State of Punjab, Sukhjinder Kaur Vs. Jaswant Singh
& Others  INSC 723 (10 September 1997)
MUKHERJEE, M. JAGANNADHA RAO
Mr. Justice M.K. Mukherjee Hon'ble Mr. Justice M. Jagannadha Rao Ujagar Singh,
Sr. Adv., (R.K. Talwar) Adv. for Goodwill Indeever, (Ms. Geetanjli Mohan) Adv.
for R.S. Sodhi, (Girish Chandra) Adv. for Ms. Naresh Bakshi, Adv./Advs. with
him for the appearing parries.
following Judgment of the Court was delivered:
APPEAL NO 594 OF 1996
Singh, the respondent in these two appeals, was convicted by the Sessions
Judge, Ferozepur under Sections 302 I.P.C. and 27 of the Arms Act for
committing the murder of Harnek Singh on August 24, 1990 by firing at him. For the
conviction under Section 302 I.P.C. he was sentenced to imprisonment for life
and fine, and for the other conviction be was sentenced to rigorous
imprisonment for three years and fine with a direction that the substantive
sentences shall run concurrently. In the appeal preferred by him the High Court
set aside his above convictions and instead thereof convicted him under Section
304 (part I) I.P.C. For the conviction so recorded he was sentenced to rigorous
imprisonment for seven years and fine. Assailing his acquittal of the offences
under Section 302 I.P.C. and 27 of the Arms Act these two appeals have been
filed: one by the wife of the deceased and the other by the State of Punjab.
the material time Balkaran Singh (P.W.2) was the principal of the Government Senior Secondary
School, Talwandi Bhai
and Harnek Singh (the deceased) and the respondent were teachers of that
school. Sometimes before the death of Harnek Singh (the deceased) and the
respondent were teachers of that school. Sometimes before the death of Harnek
Singh, the respondent had sent a letter (Ext PE) to Smt. Prithpal Kaur, wife of
P.W.2, bringing to her notice that her husband was having ijlicit relations
with some lady teachers of the school and that the deceased and one Rajinder
Singh (another teacher) were working as his pimps.
On August 24, 1990 P.W.2 had convened a meeting of the
staff members of the school in the school premises to remove the
misunderstandings that might have arisen from the above letter of the
According to the prosecution case when the meeting was in progress with the
deceased and other members of the staff present there Darshan Singh (P.W.3),
brother of the wife of the deceased, came there to meet him. A little later the
respondent, who was not invited to attend the meeting appeared on the scene.
When the deceased took exception to his such uncalled for presence the
respondent took out his revolver from the pocket of his trousers and fired
three shots aiming at him, as a result of which he fell down dead.
respondent then made good his escape with the revolver.
P.W.3 to guard the dead body P.W.2 proceeded on foot to lodge a report at the
police station. On his way he met S.I. Sukhwinder Singh, in-charge of Police
Post Talwandi and handed over to him a written report of the incident. On that
report a case was registered and S.I. Sukhwinder Singh took up investigation.
He held inquest upon the dead body of Harnek Singh inside the school premises
and onwards it for post mortem examination. In course of the investigation he
arrested the respondent on August 27, 1990
and from his person recovered a .32 bore revolver, with its license and five
live cartridges. He sent those seized articles to the Forensic Science
Laboratory for examination by an expert.
completion of investigation he submitted charge-sheet against the respondent.
respondent pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him; and in his
examination under Section 313 Cr.P.C. stated, inter alia, as under:
treat the wife of Balkaran Singh as my sister and on coming to known about the
bad acts of Balkaran Singh I wrote a letter to his wife which is Ex.PE, the
contents of which were disclosed by Balkaran Singh to Harnek Singh prior to the
date of occurrence. On 24.8.90, when I came to school premises at about 7.15
A.M. Harnek Singh had an altercation with me. He was In great rage and fury. He
abused me and then there was exchange of abuses. Harnek Singh caught hold of a
hockey stick from a student, named Chamkaur Singh s/o Harnek Singh and started
giving the blows with it, which hit on the upper part of thigh, fore-head and
other part of body while I kept on retreating to ward off the blows.
turban also fell on the spot. i took out the revolver, which I used to keep
with me loaded as I had earlier been threatened by the militants. First of all,
I fired a shot in the air to desist Harnek Singh from giving blows to me, and
when he did not stop and was going to give me another blow, wielding the hockey
from his right side and the hockey being almed at my head, apprehending danger
to my life I then fired at him In self defence but realised later that two
shots had been fired in quick succession in the tension of moment. I then went
to the Police Post Talwandi Bhal and apprised the officer there with the facts
of the occurrence who detained me there and did not record my statement nor get
me medically examined. I was examined by the doctor in the afternoon."
support of their respective cases the prosecution examined four witnesses and
exhibited affidavits of the formal witnesses, while the respondent examined
five witnesses in his defence.
the context of the respective cases of the parties and the admitted facts, the
only question that fell for determination before the trial Court was whether
the respondent fired at the deceased without any provocation whatsoever as
alleged by the prosecution or such firing was resorted to by him in exercise of
his right of private defence. The trial Court discussed the entire evidence
including that of the two eye witnesses, namely, P.Ws. 2 and 3 and the five defence
witnesses threadbare and accepted the case of the prosecution in preference to
that of the respondent. In appeal the High Court found that the plea of right
of private defence taken by the respondent was probable and convincing but as,
according to it, he did not stop firing after the first shot, held that he
exceeded his such right. With the above finding the High Court recorded the
impugned order of conviction and sentence.
Having perused the entire evidence in the light of the judgment of the High
Court, particularly, its finding that P.W.2 was a natural and probable witness
and that his evidence was convincing, we are constrained to say that the High
Court was not at all justified in disturbing the convictions recorded by the
trial Court against the respondent.
appears that the High Court was much impressed by the fact that when the
respondent was examined by the doctor on August 28, 1990 (four days after the incident) he
was found to have the following injuries on his person:- "1. An abrasion,
covered in its upper half by a brown scab and with scab detected in its lower
part which was partially healed over the right side of fore head immediately
above the outer one third of right eye brow. It was 1.5 cm x 1 cm.
abrasion partially covered by brown scab in its centre with rest of part
partially hesled it was measuring 1 cm x 0.75 cm. It was 2 cm above injury No.
bluish black contusion 35 cm x 20 cm over the front outer and posterior aspect
of upper part of left thigh. The wound was extending upto left buttock. The
contusion was super imposed by scabbed abrasion".
According to the High Court the existence of the above injuries on the person
of the respondent probabilised his version that he was first assaulted by the
deceased with a hockey stick and apprehending danger to his life thereby he
fired at him in self defence. Apart from the fact that no evidence was laid by
the respondent to prove that he sustained those injuries at the time of the
incident on being assaulted by a hockey stick as alleged by him, the doctor,
who examined him categorically stated that the injuries were simple in nature
and could be self inflicted or self suffered. It is pertinent to point out here
that though the respondent examined five witnesses none was examined to testify
about his claim of having been hit with a hockey stick and for that matter
about his right of private defence. The witnesses were examined by him only to
prove that after the incident he had surrendered before the Police on the same
day but he was not produced in the Court within 24 hours as statutorily
required. We hasten to add that the trial Court found even such evidence
unsatisfactory and unreliable - a finding with which we are in complete
agreement - and the High Court did not at all advert to this aspect of the
matter. Incidentally it may be mentioned that even proof of the above fact
would not have in any way improved the defence version nor impaired the
prosecution case. Having gone through the entire record we are constrained to
say that there is not an iota of material from which it can be even remotely
said that the respondent had a right of private defence of his person.
the result we allow these appeals, set aside the judgment and order of the High
court and restore those of the trial Court. Since from the record it is not
clear as to whether the respondent has already served out the sentence imposed
by the High Court, we direct that if e is now out of jail he shall be
re-arrested and remanded to jail for serving out the remainder of the sentence
imposed by the trial Court. In case, however, he is still in jail he shall
continue to remain there for the self same purpose.