Ram Vs. State of Punjab  INSC 477 (29 April 1997)
MOHAN PUNCHHI, K.S. PARIPOORNAN
appeal has arisen from an appellate Judgment and order of the punjab and Haryana
High Court passed on October 19, 1987 in Criminal Appeal No. 427/DB of 1986.
appellant was employed as a constable in the Punjab police and at the relevant time was assigned duty as the
Personal Guard of one Brij Lal Goel, Ex-MLA, Rajpura, District Patiala. Smt. Pushpa,
PW was his wife. The couple had handful of children. They had a single room
house to live in a locality at Rajpura. In the neighbourhood, Narinder Singh
deceased was living having constructed a house, quite close to the house of Daulat
Ram. Narinder Singh was an educated unmarried young man of 25 having done his
MA. He was staying alone in his house. His father, sub- Inspector Gurbachan
Singh had at one time been posted at Rajpura, but at the relevant time was
posted in the C.I.A.
at Malerkotla, a town about 53 miles away from Rajpura. His father's brother, Gurnam
Singh, PW lived at Sunam, at a distance of about 55 miles from Rajpura. Both
the towns were in different directions.
case of the prosecution is that Gurnam singh, PW, father's brother of the
deceased had visited Rajpura on a number of occasions and had developed a
feeling that the deceased was carrying on with Pushpa, P.W. Gurnam Singh, PW
wanted to disrupt the relationship. Thus on July 23, 1985, sometime after 1.00 PM , he came to Rajpura accompanied by Haridial Singh, Hardial Singh, PWs
and the deceased set out from the latter's house for going to Sunam. While so,
the deceased told Gurnam Singh and Hardial Singh, PWs that he had a message to
deliver at the house of Daulat Ram followed by Gurnam Singh and Hardial Singh PWs.
They saw him talking to Pushpa PW. In the meantime, Daulat Ram, appellant
arrived. Daulat Ram shouted that he was going to teach a lesson to the deceased
for having entered his house and saying so, he fired five shots in quick
succession towards the deceased from his service revolver. On receipt of
injuries the deceased fell on a cot, which lay in the sole room. The appellant
then further assaulted the deceased with a knife on his face. Then Pushpa PW
intervened. She too was given some injuries by the appellant. The appellant
thereafter left the place of occurrence carrying his revolver with him. Gurnam
Singh and Hardial Singh, eye- witnesses went near the deceased and found him
prosecution case further is that Gurnam Singh Leaving behind Hardial Singh near
the dead body went to the local Police Station, Rajpura and lodged the FIR at 2.45 PM.
investigative machinery was set in motion. SI, Harsajjan Singh PW 12 came to
the spot and prepared the inquest report. He has shown therein the dead body
lying on the cot in position. The dead body was sent for post-mortem
examination which was conducted by Dr. Vinod Kumar PW.1 at 5.35 PM. He was also required to examine the injuries of Pushpa
PW at 7.00 pm the same day. He found on her three
injuries, two of whom were as a result of a blunt weapon assault and one by a
sharp-edged weapon. The Post-mortem report of the deceased revealed that the
death was instantaneous and that the time between death and post mortem was
within six hours. At the trial however he amended his statement to say that the
probable duration between death and post mortem could also be eight hours. The
blood- stained clothes of the deceased which were a T-shirt and Pyjamas, were
removed and given to the police as case property.
completion of investigation, the appellant was tried by the Sessions Judge, Patiala under Section 302 of Indian Penal
Code as also under Section 27 of the Arms Act.
convicted for both the offences and sentenced to life imprisonment and payment
of fine of Rs. 1000/-; in default further rigorous imprisonment for one year
for the former offence and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one
year for the latter offence; sentences to be running concurrently. They were
affirmed in appeal before the High Court.
appellant had a counter-version. That version came as suggestions in the
cross-examination of the witnesses as well as deposition by PW.6 Pushpa, whom
the prosecution got declared hostile at the very initiation of her statement.
appellant gave the following statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C.:- "I am
innocent. I have been falsely implicated. On the day of occurrence in the
morning when I was away from my house to the market for making purchase of
vegetables etc. deceased intruded into my house and tried to criminally assault
my wife and she resisted. In the process she received injuries at her hands and
she caused injuries to the deceased with which he died. On my return I found my
wife absent from the house while the dead-body of the deceased was there. I
then went to the police Station where my wife was sitting and she narrated the
occurrence. I also requested the police to record her statement, but they
refused. The local police then sent information to Malerlotla and Sunam and Gurbachan
of the deceased arrived, who arranged Gurnam Singh and Hardial Singh as PWs.
This false case was then concocted. The revolver with live cartridges had been
taken to the police Station by my wife." P.W.6 Pushpa in her statement
admitted having killed the deceased by the service revolver of the appellant
which she said lay under the pillow on the cot on which the deceased was found
lying dead in position.
appellant in his defence examined 13 official witnesses of the Punjab Police of
the Wireless Department to suggest that since the occurrence had taken place at
about 8.00 A.M. in the morning, there had been
frantic telephonic and wireless messages by Rajpura Police to Contact S.I Gurbachan
Singh, father of the deceased who was then posted at Malerkotla. This effort
was to dislodge the time of occurrence as projected by the prosecution and
hence the story by itself.
learned Sessions Judge devoted more than half of his judgment in critically
examining the defence version as if it required the standard of proof as that
of a prosecution case. The High Court however avoided pursuing that course and
confined itself to the prosecution case. If holes can be picked in the defence
that doesn't lead to the prosecution story being automatically proved. The
prosecution has to stand on its own legs and can derive no advantage from the
weakness of the defence. Keeping that in view, we proceed further.
time of the occurrence is seriously in dispute.
to the prosecution the occurrence took place at 2.00 PM and according to the defence it took place at about 8.00 A.M. in the morning. The Situs of the crime is not
disputed. According to Dr. Vinod Kumar PW. 1 the time between death and
post-mortem could be upto eight hours.
according to the medical opinion the crime could have been committed eight
hours earlier to 5.30
PM, putting it around 9.00 am. However that cannot be viewed as a certainty.
Coming to the post-mortem Ex.PA, the abdomen of the deceased when dissected
showed that the stomach and its contents were healthy and empty. The small
intestines and their contents were described as healthy and containing small
amount of semi-digested food. large intestines and their contents were shown to
be healthy and empty. The bladder was shown to be healthy and containing small
amount of urine. Thus from the post-mortem report, it is conclusively
established that before his death the deceased had not taken full meals for
hours. The prosecution would have us believe that uptil 2 PM, when he was about to leave Rajpura for Sunam in the
company of his uncle Gurnam Singh PW, he was not expected to have taken regular
breakfast or the noon-time meal. According to Gurnam Singh PW when he and Hardial
singh had reached Rajpura at about 1.00 PM, they had not taken tea etc. at the house of the deceased and further
that the deceased also had not taken any food etc.
presence of those two. The condition of the stomach and that of the intestines
and the bladder does indicate that the occurrence perhaps took place much
earlier to the expected time for breakfast and lunch, possibly in the morning
hours. The Courts below have totally ignored this aspect of the case.
worthy of recall that the deceased was an educated youngman of 25 wanting to
set up a business at Rajpura. He seemingly had done well in building a house of
his own . He had good parentage. Supposedly accompanying his uncle in order to
go to Sunam he is said to have been wearing a T-shirt and pyjamas, a dress
uncommon to be worn for going to places. The top dress does not match with the
bottom one. Having regard to the normal pattern of life, the deceased was
expected when wearing a T-shirt to match it with a pair of trousers or Jeans
and not with pyjamas.
if he was to be wearing pyjamas he would be matching it with a shirt or a kurta
and not a T-shirt . The manner of hes dress was least suggestive of the fact
that he was set for travel to another destination 55 miles away in the company
of his uncle . The dress of the deceased is therefore somewhat intriguing. It
is more close to the theory that in morning hours he was casually dressed and
had gone to the house of the accused with designs which were far from honourable.
two supposed eye-witnesses Gurnam Singh and Hardial Singh PWs are from Sunam
and according to their own version seem to have come there to take away the
deceased. Their coming to the house of the deceased is a strange coincidence orchestrataed
so as to witness him being Killed. it is rather strange that Gurnam Singh PW on
his own would be caring for his nephew to desist from his amorous relationship
with Pushpa, PW without taking into confidence the deceased's father. According
to his statement he had kept the affair to himself. Strangely he took into confidence
rather Hardial Singh, P.W. and brought him along to Rajpura. It is difficult to
under stand what purpose had Hardial Singh to serve in accompanying Gurnam
Singh to Rajpura to fetch the deceased. The prosecution has not advanced any
cogent reason as to why the presence of these witnesses be not doubted,
especially when the time of occurrence is shrouded in doubt. In addition
thereto is the defence evidence suggesting that both police stations i.e. at Malerkotla
an Sunam where the father and uncle of the deceased lived respectively were
frantically being attempted to be contacted on police station to police station
connection. All these facts lend credence to the defence version that the P.W.S
had come to know of the crime because the matter had been reported at the
police station in the first instance by P.W.6 followed by the appellant.
no one from the neighbourhood has come forward to support the prosecution even
though the investigating officer says that he questioned some people in the neighbourhood.
It was for him to say as to whom he had questioned and not for the defence to
elicit those names so as to call those persons in defence, as expected by the
learned Sessions Judge.
on the totality of circumstances we have come to entertain the doubt that
neither of the two supposed eye- witnesses were present at the scene of the
occurrence, nor have they witnessed the same. we have also entertained the
doubt about the time of the occurrence and the manner in which the prosecution
would have us believe that it took place. It could well be that it had taken
place as suggested by the defence. The dress of the deceased and the contents
of his abdomen suggest that he was murdered much before 2.00 PM, the time positively asserted by the prosecution.
the forgoing reasons, we allow this appeal, set aside the impugned judgment and
order of the High Court as also that of the Court of Session and acquit the
appellant of all charges. The appellant is on bail. His bail bonds are
discharged. Fine, if paid by him be refunded to him .