Singh Vs. State of Punjab  INSC 310 (11 May 1994)
K. Jayachandra (J) Reddy, K. Jayachandra (J) Yogeshwar Dayal (J)
1994 SCC Supl. (2) 282 JT 1994 (4) 120 1994 SCALE (2)900
Judgment of the Court was delivered by K. JAYACHANDRA REDDY, J.- Original
accused 3 is the appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 12 of 1982 and original
accused 4 is the appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 400 of 1982. They along with
six others were tried for offences punishable under Sections 302, 302/149, 307
and 307/149 IPC and under Section 27 of the Arms Act. The trial court acquitted
A-5 to A-8 and convicted A-1 to A-4 and sentenced them to imprisonment for life
in respect of the murder charge and various other terms of imprisonment in respect
of other offences. The appeal preferred by them was dismissed by the High
may be mentioned at this stage that during the pendency of the special leave
petition in this Court A-1, Hardeep Singh died and the special leave petition
filed by A-2, Baljinder Singh was dismissed. Therefore we are left with + From
the Judgment and Order dated 6-8-1981 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Crl.
Appeal No. 773-DB of' 1980 283 only A-3 Hardev Singh and A-4, Jaspal Singh who
figure as appellants in these two appeals.
prosecution case is as follows: Hardeep Singh, A-1 and his son Jaspal Singh,
A-4 are the residents of Village Salewala. A-2 is the Sarpanch and resident of
Village Khanewal. A-3 belongs to another Village Khang. A-5, one of the
acquitted accused also belongs to Village Khanewal.
A-8 belong to Village Salewala. Two months before the present occurrence Amritpal
Singh, deceased 1 and one Sarbjit Singh had quarrelled with Kuldip Singh, Sarpanch,
A- 7, one of the acquitted accused and brother of A-1, at the Patiala bus stand. A-3 is the wife's
brother of Kuldip Singh. On 22-7-1979, Partap
Singh, PW 4 and his son Amritpal Singh, deceased 1 and Satbir Singh had gone to
Pattran for making some purchases and they started to go back to their village
at 5 p.m. The deceased was driving the
motorcycle and Harbans Singh Sarpanch, deceased 2 and Surjit Singh, PW 6 were
sitting on the pillion seat. Another motorcycle was driven by Sarbjit Singh and
Satbir Singh and Partap Singh, PW 4 were sitting on the pillion seat. When they
reached near the Sam Nala bridge after crossing Village Salewala, they noticed
A-1, armed with a .12 bore gun, A-2 armed with .31 5 bore rifle and A-3 armed
with gandasa hiding in the Akk plants. At that time Amritpal Singh, deceased 1
was going ahead on the motorcycle than the other one. While so both A-1 and A-2
fired one shot each on Amritpal Singh, deceased 1 who fell down after receiving
the injuries along with Harbans Singh, deceased 2 and Surjit Singh, PW 6 towards
the left of the road. Just at that juncture, a truck driven by A-4 came from
the side of Village Khanewal. In that it is alleged that the other acquitted
accused were sitting by the side of the driver armed with .12 bore pistol etc.
and they raised lalkaras to kill the deceased and according to the prosecution,
the truck went and hit and ran over the motorcycle. The gun of deceased 1 which
was in the hands of deceased 2 was also broken. The three persons coming on the
other motorcycle came forward to save them but the accused in the truck fired
but nobody was hit. The truck got stuck in the water.
Singh, deceased 1 had already died because of gunshot injury and Harbans Singh,
deceased 2 was unconscious and Surjit Singh, PW 6 was lying injured outside the
Singh came and took the injured Surjit Singh to the hospital and the injured Harbans
Singh was taken by another person to the hospital in a car leaving others at
the place of occurrence. Partap Singh left for the police station and lodged a
report before ASI, Kehar Singh, PW 17 and the case was registered. Surjit
Singh, PW 6 was examined by Dr Barjesh Modi, PW 1. He found two lacerated
wounds and a swelling and two abrasions. After X-ray, injuries 1 and 2 were
declared grievous. The doctor opined that he could have received these injuries
by striking against the running truck. Dr C.L. Verma, PW 3 conducted the
postmortem on the dead body of deceased 1 and he found a gunshot wound on the
right side of the forehead. On dissection, the frontal bone was found to be
fractured and the brain matter was punctured and it was opined that he died due
to this gunshot injury. Deceased 2 meanwhile died.
same doctor, PW 3, also conducted postmortem on his dead body and found several
abrasions all over the body and left thigh and left leg were found to be
pinkish blue. On internal examination he found fractures of clavicle and 3rd to
10th rib on the right side, puncture of right lung and fractures of 2nd to 10th
rib on the left side. The other internal organs like liver and kidneys were
found to be ruptured. The doctor 284 opined that the death was due to shock and
haemorrhage due to these injuries and he also opined that all the injuries on
the body of deceased 2 could be the result of an accident with a heavy vehicle.
ASI, PW 17 got the place of occurrence photographed and he found some empty
cartridges at the scene of occurrence which he seized. The truck which got
stuck in the water was also taken into possession. The accused were arrested
and after completion of the investigation, the charge-sheet was laid. The
prosecution examined as many as 18 witnesses. PWs 1 to 3 are the doctors, PW 4 Partap
Singh is the father of deceased 1 who gave the report. PW 6 is the injured
witness. The rest are all official or panch witnesses.
accused denied all the allegations. A-1, however, stated that the two deceased
persons and PW 6 received injuries in the motorcycle accident when they were
going at a high speed and could not control and that the truck in question was
driven by one Baldev Singh and not by A-4 and Baldev Singh tried to avert the
accident and in that attempt he took the truck to the extreme right and went
into the ditches and during the same PW 6 also received injuries and that the
persons on the motorcycle were carrying a gun which went off accidentally by
their fall and caused injuries to deceased 1. A-4 stated that he was a student
and he was not at the scene of occurrence. The other accused in general denied
the occurrence and examined some defence witnesses.
trial court relied on the evidence of PWs 4 and 6 and held that A-1 to A-3 were
waiting in hiding and when the motorcycle driven by deceased 1 came, they
advanced. A-1 and A-2 fired at D-1 who was hit by the shot fired by A-1 and the
shot fired by A-2 did not hit him. The trial Judge further held that A-1 to A-3
had the common intention to cause the death of deceased 1. He also held that
the other five accused reached in the truck after the deceased was already hit
with gun and therefore they cannot be held liable for the murder of deceased 1.
He, however, held that A-4 who was driving the truck had overrun deceased 1 and
PW 6 and therefore he had also the intention to cause the death of deceased 1
and accordingly convicted him under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and
Section 302 in respect of deaths of deceased 1 and deceased 2 respectively. He
also convicted A-4 under Section 307 IPC for causing injuries to PW 6 by
dashing him against the truck and the other accused were convicted under
Sections 302/34 IPC. A-1 is also convicted under Section 27 of the Arms Act.
The High Court agreed with the findings of the trial court and confirmed the
convictions and sentences. A-3, Hardev Singh, the appellant in Criminal Appeal
No. 12 of 1982 has been made constructively liable along with A-1 and A-2 in
respect of the murder of deceased 1. According to the prosecution he was armed
with a gandasa and was in the company of A-1 and A-2 who shot at deceased 1 but
he was hit by the gunshot fired by A-1. Learned counsel submits that the case
of A-3 is in no way different from the case of the acquitted accused A-5 to
A-8, who according to the prosecution, were seated in the truck armed with
pistol and gun and who also raised lalkaras instigating to kill the deceased.
It is also submitted that A-3 had not used his gandasa on anyone and in a case
of this nature arising out of acute enmity, it is highly unsafe to convict A-3.
We find considerable force in this submission. PW 6, the injured witness simply
deposed that A-3 was there along with A-1 and A-2 and raised a lalkara.
Therefore we agree with the learned counsel that his case is in no way
different from that of the other acquitted accused. Therefore he is also
entitled to the benefit of doubt.
coming to the case of A-4, Jaspal Singh, the appellant in Criminal Appeal No.
400 of 1982, the prosecution case is that after D-1 was hit by the gunshot, the
truck driven by A-4 came there and dashed against the motorcycle driven by deceased
1 which had already fallen and ran over it. It is in evidence that deceased 1
was driving the motorcycle and he fell down because of the gunshot injury.
Consequently the motorcycle also fell to a side and deceased 2 and PW 6 who
were on the pillion also fell down.
according to the prosecution, the truck ran over them causing injuries to
deceased 2 and Surjit Singh, PW 6. On this aspect, the evidence of PW 6 is
rather important. He deposed that the motorcycle was driven by deceased 1 and
he and deceased 2 were sitting on the pillion and before starting deceased 1
handed over his own gun to deceased 2 and when they were nearing the Sam Nala
bridge, they saw A-1 and A-2 armed with a gun and a rifle respectively and A-3
armed with a gandasa hiding behind Akk plants and that A-1 and A-2 fired and
the shot fired by A-1 struck the forehead of deceased 1 as a result of which
they fell down from the motorcycle along with the motorcycle and just then A-4
drove the truck towards them and all the three of them were dragged by the
truck along with the motorcycle towards the ditches. PW 6 further deposed that
he was hit by the side of the truck as a result of which his left leg and right
arm were fractured. In the cross-examination he stated that all the three of
them entangled in the motorcycle when it fell down. He also admitted that he
could not say if the truck had gone out of control before proceeding towards
the ditches. He added that the truck had passed over the motorcycle but again
stated that no wheel of the truck passed over it and that he did not notice
which part of the motorcycle was hit by the truck. He admitted that deceased 1
was also hit by the left side of the truck and that the motorcycle and deceased
2 were hit by the front portion of the truck. PW 4, the other eyewitness, who
was travelling in the other motorcycle deposed that deceased 1 fell down after
being hit by the gunshot along with deceased 2 and PW 6 to their left and that
the truck driven by A-4 came and ran over the fallen people. In the cross-
examination he stated that after their fall none of their bodies came under the
motorcycle but he added that wheel of the truck passed over the motorcycle. He,
however, admitted that none of the riders was overrun by the wheels of the truck
and that the truck hit against the motorcycle.
perusal of the chief-examinations and cross-examinations of these two witnesses
would show that they could not give a correct picture as to how the truck hit
on these admissions, the learned counsel strongly contended that at the most it
can be an accident or a rash and negligent act and that Section 302 IPC cannot
be invoked by any stretch of imagination by calling it a murder.
examined the evidence of PW 4, we do find considerable force in this
submission. That apart, the medical evidence assumes importance. PW 1, a
doctor, examined PW 6 and found six injuries on him. The first injury was a
swelling pain on the right elbow, the second was painful tender swelling over
the left thigh, the third was only an abrasion below the left nipple of the
chest, the fourth one was a bruise on the left arm just above elbow, the fifth
one was a lacerated wound on the posterior aspect of left thigh just above the
knee and the sixth injury was a lacerated wound skin deep on the dorsum of
doctor opined that the possibility of receiving these injuries being caused by
striking with a truck cannot be ruled out. In the cross-examination the doctor
again admitted that the 286 possibility of PW 6 receiving these injuries by
fall of a motorcycle along with the motorcycle cannot be ruled out.
significant admission made by him is that he did not find any crush injury. He
also stated that if a truck overruns, there would be crush injuries on the part
coming under the truck. This medical evidence amply shows that the truck did
not pass over on any part of the body of PW 6 but at the most he could have
received the injuries because of the fall after being knocked down. PW 3,
another doctor, who conducted the postmortem of deceased I found only one
gunshot injury on the forehead which caused the death and another lacerated
'wound bone deep on the left leg and another abrasion on the medial aspect of
the left leg. These injuries would show that deceased 1 though got entangled
with deceased 2 and PW 6 due to fall, but did not receive any injury by virtue
of the truck dashing against the motorcycle. PW 3 also conducted the postmortem
on the dead body of deceased 2. He found six abrasions and some portions of the
body being pinkish blue.
dissection he found fracture of the clavicle and ribs and rupture of kidneys
and liver. He opined that the injuries on deceased 2 can be the result of heavy
vehicle accident. In the cross-examination he admitted that the abrasions can
be the result of rubbing against a hard surface and some of the injuries can be
the result of fall from motorcycle on uneven ground. The doctor did not say
that he noticed any crush injuries. From his evidence also it cannot be ruled
out that the injuries can be due to a heavy vehicle accident and there is no
re-examination clarifying the position. As already mentioned the plea of the
accused had been that some driver was driving the truck which went out of
control resulting in accident and since the driver tried to avert, the truck
went into the ditches and got stuck in the water. If really it was the
intention of the driver, whoever he may be, to dash against the victims with a
view to commit murder, he could have hit and proceeded. The fact that it got
into the ditches would probabilise the theory of accident. Under these
circumstances, we find it difficult to uphold the conviction of A-4 for the
offence of murder. However, it is clear that he drove the vehicle in a rash and
negligent manner and consequently he would be liable under Section 304-A IPC.
the aforesaid reasons A-3 Hardev Singh is acquitted and Criminal Appeal No. 12
of 1982 filed by him is allowed.
the convictions and sentences awarded against A-4, Jaspal Singh are set aside.
Instead he 'IS convicted under Section 304-A IPC and sentenced to undergo two
years' RI. In the view we have taken namely that Jaspal Singh, A-4 was
responsible for causing the death of Harbans Singh, deceased 2 and injuries to Surjit
Singh, PW 6 by rash and negligent driving, we think this is a fit case where Jaspal
Singh, A-4 should be directed to pay sufficient amount by way of compensation
to the legal heirs of Harbans Singh, deceased 2 and to Surjit Singh, PW 6.
Accordingly as provided under Section 357 CrPC, Jaspal Singh, A-4 is directed
to pay Rs 30,000 by way of compensation to the legal heirs of Harbans Singh,
deceased 2 and Rs 10,000 to Surjit Singh, PW 6. If the amounts are not
deposited within three months from today, the same shall be recovered and paid
to the legal heirs of Harbans Singh, deceased 2 and to Surjit Singh, PW 6 as
provided under Section 357 read, with Section 431 CrPC. Accordingly Criminal
Appeal No. 400 of 1982 filed by him is partly allowed.