19 Sep 2022 4:30 AM GMT
The Orissa High Court has recently upheld the life imprisonment of a man convicted for murder of an eight (8) years old boy, basing upon the dying declaration of the deceased. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Chittaranjan Dash observed,"The viscera contained organophosphorous insecticidal poison. This clinched the fact that the cause of death was due to...
The Orissa High Court has recently upheld the life imprisonment of a man convicted for murder of an eight (8) years old boy, basing upon the dying declaration of the deceased. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Chittaranjan Dash observed,
"The viscera contained organophosphorous insecticidal poison. This clinched the fact that the cause of death was due to poisoning. The previous enmity and quarrel with the father of the deceased supplied motive for the crime and that too has been established by the prosecution. The trial Court has noticed the conduct of the accused who absconded soon after the death of the deceased till he was apprehended. This was an additional link in the chain of circumstances."
Four days prior to the incident, there was a hot exchange of words between the informant (PW 1) and the accused for which the appellant/accused had borne grudge against PW 1. On 22nd March, 2009 at about 9 AM on the village road, Akash (the deceased and the son of PW 1) was playing along with other children. At that time, the appellant called Akash to his house. In the house, he mixed poison in the rice powder and fed Akash that adulterated food. After some time, the accused lifted the boy in his arms and left him on the courtyard of PW 1.
On being asked by Bela Pradhan (PW 3) [the cousin of PW 1], Akash informed her that the appellant had administered some poison with rice powder for which he felt pain in his body. Subsequently, Akash disclosed the same to PW 1 in a deteriorating condition. PW 1 then took Akash along with PW 3 in a rickshaw to Kalapathar Hospital. The doctor there referred him to Bhubaneswar Hospital, but on the way Akash died.
PW 1 then brought back the dead body to his village and reported the matter to the police. Investigation was taken up. The witnesses were examined, inquest was conducted over the dead body and the inquest report was prepared on 23rd March, 2009 in the presence of the witnesses. On the same day, the appellant was arrested.
On completion of investigation, the police submitted a charge sheet on 5th July, 2009 against the appellant for the offence under Section 302, IPC. The Trial Court convicted him for the said offence and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for life. The appellant has, therefore, approached the High Court challenging the same order.
The Court placed reliance on multiple observations of the Apex Court, to examine the evidentiary value of dying declaration, including the recent one in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Veerpal, wherein it was observed,
"Now, on the aspect, whether in the absence of any corroborative evidence, there can be a conviction relying upon the dying declaration only is concerned, the decision of this Court in the case of Munnu Raja & Anr. (supra) and the subsequent decision in the case of Paniben (Smt) V. State of Gujarat, (1992) 2 SCC 474 are required to be referred to. In the aforesaid decisions, it is specifically observed and held that there is neither a rule of law nor of prudence to the effect that a dying declaration cannot be acted upon without a corroboration. It is observed and held that if the Court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary it can base its conviction on it, without corroboration."
The Court noted that though PW 3 was subjected to extensive cross examination, her evidence left no manner of doubt regarding the extra-judicial confession of the deceased. This was even corroborated by PW 4 and PW 5, who are unrelated witnesses but co-villagers. PW 2 also corroborated the above evidence of PWs 3, 4 and 5. The Court, therefore, deemed it safe to place reliance on the evidence of the above witnesses to hold that the important link in the chain of circumstances, viz., the oral dying declaration of the deceased stood proved satisfactorily by the prosecution.
The Court further went through the viscera report, which aptly pointed out towards the use of poison. The previous enmity between the informant and the accused supplied motive for the crime and also the conduct of the accused after the incident was held to be relevant, which completed the chain of circumstances.
Accordingly, the decision of the Court below was sustained and the appeal was dismissed.
Case Title: Tukuna @ Tankadhar Swain v. State of Odisha
Case No.: JCRLA No. 7 of 2011
Judgment Dated: 15th September 2022
Coram: Dr. S. Muralidhar, CJ. & Chittaranjan Dash, J.
Judgment Authored By: Dr. S. Muralidhar, CJ.
Counsel for the Appellant: Mr. Chandan Panigrahi, Advocate
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. Janmejaya Katikia, Additional Government Advocate
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 140
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment