1994 ALLMR ONLINE 1192
BOMBAY HIGH COURT
G.D. KAMAT AND VISHNU SAHAI, JJ.
Philip Bhimsent Aind Vs. The State of Maharashtra
Criminal Appeal Nos. 611 and 457 of 1992
23rd December, 1994
Petitioner Counsel: K. R. Sutrale,
Respondent Counsel: B. G. Vaidya, APP, .
Penal Code (1860),S. 302 Penal Code (1860),S. 302, Criminal P.C. (1973),,S. 354(3) Penal Code (1860),S. 392 Penal Code (1860),S. 53, Criminal P.C. (1973),,S. 30
2. The appellant Philip Bhimsent Aind has challenged his convictions and sentences for offences punishable under Sections 302, I.P.C., 307, I.P.C., 392, read with 397, I.P.C. and 394, I.P.C., recorded on 23-4-1992 by the Additional Sessions Judge, Greater Bombay, in Sessions Case No. 1395 of 1988, vide Criminal Appeal No. 611 of 1992. By the aforesaid order the appellant has been sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs. 5000/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo two years R. I. under first count and to a separate sentence of 10 years R. I. and fine of Rs. 5000/- in default of payment of fine to further undergo two years R. I. under Sections 307, I.P.C., 392 read with 397, I.P.C. and 394, I.P.C. The substantive sentences of imprisonment, on the aforesaid four counts, have been directed to run concurrently.
Clubbed along with the aforesaid appeal is Criminal Appeal No. 457 of 1992 which has been preferred by the State of Maharashtra, under Section 377(1) of the Cr. P.C., praying therein, that the sentence of the appellant be enhanced from life imprisonment to death.
The deceased Mr. Kumudchandra Khanna was an ex-resident editor of the Times of India and till his murder, was residing along with his wife Smt. Amrut Khanna (Smt. Amrit Khanna) P.W. 18, in flat No. 1, situated in Bhaktawar Building, Narayan Dabholkar Road, Bombay, within the limits of police station, Gamdevi, Greater Bombay. Three years prior to the incident the couple had employed the appellant as a domestic servant, on a monthly salary of Rs. 300/-. He used to do all household chores and live in the aforesaid flat with them. They treated him like a son. On the night of 18-7-1988, at about 11 p.m. the deceased and his wife, (hereinafter referred to as 'Mr. Khanna' and 'Mrs. Khanna') went to sleep in their bed room and the appellant went to sleep in his room. We have the evidence of Mrs. Khanna for the aforesaid facts. Mrs. Khanna further stated that on the afternoon of 22-7-88 she woke up but could not even comprehend as to what the time was. Her left eye was swollen and she could not see from it. Even with her right eye, she could not see clearly. She was feeling weak, drowsy and giddy. Since she did not see Mr. Khanna on the bed, she naturally got worried and on getting up, from the bed, found that he was lying on the floor, between the bed and the almirah. She also discovered that both her almirahs were open and had been ransacked. Articles were lying scattered on the floor. The appellant was missing from the flat. At about 4 p.m. one postman named Dhulaji Pisal, (P.W. 19) came to her flat for the purpose of delivering mail and at the request of Mrs. Khanna opened the lock on the door of the children's bedroom in the verandah. Through him she sent information to P.W. 21, Sushila Jaswantlal Parekh who also lived in a flat in the same building. She along with P.W. 26 Mrs. Sigapy Muttu who also resided in the same building immediately came to her flat. The evidence of Sushila Parekh and Mrs. Muttu is that Mr. Khanna was lying dead and Mrs. Khanna was precariously injured.
4. At 4.40 p.m. the same day (22nd July, 1988), a message from police control room was received by P.W. 16 P.S.I. Vasant Jadhav informing that some untoward incident had taken place in Bhaktawar Building on Narayan Babholkar Road. Consequently P.S.I. Jadhav sent P.W. 2 P.S.I. Digambar Kale, to Bhaktawar Building. On entering Mr. Khanna's flat, P.S.I. Kale found Mrs. Khanna lying in an injured condition in a room. The injuries on her person were having a crust of dry blood on them. In an adjoining room he found the corpse of Mr. Khanna. He noticed dried blood on the floor of both the rooms. He also found that household articles were lying in a scattered condition. He went to the first floor of the building, and from one of the flats telephoned Gamdevi Police Station informing as to what he had seen. He asked Gamdevi police station to send some more police personnel.
5. Immediately in the dar of P.W. 21 Sushila P.S.I. Kale first took Mrs. Khanna to Jaslok Hospital but the doctor there refused to admit her and asked him to take her to Nair Hospital. At Nair Hospital the injuries of Mrs. Khanna were medically examined the same day at 7 p.m. by Dr. Lashkari, in the presence of P.W. 31 Dr. Rajiv Satoskar. On the person of Mrs. Khanna, 3 contused lacerated wounds, one minor abrasion and blackness on eye, were found by Dr. Laskhari. He also found that she had concussion of brain accompanied with fracture of right mandible. In the opinion of Dr. Sataskar the aforesaid injuries of Mrs. Khanna could be caused
6. The same day at the insistence of Dr. Mrs. Nirmal Verma P.W. 34, who was a friend of the victim, Mrs. Khanna was discharged from Nair Hospital and admitted at Breach Candy Hospital at 10.20 p.m. From the aforesaid hospital she was discharged on 12-8-88.
7. After admitting Mrs. Khanna to Nair Hospital P.S.I. Kale returned to her flat. He found that P.S.I. Vasant Jadhav P.W. 16 along with other personnel of Police Station Gamdevi was already in the flat. P.S.I Jadhav recorded the statement of P.S.I. Kale, and the same, (Exhibit '9') has been treated by the prosecution to be the F.I.R. P.S.I. Jadhav thereafter started doing further investigation. He took the body of Mr. Khanna in his possession under a panchanama Exhibit 14. He took photographs of the place of the incident. P.S.I. Jadhav also took into his possession vide panchanama one pressure cooker lid without handle, a broken portion of handle of pressure cooker, a kali batta (grinding pot), a broken wooden bed, and a side portion of the bed. These articles were sent to the Chemical Analyst. On the grinding stone, the Chemical Analyst, found blood of 'O' group (the blood group of Mrs. Khanna). The Chemical Analyst also found that broken portion of pressure cooker handle showed characteristic matching bid with broken portion of pressure cooker lid and that the paint collected from grinding stone matched with the paint on broken wooden bed.
8. As in the heart of Bombay city, in a prestigious locality, a daring murder accompanied by robbery had taken place, authorities understandably got worried and a parallel investigation was also started by P.W. 37 Prabhakar Satam, PSI of the CID. He recorded the statements of witnesses.
9. P.W. 37 PSI Satam, interrogated a large number of witnesses whose interrogation revealed the appellant's involvement in the crime. He also recorded the statements of Mrs. Sima Chatterjee and Ms. Rashmi Khilnani, the two married daughters of the Khanna couple.
10. While inspecting the flat of Mrs. Khanna, P.W. 37 PSI Satam found a photograph showing the photo of four persons (Exhibit 101). With the help of the neighbours of Mrs. Khanna, living in Bhaktawar building, he was able to fix the identity of the four persons shown in the photograph, they being Mr. Khanna, Mrs. Khanna, their son Sanjay Khanna and the appellant. On the basis of the photograph, of the appellant, PSI Satam started searching for him. While he had gone to Breach Candy Hospital on 23-7-1988, to interrogate Mrs. Khanna where Dr. Hansraj Manchanda PW. 33 did not allow him to record her statement, he met Mrs. Khanna's daughter Sima Chatterjee who told him that from shortly before the incident, the appellant had started visiting prostitutes on Grant Road and was friendly with one Gita. He went to Grant Road and the interrogation of Gita and others, revealled that the appellant was having sexual relations with Gita.
11. On the basis of the photograph of the appellant, PW. 37 PSI Satam arrested him on 24-7-1988, at about 12.05 a.m. in front of New Roshan Cinema, opposite Delhi Darbar on Patte Baburao Road. In the presence of public panch, PW 30 Ashok Pawaskar, he recovered a large number of looted articles, which have been mentioned in paragraph 14 of his statement recorded in the trial Court. A panchanama was prepared. It is also said that from the appellant, a blood-stained black gray colour pant and a gray colour 'T' Shirt were recovered and the Chemical Analyst, found blood of 'O' group (blood group of Mrs Khanna), on the pant. The blood and nail clippings of the appellant were also taken and sent to the Chemical Analyst. The blood group of the appellant was found to be of 'A' group. At about 4 a.m. on 24-7-88, the appellant made a voluntary statement confessing that he had kept the robbed articles in the room of a prostitute P.W. 22, Sangita @ Geeta Krishnappa. Pursuant to the aforesaid statement, Exhibit 23, various articles such as jewellery, cash, radio, saris, clothes etc. belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Khanna were recovered at the pointing out of the appellant from a loft in the brothel of the aforesaid Sangeeta @ Geeta, Bimla (P.W. 24) and some others. These articles were kept in the suit cases which the appellant brought down from the loft. The brothel is said to be situated in Tabela chawl, room No. 1, Falkland Road. The aforesaid recovery is alleged to have been made in the presence of two public panchas, out of whom one namely P.W. 6 Krishna Gawali has been examined by the prosecution. Recovery panchanama has been proved by the prosecution and has been tendered in the evidence as Exhibit 23A. It is significant to point out that the aforesaid articles were shown to Mrs. Khanna both during investigation and in the trial and on both the occasions were identified by her, understandably, because they belonged to her and her family
12. At about 7.10 a.m. on 27-10-1988, on the basis of the interrogation of the appellant by P.W. 37. P.S.I. Satam it emerged that he had posted a letter to his father, who lived in Bihar, confessing therein his involvement in the present crime. The aforesaid letter is alleged to have been recovered at Netarhat Post Office by P.W. 9 P.S.I. Bhagwan Kamble, in the presence of P.W. 8 Lawrence Kajur Sub-Post Master, Netarhat Post Office and two panchas one of whom was P.W. 7 Ramsharikh Mangalram Mourya. The panchanama in respect of the letter is Exhibit 29. The aforesaid letter was tendered in the trial Court and according to the prosecution it contents amount to an extra-judicial confession made by the appellant to his father admitting his guilt in the present crime. In the aforesaid letter, the appellant wrote that pursuant to a quarrel between him and Seth and Sethani (Mr. and Mrs. Khanna) he had killed them. He also mentioned in the letter that he may be pardoned for the great mistake he had committed.
During the course of investigation P.S.I. Satam also took into possession the railway ticket No. 210293 which the appellant had purchased in the presence of P.W. 22 Gita forgoing to his home town. P.S.I. Satam also took specimen of the handwriting of the appellant on a number of sheets of paper and the same along with the letter mentioned above, were sent to the hand-writing expert P.W. 28, Jubhau Kashiram Aher and the opinion of the aforesaid witness is that the handwriting in both the letter and the paper sheets bearing the specimen handwriting of the appellant were of the same person.
13. Going backwards, the post mortem examination of the dead body of Mr. Khanna was conducted by P.W. 29 Dr. Dattatraya Kulkarni on 22-7-1988, at 12.30 p.m. Dr. Kulkarni found two contused lacerated wounds, two contusions and two contused abrasions on the dead body. It is significant to point out that both, the contused lacerated wounds and the contusion were situate on the head region.
On internal examination, the doctor found fracture of the left side of the temporal, frontal and parietal bones. The doctor also found crack fracture from left side of parietal to right side parietal region, 16 cm. in length. He also noticed depressed fracture, of the right temporal bone of the dimensions of 6 cm x 4 cm and transverse fracture from left temporal to right temporal bone. He also found fracture and dislocation of cervical spine and that of first and second vertebrae.
In the opinion of Dr. Kulkarni, the deceased died on account of hemorrhage and fracture of skull. In his opinion the aforesaid injuries were attributable to a lid of pressure cooker without handle; handle of pressure cooker and grinding stone. He also found that the internal injuries were sufficient in the ordinary course to cause death.
14. After completing the investigation, PW. 37, PSI Satam filed a charge-sheet against the appellant on 19-10-1988 in the Court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, 19th Court, Bombay. On 20-12-1988 the case of the appellant was committed to the Court of Session.
15. In the trial Court, the appellant was charted on four counts namely, Sections 302, IPC, 307, IPC, 392, IPC, read with Sections 397, IPC and 394, IPC. To the aforesaid charges, he pleaded not guilty. He took up the defence of a blanket denial. He also denied that any recoveries took place at his pointing out. The burden of his song is that on 13-7-1988, he had left the services of the Khanna family and therefore had no knowledge of the happenings which took place after that date.
16. In the trial Court, as many as 37 witnesses were examined by the prosecution. Through the evidence of these witnesses, prosecution tried to prove the various links in circumstantial evidence against the appellant. We may straightway mention that there is no eye-witness of the incident. Apart from leading oral evidence, prosecution also tendered and proved a large number of exhibits. In defence no witness was examined by the appellant. After considering the evidence on record and hearing counsel for the rival parties, the learned trial Judge carne to the conclusion that the prosecution had proved the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt and consequently, convicted and sentenced the appellant, in the manner stated above. As mentioned earlier, the aforesaid convictions and sentences of the appellant have been challenged by him through Criminal Appeal No. 457 of 1992 and clubbed along with it is Criminal Appeal No. 611 of 1992, filed by the State of Maharashtra, for enhancement of the sentence of the appellant under Section 302, IPC, to one of death, from imprisonment for life.
17. We have heard Mr. K. R. Sutrale, learned counsel for the appellant and Mr. B. G. Vaidya, Additional Public Prosecutor for the State of Maharashtra, at considerable length. We have also perused the depositions of the witnesses recorded by the trial Judge and the various exhibits tendered and
proved by the prosecution. We have also gone through the impugned judgment. After giving our anxious consideration to the matter, we are of the opinion that both the appeals deserve to be dismissed that of the appellant with some minor modifications.
18. Mr. Sutrale, learned counsel for the appellant, first tried to assail the conviction of the appellant on merits but realising that there was insurmountable, trustworthy circumstantial evidence, against the appellant, submitted in the alternative that even if the prosecution case is believed to be true no offence under Section 302, IPC, is made out against the appellant and at the worst, he would only be guilty of an offence punishable under Section 304 (Part-I) IPC. Mr. Sutrale also submitted that the instant case, at any rate, only warranted the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment for life and a sentence of death would be outrageously harsh and wholly uncalled for. He contended that the appeal for enhancement of sentence be dismissed. On the other hand, Mr. B. G. Vaidya, Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that the facts of the present case are so gross and the murder of Mr. Khanna was committed with such brutality and callousness by the appellant that the instant case would fall within the ambit of the expression rarest of rare cases and the only proper sentence to be awarded to the appellant would be that of death.
19. As said earlier, there is no direct evidence in the instant case and the same hinges on purely circumstantial evidence. We have kept in mind the burden required to be discharged by the prosecution in such cases. It is well settled that in cases of circumstantial evidence the prosecution has to establish the following things :
(d) At about 7.30 a.m. on 19-7-1988 the appellant and Mr. Khanna were seen in the flat by the newspaper hawker Dipak Narkar P.W. 15. At that time Mr. Khanna was sitting in the first room of the flat watching T. V. Dipak Narkar gave the newspaper to the appellant;
(e) At about 10.30 a.m. on 19-7-88, P.W. 17. Ms. Philomena D'Mello saw the appellant in the compound of Bhaktawar Building where the flat of Khanna's was situated. She saw that the appellant was keeping something in the dickey of a taxi and at that time the watchman Vidyanand Yadav P.W. 20 was standing at the gate of the building;
(f) On 19-7-1988, at about 10.30 or 11 a.m. P.W. 20, Vidyanand Yadav, the watchman of Bhaktawar building saw the appellant coming towards the gate of the building with two suit-cases in his hand and after keeping those two suit-cases in the dickey of the taxi he left in the same taxi;
(h) The recovery of stolen articles belonging to the Mr. and Mrs. Khanna, at the pointing out of the appellant from the brothel of Geeta P.W. 22, and identification of the aforesaid articles by Mrs. Khanna, both during investigation and in the trial Court;
(k) The extra-judicial confession of the appellant in the form of a letter written by the appellant to his father in which he wrote that there was a quarrel between him and Seth and Sethani, (Mr. and Mrs. Khanna) and in the heat of that quarrel he had killed them; and
To establish circumstance (a), the prosecution relied on the evidence of Smt. Shanti P.W. 3, Anand Bhosale PW 4, Sadashiv PW 5, Ms. Philomina D'Mello P.W. 17. Mrs. Khanna P.W. 18, Pisal PW. 19, Vidyanand Yadav PW 20, Sushila Parekh PW 21, and Ms. Sigapy Muttu P.W. 26. After going through the evidence of the aforesaid witnesses we find that the same inspires confidence. Out of these witnesses Mrs. Khanna was the victim, Sushila and Ms. Muttu were residing in the same building in which Mrs. Khanna was residing. P.W. 20 Yadav was watchman of the building. P.W. 17 Philomena used to come to wash clothes at the flat of Khanna's and P.W. 19 Pisal used to deliver letters at Mr. Khanna's flat. The other witnesses have also plausibly explained as to how they had knowledge about this fact. None of these witnesses had any animous against the appellant. Hence we believe this circumstance.
To substantiate circumstance (b) the prosecution adduced the evidence of P.W. 4, Anand Bhosale, and P.W. 18 Mrs. Khanna. As stated earlier, Mrs. Khanna is a victim in the instant case and the wife of the deceased Mr. Khanna. Anand visited the house of the victim on the evening of 18-7-88 in order to collect empty milk bottles and money for the next day's milk. He has deposed that actually one Prakash used to do this job but since he had gone home and had asked him to do this job in his absence he had gone to the flat of Mr. Khanna. Again, there is no reason as to why we should reject his testimony and that of Mrs. Khanna in respect of the aforesaid circumstance. In our opinion, prosecution has established this circumstance.
So far as circumstance (c) is concerned, we have the evidence of the victim Mrs. Khanna, P.W. 18, who stated that at about 11 p.m. on 18-7-1988 her husband Mr. Khanna went to bed. At that time apart from them only the appellant was present in the flat. There is no reason for Mrs. Khanna who, as the evidence discloses, treated the appellant like a son, to falsely depose about the aforesaid circumstance. Hence we also place reliance on this circumstance.
Circumstance (d), has been proved by the prosecution by adducing the evidence of PW 15 Deepak Narkar, who used to supply newspaper to the Khanna family, every morning. Consequently it was only natural, if at about 7.30 a.m. on 19-7-1988, he saw Mr. Khanna, in his flat as well as the appellant, who admittedly was a domestic servant of Khanna family and to whom that morning he gave the newspaper. No such infirmity could be pointed out by the learned counsel for the appellant in the testimony of this witness, on the basis of which we could discredit his testimony. This circumstance, in our opinion, stands proved.
Circumstance (e) has been proved by PW 17 Philomena D'Mello. Her evidence is that she was working as a cook with one Mrs Monica Khan at the time of the incident. The aforesaid Mrs. Monica Khan resided in flat No. 11 at Bhaktawar building (the same building in which the Khanna's resided). Consequently, she was a natural witness and we find nothing strange in her statement when she states that at about 10.30 a.m. on 19-7-88, she saw the appellant coming, towards the gate of Bhaktawar building with something in his hand which he kept in the dickey of a taxi. Again, no flaw could be shown in her testimony. We find that this witness has no axe to grind against the appellant. In our opinion, this circumstance stands proved.
Circumstance (f) has been established by the evidence of PW 20 Vidyanand Yadav who was a watchman of the Bhaktawar Building at the time of the incident and had seen the appellant at about 10.30 a.m. or 11 a.m. on 19-7-88 with two bags in his hand. He deposed that the appellant put those bags in the dickey of a taxi and went away in the same taxi. Again there was absolutely no enmity between this witness and the appellant and we fail to understand as to why this witness should falsely implicate the appellant. In our view, this circumstance, also stands established.
Circumstance (g) has been established by the evidence of Geeta PW 22 and PW 24 Bimla. Both of them are said to be prostitutes. The former the appellant wanted to marry. PW37 PSI Satam has also deposed about this circumstance. He say that on 24-7-88, he succeeded in arresting the appellant. After going through the testimony of these witnesses we find that this circumstance stands proved.
Circumstance (h) has also been established by the reliable evidence of police witnesses, panch witnesses of recovery, the evidence of PW 22, Gita and the evidence of Mrs. Khanna PW 18 who identified those articles both during investigation and in the trial. The list of the recovered articles is an extremely large one and considering the nature of the articles recovered, we are not prepared to accede to the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that the aforesaid recovery has been planted by the prosecution.
Circumstance (j) has been established by the prosecution by tendering the report of the Chemical Analyst, who found 'O' group of blood on the pant of the appellant and also on a large number of articles belonging to the Khanna's which were recovered at the pointing out of the appellant. Admittedly, 'O' group of blood was of Mrs. Khanna P.W. 18 and the presence of the aforesaid group of blood on the pant of the appellant shows that while assaulting, Mrs. Khanna, the appellant came into close contact with her and thus received blood-stains enshrined on his pant. Circumstances (k) and (l) are established by the evidence of recovery of letter furnished by P.W. 8 Lawrence Kujur, Sub Post Master, Netarhat, P. I. Bhagwan Kamble P.W. 9, Ram Sarikh Morya P.W. 7 and by the evidence of P.W. 28 Jubhau Kashiram, Aher the handwriting expert whose report shows that the specimen writing of the appellant on the sheet of the paper resembled with that found in the letter. There is no doubt that the contents of the aforesaid letter amount to an extra-judicial confession. There is no evidence that the letter was not written voluntarily by appellant. In our opinion circumstances (k) and (l) stand proved.
23. In our considered view, the aforesaid chain of circumstances has not only been firmly established but, it irresistibly leads to the inference that it was the appellant who committed the crime in question. The chain is wholly incompatible with the inference of innocence of accused. It is incapable of being explained on any other reasonable hypothesis, excepting that of the guilt of the appellant. In our opinion, the involvement of the appellant, in the instant crime has been established beyond reasonable doubt, by the prosecution.
24. We now take up the alternative submission of the learned counsel of the appellant, namely, that the liability of the appellant in respect of the killing of Mr. Khanna would not fall within the ambit of Section 302, I.P.C. but only in that of Section 304(1), I.P.C. We find the aforesaid submission to be devoid of all merit. In paragraph 13 of our judgment we have mentioned in detail the nature of the ante mortem injuries received by the deceased Mr. Khanna. We have seen that four of his injuries were situated on the head region and were accompanied by extensive internal damage, resulting in fracture of all the main bones of the head region. Dr. Kulkarni, who performed the autopsy on the corpse of Mr. Khanna stated that the internal injuries of the deceased were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause his death. In our opinion, the aforesaid medical evidence, leaves no room for doubt that the appellant had the intention of inflicting such bodily injuries which were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause Mr. Khanna's death and that being so, the case of the appellant would squarely fall within the ambit of clause thirdly of Section 300, I.P.C., the breach of which is punishable under Section 302, I.P.C. In our opinion, the learned trial Judge acted correctly in convicting the appellant under Section 302, I.P.C.
25. We now propose taking up Criminal Appeal No. 611 of 1992, which has been filed by the State of Maharashtra with a prayer that the sentence of the appellant under Section 302, I.P.C. from imprisonment for life be enhanced to death. Mr. Vaidya learned Additional Public Prosecutor vehemently contended that the appellant was a domestic servant in the employment of Mr. and Mrs. Khanna, from 3 years prior to the incident and the couple used to treat him like a son. Mr. Vaidya also contended that the evidence is that whenever children of the Khanna's came they gave expensive presents to the appellant. He submitted that the evidence is that they gave him presents of the value of Rs. 10,000/-. Mr. Vaidya vehemently contended that the instant is one of those cases where a servant cheated the confidence of his master and such an act should be punished with the most deterrent sentence. He contended that facts of the present case fall within the ambit of the expression rarest of rare cases and the only proper sentence would be the sentence of death. He submitted that the sentence of life imprisonment was disproportionately inadequate in view of the facts and circumstances of the instant case. We regret that we cannot accede to Mr. Vaidya's contention.
There can be no dispute that the High Court by virtue of the powers vested in it under Section 377(1) and (3) of the Cr. P.C., has the power of enhancing the sentence of a person to death under Section 302, I.P.C. However, it is well settled that the question of sentence is a matter of discretion of the trial Court and unless that discretion has been incorrectly exercised and the sentence awarded is grossly inadequate, the High Court would not be justified in enhancing it, despite the fact that had it been the trial Court, it would not have imposed that sentence.
AIR 1955 SC 778 : (1955 Cri LJ 1642) (Bed Raj v. State of Uttar Pradesh). In Dalip Singh's case in paragraph 39, the apex Court observed "the Power to enhance a sentence from transportation to the death should very rarely be exercised and only for the strongest possible reasons. It is not enough for an appellate Court to say, or think that if, left to itself, it would have awarded the greater penalty because the discretion does not belong to the appellate Court but to the trial Judge and the only ground on which an Appellate Court can interfere is that the discretion has been improperly exercised, as for example, where no reasons are given and none can be inferred from the circumstances of the case or where the facts are so gross that no normal judicial mind would have awarded the lesser penalty."
"Even though no limitation can be placed on the High Court's power to enhance it is nevertheless a judicial act and like all judicial acts involving an exercise of discretion must be exercised along well known judicial lines."
"A question of a sentence is a matter of discretion and it is well settled that when discretion has been properly exercised along accepted judicial lines, an appellate Court should not interfere to the detriment of an accused person except for very strong reasons which must be disclosed on the face of the judgment; see for example, the observations in Dalip Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1953 SC 364 at pages 367, 368 : (1953 Cri LJ 1465 at pp. 1468 to 1469) and Narsingh v. State of U. P., AIR 1954 SC 457 at pages 458, 459 : (1954 Cri LJ 1167 at p. 1168). In a matter of enhancement, there should not be interference when the sentence passed imposes substantial sentence. Interference is only called for when it is manifestly inadequate".
26. It is in the backdrop of the aforesaid principles that we have to examine as to whether the sentence imposed in the instant case is manifestly inadequate and that the learned trial Judge has incorrectly exercised his discretion in awarding a sentence of life imprisonment.
After the greatest of circumspection we are of the opinion that the answer has to be in the negative. While opting for life imprisonment, in paragraph 141 of his judgment, the learned trial Judge observed thus :
"However, I find that in the present case the accused is a young boy of 21 years and is unmarried. Moreover, he is not a habitual offender".
At the time of the incident the appellant admittedly was aged about 19 years only. On the aforesaid reasoning it cannot be said that the learned trial Judge has incorrectly exercised his discretion, by awarding a sentence of imprisonment for life and that sentence is manifestly inadequate.
A reading of the evidence on record unmistakably shows that it was not a case of a planned murder. The weapons of assault according to prosecution were lid of a pressure cooker, the handle of a pressure cooker and a grinding stone. We are not prepared to hold that if the appellant had really planned to commit the murder of the Khanna couple, he would have selected the aforesaid articles as weapons of assault. It appears to us that when the Khanna couple tried to stop the appellant from committing robbery he assaulted them with those articles. Incidentally Mr. Khanna died as a result of that assault. He did not really intend to kill him.
27. For the aforesaid reasons, in our opinion, the ends of justice do not warrant that the sentence of the appellant be enhanced to one of death. In. our opinion the sentence of imprisonment for life under Section 302, I.P.C., would meet the ends of justice.
28. However, we find that there is an error in the judgment of the trial Court, namely, that he convicted the appellant both under Sections 392, I.P.C. and 394, I.P.C. The offence of simple robbery is punishable under Section 392, I.P.C. and that of robbery, accompanied by hurt, under Section 394, I.P.C. Since the learned trial Judge convicted the appellant under Section 394, I.P.C., in our opinion, he should not have convicted him under Section 392, I.P.C., for the offence under Section 392, I.P.C., is a minor offence in relation to the offence of 394, I.P.C. All the ingredients of the offence punishable under Section 392, I.P.C., are covered in the offence under Section 394, I.P.C. Consequently we set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant under Section 392 read with 397, I.P.C., and acquit him on that count. We alter his conviction from Section 394, I.P.C., to one under Section 394 read with 397, I.P.C., and sentence him to undergo 10 years R. I. and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000/- and six months R. I. in default of payment of fine.
who has been sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 302, I.P.C., and who was a domestic servant, having hardly any means, should not have been saddled with a fine of Rs. 5000/- on each of the counts. We wish to emphasise that while deciding the question of the quantum of fine to be imposed the Courts should always bear in mind that there should be some sort of a nexus between the amount of the fine sought to be imposed and the potentiality of the accused to pay it. There is no point in imposing such an enormous amount as fine which is beyond the paying capacity of the accused. This unfortunately has been the case here. In our comprehension, from a perusal of the evidence on record, it appears that the appellant is incapable of paying the tine imposed on him, by the learned trial Judge. Hence we propose to substantially reduce the quantum of fine. In our opinion the fine of the appellant under Sections 302, I.P.C., and 307, I.P.C., should be reduced from a sum of Rs. 5000/- on each of the counts to a sum of Rs. 1000/- on each of the aforesaid counts. We also feel that the sentence in default of payment of fine under each of the aforesaid counts be reduced to 6 months R. I. from 2 years R. I. The appellant should pay the fine within six months from today.
30. With the modifications mentioned in paragraphs 28 and 29 in the conviction and sentence of the appellant, Criminal Appeal No. 611 of 1992, preferred by the appellant is dismissed. The appellant is in jail and shall remain there till he serves out his sentence.
32. Before parting with our judgment, we would like to put on record our appreciation for the counsel of the parties for the extremely fair and tenacious manner in which they have argued these appeals. Mr. K. R. Sutrale, counsel for the appellant has left no stone unturned.