Orissa High Court: In a jail criminal appeal against the Judgment of Sessions Judge, whereby, the convict was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his wife and three daughters, the division Bench of B.P Routray and Chittaranjan Dash, JJ. dismissed the appeal and upheld the conviction judgment.
In the matter at hand, on the night of occurrence when the four deceased, namely the wife and three daughters fell asleep, the convict gave blows to them with an axe and then set the house on fire. He had also frightened other villagers of assaulting them with an axe. The person who saw the fire first, lodged a First Information Report (‘FIR’) against the convict, but died before his deposition in the Court. After completion of investigation, chargesheet was filed against the convict for commission of offence under Sections 302 read with Section 201 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’).
On perusing the witness statements, the Court noted that the convict had confessed about commission of murder by him in the morning in presence of the villagers when he returned to the village. The Court noted that the police personnel had arrived there at the same moment when the convict was making his statement, therefore, the Court said that the convict’s statement was hit by Section 24 of the Evidence Act, 1872 and that no statement made in presence of the police would be admissible in evidence. The Court said that the trial Court had erred on this part by overlooking this aspect. Thus, the Court said that such an extra judicial confession made by the convict before the villagers would be inadmissible in evidence and cannot be used against the convict. Regarding the recovery of the axe, i.e., the weapon of offence, the Court said that the story that the convict led the police team to his house in order to recover the axe were all created by the prosecution to subsequently suit their case.
The Court noted that the four deceased died due to wounds around their neck caused with the axe. The axe was identified by all the witnesses in the Court, therefore, the nature of death was homicidal. Further, the Court said that the convict had no reasonable explanation as to the cause of death of his wife and three daughters. The Court also said that it is well settled that, in the plea of alibi the burden is on the accused person to prove the same and in the matter at hand, no such evidence was adduced by the convict to support his plea of alibi. The Court also noted that the convict’s conduct after returning to the village in the morning and knowing of the murder of his wife and children was totally different than what it would have been if he was an innocent. The Court noted that as per the witnesses, the convict behaved in an angry manner and frightened the villagers with axe.
The Court said that the present case of murder is not simply murder of one or two persons but involves four persons including a female child aged about two months, which is brutal and barbaric. The Court said that the fact that the murder was committed in the convict’s house and he attempted to burn the entire house along with the dead bodies in the dead of night, pointed fingers towards the convict alone and the same was strengthened by his post occurrence conduct, which was relevant under Section 8 of the Evidence Act and the principles of res gestae, which also pointed towards the convict’s guilt alone, excluding all hypothesis of his innocence. Therefore, considering all the circumstantial evidence, the Court found the convict guilty of the charges. Hence, the impugned conviction and sentence order was upheld.
[Gopla Majhi v. State of Orissa, 2023 SCC OnLine Ori 5922, Decided on: 04-10-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Convict: Advocate P.Ramakrishna Patro
For the respondent: Additional Government Advocate D.K.Mishra
*Deeksha Dabas, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.