True Court CopyTM English


Criminal Appeal No. 630 of 2009

Decided On: 19.09.2017

Appellants: Ganpat Singh Vs. Respondent: The State of Madhya Pradesh

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
N.V. Ramana and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud


Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J.

1. This appeal arises from a judgment of a Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in its bench at Indore, rendered on 22 March 2007. The High Court affirmed the conviction of the Appellant Under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code ("IPC").

2. Shantabai was a widow. Her husband Mangilal had died about a decade earlier. She resided together with her son Rakesh, who was a minor. The prosecution alleges that the Appellant would visit her frequently.

3. The case of the prosecution is that on 8 July 1996, the police station at Doraha received information of a dead body being found in a dry well. A 'missing report' had been lodged by Rakesh. Rakesh had alleged that the Appellant used to frequently visit the house where Shantabai resided and had started to live there. Rakesh informed the police that a few days earlier, the Appellant had come to the house and had left the next morning with his mother for Sihore soon thereafter. On the next day, when the Appellant returned alone, Rakesh enquired of the whereabouts of his mother. The Appellant allegedly informed him that she had stayed back at the home of Rakesh's maternal aunt. A First Information Report was registered. A post-mortem was conducted on the body which had been recovered from the dry well, which was identified to be that of Shantabai. The body was decomposed and there was a piece of cloth loosely tied around the neck. The period of death was estimated to be between two to four weeks prior to the recovery of the dead body. The Appellant is stated to have absconded immediately after the incident. He was arrested on 12 December 1997. The Appellant was tried on the charge of murder.

4. The prosecution examined fifteen eye-witnesses. Among them were Rakesh-PW4 and Rekha-PW5, the married daughter of the deceased. PW1-Kamlabai and PW2-Dhankunwarbai deposed that Shantabai had visited their homes with a request to lend certain silver ornaments to her since she intended to arrange the engagement of her son, PW4- Rakesh. The evidence of these two witnesses was sought to be buttressed by a recovery of silver ornaments from the house of the Appellant. PW3- Phool Singh was a witness for the prosecution in support of the seizure memo. PW4- Rakesh deposed that the Appellant had taken his mother along with him under the pretext of getting Rakesh engaged. PW4 stated that on the next day, when the Appellant returned alone, he enquired about the whereabouts of his mother when the Appellant informed him that she had stayed back with her sister. PW4 stated that he made inquiries with his maternal aunt who informed him that his mother had not visited her.

5. The Additional Sessions Judge by a judgment dated 23 June 1998 found the Appellant guilty of an offence Under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. The case rested entirely on circumstantial evidence. The circumstances which weighed with the trial court were that: (i) the deceased was last seen accompanying the Appellant; (ii) the deceased had taken with her the jewellery of PW1 and PW2 which was recovered from the Appellant; and (iii) the Appellant had no explanation of how the articles were found in his possession.

6. In appeal, the High Court by its judgment dated 22 March 2007, disbelieved the case of the