02 April 1970
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (crl.) 245 of 1969






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/04/1970


CITATION:  1971 AIR 1871            1971 SCR  (1) 215  1970 SCC  (2) 105

ACT: Evidence  Act  (1  of  1872),  ss.  8  and  27-Evidence   of absconding-Relevancy  and weight-Information,  already  with police-Discovery  as  a  result  of  accused’s  statement-If admissible  under s. 27-Extra judicial,  confession,  weight of.

HEADNOTE: The  appellant  was convicted of the offence  under  s.  302 I.P.C.  Being a pauper he was defended by counsel  at  State expense.   The  entire evidence was circumstantial  and  the dead body, when it was recovered, was in a, decomposed state and was incapable of identification.  Therefore, this Court, examined  the  evidence  afresh,  contrary  to  its  settled practice  and  came to the conclusion that the  evidence  on record   established  the  appellant’s  guilt   beyond   all reasonable doubt.  With respect to three items of  evidence, namely, (1) an extra-judicial confession by the appellant to his  nephew; (2) the ’recovery of the dead body as a  result of  the  appellant’s statement; and (3) the conduct  of  the appellant   in  absconding  immediately  after  the   police suspected his complicity in the crime, HELD  :  (1)  An unambiguous  confession  if  admissible  in evidence, and free from suspicion suggesting its falsity, is a  valuable  piece  of  evidence.  which  possesses  a  high probative force because it emanates directly from the person committing   the  offence.   The  Court,  must  however   be satisfied  that  it is voluntary and was not the  result  of inducement,  threat or promise as contemplated by s.  24  of the  Evidence Act and that the surrounding circumstances  do not indicate that it was inspired by improper or  collateral considerations.  For this purpose, the court must scrutinise all  the  relevant factors, such as the person to  whom  the confession  is. made, the time and place of making  it,  the circumstances  in which it was made and finally, the  actual words used. [224 C] In  the present case, the person to whom the  extra-judicial confession. was made was not a person in authority and there was  no question of any inducement, threat or promise.   Nor has any cogent reason been suggested as to why the appellant



should have made an untrue confession within 24 hours of the disappearance  of  the deceased.  The appellant  appears  to have been impelled by some inner urge to take the assistance of his nephew to go to the place of occurrence and see  what happened  to  the  dead  body,  Such  behaviours  cannot  be considered unnatural.  The confession is free from any taint which  would throw suspicion on its voluntary character  and it  has  a ring of truth in it.  The fact  that  during  the investigation  the  nephew  was  also  suspected  of   being involved in the murder would also not cast any doubt on  the voluntary character of the confession or on its true nature, because,  it was his knowledge derived from  the  confession that invited suspicion on him.  Further, though the evidence of the nephew does not require corroboration, the finding of the  dead  body  and other articles and  other  evidence  on record  corroborate it in material  particulars.   Therefore the confession to, the nephew is admissible in evidence  and being true, deserves to be acted upon. [224 E-H] (2)  When  the nephew was suspected of complicity  he  would have  in  all  probability,  disclosed  to  the  police  the existence of the dead body and 216 the  other  articles at the place where they  were  actually found.   Therefore,  it would, in the circumstances  of  the case,  be unsafe to rely upon the information given  by  the accused,  leading  to the discovery of the  dead  body,  for proving his ’guilt. [225 D-F] (3)  Evidence  of  absconding  is relevant  as  evidence  of conduct under s.    8  of  the Evidence Act but  the  guilty mind of the accused is not the only conclusion that could be drawn  by  the Court, because, even  innocent  persons  when suspected of grave crimes are tempted to evade arrest.  [225 G-H]

JUDGMENT: CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal No. 245  of 1969. Appeal  by special leave from the judgment and  order  dated July  17, 1969 of the Mysore High Court in  Criminal  Appeal No. 111 of 1968 and Criminal Referred Case No. 2 of 1968. K.   M. K. Nair, for the appellant. S.   S. Javali and S. P. Nayar, for the respondent. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Dua,  J. The appellant was convicted by the Sessions  Judge, Shimoga,  under  s.  302,  I.P.C.  for  the  murder  of  one Govindappa,  a  village  postman  and  was  awarded  capital sentence.   He was also held guilty of an offence  under  s. 201,  I.P.C.  and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment  for  7 years.   The High Court of Mysore confirmed  the  conviction and  sentence  under  S.  302, I.P.C.  It  also  upheld  his conviction  under S. 201, I.P.C. but set aside the  sentence on this count observing that when a person is convicted both under  S. 302 and s. 201, I.P.C. it is undesirable  to  pass separate  sentence for both offences.  In this appeal  with, special  leave the appellant challenges his  conviction  and sentence under s.   302, I.P.C. The  appellant was tried, along with Laxmamma- (accused  No. 2)  wife of the deceased Govindappa and her mother  Gangamma (accused  No. 3) wife of late Mylappa.  The two  women  were charged  with abetment of murder and were acquitted  by  the trial court.  We are not concerned with them in this appeal. There  is  no eye witness in the case and the  courts  below have  accepted  the  prosecution  story  on   circumstantial



evidence.    The   question  before  us   is   whether   the circumstantial   evidence  accepted  by  the  courts   below establishes  the  murder of the deceased  by  the  appellant beyond  reasonable doubt.  The prosecution story may now  be stated. The  deceased,  Govindappa resident of Kommanal  village  in Shimoga  Taluk worked as Extra-Departmental Delivery Agent in the postal department.  He was attached to the post 217 office  at  Kommanal  and was in common  parlance  called  a postman.    G.  Sangaiah  (P.W.  1)  resident   of   village Abbalagere   worked  as  an  Assistant  School  Teacher   in Kommanal.   The distance between the two villages is  1  3/4 miles.  P.W. 1 also worked as Branch Postmaster in Kommanal, and was called Extra Departmental Postmaster.  According  to him the duties of the deceased were to bring the postal bags from the M.M.S. Bus on the main road in the morning at about 8.30  a.m.  and  after the bags were opened  by  P.W.  1  to deliver the postal articles to their respective  addressees. At  about  4.30 p.m. he would return to the post  office  to take the postal bags to the Mail Service Bus.  Six  villages were,  attached to this post office.  The deceased  used  to deliver postal articles in two groups of three villages each on  alternate days.  On July 21, 1967 at about 10  a.m.  the deceased  received  the  postal articles from  P.W.  1  for, delivering  them  to the addressees in,  villages  Kittadal, Kunchenhalli and Bikkonahalli.  The articles to be delivered included  two registered letters addressed to Krishna  Naika and Halanaika of Kittadal.  At about 3.30 p.m. the  deceased returned and told P.W. 1 that the addressees, having gone to their  fields,  were not in the village, and that  he  would again try to deliver the. registered articles to them.   The deceased  took  the  postal bags from the  post  office  for delivery  to  the  Mail  bus.  He did  not  return  to  duty thereafter.  As the deceased had been in the service of  the post office for nearly 32 years, P.W. 1 did not suspect  his bona  fides.  On July 22, 1967 P.W. I went to the  house  of the deceased but did not find him there.  Thinking that  the deceased might have been unavoidably held up somewhere  P.W. 1  in  addition  to his own duties performed  those  of  the deceased  as well on that day.  On July 23, P.W. 1  went  to village  KittadaJ  to  inquire about  the  delivery  of  the registered articles to the addressees.  There he learnt from Krishna  Naika (P.W. 15) that on July 21, 1967 the  deceased had delivered to him. the registered article at about 6 p.m. P.W.  15 on being questioned by the court gave the  time  of delivery to be about 4 p.m. But this differences as to time, in the opinion of the trial court, was due to the fact  that the  witness  had  no precise idea of  time.   After  having waited  for another day on July 24, 1967 P.W. I reported  to the Postal Inspector, Shimoga Circle about the disappearance of the deceased exhibit P-1 is this report.  P.W. I informed the Postal Inspector of the steps taken by him in his search for  the deceased.  Those steps included the inquiries  made by  him from the addressees of the registered letters  which had  been delivered by the deceased.  P.W. I had  looked  at those  registered  letters and left instructions  for  their production when required.  It was further reported that  the receipts L11 Sup.CI-15 218 pertaining  to the delivery of RL No. 456/Udipi, and RL  No. 825/Udipi  and the visit book had not been returned  by  the deceased  to the post office.  A request was made by P.W.  1 for  the appointment of someone in place of the deceased  so



that  the registered articles received on the 24th and  25th July,  1967  be ,delivered to their  respective  addressees. The Postal Inspector was asked to visit Kommanal for making the   necessary  arrangements.   This  report  reached   the Inspector  (S.W.  Pawar,  P.W. 2) on July 26,  1967  and  he visited Kommanal on July 27, 1967.  There he collected  four Panchayatdars  and  examined  Laxmamma,  the  wife  of   the deceased.   The same day he submitted his report, Ex.   P-3, to  the  Sub-Inspector of’ Police,  Kasaba  Police  Station, Shimoga,  attaching with it a copy of the report of P.W.  1, and also a copy of the statement of LaxmaMma. in this report all the relevant facts were stated.  The important thing  to be  noted  about  this report is that according  to  it  the deceased had two keys of letters boxes fixed at Kunchenhalli and  Somanakoppa.  The duplicate keys of these  locks  were, however,  available  with  P.W.  1.  This  report  was  sent because,  according  to  P.W. 2, neither  the  wife  of  the deceased  nor anyone else from the village had  reported  to the  police about the disappearance of the  de-ceased  While investigation into the fact of disappearance of the deceased pursuant to this report was going on, it appears that Bheema Naika,  (P.W.  3), resident of Kommanal  while  grazing  his cattle  near  Ayanoor forest sensed some foul smell  from  a spot  near  ’Korakalu’.   On  going  closer,  he  saw,  what appeared  to  him to be, a human skeleton with  Khakhi  half pants, khakhi shirt and belt and a pair of chappals.  He got frightened  and reported to the village patel about what  he had  seen.  As it was late in the evening the patel did  not go to the spot that day. The following morning, August  4, 1967, P.W. 3 took the pate (Shankargowda, P.W. 12) and  some others  to the spot and showed them what he had  seen.   The pate  then  reported  the matter  to  the  Sub-Inspector  of Police, Shimoga Taluk (Ex.  P-11) Investigation then appears to  have started for establishing the identity of  the  dead body,  the  cause  of  his  death  and,  if  his  death  was considered  to  be homicidal, who was the  offender.   As  a result  of the investigation the three accused  persons,  as observed earlier, were sent up for trial. The three questions requiring consideration by us relate  to the  identity  of  the dead body represented to  be  of  the deceased,  the cause of the death and whether the  appellant has  committed  the murder.  In so far as  the  question  of identity  is concerned, there can hardly be any  doubt  that the skeleton was that of the deceased. The Khakhi shirt, Ex. M.O. 1 and the half pant Ex.  M.O. 2 have 219 been  identified  by  P.W. 1 as the  uniform  given  to  the deceased.’  The visit book (Ex.  M.O. 5) is also  proved  by P.W. 1 to have been delivered to the deceased The two postal acknowledgments   entrusted   to  the  deceased   with   the registered articles (Ex.  M.O. 6) and the two duplicate keys (Exs.  MO 3) of the locks of the post boxes at  Kunchenhalli and Somanakoppa have also been identified and proved by P.W. 1.  All  these articles were recovered from  near  the  dead body.   This evidence leaves little doubt that the  skeleton was of the deceased.  Some doubt was sought to be created on the question whether the bones found at the spot were  those of  a  human body.  But on this point the testimony  of  Dr. Shambulingaswami,   Assistant  Surgeon,   Mccann   Hospital, Shimoga  (P.W. 26) is clear and it establishes beyond  doubt that  the bones found were those of a human being.  For  the present we are leaving out of consideration the evidence  of Ganga (P.W. 4) and the oral confession made by the appellant to  this witness.  We will deal with that witness  a  little later



Turning to the question whether the deceased died a  natural death  or  his  death was  homicidal,  Dr.  Ramu,  Associate Professor of Forensic Medicine-, Bangalore Medical  College, was  required  to  examine this question  and  the  skeleton concerned  was  forwarded to him.  His  report  (Ex.   P-20) records. the following opinion "I  am of opinion that (a) all the bones sent are of’  human origin and appear to belong to the same individual; (b)  the bones belong to a male; (c)  the age of the person is between 25-35 years; (d)  the height of the person is about 5 feet 6 inches                      one inch; (e)  the cause of death is due to external violence; (f)  the  time since death is about 4-8 weeks from the  date of examination."      This  report is dated August 30, 1967.  When  Dr.  Ramu appeared  as a witness he was cross-examined by the  counsel for the, appellant.  A suggestion was thrown that, the  dead body   might  have  been  bitten  by  wild  animals.    This suggestion  was denied by the witness who replied  that  the gnawing  by  the  wild animals  would  result  in  irregular surface which was not the case in respect of the bones  sent to  him.  The witness also refuted the suggestion  that  the base of the skull in question could have been fractured by a violent fall.  The fracture of bones caused by wild  animals trampling  on  them  was also stated by the  witness  to  be different in 220 nature  from the fractures which were found in  the  present case.   The doctor was clearly of opinion that the  injuries caused  to the bones sent to him for examination were  ante- mortem and not postmortem.  On being questioned by the court the  doctor replied that at least two blows must  have  been given  to the deceased, one on the nape of the neck and  the other on the left cheek.  He further stated that the  spinal cord  must have been cut and completely severed because  the two  pieces M.O. 18 and M.O. 18 (a) were completely  severed and this result could not have come about without the spinal cord  being  cut.  The injury on the base of the  skull,  he continued, must have been the result of a very hard blow and this  was  by itself sufficient in the  ordinary  course  of nature  to  cause death.  The man whose bones were  sent  to him,  must,  according  to the doctor,  have  been  brutally attacked with a sharp-cutting instrument.  This evidence, in our opinion, convincingly establishes that the deceased  was the victim of grievous assault as a result of which he  died and the courts below were quite right in so concluding. We  now come to the question whether it, was  the  appellant who  committed  the  murder.  It is  in  evidence  that  the deceased  was last seen in the company of the appellant  at about  4.30 p.m. when the deceased had gone to  deliver  the mail bags to the bus.  At about 3.30 p.m., according to P.W. 1,  the deceased had gone to the post office and  taken  the postal  bags  to be delivered to the Mail  Bus,  M.M.S.  Bus Service.   He had also told the witness that he would  again try to contact Krishna Naika and Halla Naika of Kittadal for delivering the registered articles.  Chennabasappa (P.W. 16) has  also deposed that he saw Govindappa and  the  appellant delivering  the  mail bags to the bus after they  had  taken coffee in the hotel near the bus stop that evening.  P.W. 9, the  brother of the appellant who was also at the  bus  stop that  evening saw the deceased and the appellant  travelling in the same bus.  Gangamma (P.W. 8), the wife of the brother of the deceased who lives in a portion of the same house  in which  the  deceased  lived. has stated  that  she  saw  the



deceased  on  Friday  evening at about 4.30  p.m.  with  the appellant  going  from their house towards the  post  office building.  The appellant was at that time carrying an axe on his shoulder.  The demeanor of this witness was described by the  trial court as natural.  Sulochana, an eleven year  old daughter  of  the deceased, appeared as P.W. 10  and  stated that  on  Friday, the day her father disappeared,  at  about 4.30  p.m. he left the house to deliver the mail  bags.   At about  5 p.m. the appellant took an axe from her mother  and proceeded  towards  the ’Post office.  At about 8  p.m.  the appellant returned home.  According to this witness four  or five  days  earlier,  the appellant  had  suggested  to  the deceased to accompany him to the forest area for bringing 221 teak  logs so as to be able to make some money.   People  of village  Haramghatta  required teak logs and  the  deceased, according  to the suggestion, could earn at least  Rs.  151. The  deceased  first expressed his inability to  spare  time from  his official duties but the suggestion, could earn  at least  Rs. 151-.  The deceased first expresed his  inability to  spare time from his official duties but  the  suggestion having  been repeated the deceased ultimately agreed.   This witness,   though  being  only  1  1  years  old   was   not administered  oath, created a favourable impression  on  the trial court as is obvious from the following note               "The   witness  gave  her   evidence   without               faltering or visible signs of hesitancy.   She               speaks clearly, precisely and straight to  the               question." The  trial court also interrupted the witness in the  middle of  her testimony, in order to satisfy itself,  by  breaking the continuity of the story, that she was not reproducing  a tutored  version.   On going through her  statement  we  are satisfied  that she is a truthful witness and  her  evidence deserves  to  be accepted and was rightly  accepted  by  the courts   below.   There  is  in  our  opinion,  cogent   and trustworthy  evidence.  to  support the  conclusion  of  the courts  below  that  the deceased was  last  seen  with  the appellant  a  short time before his  disappearance.   Having upheld  this  conclusion, we may appropriately  examine  the appellant’s   explanation.    He  has  merely   denied,   by expressing  his ignorance, that the deceased had  been  last seen  alive  with him.  In fact he has simply  described  as false  all  the material allegations including that  of  his acquaintance  with  Laxmamma  and that he used  to  stay  in Kommanal.   This bare denial without any explanation is  not wholly unimportant. This takes us to the motive for the appellant to get rid  of the deceased.  There can be little doubt on the evidence on the  record that the appellant had developed close  intimacy with  the  wife of the deceased.  The evidence  of  Gangamma (P.W.  8), wife of the brother of the deceased who,  it  may recalled, lives in one portion of the ancestral house  owned by the two brothers, is quite clear on the point.  Laxmamma, the wife of the deceased, used to run her shop in the  other half  of  the  same  house.  P.W. 8  was,  therefore,  in  a position  to know about the appellant’s frequent  visits  to that shop.  According to her the appellant sometimes used to take  his food in Laxmamma’s house and also to sleep  there. This was due to their intimacy.  Though many customers  used to  come  to that shop no one ever stayed on  in  the  house except  the  appellant.  P.W. 8 has also  deposed  that  the deceased  and his wife used to quarrel with each  other  and the deceased used to 222



protest against her feeding the appellant and neglecting him in the matter of food.  To this Laxamma used to report  that the deceased did not provide her with enough money for  that purpose whereas the appellant did.  The suggestion that  her husband and the deceased had quarrelled over partition of  a field was repudiated by her.  The trial court was favourably impressed by the demeanor of this witness as well.  P.W.  9, the  brother  of  the deceased, has also  stated  about  the quarrels between the deceased and his wife.  He has  deposed :               "My  brother  and  his  wife  A2  were   often               quarreling bitterly.  That was after Ugadi  of               last  year. lie used to complain to  his  wife               that  she was not cooking food at  the  proper               time.   A2 in turn used to reply that  he  was               not supplying her with provision and therefore               he could not expect her to cook food in  time.               He  sometimes  used to thrash A2.   She  would               weep and sleep away.  When my brother used  to               go away without food, I used to invite him  to               take his food.  Sometimes he used to take  his               food  in  my  house.  After  the  last  Ugadi,               Thimma  (A1)’s visit and stay in my  brother’s               house  increased.   Al  and  A2  used  to   go               together  for  work.   They  used  to  go   to               Nyamathi  Shandy to fetch goods.  Al  used  to               carry   the  goods  back  to   Komminal   from               Nyamathi.               Two  days  prior to the  disappearance  of  my               brother there was a bitter quarrel between  A2               and himself.  During that quarrel,  Govindappa               questioned  A2 how Al remained under his  roof               and  that she fed him and that by the time  he               returned, there was nothing left for him.   A2               replied that he earns and supplied the  provi-               sions  and  therefore  she  was  feeding   him               whereas  he  (Govindappa) did not  supply  the               provisions  and consequently she did not  look               after  him.   The quarrel resulted  in  severe               beating of A2 by my brother.  A2 never  served               him food." From  this evidence the motive on the part of the  appellant to do away with the deceased is obvious. We  now  turn  to  the  extra-judicial  confessions  of  the appellant   and  his  conduct  on  the  day  following   the disappearance  of the deceased.  Ganga (P.W. 4) is a  nephew of  the appellant, being the son of his elder brother.   The appellant,  according  to  this  witneSS,  had  taken  up  a contract  of uprooting plants and trees so as to render  the land cultivable.  This witness used to visit Laxmamma’s shop when he was working at Kommanal and he 223 also knew the deceased.  On Saturday following the day  when the  deceased  had disappeared, in the early  hours  of  the morning a little before sunrise.. the appellant went to  the house of the witness in Bodekanna colony near Kommannal  and woke  him up.  As the witness began to tether  his  bullocks the appellant went to, his father’s house nearby.  After,  a short while the appellant returned and told the witness that the  previous  evening  he  had gone to  the  field  of  one Mahadevappa  and  had lost his purse containing  Rs.  200/-. The  appellant desired the witness to accompany him to  find the lost purse.  On their way through the forest by the side of  the hill they met one Sivappanavar Basappa (P.W. 13)  on whose  enquiry as to what had brought them there  so  early,



the  appellant replied that he had some work in  the  fallow land  of Mahadevappa . On reaching the ’Korakalu’ which  was about  2  1/2  ft. deep, the witness saw the  dead  body  of Govindappa.   The dead body was lying flat on its  back  and the witness observed injuries on the neck, face and chest of the  deceased.  He also saw near the dead body Khakhi  shirt (M.O.  1),  Khakhi half pants (M.O. 2), a pair  of  chappals (M.O. 7), a plaster belt (M.O. 8) and banian (M.O. 10).  The appellant then pulled the red waist thread (M.O. 10) worn by the  deceased  and as he took it into his hands, a  pair  of small  keys  (M.O. 3-A) were noticed by  the  witness.   The appellant  remarked that those were not the keys he  wanted. So saying he threw away the thread, the keys and a  talisman (M.O. 11) which was also found there.  Directing the witness to  keep a watch from a higher elevation the  appellant  cut some  branches of the trees and after collecting some  twigs covered  the  dead body with them.  After  picking  up  some papers  the  appellant  and the witness  started  on  return journey.   After covering some distance the appellant  threw away  the papers in a bush.  The appellant told the  witness that  he  had killed the deceased with the  sickle  (matchu) given by the wife of the deceased and that the same had been thrown away by him in a bush.  As they reached the main road the  appellant warned the witness not to disclose to  anyone what  he  had seen and learnt, otherwise he  was  threatened with the same fate as the deceased had met. The  trial  court  was  not  favourably  impressed  by   the testimony of Ganga (P.W. 4) though it felt convinced that on the  day following the disappearance of the deceased he  had knowledge  both of the commission of the offence and of  the place  where  the dead body was lying.  That court  did  not rely  _on  his  testimony in regard  to  the  extra-judicial confession  because it was considered incredible.  The  High Court  on  appeal  disagreed with the  trial  court  in  its appreciation  of  the evidence of P.W. 4. According  to  the High  Court the evidence of P.W. 4 was corroborated  by  the evidence  of  P.W.  13  and  P.W.  25.   The  extra-judicial confession was, 224 therefore,  held to be admissible and trust Worthy.   Before us it was contended, that the extra-judicial confession said to  have  "been made to P.W. 4 is inadmissible  and  in  any event  without  corroboration in material  particulars  from independent  source  it is unsafe to act upon  it.   It  was emphasised that P.W. 4 was at one stage of the investigation suspected  of complicity in this murder and,  therefore,  he should  be  treated no better than an  accomplice.   In  our opinion,  this criticism is not justified.   An  unambiguous confession,  if  admissible  in  evidence,  and  free   from suspicion  suggesting  its falsity, is a valuable  piece  of evidence  which possesses a high probative force because  it emanates  directly from the person committing  the  offence. But  in  the process of proof of an alleged  confession  the court has to be satisfied that, it is voluntary, it does not appear to be the result of inducement, threat or promise  as contemplated   by  s.  24,  Indian  Evidence  Act  and   the surrounding  circumstances  do  not  indicate  that  it   is inspired  by  some improperly  or  collateral  consideration suggesting  that it may not be true.  For this purpose,  the court must scrutinise all the relevant factors, such as, the person to whom the confession is made, the time and place of making it, the circumstances in which it is made and finally the  actual  words.  In the case in hand it is  quite  clear that P.W. 4 is not a person in authority.  There can thus be no  question of any inducement, threat or promise  rendering



the confession irrelevant.  Nor has any cogent reason’  been suggested  why  the  appellant should have  made  an  untrue confession to P.W. 4 within 24 hours of the disappearance of the  deceased.  On the other hand, the appellant appears  to have been impelled by some inner urge to take the assistance of P.W. 4, his real nephew, to go to the place of occurrence to  see  as  to what had happened to the dead  body  of  his victim.   Such  behaviour cannot be considered  unnatural. The confession appears to us to be free from any taint which would throw suspicion on its voluntary character and it  has a   ring  of  truth  in  it.   The  fact  that  during   the investigation P.W. 4 was suspected of being involved in  the murder  would  also  not cast any  doubt  on  the  voluntary character of the confession or on its true nature because it is the knowledge of P.W. 4 derived from this very confession which perhaps invited suspicion on him.  We do not  consider this  to be a cogent ground for holding that P.W. 4 had  any motive to concoct the story of confession.  This  confession is,  therefore,  admisible  in  evidence  and  being   true, deserves  to be acted upon.  The words used are quite  clear and  ’admit of no doubt of the appellant’s guilt.  And  then though   the   evidence  of  P.W.  4  does  not   need   any corroboration   we  find  that  corroboration  in   material particulars is forthcoming on the record.  The existence  of the dead body and all the other articles at the place  where they were later found and the evidence of Basappa (P.W.  13) which proves the visit of the 225 appellant  and P.W. 4 to the spot on Saturday following  the disappearance of the deceased furnish strong  corroboration. The High Court was thus quite right in relying on the extra- judicial confession made to P.W. 4. The confessions said  to have  been  made to P.W. 31 and to Abdul  Rahman  (P.W.  22) stand  on a different footing.  Both the courts  below  have not  considered it safe to rely on these confessions and  we do not find any sufficient reason for disagreeing with them. Reliance on behalf of the prosecution was also placed on the information  given  by  the  appellant  which  led  to   the discovery  of the dead body and other articles found at  the spot.   It was contended that the information received  from him   related  distinctly  to  the  facts  discovered   and, therefore,  the  statement  conveying  the  information  was admissible  in evidence under s. 27 of the Indian  ’Evidence Act.  This information, it was argued, also lends support to the  appellant’s guilt.  It appears to us that when  P.W.  4 was suspected of complicity in this offence he would in  all probability  have disclosed to the police the  existence  of the dead body and the other articles at the place where they were  actually found.  Once a fact is discovered from  other sources  there  can be no fresh discovery even  if  relevant information is extracted from the accused and courts have to be  watchful  against  the ingenuity  of  the  investigating officer  in this respect so that the protection afforded  by the wholesome provisions of ss. 25 and 26 of the Indian Evi- dence  Act is not whittled down by mere manipulation of  the record  of case diary.  It would, in the  circumstances,  be somewhat unsafe to rely on this information for proving  the appellant’s  guilt.  We are accordingly disinclined to  take into consideration this statement. The trial court and the High Court have also been influenced by the fact that the appellant had absconded after September 1, 1967 when the police got suspicious of his complicity  in this  offence.   It  is true that  the  appellant  did  make himself  scarce with effect from September 1, 1967  till  he was  arrested  on  September 5, 1967  and  this  conduct  is



relevant  under s. 8 of. the Indian Evidence Act  and  might well be indicative to some extent of guilty mind.  But  this is not the only conclusion to which it must lead the  court. Even  innocent persons may, when suspected of grave  crimes, be  tempted to, evade arrest: such is the instinct of  self- preservation in an average human being.  We are,  therefore, not inclined to attach much significance to this conduct  on the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case. In this case the appellant being a pauper was provided  with counsel  at  State expense in the trial court.   The  entire prosecution case depends on circumstantial evidence and  the dead body 226 was actually recovered in a decomposed state when it was not capable  of  identification.   In  view  of  these  peculiar features  we undertook to examine the evidence ourselves,  a course  which  this Court as a matter of  settled  practice, does  not  ordinarily  adopt.  We  are  satisfied  that  the evidence  on  the record establishes the  appellant’s  guilt beyond  reasonable  doubt and the courts  below  were  quite right  in convicting him.  On the question of sentence  also we  do  not find any cogent ground for  interference.   This appeal fails and is dismissed. Y.P.                                  Appeal dismissed. 227