STATE OF RAJASTHAN Vs. MEHRAM
LAWS(SC)-2020-5-4
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: RAJASTHAN)
Decided on May 06,2020

STATE OF RAJASTHAN Appellant
VERSUS
Mehram Respondents




JUDGEMENT

A.M.KHANWILKAR, J. - (1.)This appeal takes exception to the judgment and order dated 5.11.2007 passed by the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan at Jodhpur[1]in D.B. Criminal Appeal No. 271/1982, whereby the conviction of the respondent No. 1/original accused No. 5 (Mehram S/o Mr. Chhagna Ram) under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code[2]has been converted into one under Section 326, IPC and the substantive sentence awarded therefor is reduced only to the period already undergone (about five months) by the accused No. 5. At the outset, the learned counsel for the appellant-State had made it amply clear that the State was pursuing this appeal only against the accused No. 5 (Mehram S/o Chhagna Ram) for restoration of his conviction under Section 302, IPC and to award him sentence of life imprisonment.
[1] For short, "the High Court"

[2] For short, "IPC"

(2.)Briefly stated, five accused were named in the First Information Report (FIR) registered on 14.8.1981 at P.S. Nagaur in relation to an incident at village Gowa Khurd. The case set out in the stated FIR, as noted by the trial Court, reads thus:-
"2. ...

"On 14.08.1981 at 9:30 p.m. in the evening Complainant injured Mangilal, lodged an oral report with the Officer Incharge, Police Station Nagaur to the effect that he has four fields at Village Gowa Khurd, out of which one field is situated about a distance of one km. away from the village. Complainant has further stated that for going to that field they have to use an old way passing through the fields of Heera, Chhagna and Jeevan. However, this way is not recorded in Government record. In the report, Complainant has further stated that last year sons of accused Heera obstructed the sons of the complainant party from going to their field by that unrecorded way. But upon intervention of Anna Kaka, they were pacified. Thereafter, this year after rainy season, accused Heera and Chhagna closed that way. Therefore, they had to cultivate their field having gone through Basni. In the report, complainant has further stated that at about dusk when he along with his wife were going for removing the weeds to another fields and at that time his younger brother Ghewar and Sawanta were grazing goats at a distance. At that time quarrel was taken place between accused Ramnarayan and Ghewar on account of way and they went to village. At 5 o' clock in the evening, his wife had also gone to village. Complainant has further stated that at the time of sunset while he alone was coming towards the village from the field. And when he reached the village near pond, then accused persons- Mehram and Baksharam, having armed with 'Kassies' and accused persons- Ramnarayan, Heeraram and Ramniwas, having lathies in their hands came out from the back of 'Kai' (bushes) and surrounded the Complainant. Accused Baksharam with the intention to kill struck 'Kassi' blow from the sharpen side on the head of Mangilal, but Mangilal managed to prevent it by lifting the hand, due to which Mangilal sustained injury over his palm. Accused Baksharam tried to inflict another 'Kassi' blow to Mangilal, whereupon Bhuraram caught hold the 'Kassi'. And Mehram, Moti and Annaram arrived at the place of occurrence from their fields. Thereafter, accused Mehram S/o Chhagana struck a 'Kassi' blow from sharpen side on the head of Bhura from the backside, due to which Bhura fell down, accused Ramniwas inflicted a lathi blow over the head of Mehram S/o Annaram. Thereafter, all the accused persons gave beatings. Then Ratna, Moti and Annaram had intervened after reaching on the spot. Accused persons having assumed Bhura died ran away. Complainant has further stated that accused persons have given beatings with the intention of taking revenge on account of way dispute..."

On the basis of the above complaint, investigation was commenced for offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 307 and 302, IPC. The case was committed to the Sessions Court by the Chief Judicial Magistrate in February, 1982, which was numbered as Sessions Case No. 9/1982. After a full-fledged trial, in which fourteen (14) prosecution witnesses came to be examined, the trial Court, on extensive analysis of the evidence on record, vide judgment and order dated 21.7.1982, running into around 115 loosely typed pages, found the namedaccused guilty of the concerned offences, and passed the following order: -

"ORDER

Hence, accused Mehram son of Chhagna is hereby held guilty of committing offence under Section 148, 302, 324/149 Indian Penal Code.

Accused Ramniwas is hereby held guilty of committing offence under Section 147, 323, 324/149 India Penal Code and accused persons- Heera Lal, Ramnarayan under Section 323, 324/149 Indian Penal Code and accused Baksharam is hereby convicted under Section 148, 324 I.P.C.

Accused persons Heeraram, Ramnarayan, Ramniwas and Baksharam are not found guilty of committing offence under Section 302 and 302/149 Indian Penal Code.

Hence, accused Mehram is hereby sentenced to undergo life imprisonment and to pay fine of Rs.100/- in default of payment of fine to undergo additional three months rigorous imprisonment under Section 302 Indian Penal Code.

Accused persons- Mehram and Baksharam each of them is hereby sentenced to undergo six months simple imprisonment and to pay fine of Rs.100/- in default of payment of fine to undergo 15 days additional simple imprisonment for committing offence under Section 148 and accused persons Ramnarayan and Ramniwas for committing offence under Section 147 I.P.C.

Accused Baksharam for committing offence under Section 324 and accused persons- Ramniwas, Heeraram, Ramnarayan and Mehram for committing offence under Section 324/149 I.P.C. each of them is hereby sentenced to undergo six months and to pay fine of Rs.100/- in default to undergo 15 days simple imprisonment. Accused Ramniwas is further sentenced to undergo three months simple imprisonment under Section 323 I.P.C. All the sentences shall run concurrently.

Accused persons-Heeraram, Ramnarayan, Ramniwas and Baksharam shall be entitled to get benefit under Section 428 I.P.C.

Clothes and arms (Art.1 to Art. 10) shall be destroyed after the expiry of period of limitation for appeal. Copy of the judgment be made available to accused persons."

As regards the accused No. 5 (Mehram S/o Chhagna Ram), he came to be convicted for offences punishable under Sections 148, 302, 324/149, IPC and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment with fine of Rs. 100/- for the offence punishable under Section 302, six months' simple imprisonment with fine of Rs.100/- for offence punishable under Section 148, IPC and six months' simple imprisonment with fine of Rs.100/- for offence punishable under Section 324/149, IPC.

(3.)All the five accused preferred appeal before the High Court being D.B. Criminal Appeal No. 271/1982. The appeal filed by Ram Niwas (respondent No. 2/original accused No. 3), Heera Ram (respondent No. 3/original accused No. 1), Ram Narayan (respondent No. 4/original accused No. 2) and Laxa Ram (respondent No. 5/original accused No. 4) came to be partly allowed and their conviction under Section 149, IPC was set aside, but under Sections 323, 324, 147 and 148, IPC, the conviction was maintained. They were sentenced for the period already undergone for the stated offences. As regards Mehram S/o Chhagna Ram (respondent No. 1/accused No. 5), the High Court converted the conviction under Section 302, IPC into one under Section 326, IPC on the finding that the said accused had exceeded his right of private defence. Additionally, the High Court confirmed his conviction under Section 148, IPC. Despite the charge of murder and intentionally causing death of Bhura Ram (deceased), the High Court awarded sentence of period already undergone (around five months) by the accused No. 5 and directed him to pay compensation of Rs.50,000/- (Rupees fifty thousand only) to the next of kin of the deceased - Bhura Ram.
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