Rajendra Babu, J. -
(1.)The respondent was charged for offences under Ss. 302, 307 and 382 of the Indian Penal Code (for short IPC) for committing murder of Dhobi Devi and Madhu Devi and attempting to commit the murder of Pawan Kumar (P.W. 4), causing him grievous injuries and for committing theft of ornaments belonging to Dhobi Devi and her daughter-in-law Kanta Devi from the house of Majnu Ram.
(2.)The prosecution case, in brief, is that on 10th February, 1992, the respondent came to the house of Dhobi Devi in the evening and took his meals in the company of Dhobi Devi, Madhu Devi and Pawan Kumar that Geeta Devi, wife of Udho Ram, came to fetch milk from the house of Dhobi Devi and when she asked about the whereabouts of the man sitting near the hearth Dhobi Devi informed her that the respondent is the real brother of her brother-in-law; that the respondent, after taking meals, slept in the company of Pawan Kumar whereas Madhu Devi, a minor aged about 3 years, slept with her grand-mother, Dhobi Devi; that in the morning on 11th February, 1992, the respondent, after taking tea, left the house; that on the same day, the respondent again came to the house of Dhobi Devi late at night; that since there was a dog, the respondent asked Dhobi Devi to tether the dog; that after doing so, Dhobi Devi asked as to who was giving the calls and the respondent replied and he was the same person who had come to her house the previous night; that the respondent was asked by Dhobi Devi about his meals and he said that he had his meals but indicated his willingness to have kheer; that Dhobi Devi prepared kheer which was taken by the respondent, Madhu Devi and Pawan Kumar, that thereafter Madhu Devi slept with Dhobi Devi and Pawan Kumar slept with the respondent who was the real uncle of Pawan Kumar; that in the night the respondent gagged the mouth of Pawan Kumar and gave danda blows to Dhobi Devi and immediately, Dhobi Devi called upon Pawan Kumar to free the dog which was tethered; that Pawan Kumar took out the muffler from his mouth and ran towards the stairs and when he had hardly covered two to three stairs the respondent noticed him and caught hold of him from the neck and caused injuries on his head with the help of iron pipe; that thereafter Pawan Kumar was caught hold of and his neck was put on the threshold of the door and the respondent caused injuries on his neck by a darati, that the respondent after committing the murder of Dhobi Devi put a bundle of quilts on Dhobi Devi and her minor grand-daughter Madhu Devi aged about 3 years who was sleeping with her; that Madhu Devi being a small child was not able to bear with the weight of quilts or remove the same and died of suffocation, that the respondent also inserted sansi in the rectum of Dhobi Devi; that thereafter the respondent searched the boxes and took the entire jewellery of Dhobi Devi and her daughter-in-law Kanta Devi and fled away from the scene of crime, that Kanta Devi on the fateful day had gone to village Majherns to see her off in her in-laws house; that husband of Dhobi Devi and her son, Krishan along with the mother of Pawan Kumar Lila Devi had gone to Kullu; that on the intervening night of 11th and 12th February, 1992 the only occupants in the house were Dhobi Devi, Madhu Devi and Pawan Kumar, Ajudhia Devi, a neighbour, who visited the house of Dhobi Devi to give water to the buffalo belonging to her which she had tethered in the cow-shed of Dhobi Devi found that there was no response to her calls to Dhobi Devi and saw Dhobi Devi and Madhu Devi underneath the bundle of quilts and injured Pawan Kumar lying in a serious condition; then she raised alarm that someone had killed Dhobi Devi and her children and thereupon, Prem Chand, husband of Ajudhia Devi, heard the cries and came to the house of Dhobi Devi and found that Pawan Kumar was still breathing and removed the bundle of quilts and found that Dhobi Devi and Madhu Devi were dead. Prem Chand immediately informed the Pradhan Udho and thereafter both of them went to the police station and reported the matter. Pawan Kumar was shifted to the hospital at Palampur and after being treated in the hospital, he made a statement that Dhobi Devi and Madhu Devi had been killed by the respondent and he had been caused injuries by his Chachu Prem Chand. On this when the respondent was interrogated he made a disclosure statement resulting in the recovery of ornaments kept concealed in his house. Thereafter, the Investigation Officer sent the dead bodies of Dhobi Devi and Madhu Devi for post-mortem examination after conducting the necessary inquest. Pawan Kumar, P.W. 4, was aged about 10 years and was found competent witness. He reiterated what has been narrated by us earlier. He was very clear in his evidence as to the identity of the respondent who was present in the Court and also clearly identified him in the Court. It is on the basis of his evidence and other material on record through the evidence of other witnesses, the learned Sessions Judge, Kangra Division found that the prosecution had been able to prove the following points against the respondent :
1) On 10-2-1992 and on 11-2-1992, the accused came to the house of Dhobi Devi, the deceased;
2) Pawan Kumar the injured witness was living in the house of Dhobi Devi and the fact has been admitted by the accused;
(3) Pawan Kumar received grievous injuries seven in number from the hand of the accused;
4) Accused is the "Chacha" of Pawan Kumar and he made no mistake to identify the accused on both the occasions i.e. 10-2-1992 and 11-2-1992;
5) The accused, after committing murder of Dhobi Devi and Madhu aged three years caused grievous injuries to Pawan Kumar removed the jewellery from the house and silently left the house during the intervening night of 11th and 12th February, 1992;
6) The ornaments, which were removed by the accused from the house of Dhobi Devi after committing the double murder, were got recovered by him after making the disclosure statement from his house;
7) The ornaments have been duly identified by Kanta Devi (P.W. 6) in the presence of the Executive Magistrate Shri Salig Ram (P.W. 10)
8) The accused was arrested on 13-2-1992 when the name of accused was disclosed by Pawan Kumar from his house. The arrest has been admitted by the accused;
9) The accused after committing the murder put bundle of quilts on the bodies of Dhobi Devi and Madhu, aged about 3 years. Madhu died due to suffocation as per report of Doctor, Madhu being a little child, it was not possible for her to remove the weighty quilts from her body and died;
10) It is also proved on record that death of Dhobi Devi is homicidal as testified by P.W. 1 Dr. V. P. Sood;
11) That the injuries were ante-mortem and were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature;
12) The Doctor further clarified that the suffocation could be caused by blocking the nose and mouth with the help of hand or otherwise by placing quilts and clothes, etc. upon Madhu, deceased.
(3.)On the basis of this conclusion, the learned Sessions Judge found that the case was established that Prem Chand, the respondent, alone had committed the murder of Dhobi Devi and Madhu Devi and caused grievous injuries to Pawan Kumar and removed the jewellery; that the said conclusion was beyond any reasonable doubt. After hearing the respondent on sentence the learned Judge felt that the murders had been committed by the respondent in a ghastly, fiendish and gruesome manner of his victims who were helpless and attempted to kill Pawan Kumar for gain. Holding this case falls in the category of rarest of the rare cases, the learned Sessions Judge convicted the respondent and sentenced him to death and made a reference to the High Court for confirmation of the same.