Singh & Ors, Gurmukh Singh & ANR Vs. State of Punjab  INSC 703 (3
MUKHERJEE, K.T. THOMAS
3RD DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 1997 Present:
Mr. Justice M.K. Mukherjee Hon'ble Mr. Justice K.T. Thomas U.R. Lalit, and T.S.
Arunachalam, Sr. Advs. L.K. Pandey, Adv. with them for the appellants. in Crl. A.No.
Sr. Adv., H.S. Munjral, Vikrant Rana and Ms. B. Rana, Advs with him for the
appellant in Crl. A.No. 402/95 for M/S. S.S. Rana & Co., Advs. Ajay Bansal,
Adv. for R.S. Sodhi, adv. for the Respondents J U D G E M E N T The following
Judgment of the Court was delivered:
APPEAL NO. 402 OF 1995 THOMAS, J.
is the story of a murder committed as revenge for another murder. Appellants were
involved in the second murder and they challenged the conviction and sentence
imposed on them by the sessions court and confirmed by the High court in
murdered person in this case was one Bagicha Singh.
was a dispute over one house building as between the said Bagicha Singh and one
Jagtar Singh which remained alive for some time. In that dispute, Karnail Singh
(father of accused Nos.1 to 3) gave support to jagtar Singh. In a Previous
incident the said Karnail Singh was murdered and a criminal case was
charge-sheeted against PW-12 Balkar singh, PW-13 Swaran Singh and PW-14 Hardip
Singh and some others.
to the prosecution version the occurrence in this case happened on the night of
27-1-1985 at about 8.00 P.M. when deceased Bagicha Singh was going in the company of
PW-12, PW-13 and PW-14 to reach their village. They were waylaid by eight
assailants including the appellants herein near the yard of one Harbans Singh.
Appellant Gurmukh Singh (A-1) made an exhortation to his companion assailants
to carry out the onslaughts for avenging the murder of his father Karnail
Singh. A-4 Satnam Singh Shot at the deceased with a gun and A-1 Gurmukh Singh,
A-3 Gurbinder Singh and A- 6 Gurbux Singh attacked the deceased with kirpans
and A-2 Harjinder Singh with a spear. A-5 Mohinder Singh and A-7 Darshan Singh
dealt blows on PW-13 Swarn Singh with kirpans while A-8 Bhag Singh fired a gun
shot at him. As the assailants thought that their mission was accomplished they
all fled from the place with the weapons.
Singh died on the spot and PW-13 Swarn Singh injured was removed to the
hospital. First Information was lodged by PW-14 Hardip Singh. All the accused
were arrested ought not have been relied on. Second is, there was no reason for
the appellants to persist with the revenge for the murder of Karnail Singh as
the murderers were convicted by the Court. Third is, it was impossible for any
person to recount with meticulous exactitude the various individual acts done
by each assailant and since the witnesses in this case have testified so, their
testimony should have been rejected on that score alone.
be true that PW-12 Balkar Singh, PW-13 Swarn Singh and PW-14 Hardip Singh must
have been simmering with grouse against the appellants for giving evidence
against them which led to their conviction. Bad Blood would have existed as
between them, But it is a fact that PW-13 Swarn Singh had also suffered
injuries in this occurrence. Hence it is most unlikely that he would have
spared the actual assailants and falsely implicated these appellants merely
because he is otherwise ill disposed to them.
in evidence that despite conviction and sentence passed on the accused in Karnail
Singh Murder case they were released on bail as per orders of this Court during
pendency of the appeals filed by them. So the fact of conviction would not have
quenched the revenging thirst towards the murderers of Karnail Singh.
third point which was forcibly pressed into service by counsel is that no eye
witnesses can be expected to and some weapons were recovered by the police and
completion of investigation eight persons including the appellants were
challenged. Though the Sessions Court convicted all the eight accused of
offences of murders, attempt to commit murder an rioting etc. the High Court of
Punjab and Haryana acquitted A-2 Harjinder Singh, A-4 Satnam Singh and A-5 Mohinder
Singh. The conviction and sentence passed on the appellants were, however,
confirmed by the High Court and hence these appeals by special leave.
is no dispute that PW-13 Swarn Singh was present at the scene and he also
sustained serious injurious including lacerated and incised wounds on the head.
This fact helps us to agree with the finding of the two courts that PW-13 Swarn
Singh was able to see the assailants who attacked him and the deceased. He
mentioned the names of the appellants as assailants without doubt. Evidence
shows that it was a moonlit night. The other two eye witnesses PW-12 Balkar
Singh and PW-14 Hardip Singh supported the version of PW-13 Swarn Singh.
counsel for the appellants adopted a three pronged contention on the above
evidence. First is, as the witnesses were all ill disposed to the appellants by
the fact that they were convicted in the earlier murder case (in which Karnail
Singh died) on the strength of the evidence given by the appellants, the
testimony of those witnesses peak with precision regarding the respective roles
played by each assailant including the sites of the body where each blow fell
particularly since the occurrence happened during night time and in that case
when the witnesses spoke with exactitude their testimony become highly
a general handicap attached to all eye witnesses, if they fail to speak with
precision their evidence would be assailed as vague and evasive, on the
contrary if they speak to all events very well and correctly their evidence
becomes vulnerable to be attacked as tutored. Both approaches are dogmatic and
fraught with lack of pragmatism. The testimony of a witness should be viewed
from broad angles. It should not be weighed in golden scales, but with cogent
particular case an eye witness may be able to narrate the incident with all
details without mistake if the occurrence had made an imprint on the canvass of
his mind in the sequences in which it occurred. He may be a person whose
capacity for absorption and retention of events is stronger then another
person. It should be remembered that what he witnessed was not something that happens
usually but a very exceptional one so far as he is concerned. If he reproduces
it in the same sequences as it registered in his mind the testimony cannot be
dubbed as artificial on that score alone.
the trial court which had the opportunity to hear the narration of the incident
from those witnesses was impressed by the truth of the version. It is not fair
to say now that the testimony of those witnesses deserved rejection for its
precision. That apart, they would have spoken in the court as answers to
different questions put to them by the chief examiner. It depends on the
ability of the chief examiner in eliciting answers from the witness in the
correct order of events. Looking at the evidence from this angle we are not
disposed to castigate the evidence of the eye witness in this case for speaking
to the details correctly.
not find any good ground to interfere with the conviction and sentence passed
on the appellants as confirmed by the High Court. Accordingly, we dismiss these