2015 ALL MR (Cri) 3429
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY (AURANGABAD BENCH)

S. S. SHINDE AND A. I. S. CHEEMA, JJ.

Sherkhan s/o. Mirbajkhan Pathan Vs. The State of Maharashtra

Criminal Appeal No.69 of 2012

19th December, 2014.

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. HEMANTKUMAR F. PAWAR
Respondent Counsel: Mr. S.A. AMBAD

(A) Penal Code (1860), Ss.300, 302, 304 - Murder or Culpable homicide - Determination - Act of beating and harassing to deceased went on for about half an hour to one hour and thereafter, kerosene was poured on her person by accused and she was set on fire - His act of was certainly with an intention to kill his wife, revealed from evidence on record and dying declarations - Not covered u/S.300 exception 4 - Thus, conviction u/S.302 proper. (Para 18)

(B) Penal Code (1860), S.302 - Murder - Conviction - Challenge - Allegation that accused initially abused and assaulted his wife suspecting her fidelity and for not bringing money and thereafter poured kerosene on her person, ablazed her and ran away - Presence of accused on spot at time of incident, not disputed - Dying declarations of deceased implicating accused for said crime - Reliable - C.A. Report shows kerosene residues on articles recovered from spot - Inquest Panchanama and also spot panchanama fully supports prosecution case - No interference with conviction. (Paras 13, 14, 17)

Cases Cited:
State of Punjab Vs. Gian Kaur and Anr., 1998 ALL MR (Cri) 823 (S.C.)=AIR 1998 SC 2809 [Para 4]


JUDGMENT

S. S. SHINDE, J. :- This Appeal is filed by the Appellant - original accused, challenging the Judgment and Order dated 08.12.2011, passed by the learned Addl.Sessions Judge, Bhokar in Sessions Case No.65/2010, thereby convicting the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, and sentencing to suffer rigorous imprisonment for Life, and also to pay a fine of Rs.1000/- [Rs. One thousand only] in default to suffer further rigorous imprisonment for three months.

2. The prosecution's case in nutshell is as under:

Deceased Hasina begum was the wife of accused Sherkhan Mirbajkhan Pathan. The accused behaved well with his wife deceased Hasina begum for about 4 Years. Thereafter, he started abusing, beating and harassing her for bringing money either from her maternal house or from anywhere else. He was also suspecting her fidelity. On 27.04.2010 at about 3.30 p.m. accused Sherkhan initially abused and assaulted his wife Hasina begum suspecting her fidelity and for not bringing money. The accused then poured kerosene on the person of his wife Hasina begum, ablazed her and ran away. She was engulfed by flames. Her daughter Reshma came on hearing the shouts and extinguished the fire by pouring water on her. Hasina begum was immediately taken to the Government Hospital, Umri by her brother and his friends. She was given primary treatment there and then was referred to the Government Hospital, Nanded, where her dying declaration was recorded initially by the Police Head Constable of Vazirabad Police Station, then, by Special Judicial Magistrate. The offence under Section 307 of IPC was registered by the Police. Hasina begum succumbed to her injuries on 01.05.2010, hence an offence punishable under Section 307 of IP Code was converted into the offence under Section 302 of IP Code by the Police.

3. The trial Court framed the charge and after fullfledged trial, convicted the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life and also to pay a fine of Rs.1000/- in default to suffer further rigorous imprisonment for three months.

4. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant submits that, Hasinabegum was burned to the extent of 97% and therefore, she was not in a condition to give a dying declarations. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant submits that, if the original dying declaration at Exh.63 is perused, there is no thumb impression. It is further submitted that, though there is thumb impression on another dying declaration, same is not attested. It is submitted that, it is highly improbable that, when Hasina begum sustained burn injuries upto 97%, she was conscious and oriented to give dying declaration. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant pressed into service exposition in the case of State of Punjab Vs. Gian Kaur and another, AIR 1998 SC 2809 : [1998 ALL MR (Cri) 823 (S.C.)]. Therefore, he submits that, the benefit of doubt may be given to the appellant.

5. It is further submitted that, PW-9 was not present when the incident occurred, but she came later on. Therefore, she cannot be treated as an eye witness. She has also not explained the burn injuries sustained by the appellant accused, which were reflected in the arrest panchanama. The spot panchanama is not reliable since panch has not corroborated the said panchanama as regards the timings of drawing of the panchanama.

6. It is further submitted that, the first dying declaration recorded by the Police [Exh.63] cannot be relied upon because on the admission of Police Personnel Gautam Kamble, he recorded the same in Marathi although the deceased admittedly gave her statement in Hindi. Therefore, no reliance whatsoever can be placed on the first dying declaration [Exh.63] because the contents thereof are not the words of the deceased.

7. It is further submitted that, the second dying declaration [Exh.52] also cannot be relied upon inasmuch as therein, besides implicating the appellant/accused, the deceased also implicated the husband of sister of the accused for setting her on fire. It is submitted that, the said dying declaration cannot be relied upon as on the admission of PW-13 Dr. Sameer Ahire, who made the endorsement [Exh.83] on the dying declaration, he did not check or record the blood pressure and pulse rate of the deceased before recording of the dying declaration. There is an attempt on the part of the prosecution to suppress and hide the burn injuries sustained by the appellant, which clearly shows that, the appellant / accused had tried to extinguish the fire and in the process himself sustained burn injuries.

8. The learned Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that, there is cogent, convincing and reliable evidence led by the prosecution, and therefore, Appeal deserves to be dismissed. It is further submitted that, there are two dying declarations coupled with the oral dying declaration and evidence of PW-9 (Reshma) and PW-4 (Malanbai), and therefore, interference in the impugned Judgment and order is not warranted.

9. We have heard the learned counsel appearing for the appellant and the learned Additional Public Prosecutor for Respondent - State at length, with their able assistance, we have perused the entire evidence so as to find out whether the findings recorded by the trial Court are in consonance with the evidence brought on record or otherwise.

The statement of Hasina Begum [deceased] was recorded at Exh.63. Same was treated as First Information Report. The cause of death as per the post-mortem report was due to shock due to superficial to deep 97% burn. Samir Sudhakar Ahire was examined as PW-13. His evidence is at Exhibit-81. In his examination in chief, he stated that, he was on emergency duty on 29.04.2010 in the Shankarrao Chavan College and Hospital, Nanded. On that day at about 11.00 a.m. Special Judicial Magistrate Navghare came to him and asked him to examine Hasinabegum to enable him to record her dying declaration. He made endorsement that, patient is conscious and oriented to give dying declaration. During recording of dying declaration of Hasina Begum, he was present. He again examined the patient and found her conscious and oriented throughout the recording of her statement and necessary endorsement was given. In his examination, he stated that, Hasina begum was admitted in the Hospital on 27.04.2010. Dr.Zene admitted Hasina begum in the Hospital. Hasina begum was brought to the Hospital by her relatives. She was shifted to burn ward.

10. One Sanjay Baliram Buktar was working as an Assistant Lecturer [Forensic Md] in the Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital, Nanded, who was examined as PW-11. His evidence is at Exhibit 64. In his examination in chief, he stated that, on 01.05.2010, he conducted the post-mortem of Hasina begum from 3.45 p.m. to 4.45 p.m. He has mentioned external injuries in column No.17 of the post-mortem report. There were 97% burn injuries to Hasina begum. All the injuries were ante mortem. Hasina begum died due to shock due to superficial to deep 97% burn injuries. Accordingly, he issued post mortem report in his handwriting and signature. From reading his evidence, the death was homicidal. Even defence has accepted that, death was homicidal.

11. The real question which is to be answered is, who was responsible for the death of Hasina begum. The daughter of accused and deceased namely Reshma Sherkhan Pathan was examined as PW-9. In her evidence, she stated that, deceased Hasina begum was her mother. Accused Sherkhan is her father. She has three sisters. The accused was driving autorickshaw prior to the incident. Accused was not doing anything at the time of the incident. Accused was insisting her mother to bring money from her parents and was harassing and beating mother for the said reason. The incident took place on 27.04.2010 at about 3.00 p.m. On that day, Afsar Chotumiyan came to their house for demanding Rs.16,000/- taken by the accused from him. The accused was not present at that time. The accused came to the house and asked her mother to bring money from her father's house for paying it to Afsar. Reshma's mother refused, due to her inability, as her parents were not paying money. The accused at that time abused and beat her mother suspecting her mother's character. The accused lifted plastic can containing kerosene oil kept near the hearth and poured it on her mother Hasinabegum and ablazed her by match stick. She was frightened and shouted loudly. Saree of her mother was burning. Reshma poured water on the person of her mother and extinguished the fire. The neighbour Malanbai came there and helped Reshma in extinguishing the fire. The accused ran away from the spot. Reshma's maternal uncle Syed Chand, neighbour Baba and Hasan Khan came to the spot. They took her mother to the Government Hospital, Umri. Thereafter, her mother was taken to the Government Hospital Nanded. Her mother succumbed to injury on 01.05.2010. Her statement was recorded by the Police as per her say. The plastic can containing kerosene oil at Exhibit A1, and burnt pieces of saree with petticoat and broken pieces of match box with match stick, shown to Reshma, were identified by her. The defence challenged her evidence in cross examination on the ground that, she has not stated the exact time of abusing and beating to Hasina begum by the accused. Suggestion was also given to her that, the accused tried to extinguish the fire, however, said suggestion was denied by her. She has also denied suggestion that, the accused shouted and asked her to bring water and pour it on Hasina begum. Upon careful perusal of cross examination, the defence has not brought anything on record so as to negativate her version in examination in chief. Upon careful perusal of the evidence brought on record, the defence has admitted Reshma's presence at the spot. Though, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant vehemently argued that, PW-9 was not present on spot, however, upon perusal of the evidence brought on record and in particular evidence of PW-4, presence of PW-9 is established by the prosecution. The trial Court has recorded the finding to the effect that, the presence of PW-9 was not disputed by the defence at the spot. PW-9 being daughter of the accused could not have any grudge against him, and therefore, her evidence assumes importance. In the light of discussion herein above, in our considered view, evidence of PW-9 is reliable, truthful and deserves to be believed. It is also pertinent to mention that, even accused has not disputed her presence at the spot.

12. PW-4 Malanbai Rannavare, neighbour of the accused, in her evidence, she stated that, she was knowing deceased Hasinabegum. Hasinabegum was her neighbour. She has also known the accused sitting in the Court. There used to be quarrel between the accused and the deceased for the demand of money. The accused was insisting Hasina to bring money from her father. PW-4 was hearing the quarrel between the accused and the deceased as there is only one wall between her house and house of the accused. On the date of the incident at noon, she was sleeping in her house. She heard shouts of quarrel, hence came out of the house. She saw Hasina in burnt condition. Sher Khan i.e. Accused was present there. Sher Khan poured water on Hasina and ran away. PW-9 told PW-4 that, Sherkhan poured kerosene on Hasina and ablazed Hasina. Reshma extinguished fire. The public informed about the incident to the father and brothers of Hasina and took her to the Hospital. In the cross examination, her evidence has not been shattered in any manner. There is corroboration to the evidence of PW-9 from the evidence of PW-4.

13. The accused himself has not disputed his presence on the spot at the time of the incident. He himself has suggested that, he was present in the house till the arrival of Malanbai.

14. There are two dying declarations. Statement of Hasina begum is at Exhibit 63, which was recoded by the P.I., Police Station Umri, District Nanded. In the said statement, it was stated by the Hasina Begum that, the accused used to suspect fidelity and also used to ask her to bring money from parents. PW-10 Gautam Kamble has deposed that, on 27.04.2010, he was attached to Vazirabad Police Station Outpost in Civil Hospital, Nanded. He was on duty in Civil Hospital outpost from 14.00 hours to 20.00 hours. On that day, Hasina begum Sherkhan Pathan was admitted in the Civil Hospital. He was to record statement of Hasina Begum. He deposed in his evidence that, Doctor examined patient and gave endorsement that, patient is conscious. Hasina Begum stated before him that, she was married to accused Sherkhan 4 years before. He was harassing her for bringing money from maternal house. She further stated before him that, on 27.04.2010 at about 3.30 p.m., her husband assaulted her, poured kerosene on her person and ablazed her. She shouted hence her daughter came there, poured water on her person and extinguished the fire. Her brother Syed Aslam came there and took her to the Government Hospital Umri. She was given primary treatment at Umri and was referred to the Government Hospital Nanded. PW-10 has further deposed that, Hasina Begum put her thumb impression on her statement and thereafter he signed on it. He issued letter to the Special Judicial Magistrate for recording of dying declaration of Hasina begum.

15. PW-10 was cross examined by the accused. In his cross examination, he stated that, both cheeks, chin and lips of Hasina begum were brunt, and she was bandaged on her chest, stomach, left and right hands, both legs and back.

16. The defence challenged evidence of this witness on the ground that, Hasina begum narrated incident in Hindi, however, same was taken down in Marathi, and therefore, same is not correct version of Hasina begum. However, upon careful perusal of Exhibit-63, Hasina begum stated that, statement is read over to her. Same is as per her narration.

17. Another dying declaration is at Exhibit-52, which was recorded by the Special Judicial Magistrate Shri D.B. Navghare. The said dying declaration was endorsed by the Doctor to the effect that, Hasina begum is conscious and oriented to give dying declaration. Doctor in his evidence stated that, through out recording of the dying declaration, he was present. Even the Magistrate in his evidence has stated that, after ascertaining that, Hasina begum is in conscious state of mind, he recorded her statement. Therefore, it appears that, statement at Exh.63 and Exh.52 corroborates with each other. The defence challenged variance in two dying declarations. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant submits that, there is variance in two dying declarations, and therefore, dying declarations deserves to be rejected. In our opinion, the statement at Exhibit 63 and also dying declaration at Exh. 52 are proved by the prosecution through PW-10, PW-8 (Navghare) and PW-13 (Samir Ahire). It is not necessary for us to refer all these witnesses in greater detail since we find that, findings recorded by the trial Court upon appreciation of the evidence of the witnesses are in consonance with the evidence brought on record. There is also oral dying declaration with PW-3, PW-5 by the deceased. C.A. Report shows kerosene residues on the articles recovered from the spot, Inquest Panchanama and also spot panchanama fully supports prosecution case. Upon going through the entire evidence on record, we are of the considered view that, the findings recorded by the trial Court are in consonance with the evidence brought on record and appellant has been rightly convicted by the trial Court.

18. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant by way of alternate submission submitted that, the appellant's case is covered under exception 4 of section 300 of I.P. Code. According to the learned counsel appearing for the appellant, the accused tried to extinguish fire and he has also sustained injuries. PW-4 stated that, appellant poured water on the deceased, and therefore, there are mitigating circumstances. Therefore, he prayed that, the order of trial Court may be modified by holding that, the appellant's case is covered under Section 304 (II) of the Indian Penal Code. We have considered the submissions of the learned counsel appearing for the appellant. In the light of evidence of PW-9, and other evidence brought on record by the prosecution, PW-4, two dying declarations and oral dying declarations, the act of the appellant was certainly with an intention to kill Hasina. The act of beating and harassing to the deceased went on for about half and hour to one hour as stated by PW-9, and thereafter, kerosene was poured on her person by the accused and she was set on fire. Therefore, viewed from any angle, the impugned Judgment and order of conviction needs no interference. Appeal sans merit, hence dismissed.

Appeal dismissed.