The Allahabad High Court while dealing with a jail appeal filed by the accused under Section 383 Cr.PC. who was convicted by the Trial Court held that removing the corpse of a person from the scene of the murder to another place does not come under the ambit of Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Division Bench comprising Justice Suneet Kumar and Justice Syed Waiz Mian stated –

"In our view to constitute an offence under Section 201 I.P.C. there must be disappearance of some evidence of the commission of offence; removing the corpse of a murdered man from the scene of murder to another place does not come under Section 201 as the removal does not cause the disappearance of evidence of commission of the murder. Section 201 looks upon a person giving false information with intent to screen an offender as an accessory after the fact and makes him culpable as an offender committing an offence against public justice. Section 201 will apply only when the false information touching the offence with intent to screen the offender is given to those interested in brining the offender to justice."

The Bench further held that since there is no evidence pertaining to the offence under Section 201 of the IPC, the conviction under the said Section by the Trial Court is erroneous and without any evidence.

The Court also said, "… the conviction of the appellant/accused, under Section 201 I.P.C. cannot be upheld against the appellant and as such the appellant/accused Gulam Rashul is accordingly acquitted of the charge under Section 201 I.P.C."

Amicus Curiae Abhinav Jaiswal appeared on behalf of the appellant i.e., the accused while A.G.A. represented the respondent i.e., the State.

Facts of the Case –

The informant presented an FIR alleging that the appellant was a servant of his brother and demanded Rs. 500/- on credit from his employer. The brother of the informant told him that he will lend the money the next day and directed him to go to the field to collect fodder. The accused took the son of the informant's brother aged about 9 years, with him to the field but returned all alone without fodder. The informant and others interrogated him about the child to which he admitted to having killed him in the field by strangulation. He had also disclosed that the dead body was lying in the sugar cane field. The villagers, and others had seen the deceased in the company of the accused while he was on his way to sugar cane field. A case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC got registered against the accused and on the same day the investigation was handed over to investigating officer. To ascertain the real cause of death of the deceased, the dead body of the deceased was sent to mortuary. The doctor in the autopsy report mentioned that the cause of death of the deceased was asphyxia as a result of throttling. The investigating officer after collecting the evidence concluded that the accused has killed the deceased.

The charges against the accused were framed by the Additional Sessions Judge which were denied by the appellant. The Trial Court convicted the accused and sentenced him under Sections 302 and 201 IPC. Under Section 302 IPC, he was sentenced to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for life with a fine of Rs. 5,000/- and in the event of default in payment of fine, to further undergo six months imprisonment. Under Section 201 IPC, he was sentenced to undergo Rigorous imprisonment for three years with a fine of Rs. 1,000/- and in the event of default in payment of fine, to further undergo one month imprisonment. Both sentences were directed to run concurrently. The matter was therefore before the High Court.

The High Court while considering the facts of the case, noted, "In the First Information Report, informant-Anand Singh, has not disclosed whether at the time of request of accused to lend him Rupees 500/-, on credit, he was present in the house or not."

The Court further noted that there is no evidence on record that the accused had concealed the dead body of the deceased or the identity of the deceased and it is an admitted fact that the deceased was not killed brutally but by strangulation.

The Court also opined, "There is no evidence on record to show that how the deceased was throttled, but, as said above, appellant/accused had himself told Ashok, in the presence of the witnesses that he had strangulated the deceased, therefore, we do not find any evidence on record to show that the appellant/accused had tried to screen himself from the legal punishment or he had misled the informant or any one. There is no evidence to establish that appellant had caused any evidence of the commission of crime i.e. murder, to disappear."

The Court however said that merely based on the subsequent conduct of the accused, the trustworthy evidence of the witnesses on record cannot be disbelieved.

The Court while considering other charges against the accused, observed, "Accused has miserably failed to rebut the presumption under Section 106 of Evidence Act. … we find that conviction of appellant under Section 302 I.P.C. is proper and justified in the law and the impugned judgment and order is not excessive or exorbitant and no question arises to interfere in the matter on the point of punishment imposed upon him. In view of the above facts and circumstances, impugned judgment and order dated 28.03.2011 deserves to be affirmed to the extent of conviction and sentence of appellant under Section 302 I.P.C. and appeal is liable to be dismissed to that extent."

The Court further held that the judgment and order of the Trial Court is confirmed/affirmed to the extent of conviction of the appellant under Section 302 of the IPC.

Accordingly, the Court partly allowed the appeal of the accused.

Cause Title – Gulam Rashul v. State of U.P.

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