ARJUN PAWAR Vs. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA
LAWS(SC)-2016-9-53
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on September 09,2016

Arjun Pawar Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF MAHARASHTRA Respondents

JUDGEMENT

A.K.SIKRI,J. - (1.) THE prosecution version, on the basis of which respondent No.2, along with various other persons, was chargesheeted for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 149, 302, 324 and 337 of the Indian Penal Code (for short 'IPC') goes somewhat like this: Respondent No.2 Baliram Junghare (A-5) and all other accused persons were the residents of Village Hatna, Tehsil Manora, District Washim (Maharashtra). In their village, Panchayat elections were held sometime in the month of November, 1992. Two political factions, one led by Khandusing (A-1) and other by Shriram (deceased) were in the fray who had fielded their respective candidates. Party led by Khandusing emerged victorious and was elected whereas candidates set up by Shriram were vanquished in the said elections. Roughly 3-4 months thereafter i.e. 07.03.1993 is the date when the incident in question occurred. It so happened that on that day at about 7:30 p.m. at Village Hatna, Khandusing was sitting under a Neem tree on Ota. The deceased Shriram and few other persons were sitting in front of the house of one Nagorao Pawar. At that time, respondent No.2 Baliram along with Shankar, Bhurasing, Duryodhon, Kishor, Janardhan, Baliram Chavan, Pralhad Pawar, Vitthal Mankute, Sitaram and Vasanta came there. They were armed with sticks and stones. Seeing them, Shriram asked accused Khandusing as to what had happened. Khandusing took a stick from the hand of one of the accused and assaulted Shriram on the head i.e. vital part of his body, on account of which Shriram sustained bleeding injury. Thereafter, respondent No.2-Baliram assaulted Shriram by his stick on his head due to which Shriram fell down and blood started oozing profusely. All other accused persons also assaulted Shriram with sticks and stones. Thereafter, eye-witnesses Ulhas, Durgadas and Prakash along with others made an attempt to intervene and rescue Shriram. In the process, these witnesses also received injuries. The assembly pelted stones at the house of Durgadas. After accomplishing their job in this manner, all the accused persons fled from the spot. The prosecution further alleged that Shriram (father of the appellant herein) was referred to the hospital at Manora. From there he was referred to District Civil Hospital, Akola. After receiving serious and grievous injuries, Shriram had gone into coma and did not recover therefrom. He succumbed to the injuries on 08.03.1993 at 07:15 a.m. The police prepared the Inquest report of the dead body of Shriram on 08.03.1993 at 09:05 a.m. in the presence of the witnesses and found various injuries on the body of the deceased Shriram which were recorded in the Inquest report. Relevant portion thereof is reproduced below: "The body of the deceased was lying supine with its head towards sought and feet towards north. Left hand of the deceased was resting on the stomach and right hand was straight. Fingers of both hands of the deceased were turned inwards partly. There were small black hair on the head of the deceased, the nose and ear of the deceased were straight and both the legs were also straight. The eyes and mouth of the deceased were close. On the person of the deceased were old payjama of terrycot cloth having nadi [waist tying string] and buttons, 3 on the front side which bears blood stains from place to place, old Sando banian of cotton cloth stitched from the tailor having two pockets, which bears blood stains from place to place, old blue coloured under pant of cotton cloth having nadi [waist tying string]". "While cotton bandage of the Government Hospital was seen tied around the head of the deceased, which bears blood stains. In the presence of the Pachas, when the said bandage was untried, an injury came to the notice on the left side of the head through which blood had came out. The said injury was of the size 2 1/2" in width (approx.). On the front side of the head of the deceased was an injury through which blood had came out. It was of the side 1 1/2" in length and 1/2" in width (approx). Both the said injuries were appearing about 1/2" deep." "Thin injury came to the notice extending from the lower portion of the eye upto the left ear of the deceased through which blood had come out."
(2.) POSTMORTEM on the body of Shriram was conducted on 08.03.1993 by Dr. Gulab Nikam (PW-7). On that basis, the Police registered C.R. No. 35/1993 under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 302 of IPC against the accused persons, 12 in number. After completing the investigation, challan was filed and these accused persons were chargesheeted for various offences as mentioned earlier. After the trial, the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Washim, vide his judgment and order dated 11.09.1998 convicted Khandusing and respondent No.2 Baliram for offences punishable under Sections 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC, resulting in the imposition of sentence of imprisonment for life, and a fine of Rs.1,000/- each. They were acquitted of the rest of the charges. Insofar as other 10 accused persons are concerned, they got clean acquittal in all the charges.
(3.) FEELING aggrieved by their conviction, Khandusing and Baliram (respondent No.2) filed the appeal in the High Court. However, Khandusing died during the pendency of the appeal. Thus, the appeal survived only at the instance of respondent No.2. The appeal came up for final arguments and after hearing the counsel for the parties, the High Court has rendered the impugned judgment dated 25.07.2014 wherein it is held that the genesis of the incident has not been established on record by credible and unimpeachable evidence. Thus, allowing the appeal of respondent No.2, conviction has been set aside, giving the benefit of doubt to him. Son of the deceased Shriram has felt aggrieved by that judgment and, therefore, he has challenged the veracity and legality thereof by filing the special leave petition. Leave was granted and the matter heard finally at the time of granting leave, on the insistence of the counsel for the parties. We may record at this stage that defence of the convicted accused persons was that it was an accidental death as the deceased was under the influence of liquor and had fallen down on the stony ground. The Sessions Court, however, did not accept this version as suggested by the defence and recorded the finding that in view of the ocular evidence that was produced on record, it cannot be said that it was an accidental death. Further, the death of Shriram could not be said to be a suicidal death and certainly not a natural death. It was a homicidal death.;


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