The Supreme Court of India Division Bench comprising of Justices Fakkir Mohamed Kalifulla and Uday Umesh Lalit dismissed the appeal by Special Leave preferred by two accused persons in Sultan Meeran Murder case against the confirmation of the sentence passed by the High Court of Madras and thus affirmed the conviction and sentence for life sentence recorded by the Principal Sessions Judge, Coimbatore.
The crimes scene dates back to 26.03.2002 when Sultan and his younger brother Abdul Khader ran into the appellants at a club named Snooker World. On seeing Sultan there, one of the appellants who had animosity with him went to Sultan and made a few exchanges. Sultan told Abdul Khader that they should go home and they came out of the club by about 10:45 p.m. Abdul Khader then started his motorcycle while Sultan was getting into his car. At that time the appellants came out and asked him to stop the car. The second appellant opened the door and sat in the back seat of the car of Sultan. He held both the hands of the deceased backwards and the first appellant, who was standing outside, took out a knife from his trouser and repeatedly stabbed Sultan on the head and neck, stating that he had converted two Hindu girls to Islam and there was danger to Hindu Religion from him. The first appellant held the neck of Sultan and pulled him, at which point the second appellant came out, took another knife from his pocket and also stabbed him. Sultan in that injured condition drove the car and while he was near Raj Laxami Clinic he lost control over the vehicle and the car went into a ditch and stopped. Abdul Khader and Sultan's elder brother Abudhaheer who came following him saw Sultan being unconscious. They reached Government Hospital at about 11:40 p.m. The duty doctor after examining Sultan declared him to be dead.
It has been made out by the Prosecution that Sultan, a resident of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu had fell in love with a Hindu girl, whom he married after converting to Islam. Thereafter he converted another Hindu girl to Islam and married her as well. This conduct on the part of Sultan enraged the first appellant who one month prior to the incident had gone to the house of the deceased and stated that he was converting Hindu girls to Islam and marrying them and that there was danger to Hindu Religion because of him and that if he were to continue such conversions the things would become different and that he must save his life, if possible.
The complaint was lodged with B-2 Police Station, R.S. Puram at about 00:30 hours on 27.03.2002. Accordingly crime was registered for offences punishable under Sections 341, 302, 506 (ii) of the Indian Penal Code. The FIR reached the Magistrate at 11:30 a.m. on 27.03.2002. According to the post-mortem report Sultan Meeran had died of haemorrhage (profuse bleeding) due to stab and corresponding internal injury to neck vessels. Altogether, 17 stab wounds were found on his body. The Prosecution had examined 19 witnesses including eyewitnesses.
The trial court after considering the material on record and rival submissions found the case of the prosecution completely proved and by its judgment and order dated 20.02.2003 convicted the appellants under Section 302 Indian Penal Code, murder, and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment and to pay fine of Rs.10, 000/-, in default whereof to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year. It also found them guilty under Section 506 (ii) I.P.C. and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 6 months. It however acquitted them of the offence under Section 341 I.P.C. The sentences were directed to run concurrently.
Mr. R. Basant, Senior Advocate who appeared for the appellants submitted that the complaint was received in the police station at 00:30 hours but reached the Magistrate only at 11:30 a.m. on 27.03.2002. He alleged that the time so taken shows that the period was utilized to prepare the complaint after due deliberation and as such the complaint does not inspire evidence. It was also contended that the version of Abdul Khader before the Court was completely exaggerated and as such not trustworthy at all. He also argued that the plea of private defence as taken by the first appellant was not given due weight. He relied on the medical opinion to state that injury on the neck of the deceased found cutting the common carotid artery and internal jugular vein was not sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to have caused the death and as such the offence, if at all, could be that of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Mr. Yogesh Kanna, Advocate who appeared for the State ruled out the possibility of plea of self-defence. He further submitted that there was sufficient material on record to conclusively establish that carotid artery and jugular vein were cut which in the ordinary course of nature would certainly have caused the death and in any case the matter would come under the first clause of Section 300 IPC and not under the third clause of 300 IPC.
After considering rival submissions the court held that "merely because PW1(Abdul Khader) a young boy of 17 years had first gone to his house, prepared the complaint and thereafter reached the police station would not be sufficient to discard his testimony. The complaint in question was received at 00:30 hrs., the police had immediately swung into action, prepared inquest panchnama and sent the body of Sultan for post-mortem. Though the FIR reached the Magistrate at about 11:30 am, the post-mortem itself was conducted at 11.45 am and it would not be correct to assume that the FIR was so tailor-made to suit any finding in the post-mortem. To us, there was no delay in the FIR reaching the Magistrate. Moreover, the defence of the first appellant itself accepts his presence at the time and place as alleged by the prosecution."
The Court also recalled its earlier decision in Tanviben Pankajkumar Divetia Vs. State of Gujarat 1997 (7) SCC 156, where a cut of the size of 2" x 1"x 2 ¼" on carotid artery of the victim was considered to be indicative that the victim had profusely bled and could not have remained alive for more than 10-15 minutes.
Read the Judgment here.