Bhagwan Singh Vs. The State of Haryana
 INSC 307 (9 December 1975)
CITATION: 1976 AIR 202 1976 SCR (2) 921 1976
SCC (1) 389
CITATOR INFO :
R 1977 SC 170 (13) R 1986 SC1769 (5) RF 1991
Indian Penal Code-Section 161 & 165
A-Conviction under- No legal bar based on the testimony of a "hostile
witness", if corroborated by other reliable evidence-Cross examination
u/s. 154 Evidence Act does not efface his evidence.
"B" the appellant/Head Constable
with a view to help the accused not only to get an acquittal but get back the
seized coins approached "J" a constable who was in charge of an
investigation of a case under section 411 I.P.C. to substitute the J seized
gold coins with different markings offering a bribe of Rs. 1,000/-. J reported
the matter to the D.S.P. concerned and as per the directions, the raiding party
arrested 'B' and the other accused in a hotel and also recovered from him the
gold coins of different markings. The currency notes of Rs. 1,000/- in the
hands of 'J' offered by 'B' were also recovered.
The Special Judge convicted 'B' and sentenced
him to undergo R.I. for one year which was maintained by the High Court.
On appeal by special leave, the appellant
contended that since the prosecution case rested principally on the testimony
of 'J', the whole edifice is destroyed on that witness being declared
Rejecting the contention and dismissing the
appeal, the Court ^
HELD: The prosecution could have even avoided
requesting for permission to cross examine the witness u/s 154 evidence Act.
But the fact that the court gave permission to the prosecutor to cross examine
him as what is described as "hostile witness", does not completely
efface his evidence. The evidence remains admissible in the trial and there is
no legal bar to have a conviction upon his testimony if corroborated by other
reliable evidence. [923D- E]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
201 of 1971 Appeal by Special Leave from the
Judgment and order dated the 10th March 1971 of the Punjab and Haryana High
Court at Chandigarh in Criminal Appeal No. 1165 of 1969.
D. Mookerjee and R. L. Kohli for the
H. S. Marwah and R. N. Sachthey for
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
GOSWAMI, J. This appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment of
the High Court of Punjab and Haryana affirming the conviction of the appellant
under section 165A, Indian Penal Code.
The facts briefly are that the appellant,
Bhagwan Singh, is a C.I.D. police constable and would be naturally familiar
with Head Constable, Jagat Singh (P.W. 1). Jagat Singh had detected a case
under section 411, I.P.C., on April 25, 1968. In that case one 922 Rameshwar
Dass of Ambala City was arrested by Jagat Singh at Murthal Bus Stand after
searching his person and recovering from him 20 gold coins and 47 gold bangles
weighing 101 tolas. Rameshwar Dass was produced in court on April 27, 1968 and
was remanded to judicial custody till April 29. In order to help Rameshwar
Dass, Om Parkash and Sulekh Chand, who were co-accused with the appellant
(since acquitted) apparently took the help of the appellant to approach Jagat
Singh to save Rameshwar Dass from the criminal case. The appellant suggested to
Jagat Singh to substitute the seized gold coins by 20 other gold coins which he
would be supplied with and if he would do that he would be paid Rs. 1000/- for
this help in the criminal case. When this was proposed to Jagat Singh, the other
two accused were with him. At first Jagat Singh refused to accede to this
unusual request but later on asked him to see him at Dogra Hotel the same day
at 5.30 P.M.
While Jagat Singh gave that hope to the
appellant and the two co-accused, the former also immediately approached the
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Gurbhaksh Singh (P.W. 6) and informed him
about this matter. The D.S.P. recorded his statement which is marked as Ext.
P-A. The D.S.P. sent for the Station House Officer of the Police Station,
Sonepat, and directed him to go to the Dogra Hotel and arrange for the
detection of the crime. Jagat Singh was also directed to go to the Hotel and
meet the appellant and others as previously suggested by him. The D.S.P. along
with the Sub-Inspector, Ram Singh (P.W. 4), waited in a shop near the Dogra
Hotel and after the appellant had passed the money to Jagat Singh a signal, as
arranged, was given on which the raiding party rushed to the Hotel and found
Jagat Singh and the appellant sitting on a table facing each other. At that
time currency notes of the value of Rs. 1000/- were in the hands of Jagat Singh
and these were taken possession of by the police and on search of the appellant
20 gold coins having hook-marks were recovered from his pocket.
The above story of the prosecution was sought
to be established by the evidence of P.W. 1, Jagat Singh, P.W. 2, Ajit Singh,
P.W. 4, Ram Singh, S.H.O., and P.W. 6, D.S.P., Gurbhaksh Singh. One of the
witnesses of the raiding party was given up as being won over by the appellant.
Nathuram (P.W. 3), proprietor of the Hotel, also did not fully support the
prosecution case and was declared hostile by the prosecutor.
The Special Judge, Rohtak, convicted the
appellant and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year and
acquitted the other two co-accused, as stated earlier.
The High Court on appeal maintained the
conviction and sentence. Hence this appeal by special leave.
We have heard the learned counsel for the
appellant and are unable to find any infirmity in the conviction. It is clear
that the two co-accused being interested in Rameshwar Dass took the help of the
appellant to influence Jagat Singh for substitution of the stolen exhibits 923
in order that the case under section 411 IPC against Rameshwar Dass would
absolutely fail. Jagat Singh was definitely approached by the appellant in view
of his belonging to the same force and he attempted to bribe Jagat Singh by
paying Rs. 1000/- which must have been supplied by the two co-accused
interested in Rameshwar Dass to ruin the prosecution case. Once the stolen gold
coins were substituted, the identity would be lost and the accused would be
entitled to acquittal and even the accused in that event might be able to claim
the gold coins. The appellant thus attempted to bribe Jagat Singh in order to
show favour to Rameshwar Dass by accepting the bribe.
In this case the Public Prosecutor obtained
permission from the court to cross-examine P.W. Jagat Singh since he did not
specifically refer to the two co-accused in his examination-in-chief. Mr.
Debabrata Mukherjee, on behalf of the appellant, submits that since the
prosecution case rests principally upon Jagat Singh's testimony, the whole
edifice is destroyed on that witness being declared hostile and the appellant
is entitled to an acquittal.
We have carefully perused the evidence of
Jagat Singh, who was examined in the trial after more than a year of detection
of the case. The prosecution could have even avoided requesting for permission
to cross-examine the witness under section 154 of the Evidence Act. But the
fact that the court gave permission to the Prosecutor to cross examine his own
witness, thus characterising him as, what is described as a hostile witness,
does not completely efface his evidence. The evidence remains admissible in the
trial and there is no legal bar to base a conviction upon his testimony if
corroborated by other reliable evidence. We are satisfied in this case that the
evidence of Jagat Singh, but for whose prompt assistance the case would not
have seen the light of day and whose statement had immediately been recorded by
the D.S.P., is amply corroborated by other evidence mentioned above to inspire
confidence in his testimony. Apart from that the fact of recovery of the gold
coins in the pocket of the appellant gave a seal of finality to the truth of
the charge against the appellant. If Jagat Singh had accepted the bribe he
would have been guilty under section 161 I.P.C. There is, therefore, clear
abetment by the appellant of the offence under section 161 I.P.C. and the
ingredients of section 165A I.P.C. are established against him.
There is thus no merit in this appeal and the
same is dismissed.
S.R. Appeal dismissed.