Sanjay Khanderao Wadane v/s State of Maharashtra, 2017

CaseSanjay Khanderao Wadane v/s State of Maharashtra, 2017
Court Supreme Court of India
Case NumberCRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1962 OF 2011 WITH CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 604 OF 2012
BenchJustice A.K. SIKRI, Justice R.K. AGRAWAL
Author of the judgementJustice R.K. Agrawal
Decided onAUGUST 3, 2017
Author of the briefAditya Gor

Brief facts and procedural history:

On the fateful evening of 31.01.2008, Ravindra Kale (since deceased) was beaten to death by the appellants herein and others, who were 12 (twelve) in numbers and were armed with swords and iron pipes, owing to a long standing dispute between the deceased and the accused persons. (Para 2A)

Shaila Kale (PW-12) – the wife of the deceased, filed a complaint with regard to the alleged crime against the accused persons. After an investigation, the charges were framed and the case was committed to the Court of Sessions.  (Para 2B)

Vide judgment and order dated 09.04.2009, the Court of Sessions, Ahmednagar, convicted the appellants herein under Sections 143, 147, 148, 302 read with Section 149, Section 326 read with Section 149 of the IPC and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment (RI) for life along with fine. (Para 2C)

Aggrieved by the judgement the appellants appealed to the High Court. A Division Bench of the High Court, vide common judgment and order dated 11.01.2011, confirmed the order of conviction and sentence passed by the Court of Sessions against the appellants herein. (Para 2D)

Thus being aggrieved by this, the appellants have approached the Supreme Court of India through Special Leave Petition. (Para 2E)

PW5 – Anil Kale (real brother of the deceased) was present at the spot of the incidence. (Para 5)

Sunil Raosaheb Kale- Cousin brother of the deceased (PW-8), Devdas Magar and Shridhar Salve were also present at the spot and also sustained injuries while rescuing the deceased. During his (PW 8) cross-examination, he deposed that he ate ‘Bhel’ with the deceased before the incident. (Para 6)

Arguments of the appellants:

It was pointed out that the fact of eating ‘Bhel’ by the deceased had not come up in the post mortem examination of the deceased which creates a doubt that the narration of the whole incident by the witness is a result of an afterthought. (Para 6 & 7)

Ratio:

A medical witness who performs a post-mortem examination is a witness of fact though he also gives an opinion on certain aspects of the case. The value of a medical witness is not merely a check upon the testimony of eyewitnesses; it is also independent testimony because it may establish certain facts quite apart from the other oral evidence. From the evidence on record, inferences are drawn as to the truth or otherwise of the prosecution case in criminal matters and truth or otherwise of a claim in civil matters. In this process, the medical evidence plays a very crucial role. If there is inconsistency or discrepancy between the medical evidence and the direct evidence or between medical evidence of two doctors, one of whom examined the injured person and the other conducted post mortem on the injured person after his death or as to the injuries, then in criminal cases, the accused is given the benefit of doubt, and let off. Where the direct testimony is found untrustworthy, conviction on the basis of medical evidence supported by other circumstantial evidence can be done, if that is trustworthy. On a careful perusal of the post mortem conducted by PW-10, it is very much clear that the death is caused by means of a sharp edged weapon and that too possibly by means of the sword. The evidence given by PW-10 fully corroborates with the version given by PW-5 and PW-8 that the appellants herein caused the death of the deceased using swords and iron pipes. It has been specifically mentioned in the report that injuries could be possible by various blows of the weapons. Further, the death was caused due to cardio respiratory arrest due to haemorrhage as well as a neurogenic shock due to the very extensive lacerated wound over face including brain along with multiple bone fractures on the face. The evidence of a medical person is merely an opinion which lends corroboration to the direct evidence in the case. It has been observed in various cases of this Court that where the eye witnesses’ account is found credible and trustworthy, medical opinion pointing to alternative possibilities is not accepted as conclusive. (Para 7)

The first argument appears to be of some significance at the first brush, but when examined in depth in light of the entire evidence, it clearly lacks merit. The presence or absence of food at the time of post-mortem in relation to the time of death is based on various factors and circumstances such as the type and nature of the food consumed, the time of taking the meal, the age of the person concerned and power and capacity of the person to digest the food. In the present case, though PW-8 has stated that he had ‘Bhel’ with the deceased just before the incident, there is no evidence about the exact time when the meals were taken or the quantity of ‘Bhel’ consumed by the deceased. Judging the time of death from the contents of the stomach, may not always be the determinative test. It will require due corroboration from other evidence. (Para 8 & 9)

In this view of the matter, the evidence of PWs 5, 8 and 12 are found to be trustworthy and fully corroborated with each other on the point of the alleged incident with regard to the involvement of the appellants herein. (Para 14)

Thus the evidence of the witnesses cannot be brushed aside merely because of some minor contradictions, if any, particularly for the reason that the evidence and testimonies of the witnesses are trustworthy. (Para 14)

Held:

The appeal is dismissed and the view taken by the High Court is upheld. (Para 16)

 

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