2010 ALL MR (Cri) 3529
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY(NAGPUR BENCH)

A.P. LAVANDE AND P.D. KODE, JJ.

Vijay S/O. Tulshiram Maskare Vs. State Of Maharashtra

Criminal Appeal No.759 of 2003,Criminal Appeal No.82 of 2004,Criminal Appeal No.429 of 2004

27th January, 2010

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. V. M. DESHPANDE
Respondent Counsel: Mr. T. A. MIRZA

Penal Code (1860), Ss.364-A, 300, 201, 34 - Evidence Act (1872), S.133 - Kidnapping for ransom and murder - Evidence of approver - Reliability - Prosecution case that accused persons kidnapped informant's son and demanded ransom and killed his son and buried his dead body in stream let - Post-mortem conducted on dead body which was identified by his uncle and name of the deceased was found tattooed on his forearm - Post-mortem report showing that death of deceased was on account of injuries sustained by him in the neck - Burnt clothes and chappal of deceased were discovered at the instance of the accused - Chemical Analyser Report establishes that the clothes of both the accused which were seized by the prosecution has blood of Group 'A' of deceased - Discovery of the knife at the instance of the approver - Evidence proving that accused pledged gold ring with witness for purchasing telephone instrument and for payment of diesel charges etc. - Evidence of approver that the phone call was made by standing on the top of the jeep cannot be simply disbelieved - Merely because the approver in his evidence has not disclosed the amount the fixed same by itself would not discredit his evidence - Version of the approver is truthful and is corroborated on material aspects by independent evidence coming from the different witnesses - Circumstances proved by the prosecution unerringly point out the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt - Conviction of accused persons was proper. (Paras 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44)

Cases Cited:
Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh Vs. State of Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 637 [Para 20,41]
Renukabai @ Rinku @ Ratan Vs. State of Maharashtra, (2006)7 SCC 442 [Para 22,41]
State of Maharashtra Vs. Suresh, 2000 ALL MR (Cri) 554 (S.C.)=2000(1) Crimes 1 (S.C.) [Para 22]
Narayan Chetanram Chaudhary Vs. State of Maharashtra, 2000 ALL MR (Cri) 1928 (S.C.)=AIR 2000 SC 3352 [Para 22,41]
State of Maharashtra Vs. Rukhmini, AIR 1977 SC 1579 [Para 22]


JUDGMENT

A. P. LAVANDE, J.:- All these appeals are being disposed of by common Judgment since they arise out of the Judgment and order dated 20.10.2003 passed by the Sessions Judge, Akola in Sessions Trial No.28/2003. The appellant in Criminal Appeal No.759/2003 was the accused no.2, appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 82/2004 was the accused no.3 and appellant in Criminal Appeal No.429/2004 was the accused no.1 in Sessions Trial No.28/2003. The appellants shall be hereinafter referred to as per their status before the trial Court.

2. By the impugned Judgment and order the accused 1 to 3 have been convicted for the offence punishable under Section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for three years and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- each and in default of payment of fine to undergo rigorous imprisonment for the period of six months. All the three accused have been also convicted for the offence punishable under Section 364-A read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- each and in default of payment of fine to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for the period of six months. They have been also convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 386 and 411 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the period of five years and to pay a fine of Rs.3,000/- each and in default of payment of fine to undergo rigorous imprisonment for the period of three months. Accused 1 and 2 have been convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- each and in default of payment of fine to under rigorous imprisonment for six months. All the accused also have been convicted for the offence punishable under Section 201 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for the period of two years and to pay a fine of Rs.3,000/- each and in default of payment of fine to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two months. All the sentences are ordered to run concurrently. Approver Pappu Rambhau Berad who was the original accused no.4 has been discharged.

3. Prosecution case, in brief, is as follows;

Bhaiyalal Gaur is a fish merchant at Akot. Prashant Mande (A-1) and Suresh Shukla (A-3) were working with him. Prashant worked with him for more than two years before the incident and Suresh Shukla worked with him for few days prior to the incident. Bhaiyalal had hired a jeep owned by Vijay Maskare (A-2) for his business purpose. He, therefore, used to visit the shop of Bhaiyalal. Due to frequent visits to the shop of Bhaiyalal, Vijay had developed friendship with Prashant and Suresh. Pappu Berad (approver) was classmate of Vijay Maskare.

4. On 26.10.2002 Vijay went to the house of Pappu and asked him to come with him for roaming in the town for a while. While both of them were roaming in the town on the street Vijay informed Pappu that he and his friends had prepared a plan. Pappu was taken to the premises of Urban Bank. While they were sitting for a while in the premises of the Bank Prashant asked Vijay as to what progress was made by him in respect of the plan. Thereafter, the plan of kidnapping Naresh son of Bhaiyalal Gaur for ransom was disclosed. It was stated by Prashant that for the purpose of kidnapping of Naresh they would use jeep of Vijay and would contact Bhaiyalal on phone for ransom. Pappu was asked to make telephone call to Bhaiyalal for demanding ransom. Pappu asked as to why he was asked to make a telephone call to Bhaiyalal to which he was told that Bhaiyalal was familiar with the voice of the other accused and as such Bhaiyalal would recognize their voice and police might catch them. Pappu expressed suspicion that there was possibility of tracing of the call by Police if the same was made from the public telephone booth. It was, therefore, decided that call should be made from the telephone pole as per the suggestion of Suresh. Pappu stated that for making such a call from telephone pole telephone instrument would be necessary. Vijay undertook the responsibility of arranging funds for purchasing telephone instrument and for filling diesel in jeep. Thereafter, all the accused dispersed from the spot.

5. On the next day in the evening Pappu met Vijay in the premises of Urban Bank. Vijay informed him that he had pledged a gold ring for Rs.1,500/- and had made arrangement of funds for purchase of telephone instrument and for filling diesel in the jeep. On 28.10.2002 Vijay had been to the place of Pappu. Both of them went in the market for purchasing telephone instrument. In the afternoon they went to Jeswani Stores and purchased the telephone instrument. After purchasing the instrument Pappu was informed by Vijay that he should come to the premises of Shivaji High School in the evening around 9.00 p.m. as they were going to execute the plan on that day. Accordingly, at about 9.00 p.m. Pappu went to the premises of Shivaji High School where Vijay had already arrived in a jeep bearing Registration no.MZQ-371 along with Prashant and Suresh. Pappu asked them as to what was the next step. Prashant told him that Naresh was to reach at that spot within a moment. Within few minutes, all of them noticed Suresh proceeding on bicycle towards his house. Prashant called him and asked him as to where he was going to which Naresh replied that he was proceedings to his house. Prashant invited him for taking ride in the jeep. When Naresh refused Prashant assured him that he would be dropped to his house within 15 minutes. He was informed that Pappu would take care of his bicycle. Naresh was convinced and he handed over his bicycle to Pappu and asked him to convey the message at his house that he would be reaching his house within 15 minutes. Pappu took the bicycle near a shop called Pavan Video and thereafter he proceeded towards the jeep. Vijay took his jeep to Sonu Chowk and thereafter brought it to Shivaji Chowk and then proceeded towards Hiwarkhed road. After covering some distance from Shivaji Chowk jeep was stopped for facilitating Pappu to board the jeep. When Pappu boarded the jeep he noticed that the mouth of Naresh was gagged with piece of cloth. The accused along with the approver went to the premises of spinning mill. Prashant asked Suresh to proceed to make telephone call to Bhaiyalal. Pappu told Prashant that there was danger in making telephone call at that time as there was a risk of someone noticing them while making a call from telephone pole. The decision was taken by all of them to wait for about one hour. All of them waited for about one hour in the vicinity of Ganesh Temple which was situated in the premises of Spinning Mill. They halted the jeep on Hiwarkhed road. After about one hour Naresh was left in the custody of Prashant and Suresh. Vijay and Pappu went to Saraswati Nagar. After halting the jeep near the telephone pole Suresh climbed on the jeep and he connected the wire of telephone instrument to the main line. Pappu called at the place of Bhaiyalal Gaur. He told him that his son Naresh was in their custody and that Bhaiyalal should come to the premises of spinning mill with an amount of Rs.7 lacs. He was also threatened that in the event report was lodged to the Police Naresh would be killed. After making the telephone call the accused went to the premises of spinning mill. When they reached there Prashant told them that since Naresh was knowing all of them it was necessary to kill him and there was risk of keeping him alive as he was likely to disclose their names to the Police. Pappu agreed for the same on account of fear of Prashant. Thereafter, Vijay and Prashant took Naresh with them in the jeep. They asked Pappu and Suresh to wait at that spot for receiving ransom from Bhaiyalal. Prashant and Vijay also informed them that they would wait for them near Radhaswami Satsang Tents on Hiwarkhed Road.

6. After some time Pappu Berad and Suresh Shukla noticed a mob of around 40 to 50 people proceeding towards the spinning mill. Both of them got frightened and ran towards Radhaswami Satsang Tents. They noticed Prashant and Vijay. Prashant asked Pappu and Suresh as to whether they have received ransom from Bhaiyalal to which Pappu replied that they had noticed a mob proceeding towards the spinning mill and as such they were frightened and, therefore, they had fled from the premises of spinning mill without receiving ransom. Prashant abused Pappu and Suresh in filthy language. Thereafter, Pappu asked Prashant and Vijay as to where they had been and where Naresh Gaur was. Prashant informed that Naresh Gaur was killed and they had buried his dead body in the stream let. All the accused thereafter proceeded in the jeep towards stream let and Vijay pointed out the spot where Naresh was killed and buried. Thereafter, accused went in a jeep towards Chittalwaid phata (bye-pass road). When the jeep reached near the bye-pass road Vijay stopped the vehicle. Prashant handed over the blood stained clothes and blood stained chappal of deceased Naresh to Suresh and he was asked to burn them. Accordingly, the articles were burnt by Suresh and Pappu at a distance of about 10 to 15 ft. away from the road on the southern side of the bridge. Thereafter, the accused and the approver Pappu proceeded in the jeep. Prashant informed the other accused that he was asked to proceed to Pune by Bhaiyalal in the after noon on 28.10.2002. He asked Vijay Maskare to drop him at Akola Bus Stand. When they were proceeding towards Akola they halted the jeep at Deori phata for filling diesel. Prashant purchased three liters of diesel and three liters of kerosene from one hotel at Deori phata. He told the persons in the hotel that he was carrying a patient in the jeep. While the accused were on their way to Akola Prashant handed over blood stained knife to Pappu and he was asked to dispose it of. His blood stained shirt was handed over to Suresh and he was asked to dispose it of. After leaving Prashant at Akola S.T. Stand for boarding a bus which was proceeding to Aurangabad at 7.00 a.m.. Vijay, Suresh and Pappu returned to Akot . On their way back to Akot Pappu threw blood stained knife in the bush on the bank of river Khai on Akot-Daryapur road. After reaching his house Pappu kept telephone instrument in the cupboard.

7. Since Naresh had not returned home at night of 28th October, 2002 Bhaiyalal and his family members started his search at the places of their friends, relatives and servants. The brothers of Naresh went to one Indore to find out where Naresh had gone. Ramesh also took search of Naresh. Ramesh went to Deori by road where he was informed by the people of the hotel that Prashant had arrived in the hotel late in the night.

8. At about 11.30 p.m. when Bhaiyalal received the telephone call he got frightened. The news of kidnapping of Naresh spread in the area. The close friends and relatives of Bhaiyalal rushed to his house. One Sanjay Deshmukh who was residing in the neighbourhood of Bhaiyalal went to the house of one Durgesh Gaur and informed him about the incident. Durgesh went to the house of Bhaiyalal and he noticed that Bhaiyalal was in frightened state of mind. Durgesh told Bhaiyalal that he would go to the police to lodge a report. Accordingly, Durgesh went to Akot Police Station and lodged report. In spite of receipt of report the Police did not register the crime since Durgesh did not personally receive telephone call. However, police went towards the premises of spinning mill for taking search of kidnappers of Naresh. However, they could not trace anybody in or around the premises of spinning mill.

9. On the next day in order to ascertain whether Naresh had gone to Pune along with Prashant Bhaiyalal contacted Nagesh Pardeshi a merchant from Pune to whom Prashant was supposed to meet. On inquiry Bhaiyalal was told that Prashant had not reached Pune. After receiving this information Bhaiyalal suspected involvement of Prashant in the kidnapping of Naresh. He, therefore, went to Akola Police Station and lodged report on the basis of which Crime No.219/2002 was registered.

10. During the course of investigation Suresh Shukla (A-3) was arrested on 30.10.2002 and Pappu Berad (approver), Prashant Mande (A-1) and Vijay Maskare were arrested on 31.10.2002.

11. In the course of investigation telephone instrument was recovered at the instance of Pappu from his house on 1.11.2002 and on 7.11.2002 knife was recovered at his instance. On 2.11.2002 blood stained clothes of Pappu were seized. Police also seized gold ring pledged by accused Vijay from the goldsmith Raju Bhore. On 31.12.2002 Prashant pointed out the place where the dead body of Naresh was buried by him and accused Vijay. The blood stained pant of Prashant was seized by the police from his house on 1.11.2002. On 1.11.2002 Vijay expressed his desire to point out the place where the blood stained clothes and Chappal of Naresh were burnt by them. Police recovered the pieces of burnt clothes and chappal of Naresh. The vehicle used in the commission of the crime were also seized on 1.11.2002. On 7.11.2002 the blood stained clothes of Suresh were sized by the police from his house.

12. Dr. Kolte conducted post-mortem on the dead body of Naresh on 31.12.2002 on the spot since body was in decomposed state. The body was identified by his uncle and name of the deceased was found tattooed on his forearm.

13. The telephone instrument seized from the custody of Pappu was sent to the office of Sub-Divisional Engineer for opinion. Accordingly, the officer opined that instrument was in a working condition and it was possible to connect it to the wires on the pole for making a telephone call.

14. After completion of investigation, charge-sheet was filed by the Police in the Court of Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Akot who committed the case to the Court of Sessions since the offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code was exclusively triable by the Court of Sessions.

15. Initially the charge against the four accused including the approver was framed for commission of offences punishable under Sections 364 read with Sections 34, 384 read with Sections 34, 302 read with Section 34 and 201 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. On 20.8.2003 when the matter was fixed for recording the evidence Pappu Berad (original accused no.4) expressed his desire to disclose all facts within his knowledge before the court. The application was supported by the prosecution. Pappu was referred to the Chief Judicial Magistrate for recording his statement. The Chief Judicial Magistrate recorded the statement of Pappu. The learned Additional Sessions Judge after going through the statement of Pappu and after hearing all the accused allowed the application and granted pardon to Pappu in terms of Section 307 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Thereafter, charge was framed against the three accused under Sections 120(B), 364-A read with Sections 34, 386, 511 read with Sections 34, 302 read with Section 34 and 201 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.

16. The prosecution in order to bring home the guilt to the accused examined seventeen witnesses including the approver Harshad @ Pappu Berad and produced several documents. The defence of the accused was of total denial. After the statements of all the three accused were recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure the accused examined Shrikrishna Gowardhan Tali, P.S.O. Police Station, Akot and Balchandra Sapkal, A.S.I., Akot as defence witnesses.

17. Upon appreciation of the evidence led by the prosecution and the accused and after hearing the prosecution and the accused learned Additional Sessions Judge convicted all the three accused for the offences as mentioned hereinabove and awarded them different period of imprisonment as mentioned hereinabove.

18. Aggrieved by the conviction and sentences imposed on them all the three accused filed the above appeals.

19. We have heard Mr. V. M. Deshpande, learned counsel appearing for the appellant (original accused no.2) in Criminal Appeal No.759/2003, Mr. R. M. Daga, learned counsel for the appellant (Original accused no.1) in Criminal Appeal No.429/2004 and Mr. A. V. Bhide appearing for appellant (original accused no.3) in Criminal Appeal No.82/2004 adopted the synopsis/ submissions filed by him earlier. We have also heard Mr. T. A. Mirza, learned A.P.P. for the respondents in all the three appeals and with the assistance of the learned counsel for the accused and learned A.P.P. perused the record minutely.

20. Mr. Deshpande, learned counsel appearing for the appellant (accused no.2) in Criminal Appeal No.759/2003 submitted that the evidence tendered by the prosecution is not sufficient to bring home the guilt to the accused no.2 and, therefore, the conviction recorded and the sentences imposed on the appellant for different offences are unsustainable in law. He further submitted that the evidence of the approver Pappu Berad does not inspire confidence. The learned counsel further submitted that the evidence of the approver is not also corroborated on the material aspects by independent evidence. According to the learned counsel the tests laid down by the Apex Court in respect of the approver in the case of Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh Vs. State of Punjab (AIR 1957 Supreme Court 637) have not been satisfied. The learned counsel further submitted that the approver was pressurized by the investigating officer Susatkar to turn approver and support the false case set up by the prosecution against all the accused. The learned counsel took us to the evidence of the approver and submitted that the deposition of the approver is inherently improbable and the corroboration through different prosecution witnesses has been fabricated by the prosecution. The learned counsel further submitted that the evidence of the approver is unnatural and in the absence of any intimacy between the approver and the appellant, it is difficult to accept the prosecution case that the approver along with the other accused hatched conspiracy to kidnap Naresh. He further submitted that there is absolutely no evidence on record as to what amount was to be demanded from Bhaiyalal and in what manner the ransom would be shared between the accused and the approver. It further submitted that there is absolutely no evidence on record as to how the approver came to know the telephone no.(23742) of Bhaiyalal and as such the version of approver that he gave a call with the use of telephone instrument by connecting it to the pole is inherently improbable. He further submitted that there is absolutely no evidence on record that the accused tied the hands of Naresh after he was kidnapped and as such the version of the approver becomes improbable. He further submitted that the identification of telephone instrument by Santosh from whom the appellant is alleged to have purchased the telephone instrument is doubtful. The learned counsel further submitted that it is difficult to believe that the appellant pledged gold ring with Raju Bhore (P.W.2) although on the previous day he had refused to pledge the gold ring. He, therefore, submitted that the said witness has been planted by the prosecution to support the false case set up by the prosecution against the accused. He further submitted that the evidence of Suresh Shahakar (P.W.10) who claimed to have seen deceased Naresh with the accused at about 9.00 p.m. on the date of the incident is inherently improbable and his conduct in not disclosing the incident for more than three days clearly casts suspicion on his testimony. Similarly the evidence of P.W.3 Ramesh Indore that the accused no.1 had come to Deori phata at 3.30 a.m. on 29.10.2002 also is inherently improbable. The learned counsel further submitted that the alleged discovery of the dead body of Naresh at the instance of accused no.1 is inherently improbable. The learned counsel further submitted that in view of the version of the investigation officer Susatkar that the dead body was buried about 3½ ft. below the ground the prosecution version is inherently improbable since it is difficult to believe that the accused would dig a pit without any instruments for digging. The learned counsel further submitted that the prosecution has not produced any instruments which must have been used by the accused for digging the pit. He, therefore, submitted that the story of the prosecution that the dead body of Naresh was buried about 3-1/2 ft. below the ground is inherently improbable. The learned counsel further submitted that the approver was granted pardon on 22.8.2003 when the matter was fixed for evidence and since the pardon was granted at a very late stage the same creates serious doubt about the prosecution case. He further submitted that according to the prosecution the clothes of the approver were stained with blood which is inherently improbable since it is the case of the prosecution itself that the appellant did not accompany the accused 1 and 3 when they allegedly killed deceased Naresh. He, therefore, submitted that this circumstance creates serious doubt about the credibility of the approver's version. He further submitted that there is nothing on record to state that on account of the repentance the approver decided to disclose the details of the crime and, therefore, the evidence of the approver does not inspire confidence. He further submitted that the prosecution evidence itself suggests that there were telephone booths in the spinning mill and as such the story of the prosecution that the telephone instrument was connected to the pole on Hiwarkhed road is doubtful. The learned counsel further submitted that it is difficult to accept the prosecution version that the approver by climbing on the top of the jeep which was made of rexzine made a telephone call to Bhaiyalal. The learned counsel further submitted that the arrest panchanama (Exh.111) of the approver discloses that he was arrested at 11 a.m. on 31.10.2002 whereas the oral evidence of investigating officer discloses that he was arrested at 6 p.m. on 31.10.2002. The learned counsel further submitted that the entire prosecution story is inherently improbable and full of inconsistencies. The learned counsel further submitted that the chain of circumstances on which the prosecution has relied is not complete and, therefore, the conviction of the appellant and of other accused for different offences for which they have been convicted is unsustainable in law. The learned counsel, therefore, submitted that the conviction recorded and the sentences imposed on the appellant are liable to be quashed and set aside.

21. Mr. Daga, the learned counsel for the appellant (original accused no.1) in Criminal Appeal No.429/2004 adopted the submissions made by Mr. Deshpande. The learned counsel further submitted that there is absolutely no evidence on record that the accused was aged 17 years at the time of incident. He further submitted that the entire prosecution evidence is inconsistent and the evidence of approver does not inspire confidence. The learned counsel further submitted that there is absolutely no corroboration forthcoming to the version of the approver on material aspects. The learned counsel, therefore, submitted that the appellant deserves to be acquitted of all the offences for which he has been convicted and sentenced by the learned trial court.

22. Mr. Mirza, learned A.P.P. appearing for the respondent in all the appeals submitted that the prosecution has led cogent evidence to prove the guilty of all the three accused beyond reasonable doubt. He further submitted that the evidence of the approver is corroborated on several material aspects by different prosecution witnesses. According to Mr. Mirza, the evidence of the approver stands corroborated on material aspects by the evidence of P.W.12 Bhaiyalal Gaur, P.W.2 Raju Bhore, P.W.9 Rajesh Somani, P.W.5 Sahadeo Dnyandeo Mohod, P.W.7 Vinayak Telgote, P.W.8 Prakash Dambalkar, P.W.11 Sanjay Gore, P.W.15 Dr. Sanjay Kolte and the Investigating Officer P.W.16 Vinayak Susatkar. According to Mr. Mirza, the approver was actually arrested at 6.00 p.m. on 28.10.2002 and entry made in the arrest panchanama that the accused was arrested at 11.00 a.m. on the same day is a mistake and same does not discredit the entire prosecution evidence. Mr. Mirza, further submitted that the approver had made full disclosure of the incident and as such there is no reason to disbelieve the version given by the approver. He further submitted that even if it is held that the approver has not made full disclosure of the facts this by itself would not be sufficient to discard the evidence inasmuch as the evidence of the approver stands corroborated on many material aspects by independent evidence. He further submitted that the presence of blood on the clothes of the approver does not establish his participation in the commission of murder of Naresh but the same is possible since according to the approver himself blood stained knife given by the accused Prashant was handled by him and, therefore, there is every possibility that clothes of the approver were stained with blood. In support of his submissions Mr. Mirza relied upon the following authorities.

i) Renukabai @ Rinku @ Ratan and another Vs. State of Maharashtra ((2006)7 Supreme Court Cases 442).

ii) State of Maharashtra Vs. Suresh (2000(1) Crimes 1 (S.C.) : [2000 ALL MR (Cri) 554 (S.C.)]).

iii) Narayan Chetanram Chaudhary and another Vs. State of Maharashtra (AIR 2000 Supreme Court 3352 : [2000 ALL MR (Cri) 1928 (S.C.)]).

iv) State of Maharashtra Vs. Rukhmini & another (AIR 1977 Supreme Court 1579).

23. We have carefully considered the rival submissions, perused the record and the Judgments relied upon.

24. In order to bring home the guilt to the accused the prosecution has relied upon the evidence of the approver and other witnesses to corroborate his version. We would, therefore, deal with the evidence of the approver first. Harshad @ Pappu Rambhau Berad (P.W.1) the approver deposed that his nick name is Pappu. He knew the accused present in the court. Vijay Maskar (A-2) was his class mate since 10th standard and other two accused were friends of Vijay and as such he was acquainted with them. He was having friendship with all the accused about one and half years before the incident. Prashant was working with Bhaiyalal Gaur. He was looking after the entire business of Bhaiyalal. He was collecting the bills and driving his vehicle. Jeep belonging to accused Vijay was hired by Bhaiyalal for his business.

25. He further deposed that he gave statement before the court because he was repenting for his deeds. On 26.10.2002 Vijay had came to his house. Vijaya was residing in the neighbourhood. Vijay said that both of them would roam for a while. Both of them left within five minutes. On the way he was told by Vijay that he and his friends i.e. Shukla and Prashant Mande had prepared a plan. They went towards Urban Bank, Akot and sat there for a while. Suresh Shukla and Prashant arrived at the spot. Prashant asked Vijay as to what had happened about his plan to which Vijay told him that he was ready to proceed with the plan. Prashant then explained the entire plan. Prashant said that if son of Bhaiyalal was kidnapped he would pay ransom for which they would use jeep of Vijay. The witness was told to contact Bhaiyalal Gaur on phone for demanding ransom. When he asked them as to why they were asking him to contact Bhaiyalal on phone Vijay told him that Bhaiyalal was knowing voices of other accused and, therefore, they had chosen him for the job. He asked them whether Bhaiyalal was having that much amount to which Prashant told him that Bhaiyalal was having enough money. The witness further deposed that he expressed suspicion that the call could be traced to which Suresh told him that he need not worry about tracing of the call and they would make a telephone call from the telephone pole. Suresh was doing labour work with Bhaiyalal. He said that for making a call from telephone pole telephone instrument is necessary to which Suresh told him that they would purchase the instrument from the market. Prashant questioned from where money for purchasing instrument of phone and for filling diesel in the jeep would come. Accused Vijay told Prashant that he would make arrangement of the money. After deciding to meet on the next day, all of them disbursed from the spot.

26. On the next day in the evening at about 8 to 9 p.m. he happened to meet Vijay Maskare near Urban Bank. He told him that he pledged his gold ring for Rs.1,500/-. Both of them went to the market for purchasing the instrument of telephone. However, the instrument was not purchased and they decided to meet again on the next day. On 28.10.2002 Vijay had arrived at his house at about 10 to 10.30 a.m.. Both of them went to the market for purchasing telephone instrument. They purchased the instrument from Jaiswani Stores. Telephone instrument (Article 16) was shown to the witness which was identified by the witness as the instrument purchased by them. Vijay asked him to meet in the evening at 9 to 9.30 p.m. near Shivaji High School since the plan would be executed on that day. At about 9.30 p.m. he went to Shivaji High School. He noticed the jeep of Vijay in the premises of the High School. Prashant, Suresh and Vijay were in the jeep and Vijay was at the steering wheel. When he asked Prashant about the next step he told him that Naresh Gaur would be arriving at the spot on his bicycle within few minutes. Accordingly, Naresh arrived on his bicycle. When he was passing by the side of the jeep he was called by Prashant. Prashant asked Naresh as to where he was going. Prashant told Naresh that he should come with them as they were intending to take trial of the jeep. He assured him that they would return within 15 minutes. Naresh refused to come saying that he wanted to go home. Prashant told Naresh that he would drop him at his residence and pointing towards him (approver) Prashant said that he would reach his bicycle at his house. Accordingly, Naresh handed over his bicycle to him and asked the approver to give message to his home that he would return his home within 15 minutes. As per the plan all the three accused took Naresh in the jeep. He took bicycle and went up to Pawan Video Centre and left the bicycle near the shop and went on foot towards Hiwarkhed road and he reached on Hiwarkhed Road. Vijay, Suresh along with Naresh had already reached the spot. Thereafter, he boarded the jeep. When he entered in the jeep he noticed that mouth of Naresh was gagged with the piece of cloth. Thereafter, they went near the spinning mill and after reaching there Prashant told Suresh to contact Bhaiyalal on phone. Vijay further deposed that he told that it was too early to make call on telephone pole since there was danger of someone noticing them while making call from the pole. They spent about one hour in the premises of spinning mill near the temple of Lord Ganesh which is situated within the premises. Ganesh temple was not visible from Hiwarkhed road as there were bushes in between the road and the temple. After leaving Prashant in the company of Naresh, he, Vijay and Suresh went in the jeep towards Saraswati Nagar. The jeep was halted near the telephone pole. They reached near the telephone pole at about 11.30 to 12.00 mid-night. Suresh Shukla climbed on the top of the jeep and connected wire of telephone instrument with the line. According to instructions of Prashant Mande, he called at number 23742 and he asked who was replying. He was told that Bhaiyalal Gaur was replying the call. As per instructions of Prashant, he told him that his son Naresh was in their custody and he should come in the premises of spinning mill near Ganesh temple with Rs.7 lacs. He threatened Bhaiyalal that in the event police was contacted Naresh would be killed. All of them thereafter returned to the spinning mill in the jeep. When they reached near the temple Prashant and Naresh were present on the spot. Prashant then told them that Naresh was knowing all of them and as such they would kill him. Prashant thereafter asked to Suresh to wait on the spot for receiving ransom from Bhaiyalal. When he asked Prashant as to why he was planning to kill Naresh, Prashant told him that Naresh was knowing all of them and if he was allowed to go free he would disclose the names of all of them and the police would arrest them. He further deposed because of fear of Prashant he consented for killing of Naresh Gaur. Prashant and Vijay then went in the jeep with Naresh. They told us that they would wait for them near Radha Swami Sat Sangh Tents. The distance between Radhaswami Satsang Tents and Ganesh Temple was approximately 2 to 3 kms. Thereafter he and Suresh noticed about 40 to 50 persons coming towards the spinning mill. Both of them got frightened and went towards Radhaswami Satsangh Tents on Hiwarkhed road. They did not find Prashant and Vijay there. As such they waited for them. After about one and half hour both of them arrived by Hiwarkhed road form Hiwarkhed side. Prashant enquired whether ransom was received by them. He told him that he had noticed the mob of around 40 to 50 peoples coming towards spinning mill and, therefore, both of them got frightened and ran from the spinning mill. Both of them were abused in filthy language by Prashant. Thereafter, he asked Prashant as to where they had gone and as to where Naresh was to which Prashant replied that both of them killed Naresh and they had burried his dead body in the streamlet. This happened at about 1.30 a.m.. Thereafter, all of them boarded in the jeep and went towards Hiwarkhed. The witness claims that he was frightened. The jeep was halted near Chittarwadi bye-pass road and he was told by Vijay that Naresh was killed by them and he was burried there by Prashant and him. Thereafter, they proceeded and halted near Chittarwadi by-pass road. Thereafter, blood stained clothes and chappals of Naresh were handed over to Suresh by Prashant and Suresh was asked to burn them. Clothes were burnt by Suresh on the southern side of bridge on the bank of the river. Thereafter, they again boarded the jeep. Prashant told them that he was asked to go to Pune by Bhaiyalal. He told them to drop him at Akola and said that he would proceed to Pune from Akola. When they were coming to Akola, 3 litres of kerosene and 3 litres of diesel were filled in the jeep by Prashant and Vijay. It was purchased from the Hotel at Deori phata. On the way to Akola Prashant handed the blood stained shirt to Suresh and asked him to dispose of it. Knife stained with blood was handed over to him for disposal. Witness was shown chappal (Article 15) which the witness identified as that of Naresh. After reaching at Akola Prashant boarded S.T. Bus which was proceeding to Aurangabad. All of them went to Akot in jeep. Before going home he concealed the knife in the bushes on the bank of river Khai on Akot Daryapur road. The telephone instrument which was with him was kept in the cupboard at home. The witness deposed that he was arrested on 31.10.2002.

The news in respect of kidnapping of Naresh was published in the Newspaper. During the course of investigation, on 1.11.2002 he produced telephone instrument before the police and in presence of panchas the telephone instrument was seized by the police. He deposed that instrument was seized upon disclosure statement made by him from the cupboard of his house. He identified his signature on the statement Exh.38. The witness was shown the instrument Article 16 which he identified as one produced by him from the cupboard of his house. The witness further deposed that on 7.11.2002 when he disclosed that knife was concealed by him in the bushes on the bank of river Khai the same was recovered and seized. He identified his signature on the panchanama Exh.39 and also muddemal (Article no.7) as the weapon produced by him. He further deposed that knife was having blood stained when it was produced by him before the police. He further deposed that the clothes which were worn by him at the time of commission of offence were seized by police from his custody on 2.11.2002. He identified articles 13 and 14 as the said clothes. He also identified his signature on the seizure panchanama Exh.40.

27. The witness further deposed that he had pointed out to the police the telephone pole from where telephone call was made by him. He deposed that during the recovery of various articles panch witnesses were present with him. The witness was shown burnt pieces of cloth wrapped in a piece of paper which was kept in polythene bag. He identified the pieces of burnt clothes as those of Naresh. He deposed that he was repenting from the beginning but he was frightened of the accused and, therefore, there was delay in filing his application before the court.

In cross-examination the witness deposed that he had engaged two advocates for defending in the trial. He deposed that from the date of his arrest till 18.8.2003 all the accused were in the jail. He admitted that from 18.8.2003 till date i.e. 8.9.2003 he was in different cell. He arrived in the court on 20.8.2003 and had filed an application on that day. He admitted that he might have reached in jail after 5 p.m. on 18.8.2003. He admitted that he did not leave the court along with the other accused on 18.8.2003 and that he was away from the accused between 1 to 5 p.m. on 18.8.2003. He denied the suggestion that during that time he was in the office of the public prosecutor along with the investigating officer Susatkar. He further deposed that his counsel had arrived in the jail in between 18th and 20th August, 2003. He deposed that he was educated up to 10th standard and his statement was recorded as per his version. He further deposed that between 20.10.2002 till the date of his arrest he attended his duties. He was arrested on 31.10.2002 from his house between 3 to 4 p.m. and he was in police custody till 10.11.2002. He admitted that country made revolver was recovered by police from his house and he was interrogated by police in connection thereof. He further admitted that the case was pending against him in Akot Court regarding possession of the said revolver. He admitted that on 1.11.2002 he was removed from the cell and taken to his house and house search was taken by the police. He admitted that country made revolver was recovered by the police from his house. In respect of the present crime the witness deposed that the revolver was given to him by accused Vijay for keeping with him. He denied the suggestion that this fact was disclosed by him for the first time before the court. He further deposed that he had occasion to meet the family members in the court on the dates fixed. He admitted that he did not disclose either to the court or to his relatives or to anybody else that he was repenting and that he was intending to disclose the facts. The witness volunteers that he was frightened and he was under pressure of other accused and, therefore, he did not disclose his mind.

The witness further deposed that the statement given by him before the Magistrate was read over to him. He had told the Magistrate everything within his knowledge. He denied the suggestion that he was acquainted with Prashant three to four months prior to the incident. He denied the suggestion that he had never any talk with Prashant. He did not make any inquiry with Vijay when they were proceeding to Urban Bank as to what was the nature of the work for which help of other persons was necessary. He further deposed that he was knowing that kidnapping and demanding ransom was an offence and he could have refused but because of greed of money he went along with the accused. He admitted that he was not in need of big money. He stated that Naresh was about 17 to 18 years of age and was strong and stout. He did not know whether Naresh was working in the shop of his father. He was confronted with the statement made to the Magistrate wherein it was stated that the decision was taken to make call from Khamgaon. The witness stated that he had not stated so before the Magistrate. He deposed that he did not realise the mistake when the statement was read over to him and, therefore, he did not correct it. He further deposed that he was not aware about the procedure of connecting telephone wires to the wires on the pole for making phone call. D.P. Box is approximately 8 to 9 ft. from the ground level and he could not climb on telephone pole. He admitted that he had not stated before the Magistrate that jeep was halted near the telephone pole and the wires were connected after climbing on the top of the jeep. He admitted that there were telephone poles in the premises of the spinning mill. He admitted that he had not stated in his statement before the Magistrate where they did decide to take the victim after kidnapping him. He further deposed that the distance between Satsang tents and Chittalwadi phata was approximately 7 to 8 kms and there were street lights be_he witness further deposed that the distance between the compound wall of spinning mill and Ganesh temple was about 15 ft.. He realised that accused 1 to 3 were planning to commit serious offence of murder when he returned to telephone pole but he did not think of withdrawing from the company of the accused at that time. He further deposed that it was correct that the jeep of Vijay was having rexin on the top of the jeep. He denied the suggestion that it was not possible to climb on the top of the jeep. He further deposed that he had telephone connection at his house and he could handle and use the instrument of phone. He denied that he became approver at the instance of investigating officer Susatkar or that he was assured of getting clean acquittal in case he became approver. He denied the suggestion that his family members were told to ask him to become an approver by the police. He admitted that he could have sent the application through jailor. He denied the suggestion that he was trying to protect the real culprits and was giving false evidence against the accused in the present case.

28. In cross-examination on behalf of accused no.2 the witness stated that father of Vijay was in service. He further deposed that he did not know whether he was possessing agricultural field. He did not know whether the bill in respect of purchase of telephone instrument was paid or not. He could not tell whether Rs.220/- were paid for purchasing telephone instrument. He did not know Bholaram Motwani. In cross-examination on behalf of the accused no.3 the witness stated that he did not know whether Vilas Aswar who was then posted in Akot Police Station was his maternal uncle. He deposed that he did not know him but he knew Ramdas Bodkhe who was Minister from his village and he was belonging to same community to which Mr. Bodkhe belongs. He admitted that he had not stated before the Magistrate that Vijay had made telephone call to Bhaiyalal at 1.30 p.m. on 29.10.2002. The witness denied the suggestion that he was giving false statement at the instance of the police.

29. The prosecution has examined several witnesses to corroborate the version of the approver.

30. The prosecution examined Suresh Shaligram Shahakar (P.W.10) to prove that on 28.10.2002 at about 9 to 9.30 p.m. all the accused were seen talking to Naresh Gaur. Suresh Shahakar (P.W.10) deposed that he was residing near Shivaji School at Akot and he knew accused Prashant present before the court. He further deposed that accused Vijay was his neighbour. He also knew Suresh Shukla because he was working on S.T.D. Booth. He also identified him and also the approver present in the court. He further deposed that on 28.10.2002 he left the house at about 9 to 9.30 p.m. and went to betel nut shop. When he was proceeding towards Shivaji square he noticed the jeep on the road. He noticed that accused were in the jeep and they were talking with Naresh who was standing on the road with his bicycle. Subsequently, Naresh boarded the jeep and bicycle was taken by Pappu. Thereafter, he proceeded to betel nut shop. When he was standing near the betel nut shop, he noticed the jeep which was halted there. Initially, the jeep went towards Sonu Chowk and then went towards Hiwarkhed road. The jeep returned from Sonu chowk within few minutes and went towards Hiwarkhed road at about 10 p.m.. He also noticed that Pappu had entered the jeep at some distance on Hiwarkhed road. On the next day, he went to Chikhaldara and returned home at about 5 to 6 p.m. on 1.11.2002 but he could not dare to go the police. However, on 2.11.2002 he went to the police station and narrated whatever he knew to the police. In cross-examination he admitted that it was not possible to identify the persons boarding the vehicles in front of Shivaji High School from the road in front of his house. He further deposed that he was knowing the jeep much before the incident and, therefore, he had told the number of the jeep to the police. He further deposed that he had returned from Chikhaldara on 1.11.2002 and police have wrongly mentioned as 31.10.2002. He denied the suggestion that he was present in Akot in between 29.10.2002 to 1.11.2002.

Upon close scrutiny of the evidence of this witness it is difficult to believe his version. It is difficult to accept that the witness would be in a position to give all the details of the movements of the jeep and the accused. When the witness claims to have gone to shop for eating a pan there was absolutely no reason for the witness to remember all the minute details regarding movements of the jeep and the accused. The evidence of the witness is not natural and as such does not inspire confidence. Therefore, we hold that the prosecution has not been able to establish that this witness had seen all the accused with Naresh on 29.10.2002 near Shivaji Square.

31. The next circumstance is regarding demand of ransom of Rs.7 lacks from Bhaiyalal (P.W.12). Bhaiyalal Gaur (P.W.12) deposed that he had three sons viz. Dinesh, Naresh and Indrapal. He knew Prashant who was working in his shop. He was also driving his vehicle. He used to collect his bills and transport the goods to the customers. He knew Suresh since he was in his shop for few days. He also knew Vijay since he used to carry his goods occasionally. The witnesses further deposed that Naresh was 17 to 18 years of age at the time of the incident. He deposed that on 28.10.2002 he opened the shop in the morning and Naresh was with him. At about 2.00 p.m. he gave an amount of Rs.500/- to Prashant and asked him to go to Pune to meet one Nagesh Pardeshi. He had asked Prashant to collect the bills from Nagesh Pardeshi of Pune and other merchants from Shrirampur while returning from Pune. On that day at 8.30 p.m. he had ordered Suresh Shukla to bring tea for him and other persons in the shop and after having tea he went to telephone booth for making a telephone call and returned within few minutes. At that time Suresh was not present in his shop. At about 9.30 p.m. he closed the shop. He had asked Naresh to come home with Manoj. Till 9.45 p.m. Naresh did not reach home. He asked Dinesh to take search of Naresh. Dinesh returned home after carrying search for Naresh for about half an hour and told him that he could not trace Naresh. Thereafter, everybody from his family started search of Naresh. He had been to the place of Ramesh Indore who was residing on Hiwarkhed road. He returned home at 11.30 p.m.. After some time he received a telephone call on his telephone which was bearing no.23742. He was told to come with Rs.7 lacs near Ganesh Temple in the premises of the spinning mill. He was told that Naresh was in the custody of the person who was calling and he was threatened not to contact the police. He was told that they would kill Naresh if contact was made to the police. He got frightened. Some persons gathered near his house and all of them went towards spinning mill. All of them knew that he had received a telephone call for demanding ransom. He had also gone to the spinning mill with the people at about 12.30 a.m. He met Durgesh Gaur on the road. He told him that he would go to the police station to lodge report. He was worried about the consequences but Durgesh went to Police Station to lodge report. He could not trace Naresh in the premises of spinning mill. He, therefore, returned home. Naresh could not be traced. Search was also taken on the next day. He thought that Naresh might have gone to Pune with Prashant because once Naresh was sent with Prashant to Mumbai. In order to make inquiry he called at the place of merchant at Pune but he was informed that Prashant had not reached Pune. He had made several calls at Pune and last call was made at about 8.30 p.m.. At that time he was told by Nagesh Pardeshi i.e. merchant of Pune that Prashant Mande had reached at Pune before half an hour. He went to police station and lodged report with police. He identified his signature on the report Exh.73 as well as printed F.I.R. Exh.74. He stated that he had not seen Naresh alive thereafter. He identified chappal of Naresh (Article 15) as that of Naresh.

In cross-examination on behalf of the accused no.1, the witness stated that Naresh had studied up to 10th standard and was looking after the accounts of his business. He further deposed that he did not notice the jeep while returning home after closing the shop at about 9.00 p.m. either at Jawahar Road or Shivaji High School. He denied the suggestion that he was acquainted with Harshad @ Pappu. He was confronted with the police statement whether he stated that Harshad used to visit his shop frequently. Witness stated that he could not give any reason as to why it is so recorded in his statement. The witness further deposed that accused Prashant was working in his shop about 2½ years before the incident and he used to collect the bills to the tune of forty to eighty thousand rupees. There was no incident of fraud committed by Prashant at any time. The witness denied the suggestion that Prashant reached the shop of Nagesh Pardeshi at Pune on 29.10.2002. The witness was also confronted with the statement wherein he had stated so but he could not give reason as to why it was so recorded. The witness also confronted with the statement wherein he has not stated that he was threatened by kidnappers that they would kill Naresh if the complaint was lodged with the police. The witness denied the suggestion that muddemal (article 7) was handed over by him to police from his shop or that Tarachand Gaur, Prem Ghansham Gaur and Rajesh Mannallal Gaur were his relation. The witness stated that they belonged to his community. The witness denied the suggestion made on behalf of the accused no.2 that he was deposing falsely that he was knowing accused Vijay since he was carrying his goods. On behalf of the accused no.3 suggestion was put to the witness that he was threatened by one Kalu Macchiwala few days before the incident dated 28.10.2002 that he would kidnap his son and demand ransom of Rs.7 lacs.

Close scrutiny of the evidence of the witness clearly suggests that his son Naresh was last seen by him at about 9 p.m. when he left the shop and thereafter he was never seen alive. The evidence of this witness also corroborates the version of the approver that telephone call was given to him at mid-night on 28.10.2002 demanding ransom of Rs.7 lacs and he was informed that his son Naresh was in the custody of the kidnappers and he should not inform about the phone call to the police. His version stands corroborated by oral report Exh.73 in which he suspected that accused no.1 Prashant might have kidnapped his son.

32. The prosecution examined Raju Bhore (P.W.2) to corroborate the version of the approver that accused no.2 Vijay had pledged gold ring with him for Rs.1,500/- on 27.10.2002. Raju Bhore (P.W.2) deposed that on 26.10.2002 accused Vijay had come to his house at about 8.30 p.m. and told him that there was 'Barase' ceremony of his daughter at Yavatmal and as such he was in need of Rs.1,500/-. He initially refused to give him money. He again came back on 27.10.2002 at 10.00 p.m. to pledge his gold ring. He kept his ring and handed over to him Rs.1,500/-. Ring was weighing about 5 grams. He identified the same before the court as well as gold ring (article 17) kept by accused Vijay with him on 27.10.2002. The ring was bearing mark in the form of English letter 'V'. He further deposed that ring was seized by police on 1.11.2002 under the panchanama. He identified his signature on the panchanama (Exh.44). On behalf of the accused it has been brought on record in the cross-examination that for running the business of pledging gold and giving loan license is required to be obtained. The witness admitted that he did not possess license for doing such business. It has been also brought on record that accused Vijay and he were residing in different Mohalla. The witness denied the suggestion that Vijay had not pledged the gold ring with him. He also denied the suggestion that gold ring was not belonging to accused Vijay. The evidence of this witness lends corroboration to the version of the approver that accused Vijay had told him that he had pledged his gold ring with the witness for Rs.1,500/- which was required for purchasing the telephone instrument and for payment of diesel charges etc.. There is absolutely no reason to disbelieve the version of this witness from whom the police seized gold ring which was pledged by the accused Vijay. Merely because he had no license to do the business of pledging by itself is not sufficient to discredit his version that in fact the accused Vijay had pledged gold ring with him. The version of this witness get assurance not only from the seizure panchanama (Exh.44) but from the fact that on the ring there was mark in the form of English letter 'V' which is the first alphabet of the name of Vijay. Thus, the prosecution has been able to prove by cogent evidence that on 27.10.2002 accused Vijay had pledged gold ring with Raju Bhore for Rs.1,500/-.

33. The prosecution has examined Santosh Jeswani (P.W.6) to corroborate the version of approver that telephone instrument was purchased from Santosh Jaswani by accused Vijay. Santosh Jeswani (P.W.6) deposed that he was running a General Stores at Akot in Sonu Chowk on Jawahar Road styled as Jeswani General Stores. He knew Pappu @ Harshad who was his class mate till 8th standard and he identified Harshad present in the court. He also knew Vijay whom he identified. He further deposed that on 28.10.2002 in the afternoon Vijay Maskare and Pappu Berad came to his shop and Vijay saw 2-3 models of instrument of phone and he selected one instrument manufactured by Panna Phone Company. Vijay got it checked from him. He identified the instrument (Article 16) as the instrument purchased by Vijay. He deposed that bill was not issued by him. In cross-examination he deposed that he was not the dealer of Panna Phone Company. Witness denied the suggestion that he was required to issue bill in respect of every articles sold by him. He admitted that there was no identification mark on the instrument. He admitted that there was no reputed company called Panna Phone Manufacturing Company. He denied the suggestion that the instrument (Article 16) was not sold by him from his shop. The witness stated that he came to know that Naresh was kidnapped. He also came to know that Pappu and Vijay were arrested by the police in the offence. His statement was recorded by police on 12.11.2002.

The evidence of this witness has been assailed primarily on the ground that there was no special reason for this witness to identify the instrument (Article 16) since he did not have particular mark and consequently on the ground that he had not issued the bill. Both the grounds of challenge are untenable in law. Merely because the witness had not issued the bill by itself is not sufficient to discard his cogent testimony that it was the accused Vijay who had come to his shop along with the approver Pappu on 28.10.2002 to purchase the instrument and in fact he had purchased the instrument for Rs.220/-. Therefore, we have no hesitation to hold that the prosecution has been able to prove that accused Vijay had purchased telephone instrument (Article 16) from Santosh Jeswani (P.W.6).

34. The prosecution examined Rajesh Somani (P.W.9) Jr. Telephone Officer working at Akot. He deposed that he had received the telephone instrument along with the letter from Akot Police Station. He was asked to give information whether the instrument sent to him was in working condition and whether it was possible to contact any telephone number with the help of the instrument. He deposed that on examination of the instrument he found that the instrument was in working condition and he deposed that he gave demonstration of the same to police constables who had arrived in his office with the instrument. He had opined that it was possible to connect the telephone instrument to the wires on the pole and make a call. He had told police that climbing on the telephone pole was illegal. He identified the letter Exh.61. Witness stated that letter Exh.61 was signed by the superior officer and the same was in his hand writing and the contents were correct. He identified the instrument (Article 16) as the instrument which was brought to him for examination. In the cross-examination the witness stated that instrument was not examined by him in presence of his superior officer. He further deposed that instrument was not used for domestic purpose and it was generally used by the wireman. He admitted the suggestion that crones used by the wire man were not available in the market. The evidence of this official witness clearly establishes that he had examined the instrument (Article 16) and had opined that same could be connected on the wires of pole for making phone call. The evidence of this witness lends assurance to the evidence of the approver as well as to the evidence of Santosh Jeswani (P.W.6) from whom Vijay had purchased instrument.

35. The next circumstances relied upon by the prosecution is the purchase of diesel and kerosene by accused Prashant from Sahadeo Mohod (P.W.5). Sahadeo Mohod (P.W.5) deposed that he was working in the hotel named and styled as 'Gurudeo Uphar Grih' situated on Deori Byepass Road owned by Vinod Waghole. He deposed that on 29.10.2002 at about 4.00 a.m. Prashant Mande came to the hotel. He knew Prashant since he was working on the jeep of Bhaiyalal Gaur and Prashant was visiting the hotel before 29.10.2002. He identified Prashant who was present before the court. He further deposed that Prashant had arrived in the jeep of ash colour. He demanded diesel from him and stated that he was carrying a patient in the jeep. He gave him three litres of diesel. He thereafter sought kerosene from him. He also gave him three liters of kerosene. Prashant kept Rs.140/- on the table and left the hotel. In cross-examination he stated that there were 5-6 hotels on Deori bye-pass road and their hotel was on Akot road. Neither Prashant was his friend nor he was having friendly relation with Bhaiyalal Gaur. He denied the suggestion that he was not knowing Prashant or that he was not visiting the hotel before 29.10.2002. He denied the suggestion that he had not given three litres of diesel and three litres of kerosene to Prashant. He denied the suggestion that he had given false evidence at the instance of police.

Careful close scrutiny of the evidence of this witness discloses that nothing tangible has been brought in the cross-examination of this witness to discard his version that he had sold three litres of kerosene and three litres of diesel to Prashant. Even if it is assumed that the sale of kerosene and diesel by the witness was illegal the same by itself is not sufficient to discard the version of the witness that in fact he sold kerosene and diesel to Prashant. We have no hesitation to accept the version of the witness that it was Prashant who had purchased kerosene and diesel from this witness at about 4.00 a.m. On 29.10.2002.

36. The next circumstance relied upon by the prosecution is discovery of the knife at the instance of the approver. In order to bring this circumstance the prosecution examined Sanjay Gore (P.W.11). The evidence of Sanjay Gore discloses that on 7.11.2002 Pappu made a statement that he wanted to produce the knife. His statement was recorded by police and the signature of Pappu on the statement. Panchas also signed on the said statement. He identified Exh.39 as the statement. Thereafter, he along with another panch, investigating officer Mr. Susatkar, some constables and Harshad @ Pappu went in police jeep towards Khai by Daryapur road. After halting the jeep near the bridge, Pappu took out knife concealed in the bushes which was seized under panchanama. He identified his signature on the panchanama Exh.39 and also identified knife (Article 7). In the cross-examination nothing tangible has been brought on record to discard the version of this witness. Therefore, the version of the approver that the knife was recovered at his instance stands corroborated by this witness. The evidence of this witness also stands corroborated by the evidence of Investigating Officer Mr. Susatkar (P.W.16).

37. The next circumstance relied upon by the prosecution is about recovery of dead body at the instance of accused Prashant. To prove this fact, the prosecution examined Vinayak Telgate (P.W.7). He deposed that on 31.10.2002 he was called by police to act as panch at about 2.00 p.m. The name of the accused Prashant was told to him by police officer. Madhavrao Bhise was another panch witness. Accused Prashant expressed his desire to point out the place where the dead body was burried. His memorandum (Exh.51) was recorded by the police in their presence. He identified his signature on the panchanama (Exh.51) and also that of other panch. They then boarded the jeep along with the accused Prashant Mande, Vijay Maskare and Suresh Shukla. As per the instruction given by the accused Prashant the jeep was taken to Hiwarkhed road. The jeep was taken to stream-let which was just before village Adgaon (Khurd). Prashant took them by road in the stream-let on northern side for about ½ km. The jeep was halted as per the say of the accused Prashant. He identified Prashant present before the court. He also identified accused Vijay and Suresh as the persons who were with them. Thereafter, Prashant pointed out towards a place saying that the dead body was burried. Sand thereafter was removed by Prashant and police constables and dead body was recovered from the spot. Panchanama was prepared by the police and his signature was obtained. He identified signature on the panchanama Exh.32. He also identified the signature of accused Prashant. He deposed that the name of the deceased was tattooed on his forearm as Naresh. He was identified by accused Prashant as well as by relatives of the deceased who had accompanied with them. The photographs were also taken. Harshad was called by sending a message on wireless. The accused then were returned to the police station. Inquest panchanama was drawn. Thereafter doctor was called. He identified his signature on the inquest panchanama (Exh.53) as well as on the spot panchanama (Exh.54). In the cross-examination of this witness nothing tangible has been brought on record to discard his version that it was the accused Prashant who had made disclosure statement and that the dead body of Naresh which was burried was discovered at his instance. Moreover, the version of this witness stands corroborated by another witness Prakash Dambalkar (P.W.8) who at the relevant time was working on the tractor of Ghansham Bede. He deposed that he had seen the dead body which was naked. He deposed that the spot was shown by the accused. He identified Prashant Mande as the person who had shown the spot. The evidence of this witness also stands corroborated on this aspect by the investigating officer Vinayak Susatkar (P.W.16).

38. The next circumstance relied upon by the prosecution is the recovery of burnt clothes of deceased at the instance of accused Vijay. The prosecution has examined Sanjay Gore (P.W.11). The evidence of this witness discloses that on 1.11.2002 Vijay Maskare expressed his desire to point out the place where the clothes were burnt. His statement was written down by police. He identified his signature on the statement Exh.66 and stated that its contents were true and correct. Thereafter, he along with another panch, Susatkar, some police constables and accused Vijay Maskare went to Chittalwadi phata. After alighting from the jeep, accused Vijay led them to some distance from the left side of the road by foot path and pointed out the place from where pieces of burnt clothes and chappal were seized by the police. He identified Article 15 as the chappal seized by police. He deposed that from the spot other articles 1, 2, 3 and 4 were also seized by the police and were sealed. The panchanama was drawn. In the cross-examination nothing tangible has been brought on record to discard the version of this witness. Therefore, we have no hesitation to hold that the prosecution has been able to prove that the burnt clothes and chappal of deceased were discovered at the instance of the accused Vijay.

39. In order to establish homicidal death of deceased Naresh the prosecution has relied upon the evidence of Dr. Sanjay Kolte (P.W.15) who deposed that in October, 2002 he was working at Rural Hospital at Akot. On 31.10.2002 he was called by police in Paura streamlet for performing post-mortem. Accordingly, he went there. Inquest panchanama was handed over to him. From the contents of the panchanama he came to know that deceased was Naresh. There was a tattoo mark on the forearm of the deceased. Name of the deceased was tattoed on the forearm. That the deceased was also identified by his uncle.

On external examination of the dead body he noticed the following on the person of the deceased.

"Rigor mortis absent all over body. The dead body was cold. Signs of decomposition were present all over the body. Abdomen was found distended. I had noticed that the pilling of skin at various places all over body. The body was swollen. Eyes - protruding. Tongue-partially protruding between teeth. Both upper and lower extremities were extended. Fingers were extended. He further deposed that he had noticed wound of about 5" x 1" x bone deep on left lateral side of neck starting from 2 cms. above left sternoclavicular joint and extending upto 1-½" below the mastoid process."

He further deposed that clots were present in the wound. The body was in a decomposed state. He could not determine as to after how much time after sustaining of injuries the deceased must have been died. He further deposed that injury was caused by hard and sharp edged object. There were fracture of 4th cervical vertebra. All the injuries were ante-mortem.

Upon internal examination he noticed that brain matter was soft in liquification process. Heart was empty. According to the witness probable cause of death was due to injury on vital organ i.e. neck. He identified his signature on the Post mortem report (Exh.82) and stated that the contents were true. He further opined that the deceased must have died about 72 hours before performing the post-mortem. The witness deposed that a weapon was sent to him by the investigating officer along with the letter and he was asked to opine whether the injuries sustained by the deceased were possible by the said weapon. He had received the weapon in the sealed condition. He opined that the injuries on the person of the deceased were possible by the weapon sent to him for examination. He communicated his opinion to the police on 13.11.2002. He identified his signature on the letter Exh.83. In cross-examination the witness denied that the injuries mentioned by him were not possible by the weapon (Article 7) or that the death must have been instantaneous on account of the injuries. He denied the suggestion that he prepared the post-mortem notes in the hospital. Although the witness has been extensively cross-examined nothing tangible has been brought on record to discredit the version of the witness that the death of deceased Naresh was on account of injuries sustained by him in the neck. Therefore, the prosecution has been able to establish that the death of Naresh was homicidal and could have been caused on account of the injuries sustained by knife.

40. The prosecution has also placed reliance upon the C.A. Report which clearly establishes that the clothes of both the accused which were seized by the prosecution had blood of Group 'A'. There is absolutely nothing has been brought on record by the defence to discredit the C.A. Report.

41. At this stage, we would deal with the authorities cited by the both sides.

In the case of Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh (supra) relied upon by Mr. Deshpande, the Apex Court has held that the approver is undoubtedly a competent witness under the Evidence Act but the appreciation of his evidence has to satisfy double test. His evidence must show that he is a reliable witness and this test is common to all witnesses. The Apex Court has further held that if this test is satisfied, second test still remains to be applied is that the approver's evidence must receive sufficient corroboration on material particulars by other independent evidence. But, it would not be right to expect that such independent corroboration should cover the whole of the prosecution story or even all the material particulars. The Apex Court held that if such a view is adopted it would render the evidence of the accomplice wholly superfluous.

In the case of Dagdu and others (supra) the Apex Court held that no reliance can be placed on the evidence of the accomplice unless the evidence is corroborated on material particulars which means that there must be some independent evidence tending to incriminate the particular accused in the commission of the crime.

In the case of Renukabai (supra) the Apex Court held that if approver is found to have suppressed some material facts, the same by itself is not sufficient to discard his entire testimony. In case his version on some aspects gets corroboration by independent evidence, the same lends assurance to his version on those aspects. The Apex Court further held that even if the version of the approver is not fully accepted the same by itself is not sufficient to discard his testimony to the extent it is corroborated by independent evidence.

In the case of Narayan Chaudhary [2000 ALL MR (Cri) 1928 (S.C.)] (supra) relied upon by the learned A.P.P. the Apex Court held that the version of the approver inspiring confidence and corroborated on material aspects by independent evidence is sufficient to convict the accused.

42. In the light of the evidence of the approver and other witnesses referred to above the questions which arises for consideration is whether the evidence of the approver is truthful and whether it is corroborated on material aspects. Upon careful scrutiny of the evidence led by the prosecution, we have no hesitation to hold that the version of the approver stands corroborated on several aspects by cogent evidence led by the prosecution. They are as under :

a) The telephone call was given by the approver at mid night on 28.10.2002 asking Bhaiyalal Gaur (P.W.12) to pay ransom of Rs.7 lacs stating that his son Naresh was in the custody of the accused.

b) The purchase of telephone instrument by the accused Vijay from Santosh Jeshwani (P.W.6).

c) Pledging of gold ring by Vijay with P.W.2 Raju Bhore on 27.10.2002 for Rs.1,500/-.

d) The telephone instrument was used for making telephone call which is normally used by the wire man and which was purchased by Vijay was in working condition and could have been used for making a telephone call from the telephone pole.

e) Accused Prashant purchased diesel and kerosene from Sahadeo Mohod (P.W.5).

f) The discovery of the dead body of Naresh at the instance of Prashant.

g) Discovery of knife at the instance of approver.

h) Recovery of telephone instrument at the instance of the approver.

i) Recovery of burnt clothes of the deceased at the instance of accused Vijay.

j) Death of Naresh was homicidal.

k) Presence of blood of 'Group A' on the clothes of accused Vijay and Prashant.

l) Presence of blood of Group 'A' on knife discovered at the instance of the approver.

43. Upon re-appreciation of the evidence led during the trial, we are of the considered opinion that the version of the approver stands corroborated on several material aspects by independent evidence led by the prosecution to which we have made detailed reference and, therefore, the prosection has been able to establish the offences for which the accused have been convicted by the trial court beyond reasonable doubt. Insofar as the argument of Mr. Deshpande that the version of the approver that he did not take part in the murder of Naresh and, therefore, his version can not be accepted is doubtful in view of the fact that the blood was found on the clothes is concerned, we find it difficult to accept the same. The prosecution evidence itself suggests that knife which was used to kill Naresh was handed over by Prashant to the approver and he carried it for some time in the jeep and thereafter hide it in the bushes. Since the blood stained knife was carried by the approver in the jeep for some time it was quite probable that the clothes of the approver would get blood stains and, therefore, this circumstance by itself is not sufficient to hold that the version of the approver that he did not take part in actual murder of deceased is incorrect and that he is suppressing material facts. Mr. Deshpande's submission that it was not possible for accused Suresh to climb on the top of the jeep and for the approver to make telephone call by standing on the top of the jeep because it has been admitted by the approver that the top was covered by rexin is difficult to accept inasmuch as rexin must have covered the metal poles which are normally found on the jeep and, therefore, it is not impossible for a person to stand on the top of the jeep even if the top of the jeep is covered by rexin. Therefore, the version of the approver that the phone call was made by standing on the top of the jeep cannot be simply disbelieved.

44. We also do not find any merit in the submission of Mr. Deshpande that in the absence of any cogent evidence that it was decided by the accused and the approver to demand the ransom of Rs.7 lacs from Bhaiyalal the entire prosecution story becomes doubtful. What amount was decided to be asked from Bhaiyalal as ransom was within the knowledge of the accused and the approver and merely because the approver in his evidence has not disclosed the amount fixed same by itself would not discredit the evidence of the approver which stands corroborated by several witnesses. Similarly, we find no merit in the submission of Mr. Deshpande that the story of the prosecution that the dead body of Naresh was burried by accused Prashant and Vijay after he was murdered is inherently probable since the body was found burried 3½ ft. below the ground. It is pertinent to note that the body was burried near the streamlet and the same was discovered at the instance of accused Prashant. Merely because the prosecution has not been able to establish the manner in which the body was burried by itself is not sufficient to reject the prosecution case that accused Vijay and Prashant after committing murder of Naresh burried his body near stremlet. We also do not find any merit in the submission of Mr. Deshpande that the approver was granted pardon at the instance of investigating officer to support the false case set up by the prosecution and the delay in filing application by the approver for grant of pardon itself creates doubt about the version of the approver that he filed said application on account of repentance. Therefore, in our considered opinion the grounds urged by Mr. Deshpande for rejecting prosecution version has no merit. We have no hesitation to hold that the version of the approver is truthful and is corroborated on material aspects by independent evidence coming from the different witnesses. The above circumstances proved by the prosecution unerringly point out the guilt of all the accused beyond reasonable doubt and establish the offfences for which they have been convicted by the trial court. The corroboration of the version of the approver on various aspects comes from several independent witnesses and it is very difficult for us to hold that all these witnesses are got up witnesses who have been examined by the prosecution to falsely implicate the accused in the commission of the ghastly crime. We, therefore, hold that the conviction of all the appellants for the offence for which they have been convicted by the trial court is well founded and no case has been made out for interference in any of the appeals.

45. For the reasons aforesaid, we find no merit in any of the appeals. Consequently, the conviction and sentences imposed on all the appellants by the trial court are maintained and the appeals are dismissed.

Appeals dismissed.