Vikramjit Singh @ Vicky Vs. State
of Punjab  Insc 850 (24 November 2006)
Sinha & Markandey Katju S.B. Sinha, J :
and the deceased Meena Rani were married on 3.03.2002.
went to her parents' place on 3.07.2002. The appellant came to her parents'
house which was situated at village Ghal Kalan to take her back on 7.07.2002.
They started in the appellant's Maruti Car at about 7.30 p.m.
was allegedly wearing all her gold ornaments at that time. After about a couple
of hours, a telephonic call was received at a Medical Store of a local Press
Reporter Rakesh Kumar informing him that car of the appellant and his wife had
met with an accident on the bridge of Bukan Wala and they were lying in an
injured condition. The caller had allegedly informed that he would be leaving
for the said place of accident and the mother of the appellant Amarjit Kaur
should reach the same place. Upon receipt of the said information, Amarjit Kaur,
her neighbour Kusum Lata wife of Rajinder Kumar and her son Deepak Kumar
reached the place of occurrence and found the Maruti Car to be standing at an
open place on the right near canal minor. The mobile phone of the appellant and
one of the shoes of the deceased were lying on the rear side of the car along
with some luggage.
bangles were found scattered and the other shoe of the deceased was also found
lying nearby. They went to the appellant's house and came to learn that both of
them have been hospitalized. On reaching Civil Hospital, Moga, they found Meena Rani to be
dead having suffered multiple stab injuries. She was wearing a gold ear ring,
two gold rings, one silver ring, silver pajebs and bishue. A First Information
Report was lodged by the said Amarjit Kaur alleging that the appellant murdered
her by inflicting knife injuries. She suspected that the appellant had illicit
relations with some other girl and had murdered her daughter in order to remove
her from his way.
injuries were found on the person of the deceased. A few of them were stab
wounds. The injuries on the person of the appellant were as under:
Superficial incised wound with tail on the left side present horizontally 1.5 x
1-1/4 cm on back side of chest 23 cm. below top of shoulder. 11 cm from
Linear abrasion 2 cm on lateral aspect of left upper arm mid part.
Lacerated and punctured wound 1-1/3 x 1-1/3 cm on the lateral aspect of left
upper arm 12 cm above elbow.
Superficial incised wound 3.75 x 1 cm on the front of right forearm. Horizontally
placed 9 cm above wrist.
Superficial incised wound 6 x 1-1/2 cm horizontally placed on front of right
forearm, 8.5 cm above injury no. 4.
Superficial incised wound 2 x = cm on the front of right forearm horizontally
placed 3 cm above injury no. 5.
Lacerated wound 5 x
Swelling 2.5 x 2.5 cm on the right side of skull. 10 cm from right pinna, 15 cm
from posterior hair line.
Swelling 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 cm on right side of skull. 11 cm from pinna. 9 cm from
posterior hair line.
Linear abrasion 6 cm on the right scapular region.
Linear abrasion 3 cm on lateral aspect of left knee."
was conscious. General condition was fair. He was well oriented in time and
nos. 7,8,9 were advised X-ray. Rest were declared simple. Injuries No. 1,4,5,6
were inflicted by sharp weapon. Injury nos. 2,10,11,3 with pointed and blunt. Rest
were blunt. Duration of injuries was fresh. There was no corresponding cut on
pent and banyan injuries. Injuries Nos. 4,5,6 were horizontally placed and were
parallel to each other. On receiving the X-ray report No. HK 171/3050 dated
8.7.2002, the injuries nos. 7,8 and 9 were declared simple." According to
him, the possibility of injuries Nos. 1,4,5 and 6 having been caused by
friendly hand cannot be ruled out.
the appellant made a confession leading to recovery of 'a knife just like chhuri'
near Kingwah canal's bridge, near the southern bank side of Rajbaha on the
eastern side of the Bukkanwala road at a distance of 20 karams from the bridge
in the bushes in the area of village Bukkanwala thereof.
ornaments were said to have been recovered from a dicky of a scooter belonging
to the co-accused Arvind Sharma. He has been declared to be a proclaimed
version of the appellant as stated in his statement under Section 313 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure is as under:
am innocent. I have been falsely implicated.
relations with my wife were normal and we were living happily. I had also good
relations with the family members of my wife. I had no relations with any lady.
I and my wife were going in a car.
were waylaid by some unknown persons and they caused injuries to both of us. I
sent information at my house, who took us to Moga Hospital where she died. My family members
also sent information to the family members of my wife at Baghapurana. I was
medically examined. I did not make any disclosed statement nor got recovered
any weapon like knife. It was foisted against me. Recovery of necklace and topas
is a made up affair. The FIR statement was concoted and fabricated at about 4
or 5-00 p.m. on 8.7.2002" The prosecution in support of its case examined
a large number of witnesses. The complainant Amarjit Kaur was examined as PW-4.
She supported the prosecution case in its entirety in her examination-in-chief
which took place on 15.04.2003. Her cross-examination was deferred. It resumed
after a period of five months, i.e., on 16.09.2003. She, however, turned
hostile. Similarly, all the material witnesses who although supported the
prosecution case in their examination-in-chief, in their cross- examination,
did not support the prosecution case at all.
learned Sessions Judge, however, despite the same arrived at a finding of
guilt. He imposed death penalty on the appellant. By reason of the impugned
judgment, the High Court affirmed the said findings.
judgment, the High Court purported to have placed reliance on so called
independent circumstances collected by the investigating agency, the
medico-legal and post-mortem reports which are as under:
"According to the appellant, the car in which couple was traveling was
waylaid by some unknown persons. If that is correct, it is inconceivable that
the appellant, who was driving the car would instead of driving through the
hostile elements, who were trying to stop the car and in the process giving
injuries to some of them, had pulled up the car on a katcha path at a distance
of about 30 fts. from the main road and thereby facilitated the attack."
"Apart from this, the fact that no obstacles were found placed on the road
as would normally be done in case some people were trying to rob unwary
travelers on the road also militates against the story being true."
"The appellant asserts that he had informed his family at Ghal Kalan, who
in turn had conveyed the message to Amarjit Kaur at Bagha Purana but the
message, which was received was to the effect that they had met with an
accident and there was no indication about the couple having been attacked by some
"The fact that when Maninder Singh had brought the dead body of Meena Rani
and the injured appellant to the Hospital, he did not inform the Doctors or the
police about the circumstances in which Meena Rani had died and Vikramjit Singh
received injuries would also indicate that the stand of the appellant at the
time of recording the statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. is an after
"One would have expected that the appellant who was examined by Dr. Naresh
Kumar PW-2 at 10.45
P.M. would normally
have requested the Doctor to forward to the Police Station the circumstances in
which he and his wife had received injuries. Rather than doing this the
appellant had chosen to keep quiet and the police is only informed through the ruqqa
sent by the Hospital about Maninder Singh having brought the dead body of Meena
"Even Maninder Singh chose not to go across to the Police Station to give
the version which his brother Vikramjit Singh might have given to him to the
"The reaction of the family of the in-laws of Meena Rani to the death of
their daughter-in-law and injuries suffered by their son is also unexplainable
as none of the members of the family of the in-laws were available at the
Hospital, when the police arrived and, therefore, in the inquest proceedings,
which were conducted at 11.20 P.M., the Investigating Officer only mentioned
that Amarjit Kaur, Kusum Lata, Deepak Sharma and Sukha Singh were present near
the dead body and the respectables, who attested and participated in the
proceedings are Tek Chand son of Hardial Sharma and Tarsem Singh son of Mohan Lal
Pandit, residents of Budh Singh Wala."
"Looked at from another angle, if the husband and wife were waylaid and all
the injures were caused by unfriendly assailants, the description of injuries
on the person of deceased and that of the appellant injured show a marked
disparity between the way in which the husband and wife were being treated by
the attackers. There are 23 injuries on the deceased with sharp edged weapon,
which include injury no. 4 which consists of 8 incised wounds on the right side
of the upper arm. Out of these 23 injuries, injuries No. 5 to 19 are around
chest, breast and abdomen of the deceased and it is inconceivable that a loving
husband, who had married the lady only three months ago would not try to
intervene to prevent this assault and in the process receive as serious if not
more than serious injuries on his person. Seen in comparison with the injuries
found on the person of Meena Rani those that were found on the body of
appellant are simple. Only in case of injuries No. 7,8 & 9 Doctor found it
necessary to get X-ray examination conducted and after receipt of report of
radiological examination declared even these injuries to be simple." Mr.
S. Jaspal Singh, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant,
would submit that the High Court committed a serious error in relying on the
said purported circumstances, as some of them are non- existing and,
particularly, in view of the fact that a few of those circumstances had not
been put to the appellant in his examination under Section 313 of the Code of
Kochar, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State, on the other hand,
would support the judgment contending inter alia:
was no reason as to why the appellant did not lodge a First Information Report.
deposition of the PWs to the extent of their examination-in-chief should be relied
upon as they turned hostile only after a period of five months which is
The injuries on the person of the accused were not only found to be
superficial; there being no corresponding cut in his waist or trouser, the same
must have been held to have been self-inflicting.
All relevant questions having been put to the appellant in his examination
under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, he was not prejudiced by
omission to put some of the circumstances to him by the learned Trial Judge.
instant case, there are two versions. The learned Sessions Judge proceeded to
weigh the probability of both of them and opined that the appellant having not
been able to prove its case, the prosecution case should be accepted. In our
opinion, the approach of the learned Sessions Judge was not correct. The High
Court also appeared to have fallen into the same error.
invoked Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act although opining:
section is not intended to relieve the prosecution of its burden to prove the
guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. But the section would apply to
cases where the prosecution has succeeded in proving facts from which a
reasonable inference can be drawn regarding the existence of certain other
facts, unless the accused by virtue of his special knowledge regarding such
facts, failed to offer any explanation which might drive the court to draw a
different inference." Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act does not
relieve the prosecution to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt. Only
when the prosecution case has been proved the burden in regard to such facts
which was within the special knowledge of the accused may be shifted to the
accused for explaining the same. Of course, there are certain exceptions to the
said rule, e.g., where burden of proof may be imposed upon the accused by
reason of a statute.
be that in a situation of this nature where the court legitimately may raise a
strong suspicion that in all probabilities the accused was guilty of commission
of heinous offence but applying the well-settled principle of law that
suspicion, however, grave may be, cannot be a substitute for proof, the same
would lead to the only conclusion herein that the prosecution has not been able
to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt.
Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra
[AIR 1984 SC 1622 = (1984) 4 SCC 116], this Court laid down the law in the
following terms :
A close analysis of this decision would show that the following conditions must
be fulfilled before a case against an accused can be said to be fully
circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully
be noted here that this Court indicated that the circumstances concerned
"must or should" and not "may be" established. There is not
only a grammatical but a legal distinction between "may be proved"
and "must be or should be proved" as was held by this Court in Shivaji
Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra where the observations were made: [SCC para
19, p. 807: SCC (Cri) p. 1047] "Certainly, it is a primary principle that
the accused must be and not merely may be guilty before a court can convict and
the mental distance between 'may be' and 'must be' is long and divides vague
conjectures from sure conclusions."
facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt
of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other
hypothesis except that the accused is guilty,
circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency,
should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved, and
must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground
for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show
that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused."
It was further observed :
We can fully understand that though the case superficially viewed bears an ugly
look so as to prima facie shock the conscience of any court yet suspicion,
however great it may be, cannot take the place of legal proof. A moral
conviction however strong or genuine cannot amount to a legal conviction
supportable in law.
It must be recalled that the well established rule of criminal justice is that
"fouler the crime higher the proof". In the instant case, the life
and liberty of a subject was at stake. As the accused was given a capital
sentence, a very careful, cautious and meticulous approach was necessary to be
made." The High Court in support of its judgment has referred to certain
purported independent circumstances. Some of them are not such which form links
in the chain. They are not such which point out to the guilt the accused. They
are not such which categorically demonstrate that it was the accused and
accused alone who could commit the said offence. How and in what circumstances
the car was stopped by the appellant is not known. The accused was entitled to
maintain his silence. Only because he stopped the car at a distance of about 13
feet from the main road, the same by itself would not lead to a conclusion that
he did so deliberately in order to facilitate attack. Conduct of an accused
must have nexus with the crime committed. It must form part of the evidence as
regards his conduct either preceding, during or after commission of the offence
as envisaged under Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act. No such inference was
drawn, nor in the fact situation obtaining herein such an inference could be
any obstacles were put or were not found to have been placed on road by the
attackers is also a question which would be of not much significance as no such
evidence was brought on record. If some persons stand on the road, the same may
itself be sufficient for a driver to stop his vehicle. In any event, it does
not appear that such a question was even put to the appellant in his
examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
information was given only that an accident had taken place which was in fact a
robbery is again a matter which does not point out to the guilt of the
appellant. Information was given by somebody to a Press Reporter. He might not
have wanted to disclose that the deceased has expired or her husband was lying
injured at that point of time. It is a natural course of conduct. The conduct
of a third person in any event is wholly irrelevant unless the same has a
direct nexus in proving the crime.
or may not be that when Maninder Singh brother of the appellant brought the
dead body of Meena Rani and the appellant to the hospital, he did not inform
the doctors about the circumstances in which the incident had occurred but
again the same relates to the conduct of the brother of the appellant and not
that of the appellant. Maninder Singh was not examined. The doctor was examined
but the prosecution did not put any question to him in regard to the conduct of
Maninder Singh or otherwise.
have, however, noticed hereinbefore that police had already been informed and
they came to the hospital. The statement of Amarjit Kaur was recorded only in
the hospital. It was, therefore, not correct to contend that the police was not
informed at all. The purported conduct of the appellant in not requesting Dr. Naresh
Kumar PW-2 to inform the police in regard to the circumstances in which he and
his wife had received injuries is again not a circumstance which point out to
the guilt of the accused.
Singh might not have gone to the police but having regard to the fact that he
had brought them to hospital, it was for the investigating officer to record
reaction of the family is again a matter which is not of much consequence to
prove the guilt of the appellant. It does not lead to a circumstance which
forms the link in the chain. Again, no such question was put to the appellant
in his examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The
nature of injuries on the person of the appellant, in our opinion, even does
not form a circumstantial evidence which would prove the prosecution case. The
doctor opined that injuries Nos. 1,4,5 and 6 could be caused by friendly hand
but he has not stated so about the other injuries. The courts below did not
consider the effect thereof.
as noticed hereinbefore, the prosecution witnesses have turned hostile. It may
be an act of dishonesty on their part as contended by Mrs. Kochar but by reason
thereof only we cannot hold the appellant guilt of commission of a heinous
offence. In view of their statements in the cross- examination giving a
complete go bye to what had been stated in the examination-in-chief, it is not
possible to rely even upon a part of their statement.
now a well-settled principle of law that the circumstances which according to
the prosecution lead to proof of the guilt against the accused must be put to
him in his examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It
was not done.
Tara Singh v. The State [AIR 1951 SC 441], the law is stated in the following
High Court also bases its conclusion on the circumstantial evidence arising
from the production of the kripan and the recovery of the shirt from the
appellant. Those articles are said to be stained with human blood. The
appellant was not asked to give any explanation about this. The serologists
report had not been received when the appellant was questioned by the
Committing Magistrate. Therefore, he could not be asked to explain the presence
of human bloodstains on the kripan. All he was asked was whether the
bloodstained Kripan was recovered at his instance.
is not enough. He should also have been asked whether he could explain the
presence of blood stains on it. The two are not the same. Then, in the Sessions
Court there was the additional evidence of the Imperial Serologist showing that
the kripan had stains of human blood on it. That was an additional and very
vital piece of evidence which the appellant should have been afforded an
opportunity of explaining." A knife was recovered purported to be pursuant
to a confession made by the appellant. The statement was admissible in evidence
but the knife was recovered from the place of incident without something more
which would lead to a discovery of fact, it, therefore, may not have much
evidentiary value. [See Kora Ghasi v. State of Orissa, AIR 1983 SC 360 :
2 SCC 251] Furthermore, recovery of a knife alone is not sufficient to arrive
at a finding of guilt. Some jewellery might have been recovered from the
accused No. 2 but such recovery was not made at the instance of the appellant.
It was said to be a chance recovery. There is nothing on record to show that
accused No. 2 was known to the appellant. PW-8 Amarjit Singh who has proved
recoveries stated that Arvind Sharma ran away after leaving his scooter. Yet
again PW-4 in her cross-examination denied that the deceased was having the
said jewellery on her person.
have noticed hereinbefore that both the learned Sessions Judge as also the High
Court proceeded to compare the probabilities of two views. It is now beyond any
cavil that where two views of a story appear to be probable, the one that was
contended by the accused should be accepted.
K. Gopal Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1979) 1 SCC 355, Sharad Birdhichand
Sarda v. State of Maharashtra (1984) 4 SCC 116, Tota Singh and another v. State
of Punjab, AIR 1987 SC 1083, Divakar Neelkantha Hegde & Others v. The State
of Karnataka, JT 1996 (7) SC 63, State of Orissa v. Babaji Charan Mohanty and
Another, (2003) 10 SCC 57 and Hem Raj and Others v. State of Haryana, (2005) 10
SCC 614] We have, in the aforementioned situation, no other option but to
express our disagreement with the views of the learned Sessions Judge and the
High Court. The appeal is allowed. The appellant is directed to be released
unless wanted in any other case.