Dixit, J. -
(1.) THE appellant Ranchhod and Pooran Singh along with Jimipal, Phool Singh and Raghunath were placed on their trial before a Special Court constituted under S. 12, Madhya Bharat Public Security Act, 1953, under Ss. 302 and 201 read with S. 34, I.P.C. for the murder of one Subalal. The Special Court was presided over by Mr. S.M. Pagnis, the Sessions Judge of Bhind.
At the end of the trial the learned Special Judge acquitted Jimipal, Phool Singh and Raghunath of all the charges framed against them. He, however, found the appellant Pooran Singh guilty under Ss. 302 and 201, I.P.C. and sentenced him to transportation for life for the offence of murder and to two years' rigorous imprisonment under S. 201, I.P.C. He also found the appellant Ranchhod guilty of the above offences read with S. 34, I.P.C. and sentenced him to similar terms of imprisonment. The sentences imposed on the accused persons are to run concurrently. Both Ranchhod and Pooran Singh have filed separate appeals against their convictions and sentences.
(2.) THE case for the prosecution briefly is that Subalal, a resident of village Katha was a man of some means and carried on money -lending business. Subalal was unmarried. His nephew the appellant Ranchhod and his brothers Beejayin P.W. 10 and Lalta used to live with him and were his heirs. Subalal was displeased with Ranchhod on account of his gambling and drinking habits, and profligacy and had for that reason turned Ranchhod out of the house on several occasions and had also taken him back in the house on the persuasion of his friends.
Ranchhod felt that his uncle was harassing him without any reason and not giving him any money to meet his ordinary requirements. Ranchhod complained to some persons about the behaviour of his uncle towards him and told Brindawan P.W. 8 that he would set him right. It was further alleged by the prosecution that at one time Pooran Singh was a friend of Subalal and used to tender advice to Subalal in his money lending business with some profit for himself; that some time before the occurrence Subalal ceased to trust Pooran Singh or to consult him and that this change in the attitude of Subalal annoyed Pooran Singh so much that he used to give shelter to Ranchhod whenever he was turned out of the house by Subalal; that Ranchhod had executed a bond for Rs. 1,120/ - in favour of Phool Singh and Raghunath whose only hope of recovery of the money was the inheritance which Ranchhod was to get on the death of Subalal; and that Jimipal was a friend of all these four persons.
The prosecution alleged that all these five persons made a common cause against Subalal and decided to murder him. Accordingly at about midnight of 1 -6 -1954 when Subalal who was on that day unwell, was sleeping inside his house, Pooran Singh. Jimipal, Phool Singh and Raghunath accompanied by Ranchhod came to the house of Subalal; Ranchhod stood near a cart standing outside the house; Phool Singh and Raghunath posted themselves close to a cot where Devlal P.W. 2, a servant of Subalal was sleeping in the open at a distance of two paces from the house; Pooran Singh and Jimipal went inside the house, where Subalal was sleeping and then Jimipal sat on him and Pooran Singh caught hold of Subalal's throat and strangulated him to death.
Thereafter Pooran Singh and Jimipal carried away the body of the deceased and threw it into a well situated at a distance of nearly three furlongs from the house. Phool Singh and Raghunath followed Pooran Singh and Jimipal, when they took away the body. Ranchhod and Devlal remained at the house. On the next morning at about sunrise Pooran Singh came to the house, asked Ranchhod to wake up the inmates of the house, call the Chowkidar and make a report to the Police. Thereupon Ranchhod woke up his brother Beejayin P.W. 10 and told him that their uncle Subalal had been abducted by some 'Badmashes' and instructed him to go and call Chowkidar Bhujbal P.W. 3, which he did.
After the arrival of Chowkidar, Ranchhod, Devlal and Bhujbal went to police station Lahar and there Bhujbal lodged the First Information Report Ex. P. 1, on 2 -6 -1954 at about 10 AM. In this report Bhujbal stated that some unknown 'Badmashes' had forcibly taken away Subalal from his house the previous night when a storm was raging; that Subalal's whereabouts were not known and that this information was given to him in the morning by Beejayin.
Kok Singh, Sub -Inspector of Police, Lahar, who took down the report, observed that Ranchhod and Devlal were in a nervous, agitated and frightened state and were not making a full disclosure of the facts. The Sub -Inspector made a note to this effect in the First Information Report and closely questioned Devlal and Ranchhod, who then gave out the names of Pooran Singh, Raghunath and Phool Singh as the persons involved in the crime. This is also noted by the Sub -Inspector in the First Information Report.
Kak Singh then took up investigation and on reaching the scene of the occurrence when he further interrogated Devlal and Ranchhod, they added the name of Jimipal and told Kok Singh that Subalal had been murdered by Pooran Singh, Jimipal, Raghunath and Phool Singh. All the accused persons, as well as Devlal, were put under arrest by the investigating officer. Devlal was, however released subsequently when the investigation revealed that he had no hand in the crime.
On 3 -6 -1954 both Pooran Singh and Jimipal gave information to the police which led to the discovery of the body of the deceased from a well. The appellant Pooran Singh gave information to the police also about a bunch of keys belonging to Subalal, which was recovered from Pooran Singh's house in consequence of the information. On 8 -6 -1954, a post -mortem examination of the body of Subalal was conducted by Dr. Rangbiharilal P.W. 12. According to the doctor's report and the medical evidence, Subalal was strangulated to death.
Pooran Singh, Jimipal. Phool Singh and Ranchhod all denied their complicity in the crime. They pleaded alibi. The appellant Ranchhod gave a self -exculpatory statement admitting substantially the facts alleged by the prosecution but pleading that on the night of the occurrence he was sleeping outside a cattle shed. à¤ -à¥‹à¤‚à¤¡à¤¾ not far from the house where Subalal was sleeping; that about mid -night Pooran Singh, Jimipal, Phool Singh and Raghunath came to him, caught hold of him and made him stand near a cart outside the house and then Phool Singh and Raghunath kept a watch on him and Devlal; that Pooran Singh and Jimipal went inside the house, where Subalal was sleeping, there Pooran Singh strangled him to death and thereafter Pooran Singh, Jimipal, Phool Singh and Raghunath carried away Subalal's body.
(3.) THE fact that Subalal was strangulated to death on the night of 1 -6 -1954 is amply established and is not in dispute. At the trial the prosecution sought to prove the guilt of the accused persons by the evidence of (1) Devlal P.W. 2 who deposed to having seen the occurrence; (2) by the evidence of the recovery of the body of Subalal from a well and his keys from Pooran Singh's house on information given by Pooran Singh; (3) by the statements of Brindawan P.W. 8 and Beejayin P.W. 10 who stated that Subalal was not satisfied with the conduct and behaviour of Ranchhod and had turned him out of the house and that Subalal's relations with Pooran Singh had become strained; (4) and by the evidence of Some P.W. 9 who gave the evidence that he had seen Pooran Singh and Ranchhod together in the evening some hours before the occurrence.;