Mansimran Kaur

New Delhi, April 29, 2022:  Upholding the judgment of conviction, the Delhi High Court has opined that in criminal cases often offence is witnessed by a close relative of the victim, whose presence on the scene of the crime is natural. The evidence of such a witness cannot automatically be discarded by labelling the witness as interested. 

A Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Jairam Bhambhani observed that even if the intention of the accused was limited to the infliction of a bodily injury sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature and did not extend to the intention of causing death, the offence would be murder.

The present cluster of appeals were instituted under the provision of 374  (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to assail the judgment of conviction dated October 11, 2019 and the order on sentence dated October 17, 2019 rendered by Additional Sessions Judge. 

Factual background of the case was that the appellants were convicted by the impugned judgment for committing the murder of the deceased, Manoj Singh, by inflicting deadly injury upon the deceased with dandas and subsequently stabbing with a knife in furtherance of their common intention. 

According to the prosecution one night,first ,second ,third and the fourth appellants with a common intention, stabbed the deceased multiple times leading to his death. The injuries were caused as a vendetta owing to previous enmity and animosity with the deceased. After committing the murder, the appellants absconded from the crime spot. The entire incident was witnessed by three prosecution witnesses.

Charges were framed against the appellants to which they pleaded non-guilty. At the time of  trial, the prosecution examined 31 witnesses in support of its case.  In pursuance of the same, the Trial Court convicted the appellants. To assail the same, the present appeals were preferred. 

The present Court was to examine whether the appellants in furtherance of the common intention killed the deceased and if they can be awarded rigorous punishment under Section 302 of IPC or they only had the intention to cause bodily injury, which will make their case fall under Section 304 Part II. 

To answer the same, the Court placed reliance on a judgment of this Court in the case of Vipin Sharma & Ors.vs State wherein stark distinction was made between Section 299 and Section 300 of IPC and in specific clause (3) of Section 300 by reiterating the principle laid down in the case of  Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab,  wherein it was  observed that for cases to fall within clause (3), it is not necessary that the offender intended to cause death, so long as the death ensues from the intentional bodily injury or injuries sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. It was further  observed that the prosecution must prove the following facts before it can bring a case under Section 300 thirdly. First, it must establish quite objectively that a bodily injury is present; secondly, the nature of the injury must be proved. Thirdly, it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular injury and it was not accidental or unintentional or some other kind of injury was intended.

It was further observed that upon a plain reading of the testimonies of fourth and sixth prosecution witnesses, it was  reflected that both of them had unwaveringly supported the case of the prosecution and  also remained consistent with their testimonies and corroborated each other, on all material facts. They also successfully stood the test of cross-examination and hence, their testimonie remained unshattered, unchallenged and unimpeached.

The Court also took note of sixth prosecution witness who was an injured eye witness and observed that the testimony of an injured eye witness is kept on a higher pedestal and is accorded a special status in law, as held by the Apex Court in Abdul Sayeed vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, wherein it was held that the testimony of the injured witness is accorded a special status in law. This is as a consequence of the fact that the injury to the witness is an in-built guarantee of his presence at the scene of the crime and because the witness will not want to let his actual assailant go unpunished merely to falsely implicate a third party for the commission of the offence.

Further the Court considered the contention raised by the third and fourth appellants that their name was not initially present in the FIR  and therefore they claimed that they were falsely implicated in this case. The Court in view of the same observed that an FIR is not required or expected by law to be an encyclopedia of the offence committed. An FIR by its very nature and nomenclature is only a First Information Report, which is to record the commission of an offence contemporaneously and not an elaborate compendium of the offence. It was further observed that during investigation the fact came to the surface that both the appellants barged into the house of the deceased and caused grievous injuries to him and his brother, ultimately resulting in the death of the deceased. Moreover,the fourth and sixth prosecution witness clearly took the name of the appellants in question and their role in commission of the offence. 

Further on the contention of the interested witness and closed witness, the Court preferred the judgment of Apex Court in Md. Rojali Ali v. The State of Assam wherein it was held that as regards the contention that all the eye-witnesses are close relatives of the deceased, it is by now well-settled that a related witness cannot be said to be an interested witness merely by virtue of being a relative of the victim. 

Thus, the Court opined that both of these prosecution witnesses did not fall in the category of interested witnesses simply because they were related to the victim. Hence the testimony was considered credible and was relied upon. 

Further the testimony of the post mortem doctor and the post mortem report stated that the cause of the death of the deceased was hemorrhagic shock caused by penetrating injuries to abdominal aorta, omentum and mesentery by a sharp edged pointed weapon like knife/chhura etc. and the second injury in particular was opined to be sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. 

It was further stated that the second injury was possible to be inflicted by the weapon of offence i.e the knife which was used by the first appellant and the same was recovered upon his disclosure statement in the present case.

Thus, after considering all the material available on record and taking into consideration the testimonies of fourth and sixth prosecution witnesses, who were the eye-witnesses, read in conjunction with the disclosure statements of the appellants that lead to the recovery of the weapon used for the offence and the medical evidence, it was clear that the appellants committed the crime and there was no doubt about the same.

Accordingly, the Court upheld the judgment of conviction and dismissed the present appeals.

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