The State Vs. Siddiqur Rahman and another, 3 LNJ (AD) (2014) 110

Case No: Criminal Petition for Leave to Appeal No. 317 of 2005

Judge: Md. Abdul Wahhab Miah,

Court: Appellate Division ,,

Advocate: Ekramul Haque,,

Citation: 3 LNJ (AD) (2014) 110

Case Year: 2014

Appellant: The State

Respondent: Siddiqur Rahman and another

Subject: Confessional Statement, Commutation of Sentence, Law of Evidence,

Delivery Date: 2014-04-07

 
APPELLATE DIVISION
(CRIMINAL)
 
Md. Muzammel Hossain, CJ.
Surendra Kumar Sinha, J
Md. Abdul Wahhab Miah, J
Hasan Foez Siddique, J
A. H. M. Shamsuddin Choudhury , J.

Judgment on
07.04.2014
  The State
....Petitioner
     -Versus-
Siddiqur Rahman and another
....Respondents.
 

Code of Criminal Procedure (V of 1898)
Section 164
It is a well settled proposition of law that they can be looked into to test the veracity of the witnesses and equally can . . . (9)
 
Evidence Act (I of 1872)
Section 45
It is a settled legal proposition that the post mortem report is not a substantive piece of evidence and it is just like other corroborative evidence and it cannot be accepted as a conclusive proof as to the cause of death of a deceased and a Court can discard the opinion of the doctor if it contradicts the ocular evidence in the case which appears to be credible, cogent and trustworthy and the doctors concerned failed to hold the autopsy properly and gave fanciful opinion. . . (9)
 
Penal Code (XLV of 1860)
Section 302
Nari-o-Shishu Nirjaton Daman Ain (VIII of 2000)
Section 9(2)
A reading of the second clause of sub-section (2) of section 9 of the Ain 2000 clearly shows that a person shall be liable to be sentenced to death or imprisonment for life and also minimum fine of taka l(one) lac, if the raped woman dies because of  ‘‘তাদের অনাধিক কার্যকলাপের ফলে’’. The acts of the accused in pressing the mouth of Rahima for long resulting her death cleqarly come within the meaning of the words তাহার অনাধিক কার্যকলাপের ফলে ধর্ষিতা নারী বা শিশুর মৃত্যু ঘটে’’ used in sub-section (2) of section 9 of the Ain,2000. . . . (12)

Code of Criminal Procedure (V of 1898)
Section 376
It appears that the age of the two accused at the time of occurrence was 17 and 18 years respectively. The High Court Division rightly commuted the sentence of death awarded by the Tribunal to imprisonment for life considering their age.. . . (12)
 
For the Petitioner : Mr. Ekramul Haque, Deputy Attorney General instructed by Mrs. Sufia Khatun, Advocate-on-Record. 
For the Respondents: Not represented.

Criminal Petition for Leave to Appeal No. 317 of 2005 with Jail Appeal No. 899 and 300 of 2005
 
JUDGMENT
Md. Abdul Wahhab Miah, J:

Delay is condoned.

The State has filed this petition for leave to appeal against the judgment and order dated the 28th day of February, 2010 passed by the High Court Division in Death Reference No.113 of 2005 heard analogously with Jail Appeal Nos.899 of 2005 and 900 of 2005 rejecting the death reference and dismissing the jail appeals, maintaining the order of conviction of the respondents passed by the Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Tribunal No.1, Daman Case No.80 of 2003, but altering the sentence to one under section 302 of the penal Code and sentencing each of them to suffer imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of taka 2000.00 each, in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 6(six) months more.

Facts essential for disposal of this leave petition are that two respondents-Siddiqur Rahman and Sumon @ Megha (hereinafter referred to as the accused) were put on trial before the Tribunal in Nari-0-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Case No. 80 of 2003 and were charged under section 9(2)(3) of the Nari-0-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain, 2000(the Ain, 2000) to which they pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.

The case of the prosecution as stated by PW1, the informant, (hereinafter referred to as the PW) was that on 12.10.2000, at about 7:00 p.m., his younger brother informed him that his sister-Rahima Khatun was not traceable. The PW along with his relatives searched Rahima in different places, but Rahima was not found. At 10:00 p.m., Samad and Ojufa informed the PW that in the afternoon, they saw Rahima and the accused going through the D.R. dairy farm. On such information, the PW searched Rahima in the Dairy Firm area, but she was not found. Then, the PW catne back to his house and went to the house of the accused and asked their guardians about their whereabouts, but they could not give their whereabouts. He went to bed after 1 o'clock in the night and woke up at the time of Azan. On 13.10.2000, the accused came from two different Directions (দুইজন দুই দিক থেকে আসে); at about 6:00 a.m., accused-Megha told the PW that he watched VDO the whole night and accused-Siddique told that he listened songs. On going to the place where VDO was watched by accused Megha, no VDO was found. The PW and his brother-in-law, Rahman detained both the accused and then took them to the house of Badsha Mia, a U.P. Member. At the house of Badsha Mia, the PW, his brother-in-law and the other people, enquired of the accused about Rahima and thev first told that they had handed over her to a boy at Kaliakoir. On such information, the PW went to Kaliakoir, but they did not find Rahima there and came back in the evening. Thereafter, the respectable people of the locality called the accused and enquired of them about Rahima and they confessed to them that they raped Rahima and killed her by throatling and kept the dead body at the jungle by the side of BLR. Then, the PW informed the police station and went to the said place along with the police and the accused showed the dead body. Thereafter, the dead body was recovered from the jungle and then the First Information Report (FIR) was lodged with the police station.

The prosecution in all examined 8(eight) witnesses to prove the charges. The prosecution witnesses were duly cross-examined by the defence. No witness was examined on behalf of the defence.

The case of the defence as it appears from the trend of the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses and the examination of the accused under section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (the Code) was that they were innocent and were implicated in the case falsely and that they were not involved with the alleged offences of committing rape and killing Rahima Khatun. The Tribunal on conclusion of the trial by the judgment and order dated the 25th day of July, 2005 found the accused guilty under section 9(2)(3) of the Ain, 2000 and sentenced each of them to death. The Tribunal submitted the proceedings of the case to the High Court Division under section 374 of the Code for confirmation of the death sentence. It was registered as Death Reference No. 113 of 2005. The accused also filed Jail Appeal Nos.899 and 900 of 2005 before the High Court Division. A Division Bench of the High Court Division on hearing the death reference with the jail appeals rejected the reference, dismissed the jail appeals, maintained the order of conviction, but altered the sentence under section 302 of the Penal Code from section 9(2)(3) of the Ain, 2000 and sentenced each of the accused to suffer imprisonment for life and also to pay a fine of taka 20,000'00 each, in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 6(six) months more.

Mr. Ekramul Haque, learned Deputy Attorney General, appearing for the State, has taken objection as regards the alteration of the sentence of the accused by the High Court Division to one for imprisonment for life under section 302 of the Penal Code from that of death sentence under section 9(2)(3) of the Ain, 2000 awarded by the Tribunal. He submits that the High Court Division was totally wrong in coming to the finding that "the prosecution failed to prove the charge of rape on Rahima by the two accused punishable under section 9(2) and (3) of the Nari-0-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain, 2000." and on such erroneous view converted the conviction into one under section 302 of the Penal Code. He further submits that in coming to the above finding the High Court Division solely relied on the opinion of the doctor given in the post mortem report that "No sign of recent sexual intercourse was seen" ignoring the confessional statements of the accused that they first raped Rahima and then killed her and also on misconception of the provisions of section 9(2)(3) of the Ain, 2000 and as such, the impugned judgment and order calls for interference by this Court by giving leave.

We have gone through the evidence on record and the other materials. It appears that the entire prosecution case rests on the confessional statements of the accused. Both the accused made confessional statements under section 164 of the Code categorically stating that they raped Rahima one after another. The Tribunal as well as the High Court Division found the confessional statements of the accused voluntary and true and accordingly, they relied upon their confessional statements. From the impugned judgment and order, it appears that the High Court Division disbelieved the prosecution case of commission of rape by the accused upon the victim relying on the opinion of the doctor that "no sign of recent sexual intercourse was seen." Therefore, it is pertinent to see whether the High Court Division was correct in taking the said view relying on the opinion of the doctor given in the post mortem report. And to see this, it is necessary to consider the confessional statements of the two accused. The relevant portions of the confessional statements of the two accused are as follows:

সুমন ওরফে মেঘা
‘‘আমি লেখা পড়া জানি না। Victim রহিমা আমাদের পুর্ব পরিচিত। তার নানার বাড়ি লাল মনির হাট। ছিদ্দিক অমার মামাতো ভাই এর বন্ধু। তার কথায় ঘটনার তারিখ গত ১২/১০/২০০০ Victim রহিমাকে লালমনির হাটে পৌটে দেয়ার জন্য ছিদ্দিকের সাথে বেরহই। ডাইরী ফার্ম হয়ে নবীনগর যাই। সেখানে ছিদ্দিক বলে টাকা আছে। আমি  বলি  টাকা নেই। ফলে আমরা লালমনির হাট যেতে পারিনি। রাত ৯/৯.৩০টা হয়ে যায় বিশ মাইল চলে আসি। এখানে এসে Victim কে বাড়ি চলে যাবার জন্য বলি কিন্তু সে কোন মতেই যেতে রাজি হয়নি। ফলে আমি ছিদ্দিক ও (ছেড়া) রহিমা রাতে বি,এল,আর,আই এর দেয়ালে পার্শ্বে জংগলে ঢুকে পড়ি।
আমরা তিনজনই রাতে এক সাথে অবস্থান করি। Victim রহিমার সাথে অবৈধভাবে মেলা মেশা করি। সে প্রথমে রাজি হয়নি। আমরা তাকে রাজি করি। প্রথমে আমি rape করি তার পর আসারী ছিদ্দিক অবৈধ মেল মেশা করে। Victim ভোরে আবার ও লালমনির হাট পৌছে দৌার চন্য পিড়া পিড়ি করে। না নিয়ে গেলে গাড়ীতে চাপা খেয়ে মারা যাবে বলে। ভোরে এ ব্যাপার নিয়ে আমরা ধসত্মাধসিত্ম করি। আমরা মুখে চাপা দিয়ে দীর্ঘক্ষন ধরলে মেয়েটি মারা যায়। সকালে বাড়ি আসি লোকজন এসে আমাদেও ধৃত কওে এবং অটক করে রাখে। তাদের পিড়া পিড়িতে আমরা ঘটনা স্বীকার করি। ঘটনাস্থলে যাই এবং Victim রহিমার লাশ নিয়ে থানায় আসি। এই আমার বক্তব্য। লাশ সনাক্তের সময় পুলিশ সাথে ছিল।’’
 
ছিদ্দিকুর রহমান
"আমার নাম ছিদ্দিকুর রহমান। স্বাক্ষর দিতে জানি। Victim রহিমা আমার পূর্ব পরিচিত। স্বামীর বাড়িতে থাকেনা। তার নানার বাড়ি লালামনির হাট। সেখানে পৌছে দেবার জন্য আমাকে প্রায় বলে। ঘটনার দিন গত ১২/১০/২০০০ তারিখ আমি ও আমার বন্ধু সুমন ওরফে মেঘে মুক্তাদেও বাড়িতে বসে T.V. দেখছিলাম। Victim আমাদের কাছে আসে এবং বলে চলো আজ আমাকে আমার নানার বাড়ি পৌছে দিবে। তার পিড়া পিড়িতে আমি রাজি হয়ে যাই। Victim রহিমা তৈরী হয়ে আসে এবং Victim সুমন ওরফে মেঘা এবং আমি বিকাল অনুঃ ৩/৩.৩০টায় বাড়ি থেকে বের হয়ে যায়। ডেইরি ফার্ম হয়ে নবীনগর। আমি নবীনগর এসে সুমন বলে যে তার কাছে টাকা নেই। তখন আমরা বিশমাইল নামক স্থানে ফিরে আসি। রাত ৯/৯.৩০টা হয়ে যায়। মেয়েকে আমরা বলি বাড়ি চলে যাবার জন্য কিন্তু সে বাড়ি যেতে পারবেনা জানিয়ে দেয়। ফলে বাদ্য হয়ে তাকে নিয়ে অমরা B.L.R.I. দেয়ালের পার্শ্বে জঙ্গলে চলে যাই এবং সেখানে সারারাত অবস্থান করি। সুমন এসে মেয়েটাকে ধর্ষণ করে। অর্থ্যাৎ মেয়ের সাথে অবৈধ কাজ করে। তার পর আমি করি। একবার করেছি। ভোর হয়ে যাবার পর আবার অনুরোধ করি বাড়ি চলে যাবার জন্য কিন্তু সে রালি হয়নি। নানার বাড়ি পৌছে দিতে হবে। নতুবা সে গাড়ীর নীচে পড়ে মারা যাবে। তখন তার সাথে ধসত্মাধসিত্ম করে মুখ চেপে ধরি। ফলে মেয়েটি মারা যায়। অমরা বাড়িতে ফিরে আসার সাথে (২) লোকজন ধৃত করে এবং আটকিয়ে রাখে। পরবতিতে ঘটনা স্বীকার করি। ঘটনাস্থলে যাই এবং Victim কে উদ্ধার করি। সেখান থেকে থানায় আসি। এই আমার বক্তব্য।"
 
From the confessional statements, it is very much clear that both the accused categorically stated that they raped Rahima after taking her in the jungle by the side of the wall of B.L.R.I one after another. Besides, the confessional statements, the accused also made extra-judicial confessional statements before PWs 1, 4 and 5 as to the fact that they also raped Rahirna before killing her.
 
Admittedly in this case, the doctor who held the autopsy, was not examined and the post mortem report was admitted into evidence under section 23 of the Ain, 2000 and was marked as exhibit-8. In view of the clear confession of both the accused in judicial and extra-judicial confessional statements that they raped Rahima, it is not understood as to how the doctor could give the opinion that "No sign of recent sexual intercourse was seen." Thoughfit is a well settled proposition of law that the contents of the inquest report cannot be termed as evidence, in other words, the inquest report cannot be treated as substantive evidence, yet they can be looked into to test the veracity of the witnesses and equally can be looked into also to see the truth of the confessional statements of the accused. And in the instant case, we consider it necessary to look into the contents of the inquest report in view of the opinion of the doctor in the post mortem report that "no sign of recent sexual intercourse was seen." In the inquest report, it has been clearly mentioned that "‡hŠbv‡½ ex‡h©i mv`v `vM Av‡Q ewjqv g‡b nq" And this clearly corroborates the confessional statements of the accused that they raped Rahima on the fateful night. (It is also a settled legal proposition that the post mortem report is not a substantive piece of evidence and it is just like other corroborative evidence and it cannot be accepted as a conclusive proof as to the cause of death of a deceased and a Court can discard the opinion of the doctor if it contradicts the ocular evidence in the case which appears to be credible, cogent and trustworthy and the doctors concerned failed to hold the autopsy properly and gave fanciful opinion;) In the instant case, although the doctor, who held the autopsy, opined that the death of Rahima was caused "due to respiratory following asphyxia caused by strangulation by throatling which was anti-mortem and homicidal in nature" which is quite in line with the confessional statement of the accused opined that no sign of recent sexual intercourse was seen and such opinion is totally contradictory to the confessional statements both judicial and extra-judicial of the accused. When the accused themselves confessed in their confessional statements about the fact of committing rape upon Rahima before killing her, which were true and voluntary, the High Court Division ought not have accepted the opinion of the doctor that "no sign of recent sexual intercourse was seen" as a conclusive proof of the fact that Rahima was not raped and come to the finding that the prosecution failed to prove the charge of rape on Rahima by the accused. In the context, it may be stated that the records do not show that the accused even ever attempted to retract from the confessional statements made by them at any stage of the trial. We do not find any reason to disbelieve the said confession of the accused that they raped Rahima relying on the opinion of the doctor that "no sign of recent sexual intercourse was seen." Considering the confessional statements of the two accused, the High Court Division itself came to the finding as follows:
"We find that two accused persons corroborated the statements of each other -with regard to the material particulars of the alleged occurrence in to to implicating themselves in the alleged offence of rape and murder."

Considering the testimonies of PWs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7, the High Court Division further found:
"We find that the evidence of witnesses are uniform with regard to the extra-judicial confession so made by the two accused persons as to the actual manner of causing rape and killing the victim Rahima Khatun. The prosecution witnesses appear to be natural and truthful and there is nothing to discard their evidence. We do no find any reason to disbelieve their evidence on record. "
 
In view of the above, the finding of the High Court Division that the prosecution failed to prove the charge of rape on Rahima by the two accused punishable under section 9(2)(3) of the Ain, 2000, does not stand correct factually and legally.
 
The confessional statements of the two accused show that they killed Rahima after they had committed rape upon her. In this regard, we also need to consider sub-sections (2) and (3) of section-9 of the Ain, 2000 vis­a-vis the confessional statements of the accused. The sub-sections are as follows:

৯। ধর্ষণ, ধর্ষণজনিত কারণে মূত্য, ইত্যাদিও শাসিত্ম।-
(২) যদি কোন ব্যক্তি কর্তৃক ধর্ষণ বা উক্ত ধর্ষণ পরবর্তী তাহার অনাধিক কাযকলাপের ফলে ধর্ষিতা নারী বা শিশুর মৃত্যু ঘটে, তাহা হইলে উক্ত ব্যক্তি মৃত্যুদন্ডে বা যাবজ্জীবন সশ্রম কারাদন্ডে দন্ডনীয় হইবেন এবং ইহার অতিরিক্ত অন্যূন এক লক্ষ টাকা অর্থদন্ডেও দন্ডনীয হইবেন;
(৩) যদি একাধিক ব্যক্তি দলবদ্ধভাবে কোন নারী বা শিশুকে ধর্ষণ করেন এবং ধর্ষণের ফলে উক্ত নারী বা শিশুর মৃত্যু ঘটে বা তিনি আহত হন, তাহা হইলে ঐ দলের প্রত্যেক ব্যক্তি মৃত্যুদন্ডে বা যাবজ্জীবন সশ্রম কারাদন্ডে দন্ডনীয় হইবেন এবং হহার অতিরিক্ত অন্যূন এক লক্ষ টাকা অর্থদন্ডেও দন্ডনীয় হইবেন;
 
A. reading of the second clause of sub-section (2) of section 9 clearly   তাদের অনাধিক কার্যকলাপের ফলেÓ. In the instant case, both the accused stated in their confessional statements that they raped Rahima and she died when they had pressed her mouth for long (মুখে চাপা দিয়ে দীর্ঘÿন ধরলে) after wrestling (ধসত্মাধw¯Í) in the morning as she did notagree to go to her house and insisted to take her to the house of her maternal grand- father at Lalmonirhat. We are of the view that rthe acts of the accused in pressing the mouth of Rahima for long resulting her death cleqarly come within the meaning of the words “তাহার অনাধিক কার্যকলাপের ফলে ধর্ষিতা নারী বা শিশুর মৃত্যু ঘটেÓ used in sub-section (2) of section 9 of the Ain,2000.) But the High Court Division totally failed to consider the said language used in second clause of sub-section (2) of section-9 of the Ain, 2000 vis-a-vis the confessional statements of the accused that they raped the victim and the contents of the inquest report that যৌনাঙ্গে বীর্যের সাদা দাগ আছে বলিয়া মনে হয়|Ó and thus fell into an error in not maintaining the order of conviction under section 9(2) of the Ain, 2000 and altering the sentence awarded against the accused under section 302 of the Penal Code. However, in view of the confessional statements of the accused as discussed above, sub-section (3) of section 9 of the Ain, 2000 is not at all attracted. Therefore, the Tribunal was not correct in finding the accused guilty under sub-section (3) of section 9 of the Ain, 2000 and the order of conviction of the accused under this sub-section cannot be sustained.

It appears that the age of the two accused at the time of occurrence was 17 and 18 years respectively. The High Court Division rightly commuted the sentence of death awarded by the Tribunal to imprison-ment for life considering their age.

Be that as it may, for the error committed by the High Court Division as pointed out hereinbefore, we are not inclined to grant leave in the matter as that would not ultimately yield any result varying the order of conviction of the accused of the charges brought against them under section 9(2) of the Ain, 2000. It may be stated that the accused have not filed any leave petition against the judgment and order of the High Court Division maintaining the order of conviction passed against them by the Tribunal for the murder of Rahima.

In view of the above, this leave petition is disposed of in the following terms:

The words "but the sentence awarded to the condemned prisoners Sumon and Siddique is altered to one under section 302 of the Penal Code" in the operating portion of the impugned judgment and order are expunged. The order of conviction dated 25.07.2005 passed by the Nari-0-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Tribunal No.l, Dhaka under section 9(2) of the Ain, 2000 is maintained; the order of conviction passed by the Tribunal under sub-section (3) of section 9 of the Ain, 2000 is set aside; the commutation of sentence to imprisonment for life from the death sentence as awarded by the High Court Division against the accused is maintained.

        Ed.