20 April 2022 4:38 PM GMT
The Allahabad High Court recently upheld the life sentence awarded to a man for killing his own wife and 3 children by way of burning them alive. The Court noted that the convict had failed to explain the incriminating circumstances pointing towards his guilt.The Bench of Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Subhash Chandra Sharma observed that the convict was obliged to furnish a...
The Allahabad High Court recently upheld the life sentence awarded to a man for killing his own wife and 3 children by way of burning them alive. The Court noted that the convict had failed to explain the incriminating circumstances pointing towards his guilt.
The Bench of Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Subhash Chandra Sharma observed that the convict was obliged to furnish a proper explanation under Section 313 CrPC with regard to the circumstances under which the deceased met an unnatural death inside the house, however, he failed to do so.
The case in brief
An application was given to the Superintendent of Police, Kannauj on August 6, 1990, by the brother of the deceased woman (Geeta Devi). It was alleged by him that the accused Ram Shanker (appellant) alongwith one Munni Devi (who died during the pendency of appeal) and one Radhey Lal committed the murder of deceased Smt Geeta Devi and her three children by pouring kerosene on them and burning them to death.
As per the statement in the written report, deceased Geeta Devi was married to Ram Shanker who was a man of bad character and bad habits. The first informant came to know about the bad behavior of the appellant Ram Shanker through the letters written by the deceased Geeta Devi.
It was further averred that the relationship between the appellant and his wife Geeta Devi got strained because of that fact and Ram Shanker (appellant-convict) used to beat her and consequently, on July 24, 1990, he alongwith two other accused persons committed the murder of Geeta Devi and his three children.
On submission of the charge sheet, after committal, charges were framed against the three accused Ram Shanker, Radhey Lal and Munni Devi under Section 302 I.P.C vide order dated 6.4.2005 by the trial Court.
After completion of the prosecution evidence, the statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C of the accused Ram Shanker was recorded wherein he had taken a plea of alibi by stating that he was implicated due to enmity and on the fateful night he was in an Ashram which was one km away from his house and further that he had himself admitted Geeta Devi (deceased) in the hospital.
The appellant also denied the question saying it was wrong that he had an illicit relationship with Munni Devi and because of that fact his relationship with his wife got strained. Significantly, it was suggested by the defence that the deceased had died by suicide after killing her three children due to the poor economic condition of the family.
At the outset, the Court that the plea of alibi though taken by the appellant Ram Shanker in his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C, but he had not any evidence to prove that he was not present in the house on the date of the incident. Therefore, the Court refused to accept his bald plea without any supporting evidence.
The suggestion of the defence that the deceased wife died by suicide after killing her three children due to the poor economic condition of the family is was also not accepted by the Ciurt as it noted that there was no positive evidence to accept this hypothesis.
Significantly, the Court further noted that in an incident that occurrs within the four walls of the house, the burden to explain the circumstance leading to death is upon the inmates of the house. In this regard, taking into account the facts of the instant case, the Court observed thus:
"Once the prosecution had proved the homicidal death occurred in the house of appellant Ram Shanker, the initial burden of proving the unnatural death by pouring kerosene had been discharged by the prosecution. The onus, thus, shifted on the accused Ram Shanker who was the normal residence of the house wherein deceased persons were normally residing with him to explain the facts within his special knowledge, i.e as to what had actually happened in his house on the fateful night and in what manner his wife and three children were burnt to death. Any wrong explanation or silence of the accused to the above incriminating circumstance would lead to the belief that the accused is guilty, inasmuch as, adverse inference has to be drawn in such a circumstance."
Further, the Court observed that it was probable that the incident had occurred in the dead of the night and the deceased persons were brought to the hospital by the appellant with the help of other inmates of the house (his brothers) in order to save his skin to create a story of suicide by deceased.
Consequently, the Court came to the conclusion that the circumstances leading to the death of four persons in the house of the appellant Ram Shanker in the dead of night in a dreadful manner had been proved by the prosecution and that there was no reason to discard the prosecution case or to accept the alternative theory given by the defence of suicide committed by Geeta Devi alongwith her three children by pouring kerosene on herself and her children.
"Once the prosecution established a prima facie case, the appellant Ram Shankar (husband) was obliged to furnish a proper explanation under Section 313 Cr.P.C with regard to the circumstances under which the deceased met an unnatural death inside the house. His failure to offer a proper (acceptable) explanation, therefore, leaves no doubt for the conclusion of his being the assailant of the deceased" the Court remarked.
Thus, the judgment and order dated passed by the Sessions Judge, Kannauj for conviction of the appellant for the offence under Section 302 I.P.C was upheld and the appeal filed by the appellant was dismissed.
Case title - Ram Shanker And Another v. State of U.P. [CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 2448 of 2009]
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (All) 189
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