Extra Judicial Confession – supported by other materials – chain completes attackting conviction =In the extra-judicial confession, Darshan Singh has deposed that he has given a Kursi (Chair) blow on the flank of Surjit Kaur. The postmortem report (Ex. PJ) shows fracture of Hyoid bone, an irregular wound over the left breast and fracture of the 6th and 7th rib. Therefore, the extra-judicial confession made by Darshan Singh is also supported by medical evidence. Further, Darshan Singh had also disclosed that he had kept concealed a 15 folding iron chair in house of Avtar Singh, the said chair was recovered. The prosecution has proved the chain of circumstances to hold the appellants guilty of the offences charged.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1688 OF 2009
DARSHAN SINGH …..APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
STATE OF PUNJAB …..RESPONDENT(S)
W I T H
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1690 OF 2009
J U D G M E N T
HEMANT GUPTA, J.

  1. The judgment and order dated 19th February, 2009 passed by the
    Division Bench of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana in an appeal
    filed by the three appellants is subject matter of challenge in the
    present appeals. It is admitted at Bar that the appellant Swaran
    Kaur died during pendency of the present appeals after she was
    released on bail by this Court on 4th October 2010.
  2. An FIR was lodged by Jarnail Singh (PW-7) on 28th March, 2005 at
    12:35 pm. He was the member of Nagar Palika, Morinda and had
    taken 7 Bigha of land on lease from Pritpal Singh, Mohan Singh
    sons of Khushal Singh on which he had sown wheat crop. He had
    1
    also taken 7 Bigha of land on lease from Faqir Chand where again
    he had sown wheat crop. He stated that the wheat in the land of
    Faqir Chand is of small size but the wheat in the land of Pritpal
    Singh was 2½ feet in height. He further stated that at about 10:30
    am in the morning on that day, he along with Mohinder Singh
    Lamberdar (Village Headman) and Hari Pal had gone to his field but
    noticed a foul smell emanating from the land of Pritpal Singh near
    dump of wheat husk. He noticed a jute bag with maggots around it
    and suspected it to be a dead body of a man or a woman. The land
    was near the bye-pass that was frequented by people, however, it
    was lying closed because of rains. He left Hari Pal and Mohinder
    Singh Lamberdar at the spot and went to report the matter to the
    Police. Such statement was recorded by Balwant Singh, SHO who
    later appeared as PW-15. The investigations were initiated, dog
    squad and finger print experts were called at the spot. Case was
    registered against unknown persons. Copy of FIR was sent to the
    concerned Magistrate.
  3. On examination of the body in the inquest proceedings (Ex.PL), one
    telephone diary, a plastic bag, a jute bag and ladies wearing cloth
    were found. The body was found to be decomposed and could not
    be identified. A Dupatta was found around the neck. The
    postmortem was conducted on 30th March, 2005. The dead body
    was identified by Ujjagar Singh and Kuldeep Singh (PW-13).
  4. Dr. Harbhajan Singh (PW-6) along with Dr. Navtejpal Singh and Dr.
    2
    Gulshan conducted the postmortem and gave their report (Ex.PG).
    The Dupatta was found wrapped around the neck with two turns.
    No ligature mark was found present but skin over the Hyoid bone
    taken for Histopathological examination. The underlying Hyoid
    bone was found fractured. The probable time of death was 10 days
    between death and postmortem examination. The chemical
    examination report (Ex.PH) stated that Aluminum Phosphide
    Insecticide was detected in the samples containing parts of small
    and large intestine of the deceased. Phosphine, a constituent of
    Aluminum Phosphide, was detected in decomposed pieces of liver,
    spleen and kidney. Dr. Harbhajan Singh on the request of the
    police opined that the cause of death is poisoning due to Aluminum
    Phosphide Insecticide, haemorrhage and haemo-thorax due to
    injury in the left chest as described in the postmortem report.
  5. After completion of the investigations including recording of the
    statement of the witnesses under Section 161 of the Code of
    Criminal Procedure, 19731
    , accused Avtar Singh, Jagmohan Singh,
    Swaran Kaur and Darshan Singh were made to stand trial. The
    deceased, Surjit Kaur, was mother of accused Avtar Singh. Swaran
    Kaur is wife and Jagmohan Singh is son of Avtar Singh. The accused
    Darshan Singh was a servant at Avtar Singh’s house.
  6. The prosecution story is that Surjit Kaur (deceased) had inherited 5
    Bigha of land of Gurmit Singh (other son of deceased) who died
    issueless and accused Avtar Singh, Jagmohan Singh and Swaran
    1 for short, ‘Code’
    3
    Kaur were not happy with this inheritance. Out of this land, she
    sold 1 bigha and gave the remaining 4 bighas on theka (lease) to
    accused Avtar Singh at the rate of Rs.4,000/- per bigha. However,
    Avtar Singh had not been paying the lease amount to her.
    Panchayats had also been convened over this dispute, where the
    four accused threatened the deceased.
  7. The learned Sessions Judge vide judgment and order dated 23rd
    May, 2007/26th May, 2007 acquitted Avatar Singh but convicted
    Jagmohan Singh, Swaran Kaur and Darshan Singh.
  8. The prosecution relied upon PW-7 Jarnail Singh, on whose
    statement the prosecution process was initiated. He deposed that
    the investigating officer had recovered one small diary from the
    inner pocket of undershirt of the deceased which had some
    telephone numbers and was taken in possession vide memo Ex.PM.
    PW-8 Jagtar Singh, a milk man, deposed that he kept some acid
    with him for checking the fat of milk. He further stated that
    accused Swaran Kaur had come to him to get some acid to clean
    the rust on a cooking vessel and a toilet seat. She took ½ a bottle
    of acid from him. PW-10, Sohan Singh Patwari, had produced the
    record of the land of Gurmit Singh inherited by the deceased. He
    produced mutation Ex-PR and Jamabandi Ex.PS. PW-11 is Harpal
    Singh, the Sarpanch of Village Sahauran. He deposed that the
    deceased came to him on 15th March, 2005 with a grievance that
    Avtar Singh had not been paying lease money to her and he should
    4
    facilitate the payment. He requested Avtar Singh and Swaran Kaur
    to give the lease money to Surjit Kaur and they promised to give
    the lease money of Rs.2000/- by 20th March, 2005. He later got to
    know that Surjit Kaur had died.
  9. The material witness is Kuldeep Singh (PW-13), son-in-law of the
    deceased, married to Gurnam Kaur, daughter of Amar Singh about
    36 years back. He stated that his mother-in-law Surjit Kaur has
    been residing in a room (Chaubara). Out of 5 bighas of land, she
    had sold 1 Bigha of land for Rs.1,02,000/-. Out of sale
    consideration, Rs.95,000/- was deposited by her in the Post Office.
    The remaining 4 Bigha of land was given on lease to Avtar Singh at
    the rate of Rs.4,000/- per Bigha. Since, Avtar Singh was not paying
    lease money, there were differences between mother and son. He
    deposed that in the month of March, 2005, Swaran Kaur, daughterin-law of the deceased informed him that Surjit Kaur had left after
    taking Rs.1,000/- from them towards lease money. It was on 29th
    March, 2005, he received a telephone call and also read in the
    newspaper that a dead body was found. He identified the dead
    body of his mother-in-law which was kept in the mortuary. He
    alleged that she has been murdered by Avtar Singh, his wife
    Swaran Kaur, his son Jagmohan Singh and one Darshan Singh.
  10. Sukhdev Singh (PW-14) has been examined as a person of last
    seen. He deposed that on 22nd March, 2005 at about 5:30 am, one
    man and one woman came on TVS Motor Cycle and they were
    5
    carrying a gunny bag. He did not identify the accused in Court. He
    read in the newspaper on 28th March, 2005 that a dead body was
    lying on by-pass road.
  11. The investigating officer Balwant Singh was examined as PW-15.
    He deposed that on 29th March, 2005, Kuldeep Singh (PW-13) and
    Ujjagar Singh, son-in-laws of the deceased identified the dead body
    from clothes as the face was disfigured by pouring acid. Kuldeep
    Singh and Ujjagar Singh had named the accused as suspects.
    Thereafter, the Investigating Officer conducted the raids for
    arresting the accused. He stated that the accused could not be
    traced in village Sahauran and other places. Thereafter, on 30th
    March, 2005, Bhupinder Singh (PW-16) brought the accused
    Darshan Singh, Jagmohan Singh and Swaran Kaur and got their
    statements recorded. He arrested the accused. Further, accused
    Swaran Kaur made a disclosure in police custody that she had kept
    concealed half empty bottle of acid in her house behind a photo on
    a shelf and could get the same recovered. The said acid bottle was
    recovered. On 31st March, 2005, he arrested accused Avtar Singh in
    a raid conducted in Village Sahauran. Further, on 1st April, 2005,
    accused Jagmohan Singh gave a disclosure statement that he has
    kept concealed his TVS Motor Cycle in a room and he could get it
    recovered. Thereafter, accused Darshan Singh disclosed that he
    had kept a folding iron chair concealed in the house of Avtar Singh
    and he could get it recovered. Both the TVS Motor Cycle and folding
    iron chair were recovered from the disclosed places and were taken
    6
    into possession.
  12. The prosecution also examined Bhupinder Singh (PW-16) as the
    witness of extra-judicial confession. He stated that he was present
    in his house on 30th March, 2005. At about 10 am, accused Swaran
    Kaur, Jagmohan Singh and Darshan Singh present in the court
    came to his house. Swaran Kaur told him that they have committed
    a big blunder and that she had put a Dupatta on the neck of her
    mother-in-law Surjit Kaur and was strangulated. Darshan Singh
    gave a Kursi (chair) blow on the flank of Surjit Kaur when Jagmohan
    Singh caught hold of Surjit Kaur by her arms and, as a result
    thereof, Surjit Kaur died. Swaran Kaur also told him that she
    poured acid on deceased face. The dead body was kept in a gunny
    bag and put in a cupboard. Swaran Kaur further stated that the
    dead body was taken on a motor cycle for being thrown in the
    canal along with Jagmohan Singh. However, when they reached the
    bridge there was “Kacha Rasta” (unmetalled path) and because of
    the water, the motor cycle could not pass through and they threw
    the gunny bag in the fields of wheat. Swaran Kaur also said that
    police were looking for them and asked him to produce them
    before the police as he was acquainted with the police. Accused
    Jagmohan Singh also confessed that a big mistake had been
    committed by them and they had killed Surjit Kaur. Darshan Singh
    also confessed that he along with Swaran Kaur and Jagmohan
    Singh have committed the murder of Surjit Kaur and recounted the
    same story. They also disclosed the motive of the murder being
    7
    that Surjit Kaur was asking for lease money of her land. Further,
    Bhupinder Singh (PW-16) stated that he produced the accused
    before the police on 30th March, 2005. He also stated that prior to
    the visit of the accused persons to his house on 30th March, 2005,
    he had no idea about the death of deceased Surjit Kaur. However,
    he stated that he does not remember whether he has mentioned
    the confessions in his statement recorded under Section 161 of the
    Code before the police.
  13. The learned trial court relied upon the statement of Bhupinder
    Singh (PW-16) and that of Kuldeep Singh (PW-13) to convict the
    accused Jagmohan Singh, Swaran Kaur and Darshan Singh.
    Learned trial court found that the testimony of Sukhdev Singh (PW14) cannot be used to prove the culpability as he could not
    establish the identity of those persons in the court. The learned
    trial court found that there is no challenge to the testimony of
    Kuldeep Singh (PW-13) that deceased Swaran Kaur had been living
    alone in a room which shows that she was not living with her son
    Avtar Singh and his family in the old age indicating that relations of
    the deceased with her son and daughter-in-law were not cordial.
    Statement of Harpal Singh (PW-11) Sarpanch was referred to come
    to the conclusion that Surjit Kaur approached him complaining nonpayment of lease money by her son Avtar Singh. He came to know
    about death of Surjit Kaur from the newspaper reports.
  14. The High Court dismissed the appeals filed by the appellants
    8
    relying upon the statements of Kuldeep Singh (PW-13) and
    Bhupinder Singh (PW-16) and the motive proved by Harpal Singh
    (PW-11).
  15. Before this Court, the learned counsel for the appellants submitted
    that the prosecution has failed to complete the chain of events so
    as to lead only one conclusion that the appellants and the
    appellants alone have committed the crime. The evidence of last
    seen has not been believed by the trial court. In the absence of
    evidence of last seen, the other evidence is of extra judicial
    confession. It is argued that extra judicial confession is a weak
    evidence and can be made basis of conviction if the person before
    whom confession is made appear to be unbiased and not even
    remotely inimical to the accused. Reference was made to the
    judgment reported as Ajay Singh v. State of Maharashtra
    2
    and
    S. Arul Raja v. State of Tamil Nadu
    3
    .
  16. It is also argued that no motive can be attributed to the accused as
    the deceased was last seen by Kuldeep Singh (PW-13) on 20th
    March, 2005 and as per medical evidence, the probable time of
    death is 20th March 2005 or so. It is thus argued that the witness
    was the only person who had met the deceased immediately prior
    to her death and it is he who has to explain the death of the
    deceased. The deceased was staying in Village Behrampur, Village
    of Kuldeep Singh (PW-13). Therefore, in the absence of any
    2 (2007) 12 SCC 341
    3 (2010) 8 SCC 233
    9
    evidence that deceased was staying in Village Sahauran, the
    findings recorded by the courts below are not sustainable. It is also
    argued that as per postmortem report (Ex. PJ), cause of death is
    poisoning due to Aluminium Phosphide insecticide, haemorrhage
    and haemo-thorax, but there is no evidence as to how the poison
    was administered nor there was any recovery of poison. It is
    contended that if the death was due to strangulation, poison in the
    body negates the prosecution story. It is also argued that a
    fracture of Hyoid bone does not necessarily mean strangulation. He
    placed reliance upon Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of
    Maharashtra
    4
    and Devi Lal v. State of Rajasthan
    5 as to how
    the circumstantial evidence can be made basis for conviction and
    that none of the circumstances are satisfied by the prosecution.
  17. On the other hand, Ms. Gogia, learned counsel for the State argued
    that though the evidence of last seen has not been accepted but
    the fact remains that the statement of Sukhdev Singh (PW-14) is
    relevant to the extent that he had seen one man and a woman on
    TVS Motorcycle though he could not identify the person who were
    riding on such motorcycle. Still further, Harpal Singh (PW-11), the
    Sarpanch had deposed in respect of motive of the offence as the
    deceased had inherited the property of Gurmit Singh, her other son
    who died issueless. It is the share of the property of Gurmit Singh
    which became the point of conflict inasmuch as the said land was
    given on lease by the deceased to her other son Avtar Singh.
    4 (1984) 4 SCC 116
    5 2019 SCC OnLine 39
    10
    Surjit Kaur had even approached Sarpanch for non-payment of
    lease money by the accused. Learned counsel for the State also
    refers to the statement of Kuldeep Singh (PW-13), son-in-law of the
    deceased to the effect that she was living separately and not with
    her son and daughter-in-law. He deposed about the inheritance of
    land of Gurmit Singh and lease of land to Avtar Singh at the rate of
    Rs.4,000/- per Bigha. In cross-examination, he stated that Gurmit
    Singh died in the year 2003. He also stated that deceased was first
    married to Bant Singh and her second marriage was with Amar
    Singh. She had a girl child from her first marriage. Ujjagar Singh is
    the husband of that girl. The statement of Ujjagar Singh was also
    recorded in the Police Station identifying dead body of the
    deceased. Further, Kuldeep Singh states that on 29th March, 2005,
    he received a telephone call and read in the newspaper that a dead
    body has been found giving description of the body and the
    clothes. He identified the dead body as that of his mother-in-law.
    In cross-examination, he deposed that on 20th March, 2005, Surjit
    Kaur had not come to his house (in Village Behrampur Zimidara)
    but he met her in Panchayat, Village Sahauran. He had not gone to
    visit in-laws house on 20th March, 2005. He inquired from several
    relatives about the availability of Surjit Kaur. He deposed that none
    of the accused were present at the time of cremation in the Village
    Sahauran and none of Avtar Singh’s children were present at the
    time of cremation. Further, a prayer meeting was held after seven
    days of cremation on a Sunday, here one son of Avtar Singh along
    11
    with his younger daughter was present. He further stated that the
    deceased had visited his house 25 days prior to the occurrence for
    2 days and that he never telephoned her between the time she left
    his place till 20th March, 2005, when he met her in the Panchayat at
    Village Sahauran. He denied the suggestions that deceased never
    went back to Village Sahauran.
  18. Learned counsel for the State further submitted that Balwant Singh
    (PW-15), Investigating Officer deposed that he opened gunny bag
    wherein a dead body of woman was recovered. He got photograph
    of the dead body. On further search of the dead body on 29th
    March, 2005, he recovered a small telephone diary which was lying
    in the inner side pocket of the undershirt of the dead body and was
    having telephone numbers of some persons. Such diary was taken
    in possession vide recovery memo Ex- PM. He got published the
    photograph and news of the recovery of unidentified dead body of
    a woman. He had also tried to contact by calling the numbers
    noted in the diary. It was on 29th March, 2005, Kuldeep Singh and
    Ujjagar Singh, son-in-laws of the deceased came to the Mortuary
    and identified the dead body as that of Surjit Kaur from the clothes
    as the face of dead body was dis-figured by pouring acid. The
    photographs produced in evidence proves the disfigurement of the
    face and that the body could be identified only by the clothes worn
    by the deceased. He deposed that he conducted raids for
    arresting the accused named by Kuldeep Singh and Ujjagar Singh
    but could not found the accused in Village Sahauran. It was on 30th
    12
    March, 2005, Bhupinder Singh (PW-16) produced the accused
    Darshan Singh, Swaran Kaur and Jagmohan Singh before whom
    they have made confessional statements. It was stated that Avtar
    Singh has not suffered any extra judicial confession before
    Bhupinder Singh (PW-16). On the basis of disclosure statement of
    Swaran Kaur (Ex- PZ), empty half bottle of acid was recovered from
    her house.
  19. Learned counsel for the State relies upon judgment of this Court
    reported as Ram Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh
    6
    to contend
    that the evidence of extra judicial confession need not in all cases
    be corroborated. It was held as under:
    “14. It is well settled that conviction can be based on a
    voluntarily confession but the rule of prudence requires
    that wherever possible it should be corroborated by
    independent evidence. Extra-judicial confession of
    accused need not in all cases be corroborated.
    In Madan Gopal Kakkad v. Naval Dubey, (1992) 3 SCC
    204, this court after referring to Piara Singh v. State of
    Punjab, (1977) 4 SCC 452 held that the law does not
    require that the evidence of an extra-judicial confession
    should in all cases be corroborated. The rule of
    prudence does not require that each and every
    circumstance mentioned in the confession must be
    separately and independently corroborated.”
  20. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and find no merit in
    the present appeals.
  21. Gurmit Singh, other son of deceased, passed away in 2003. The
    deceased inherited his share of land. Out of the 5 Bighas of land so
    inherited, she sold 1 Bigha for Rs.1,02,000/- whereas she leased
    6 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1730
    13
    the remaining 4 Bighas to her other son, Avtar Singh. The lease
    money was not being paid to her and this fact has been stated by
    Sarpanch (Harpal Singh) (PW-11) and also by Kuldeep Singh (PW13), the son-in-law of the deceased. The lease money was the only
    source of survival of the old woman who was living in a separate
    room and not with her son, Avtar Singh. Harpal Singh (PW-11) has
    also deposed that only a sum of Rs.1,000/- had been paid with a
    promise to pay another sum of Rs.1,000/- later. It, thus, transpires
    that the deceased was living separately and was not being paid the
    lease money which was necessary for her survival.
  22. Further, the appellants were not found in the village soon after the
    occurrence as deposed by Kuldeep Singh (PW-13) and investigating
    officer Balwant Singh (PW-15). They did not attend the cremation
    or the prayer ceremony which was held after one week. The
    conduct of the appellants of not being available in the village is a
    strong circumstance of their conduct post death.
  23. There is no evidence led by the prosecution of administering
    Aluminum Phosphide but the postmortem report indicates fracture
    of Hyoid bone. As per postmortem report, the Dupatta around the
    neck of the deceased had two turns which is unusual for a woman,
    more so, for a woman of the age of deceased. The argument that
    no ligature mark was found on the deceased is of no relevance as
    the body had been infected with maggots. Therefore, the ligature
    mark on the soft tissue would not have survived.
    14
  24. Furthermore, the bottle of acid was recovered on the basis of
    disclosure made by accused Swaran Kaur. The photographs that
    were taken showed disfigurement of the face of the deceased.
    Such disfigurement was caused by pouring of acid with intention to
    avoid identification of the dead body.
  25. Although the witness (PW-14) of last seen could not identify the
    appellants, but the fact remains that he identified that a jute bag
    was thrown by a man and a woman who came on a TVS
    Motorcycle. Therefore, even though the witness could not identify
    the appellants in court as the persons who had thrown the jute bag,
    the fact that the jute bag was thrown by a man and a woman on a
    TVS motorcycle is relevant in chain of events in support of the
    prosecution case.
  26. Another argument raised by Mr. D.P. Singh which needs mention is
    that Darshan Singh is not a member of family and has no motive in
    the commission of crime. It is observed that Darshan Singh was
    convicted on the basis of extra-judicial confession made before
    Bhupinder Singh (PW-16). In the extra-judicial confession, Darshan
    Singh has deposed that he has given a Kursi (Chair) blow on the
    flank of Surjit Kaur. The postmortem report (Ex. PJ) shows fracture
    of Hyoid bone, an irregular wound over the left breast and fracture
    of the 6th and 7th rib. Therefore, the extra-judicial confession made
    by Darshan Singh is also supported by medical evidence. Further,
    Darshan Singh had also disclosed that he had kept concealed a
    15
    folding iron chair in house of Avtar Singh, the said chair was
    recovered. The prosecution has proved the chain of circumstances
    to hold the appellants guilty of the offences charged.
  27. In view of the evidence led and the finding recorded by the Courts
    below, we do not find any merit in the present appeals. Accordingly, both the appeals are dismissed. The sentence of the appellants were suspended by this Court. They shall now surrender to
    undergo the remaining sentence.
    ………………………………………J.
    (L. NAGESWARA RAO)
    ………………………………………J.
    (HEMANT GUPTA)
    NEW DELHI;
    DECEMBER 06, 2019.
    16