Even after 50 years, the Nanavati case continues to have a tremendous recall value among a public infamous for its short memory. The case has inspired several Bollywood movies, plays and books including R K Nayar’s Ye Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke (1963) starring Sunil Dutt and Leela Naidu, Gulzar’s Achanak (1973) starring Vinod Khanna and Lily Chakraborty and Indra Sinha’s book The Death of Mr Love (2002). And now, Akshay Kumar and Neeraj Pandey’s latest offing Rustom, is based on the case.
As a result of this controversial case, India’s jury system was completely abolished, and was removed from the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This forever transformed the mechanism by which law and order would be delivered in India. In another landmark change, as the crux of the case deeply impacted public perception, it brought the commencement of media trials in the judicial system, something we’re all too familiar with today. Here is the judgment that would help you to understand what actually the case says.
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Before :- S. K. Das, K. Subba Rao and Raghubar Dayal, JJ.
Criminal Appeal No. 195 of 1960. D/d 24.11.1961.
For the Appellant :- M/s. G. S. Pathak and S. G. Patwardhan, Senior Advocates (M/s. Rajni Patel and Porus A. Mehta, Advocates and M/s. J. B. Dadachanji Ravindra Narain and O. C. Mathur, Advocates of M/s. Dadachanji and Co.
K. M. Nanavati - Appellant
State of Maharashtra - Respondent
For the Respondent :- Mr. M. C. Setalvad, Attorney-General for India (M/s. C. M. Trivedi, v. H. Gumeshte, B. R. G. K. Achar and R. H. Dhebar, Advocates.
Subba Rao, J. - This appeal by special leave arises out of the judgment of the Bombay High Court sentencing Nanavati, the appellant, to life imprisonment for the murder of Prem Bhagwandas Ahuja, a businessman of Bombay.
2. This appeal presents the common place problem of an alleged murder by an enraged husband of a paramour of his wife : but it aroused considerable interest in the public mind by reason of the publicity it received and the important constitutional point it had given rise to at the time of its admission.
3. The appellant, was charged under Section 302 as well as under Section 304, Part I, of the Indian Penal Code and was tried by the Sessions Judge, Greater Bombay, with the aid of a special Jury. The jury brought in a verdict of "not guilty" by 8 : 1 under both the sections ; but the Sessions Judge did not agree with the verdict of the jury, as in his view the majority verdict of the jury was such that no reasonable body of men could, having regard to the evidence, bring in such a verdict. The learned Sessions Judge submitted the case under Section 307 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to the Bombay High Court after recording the grounds for his opinion. The said reference was heard by a division bench of the said High Court consisting of Shelat and Naik, JJ. - The two learned Judges gave separate judgments, but agreed in holding that the accused was guilty of the offence of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life. Shelat, J., having held that there were misdirections to the jury, reviewed the entire evidence and came to the conclusion that the accused was clearly guilty of the offence of murder ; alternatively, he expressed the view that the verdict of the jury was perverse, unreasonable and, in any event, contrary to the weight of evidence. Naik J., preferred to base his conclusion on the alternative ground, namely, that no reasonable body of persons could have come to the conclusion arrived at by the jury. Both the learned Judges agreed that no case had been made out to reduce the offence from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The present appeal has been preferred against the said conviction and sentence.
4. The case of the prosecution may be stated thus : The accused, at the time of the alleged murder, was second in command of the Indian Naval Ship "Mysore". 'He married Sylvia in 1949 in the registry office at Portsmouth, England. They have three children by the marriage, a boy aged 9 1/2 years, a girl aged 5 1/2 years and another boy aged 3 years. Since the time of marriage, the couple were living at different places having regard to the exigencies of service of Nanavati. Finally, they shifted to Bombay. In the same city the deceased Ahuja was doing business in automobiles and was residing along with his sister, in a building called 'Shreyas'' till 1957 and thereafter in another building called "Jivan Jyot" in Setalvad Road. In the year 1956, Agniks, who were common friends of Nanavatis and Ahujas, introduced Ahuja and his sister to Nanavatis. Ahuja was unmarried and was about 34 years of age at the time of his death. Nanavati, as a Naval Officer, was frequently going away from Bombay in his ship leaving his wife and children in Bombay. Gradually, friendship developed between Ahuja and Sylvia, which 'culminated in illicit intimacy between them. On April 27,1959, Sylvia confessed to Nanavati of her illicit intimacy with Ahuja. Enraged at the conduct of Ahuja, Nanavati went to his ship, took from the stores of the ship a semi-automatic revolver and six cartridges on a false pretext, loaded the same, went to the flat of Ahuja entered his bed room and shot him dead. Thereafter, the accused surrendered himself to the police. He was put under arrest and in due course he was committed to the Sessions for facing a charge under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
5. The defence version, as disclosed in the statement made by the accused before the Sessions Court under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and his deposition in the said Court, may be briefly, stated : The accused was away with his ship from April 6, 1959, to April 18, 1959. Immediately after returning to Bombay, he and his wife went to Ahmednagar for about three days in the company of his younger brother and his wife. Thereafter, they returned to Bombay and after a few days his brother and his wife left them. After they had left, the accused noticed that his wife was behaving strangely and was not responsive or affectionate to him. When questioned, she used to evade the issue. At noon on April 27,1959, when they were sitting in the sitting-room for the lunch to be served, the accused put his arm round his wife affectionately, when she seemed to go tense and unresponsive. After lunch, when he questioned her about her fidelity, she shook her head to indicate that she was unfaithful to him. He guessed that her paramour was Ahuja. As she did not even indicate clearly whether Ahuja would marry her and look after the children, he decided to settle the matter with him. Sylvia pleaded with him not to go to Ahuja's house as he might shoot him. Thereafter, he drove his wife, two of his children and a neighbour's child in his car to a cinema, dropped them there and promised to come and pick them up at 6 p. m. when the show ended, He then drove his car to his ship, as he wanted to get medicine for his sick dog ; he represented to the authorities in the ship that he wanted to draw a revolver and six rounds from the stores of the ship as he was going to drive alone to Ahmednagar by night, though the real purpose was to shoot himself. On receiving the revolver and six cartridges, and (sic) put it inside a brown envelope. Then he drove his car to Ahuja's office, and not finding him there, he drove to Ahuja's flat, rang the door bell, and when it was opened by a servant, walked to Ahuja's bed-room, went into the bed-room and shut the door behind him. He also carried with him the envelope containing the revolver. The accused saw the deceased inside the bed-room, called him a filthy swine and asked him whether he would marry Sylvia and look after the children. The deceased retorted, "Am I to marry every woman I sleep with?" The accused became enraged, put the envelope containing the revolver on a cabinet nearby, and threatened to thrash the deceased. The deceased made a sudden move to grasp at the envelope, when the accused whipped out his revolver and told him to get back. A struggle ensued between the two and during that struggle two shots went off accidentally and hit Ahuja resulting in his death. After the shooting the accused went back to his car and drove it to the police station where he surrendered himself. This is broadly, omitting the details, the case of the defence.
6. It would be convenient to dispose of at the outset the questions of law raised in this case.
7. Mr. G. S. Pathak, learned counsel for the accused, raised before us the following points ;
- (1) Under Section 307 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the High Court should decide whether a reference made by a sessions Judge was competent only on a perusal of the order of reference made to it and it had no jurisdiction to consider the evidence and come to a conclusion whether the reference was competent or not.
- (2) Under Section 307(3) of the said Code, the High Court had no power to set aside the verdict of a jury on the ground that there were misdirections in the charge made by the Sessions Judge.
- (3) There were no misdirections at all in the charge made by the Sessions Judge, and indeed his charge was fair to the prosecution as well as to the accused.
- (4) The verdict of the jury was not perverse and it was such that a reasonable body of persons could arrive at it on the evidence placed before them.
- (5) In any view, the accused shot at the deceased under grave and sudden provocation, and therefore even if he had committed an offence, it would not be murder but only culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
9. The question raised turns upon the construction of the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The said Code contains two fascicule of sections dealing with two different situations. Under Section 268 of the Code, "All trials before a Court of Session shall be either by jury, or by the Judge himself." Under Section 297 thereof :
- "In cases tried by jury, when the case for the defence and the prosecutor's reply, if any, are concluded, the Court shall proceed to charge the jury, summing up the evidence for the prosecution and defence, and laying down the law by which the jury are to be guided ................,.."
- Section 298, among others, imposes a duty on a judge to decide all questions of law arising in the course of the trial, and especially all questions as to the relevancy of facts which it is proposed to be proved, and the admissibility of evidence or the propriety of questions asked by or on behalf of the parties. and to decide upon all matters of fact which it is necessary to prove in order to enable evidence of particular matters to be given. It is the duty of the jury, "to decide which view of the facts is true and then to return the verdict which under such view ought, according to the directions of the Judge, to be returned."
- "(1) An appeal may lie on a matter of fact as well as a matter of law except where the trial was by jury, in which case the appeal shall lie on a matter of law only."
- "Nothing herein contained shall authorise the Court to alter or reverse the verdict of the jury, unless it is of opinion that such verdict is erroneous owing to a misdirection by the Judge, or to a misunderstanding on the part of the jury of the law as laid down by him."
10. The Code of Criminal Procedure also provides for a different situation. The Sessions Judge may not agree with the verdict of the jurors or the majority of them ; and in that event Section 307 provides for a machinery to meet that situation. As the argument mainly turns upon the interpretation of the provisions of this section, it will be convenient to read the relevant clauses thereof. Section 307 :
- (1) If in any such case the Judge disagrees with the verdict of the jurors, or of a majority of the jurors, on all or any of the charges on which any accused person has been tried, and is clearly of opinion that it is necessary for the ends of justice to submit the case in respect of such accused person to the High Court, he shall submit the case accordingly, recording the grounds of his opinion, and, when the verdict is one of acquittal, stating the offence which he considers to have been committed, and in such case, if the accused is further charged under the provisions of Section 310, shall proceed to try him on such charge as if such verdict had been one of conviction.
- (3) In dealing with the case so submitted the High Court may exercise any of the powers which it may exercise on an appeal, and subject thereto it shall, after considering the entire evidence and after giving due weight to the opinions of the Sessions Judge and the jury, acquit or convict such accused of any offence which the jury could have convicted him upon the charge framed and placed before it; and, if it convicts him, may pass such sentence as might have been passed by the Court of Session.
11. Under Section 307(1) of the Code, the obligation cast upon the Sessions Judge to submit the case to the High Court is made subject to two conditions, namely, (1) the Judge shall disagree with the verdict of the jurors, and (2) he is clearly of the opinion that it is necessary in the ends of justice to submit the case to the High Court. If the two conditions are complied with, he shall submit the case, recording the grounds of his opinion. The words "for the ends of justice" are comprehensive, and coupled with the words "is clearly of opinion", they give the Judge a discretion to enable him to exercise his power under different situations, the only criterion being his clear opinion that the reference is in the ends of justice. But the judicial Committee, in Ramanugrah Singh v. Emperor, 73 Ind App 174 at pp. 182, 186; (AIR 1946 PC 151 at pp. 154, 156) construed the words "necessary for the ends of justice" and laid down that the words mean that the Judge shall be of the opinion that the verdict of the jury is one which no reasonable body of men could have reached on the evidence. Having regard to that interpretation, it may be held that the second condition for reference is that the Judge shall be clearly of the opinion that the verdict is one which no reasonable body of men could have reached on the evidence. It follows that if a Judge differs from the jury and is clearly of such an opinion, he shall submit the case to the High Court recording the grounds of his opinion. In that event, the said reference is clearly competent. If, on the other hand, the case submitted to the High Court does not ex facie show that the said two conditions have been complied with by the Judge, it is incompetent. The question of competency of the reference does not depend upon the question whether the Judge is justified in differing from the jury or forming such an opinion on the verdict of the jury. The argument that though the sessions Judge has complied with the conditions necessary for making a reference, the High Court shall reject the reference as incompetent without going into the evidence if the reasons given do not sustain the view expressed by the Sessions Judge, is not supported by the provisions of sub-section (1) of Section 307 of the Code. But it is said that it is borne out by the decision of the Judicial committee in Ramanugrah Singh's case 73 Ind App 174 :(AlR 1946 PC 151). In that cases the judicial Committee relied upon the words "ends of justice" and held that the verdict was one which no reasonable body of men could have reached on the evidence and further laid down that the requirements of the ends of justice must be the determining factor both for the Sessions Judge in making the reference and for the High Court in disposing of it. The Judicial Committee observed:
- "In general, if the evidence is such that it can properly support a verdict either of guilty or not guilty, according to the view taken of it by the trial court, and if the jury taken one view of the evidence and the judge thinks that they should have taken the other, the view of the jury must prevail, since they are the judges of fact. In such a case a reference is not justified, and it is only by accepting their view that the High Court can give due weight to the opinion of the jury. If however the High Court considers that on the evidence no reasonable body of men could have reached the conclusion arrived at by and the jury, then the reference was justified and the ends of justice require that the verdict be disregarded."
- "In their Lordships opinion had the High Court approached the reference on the right lines and given due weight to the opinion of the jury they would have been bound to hold than the reference was not justified and that the ends of justice did not require any interference with the verdict of the jury" Emphasis is laid on the word "justified', and it is argued that the High Court should reject the reference as incompetent if the reasons given by the Sessions Judge in the statement of case do not support his view that it is necessary in the ends of justice to refer the case to the High Court. The Judicial Committee does not lay down any such proposition. There, the jury brought in a verdict of "guilty" under Section 302, Indian Penal Code. The Sessions Judge differed from the jury and made a reference to the High Court. The High Court accepted the reference and convicted the accused and sentenced him to transportation for life. The Judicial Committee held, on the facts of that case, that the High Court was not justified in the ends of justice to interfere with the verdict of the jury. They were not dealing with the question of competency of a reference but only with that of the justification of the Sessions Judge in making the reference, and the High Court in accepting it. It was also not considering a case of any disposal of the reference by the High Court on the basis of the reasons given in the reference, but were dealing with a case where the High Court on a consideration of the entire evidence accepted the reference, and the Judicial Committee held on the evidence that there was no justification for the ends of justice to accept it. This decision, therefore, has no bearing on the competency of a reference under Section 307(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- "Nothing herein contained shall authorise the Court to alter or reverse the verdict of a jury, unless it is of opinion that such verdict is erroneous owing to a misdirection by the Judge, or to a misunderstanding on the part of the jury of the law as laid down by him."
13. It appears to us that the Legislature designedly conferred a larger power on the High Court under Section 307(3) of the Code than that conferred under Section 418 thereof, as in the former case the Sessions Judge differs from the jury while in the latter he agrees with the jury.
14. The decisions cited at the Bar do not in any way sustain the narrow construction sought to be placed by learned counsel on Section 307 of the Code. In Ramanugrah Singh's case 73 Ind App 174 at p. 182 : (AIR 1946 PC 151 at p. 154) which has been referred to earlier, the Judicial Committee described the wide amplitude of the power of the High Court in the following terms:
- "The Court must consider the whole case and give true weight to the opinions of the Sessions Judge and jury, and then acquit or convict the accused".
- ". . . . . .. the test of reasonableness on the part of the jury may not be conclusive in every case. It is possible to suppose a case in which the verdict was justified on the evidence placed before the jury, but in the light of further evidence placed before the High Court the verdict is shown to be wrong. In such a case the ends of justice would require the verdict to be set aside though the jury had not acted unreasonably."
- "The charge was not attacked before the High Court nor before us as containing any misdirections or non-directions to the jury such as to vitiate the verdict."
- "Where, however, there is misdirection the principle embodied in S. 587 would apply and if the verdict is erroneous owing to the misdirection, it can have no weight on a reference under S, 307 as on an appeal." It is not necessary to multiply decisions. The' foregoing discussion may be summarised in the form of the following propositions : (1) The competency of a reference made by a Sessions Judge depends upon the existence of two conditions, namely, (i) that he disagrees with the verdict of the jurors, and (ii) that he is clearly of the opinion that the verdict is one which no reasonable body of men could have reached on the evidence; after reaching that opinion, in the case submitted by him he shall record the grounds of his opinion.(2) If the case submitted shows that the conditions have not-been complied with or that the reasons for the opinion are not recorded, the High Court may reject the reference as incompetent : the High Court can also reject it if the Sessions Judge, has contravened sub-section (2) of Section 307.(3) If the case submitted shows that the Sessions Judge has disagreed with the verdict of the jury and that he is clearly of the opinion that no reasonable body of men could have reached the conclusion arrived at by the jury, and he discloses his reasons for the opinion, sub-section (3) of Section 307 of the Code comes into play, and thereafter the High Court has an obligation to discharge its duty imposed thereunder.(4) Under sub-section (3) of Section 307 of the Code the High Court has to consider the entire evidence and, after giving due weight to the opinions of the Sessions Judge and the jury, acquit or convict the accused. (5) The High Court may deal with the reference in two ways, namely,(i) if there are mis-directions vitiating the verdict, it may, after going into the entire evidence, disregard the verdict of the jury and come to its own conclusion, and (ii) even if there are no misdirections, the High Court can interfere with the verdict of the jury if it finds the verdict "perverse in the sense of being unreasonable", "manifestly wrong", or "against the weight of evidence', or, in other words, if the verdict is such that no reasonable body of men could have reached on the evidence (6) In the disposal of the said reference, the High Court can exercise any of the procedural powers appropriate to the occasion, such as issuing of notice, calling for records, remanding the case, ordering a retrial, etc. We, therefore, reject the first contention of learned counsel for the appellant.
16. In Mushak Hussein v. State of Bombay, 1953 SCR 809: (AIR 1953 SC 282) this Court laid down ;
- "Unless therefore it is established in a case that there has been a serious misdirection by the judge, in charging the jury which has occasioned a failure of justice and has misled the jury in giving its verdict, the verdict of the jury cannot be set aside." This view has been restated by this Court in a recent decision viz., Nagindra Bala Mitra. v. Sunil Chandra Roy, 1960-3 SCR 1: (AIR 1960 SC 706).
18. We shall now take the first and the third misdirections pointed out by Shelat, J. as they are intimately connected with each other. They are really omissions. The first omission is that throughout the entire charge there is no reference to Section 105 of the Evidence Act or to the statutory presumption laid down in that section. The second omission is that the Sessions Judge failed to explain to the jury the legal ingredients of Section 80 of the I.P.C:, and also failed to direct them that in law the said section was not applicable to the facts of the case. To appreciate the scope of the alleged omissions, it is necessary to read the relevant provisions. Section 80 of the Indian Penal Code.
- "Nothing is an offence which is done by accident or misfortune, and without any Criminal intention or knowledge in the doing of a lawful act in a lawful manner by lawful means and with proper care and caution."
Section 103 : The burden of proof as to any particular fact lies on that person who wishes the Court to believe in its existence, unless it is provided by any law that the proof of that fact shall lie on any particular person,"
Section 105 : "When a person is accused of any offence, the burden of proving the existence of circumstances bringing the case within any of the General Exceptions in the Indian Penal Code (XLV of1860) or within any special exception or proviso contained in any other part of the same Code or in any law defining the offence, is upon him, and the Court shall presume the absence of such circumstances."
Section 3: "In this Act the following words and expressions are used in the following senses, unless a contrary intention appears from the context ;-
- A fact is said to be disproved when, after considering the matters before it, the Court either believes that it does not exist or considers its non-existence so probable that a prudent man ought, under the circumstances of the particular case, to act upon the supposition that it does not exist,"
- Section 4 :, . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . ... ..... "Whenever it is directed by this Act that the Court shall presume a fact, it shall regard such fact as proved unless and until it is disproved,"
Code, may adduce evidence to rebut that presumption. That evidence may not be sufficient to prove all the ingredients of Section 80 of the Indian Penal Code, but may prove that the shooting was by accident or inadvertence, i.e., it was done without any intention or requisite state of mind, which is the essence of the offence, within the meaning of Section 300, Indian Penal Code or at any rate may throw a reasonable doubt on the essential ingredients of the offence of murder. In that event, though the accused failed to establish to bring his case within the terms of Section 80 of the Indian Penal Code, the Court may hold that the ingredients of the offence have not been established or that the prosecution has not made out the case against the accused. In this view it might be said that the general burden to prove the ingredients of the offence, unless there is a specific statute to the contrary, is always on the prosecution, but the burden to prove the circumstances coming under the exceptions lies upon the accused. The failure on the part of the accused to establish all the circumstances bringing his case under the exception does not absolve the prosecution to prove the ingredients of the offence : indeed, the evidence, though insufficient to establish the exception, may be sufficient to negative one or more of the ingredients of the offence.
19. The English decisions relied upon by Mr. Pathak, learned counsel for the accused, may not be of much help in construing the provisions of Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act. We would, therefore, prefer not to refer to them, except to one of the leading decisions on the subject, namely, Wolmington v. Diretor of Public Prosecutions 1935 AC 462 at p. 481. The headnote in that decision gives its gist, and it reads :
- "In a trial for murder the Crown must prove death as the result of a voluntary act of the prisoner and malice of the prisoner. When evidence of death and malice has been given, the prisoner is entitled to show by evidence or by examination of the circumstances adduced by the Crown that the act on his part which caused death was either unintentional or provoked. If the jury are either satisfied with his explanation or, upon a review of all the evidence, are left in reasonable doubt whether, even if his explanation be not accepted, the act was unintentional or provoked, the prisoner is entitled to be acquitted."
- "But while the prosecution must prove the guilt of the prisoner, there is no such burden laid on the prisoner to prove his innocence and it is sufficient for him to raise a doubt as to his guilt ; he is not bound to satisfy the jury of his innocence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . Throughout the web of the English Criminal Law one golden thread is always to be seen, that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner's guilt subject to what I have already said as to the defence of insanity and subject also to any statutory exception. If, at the end of and on the whole of the case, there is a reasonable doubt, created by the evidence given by either the prosecution or the prisoner, as to whether the prisoner killed the deceased with a malicious intention, the prosecution has not made out the case and the prisoner is entitled to an acquittal."
- "Miss Maye - that is the person upon whom the operation was alleged to have been performed -was unconscious and what took place in that room that three-quarters of an hour that she was under chloroform is a fact specially within the knowledge of these two accused who were there. The burden of proving that fact, the law says, is upon him, namely that no criminal operation look place but what took place was this and this speculum examination."
- "It is not the law of Ceylon that the burden is cast upon an accused person of proving that no crime has been committed. The jury might well have thought from the passage just quoted that that was in fact a burden which the accused person had to discharge. The summing-up goes on to explain the presumption of innocence in favour of accused persons, but it again reiterates that the burden of proving that no criminal operation took place is on the two accused who were there."
20. Mr. Pathak contends that the accused did not rely upon any exception within the meaning of Section 80 of the Indian Penal Code and that his plea all through has been only that the prosecution has failed to establish intentional killing on his part. Alternatively, he argues that as the entire evidence has been adduced both by the prosecution and by the accused, the burden of proof became only academic and the jury was in a position to come to one conclusion or other on the evidence irrespective of the burden of proof. Before the Sessions Judge the accused certainly relied upon Section 80 of the Indian Penal Code, and the Sessions Judge dealt with the defence case in his charge to the jury. In paragraph 6 of the charge, the learned Sessions Judge stated :
- "Before I proceed further I have to point out another section which is Section 80. You know by now that the defence of the accused is that the firing of the revolver was a matter of accident during a struggle for possession of the revolver. A struggle or a fight by itself does not exempt a person. It is the accident which exempts a person from criminal liability because there may be a fight, there may be a struggle and in the fight and in the struggle the assailant may overpower the victim and kill the deceased so that a struggle or a fight by itself does not exempt an assailant. It is only an accident, whether it is in struggle or a fight or otherwise which can exempt an assailant. It is only an accident, whether it is in a struggle or a fight or otherwise which can exempt a prisoner from criminal liability. I shall draw your attention to Section 80 which says : . . . . . . . . . (S. 80 read). You know that there are several provisions which are to be satisfied before the benefit of this exception can be claimed by an accused person and it should be that the act itself must be an accident or misfortune, there should be no criminal intention or knowledge in the doing of that act, that act itself must be done in a lawful manner and it must be done by lawful means and further in doing of it, you must do it with proper care and caution. In this connection, therefore, even while considering the case of accident, you will have to consider all the factors, which might emerge from the evidence before you, whether it was proper care and caution to take a loaded revolver without a safety catch to the residence of the person with whom you were going to talk and if you do not get an honourable answer you were prepared to thrash him. You have also to consider this further circumstance whether it is an act with proper care and caution to keep that loaded revolver in the hand and thereafter put it aside, whether that is taking proper care and caution. This is again a question of fact and you have to determine as judges of fact, whether the act of the accused in this case can be said to be an act which was lawfully done in a lawful manner and with proper care and caution. If it is so, then and only then can you call it accident or misfortune. This is a section which you will bear in mind when you consider the evidence in this case."
21. The next misdirection relates to the question of grave and sudden provocation. On this question, Shelat, J., made the following remarks :
- "Thus the question whether a confession of adultery by the wife of the accused to him amounts to grave and sudden provocation or not was a question of law. In my view, the learned Sessions Judge was in error in telling the jury that the entire question was one of fact for them to decide. It was for the learned Judge to decide as a question of law whether the sudden confession by the wife of the accused amounted to grave and sudden provocation as against the deceased Ahuja which on the authorities referred to hereinabove it was not. He was therefore in error in placing this alternative case to the jury for their determination instead of deciding it himself." The misdirection according to the learned Judge was that the Sessions Judge in his charge did not tell the jury that the sudden confession of the wife to the accused did not in law amount to sudden and grave provocation by the deceased, and instead he left the entire question to be decided by the jury. The learned judge relied upon certain English decisions and textbooks in support of his conclusion that the said question was one of law and that it was for the Judge to express his view thereon. Mr. Pathak contends that there is an essential difference between the law of England and that of India in the matter of the charge to the jury in respect of grave and sudden provocation. The House of Lords in Holmes v. Director of Public Prosecution, 1946 AC 588 at p. 597 laid down the law in England thus :
- "If there is no sufficient material, even on a view of the evidence most favourable to the accused, for a jury (which means a reasonable jury) to form the view that a reasonable person so provoked could be driven, through transport of passion and loss of selfcontrol, to the degree and method and continuance of violence which produces the death it is the duty of the judge as matter of law to direct the jury that the evidence does not support a verdict of manslaughter. If, on the other hand, the case is one in which the view might fairly be taken (a) that a reasonable person, in consequence of the provocation received, might be so rendered subject to passion or loss of control as to be led to use the violence with fatal results, and (b) that the accused was in fact acting under the stress of such provocation, then it is for the jury to determine whether on its view of the facts manslaughter or murder is the appropriate verdict."
- "The distinction, therefore, is between asking 'Could the evidence support the view that the provocation was sufficient to lead a reasonable person to do what the accused did ?' (which is for the judge to rule), and, assuming that the judges ruling is in the affirmative, asking the jury : 'Do you consider that, on the facts as you find them from the evidence, the provocation was in fact enough to lead a reasonable person to do what the accused did ?' and, if so, 'Did the accused act under the stress of such provocation ?"
22. But Mr. Pathak contends that whatever might be the law in England, in India we are governed by the statutory provisions, and that under the explanation to Exception I to Section 300 of the I. P. C., the question whether the provocation was grave and sudden enough to prevent the offence from amounting to murder is one of fact, and therefore, unlike in England, in India both the aforesaid questions fall entirely within the scope of the jury and they are for them to decide. To put it in other words, whether a reasonable person in the circumstances of a particular case committed the offence under provocation which was grave and sudden is a question of fact for the jury to decide. There is force in this argument, but it is not necessary to express our final opinion thereon, as the learned Attorney-General has conceded that there was no misdirection in regard to this matter.
23. The fourth misdirection found by the High Court is that the learned Sessions Judge told the jury that the prosecution relied on the circumstantial evidence and asked them to apply the stringent rule of burden of proof applicable to such cases, whereas in fact there was direct evidence of Puransingh in the shape of extra-judicial confession. In paragraph 8 of the charge the Sessions Judge said :
- "In this case the prosecution relies on what is called circumstantial evidence that is to say there is no witness who can say that he saw the accused actually shooting and killing deceased. There are no direct witnesses, direct witnesses as they are called, of the event in question. Prosecution relies on certain circumstances from which they ask you to deduce an inference that it must be the accused and only the accused who must have committed this crime. That is called circumstantial evidence. It is not that prosecution cannot rely on circumstantial evidence because it is not always the case or generally the case that people who go out to commit crime will also take witnesses with them. So that it may be that in some cases the prosecution may have to rely on circumstantial evidence. Now when you are dealing with circumstantial evidence you will, bear in mind certain principles, namely, that the facts on which the prosecution relies must be fully established. They must be fully and firmly established. These facts must lead to one conclusion and one only namely the guilt of the accused and lastly it must exclude all reasonable hypothesis consistent with the innocence of the accused, all reasonable hypothesis consistent with the innocence of the accused should be excluded. In other words you must come to the conclusion by all the human probability, it must be the accused and the accused only who must have committed this crime. That is the standard of proof in a case resting on circumstantial evidence."
- "It is like this, take a word, split it up into letters, the letters may individually mean nothing but when they are combined they will form a word pregnant with meaning. That is the way how you have to consider the circumstantial evidence. You have to take all the circumstances together and judge for yourself whether the prosecution have established their case."
- "I will now summarize the circumstances on which the prosecution relies in this case. Consider whether the circumstances are established beyond all reasonable doubt. In this case you are dealing with circumstantial evidence and therefore consider whether they are fully and firmly established and consider whether they lead to one conclusion and only one conclusion that it is the accused alone who must have shot the deceased and further consider that it leaves no room for any reasonable hypothesis consistent with the innocence of the accused regard being had to all the circumstances in the case and the conclusion that you have to come to should be of this nature and by all human probability it must be the accused and the accused alone who must have committed this crime."
- "If on the other hand you think that the circumstances on which the prosecution relies are fully and firmly established, that they lead to one and the only conclusion and one only, of the guilt of the accused and that they exclude all reasonable hypothesis of the innocence of the accused then and in that case it will be your duty which you are bound by the oath to bring verdict accordingly without any fear or any favour and without regard being had to any consequence that this verdict might lead to."
24. The next misdirection relied upon by the High Court is the circumstance that the three letters written by Sylvia were not read to the jury by the learned Sessions Judge in his charge, and that the jury were not told of their effect on the credibility of the evidence of Sylvia and Nanavati. Shelat, J., observed in regard to this circumstance thus ;
- "It cannot be gainsaid that these letters were important documents disclosing the state of mind of Mrs. Nanavati and the deceased to a certain extent. If these letters had been read in juxtaposition of Mrs. Nanavati's evidence they would have shown that her statement that she felt that Ahuja had asked her not to see him for a month or the purpose of backing out of the intended marriage was not correct and that they had agreed not to see each other for the purpose giving her and also to him an opportunity to coolly think out the implications of such a marriage and then to make up her own mind on her own. The letters would also show that when the accused asked her, as he said in his evidence, whether Ahuja would marry her, it was not probable that she would fence that question. On the other hand, she would, in all probability, have told him that they had already decided to many. In my view, the omission to refer even once to these letters in the charge especially in view of Mrs. Nanavati's evidence was a non-direction amounting to misdirection."
- "The jury had the statements before them. They had the whole of the evidence before them, and they had, just before the summing up, comments upon those matters from counsel for the defence, and from counsel for the prosecution, it is incredible that they could have forgotten them or that they could have misunderstood the matter in any way, or thought, by reason of the fact that the judge did not think it necessary to refer to them, that they were not to pay attention to them. We do not think there is anything in that point at all. A judge, in summing-up, is not obliged to refer to every witness in the case, unless he thinks it necessary to do so. In saying this, the court is by no means saying that it might not have been more satisfactory if the judge had referred to the evidence of the two witnesses, seeing that he did not think it necessary to refer to some of the statements made by the accused after the occurrence. No doubt it would have been more satisfactory from the point of view of the accused. All we are saying is that we are satisfied that there was no misdirection in law on the part of the judge in omitting those statements, and it was within his discretion."
25. These letters show the exact position of Sylvia in the context of her intended marriage with Ahuja, and help to test the truthfulness or otherwise of some of the assertions made by her to Nanavati. A perusal of these letters indicates that Sylvia and Ahuja were on intimate terms, that Ahuja was willing to marry her, that they had made up their minds to marry, but agreed to keep apart for a month to consider coolly whether they really wanted to marry in view of the serious consequences involved in taking such a step. Both Nanavati and Sylvia gave evidence giving an impression that Ahuja was backing out of his promise to marry Sylvia and that was the main reason for Nanavati going to Ahuja's flat for an explanation. If the Judge had read these letters in his charge and explained the implication of the contents thereof in relation to the evidence given by Nanavati and Sylvia, it would not have been possible to predicate whether the jury would have believed the evidence of Nanavati and Sylvia. If the marriage between them was a settled affair and if the only obstruction in the way was Nanavati, and if Nanavati had expressed his willingness to be out of the way and even to help them to marry, their evidence that Sylvia did not answer the direct question about the intentions of Ahuja to marry her, and the evidence of Nanavati that it became necessary for him to go to Ahuja's flat to ascertain the latter's intentions might not have been believed by the jury. It is no answer to say that the letters were read to the jury at different stages of the trial or that they might have read the letters themselves, for in a jury trial, especially where innumerable documents are filed, it is difficult for a lay jury, unless property directed, to realise the relative importance of specified documents in the context of different aspects of a case. That is why the Code of Criminal Procedure, under Section 297 thereof, imposes a duty on the Sessions Judge to charge the jury after the entire evidence is given and after counsel appearing for the accused and counsel appearing for the prosecution have addressed them. The object of the charge to the jury by the Judge is clearly to enable him to explain the law and also to place before them the facts and circumstances of the case both for and against the prosecution in order to help them in arriving at a right decision. The fact that the letters were read to the jury by the prosecution or by the counsel for the defence is not of much relevance, for they would place the evidence before the jury from different angles to induce them to accept their respective versions. That fact in itself cannot absolve the judge from his clear duty to put the contents of the letters before the jury from the correct perspective. We are in agreement with the High Court that this was a clear misdirection which might have affected the verdict of the jury.
26. The next defect pointed out by the High Court is that the Sessions Judge allowed the counsel for the accused to elicit from, the police officer, Phansalkar, what Puransingh is alleged to have stated to him orally, in order to contradict the evidence of Puransingh in the court, and the judge also dealt with the evidence so elicited in paragraph 18 of his charge to the jury. This contention cannot be fully appreciated unless some relevant facts are stated. Puransingh was examined for the prosecution as P. W. 12. He was a watchman of "Jivan Jyot". He deposed that when the accused was leaving the compound of the said building, he asked him why he had killed Ahuja, and the accused told him that he had a quarrel with Ahuja as the latter had "connections" with his wife and therefore he killed him. At about 5-5 p.m. on April 27, 1959, this witness reported this incident to Gamdevi Police Station. On that day Phansalkar (P.W. 13) was the Station House Duty Officer of that station from 2 to 8. p.m. On the basis of the statement of Puransingh, Phansalkar went in a jeep with Puransingh to the place of the alleged offence. Puransingh said in his evidence that he told Phansalkar in the jeep what the accused had told him when he was leaving the compound of "Jivan Jyot". After reaching the place of the alleged offence, Phansalkar learnt from a doctor that Ahuja was dead and he also made enquiries from Miss Mammie, the sister of the deceased. He did not record the statement made by Puransingh. But later on between 10 and 10-30 p.m. on the same day, Phansalkar made a statement to Inspector Mokashi what Puransingh had told him and that statement was recorded by Mokashi. In the statement taken by Mokashi it was not recorded that Puransingh told Phansalkar that the accused told him why he had killed Ahuja. When Phansalkar was in the witness-box, to a question put to him in cross- examination he answered that Puransingh did not tell him that he had asked Nanavati why he killed Ahuja and that the accused replied that he had a quarrel with the deceased as the latter had "connections" with his wife and that he had killed him. The learned Sessions Judge not only allowed the evidence to go in but also, in paragraph 18 of his charge to the jury, referred to that statement. After giving the summary of the evidence given by Puransingh, the learned Sessions Judge proceeded to state in his charge to the jury :
- "Now the conversation between him and Phansalkar (Sub-Inspector) was brought on record in which what the chowkidar told Sub-Inspector Phansalkar was, the servants of the flat of Miss Ahuja had informed him that a Naval Officer was going away in the car. He and the servants had tried to stop him but the said officer drove away in the car saying that he was going to the Police Station and to Sub-Inspector Phansalkar he did not state about his admission made by Mr. Nanavati to him that he killed the deceased as the deceased had connections with his wife. The chowkidar said that he had told this also to sub-Inspector Phansalkar. Sub-Inspector Phansalkar said that Puransingh had not made this statement to him. You will remember that this chowkidar went to the police station at Gamdevi to give information about this crime and while coming back he was with Sub-Inspector Phansalkar and Sub- Inspector Phansalkar in his own statement to Mr, Mokashi has referred to the conversation which he had between him and this witness Puransingh and that had been brought on record as a contradiction."
- "(1) No statement made by any person to a Police-officer in the course of an investigation under this Chapter shall, if reduced into writing, be signed by the person making it; nor shall any such statement or any record thereof, whether in a police diary or otherwise, or any part of such statement or record, be used for any purpose, save as hereinafter provided, at any inquiry or trial in respect of any offence under investigation at the time when such statement was made :
- "Provided that when any witness is called for the prosecution in such inquiry or trial whose statement has been reduced into writing as aforesaid, any part of his statement, if duly proved, may be used by the accused, and with the permission of the Court, by, the prosecution, to contradict such witness in the manner provided by Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1of 1872), and when any part of such statement is so used, any part thereof may also be used in the re-examination of such witness, but for the purpose only of explaining any matter referred to in his cross- examination."
27. In addition to the misdirections pointed out by the High Court, the learned Attorney-General relied upon another alleged misdirection by the learned Sessions Judge in his charge. In paragraph 28 of the charge, the learned Sessions Judge stated thus :
- "No one challenges the marksmanship of the accused but Commodore Nanda had come to tell you that he is a good shot and Mr. Kandalawala said that here was a man and good marksman, would have shot him, riddled him with bullets perpendicularly and not that way and he further said that as it is not done in this case it shows that the accused is a good marksman and a good shot and he would not have done this thing, this is the argument.''
28. The learned Attorney-General contends that if he was right in his contention that the High Court could consider the evidence afresh and come to its own conclusion, in view of the said misdirections, this Court should not, in exercise of its discretionary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution, interfere with the findings of the High Court. There is force in this argument. But as we have heard counsel at great length, we propose to discuss the evidence.
29. We shall now proceed to consider the evidence in the case. The evidence can be divided into three parts, namely, (i) evidence relating to the conduct of the accused before the shooting incident, (ii) evidence in regard to the conduct of the accused after the incident; and (iii) evidence in regard to the actual shooting in the bedroom of Ahuja.
- (Then after discussing evidence His Lordship concluded.)
74. We, therefore, unhesitatingly hold, agreeing with the High Court, that the prosecution has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused has intentionally shot the deceased and killed him.
75. In this view it is not necessary to consider the question whether the accused had discharged the burden laid on him under Section 80 of the Indian Penal Code, especially as learned counsel appearing for the accused here and in the High Court did not rely upon the defence based upon that section.
76. That apart, we agree with the High Court that, on the evidence adduced in this case, no reasonable body of persons could have come to the conclusion which the jury reached in this case. For that reason also the verdict of the jury cannot stand.
77. Even so, it is contended, by Mr. Pathak that the accused shot the deceased while deprived of the power of self-control by sudden and grave provocation and, therefore, the offence would fall under Exception 1 to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code. The said Exception reads :
- "Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident."
- (l) The deceased must have given provocation to the accused.
- (2) The provocation must be grave.
- (3) The provocation must be sudden.
- (4) The offender, by reason of the said provocation, shall have been deprived of his power of self-control.
- (5) He should have killed the deceased during the continuance of the deprivation of the power of self-control,
- (6) The offender must have caused the death of the person who gave the provocation or that of any other person by mistake or accident.
79. Learned Attorney-General argues that though a confession of adultery by a wife may in certain circumstances be provocation by the paramour himself, under different circumstances it has to be considered from the standpoint of the person who conveys it rather than from the standpoint of the person who gives it. He further contends that even if the provocation was deemed to have been given by Ahuja, and though the said provocation might have been grave, it could not be sudden, for the provocation given by Ahuja was only in the past.
80. On the other hand, Mr. Pathak contends that the act of Ahuja, namely, the seduction of Sylvia, gave provocation though the fact of seduction was communicated to the accused by Sylvia and that for the ascertainment of the suddenness of the provocation it is not the mind of the person who provokes that matters but that of the person provoked that is decisive. It is not necessary to express our opinion on the said question, for we are satisfied that, for other reasons, the case is not covered by Exception 1 to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code.
81. The question that the Court has to consider is whether a reasonable person placed in the same position as the accused was, would have reacted to the confession of adultery by his wife in the manner in which the accused did. In Mancini v. Director of Public Prosecutions, 1942 AC 1 at p. 9, Viscount Simon, L. C., states the scope of the doctrine of provocation thus :
- "It is not all provocation that will reduce the crime of murder to manslaughter. Provocation, to have that result, must be such as temporarily deprives the person provoked of the power of self-control, as the result of which he commits the unlawful act which causes death . . . . . . . ..... The test to be applied is that of the effect of the provocation on a reasonable man, as was laid down by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Rex v. Lesbini, 1914-3 KB 1116 so that an unusually excitable or pugnacious individual is not entitled to rely on provocation which would not have led an ordinary person to act as he did. In applying the test, it is of particular importance to (a) consider whether a sufficient interval has elapsed since the provocation to allow a reasonable man time to cool, and (b) to take into account the instrument with which the homicide was effected, for to retort, in the heat of passion induced by provocation, by a simple blow, is a very different thing from making use of a deadly instrument like a concealed dagger. In short, the mode of resentment must bear a reasonable relationship to the provocation if the offence is to be reduced to manslaughter."
- "The whole doctrine relating to provocation depends on the fact that it causes, or may cause, a sudden and temporary loss of self-control, whereby malice, which is the formation of an intention to kill or to inflict grievous bodily harm, is negatived. Consequently, where the provocation inspires an actual intention to kill (such as Holmes admitted in the present case), or to inflict grievous bodily harm, the doctrine that provocation may reduce murder to manslaughter seldom applies."
- "Provocation is some act, or series of acts, done by the dead man to the accused which would cause in any reasonable person, and actually causes in the accused, a sudden and temporary loss of self-control', rendering the accused so subject to passion as to make him or her for the moment not master of his mind.
- 'Whatever I have suffered, whatever I have endured, I know that Thou shall not kill'. That is what matters. Similarly.
- .. .. .circumstances which induce a desire for revenge, or a sudden passion of anger, are not enough. Indeed, circumstances which induce a desire for revenge are inconsistent with provocation, since the conscious formulation of a desire for revenge means that the person has had time to think, to reflect, and that would negative a sudden temporary loss of self-control which is of the essence of provocation. Provocation being. . . . . .. . as I have defined it, there are two things, in considering it, to which the law attaches great importance. The first of them is, whether there was what is sometimes called time for cooling, that is, for passion to cool and for reason to regain dominion over the mind.
- . .. . Secondly, in considering whether provocation has or has not been made out, you must consider the retaliation in provocation-that is to say, whether the mode of resentment bears some proper and reasonable relationship to the sort of provocation that has been given."
- "But the law requires two things : first that there should be that provocation; and secondly that the fatal blow should be clearly traced to the influence of passion arising from that provocation."
- (1) Except in circumstances of most extreme and exceptional character, a mere confession of adultery is not enough to reduce the offence of murder to manslaughter.
- (2) The act of provocation which reduced the offence of murder to manslaughter must be such as to cause a sudden and temporary loss of self- control; and it must be distinguished from a provocation which inspires an actual intention to kill.
- (3) The act should have been done during the continuance of that state of mind, that is, before there was time for passion to cool and for reason to regain dominion over the mind.
- (4) The fatal blow should be clearly traced to the influence of passion arising from the provocation.
- "It is an indisputable fact, that gross insults by word or gesture have as great a tendency to move many persons to violent passion as dangerous or painful bodily injuries; nor does it appear to us that passion excited by insult is entitled to less indulgence than passion excited by pain. On the contrary, the circumstance that a man resents an insult more than a wound is anything but a proof that he is a man of peculiarly bad heart."
- "What is required is that it should be of a character to deprive the offender of his self-control. In determining whether it was so, it is admissible to take into account the condition of mind in which the offender was at the time of the provocation. In the present case the abusive language used was of the foulest kind and was addressed to man already enraged by the conduct of deceased's son."
- " . ........ . . . . If having witnessed the act of adultery, he connected this subsequent conduct, as he could not fail to connect it, with that act, it would be conduct of a character highly exasperating to him, implying as it must, that all concealment of their criminal relations and all regard for his feelings were abandoned and that they purposed continuing their course of misconduct in his house. This we think, amounted to provocation, grave enough and sudden enough to deprive him of his self control, and reduced the offence from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder."
83. Where the deceased led an immoral life and her husband, the accused, upbraided her and the deceased instead of being repentent said that she would again do such acts, and the accused, being enraged, struck her and, when she struggled and beat him, killed her, the Court held the immediate provocation coming on top of all that had gone before was sufficient to bring the case within the first exception to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code. So too, where a woman was leading a notoriously immoral life, and on the previous night mysteriously disappeared from the bedside of her husband and the husband protested against her conduct she vulgarly abused him, whereupon the husband lost his self control, picked up a rough stick, which happened to be close by and struck her resulting in her death, the Lahore High Court, in Jan Muhammad v. Emperor, AIR 1929 Lah 861 at pp. 862-863 held that the case was governed by the said exception. The following observations of the court were relied upon in the present case :
- "In the present case my view is that, in judging the conduct of the accused, one must not confine himself to the actual moment when the blow which ultimately proved to be fatal, was struck, that is to say, one must not take into consideration only the event which took place immediately before the fatal blow was struck. We must take into consideration the previous conduct of the woman . . . .
- .. . . . . . . . . . .. . ..... . . .
- ..................... ........ ........
- As stated above, the whole unfortunate affair should be looked at as one prolonged agony on the part of the husband which must have been preying upon his mind and led to the assault upon the woman, resulting in her death."
- "When Budhu (the deceased) came into intimate contact with the accused by lying beside him on the charpai this trust have worked further on the mind of the accused and he must have reflected that 'this man now lying beside me had been dishonouring me a few minutes ago'. Under these circumstances we think that the provocation would be both grave and sudden."
- "The appellant when he came to reside in the Government House Orchard felt that he had removed his wife from the influence of the deceased and there was no more any contact between them. He had lulled himself into a false security. This belief was shattered when he found the deceased at his hut when he was absent. This could certainly give him a mental jolt and as this knowledge will come all of a sudden it should be deemed to have given him a grave and sudden pravocation. The fact that he had suspected this illicit intimacy on an earlier occasion also will not alter the nature of the provocation and make it any the less sudden."
84. Is there any standard of a reasonable man for the application of the doctrine of "grave and sudden" provocation? No abstract standard of reasonableness can be laid down. What a reasonable man will do in certain circumstances depends upon the customs, manners, way of life, traditional values etc. in short, the cultural, social and emotional background of the society to which an accused belongs. In our vast country there are social groups ranging from the lowest to the highest state of civilization. It is neither possible nor desirable to lay down any standard with precision : it is for the court to decide in each case, having regard to the relavent circumstances. It is not necessary in this case to ascertain whether a reasonable man placed in the position of the accused would have lost his self-control momentarily or even temporarily when his wife confessed to him of her illicit intimacy with another, for we are satisfied on the evidence that the accused regained his self-control and killed Ahuja deliberately.
85. The Indian law, relevant to the present enquiry, may be stated thus :
- (1) The test of "grave and sudden" provocation is whether a reasonable man, belonging to the same class of society as the accused, placed in the situation in which the accused was placed would be so provoked as to lose his self-control.
- (2) In India, words and gestures may also, under certain circumstances, cause grave and sudden provocation to an accused so as to bring his act within the first Exception to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code.
- (3) The mental background created by the previous act of the victim may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether the subsequent act caused grave and sudden provocation for committing the offence .
- (4) The fatal blow should be clearly traced to the influence of passion arising from that provocation and not after the passion had cooled down by lapse of time, or otherwise giving room and scope for premeditation and calculation.
87. In the result, the conviction of the accused under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentence of imprisonment for life passed on him by the High Court are correct, and there are absolutely no grounds for interference. The appeal stands dismissed.
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