Topic: Ram Jag And Others vs The State Of U.P - FIR

Ram Jag And Others vs The State Of U.P
Equivalent citations: 1974 AIR 606, 1974 SCR (3) 9 - Bench: Chandrachud, Y.V., BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH - CITATION: 1974 AIR 606     1974 SCR (3)     9 / 1974 SCC (4) 201 - CITATOR INFO : F     1974 SC2165     (27) / R     1975 SC 185     (2)/ F     1975 SC 274     (4)/ RF     1975 SC1100     (6) / RF     1975 SC1808     (3) / F     1976 SC1994     (13) / F     1976 SC2032     (2,3) / R     1976 SC2304     (22) - DATE OF JUDGMENT21/12/1973

ACT:

Penal Code--Ss. 302, 325, 323--Constitution of     India--Art. 136--High Court setting aside acquittal--Appeal by special leave--If Supreme Court could reappreciate evidence.

HEADNOTE:

The appellants who were charged with the offence of murder were acquitted     by the Additional Sessions Judge but     the order of acquittal was set aside in appeal by the    High Court.    The High Court convicted them under various sections of the Penal Code and sentenced them to life    imprisonment for the offence of murder and to shorter terms for the other offences. The prosecution case was that when the deceased, along with three other persons, was returning from temple, he was     attacked at about 4 P. M. on the    day of     the occurrence by    the appellants. The deceased     , who     was mortally injured, was carried in a bullock cart to a nearby police    station. On the way he succumbed to his injuries. The first information     report was lodged in     the police station at 12.30 that night.

Allowing the appeal to this Court,

HELD : This Court in an appeal under Art. 136 will examine the evidence only if the High Court while setting aside     the order of acquittal by the trial court has failed to apply correctly the principles governing appeals against acquittals.

In Sheo Swarup & Ors v. The King Emperor, 61 I.A.    398, Surajpal Singh     v. The state [1952] S.C.R.193     and Sanwat Singh v. State Of Rajasthan [1961]    3 S.C.R. 120,     the principles governing appeals against acquittal     are firmly established. The Code of Criminal    Procedure made     no distinction between the powers of the appellate court in regard to the two categories of appeals and, therefore,     the High Court has powers as full and wide in appeals against acquittal as in appeals against conviction.    Whether     the High Court is dealing with one class of appeals of criminal jurisprudence that unless the, statute provides to     the contrary there is a presumption of innocence in favour of the accused and secondly that the accused is entitled to the benefit of reasonable doubt. Due regard to the views of the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses     in matters resting     on pure appreciation of evidence and    the studied slowness of the appellate court in disturbing a finding of fact arrived at by a judge who had the advantage of seeing and hearing the witnesses, where such seeing and hearing can be useful aids to the assessment of evidence are well known principles which generally inform the administration of justice     and    govern    the exercise    of all appellate jurisdiction. They are self-imposed limitations on a power otherwise plenary and like all voluntary restraints, they constitute valuable guidelines. Such regard and slowness must find their reflection in the appellate judgment, which can only be if the appellate court deals with the principal reasons     that influenced the order of acquittal and after examining the    evidence with care gives its    own reasons justifying a contrary view of the evidence. It is implicit in this judicial process that if two views of the evidence are reasonably possible, the finding of acquittal ought     not to be disturbed.

If after applying these principles, not by their mechanical recitation in the judgment, the High Court has reached     the conclusion the order of acquittal ought to be reversed, this court will not reappraise evidence in appeals brought before it under art. 136of the Constitution. In such appeals,    only such examination of the evidence would ordinarily     be necessary as is     required to see whether the     high court has appliedthe    principles correctly. The High Court is the final court of facts and the reserve jurisdiction of this Court     under    Art. 136, though couched in    wide terms,is by long practice exercised in exceptional cases where the High Court has disregarded the guidelines set by this Court for deciding appeals against acquittal or by disregard to the forms of legal process or some violation of the principles of natural justice or     otherwise, substantial and grave injustice has been done', or where the finding is such that it shakes theconscience of the court. [15B-G]

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The High Court in the instant case was evidently aware of these principles but it failed to apply then to the case on hand.    The High Court was not correct in characterising of the findings recorded by the trial court as "perverse". (i) The High Court was not right in rejecting the view of the Sessions Judge that there was undue delay in lodging the report and that the delay was not satisfactorily explained. Whether     the delay was so long as to     throw    a cloud of suspicion on the case of the prosecution must depend upon a variety of factors which would vary from case to case. (ii) In the instant case the defence of the appellants    that the occurrence     must have taken place under cover     of darkness, that     is, long after the time at which it     was alleged     to have taken place is well founded and the    High Court was clearly in error in discarding it. (iii)     If the principal witness had no compunction in creating an eyewitness his evidence had to be approached with great caution. The High Court was not justified in holding     that the only impact of the false discovery of an eye witness on the prosecution case was that the evidence of the principal witness had to be rejected in part. (iv) Yet another witness had made conflicting statements on oath before two courts on an     important aspect and     the question which the High Court should have asked itself     was whether     the view taken by the Sessions Court in regard to this witness was a reasonable one. The High Court was     not right in saying that there was no reason to    discard     the testimony of the other eye witnesses even if his evidence was left out.

(v) The motive was said to be illicit intimacy between     the deceased and daught of one of the assailants.    But one of the witnesses deposed that the assailants were dacoits     and that they searched his pocket as well as the pockets of     his companions. The first information report made no mention of any one of the accused referring to the illicit intimacy before,     during or after the attack. The endeavour at     the trial was to show that the incident was connected with     the illicit     affair. if that be the true motive, it is hardly likely    that the assailants would search the pockets of     the deceased and his companions.     The Sessions     Judge     was justified in attaching due importance to this aspect of     the matter    and the High Court was not right in    saying    that unnecessary emphasis was laid on a minor matter.

JUDGMENT:

CRIMINAL, APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal Appeal No. 110 of 1970.

Appeal    by Special Leave from the Judgment and    Order dated the 8th January 1970 of the Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench) at Lucknow in Criminal Appeal No. 634 of 1967. A. N. Mulla and R. L. Kohli, for the appellants.

0. P. Rana, for the respondent.

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by CHANDRACHUD J.-The appellants, eleven in all, were acquitted by the Additional Sessions Judge, Gonda, but the order of acquittal was    set aside in appeal by the High Court of Allahabad (Lucknow Bench). The High Court has convicted the appellants under sections 302, 325 and 323 read with section 149 and under section 147 of the Penal Code. They have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the offence of murder and to shorter terms for the other offences. This appeal by special leave is directed against that judgment. The charge against     the appellants is that on the evening of September 17, 1966 they formed an unlawful assembly and in prosecution of the common object of that assembly

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they caused the death of Hausla Prasad and    injuries to Rampher, Dwarika and Lakhu.

On September 17,1966 which was a Kajri Tij day Rampher     and the deceased Hausla Prasad had gone to a temple which is at a distance about 8 miles from the village of Jhampur where they lived. They left the temple late in the afternoon along with Dwarika and Lakhu whom they met at the temple.    Soon after they crossed a river near the village of Singha Chanda they are alleged to have been attacked by the     appellants. Dwarika     brought a bullock' cart from a village called Gauhani and thereafter the four injured persons proceeded to the Tarabganj police station.    On the way Rampher dictated the First Information Report to a boy called Gorakhnath     and soon,,    thereafter the     report was lodged at     the police station at about 12-30, at night.

Hausla    Prasad    succumbed to his injuries just     before     the party reached the police station. He had' 12 injuries on his person, Lakhu and a swelling Rampher had     received 6 injuries while     Dwarika had received     9 injuries.     The injuries received by these persons including, Hausla Prasad were mostly contused lacerated wounds and abrasions. The prosecution examined Rampher, Dwarika,    Lakhu, Ram, Shanker     and Ram Kripal (P. Ws 2 to 6) as eye-witnesses to the Occurrence.     The learned Additional Session's Judge held that these witnesses were not worthy of credit and acquitted the appellants. The High Court was not impressed by     the evidence of Ram Shanker and. Ram Kripal but accepting     the evidence of Rampher, Dwarika and Lakhu it convicted     the appellants of the offences of which they were charged. Learned     counsel for the State, when called upon raised a fundamental objection    to our     entertaining the various questions raised on behalf of the appellants. He contends that the sole question in the appeal, is whether the    High Court was right in accepting the evidence of the three    eye- witnesses and therefore this Court, in the exercise of     its powers under article 136 of the Constitution, ought not to re-appreciate that evidence in order to determine whether it can sustain the conviction of the appellants. The question as regards the power of this Court in criminal appeals     by special leave from the judgments of High Courts setting aside    acquittals has been discussed    in numerous cases but the precise scope of that power is    still being debated     as a live issue. In case after case, counsel    have contended that     this Court does not under    article     136 function as yet another court of appeal and therefore on matters     of appreciation of evidence, the final word    must rest with the High Court. Considering the staggering    mass of work which is gradually accumulating in this Court,    such a rule will bring welcome relief. But it is overstating the rule to say that the verdict of the High Court on questions of fact, including assessment of evidence, cannot ever be re-opened in this Court.

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The true position is that if the High Court has set aside an order of acquittal, this Court in an appeal under article 136 from the judgment of the High Court will    examine     the evidence only    if the     High Court has failed to apply correctly the     principles governing appeals against acquittal. In a series of decisions, High Courts had taken the view that upon an appeal from an acquittal the appellate court is not entitled to interfere with the decision of     the trial court on facts unless it has acted perversely or otherwise improperly or has been deceived by    fraud.    (See Empress     of India v. Gayadin(1); Queen-Empress v. Robin- son(2);     Deputy Legal Remembrancer of Bengal v. Amulya    Dwan (3); King-Emperor v. Deboo Singh (4); King-Emperor; v. U San Win (5).) A contrary line of cases had, on the other hand, ruled    that the Code     of Criminal Procedure drew     no distinction between an appeal from an acquittal and an appeal    from a conviction, and no such distinction could be imposed     by judicial decision. (See Queen-Empress v.    Prag Dat(6); Queen-Empress v. Bibhuti Bhusan Bit(7); Deputy Legal Remembrancer, Behar and Orissa v. Mutukdhari Singh (8); Re Sinnu Goundan (9); Queen-Empress v. Karigowda(1O). In Sheo Swarup and Ors. v. The King-Emperor,(11) these conflicting decisions    were canvassed     before     the Privy Council     but it saw no useful purpose in examining the    long list of decisions. Observing that    the answer to     the question in issue would depend upon the construction of     the provisions in    the Code of Criminal     Procedure,the,Privy Council noticed sections 404, 410,    417, 418 and    422, examined section 423 and concluded that the Code draw no distinction between an appeal against an acquittal and an appeal    against a conviction, as regards the powers of     the High Court. Speaking     for the Judicial Committee,    Lord Russell observed :

"There is, in their opinion, no foundation for the view, apparently    supported by     the judgments     of some Courts in India, that     the High Court has no power or jurisdiction to reverse an order of acquittal on a matter of fact, except in cases in which the lower Court has "obstainately blundered," or has "through incompetence, stupidity or perversity" reached such "distorted conclusions as to produce a positive    miscarriage of justice," or has in some other way so conducted or    misconducted itself as to produce a glaring miscarriage of justice, or has been tricked by the defence so as to produce a similar result.

"Sections 417, 418 and 423 of the Code give to the High Court full power to review at large the evidence upon which the order of acquittal was     founded, and to reach the conclus

ion that

upon that evidence the    order of acquittal should be reversed No limitation should be placed upon that power, unless it be found

1. (1881) I. L. R. 4 Allahabad 148.

2. (1894) I. L. R. 16 Allahabad 212.

3. (1913) I.L.R. 18 C.W.N. 666.

4. [1927] I.L.R. 6 Patna 496.

5. (1932) I.L.R. 10 Rangoon 312.

6. (1898) I.L.R. 20 Allahabad 459.

7. (1890) I.L.R. 17 Calcutta 485.

8. (1915) 20 C.W.N. 128.

9. (1914) I.L.R. 38 Madras 1028,1034.

10. (1894) I.L.R. 19 Bombay 51.

11. 61 1. A. 398.

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expressly     stated in the Code, But     in exercising the power conferred by the Code and before reaching its conclusions upon fact, the High Court should and will always give proper weight and consideration to such     matters as (1)the views of the trial judge     as to     the credibility of     the witnesses; (2)     the presumption of innocence in favour of     the accused, a presumption certainly not weakened by the fact that he has been acquitted at     his trial; (3) the right of the accused to     the benefit of any doubt; and (4) the slowness of an appellate Court in disturbing a finding of fact arrived at     by a    judge who had     the advantage     of seeing the witnesses. To state this, however, is only to say that the    High Court in its conduct of the appeal should     and will act in accordance with     rules     and principles well known and recognised in     the administration of justice."

The amplitude    of the power of the High Court     in appeals against acquittal was reiterated by the Privy Council in Nur Mahomed v. Emperor.(1)

While holding that in appeals against acquittals the    High Court has full power to review at large all the evidence and to reach the conclusion that upon that evidence the order of acquittal should be reversed, the Privy Council had pointed out that before reaching its conclusions on facts the    High Court must always give proper weight to certain matters like the presumption of innocence, the benefit of'     doubt    etc. This qualification upon a power otherwise wide and unlimited was no     more than differently expressed by this Court in Surajpal Singh v. The State(2), by saying that though it is well-established that    the High Court has full power to review    the evidence on which the order of acquittal     was founded, "it is equally well settled that the presumption of innocence of the accused is further     reinforced by     his acquittal by the trial court, and the findings of the trial court which had the advantage of seeing the witnesses     and hearing     their    evidence can be reversed only for    very substantial and compelling     reasons". The phrase "substantial and compelling reasons" became almost a part, as it were. of codified law and was repeatedly used by    this Court with emphasis in cases like Ajmer Singh v. State of Punjab(3), Puran v. State of' Punjab (4), Aher Raja Khima v. The State of    Saurashtra (5), Bhagwan Das v. State of Rajasthan (6)    and Balbir Singh v. State of    Punjab. (7) Judgments of    several     High Courts in appeals against acquittals would bear evidence of the magic spell which     the phrase    had cast and how it had coloured their    approach to the evidence     before them.     The apparently rigorous requirement of the rule of "substantial and compelling    rea- sons" and to some extent its tedium was relieved by the     use of words " good and sufficiently cogent reasons" in Tulsiram Kani v. The State.(8) In Aher Raja Khima's case(5),     the formula of "substantial and corn-

1. A.I.R. 1945 P.C. 151.

3. [1953] S.C.R. 418.

5. [1955] 2 S.C.R.1285.

7. A.I.R. 1957 S.C. 216,

2. [1952] S.C.R. 193.

4. A.I.R. 1953 S.C. 459.

6. A.I.R. 1957 S. C. 589.

S. A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 1.

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pelling     reasons" though adopted, was treated as synonymous with "strong reasons".

This stalemate was resolved by this Court in Sanwat Singh v. State of Rajasthan(1). Observing that "In recent years     the words 'compelling reasons' have become words of magic incantation in every ..appeal against acquittal", the Court said: "The words were intended ,,to convey the idea that an appellate court not only shall bear in mind .the principles laid down by the Privy Council but also must give its ,clear reasons     for coming to the conclusion that the order of acquittal was wrong." The principles laid down by the Privy Council in Sheo Swarup's case(2) were expressly approved and it was     held that "the different phraseology used in     the judgments of this Court, such as, (i) ,.substantial     and compelling reasons', (ii) 'good and    sufficiently cogent reasons', and    (iii) 'strong reasons' are not    intended to curtail     the undoubted power of an appellate court in an appeal    against acquittal to review the entire evidence     and to come to its own conclusion ; but in doing so it should not only consider every matter on record having a bearing on the question of fact and the reasons given by the court below in support of its order of acquittal in its arriving at a conclusion on those facts, but should also express those reasons in its judgment, which lead it to hold    that the acquittal was not justified."

The principles     governing appeals against acquittal     as explained in Sanwat Singh's case have been adopted     and applied     by this Court in numerous cases over the past    many years.     No case has struck a discordant note though one or the other requirement of the well-established principles has been high-lighted more in some judgments than     in others. These, however, are variations in style and do not reflect a variation in approach.

In Harbans Singh v. State of Punjab(3), a four-Judge Bench observed: "What may be called the 'golden thread running through     all these ,decisions is the rule that    in deciding appeals     against acquittal the Court of Appeal must examine the evidence with particular care, must examine also the reasons on which the order of acquittal was based and should interfere with the order only when satisfied that the    view taken by the acquitting Judge is clearly unreasonable." In Ramabhupala Reddy and Ors.    v. The     State     of Andhra Pradesh(4), the same thought was expressed by saying :     "if two reasonable conclusions, can be reached oil the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court     should     not disturb the findings of the trial court." Very recently, in Shivaji Sahebrao Bobade and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra(5), this Court rejuvenated the suspect formula of "substantial and compelling grounds" thus : "We are    clearly     in agreement...... that an acquitted accused should not be     put in peril of conviction on appeal save where substantial     and ,compelling grounds exist for such a course........ In     law there are no fetters on the plenary power of the Appellate Court to review the whole ,evidence on Which the order or acquittal is founded and, indeed, it

1. [1961] 3 S.C.R. 120.

3. [1962] 1 Supp. S.C.R. 104. 1

5. A.I.R. 1973 S.C. 2622.

61 1. A. 398.

4. A.I.R. 1971 S.C. 460,

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has a    duty to scrutinise the probative material de novo, informed, however, by the weighty    thought that     the rebuttable innocence attributed to the accused having    been converted into     an acquittal the homage our jurisprudence owes to individual liberty constrains the higher court     not to upset the holding without very convincing    reasons     and comprehensive consideration."

The principles governing appeals against acquittal are    thus firmly    established and the issue cannot now be re-opened. The Code of Criminal Procedure by section 423, has accorded parity    to appeals against conviction and appeals against acquittal; the Code makes no distinction between the powers of the appellate court in regard to the two categories of appeals and therefore the High Court has powers as full     and wide in appeals against acquittal as    in appeals against conviction. Whether the High Court is dealing with     one class of appeals or the other, it must equally have regard to the fundamental principles of Criminal Jurisprudence that unless    the statute provides to the contrary there is a presumption of     innocence in favour of the    accused     and secondly, that     the accused is entitled to the     benefit of reasonable doubt. Due regard to the views of the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses in matters resting on pure appreciation of evidence and the, studied slowness of the     appellate court in disturbing a finding of    fact arrived     at by a Judge who had the advantage of     seeing     and hearing the witnesses, where such seeing and hearing can be useful    aids to the assessment of evidence, are well-known principles which generally informs the administration of justice     and    govern    the exercise    of all appellate jurisdiction. They are self-imposed limitations on a power otherwise plenary and like all voluntary restraints,    they constitute valuable guidelines. Such regard and slowness must find their reflection in the appellate judgment, which can only be if the appellate court deals with the principal reasons     that become influenced the order of acquittal     and after examining the evidence with care gives its own reasons justifying a contrary view of the evidence. It is implicit in this judicial process that if two views of the evidence are reasonably possible. the finding of acquittal ought     not to be disturbed.

if after applying these principles, not by their mechanical recitation in the judgment, the High Court has reached     the conclusion that lie order of acquittal ought to be reversed, this Court will not reappraise evidence in appeals brought before    it under article 136 of the Constitution. In    such appeals, only    such examination of the evidence would ordinarily be necessary as is required to see whether     the High Court has applied the principles correctly. The    High Court    is the     final    court of facts and the reserve jurisdiction of this    Court tinder article    136, though couched     in wide terms, is by long practice exercised in exceptional cases where the High Court has disregarded     the guide-lilies set by this Court for deciding appeals against acquittal or "by disregard to the forms of legal process or some violation     of the principles of    natural     justice or otherwise, substantial and grave injustice has been done" or where the finding is such that it shocks the conscience of the Court (See, Sanwat Singh & Or.;. v.     State     of Rajasthan(1); Harbans Singh &

(1) [1961]3 S.C.R. 120, 134-135.

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Anr. v. State of Punjab (1); Ramabhupala Reddy and Ors., V. The State of Andhra Pradesh(2); and Shivji Genu Mohite v. State    of Maharashtra)(3). A finding reached by     the application of     correct principles cannot shock judicial conscience and this Court does not permit its conscience to be projected save where known and recognised tests of testimonial assessment are totally disregarded; otherwise, conscience can become an unruly customer.

The High Court in the instant case was evidently aware of these principles but it failed to apply them to the case on hand.    In an effort to justify its interference with     the order of acquittal it has characterised one of the findings recorded by the trial court as 'perverse' but with that we must express our disagreement.    We will now proceed to    show how the view taken by the learned Sessions Judge is clearly a reasonable view to take of the evidence. According to the prosecution the occurrence took place at about 4 p. zn. and since the First Information     Report     was lodged    at about 12-30 at night at the Tarabganj police station     which    is at a distance of about 4 miles from     the scene of occurrence, the learned Sessions Judge held    that there was undue delay in lodging the Report and that     the delay was not satisfactorily explained. It is true    that witnesses cannot be called upon to explain every hour's delay and a commonsense view has to be taken in ascertaining whether     the First Information Report was, lodged after an undue delay so as to afford enough scope for manipulating evidence. Whether the delay is so long as to throw a cloud of suspicion on the seeds of the prosecution    must depend upon a     variety of factors which would vary from case to case.    Even a long delay in filing report of an occurrence can be     condoned if the witnesses on    whose evidence     the prosecution relies have no motive for implicating     the accused. On the other hand, prompt filing of the report is not an     unmistakable guarantee of the truthfulness of     the version of the prosecution.

In the instant case the importance of the question whether there was delay in filing the First Information Report is of a different order. The case of the appellants is that     the occurrence must have taken place under cover of darkness, that is, long after the time at which it is alleged to    have taken place and that is why the First     Information Report could not be    ledged earlier than at    12-30 a.m. ,    This defence     is wellfounded and the-High Court was     clearly in error in discarding it.

The village of Singha Chanda is just about a furlong    away from the scene of offence and yet Dwarika claims to    have gone to Gauhani, which is about 3 or 4 miles away, to get a bullock-cart.    The High Court observes:"It    is not     an unreasonable conduct on the part of the witnesses not to take chance in the nearby village for arranging for a bullock. cart when they felt sure that they would be able to procure one from a. village which was somewhat farther away, the persons who owned the bullock-cart being known to one of them." We find it difficult to endorse this view. After the bullock-cart was brought to the place

(1) (19621 1 Supp. S.C. R. 104, 1 1 1.

(2) A. I. R. 1971 S.C. 460, 464.

(3) A.I.R. 1973 S.C. 55. 62.

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where the incident took place-Rampher and his tow companions claimed     to have taken a longer route to reach     the police station     for the reason that taking the shorter route would have meant crossing a river twice. The river had but ankle- deep water and was only 12 paces from one end to the other. Hausla    Prasad    was in     a critical condition     and it is impossible to    believe     that a longer route was taken thoughtfully in order to facilitate the journey. The    High Court observes: "The    taking of a longer route also     was justified in order to avoid the jolts for the injured on the way for we find in the official map that there is a route by the road of sufficiently good distance along which     the bullock-cart could go if it took the longer route."    This reasoning is    wholly    devoid    of substance    because     in situations like the one in which the injured persons    were placed, there is neither time nor leisure to consider calmly the pros and cons of the matter. The uppermost thought would be to reach the hospital and the police     station as early as possible and it is in the least degree likely, as observed by the High Court that the injured persons avoided going through    the tiny river because it "might have done damage    to Hausla Prasad whose condition was by no means good."

The truth of the matter is that the occurrence had taken place long after 4 p.m. and witnesses were hard put to explaining why     on their own theory they took more than 8 hours to cover a distance of 4 miles. They offered a fanciful explanation which was rightly rejected by     the Sessions Court and was wrongly accepted by the High Court. It is significant that Rampher had stated in the committing court that all of them were waiting at the spot of occurrence for about 2 hours after "night-fall". Ram Kripal, a brother of Rampher, himself was    examined by the prosecution as an eye-witness.     His name was     not mentioned in the First Information Report in spite of     the fact that the name of other witnesses     and several other minute    details were mentioned therein.     If Ram Kripal     was present     at the time of the incident, he rather than     the injured     Dwarika would have gone to fetch the bullock-cart. The Sessions Court therefore rejected the evidence of     Ram Kripal and indeed the High Court also came to the conclusion that Ram Kripal was not a reliable witness, 'that he might not have been present at an and has been added as an after- thought     in support of the prosecution or in any case     his statement is of doubtful value, but that does not mean    that Rampher's statement should be discarded for the principle of' falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is a principle    that does not apply in our country.' If Rampher had     no compunction in creating an eyewitness his evidence had to be approached with great     caution. The High Court was     not justified in holding    that the only impact of the false discovery of an eye-witness on the prosecution case was that Rampher's evidence had to be rejected in part. Ram Shanker is also alleged to have been present at the time of the incident but he had admitted before the committing magistrate that he left his house for the temple at about 2- 30 p.m. That would make it impossible for him to be at     the scene of offence at about 4 p.m. on his

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way back from the temple. He therefore improved his version by stating in the Sessions Court that he had left his house at about 6 a.m. He had also stated in the committing court that he was waiting at the scene of offence till about 8 p.m. but he denied in the Sessions Court that he had    made any such statement.     The learned Sessions     Judge     was therefore justified in rejecting the evidence of     Ram Shanker. also.     While dealing with the evidence of    this witness     the High Court observes that "the statement of a witness should be examined as a whole and the mere fact that the witness has denied certain statements made by     him earlier under the challenge thrown to him in the witness-box during    cross-examination should not detract from the value of his testimony made on oath before the trial Judge".     One can be unconventional in the assessment of evidence but     the approach of the High Court is impossible to accept.     Ram Shanker     had made conflicting statements on oath before     the two courts on an important aspect and the question which the High Court had to ask itself in the appeal against the order of acquittal was whether the view taken by the Sessions Court in regard to the presence of Ram Shanker was not a reasonable view to take. After indicating its disapproval of the conclusion recorded by the Sessions Court that     Ram Shanker was not a witness of truth' the High Court proceeded to say that even if his evidence was left out, there was no reason to discard the testimony of the other eye-witnesses. The High Court also     failed     to appreciate     the true implication of Rampher's evidence in the Sessions Court that the assailants were dacoits or 'Looteras' and that they     had searched his pockets    as well as the pockets of     his companions. Appellants are alleged to have assaulted Hausla Prasad    and his companions not with the motive    of thieving but for the alleged motive that-Hausla Prasad was in illicit intimacy with Sheshkali, the daughter of Gaya Prasad who was the principal accused but who died during the    proceedings. If that be the true motive, it is hardly likely that    Gaya Prasad    and his companions would search the pockets of Rampher and his troupe.     The Sessions Court was justified in attaching due    importance to Rampher's evidence on    this aspect    of the     matter. We are unable     to appreciate     the criticism of the High Court that "It is again the case of an unnecessary emphasis being laid on a minor matter". Indeed witnesses themselves thought the matter to be so important that in order to render the story of motive probable,    they introduced in their evidence the embellishment that before hitting Hausla Prasad, Gaya Prasad said "Is ko .... Aashnai ka Maza Chakha do". The endeavour at the trial was to    show that the incident was connected with    the illicit affair between     Hausla     Prasad and Sheshkali.     Significantly,     the First Information Report makes no mention of any one of     the accused referring to    the 'Aashnai'    (illicit intimacy) before, during or after the attack.

In the concluding portion of its judgment the High Court has observed that the injured-persons must have been present at the spot and as the occurrence took place in    "broad    day- light", there was no reason why their evidence should not be accepted, "even though they might have one reason or     the other to falsely implicate one or the other 19

accused". It was wrong to conclude that the incident     had taken place in broad day-light and it was even     more wrong that the High Court did not warn itself of the danger of accepting the    evidence of witnesses    who bad reason to implicate the appellants falsely.

For these reasons we are of the view that the High Court was not justified    in interfering with the order of acquittal passed    by the learned Sessions Judge.    We therefore allow this appeal, set aside the order of conviction and sentence and direct that the appellants shall be set at liberty, if they are not already on bail.

P.B.R,

Appeal allowed.

Re: Ram Jag And Others vs The State Of U.P - FIR

First information Report:
The basic purpose of filing FIR is to set the criminal law into motion and not to state all the minute details therein. The information under section 154 of Cr.P.C is generally known a s F.I.R though 'first is not used in the code. F.I.R is not the be all and end all of every criminal case and is not sunstantive evidence . It can be used only for limited purposes, like corroborating the maker thereof or as one of res-gestae or for being tendered in a proper case u/sec 32 (1) of Evidence Act or part of informant's conduct u/sec 8 of Evidence Act. (AIR 1963 AP 252).
http://www.legalservicesindia.com/artic … 126-1.html