk to him. In the cross examination, it was brought out that there were disputes between two sides on elections to the Gram Panchayat and also that accused Subhash had filed a complaint against 22 members of his family and other, which case is pending as Sessions Case No.102 of 1987. On being confronted with the statement that in the complaint he had not mentioned that the accused dealt Dilip with sticks and that he had not seen anything about the incident or that he along with other 20 to 22 persons went to accused Subhash and assaulted him and his father and at that time Dilip was accompanying them, he denied that Dilip fell down in the court yard of the house of accused Subhash and they carried Dilip to their house. This evidence of Pramod regarding incident on their land and the incident in front of the house is supported by his mother Sunandabai and other witnesses. According to all these witnesses, Dilip had come on the spot with a request to accused Subhash not to quarrel at which time Subhash dealt a blow with the iron bar on his head.
7. To test whether this evidence is credit worthy, it would be advisable to refer to evidence of PW No.10 Bhola Pardeshi. We may reproduce the evidence as recorded:
Complainant Pramod had brought witnesses along with him. It is not true to say that due to influence from Shiv Sena leaders, I stopped recording complaint of accused Subhash and obtained complaint of present complainant Pramod. Dilip had been to the police station along with complainant Pramod. I enquired with Dilip a to who assaulted him. Dilip had head injury. I also sent Dilip to Khopoli Medical dispensary. The doctor might have given treatment to Dilip.
The prosecution did not reexamine PW No.10 who allegedly carried out the investigation on this evidence. If this evidence of PW No.10 Bhola is considered, it would be clear that contrary to what the eye witnesses have stated, Dilip was very much conscious and in a position to move and had gone to police station along with PW No.2 who had lodged a complaint. The other important and relevant aspect is that PW No.10 had asked deceased Dilip as to who assaulted him and how he obtained the head injury. The evidence of PW No.10 at least does not disclose whether Dilip informed the I.O. as to who had committed the assault on him. This is important, for if Dilip was conscious and had gone to the police station, on enquiry by the I.O. in the ordinary course he would have disclosed the name of the assailant or assailants. As they reside in the same neighbourhood, they were known to each other. The silence on the part of Dilip would mean that he was not aware as to who had assaulted him or did not want to disclose how he received the injury. The other aspect of the matter is that Dilip was sent to Khopoli Municipal Dispensary. The prosecution has not produced the medical records of the treatment given or examination of Dilip at Khopoli Municipal Dispensary. The learned Judge has tried to explain away this evidence of Dilip having gone to police station along with PW No.2.
8. We may also examine whether the case of the prosecution that Dilip was assaulted near the house is supported by the evidence on record. As pointed out earlier, this is the case of complaint and cross complaints. The complainant in this case is accused in the cross complaint filed by accused Subhash and Subhash is accused in the present case. PW No.1 produced two plans prepared by him based on the panchanama in each of the two sessions cases which have come on record. We have earlier dealt with the issue as to whether the first exhibit produced by PW No.1 could have been excluded from the record and have answered the same in the negative. The defence has produced under Section 294 of Cr.P.C. the injury certificate which is in respect of the present accused, his father Baburao and another. The panchanamas also have come on record which would show that in front of the house of Subhash on either side for the distance of 100 ft. there were blood marks. The prosecution has not explained these blood marks. In our opinion, the presence of these blood marks is vital as then the scene shifts from the court yard of Natha to the court yard of the appellant herein. From the panchanamas produced, it is further clear that the sticks and stones having blood were attached there. It may have been possible to accept the case of the prosecution if it was their case that after the assault on Dilip, their family members had gone to the compound of Pandurang and there was fight between two. This is not the prosecution case. It will thus be clear that the prosecution has suppressed material evidence from this court or has been unable to produce material to show that no incident had taken place in front of the house of the appellant. From this aspect the ocular eye evidence led o*n behalf of the prosecution stands undermined.
9. We shall then examine as to whether the recoveries made at the instance of the accused and or his father can be relied upon. The prosecution for that purpose has examined PW No.5 Sahebrao. He was pancha at the panchanama for the recovery of the stick at the instance of accused Subhash. According to this witness, the accused Subhash too out stick which was kept in the thatched roof of the cattle shed. The panchanama however, shows that it was Babu Vithal Patil who had made a statement that he would produce the stick which was used to beat the deceased Dilip. This would therefore, be contrary to the evidence of the pancha PW No.5 Sahebrao. The recovery of the stick therefore, cannot be attributed to accused Subhash as in the recovery panchanama it shows that it was accused Babu who had made a statement that he would show the place where the stick used in the assault was kept. The other recovery is of the iron bar purported to have been made at the instance of accused Subhash PW No.7 Gulabrao Gopal Waghule acted as pancha and has deposed to that effect. In so far as recovery of this iron bar is concerned, from the Chemical Analyser's report, it does not show that any blood was found on the same. Also there is nothing on record to indicate that between the time of the attachment and sending the iron rod to Chemical Analyser it was sealed. The C.A. however, says that when they received the packet it was sealed. In our opinion, this creates serious lacunae in the evidence of prosecution. The incident was of 12.07.1988 and the recovery was effected on 15.07.1988. The Pancha for the panchanama was declared hostile though in the cross examination by the P.P. he admits that the contents of the panchanama were written as per the facts and that contents are correct. It would therefore, not be safe to rely on this evidence considering the discrepancies and the failure by the police to seal the recovered weapon of assault.
10. The evidence on record as considered, shows that an incident has taken place either in front of the house of the accused or in front of the house of Natha Deshmukh. The blood stains and the recovery of stones and sticks near the house of the accused has not been explained by the prosecution. The evidence of the eye witnesses that they saw Subhash assaulting Dilip based on the evidence of PW No.10 becomes doubtful. If this evidence is considered, what becomes clear is that Dilip was not unconscious as he had been to the police station. The case of the prosecution witnesses that Dilip was unconscious is therefore, unbelievable. The deposition of I.O. who is an independent of both the complainant and the accused, therefore, will have to be given due weightage. The post mortem of Dilip was done by Dr.Laxman PW No.6. According to this witness, he found several injuries of which injury Nos.1 to 5 and 6 could have been caused in the assault. There were two injuries on the skull and 2 injuries on the feet and toes. He has deposed that the injuries Nos.1 and 2 could have been caused by the iron bar and are sufficient in the ordinary course to cause death. At the same time, he has admitted in the cross examination that injury No.2 is possible with the stick which was shown to him. There is also panchanama of the clothes of the deceased. That however, would not assist the case of the prosecution against the accused herein.
11. On behalf of the defence, in the alternative, the learned counsel has also contended that considering the single blow on Dilip, and the injuries caused to the accused and others, there being blood stains in the court yard of the house of the accused, the accused should be entitled to have exercised his right of private defence. In the instant case, the accused have led evidence by producing the same under Section 294 of the Cr.P.C. Considering the Full Bench Judgment of this court in Shaikh Hussenisab (supra), we have held that would be admissible. In Gottipulla Venkatasiva Subbrayanam & Ors. v. The State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr., MANU/SC/0124/1970 : 1970(1) SCC 235 the court was pleased to observe that because of plea of self defence was not raised by the accused and on the contrary had pleaded alibi, does not preclude the court from giving benefit of right of private defence if on the proper appraisal of the evidence and other relevant material on record, the court concludes the circumstances in which he found himself at the relevant time giving right to exercise of that right. In Raza Pasha v. State of Madhya Pradesh, MANU/SC/0141/1983 : AIR 1983 SC 575 the court observed that if the person is chased and sought to be attacked and which would generate in his mind a reasonable apprehension that he would be killed or wounded grievously and it was to avoid the attack that he exercised the right of private defence, then such benefit should be given to him. On the facts of that case there, the benefit was denied.
In the instant case, as can be seen if the evidence of eye witnesses has to be accepted, the accused Subhash though armed with an iron rod, did give only one blow to the deceased. Considering the evidence on record as to where exactly the incident took place and the fact that the accused himself was injured by stick and that he gave only one blow to Dilip and the evidence of PW No.10 which shows that Dilip was very much conscious, when he went to police station, the accused in the alternative would also be entitled to exercise right of private defence.
12. Considering the above discussion, we are clearly of the opinion that from the facts of this case, the prosecution was unable to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The accused therefore, ought to be given the benefit of doubt. In the light of the matter, the following order:
(i) Appeal is allowed.
(ii) The conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant is set aside.
(iii) The appellant be released forthwith, if not required in any other case.