Decided on September 17,1991



V.P. Bhatnagar, J. - (1.) This appeal is directed against the judgment dated 1.6.1990 of the learned Sessions Judge, Mandi, Kullu and Lauhal Spiti Districts at Mandi, convicting appellant Surinder Kumar, for having murdered his wife Sheetla Devi, under Section 302 Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to undergo life imprisonment and to pay a fine of #2352; 500/-. In default of payment of fine, it was ordered that the appellant would undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of two years.
(2.) Appellant Surinder Kumar was married to Sheetla Devi about three years before the incident. Surinder Kumar looked after her properly for about a year after the marriage but thereafter started harassing and torturing her. Both of them visited the residence of Sheetla Devi's parents in the month of Phagun in the year 1989 but did not stay there. After 2-3 days, Sheetla Devi went to her parents' house alone and informed her mother Swaru Devi (PW 8) that Surinder Kumar had obtained her signatures on certain papers purporting to be divorce deed by practising fraud. Sheetla Devi's father then took her to Mandi and after consulting a lawyer Sheetla Devi filed a petition Ex. PZZ for maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. That case was taken up by Judicial Magistrate Mandi on 13.3.1989. Accused Surinder Kumar went to the house of his in-laws in village Chari on the following day viz., 14.3.1989 where Sheetla Devi was staying with her parents. The time was around 3.30 P.M. Sheetla Devi's niece PW.7 Chura Vati, aged about 13 years, and her nephew PW.6 Rajinder Kumar, aged about 6 years, and two other smaller kids were present in the room where Sheetla Devi was spinning wool by a spindle. Surinder Kumarasked the children to leave the room and after they had gone out he put one of his hands on Sheetla Devi's mouth and repeatedly stabbed her with knife Ex. P.A.1 with the other Chura Vati (PW.7) and Rajinder Kumar (PW.6) saw the accused stabbing Sheetla Devi with knife. They ran into the court-yard and cried for help on hearing which Sheetla Devi's mother Swaru Devi (PW.8) and her uncles Lobhi Ram (PW.9) and Chet Ram (who has not been examined) came running to the place of occurrence. They saw the accused jumping down the retaining wall of the court-yard. They learnt about the incident from the children and saw Sheetla Devi lying in a pool of blood and struggling for life. She breathed her last within half an hour. Rewati Devi (PW.6 Rajinder Kumar's mother and Sheetla Devi's sister-in-law) learnt about the incident from her son. Her husband Parma Nand (Sheetla Devi's brother) had gone to Rewalsar where he was employed as a labourer. She immediately went to Rewalsar and informed Parma Nand about what had happened. Parma Nand then lodged report Ex. PW.2/A at Police Post Rewalsar which was recorded by L.H.C. Kesar Singh (PW.12).This report was sent to Police Station Balh and on its basis F.I.R. Ex. PW.2B was registered. A.S.I. Madan Lal (PW.13) investigated the case. He reached the spot on the day of occurrence itself at about 7 P.M. and prepared the Inquest Report Ex. PW.13/A. The dead body was sent to Civil Hospital Mandi for post-mortem examination which was performed by Dr. G.S. Verma (PW. 1), Medical Officer, District Hospital, Mandi. He has given his Medico Legal Report which is at Ex. PW.1/A. He found the following injuries on the dead body: 1. Incised wound 2" X 1" mandibular region right side face. 2. Incised/stab wound 1" X 1" deep below lower lip right side. 3. Incised/stab wound 1/2" X 1/2" deep, right side lower lip. 4. Incised/stab wound 1" X 1/2", left wrist, posterior side. 5. Incised/stab wound 1" X 1/2", left arm, upper ⅓rd anterior medial side. 6. Incised/stab wound 1" X 1/2", left arm, upper ⅓rd posterior side. 7. Incised/stab wound 1" X 1/2", left mid-arm, anterior lateral side. 8. Incised/stab wound 1" X 1/2", deep, right side neck (right carotid artery ruptured). 9. Incised/stab wound 1" X 1/2", left side back neck. 10. Incised/wound I" X 1 ", right side chest. 11. Incised/wound 1" X 1/2". left side chest. 12. Incised/wound 1" X 1", right shoulder anterior side. 13. Incised/stab wound, I" X 2" deep, epigastric region, abdomen, piercing abdomen wall and stomach. 14. Incised/wound, 2" X 1/2", left occipital region back. 15. Incised/wound, 2" X 1/2", left side scapular region. 16. Incised wound, 2" X 1", mid-scapular region back. 17. Incised wound, 1" X 1/2", right mid-scapular region back. 18. Incised wound,1" X 1", right interscapular region back. He also gave his opinion that the aforesaid injuries particularly the injury to the right carotid artery in the neck and the injury to the stomach led to excessive bleeding causing circulatory failure, shock and consequently Sheetla Devi's death.The injuries, as per his opinion, could be caused by means of knife Ex. P.1. SHO Kulwant Singh (PW.5), Police Station, Balh prepared the challan after the investigations had been completed and presented it to the Court.
(3.) Accused Surinder Kumar, in his statement recorded under the provisions of Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, resorted to the defence of denial simpliciter. However, he had this to say when asked towards the close of his examination if he had anything more to say : "I am innocent. I have been falsely implicated. My wife wanted to live with me but my father-in-law, my brother-in-law and husbnand of my wife's sister Ram Singh did not want her to live with me. My wife often visited the above named husband of her sister, but I objected to that. Therefore, said Ram Singh was inimical towards me. Therefore, he has with the help of my father-in-law and brother-in-law falsely implicated me in this case. My father-in-law has two wives. My wife was the only daughter of her mother. Her mother had expressed her intention to get her share in the property of her husband separated and to donate the same to me. Ram Singh who is the husband of step sister of my deceased wife was opposed to this idea. My brother-in-law who is also step brother of my deceased wife was also against this idea. Therefore both of them conspired to falsely implicate me in this case." The learned Sessions Judge has believed the eyewitnesses account as unfolded during the trial by Chura Vati (PW.7), Rajinder Kumar (PW.6), Swaru Devi (PW.8) and Lobhi Ram (PW.9). He found strong corroboration from the medical evidence and also due to the presence of a motive which further supported the prosecution case. Cumulatively, he was of the opinion that the prosecution had fully established its case against the accused.We have no reason whatsoever to differ.;

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