Anand Mohan vs State of Bihar
The case relates to the murder of G. Krishnaiyyah, the then District Magistrate of Gopalganj, Bihar. Briefly, the prosecution case in the FIR was as follows: On the night of 04.12.1994, certain unknown criminals had murdered Kaushlendra Kumar Shukla @ Chhotan Shukla and his associates at NH-28 and the post mortem on Chhotan Shukla and the other deceased persons was done on 05.12.1994 at the SKM College Hospital.
The supporters of Chhotan Shukla belonging to the Bihar Peoples Party gathered in large numbers at the hospital. Considering the possibility of breakdown of law and order, the officers of the civil and police administration remained present with armed force and lathi force at the hospital. After the post mortem, the dead bodies were taken in a procession to the house of Chhotan Shukla. The procession was led by Arun Kumar Singh, Ramesh Thakur, Shashi Shekhar Thakur, Ram Babu Singh, Harendra Kumar, Vijay Kumar Shukla @ Munna Shukla and others and was escorted by the officers of the civil and police administration. When the procession reached the house of Chhotan Shukla, Anand Mohan, MLA, and Lovely Anand, M.P., and others who were present there, offered flowers to the dead body of Chhotan Shukla. At about 3.30 p.m., the dead body of Chottan Shukla was taken in a procession to his ancestral house in village Jalalpur under Lalganj Thana in Vaishali district where about 5000 people gathered. Thereafter, the procession was led by Anand Mohan, Lovely Anand, Professor Arun Kumar Singh, Akhlak Ahmad, Harender Kumar, Rameshwar Wiplavi and others and they were all in different vehicles. Anand Mohan and Lovely Anand were sitting in their Contessa car. An Ambassador car and a white coloured Gypsy were moving in front of the procession. When the procession reached the Bhagwanpur Chowk, the dead body of Chottan Shukla was kept for a while and Anand Mohan, Lovely Anand and Professor Arun Kumar Singh gave speeches instigating the crowd to take revenge of the murder of Chhotan Shukla and others by murder and to teach the administration a lesson if it created any hurdle. After listening to the speeches, the people became aggressive. The procession then moved from Bhagwanpur Chowk towards Ram Dayal Nagar through the National Highway. At about 4.15 p.m. when the procession came near Khabra Village on the National Highway, the shouts Maro Maro were heard from the midst of the procession. When the informant along with other officers reached the place from where the shouts were being heard, they found that on the right hand side of the road the Ambassador car of the District Magistrate, Gopalganj, G. Krishnaiyyah (coming from the opposite direction) had turned turtle and the District Magistrate was lying on the ground. They also saw Anand Mohan, Lovely Anand, Professor Arun Kumar Singh and some others were loudly provoking Bhutkun Shukla (brother of Chhotan Shukla) to kill the District Magistrate and take revenge. Thereafter, Bhutkun Shukla drew out a revolver from his waist and fired three shots and then escaped into the crowd. The District Magistrate got wounded. Looking at the gravity of the situation, the Sub-Divisional Officer (East) ordered lathi charge and the police and other officers present started charging lathi at the crowd. The District Magistrate, Gopalganj, was sent in a Gypsy to the SKM College Hospital for treatment. Information was sent through wireless to the District Headquarters of Vaishali District about the incident. In the meantime, the assailants fled to Hajipur and the informant and the Sub-Divisional Officer (East) chased the assailants and reached Hajipur where they found 15 persons including Anand Mohan and Lovely Anand caught by the Hajipur police. All the 15 persons were arrested and their vehicles were seized. After the informant came back to Muzaffarpur, he got information that the District Magistrate, Gopalganj, died at the SKM College Hospital.
Pursuant to the FIR, investigation was carried out by the police and a charge-sheet was filed against 36 accused persons. The learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Muzaffarpur, committed the case to the Sessions Court. The trial court found Anand Mohan (A1), Lovely Anand (A2), Professor Arun Kumar Singh (A3), Akhlak Ahamad (A4), Vijay Kumar Shukla @ Munna Shukla (A5), Harendra Kumar @ Harendra Pd.Sahi (A6) and Shashi Shekhar Thakur (A7) guilty of the offences under Sections 147, 302/149, 307/149 and 427/149 of the IPC. The trial court also held Anand Mohan, Lovely Anand, Professor Arun Kumar Singh and Akhlak Ahamad guilty of the offence of abetment to commit murder under Sections 302/109 IPC. The trial court acquitted the remaining accused persons of all the charges.
The trial court sentenced A-1, A-3 and A-4 to death for the offence under Sections 302/149 and 302/109 of the IPC and further sentenced them for one year R.I. for the offence under Section 147 IPC, 5 years R.I. for the offence under Section 307/147 IPC and one year R.I. for the offence under Section 427/149 IPC and all the sentences were to run concurrently. The trial court, however, sentenced A-2 to life imprisonment for the offences under Sections 302/149 and 302/109 IPC and a fine of Rs.25,000/-, for one year R.I. for the offence under Section 147 IPC, 5 years R.I. for the offence under Section 307/149 IPC and one year R.I. for the offence under Section 427/149 IPC and all the sentences were to run concurrently and in default of payment of fine she was to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of two years.
The sentence of death on A-1, A-3 and A-4 were referred to the High Court. Criminal appeals were also filed by the convicts before the High Court. The High Court held that the prosecution had not been able to establish a case of unlawful assembly with common object of causing death of the deceased, or any other person and thus there could be no conviction under Sections 147 and 302/149 IPC. The High Court, however, held on the basis of evidence that A-1 had exhorted the lone shooter to kill the deceased and hence he alone was guilty of the offence of abetment of murder under Section 302/109 IPC. Accordingly, the High Court acquitted A- 2 to A-7 of all the charges and sustained the conviction of A-1 but converted the sentence of death on A-1 to one of rigorous imprisonment for life.
The first question before the Supreme Court to decide was whether the wireless message sent soon after the incident on 05.12.1994 was the real FIR as contended on behalf of the defence or whether the typed report subsequently lodged by PW-14 in the Muzaffarpur Sadar Police Station was the FIR as contended on behalf of the prosecution. The wireless message sent soon after the incident on 05.12.1994 stated only that the people mixed with the crowd of funeral procession for the cremation of Chottan Shukla have injured the deceased by shooting him with revolver and have fled towards Hajipur by different vehicles. This wireless message was cryptic and did not sufficiently disclose the nature of the offence committed much less the identity of the persons who committed the offence. Unless and until more information was collected on how exactly the deceased was killed, it was not mandatory for either PW-14 to lodge the same as FIR or for the Officer Incharge of a police station to treat the same as an FIR. Thus the trial court and the High Court had rightly treated the subsequent typed written information lodged by PW-14 and not the wireless message as the FIR.
Out of fourteen witnesses who accompanied the procession, only four witnesses said that A-2 along with A-1 exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased, whereas the remaining eight do not say that A-2 also exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased. Similarly, out of the fourteen witnesses who accompanied the procession, only two witnesses had spoken of exhortation by A-3 to Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased and the remaining eleven witnesses have not said that A-3 also exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased. Again out of the fourteen witnesses examined by the prosecution, only two witnesses had said that A-4 also exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased, but the remaining twelve witnesses have not said that A-4 also exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the District Magistrate. The Supreme Court in Jainul Haque v. State of Bihar [AIR 1974 SC 45] had held that evidence of exhortation is in the very nature of things a weak piece of evidence and there is often quite a tendency to implicate some person in addition to the actual assailant by attributing to that person an exhortation to the assailant to assault the victim and unless the evidence in this respect is clear, cogent and reliable, no conviction for abetment can be recorded against the person alleged to have exhorted the actual assailant. Since the majority out of the fourteen prosecution witnesses comprising both civilian and police personnel accompanying the procession did not support the prosecution version that A-2, A-3 and A-4 also exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased, it was held not safe to convict A-2, A-3 and A-4 for the offence of abetment of the murder of the deceased.
The Supreme Court observed that ten out of the fourteen witnesses who were accompanying the procession and were near the place of occurrence gave a consistent version that A-1 exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased. The remaining four witnesses may be at the place of occurrence but for some reason or the other may not have heard the exhortation by A-1 to Bhutkan to shoot at the deceased. Hence, just because four of the fourteen witnesses have not deposed regarding the fact of exhortation by A-1, it could not be held that the ten witnesses falsely deposed that A-1 had exhorted Bhutkun to shoot at the deceased. Thus the appeal of Anand Mohan (A1) against award of life imprisonment as well as the state appeals against the acquittals of other accused were dismissed.