Friday, April 26, 2024

Justice Ashutosh Kumar led bench sets aside judgement of Additional District & Sessions Judge-IV, Siwan, aquits four of murder charges, directs release of convicts

In Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad v. State of Bihar and Dashrath Sahni v. State f Bihar, Patna High Court's bench of Justices Ashutosh Kumar and Khatim Reza observed, "We are amazed as to how the Trial Court found evidence good enough to convict all the appellants for the offence under Section 302 of the IPC. In the absence of any evidence worth its name, the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the case against all the appellants. The conviction of the appellants are thus set aside. The appellants are acquitted of the charges." The other appellants are Bechu Sahni and Kanhaiya Sahni.

The Court's judgement reads: "Appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad [in Cr. Appeal (DB) No. 1031 of 2017] is in jail. He is directed to be released from jail forthwith, if not required or detained in any other case. Appellants/Dashrath Sahni, Bechu Sahni and Kanhaiya Sahni [in Cr. Appeal (DB) No. 858 of 2017] are on bail. Their liabilities under the bail bonds are discharged....Let a copy of this judgment be dispatched to the Superintendent of the concerned Jail forthwith for compliance and record."

The appellants were convicted under Sections 341, 323, 504 and 302/34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) vide judgment dated June 13, 2017 passed by the Additional District & Sessions Judge-IV, Siwan in Sessions Trial No. 393 of 2014 (G.R. No. 2700 of 2012), arose out of Darauli P.S. Case No. 67 of 2012. By order dated June 16, 2017, they were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment (R.I.)) for one month under Section 341 of the IPC; R.I. for one year, to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000/- each and in default of payment of fine, to further suffer R.I. for three months under Section 323 of the IPC; R.I. for one year, to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000/- each and in default of payment of fine, to further suffer R.I. for three months under Section 504 of the IPC and R.I. for life, to pay a fine of Rs. 5,000/- each and in default of payment of fine, to further suffer R.I. for six months under Section 302 of the IPC. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently. 

It all began with the killing of one Bigan Bind and the injury of his son and nephew, viz., Kush Kumar Bin and Dhanu Bin in the occurrence. The accusation against appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad (Cr. Appeal (DB) No. 1031 of 2017) was of assaulting the deceased on his head by means of a rami (iron rod). Kush Kumar Bin and Dhanu Bin are said to have been assaulted by appellants/Dashrath Sahni, Bechu Sahni and Kanhaiya Sahni. The deceased died after five days of the occurrence. 

The FIR was lodged by Kush Kumar Bind (as P.W. 9) who is the son of the deceased. He had alleged in his written report dated 25.07.2012 that a dispute had erupted between appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad and the deceased with respect to fixing of pegs in the water body for fishing. After a brief squabble, appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad gave a rami blow on the head of the deceased. He and Dhanu Bin were held back by appellants/ Dashrath Sahni, Bechu Sahni and Kanhaiya Sahni and were also assaulted by them. As a result of assault on the deceased, he received injuries on his head and fell down. The deceased was thereafter assaulted by all the appellants. In the meantime, many persons of the village arrived and seeing them, the appellants fled towards Darauli.

At the Trial, Kush Kumar Bind, the informant made a somersault and stated in his cross-examination that somebody else had drafted the written report and he was not aware of the contents of it. So far as the assault is concerned, he has supported the prosecution case to the extent of there being a dispute between the deceased and appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad with respect to fishing rights. The assault made on the deceased made him unconscious. He was taken to Darauli Hospital for treatment and from there, he was referred to Siwan and later to Patna, where he died. The death took place on July 31, 2012.

With respect to the enmity between the parties, Kush Kumar Bind admitted that appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad was the Mukhiya, whereas the deceased was a candidate for the post of secretary of the Fishing Cooperative Society. His candidature was being opposed by appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad. He has denied the suggestion that one Nandu Sahni had opposed appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad in the election for Mukhiya, in which election, the deceased was from the side of Nandu Sahni and that only on the asking of Nandu Sahni, the appellants have been made accused in this case. 

Dhanu Bind (as P.W. 6), who is the nephew of the deceased, was examined as P.W. 6. The sequence of events as narrated by him is different from the prosecution version. He stated before the Trial Court that he is an expert at fishing. For the dispute over fixing of pegs in the pond for the purposes of demarcating the area in which fishing could be done, a dispute had taken place when the appellants had started assaulting him. The deceased and P.W. 9 had come to his rescue, when the deceased fell down. Nobody had spoken about the occurrence to anyone. At the time of occurrence, only three persons, viz., the deceased, P.W. 7 and him were present. This is in stark contrast to the deposition of the informant (P.W. 9) who has claimed that many persons of the village had arrived immediately after the assault. He has also spoken about the association of the deceased with Nandu Sahni who had contested the election of Mukhiya and had lost to appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad.

The High Court observed, "It is very surprising that even though the deceased died in hospital and the post-mortem examination was conducted on his dead body, but neither the post-mortem report has been brought on record nor the doctor who had conducted the post-mortem examination has been brought to the witness-stand. The reasons for it remain completely unknown. The Trial Court has completely overlooked this fact and has discussed about the injury on head and one of the legs of the deceased."

The order notes that "The absence of post-mortem report and the evidence of the Doctor who conducted the post-mortem examination, give a death blow to the prosecution case. We have also found that independent witnesses were unanimous in stating that the deceased died because of fall on a boulder. That apart, there is quite consistency in the deposition of the witnesses regarding the case having been filed at the instance of Nandu Sahni, who had his own axe to grind against appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad. Nandu Sahni had lost in the elections to the post of Mukhia to appellant/Ram Awadh Kishore Prasad. This postulate appears to be correct for the reason that even the informant had not written the FIR which formed the basis of prosecution. Someone else had done it and he had signed it."

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