Decided on May 12,2022

Lalan Mahto Appellant
STATE OF BIHAR Respondents


- (1.) By this Jail appeal, appellant/convicted accused Lalan Mahto is challenging the Judgment and Order dtd. 20/10/2014 and 22/10/2014 respectively passed by the learned 2nd Additional Sessions Judge, East Champaran, Motihari, in Sessions Trial No.48/02 of 2013/013, thereby convicting him of the offence punishable under Sec. 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to suffer imprisonment for life with a direction to pay fine of Rs.10,000.00 and in default to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months. For the sake of convenience, the appellant shall be referred to as "an accused".
(2.) Facts in brief leading to the prosecution of the accused projected from the police report can be summarized thus: (a). First Informant Laxman Mahto along with his family comprising of his two sons, namely, Lalan Mahto (the accused), Vinod Mahto (since deceased) and other family members used to reside at village-Ramkaran Pakri in East Champaran district of State of Bihar. At about 10.00 P.M. of 14/5/2012, there was quarrel between accused Lalan Mahto and his brother Vinod Mahto (since deceased) at their house, in presence of their father Laxman Mahto. During the course of that quarrel, Lalan Mahto whipped out the knife and gave blow thereof on the chest of his brother Vinod Mahto. Vinod Mahto died on the spot itself. Thereafter, at about 01.00 A.M. of 15/5/2012, first informant/P.W.3 Laxman Mahto lodged report (Ext.1) with Police Station-Chakiya. Accordingly, Crime No.152 of 2012 for the offence punishable under Sec. 302 of the Indian Penal Code came to be registered against the accused Lalan Mahto and wheels of investigation were set in motion. (b). During the course of investigation, P.W.6 Md. Salim Khan, the Investigating Officer visited the spot of the incident and inspected it. He recorded statement of witnesses. The dead body was sent for autopsy and P.W.5 Dr. Ravindra Kumar Verma conducted post-mortem examination on dead body on 15/5/2012. Statement of witnesses came to be recorded and on completion of investigation, the accused came to be chargesheeted. (c). The learned trial court had framed the charge for the offence punishable under Sec. 302 of the Indian Penal Code against the accused. The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. (d). In order to bring home the guilt to the accused, the prosecution has examined in all six witnesses. One set of witnesses is inmates of house of the first informant Laxman Mahto whereas another set of witnesses examined by the prosecution comprises of official witnesses. P.W.1 Shanti Devi is mother whereas P.W.2 Sanjay Mahto is brother of the deceased Vinod Mahto and accused Lalan Mahto. P.W.3 Laxman Mahto, the first informant, is their father. P.W.4 Sunita Devi is widow of deceased Vinod Mahto. P.W.5 Dr. Ravindra Kumar Verma is the Medical Officer of Motihari Sadar Hospital, who conducted post-mortem examination on the dead body of Vinod Mahto. P.W.6 Md. Salim Khan, Sub Inspector, is the Investigating Officer of the subject crime. (e). Defence of the accused was that of total denial. However, he did not enter in the defence. (f). After hearing the parties, the learned trial court by the impugned Judgment and Order came to the conclusion that evidence of P.W.3 Laxman Mahto is acceptable being corroborated by his F.I.R. as well as his statement recorded by the police under Sec. 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. His version is further corroborated by the medical evidence and the evidence of the Investigating Officer. The learned trial court further recorded that the accused had confessed his guilt as seen from his confessional statement (Ext.4) recorded by the police and these facts show that the accused committed the murder of deceased Vinod Mahto due to domestic dispute. That is how, with this reasoning, the learned trial court was pleased to convict the accused of the offence punishable under Sec. 302 of the Indian Penal Code and to sentence him to suffer life imprisonment.
(3.) We heard Ms. Archana Palkar Khopde, the learned Advocate appointed to espouse the cause of the appellant in this Jail appeal. By taking us through the record and proceedings, she vehemently argued that the learned trial court has committed serious error of law by exhibiting the confessional statement (Ext.4) of the accused recorded by the Police Officer and held it to be admissible in evidence ignoring the mandate of Ss. 24 and 25 of the Evidence Act. She further argued that inadmissible confessional statement (Ext.4) was taken as foundation for basing conviction for the capital offence and this approach of the learned trial court deserves to be depreciated and resultantly accused deserves acquittal. The learned appointed Advocate appearing for the appellant drew our attention to the provision of Sec. 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and argued that use of statement of witnesses examined by the police under Sec. 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is very limited. She further argued that Sec. 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is very clear on this aspect and the learned trial court ought not to have used police statement of P.W.3 Laxman Mahto for corroborating his version and for basing the conviction for the offence punishable under Sec. 302 of the Indian Penal Code. Ms. Archana Palkar Khopde, the learned appointed Advocate, further argued that prosecution has not declared P.W.3 Laxman Mahto hostile and he was not cross-examined by the prosecutor. Therefore, as this witness had given complete go by to his version in the chief examination and had candidly admitted in the cross-examination that he was not present on the scene of the occurrence at the time of the incident, his evidence ought not to have been relied by the learned trial court for recording conviction. It is further argued that the learned trial court has erroneously relied on the version of hostile witnesses without examining whether their evidence is truthful and is being corroborated by other evidence on record. Without undertaking scrutiny of evidence of hostile witnesses, the learned trial court by adopting perverse approach has held the accused guilty of the serious offence. Hence, according to the learned appointed Advocate, impugned Judgment is totally perverse and illegal.;

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