FACTS – Marriage of deceased Nirmala Mary and accused appellant was solemnised on 17th February, 1997. The appellant used to frequently change his rented accommodation and whenever he changed the rented accommodation, he used to quarrel with the deceased and send her to her father to fetch money. Her father extended monetary help tothe extent it was possible.Since the date they shifted to Walles Garden area, the accused appellant used to come home after consuming liquor and invariably had a quarrel with the deceased and beat her. Deceased lodged complaint at the Police Station many a times in this regard and in continuation of the occurrence on the fateful night of 28th October, 2005, while he was quarrelling with deceased Nirmala Mary, he picked up a log from the house and beaten deceased Nirmala Mary and caused internal injury in her stomach and murdered her.

On the date of the incident, that is 29th October, 2005, Mrs. Glory(aunt of the deceased) found her standing in the street. When she called the deceased (Nirmala Mary) and asked her what had happened, she replied that her husband had beaten her up with a wooden log. Since there was a regular quarrel taking place between husband and wife, Mrs. Glory told the deceased that after she come back, she would take the deceased to the hospital for treatment. After returning from work at home, she was informed that the deceased had been taken to the hospital in a serious condition. At about 4.30 p.m. on the same date, i.e. 29th October, 2005, the accused appellant brought his wife to the hospital, and complained that she had got cardiac arrest. The Doctor medically examined and found her dead. On receipt of the death intimation, the Sub Inspector of Police, attached to the Police Station proceeded to the hospital and prepared the inquest report and FIR, in the first instance, was registered under Section 174 Cr.PC for suspicious death.

After the autopsy on the dead body was conducted, it was opined that the deceased died of shock and haemorrhage due to thoracic injuries and on the opinion expressed in the post-mortem report, the case under Section 302 IPC was registered.

CAUSE – The accused appellant was charged for offence under Section 302 IPC for the murder of his own wife Nirmala Mary while she was at the advanced stage of her pregnancy. After facing trial,he was held guilty of charge of murder of his wife under Section 302 IPC and was awarded life imprisonment by the learned trial Judge by judgment dated 3rd September, 2007 and confirmed by the HighCourt.

ARGUMENTSLearned counsel for the appellant, in the first instance, tried to persuade this Court that there are missing links in the circumstantial evidence on the basis of which the charge for offence under Section 302 IPC has been established against him but when this Court was not inclined to interfere with the finding and the guilt which was recorded by the learned trial Court and affirmed by the High Court under the impugned judgment, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the offence of the nature which has been committed as alleged if is taken at the face value may not fall under Section 302 IPC but may fall under Section 304 Part II IPC.

The case of the prosecution was that the appellant attacked with a wooden log and caused her death because of homicidal violence. The defence plea was that it was a cardiac arrest.

ISSUE – Whether the Trial court and the High Court committed an error convicting and confirming the conviction of the appellant respectively?

DECISION – In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled principles of law are that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances should be conclusive in nature and moreover the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of events. However, the circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and inconsistent with the innocence.

The principle which has to be kept in mind in a case of circumstantial evidence has been laid down bya three Judge Bench of this Court in the judgment reported in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda Vs. State of Maharashtra (1984). 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 tobe 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”.

(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 thatthe 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 withthe innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.”

It is not in controversy that the incident took place on 29th October, 2005 during day hours and the dead body of the deceased was taken by the accused appellant to the hospital where she was declared dead by the Doctor. Even from the evidence of the Doctor, it would be clear that when the accused appellant brought the deceased to the hospital, she was dead but still informed the Doctor that she had a cardiac arrest. In the medical opinion canvassed through Doctor, it was opined that she died out of shock and haemorrhage due to thoracic injuries because of homicidal violence.

It is true that the prosecution had no direct evidence to offer. It rested its case upon circumstances which would indicate that in the past, he was ill-treating her and there were complaints given to the police. On the fateful day, the accused appellant alone was present with his family and they living together. It is further corroborated from the post- mortem report of the deceased who was at the advanced stage of pregnancy at that time.It was the appellant himself who took her to the hospital and made a false statement that she suffered a cardiac arrest but after the autopsy was conducted on the body of the deceased, it was opined that she died out of shock and haemorrhage due to thoracic injuries. In addition to other circumstances, the prosecution was able to establish that it was none other than the appellant who had committed the crime and he wanted to show his innocence by taking the deceased to the hospital and made a false statement that she suffered a cardiac arrest which on receipt of the post-mortem certificate, was found to be false where it was established that the death was caused by homicidal violence.

Taking note of the principles which has been laid down by this Court and the circumstances which the prosecution has established it can be said that the present case squarely rests on circumstantial evidence where the death has been caused by homicidal violence and the appellant who had himself taken the deceased to the hospital and made a false statement to the Doctor that she had suffered a cardiac arrest which was found to be false after the post-mortem report was received and the nature of injuries which were attributed on the body of the deceased of which a reference has been made clearly establish that it is the case where none other than the accused appellant has committed a commission of crime with intention to commit the murder of his own wife who was at the advanced stage of pregnancy. Thus, the appeal is dismissed.

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