Supreme Court of India
Lala @ Anurag Prakash Aasre vs The State Of Maharashtra on 24 August, 2021Author: Hrishikesh Roy

Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hrishikesh Roy






Hrishikesh Roy, J.

1. Heard Mr. Huzefa Ahmadi, the learned Senior

Counsel on behalf of the Appellant. The Respondent,

State of Maharashtra, is represented by Mr Sachin

Patil, the learned Advocate on Record.

2. The present Appeal is directed against the

analogous judgment dated 09.05.2014, whereby, inter

alia, the Crl. Appeal No.236/2011 was dismissed and the

conviction of the appellant u/S 302, 120B, 147, 148 and
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Date: 2021.08.24
17:12:27 IST
Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code was upheld.

Page 1 of 20
3. According to the prosecution, at around 9.45 pm

on 22.01.2009, the deceased Balu Mandpe was chit

chatting with his friends in front of his house at a

street corner. At that time, 10/12 persons arrived

there on two wheelers and hurled abuse at Balu. The

group then started assaulting Balu with sharp edged

weapons such as sword, knives, khanjar and farsa, and

after causing grievous injuries, the attackers drove

away. Balu sustained grievous injuries. Within few

minutes of the occurrence, Arun Pohankar, who too was

injured in the assault, reported the incident to

Imamwada Police Station, where many of the assailants

were named or described by appearance. The friends

rushed injured Balu to the nearby medical hospital

where, he was declared dead. In the FIR, the PW1 had

not named the present appellant but had named, Kunal

Tagde (A1), Vinod Thakre (A2), Rajput @ Nabut (A3),

Sachin Ingle (A4), Ameet Gujar (A5), Shekhar @ Husnya

(A8) in the larger group describing one of the

attackers by his build and appearance. On the basis of

Page 2 of 20
the Complaint, the Crime No. 6/2009 was registered u/s

147, 148, 149, 302, 120B of the Indian Penal Code

(IPC). The police investigation commenced, and the

Investigating Officer (IO) (PW11) immediately visited

the spot and prepared Spot Panchnama and recorded

statement of the witnesses. On conclusion of

investigation, Chargesheet was filed and thereafter,

the case was committed to the Sessions Court at Nagpur.

The nine accused, including the appellant Lala @ Anurag

Prakash Aasre faced trial in the Sessions Trial no.

232/2009 on charges drawn up for offences relatable to

Sections 147, 148, 149, 302, 324, 120B of the IPC. The

defense of the Accused is one of total denial.

4. In course of trial, the prosecution presented 11

witnesses, and produced other evidence. However, none

of the accused entered the witness box or presented any

defense evidence. The learned Session Judge concluded

that the accused had formed an unlawful assembly with

the common object of causing the death of Balu Mandpe,

and had assaulted him with sharp and dangerous weapons.

Page 3 of 20
According to the Trial Court, the present appellant who

was the original Accused No.6, assaulted the informant

Arun (PW1) with a sword. Accordingly, the appellant

along with others was convicted u/s 302, 120B IPC and

were sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life and to

pay a fine of Rs.5000 each, in default, to suffer

further 1 year imprisonment. The accused, including the

appellant were also convicted u/s 147, 148 of the IPC

and were sentenced accordingly. The appellant/accused

No.6 is additionally convicted u/s 324 IPC and was

sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for three

years and to pay a fine of Rs.2000, in default to

suffer simple imprisonment for 6 months. All

substantive sentences were to run concurrently.

5. Four criminal appeals were then filed by the

convicted accused including the Crl Appeal No. 236/2011

filed by the present appellant. The learned counsel for

the appellant highlighted that the injured informant,

while naming six of the assailants by name, had not

named the appellant in the FIR. According to the FIR,

Page 4 of 20
when Arun (PW1) had intervened to protect Balu Mandpe,

“One tall person having longish nose attacked with

sword”. When the informant Arun(PW1) resisted the same

by his hand, he suffered a sword injury in the wrist

area of his left hand. The remaining 6 accused named in

the FIR, had carried knives, khanjar and farsa.

6. The incident was apparently a fallout of dispute

between two groups. The findings of both the Trial

Court and the High Court on the conviction of the

appellant and the other accused is primarily dependent

on the ocular evidence of the 4 eyewitnesses. The

learned counsel for the appellant would firstly argue

that the appellant was not amongst the six named and

other accused in the FIR. Moreover, as the prosecution

had not arranged for a Test Identification Parade

(TIP), the identity of the appellant is not clearly

established as one of the not named persons involved in

the assault.

7. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the

State contends that the appellant was specifically

Page 5 of 20
named by the Informant in the supplementary statement

recorded immediately by the police, u/S 161 of CrPC. It

is his further submission that PW2, PW4, PW6 have also

named the appellant in their S.161 statement. The State

counsel highlights that a specific charge u/S 324 is

framed against the present appellant as the person who

gave the sword blow on the informant (PW1). Therefore,

the counsel argues that the involvement of the

appellant in the incident, and being one of the

assailants, is beyond doubt as he was identified by all

the witnesses and there was no necessity to conduct a

TIP for the appellant.

8. In order to appreciate the rival contentions, we

must carefully consider the evidence presented against

the appellant by the prosecution. At the outset

however, we are constrained to note on few errors

(typographical or otherwise), with regard to the FIR,

witness statements and supplementary statements,

presented at different stages of this case. These

documents have variations either in the translation or

Page 6 of 20
in the transcription, when supplied by the respective

counsel to the Court.

9. In the above context, we may benefit by referring

to the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021 notified

on this Court’s directions in Suo Moto Writ (Crl.)

No.1/2017 ‘In Re: To Issue Guidelines Regarding

Inadequacies and Deficiencies in Criminal Trials’. The

confusion created by multiple versions of statements

and depositions in the projection of either side is

compelling us to reiterate the necessity of referring

to these Guidelines. This Court’s order dated

20.04.2021 reflects the precise concerns which we have

faced in appreciating the evidence presented,

“The Court noticed common deficiencies which
occur in course of criminal trials…These
related, amongst others, to the manner in
which documents (i.e. list of witnesses,
list of exhibits, list of material objects)
referred to are presented and exhibited in
the judgment, and the lack of uniform
practices in regard to preparation of injury
reports, deposition of witnesses,
translation of statements, numbering and
nomenclature of witnesses, labeling of
material objects, etc. These very often lead
to asymmetries and hamper appreciation of

Page 7 of 20
evidence, which in turn has a tendency of
prolonging proceedings, especially at the
appellate stages.”

The Draft Rules also dictate the manner in which

depositions must be translated. The practice of

translating any relevant document must not differ so

significantly across forums and submissions by parties

to cast severe aspersions on evidence, which may

otherwise be not warranted. Idiosyncrasies of

colloquial terms, used for naming an accused, could

well be the difference between conviction and acquittal

of an accused.

10. Taking a cue from above and to ensure that we

rely on the correct facts and documents, we have read

and relied upon the relevant original Trial Court

Records for this judgment. It is important to record

that the variation extended to certain aspects on

identification of the accused and as such to avoid any

confusion, we have relied exclusively upon materials as

they appear, in the original records.

Page 8 of 20
11. The relevant contents of the FIR as on record

with the Sessions Court (Exh. 103), read as under: –

“………………….One tall person having longish nose
attacked with sword and I obstructed with my
arm. As a result, I sustained injury near my
left wrist. Out of remaining persons, I know 1)
Vinod (Surname not known) who was holding
knife, 2) Amit Gujar who was holding knife, 3)
Kunal who was holding knife, 4) Bhimya’s
brother Husnya who was holding khanjar
(dagger), 5) Sachin who was holding sword, and
6) Nabut who was holding Farsa (battle-axe).
They along with some five to six people killed
Balu by delivering blows on his chest…”

11.1 The informant Arun (PW1), in his evidence deposed

that “one person with strong build tried to assault

Balu Mandpe with the sword and at that time I

intervened and the blow of the sword landed on my left

wrist. I sustained bleeding injury…I can identify

the person having strong build and who tried to

assault Balu Mandpe by sword and the blow landed on my

wrist when I intervened.” Accordingly, the Trial Court

recorded that “the witness has gone to the accused and

identified the strongly built person among other

accused. His name is Lala Asare.” In his cross

Page 9 of 20
examination, the PW1 stated that the first blow was

given by Lala Asare (Accused No.6) and although he

stated the same to the police, he is unable to say why

the police failed to record the appellant’s name in the

FIR. It is further stated, that “a person having a

strong built” tried to assault Balu Mandpe with a sword

but the witness cannot assign any reason as to why the

words “strong built” are not mentioned in his FIR.

11.2 Such variation in describing the appellant being

important, would bear specific discussion. While the

FIR dated 22.01.2009 admittedly doesn’t disclose the

name of Lala, the appellant before us, the statement

recorded within few hours of the incident (but

technically the next day post-midnight) on 23.01.2009,

as noted by the Trial Court contains the following

description, “one fair complexioned person having

longish nose, named ‘Lalya’, attacked with sword and I

obstructed the blow with my arm.” That apart the

supplementary statement u/S 161 CrPC submitted by the

State also identifies the assailant by name, “one

Page 10 of 20
heightened, white coloured boy namely Lalya attacked

me with sword”.

11.3 Dharmendra Ashok Yadav (PW2) in his evidence,

stated that “One person having the height and long

nose, whose name was Lala was armed with sword. He

tried to assault Balu Mandpe with the sword. Arun

Pohankar intervened. The blow of sword was landed on

the left wrist. He had sustained bleeding injury and

he retreated. We also retreated as we were frightened.

Then Lala assaulted Balu Mandpe with sword. He

received the blow on his head and because of that he

fell down”. In his cross examination the PW2 stated

that he did not know the name of the person having the

sword. However, when he was shown the Accused No.6, he

could identify him as Lala Aasre, but the PW2 is unable

to assign any reason as to why same is not recorded in

his statement to the police.

11.4 Minute scrutiny of the Trial Court records

reveals that the 23.01.2009 statement is not just about

physical descriptions. The PW2 has instead noted “One

Page 11 of 20
man named Lalya delivered blow of sword on him”. PW2’s

statement under Section 164 CrPC recorded on 31.01.2009

gives clear sequence of the attack, and the specific

role of the appellant. The witness recollects that

“Lala brandished his sword which got hit on Arun’s

hand. Lala brandished his sword on us also”. The

supplementary statement put forward by the State

contains the following identification “One heightened,

white coloured boy namely Lalya”.

11.5 The third eyewitness Sudhanshu Jadhav Rao Warade

(PW4), mentioned about his own presence at the place of

the incident and taking the injured Balu Mandpe within

5 minutes to the hospital. According to PW4, he had

informed the police that Lala @ Anurag Aasre had

assaulted Balu Mandpe by sword, because of which Balu

fell down. PW4’s statement recorded on 22.01.2009 at

the Imamwada P.S. names only three accused, without

naming Lala. However, his statement u/S 164 recorded on

24.02.2009 does contain a detailed description of the

incident, and specifically recognises the appellant by

Page 12 of 20
his real name and his alias. He has stated therein that

“One Anurag alias Lala Aasre from amongst them,

delivered blow of sword on Balu Alias Satyendra. Arun

Pohankar obstructed the said blow of sword.”

11.6 The fourth eyewitness was Raju Manohar Joshi

(PW6). In his testimony he mentioned about the presence

of the appellant and other accused but feigned

ignorance of what happened thereafter. Accordingly as

the PW4 was not supporting the prosecution case, he was

cross-examined by the Assistant Public Prosecutor. In

his cross-examination, PW6 mentioned that barring Lala

Aasre and Sachin Ingle, all the other accused are

residents of Chandan Nagar. Further, he knew both Lala

Aasre and Sachin Ingle, for the last one and a half

years. In his cross-examination, on behalf of the

advocate of Accused 5,6,7, the PW6 stated that,

although he had seen the incident, he did not disclose

the names of anyone.

11.7 The investigating officer in the case was Sunil S

Monde (PW11), who on the date of the incident was

Page 13 of 20
posted as the Senior Police Inspector in the Imamwada

Police Station. PW11 reportedly recorded the

supplementary statement of the complainant and in his

cross examination, admitted that TIP of the accused

persons was not carried out in the instant case. On the

issue of Supplementary Statement, the IO in his cross-

examination, testified that “I had not recorded the

supplementary statement of the Complainant Arun

Pohankar”. The IO had also stated that he had

truthfully recorded the statement of PW2. In his cross

examination by the advocate on behalf of Accused No. 5-

7, the IO stated the following “I have recorded the

statement of PW2 Dharmendra Yadav…PW2 has not stated

before me that one person by name Lala Aasare, has

assaulted with sword…PW2 has not stated before me

that said Lala tried to assault Balu Mandpe”. In his

further cross-examination, the IO stated that PW6 knew

Lala Aasre but the PW6 in his statement before the IO

on the day of the incident had not stated that Lala

Page 14 of 20
Aasre rushed toward Balu Mandpe and assaulted him with


12. The key issue to be decided in this appeal is

whether the appellant was identified as the person

wielding the sword who gave the sword blow to the

Informant (PW1) and also to the deceased Balu Mandpe.

The appellant as earlier noted, was not named in the

FIR by the injured informant. The prosecution however

tries to co-rrelate the appellant as the one who was

described as ‘heightened person having long nose’ in

the FIR. This has been done through the evidence of

PW1, PW2, P4, PW6, as recorded in the preceding


13. In the above context, the contention of the

appellant’s counsel that the supplementary statements

identifying the accused by name were not produced

before the Courts below, do not appear to be entirely

correct. The Trial Court records as specifically noted

in the preceding paragraph, clearly reveal that Arun’s

(PW1) statement dated 23.01.2009 identifying the

Page 15 of 20
accused by name, was available before the Sessions

Court. It is also plausible that the accused with the

alias Lala could be referred by the witnesses as

‘Lalya’. The colloquial variation, in our opinion, is

not so far removed so as to render the identification

unreliable, particularly when no other person by such

name is amongst the accused group. Much indeed is in

a name as in this case if we may take the liberty of

disagreeing with one of the most famous lines penned

down by the Bard of Avon, “Whats in a name”.

14. While it is true that the FIR is silent on the

name of the appellant, we cannot entirely throw out the

prosecutorial case on such a basis as other reliable

evidence are available in the case. The FIR is

certainly the starting point of the investigation, but

it is well within the rights of the prosecution to

produce witness statements as they progress further

into the investigation and unearth the specific roles

of accused persons. The FIR as is known, only sets the

investigative machinery, into motion.

Page 16 of 20
15. In the present matter, two courts have

concurrently concluded that appellant’s name not being

specifically mentioned in the FIR, would not justify

his acquittal as he was specifically identified by PW2,

PW4, & PW6. In view of his positive identification by

the eye witnesses, the TIP not being conducted, was

held to be immaterial. The eye witnesses here have

ascribed the same specific role to the appellant and

narrated the events in same chronology, without

material discrepancies. We also cannot lose sight of

the fact that this case involves multiple persons

attacking in a group with deadly weapons and it is not

reasonable to expect recollection of every minute

details by the eyewitnesses.

16. The Learned Counsel for the appellant has laid

much emphasis on the absence of TIP. The State

counsel’s stance on this matter was that the TIP was

rendered non-essential as the appellant was known to

the eye witnesses and he was identified both by name

and appearance. We may at this juncture refer to the

Page 17 of 20
nature of, and weightage attached to the evidentiary

value of a TIP. In Munshi Singh Gautam Vs. State of

M.P. (2005) 9 SCC 631 Justice Arijit Pasayat writing

the judgment appropriately laid down the following :

“16. As was observed by this Court in
Matru v. State of U.P. (1971 (2) SCC 75)
identification tests do not constitute
substantive evidence. They are primarily
meant for the purpose of helping the
investigating agency with an assurance
that their progress with the investigation
into the offence is proceeding on the
right lines. The identification can only
be used as corroborative of the statement
in court. (See Santokh Singh v. Izhar
Hussain (1973 (2) SCC 406). The necessity
for holding an identification parade can
arise only when the accused are not
previously known to the witnesses…………….”
17. “………………….The identification parades
belong to the stage of investigation, and
there is no provision in the Code which
obliges the investigating agency to hold
or confers a right upon the accused to
claim, a test identification parade. They
do not constitute substantive evidence and
these parades are essentially governed by
Section 162 of the Code. Failure to hold a
test identification parade would not make
inadmissible the evidence of
identification in Court. The weight to be

Page 18 of 20
attached to such identification should be
a matter for the Courts of fact. In
appropriate cases it may accept the
evidence of identification even without
insisting on corroboration.”

17. Having regard to the above ratio, we are inclined

to agree with the State Counsel that TIP was

unnecessary in the present case as the identity of the

appellant was known to the witnesses and he was

specifically identified by PW1, and PW2 as the person

who wielded the sword and inflicted the injuries. In

the face of appellant’s such identification by name in

the testimony of the eye witnesses, it can in our view,

be safely concluded that the failure to conduct the TIP

for the appellant will not vitiate his conviction.

18. From the above analysis, the identity of the

appellant as one of the attacking group members and his

specific role in the assault is established beyond

doubt. The prosecution in our assessment has produced

cogent evidence of the appellant being part of a

conspiracy by all the accused in the assault on the

night of 22.01.1999 which led to the death of Balu

Page 19 of 20
Mandpe and injuries to PW1 and others. As such, the

conviction of the appellant by the trial court, as

upheld by the High Court, cannot be faulted.

19. In the result of the above finding, we find no

grounds to interfere with the impugnment judgment of

the High Court of Judicature at Bombay. Consequently,

the appeal is dismissed. The State may consider the

case of the appellant for remission at an appropriate

stage, on its own merits. It is ordered accordingly.


AUGUST 24, 2021

Page 20 of 20


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