Karan Singh Vs. State of Madhya
Pradesh  INSC 250 (4 November 1964)
04/11/1964 SARKAR, A.K.
AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA BACHAWAT, R.S.
CITATION: 1965 AIR 1037 1965 SCR (2) 1
F 1991 SC 318 (17)
Murder-Common intention-Separate trials of
actual murderer and accomplice-Former acquitted while latter convicted on the
basis of having common intention with former--Conviction whether
justified-Indian Panel Code, 1860 (Act 45 of 1860), s. 34.
R shot at two persons and in consequence one
died while the other did not. The appellant who himself carried a gun was
present at the spot along with six others variously armed.
R absconded, and the appellant along with the
six other persons mentioned above was tried for offences under ss. 302 and 307
read with ss. 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code.
The Sessions Judge convicted only the
appellant giving benefit of doubt to others. The appellant filed an appeal
before the High Court. After his conviction but before his appeal was heard, R
was arrested, put up for trial on the same charges, and acquitted. The
appellant's appeal before the High Court was dismissed but his conviction was
altered and instead of ss. 302 and 307 Indian Penal Code read with ss. 148 and
149 he was convicted for offences under ss. 302 and 307 of the Code read with
s. 34. The appellant came to this Court in further appeal.
It was contended that in view of the
acquittal of R by the Sessions Judge, from which there had been no appeal, it
was not open to the High Court to hold that the appellant was guilty of murder
and attempt to murder under ss. 302 and 307 read with s. 34, by finding that R
who shared a common intention with him shot the deceased dead and attempted to
HELD : In spite of the acquittal of a person
in one case, it is open to the court in another case, to proceed on the
basis-if the evidence warrants it-that the acquitted person was guilty of the
offence of which he had been tried in the other case, and to find in the later
case that the person tried in it was guilty of an offence under s. 34 by virtue
of having committed the offence along with the acquitted person. Each case has
to be decided on the evidence led in it and this irrespective of any view of
the same act that might have been taken on different evidence led in another
case. [4E-G] Marachalil Pakku v. State of Madras, A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 648,
Bombadhar Pradhan v. State of Orissa and Sunder Singh v. State of Punjab,
A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 1211, relied upon.
Pritam Singh v. State of Punjab A.I.R. 1956
S.C. 415, Sambasivam V. Public Prosecutor, Federation of Malaya L.R. 
A.C. 458 and Krishna Govind Patil v. State of Maharashtra, distinguished.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 55 of 1963.
2 Appeal by special leave from the judgment
and order, dated August 27, 1962, of the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Gwalior
Bench) at Gwalior in Criminal Appeal No. 18 of 1961.
B. C. Misra, for the appellant.
Al. S. K. Sastri and 1. N. Shroff, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Sarkar J. The appellant, Ramhans, and six other persons were alleged to have
committed the murder of Gabde and to have attempted to murder Ramchandra. The
deceased and Ramchandra are said to have belonged to one party while the
alleged assailants belonged to another, and between these two parties there had
been great enmity for some time past. It was said that about midnight of
November 18, 1959, while the deceased and Ramchandra and certain other persons
were sleeping on a Tiwaria (terrace), the assailants entered the place and
Ramhans shot Gabde dead with a gun and fired two shots at Ramchandra with
intent to kill him but only succeeded in injuring him and that all this time
the appellant was standing there armed with a gun and the other persons were
also there armed variously and that all had entered the place with the common
intention of committing the offences.
Ramhans had absconded and so the appellant
and the other six alleged assailants were put up for trial for offences under
ss. 302 and 307 read with ss. 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code for the
murder of Gabde and the attempt to murder Ramchandra. The learned Sessions
Judge convicted the appellant of these offences but acquitted the other six
persons tried along with him, giving them the benefit of doubt. The appellant
preferred an appeal to the High Court of Madhya Pradesh. After the conviction
of the appellant by the learned Sessions Judge but before his appeal could be
heard, Ramhans had been arrested, put up for trial on the same charges and
Before the High Court the appellant contended
that Ramhans having been acquitted the appellant could not be held
constructively liable for the offences with the aid of s. 149 of the Code. The
High Court rejected this contention relying upon the judgments of this Court in
Marachalil Pakku v. The State of Madras,(1) Bombadhar Pradhan v. State of
Orissa (2) and Sunder Singh v. State of Punjab (3). The following observation
appears in the judgment (1) A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 648. (2) 11956] S.C.R. 206.
(3) A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 121 1.
3 of the High Court : "Relying on
Ramchandra's direct testimony as supported by Dwarka, Matadin and Maharajsingh,
I would hold that Gabde's murder was committed by Ramhans by firing a gun at
him and that Ramhans also fired two shots from his gun at Ramchandra in order
to kill him. Karan Singh was at this time standing armed with a gun by the side
of Ramhans.......... I would, therefore, hold that the offence of Gabde's
murder and attempt to commit the murder of Ramchandra were committed by Ramhans
in furtherance of the common intention of both himself and the present
appellant Karan Singh. The case for the prosecution had at all stages been that
both Ramhans and Karan Singh had gone inside the Tiwaria armed with guns and
that Karan Singh throughout the incident standing by the side of Ramhans armed
with a gun. On these facts S. 34 I.P.C. would clearly apply to the case against
the present appellant Karan Singh." In this view of the matter the High
Court convicted the appellant Karan Singh under ss. 302 and 307 both read with
S. 34 of the Code instead of the earlier sections read with ss. 148 and 149 as
had been done by the learned Sessions Judge. The appellant has come to this
Court in further appeal.
The only question argued in this appeal is
whether in view of the acquittal of Ramhans by the learned Sessions Judge from
which there had been no appeal, it was open to the High Court to hold that the
appellant was guilty of murder under S. 302 read with S. 34 by finding on the
evidence that Ramhans who shared a common intention with him, shot the deceased
dead and attempted to murder Ramchandra. In the High Court reliance had been
placed on behalf of the appellant on the judgment of this Court in Pritam Singh
v. State of Punjab(1). That case referred with approval to the judgment of the
Judicial Committee in Sambasivam v. Public Prosecutor, Federation of Malay(2)
where it was observed that "the effect of a verdict of acquittal...... is
not completely stated by saying that the person acquitted cannot be tried again
for the same offence. To that it must be added that the verdict is binding and
conclusive in all subsequent proceedings between the parties to the
adjudication." As the High Court pointed out, that observa- tion has no
application to the present case as here the acquittal of Ramhans was not in any
proceeding to which the appellant was a party. Clearly, the decision in each
case has to turn on the evidence led in it; Ramhans's case depended on the
evidence led there while the appellant's case had to be decided only on the
evidence led in it. The evidence led in Ramhans's case and the decision there
(1) A.I.R. 1956 S.C. 415. (2) L.R.  A.C. 458,479.
4 arrived at on that evidence would be wholly
irrelevant in considering the merits of the appellant's case. We may add here
that Mr. Misra appearing for the appellant did not in this Court rely on Pritam
Mr. Misra contended that the decision of this
Court in Krishna Govind Patil v. State of Maharashtra(1) showed that the High
Court was wrong in ignoring the fact of the acquittal of Ramhans. We are unable
to accept that contention. The point there considered really was whether when
four persons had been charged with the commission of an offence of murder read
with s. 34 and the trial Court had acquitted three of them, it was legal to
convict the remaining accused of the offence of murder read with s. 34.
The High Court had held that could be done.
This Court set aside the judgment of the High Court mainly on the ground that
such a decision would result in conflicting findings.
It was observed, "while it (the High
Court) acquitted accused 1, 3 and 4 under s. 302 read with section 34 of the
Indian Penal Code, it convicted accused 2 under S. 302 read with s. 34, of the
said Code, for having committed the offence jointly with the acquitted persons.
This is a legally impossible position." That case no doubt discussed
various situations where it is possible after acquitting certain persons to
hold that the conviction of other or others was justified under s. 34 on the
ground that the evidence showed that there were other unknown persons who were
associated with those convicted though the charge did not mention them. With
this aspect of the matter we are not concerned in this case and neither was the
case of Krishna Govind Patil(1).
We are, therefore, of opinion that the
judgment in Krishna Govind Patils(1) case does not assist the appellant at all.
On the other hand we think that the judgments
earlier referred to on which the High Court relied, clearly justify the view
that in spite of the acquittal of a person in one case it is open to the Court
in another case to proceed on the basis--of course if the evidence warrants
it-that the acquitted person was guilty of the offence of which he had been
tried in the other case and to find in the later case that the person tried in
it was guilty of an offence under S. 34 by virtue of having committed the
offence along with the acquitted person. There is nothing in principle to
prevent this being done. The principle of Sambasivam's(2) case has no
application here because the two cases we are concerned with are against two
different persons though for the commission of the same offence.
(1)  1 S. C. R. 678. (2) L. R. 11952]
5 Furthermore, as we have already said, each
case has to be decided on the evidence led in it and this irrespective of any
view of the same act that might have been taken on different evidence led in another
In the result the appeal fails and is