Singh Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
 Insc 271 (8 May 2003)
N. Santosh Hegde, Ashok Bhan & B.P. Singh. WITH
Criminal Appeal No. 1691 of 1996 BHAN, J.
Seven persons Meharbansingh, A1, Pratap Singh, A2, Mahendra Singh A3, Uday
Bhan Singh, A4, Nawab Singh, A5, Nirpat Singh, A6, and Jandel Singh, A7, were
named in the First Information Report No. 246 of 1979 recorded at Police
Station Dabara on 30th september, 1979 at 8.45 P.M.
for the murder of Prakash which took place at Village Kheri, which is at a
distance of 3 Km. from the Police Station. The First Information Report was
lodged by Ramgopal Chipa, PW1, who was present at the place of occurrence when
the incident took place.
A3 died during trial AND A6, who is convicted, has not preferred any appeal.
We are told at the hearing that he has also since died.
A1 Meharbansingh and A2 Pratap Singh absconded. Their trial was separated
from the other three accused.
Uday Bhan Singh, A4, Nawab Singh, A5, Nirpat Singh, A6 (since deceased) and
Jandel Singh, A7 were tried in Criminal Trial No. 54/1980.
They were convicted under Section 120-B, 147, 302 read with Section 149 of
IPC. They were sentenced to one year R.I. under Sections 120-B, 147 and for
life under Section 302/149 I.P.C. by the judgment of Additional Sessions Judge,
Gwalior dated 15.09.1980. Aggrieved against which these three appellants and
another Nirpat Singh (since deceased) filed two separate appeals one by Jandel
Singh,A7 and the other by the other three accused Udhay Bhan Singh A4 and Nawab
Singh, A5 and Nirpat Singh A6. The appeals were partly accepted by the High
Court. It was held that a case under Section 302 I.P.C. was not made out as
there was no clear evidence on record as to which of these accused had caused
fatal injury which could be sufficient in ordinary course of nature to cause
death and instead they were convicted under Section 304 Part-I, I.P.C. They
were sentenced to one year R.I. under Sections 120-B, 147 I.P.C. and seven
years R.I. under Sections 304 Part-I read with section 149 I.P.C. A fine of Rs.
7,000/- (Rupees Seven thousand) was also imposed.
Jandel Singh, A7 has filed Criminal Appeal No. 1690 of 1996 and the other
two accused Uday Bhan Singh, A4 and Nawab Singh, A5 have filed Criminal Appeal
No. 1691 of 1996 in this Court which are being disposed of by this common
The absconding accused A1 Meharban Singh and A2 Pratap Singh were tried in
Session trial Case No. 73/1982. Both the accused were acquitted by the trial
court. The order of acquittal was maintained by the High Court against which no
further appeal was filed in this Court. The order of acquittal thus became
The prosecution story is that on 30th September, 1979 Meharban Singh, A1
invited Prakash(deceased), Ram Gopal, PW1 and Narayan, PW5 for dinner in
connection with the last rite (thirteenth day) ceremony of his father. While
Prakash and Ram Gopal, PW1 were on their way to the house of Meharban Singh,
A1, they met Narayan, PW5 who was also going to the house of Meharban Singh, in
the same connection. A2 to A7 had also come to the house of Meharbansingh to
attend the thirteenth day ceremony.
Meharban Singh, A1 introduced Prakash with the other accused persons.
Thereafter Prakash(deceased), Ram Gopal, PW1 and Narayan, PW5 started eating
the food served to them sitting in the Varandah(Paur) where a lantern was
burning. The accused persons were sitting on a cot. They were smoking bidis and
were whispering amongst themselves. When they had taken half of their meals,
they heard gun fire from outside and in that process the lantern was
extinguished. Realizing the danger Prakash(deceased), Ram Gopal, PW1 and
Narayan, PW5 tried to run away. They heard the accused saying "pakdo
pakdo". Prakash(deceased), Ram Gopal, PW1 and Narayan, PW5 somehow managed
to come on the road and tried to escape through the Gali, which goes towards Ram
Janki Temple. Prakash(deceased) was caught hold by the accused persons who
pulled him down. Mahendra Singh, A3 fired at Prakash(deceased) with his country
made pistol(Katta). Thereafter Meharban Singh, A1, Pratap Singh, A2 and
Mahendra Singh, A3 threw stones aiming at the head of deceased and crushed his
head. Hearing Prakash's cries, Uday Bhan Singh, A4, Nawab singh, A5, Nirpat
Singh, A6 and Jandel Singh, A7 started throwing stones on Ram gopal, PW1 and
Narayan, PW5. Although there were other houses in the Gali but none of the
residents came to their rescue in spite of hue and cry raised by them.
Ram Gopal, PW1 went to the police station at Dabra and got the FIR recorded.
Hukumsingh Yadav, SHO, Debra Police Station after recording the first
information report came to the place of occurrence in the night itself. There
is nothing on record to indicate that a copy of FIR was sent to the
jurisdictional Magistrate as required under Section 157 of the Cr.P.C.
Prosecution case is that the Investigating Officer could not carry on with
the investigation at night due to darkness. Early in the morning the next day
Panchnama of the dead body was prepared and dead body was sent for post- mortem.
Dr. Dharampal katariya, PW3 conducted the post mortem at 9.00 O'clock the same
day. In his opinion, Prakash died due to damage to the vital organ i.e. brain.
That the injuries caused on the head of the deceased were sufficient to cause
death in the ordinary course of nature.
Counsel for the parties have been heard at length. Prosecution has rested
its case on the evidence of the two eye witnesses PW1 and PW5.
There is no other evidence. We have gone through the testimony of the two
eye witnesses and the Investigating Officer minutely with the help of the
counsel for the parties.
Story put forth by the prosecution is highly improbable. It has come in the
evidence that the only persons invited for the thirteenth day ceremony were the
ones with whom the accused persons had long standing litigation both criminal
and civil. Meharban singh, A1 had a dispute with the deceased regarding a piece
of land. Similarly he had litigation with Narayan, PW5.
The criminal litigation between them was also pending. According to PW5 no
other person had been invited except the three of them. It is unlikely that a
person would go and invite the persons with whom he is at logger heads for
dinner to his house or for that matter the persons so invited would even accept
the invitation and come for dinner. Neither the deceased nor any of the eye
witnesses had ever visited the house of any of the accused persons earlier.
From the prosecution story put forth it is evident that the intention, if at
all, was to kill Prakash(deceased) only. It is unlikely that the two eye
witnesses would also be invited along with the deceased. The accused would not
invite the other two persons to become eye witnesses of the occurrence.
Apart from the improbability of the prosecution story the testimony of eye
witnesses does not inspire confidence being untrustworthy. Deceased belongs to
village Dabra. PW1 belongs to village Jangipura and PW5 belongs to village
Kheri. PW1 belongs to Chipa caste whereas PW5 belongs to kuchvadiya caste which
deals the business of sale and purchase of hair and skins of cattles. To show
their presence at the spot they had stated that they received injuries at the
time of occurrence but this fact is not supported by the medical evidence. PW1
asserted that Jandel Singh, A7 was brother in law of Meharban Singh. PW5 in his
deposition contradicted PW1 and stated that no sister of Meharban singh was
married to Jandel Singh, A7. PW1 in his deposition in the court stated that all
the seven accused had caused injury to the deceased with stones whereas in his
statement before the police he had mentioned that only A1 Meharban singh, and
A2 Pratap Singh, who had caused injuries on the head of the deceased. PW5 in
the court stated that all the seven accused had caused injuries to the deceased
with stones whereas in his statement before the police he had stated that A1
Meharban Singh alone had caused the said injuries. PW1 and PW5 were duly
confronted with their statements made before the police. They were unable to
satisfactorily explain this vital contradiction. They have made vital
improvement in their statements in the court to implicate the other accused
persons as well and in any case the possibility of their doing so cannot be
ruled out because of their animosity towards the accused persons.
Investigating Officer reached the spot at about 10.00p.m. He did not carry the investigation further at night due to darkness. He did not make any
effort to search for the accused though their houses were a few steps away from
the place of occurrence. It is unbelievable that an Investigating Officer who
is going for the investigation of a murder case at night would not carry a
torch with him or try to procure some other source of light to carry on with
the investigation. There were houses all around and could have easily arranged
for some light. He had gone there in a jeep and if no other source of light was
available he could have at least made search for the accused persons with the
help of the headlights of the jeep. He did not send a copy of the first
information report to the jurisdictional Magistrate. He kept silent as to what
time the first information report was dispatched or received by the
jurisdictional Magistrate. Defence tried to elicit this information by
summoning Dak Book from the police station and examined Constable Satish Kumar
Mishra as DW1 but the said witness did not bring the Dak Book and stated that
the same was not traceable. In the requisition memo sent by the SHO to the
hospital and in the post mortem, date and time of receipt of dead body has not
been mentioned. Cumulatively all these facts put a doubt on the prosecution
version and it leaves an impression that the prosecution has not come out with
the truth. In all probability the commission of crime came to notice in the morning
and thereafter the investigation started. If that be so, the presence of the
eye witnesses becomes very much doubtful.
High Court has pointed out in its judgment that no specific injury which
could cause death in the ordinary course of nature had been attributed to any
of the appellants. The main accused with whom the deceased had litigation have
already been acquitted in a subsequent trial. In the absence of any independent
witness or any other corroborative evidence to support the version put forth by
the two eye witnesses, which we find unsafe to rely upon, it would be unsafe to
hold the appellants guilty of charges levelled against them.
For the reasons stated above both the appeals are allowed and the conviction
and sentence imposed on the appellants is set aside. Appellants are on bail.
Their bail bonds are ordered to be discharged.