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DUTY OF AN INVESTIGATING OFFICER IS JUST NOT TO BOLSTER UP A PROSECUTION CASE, BUT ALSO TO BRING OUT

JAMUNA CHAUDHARI & OTHERS v. STATE OF BIHAR – AIR 1974 SC 1822 –   7th December, 1973

CORAM: Two judge bench, comprising of Justice M. Hameedullah & Justice Y.V. Chandrachud,

It was being held in this case that

The duty of an investigating officer is merely not just to ensure the bolstering up of a prosecution case with  appropriate evidence which as may will enable the Court when it comes to the process of recording a conviction but rather it should also be concerned while it comes to bringing out real and unvarnished truth.”

The facts of this prosecution case are that on 15th July, 1965, at around morning 8 AM, three people namely Dukhharan Koeri, his brother Sitaram Bhagat, his sister in law Srimathi Gulzaria were indulging in the process of weeding in their land plot which is located in their village which is known as Ram Sariswam. Along with the above mentioned three people, another three people, namely Srimathi Sujhani, who is Dukhhran Koeri & Sitaram Bhagat’s mother, Srimathi Minie and Srimathi Ram Rati, Dukhhran Koeri’s niece as well as Sitaram Bhagat’s daughter were also present. All of a sudden, a crowd of eighty to eighty five persons who hailed from different villages arrived with various weapons like lathis (i.e. a long and heavily iron bound bamboo stick which is especially used by the police to beat the wrong doers), bhalas, (i.e. daggers) and Pharsas, (i.e., a person who is a gun fighter or professional killer being hired by someone as a body guard or a mercenary to kill another. These group of people suddenly came and started to attack the poor unoffending Dukkhran Koeri, Sitaram Bhagat and their relatives in field no. 39. The names of the 25 attackers, amongst which the name of the appellant too was included, had been mentioned in the FIR (First Information Report) which had been lodged at the Mirgan Police Station which is located in the District of Saran, at 2.15 PM on the very same day. While testimonifying his evidence, Dukhhran Koeri stated that he had ran away to a distance of about two to three bigas to the south but he had returned to the scene of the occurrence of attacking events when the accused had left the spot and he spotted a number of people injured. There were people like Sitaram Bhagat, Tapi Bhagat, Nagina Koeri, Srimathi Fekani and Lal dhani who were lying in an unconscious state and the latter never regained his consciousness. A doctor of name, B.N. Dwivedy, who had examined the injuries of these poor people on the very same day between 4.45 PM – 7 PM. The injuries consisted of two scratches and four Ecchymoses, all simple injuries were sustained by Dukhhran Koeri. Two Ecchymoses, simple injuries with a blunt weapon were found on Fegn Bhagat. Two Ecchymoses, simple injuries with a blunt weapon were also found on Srimathi Hirachia. Srimathi Phekan had one Ecchymoses & a simple injury inflicted by a hard weapon but unfortunately Dukhharan Koeri’s brother Shri Sitaram Bhagat had a lacerated wound on his head, on his left elbow and another one on the nose, a swelling on his left fore arm which had suffered a compound fracture, a lacerated wound and two red Ecchymoses. Two of these injuries were declared to be of grievous nature while the rest of the injuries were held to be simple in nature.  Two of these injuries were held to be caused by a sharp weapon while the rest of the injuries were held to be done due to a blunt weapon. Another person, of name, Tapi Bhagat had a scratch, a Ecchymosis (singular form of Ecchymoses) and a swelling on the right arm, a compound fracture and a lacerated wound all caused due to the usage of a blunt weapon. One of these injuries was held to be of grievous nature and the rest, of simple nature. Ram Nagina had a lacerated wound along with three red Ecchymoses on the back and two Ecchymoses on the buttocks, a punctured wound on the lower jaw and another one on the right of the thumb. Amongst these, two of the injuries were held to be caused by a sharp weapon and the rest by a blunt weapon. Srimathi Sonjharia, who is the wife of Gobind Bhagat, suffered from a swelling on her right arm, with a simple fracture, a swelling of the left middle finger with a fracture as well as an Echhymosis. Two of these injuries were quite grievous in nature. Birjhan Bhagat had a punctured wound and suffered from a simple injury which was caused due to a penetrating weapon. Srimathi Lachminia, had a swelling of the right arm with a simple fracture & a lacerated wound. One wound was quite grievous in nature and the rest of the wounds were simple. Kumari Ram Rati had an incised wound caused by a sharp edged weapon. Srimathi Ram Nagina Bhagat suffered from three Ecchymoses which were simple injuries. Srimathi Sonjharia, wife of Sitaram Bhagat (It is to be noted that both Gobind Bhagat & Sitaram Bhagat’s wives share the same name) had a swelling & two Ecchymoses. Laldhari Bhagat, who became unconscious due to the severe impact of the attack, had died subsequently and had a punctured wound on the right thigh, a swelling on the left temporal region of the head and a scratch on the right elbow. The first injury was caused due to a piercing weapon by a Bhala and the second injury which was gravely serious, was with a lathi.

The trial court found out that the reason behind this attack is due to a dispute over a nearby Shikmi land which was 165 steps away from the plot field.  Dukhharan gave statement in front of the trial court that he & his father used to pay the rent amount for the Shikmi land to the Dubey brothers. He admitted that Raghubir Chaudhary & the accused Rajdhari and Jamuna had a sale deed which was executed in respect of that Shikmi land & they had asked them to give up the possession of the land to which the latter two did not agree causing a rift between them. He also stated that he filed an application before the Block Development Officer, Nathwa to grant him a receipt of payment of the rent for the Shikmi Land but his request was turned down. He also admitted that u/s. 145 of Cr. PC; proceedings had taken place between the parties regarding the land dispute. A strange fact was that there was no mention about the severe head injury of Laldhari in the FIR. Even Dukhharan Koeri who came back after fleeing did not mention this fact. Though there were thirteen eye witnesses only three out of them have stated that the appellant, Jamuna had given the fatal lathi blow which has resulted in the death of Laldhari.

The issue is as ten other people who could have given evidence against Jamuna, did not. So is he entitled to a reasonable benefit doubt or not.

It was here the Court observed that though the investigating officer went to the fields and made examinations of the crime scene yet he had missed inquiring such a crucial detail like inquiring due to whom and how the death of Laldhari. It was here the Court concluded that The duty of an investigating officer is merely not just to ensure the bolstering up of a prosecution case with appropriate evidence which as may will enable the Court when it comes to the process of recording a conviction but rather it should also be concerned while it comes to bringing out real and unvarnished truth. The trial Court acquitted 18 out of 31 accused people on the ground that no over tact had been proved against them. They however convicted Jamuna Chaudhary u/s 302 IPC & gave him life imprisonment. The remaining twelve were punished u/s. 149 & 326, with six years of rigorous imprisonment. Seven appellants were imposed imprisonment for one year u/s. 323 IPC while another four appellants were imprisoned u/s. 324 IPC for three years.

When appealed to High Court, they observed the view of arguments. Except Jamuna’s rest of the accusers punishments were halved. They pointed the injury was a stray one & that the injury was outside the scope of the common object. Jamuna is given benefit of doubt for offence u/s 304 IPC & acquitted but punishable for offences u/s 147 IPC.

Nardhana Ram

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