By:- Naina Sharma
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
|NAME OF THE CASE||DeviLal vs. State of Madhya Pradesh|
|CITATION||Criminal Appeal No. 989 of 2007|
|APPELANT||DeviLal and others|
|RESPONDENT||State of Madhya Pradesh|
|DATE OF CASE||25 February, 2021|
|BENCH/ JUDGE||Uday Umesh Lalit, K.M. Joseph|
|STATUES/CONSTITUTION INVOLVED||Indian Penal Code, Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 and Juvenile Justice Act,2000|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS / ARTICLES||Indian Penal Code- Section 302 read with Section 34 Juvenile Justice Act, 2000- Section 20.|
In the present case, the appellants DeviLal and his sons Gokul and Amrat Ram filed an appeal against the judgment passed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Supreme Court in which the former tried the appellant and his sons in special offense. In this case an FIR was made by Ganeshram on 14 July 1998 who was the resident of the same village as Devilal. DeviLal was accused of murdering that caused from a caste quarrel. The victim Ganeshram died due to excessive bleeding later on. The case was filed in trial court and after all arguments, Devilal, Gokul and Amrat Ram were found guilty but not under SC\ST Act. Later on, the High court of Madhya Pradesh affirmed the conviction and gave its judgment. An appeal was filed in Supreme Court
Untouchability is something that has always been practiced in India, from ancient times and even now. The constitution has obviously banned it and there are changes but it is still practiced in both rural and urban regions. The caste system here has its roots deep down. Not before 50 years, not before 40 and not even now it’s fully eradicated, but it’s improving every day. In this case a fight emerged out of caste quarrel is the reason the offense took place that was murder.
Deliberately killing a person without any justification is murder. The intention should be mala fide in nature. According to section 300 of Indian penal code if the death is caused with the intention of causing death than it’s not culpable homicide but murder and according to section 302 of Indian penal code anyone who had committed murder shall be punished with death or lifetime imprisonment and shall be liable to fine. Various judgments are made in India in cases involving murders.
The victim Ganeshram was murdered by Devilal along with his two sons Gokul and Amrat Ram. Even after being sent to the hospital, he couldn’t survive. An FIR was registered by victim Ganeshram on 19 July 1998 stating that when he was returning to his home Devilal, along with his sons armed with kulhari, Gokul armed with talwar and Amrat Ram with lathi attacked him and Devilal also abused him calling chamar, and they are advanced too much. They hit him that lead to a fracture in his right hand, swelling below eye and cut his right calve when he shouted for help his wife Sajan bai , sister-in- law Saman bai and mother Gattu bai ran to protect him , while protecting him Saman bai got a blow on her elbow. Then the family along with Satyanarain put him in a tractor and reached the police station where he filed the FIR and was later taken to the district hospital.
Ganeshram died later on after midnight. The trial court after checking all the evidence, involving the FIR, statement of eyewitnesses convicted the accused of life imprisonment and fine on 1 May 1999, however the case was proved against Gattubai, wife of Devilal and none of the accused was found punishable under SC\ST Act. The decision was affirmed by both the high court and Supreme Court as well.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In the present case, the appellants DeviLal and his sons Gokul and Amrat Ram filed an appeal against the judgment passed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Supreme Court in which the former tried the appellant and his sons in special offence. In this case an FIR was made by Ganeshram.
Ganeshram was beaten by Devilal, Gokul and Amrat Ram, by kulhari, talwar and lathi and he was taken to police station where he registered the FIR and then was taken to district hospital. The victim’s condition was not good, he was unable to speak and his blood pressure could not be recorded. The victim Ganeshram died later on, after midnight and then his postmortem was conducted and the observation of his internal and external injuries was made. Cause of death was stated to be excessive bleeding.
After initial investigation, accused DeviLal, Gokul and Amrat Ram were arrested and the appellants along with Gattubai wife of accused Devilal were tried in special offence case. After considering all the evidences on records, the medical records and eye witness’s statement the trial court found that the FIR recorded at the instance could be relied upon as the dying declaration the offence under section 302 read with 34 IPC was proved by prosecution as against accused DeviLal, Gokul and Amrat Ram however the case wasn’t proved against fourth accused Gattubai wife of DeviLal and none of the accused was found guilty under offences punishable under SC\ST Act and were sentenced under life imprisonment with fine of 5,000 each.
Then an appeal was filed in High Court, it was submitted before the high court that considering the medical evidence on record that the deceased couldn’t have made any statement before the police, on the basis of which FIR was recorded. However the submissions weren’t accepted by court and affirmed the conviction and sentence recorded against accused DeviLal, Gokul and Amrat Ram by its judgment dated 14 September, 2006 which decision was challenged in Supreme Court.
The court by order dated 8 April, 2009 also released accused DeviLal and Gokul on bail as they had gone on imprisonment for nine years and four months. A petition was filed submitting inter alia that accused AmratLal was a juvenile at the time when offence was committed and raised the plea of juvenility. An inquiry was done and a report was submitted to the honorable court according to which Amrat Ram was 16 years,11 months and 26 days old when the offence was committed. So, he wasn’t a minor according to the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, the age of juvenility for male juveniles was 16 years but according to the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000 the age of juvenility was raised to 18 years. The matter was remitted to Jurisdictional Juvenile Justice Board for determining appropriate quantum of fine that should be levied on Amrat Ram.
ISSUES RAISED BY COURT
- Whether the judgment of the High court of Madhya Pradesh by which appellants were held guilty was right or not?
- The appellant Amrit Lal was major according to JJ Act, 1986 but was minor according to JJ Act, 2000 so, whether he was a major or minor?
ARGUMENT FROM THE APPELLANT SIDE
The appellants DeviLal, Gokul and Amrat Ram challenged the order of Madhya Pradesh high court and raised the plea of juvenility for Amrat Ram for the first time.
- The learned Senior Advocate for the appellants Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain has argued that it would be impossible to believe that Ganeshram could have made any reporting to the police as his condition was not so good and FIR was recorded after more than three hours since the offence was committed.
- He further argued that the witnesses were tutored as accepted by sajan bai, prime witness
- The learned Senior Advocate for the appellants Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain has argued that the prosecution witness 7 Laxminarayan has accepted when cross examined that the front of Devilal’s house where offense was committed wasn’t visible for the alleged eye witnesses.
ARGUMENTS FROM RESPONDENT SIDE
- Mr. Harmeet Singh Ruprah, learned Advocate for the State said that The testimony of Prosecution Witness 9, Dr. Kothari, proves that Ganeshram was alive when the initial examination was undertaken by him. According to the witness, When the doctor examined Ganeshram his blood pressure could not be detected but, that is not necessary that he could not make a statement two hours earlier to police. It is clearly mentioned in the report that the person can’t speak is just an opinion of an expert and there is no report on the symptoms that he wasn’t able to speak just after the incident or after the FIR was recorded.
- Mr. Harmeet Singh Ruprah, learned Advocate for the State said that testimonies of Prosecution witnesses 1 and 2 that are Sajan Bai and Saman bai are quite coherent, and their presence was taken right from the initial stage of reporting of the crime that difference was just 100 feet from their house to DeviLal’s and no cross-examination was done on this.
- Mr. Harmeet Singh Ruprah, learned Advocate for the State said that the weapons are recovered as well.
- Mr. Harmeet Singh Ruprah, learned Advocate for the State said that The FIR itself referred to the presence of PW1-Sajan Bai and PW2-Saman Bai. The statement of both these witnesses clearly proves that the appellants had started an assault on Ganeshram which led to his death. The assertion on part of PW1- Sajan Bai that her earlier statement recorded during investigation was read over to her does not mean that she was tutored to follow the line of prosecution. It is relevant to note that no such questions were put to PW2-Saman Bai. Thus, even if the testimony of PW1-Sajan Bai is eschewed from consideration, the deposition of PW2-Saman Bai, along with the dying declaration of Ganeshram, completely clinches the matter against the appellants.
- INDIAN PENAL CODE
- SECTION 34 OF IPC – if an offense is done by several persons with the same intention then each one of them is as liable as if a single person must have been liable if he had done the act that is act done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.
- SECTION 302 OF IPC – Punishment for murder— whoever commits a murder shall be responsible for lifetime punishment or fine.
- SECTION 342 OF IPC- Punishment for wrongful confinement.—Whoever wrongfully confines any person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both
- Juvenile Justice Act, 1986- this acts lays rules and laws regarding care, protection, development and rehabilitation of juveniles and matters related to disposition of delinquent juveniles.
- Section 20, Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000-, if there is any case involving juvenile in any court on the date this act came into being all proceedings in shall be continued in that court as if this Act had not been passed and if the court find the accused to be juvenile or any juvenile committing offense it shall record the evidences and findings but instead of passing any sentence in respect of the juvenile, it must forward the juvenile to the Board which shall pass orders in respect of that juvenile in accordance with the provisions of this Act as if it had been satisfied on inquiry under this Act that a juvenile has committed the offense.
In this case, the court affirms the views taken by lower courts and found the appellants guilty of the offense, they were charged of murder. Their appeal therefore was dismissed. The court also held that even if the testimony of first prime witness Sajan Bai (wife of dead) is not taken into consideration there still exists the dying declaration of Ganeshram and second prime witness, his sister in law Saman Bai which is enough to clinch the matter against appellants not only that , Also the recovery of weapons used to commit crime that is lathi, axe and sword also supported the statement of prosecution. Ok The sentence of two accused Devilal and Gokul remained same, according to section 34, 302 and 342 of Indian penal code and were given lifetime imprisonment along with fine. However, in case of appellant Amrat Ram, his lifetime imprisonment was set aside and the matter was given to Jurisdictional Juvenile Justice Board for determining appropriate quantum of fine that should be levied upon him as the age of juvenile was raised from 16 to 18 in JJ Act of 2000.
The judgment was given after referring to many previous judgments like Hari Ram vs. State of Rajasthan in which issue juvenility was first raised and Jitendra Singh vs. State of UP in which the case was given to Juvenile Justice Board
Finally On 25 February 2021 the bench stated the appeal is disposed of afore stated terms, As Devilal and Gokul were released on bail by this court order dated 8 April 2009 they were directed to surrender before the concerned police station within 2 weeks. Failing to do so, their bail bond will be forfeited and they would immediately be arrested by police to impose the sentence. The appeal was dismissed in afore stated terms.
In this case, Devilal vs. state of Madhya Pradesh, the offense resulted out of the caste quarrel the accused Devilal along with his two sons hit Ganeshram badly who later on died. The case first went in trial court and then in the High court who gave the judgment of lifetime imprisonment, this order was challenged in the Supreme Court who kept the judgment same for Devilal and elder son Gokul and the case of Amrat Ram was given to Juvenile board. I fully agree with the judgment. The third accused was transferred to the juvenile jurisdiction board as he was a juvenile at the time of offense according to the JJ Act, 2000 in which age of juvenile was raised from 16 to 18. The judgment of life imprisonment and fine for each was according to the sections and provisions of Indian Penal Code. In my understanding judgment is pertinent.
 Main.sci.gov.in, https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2006/32731/32731_2006_34_1501_26599_Judgement_25-Feb-2021.pdf, last visited on 1 February, 2022
 Indian kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1560742/#:~:text=Section%20302%20in%20The%20Indian%20Penal%20Code&text=302.,also%20be%20liable%20to%20fine., last visited 2 February,2022
 Indian kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1243353/#:~:text=342.,thousand%20rupees%2C%20or%20with%20both., last visited 2 February,2022
 Law sisto.com, https://lawsisto.com/Read-Central-Act/1232/JUVENILE-JUSTICE-ACT-1986, last visited on 1 February,2022