Punjabhai Khachar & Ors Vs. State of Gujarat  INSC 575 (18
B.L. (J) Hansaria B.L. (J) Venkataswami K. (J) Hansaria, J.
JT 1996 (5) 472 1996 SCALE (3)574
these appeals we are concerned with the legality of conviction of the 15
appellants by the Special Designated Judge, Ahmedabad under various sections of
law including 302/149, 307/149, 326/149 and section 3 of Terrorist and
Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (for short `TADA').
sentence awarded for the offence under section 302/149 is imprisonment for life
and for section 3 TADA offence also imprisonment for life; for the offence
under section 307/149 imprisonment for 10 years and for section 326/149 offence
imprisonment for five years. Fines of varying amounts have also been imposed
for different offences.
appeals being directed against the judgment of the Designated Court which lie only to this Court, we
have applied our own mind to the material evidence on record which were brought
to our notice by the learned counsel for the appellants and Shri Adhvaru who
appeared for the State.
principal argument in the case on behalf of the appellants was advanced by Shri
Lalit, learned senior counsel appearing for appellants 1-4, 6 and 10-12.
5 and 7-9 are represented by Shri Medh and appellants 13-15 by senior advocate,
Shri Mehta. These two learned counsel adopted the submissions advanced by Shri Lalit
on the question of law. We, therefore, propose to first advert to the legal
contentions raised by Shri Lalit.
main point urged by Shri Lalit was that on the facts of the present case
section 149 of the Code could not have been pressed into service by the
prosecution to find the appellants' guilty of having caused the murger of
deceased Rajabhai. The prosecution had, however, done so because its case is
that the appellants, who belong to Darbar community, had gathered at the house
of accused Apabhai on the night of 14.3.1991 with the avowed object of
committing murder of complainant Fuljibhai and other Kolis of village Sarangpur.
This had been done because a few days earlier an altercation had taken place
with Fuljibhai who belongs to Koli community, when he was coming towards his
home in a bullock-cart at about 6-7 p.m. Appellant Babubhai, who is a Darbar,
happened to pass in a vehicle. It seems that some difficulty was faced in
over-taking the bullock- cart. After the over-taking had taken place, the
vehicle in which Babubhai was travelling was stopped in front of the
bullock-cart. Babubhai got down and held Fuljibhai by his collar and stated
"You, Koli people, have become unmanageable. You do not give said. We will
see to it." The prosecution says that to teach Kolis a lesson, the
appellants, along with some others, gathered in the residence of appellant Apabhai
on 14th March when a Dayra (musical performance) was arranged. After this
performance was over around 2-3 a.m. of
15th, the appellants remained in the house of Apabhai and when Fuljibhai and
other members of the complainant party crossed the house of Apabhai around 7 to 7.30 a.m. in the normal course of going to
their fields, they were attacked by the appellants. At first the complainant
party was dealt with sticks and rods.
8-10 of the appellants took their stand on the terrace of the first floor of Apabhai's
house and started firing indiscriminately therefrom. Rajabhai sustained gun
shot injuries along with others. He succumbed whereas others survived after
some treatment was given in a hospital.
aforesaid shows, according to the prosecution, that the appellants, all of whom
belong to Darbar community, were animated by the common object of murdering
complainant Fuljibhai and other Kolis of village Sarangpur, in which the house
of Apabhai is situated. It was urged by Shri Adhyaru that as the appellants had
thered in Apabhia's house to take revenge on Kolis of rangpur because of what
had happened a few days earlier, the purpose of the appellants' gathering in
the house of Apabhai was really not to participate in the Davra, but to see
that persons of Darbar community from nearby villages gather to teach Kolis a
Lalit's submission, however, was that the appellants had assembled in the house
of Apabhai, not with any sinister motive, but to enjoy the musical programme in
which even outside singer had been invited as admitted by Fuljibhai who was
examined as PW.2. It was also urged that if the intention of the appellants
would have been to cause death either of Fuljibhai or other Kolis, there would
have been a blood bath inasmuch as according to the prosecution 8-10 appellants
had fire arms with them and they had taken their position on the terrace of the
first floor of the house of Apabhai, wherefrom they could have well fired to
death many Kolis who were on the road in front of the house.
nature of the injuries sustained on the persons of complaint party other than Rajabhai,
would show that they were not serious injuries - being lacerated wounds in the
main, except those found on the person of Jagdishbhai, who had about 17 entry
have found sufficient force in the contention of Shri Lalit, first because, if
the unlawful object would have been to cause murder of Kolis of village Sarangpur,
as has been stated in the charge, Darbars of other villages would not have
perhaps made available themselves. Secondly and more importantly, if the
unlawful object would have been to murder either the complainant or other Kilis,
achievement of the object would not have been at all difficult in view of the
fact that the appellants had fire arms with them and had taken position on the
terrace of the first floor wherefrom it would have been easy to shoot down good
number of Kolis who were on the road and, what is more, quite unarmed. While
taking this view, we have conceded that arranging of Dayra in the house of Apabhai
was a pretext for the Darbars to assemble there, though the contrary view is
also possible inasmuch as if convening of Dayra would have been a ruse, outside
singer would not have been invited and the Davra would not have been allowed to
continue even upto 2-3 a.m.
next day to fatigue all by that time, not leaving that much of energy as would
have been expectedly required to undergo next morning's laborious work.
would, therefore, hold that section 149 was not available to the prosecution in
the present case. Let the next general submission of Shri Lalit relating to
non- applicability of TADA to the facts of the present case be now dealt with.
It was urged that the acts alleged against the appellants did not attract any
of the terrorists act mentioned in section 3 of this Act. Shri Adhyaru
contended that as the action of the appellants had resulted in striking terror
among the Kolis, section 3 did apply.
Lalit's submission was that if terrorizing Kolis would have been the object of
the appellants they would have gone to their village and attacked them, instead
of awaiting for some Kolis to pass through the road in front of the house of Apabhai.
Shri Adhyaru, however, drew our attention to the evidence of the complainant Fuljibhai
(PW2) who stated that there was threatening even after the occurrence in
question which showed that Kolis were feeling insecured and were seized with
terror. But then, PW-2 admitted in cross-examination that even ladies were
going to the field after the occurrence. If the ladies could come out of their
houses, may be to get engaged in their normal avocation of life which in their
case was grazing of cattle, it is apparent that the Kolis had not felt so insecured
as to require taking recourse to TADA by the State.
would, therefore, agree with Shri Lalit that sending the appellants for trial
under section 3 of TADA was not warranted. Their conviction under section 3
has, therefore, to fail.
Having held that section 149 had no operation insofar as the murder of Rajabhai
is concerned, we have to first find out who could be held individually
responsible for his death. PWs 2,3,4,5 and 7 have consistently deposed that Rajabhai
was hit by the shot fired by the appellant No.1 Merambhai. There is nothing to
disbelieve their evidence in this regard. We would, therefore, sentence him
alone under section 302 and sustain the sentence awarded the same being
imprisonment for life and fine of Rs.10,000/-. Other appellants are acquitted
of the charge of section 302/149.
have next to consider the conviction of the appellants under section 307/149.
Appellants 18.104.22.168 and 14 have been so convicted. As the applicability of 149
has not ben accepted by us, we have to see which of the appellants can be found
guilty for their individual acts under section 307.
The trial court has convicted the appellants under this section for attemption
to murder two persons:
contended for the appellants that the injuries on the person of Sanjubhen would
not show that there was any attempt to murder her as the injury sustained were
these: (i) a contused lacerated wound 5 x 2 cm on the right side of the head;
and (ii) swelling 7 x 5 cm on the right side of chest. X-ray of the chest did
not show any fracture.
Despite these being the injuries, Shri Adhyaru urged that as these had been
caused by a fire arm, as deposed by Sanjuben who was examined as PW 7, and as
the pellet had struck the head, intention or knowledge to cause death was
present. We do not think if we would be justified to read the aforesaid mens rea
because though the injury was by a pellet, it only seems to have grazed the had
therefore hold that ingredients of section 307 are not satisfied qua Sanjuben.
Instead, the offence committed would attract section 324. As the injuries in
question had been caused, as per the evidence of PW-7 herself, by appellant
No.9 Shivrajbhai (accused No.11), we convict him under section 324 and award
R.I. for one year and a fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default, S.I. for one month, as
Nos. 3,8,10 and 14 stand acquitted under section 307/149 for wrong done to Sanjuben.
But insofar as Jagdishbhai is concerned, in his being examined around 9.45 a.m.
on the day of the occurrence, PW 17 had found multiple punctured wounds with
about 17 entry wounds in the middle part of the hand from the right side elbow.
The X-ray showed fracture of the right side ulna. An attempt to murder, has
therefore, to be read insofar as he is concerned. From his evidence, who came
to be examined as PW 3, it is to be found that it was accused No.4 Bhupatibhai,
who is appellant No.3, at whose hand he had received the injury. We would,
therefore, while acquitting other appellants for the offence under section
307/149 convict Bhupatibhai under section 307. As to the sentence for this
offence, we are satisfied that imprisonment for five years, instead of 10 years
as awarded, would meet the ends of justice, and we order accordingly.
would now advert to the conviction of accused No. 15 Nathubhai, who is
appellant No.13. Shri Mehta appearing for him had a grievance about his
conviction under various sections of law inasmuch as he is one of the accused
who had neither been named in the FIR nor in any of the dying declaration, nor
in the statements made before the police as late as 3.4.91 - occurrence having
been taken place on 15.3.91. Though in the court he was named by PW 2, 3 and 4,
our attention has been invited by Shri Mehta to what PW2, who was the
informant, stated in his evidence, which was that name of this appellant had
not been given in his complaint nor in the police statement. This witness
further stated that when his police statement was recorded on 3.4.91, he
recollected that the name of this appellant was left out from the complaint,
but no steps were taken by him to get his name recorded. As to PW 3, the
submission was that he was minor at the time of the occurrence. As regards 4
the contention was that he had admitted about his not having named this
appellant either in his police statement or any other statement. This being the
position, we entertain doubt about his presence at the place of occurrence on
15.3.1991 and order for his acquittal.
Insofar as offence under section 326 is concerned, appellants 2,6 and 7 have
been found guilty. This has been done because of their individual acts. We
would say the same about the conviction of appellant No.8 under section 325 and
323. These convictions have not been challenged before us, as really they could
not have been to be reasonable. We further find that appellants 1,3,4,5,10,11,12,14
and 15 have been found guilty under sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act.
been urged that the arms which appellant Nos. 4,11,14 and 15 had were licensed.
As regards appellant No.4 a statement had also been made that the pistol
recovered from him was not in working condition. We would, therefore, set aside
their conviction under these sections.
Conviction of all the appellants under section 302/149 IPC and section 3 TADA
is set aside.
Appellant No.1 stands convicted under section 302 and he would undergo
imprisonment of life for this offence and pay fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default
undergo S.I. for 2 years. Fine, if realized, shall be paid to the heirs of
Insofar as offence under 307 is concerned, only appellant No.3 Bhupatibhai
(accused No.4) stands convicted.
for 5 years is awarded as sentence to him for this offence. Other appellants
are acquitted so far as section 307 is concerned.
Appellant No.13 Nathubhai (accused No.15) stands acquitted altogether.
Appellant No.9 Shivrajbhai (accused No.11) is convicted under section 324, for
which offence he would undergo R.I. for 1 year and pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- in
default undergo S.I. for one month.
Conviction of appellants 2,6 and 7 under section 326 is confirmed; so is the
sentence of R.I. for five years and fine of Rs.2,000/-, in default S.I. for 3
Conviction of appellant No.8 Babubhai under sections 325 and 323 is confirmed;
so too the sentence awarded - this being R.I. for 3 years for offence under
section 325 with fine of Rs.1,000/- in default S.I. for 3 months; and R.I. for
six months for the 323 offence with a fine of Rs.5,00/- in default S.I. for one
month. These sentences are to run concurrently.
Conviction of appellant Nos.1,3,5,10 and 12 under section 25 and 27 of Arms Act
is confirmed; so is the sentence as awarded - which is R.I. for one year and a
fine of Rs.1,000/- in default S.I. for 3 months. The order relating to taking
into custody of the fire arms alongwith the live cartridges qua them is
confirmed. These sentences would run concurrently with sentence for other
offences so far as appellant Nos. 1 and 3 are concerned.
Appellant Nos. 4,11,14 and 15 are acquitted for offences under sections 25 and
27 Arms Act.
The appeals are allowed accordingly.
Before parting, we have felt constrained to observe that though the learned
counsel for the appellants had rendered due and proper assistance while
advancing oral submissions, they failed to file a chart, as directed, showing
which appellant was which accused and has been convicted under which section
followed by what sentence.
was needed because out of 22 accused who faced the trial, 6 have been acquitted
and 1 died). This caused us difficulty in preparing the judgment, which could
have been avoided by filing the chart.