Mathuri & Ors Vs. State of Punjab
 INSC 247 (11 December 1963)
11/12/1963 GUPTA, K.C. DAS GUPTA, K.C. DAS
CITATION: 1964 AIR 986 1964 SCR (5) 916
CITATOR INFO :
APL 1970 SC 20 (2)
Indian Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), ss.149
and 441 and Code of Civil Procedure (Act V of 1900) O.XXI, rr. 24 and 25Decree
for possession-Period of execution warrants expiredAttempt by landlords to take
possession-If criminal trespass-"Intention to annoy", meaning
of-Resistance by tenants-If unlawful assembly,
The appellants (in the main appeal) along
with some others were tried for offences under ss. 148, 302 and 307 read with
s. 149 of the Indian Penal Code. The occurrence leading to their trial was as
follows. Certain landlords got decrees for possession and armed with warrants
for execution of the decrees and with the assistance of police they tried to
execute the warrant and dispossess the tenants. The period of execution of the
warrants had expired. A large armed mob including the appellants resisted and
on the order of the District Magistrate the police opened fire. Ten persons
from the mob and two persons from the other side died and a number of persons
were injured, The appellants were found lying injured at the scene of occurrence
after the mob retired. The Sessions Judge convicted all the appellants of the
offences under s. 148 of the Indian Penal Code and under s. 304 part II read
with s. 149 and under s. 326/149 s. 324/149 and 532/149 and sentenced them to
rigorous imprisonment for 917 seven years and acquitted all the others. The
appellants as well as the State appealed to the High Court without success.
Both the parties, thereafter filed the present appeals.
On behalf of the appellants (accused) it was
contended that since the date of the execution warrants had expired the attempt
of the land lords to take possession of land amounted to criminal trespass and
the appellants were entitled in law to resist them and therefore they did not
form an unlawful assembly and had no object to commit the offences alleged.
Held, (i) The words in sub-r. 3 of r. 24 of
the Order 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure clearly show the intention of the
legislature that the execution must be completed by the date specified on the
process for this purpose. To hold otherwise would be to ignore the force of the
words "on or before which it shall be executed". The words "the
reason of the delay" occuring in r. 25 can on an ordinary grammatical
interpretation be referred to the delay in returning the process to the court.
The warrants in the present case by reason of the expiry of the date mentioned
therein had ceased to be executable on the date of the occurrence.
Anand Lal Bera v. The Empress, I.L.R. 10 Cal.
(1884) 18, Chelli Latchanna v. The Emperor, A.I.R. 1942 Pat. 480, Nand Lai v.
Emperor, A.I.R. 1924 Nag. 68 and Kishori Lal v. Emperor, A.I.R. 1934 All 1016,
(ii) The mere fact that the natural
consequences of the entry was known to be annoyance to the person in possession
would not necessarily show that the entry was made "with intent to
annoy" within the meaning of s. 441 of the Indian Penal Code. In order to
establish that the entry on the property was with the intent to annoy,
intimidate or insult, it is necessary for the Court to be satisfied that
causing such annoyance, intimidation or insult was the aim of the entry. The
Court has to take into consideration all relevant circumstances including the
presence of knowledge that the natural consequences of the entry would be such
annoyance, intimidation or insult and including also the probability of
something else than the causing of such annoyance etc. being the dominant
intention which prompted the entry. Taking all circumstances of the present
case the courts below were right in their view that criminal trespass was not
committed or apprehended from the acts of the landlords and others who entered
the property and rightly rejected the defence plea that the object of those who
assembled was to defend the property against trespass.
Emperor v. Laxman Raghunath 26 Bom. 558,
Sellamuthu Servaigaran v. Pallumuthu Karuppan, I.L.R. 35 Mad. 186 and Kesar
Singh v. Prem Ballabh, A.I.R. 1950 All. 157, disapproved.
Bhagwant v. Kedari, 25 Bom. 202, Emperor v.
D'Cunha, 37 B.L.R. 880, Nizamuddin v. Jinnat Hussain, A.I.R. 1948 Cal.
130, Satish Chandra Modak v. The King, A.I.R.
1949 Cal. 107, 918 Bata Krishna Ghosh v. State, A.I.R. 1957 Cal. 385, State v. Abdul
Sakur, A.I.R 1960 Cal. 189, Queen Empress v. Rayapadaayachi, 19 Mad. 240 and
Vullappa v. Bheema Rao, I.L.R. 41 Mad. 156, approved.
(iii) The appellants were not mere onlookers
but joined the unlawful assembly with the common object of committing offences
for which they were convicted and sentenced by the courts below. The contention
of the State (in its appeal) that offences under s. 302 were committed is
rejected. Even though ordinarily this Court will not interfere with sentences
passed by the Trial Court, due to the special facts and circumstances of the
present case the sentences of the six women appellants and the two male
appellants due to their extreme old age are reduced to the period already
undergone. The State appeal is rejected.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION Criminal
Appeals Nos, 93 and 142 of 1962.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated December 15, 1961 of the Punjab High Court in Criminal Appeals Nos.
417 and 552 of 1961.
R.L. Kohli, for the appellants (in Cr. A. No.
93/1962) and the respondents (in Cr. A. No. 142 of 1962).
H.R. Khanna and R.N. Sachthey, for the
appellant (in Cr. A. No. 142 of 1962) and 'the respondent (in Cr. A. No. 93 of
December 11, 1963. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by DAS GUPTA J.-On June 7, 1960 a tragic occurrence took place at
a village called Mohangarh over the delivery of possession of certain lands in
execution of decrees for ejectment obtained by landlords. Twelve persons lost
their lives and several others received serious injuries. Among the injured
were some members of the police force who had gone there to assist in the
delivery of possession. Thirtynine persons were sent up to the Sessions Court
for trial for offences under s. 148, s. 302/149 and s. 307/149 of the Indian
The prosecution case was that though the
warrants for delivery of possession in execution 919 of several decrees in
favour of the several decree holders had been issued as early as April 5, 1960,
repeated attempts by Revenue Officers to execute the decrees were unsuccessful.
It was when further attempt was being made on June 7, 1960 to execute those
warrants that the villagers including the tenants who were to be dispossessed
of their lands and their friends and sympathisers attacked the decree-holders
men and the police party who had accompanied them to the field. It is said that
on behalf of the decreeholders, Rattan Singh and his four companions Dharam
Singh, Abhey Ram, Bharat Singh and, Nihal Singh entered the field of Prabhu,
one of the judgment debtors with two ploughs yoked to two teams of bullocks.
Hardly had they gone a short distance into the field when a mob, about 200
strong,.. consisting of men and women armed with lathis, jailis and gandasas
came up shouting "Kill Rattan Singh and do not allow possession to be
taken." The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Sangrur, who was with the party
then announced over a loud speaker that he declared the mob an unlawful
assembly and called upon it to disperse. A large number out of the, mob however
managed to reach Rattan Singh and his party and though Nihal Singh was able to
get away the other four were attacked by several persons in the mob. On the
order. of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, the police made a lathi charge on the,
mob but the mob counter attacked. In the course of the attack the Assistant
Sub-Inspector Gurdial, Singh received an injury and some of the rioters tried
to carry him away. In an attempt to save the. situation Sub-Inspector Sitaram
fired two shots from, his revolver. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate,, then,
ordered the police to fire. A party of four fired two volleys. It was when
after this 14 policemen fired. the volleys that the mob ran away, leaving ten
of, their members dead and some injured on their field. Rattan Singh and his
three companions also 'lay injured on the field.
Rattan Singh and Dharam Singh died 'of their:
Some of the policemen also received 920
injuries. All the ten appellants are said to have been found lying injured in
the field. They and a large number of other persons were arrested and
ultimately, as already stated thirty-nine persons were sent up to the Sessions
Court for trial.
All the accused pleaded not guilty. Apart
from the defence of several of them that they were not at the place of
occurrence at all and had received their injuries elsewhere, it was common case
of all the accused that there was no unlawful assembly at all. It was pleased
that the tenants in possession came to the field to defend their property
against criminal trespass and the object of those who assembled was nothing
more than to defend their property against such trespass. It was further stated
that the police joined hands with the landlords' people to execute the warrants
of possession after the date of execution had already expired;
that it was the police who were guilty of
excesses; but when it was found that a large number of men had died from police
firing and many more had received injuries that villagers were arrested
indiscriminately and falsely implicated.
On a consideration of the evidence, the
learned Sessions Judge found the prosecution case substantially proved and
rejected the plea of the accused of the right of private defence. He held that
there was an unlawful assembly with the common object of murdering Rattan Singh
and others; that in prosecution of this common object two offences under s. 304
Part 11 read with s. 149 were committed by members of the assembly by causing
the deaths of Rattan Singh and Dharam Singh and that offences under ss. 326,
324 and 323 were also commited in prosecution of the common object. He further
found it proved against these 10 appellants that they were members of that
assembly and committed rioting having been armed with dangerous weapons.
Accordingly,. he convicted all of them of the offence under s. 148 of the
Indian Penal Code and also two offences under s. 304 Part 11 read with s. 149,
and under 921 s. 326/149 s. 324/149 and s. 323/149. For each of the offences
under s. 304 Part 11 read with s. 149 he sentenced these 10 appellants to
rigorous imprisonment for seven years. Lesser sentences were passed under the
other offences and all the sentences were directed to run concurrently.
These 10 accused persons appealed against
their conviction and sentence to the High Court of Punjab. The State of Punjab
also filed an appeal against them on the ground that they should have been
convicted under s. 302 read with s.
149 and not merely under s. 304 Part II read
with s. 149.
As regards the other twenty-nine accused the
Sessions Judge held that their membership of the unlawful assembly had not been
proved beyond doubt and accordingly acquitted them.
The State of Punjab appealed to the High
Court against this acquittal also.
The High Court agreed with the Sessions
Judge's findings and dismissed the appeal of the accused and also the appeal of
the State of Punjab.
The ten accused Persons have presented this
appeal (Cr. A. No. 93 of 1962) by special leave of this Court. The State of
Punjab has also filed an appeal by special leave (Cr. Appeal No. 142 of 1962)
against the decision of the High Court that offences under s. 302 read with s.
149 had not been proved.
The main contention raised before us in
support of the appeal of the ten accused persons is that in' law no unlawful
assembly was formed inasmuch, as Rattan Singh and others who went to the field:
were guilty of criminal trespass and it would be reasonable to hold that the
villagers who had assembled there had only the object of defending their
property against such trespass and no object to commit the offences as alleged.
In contending that the acts' of Rattan Singh and others amounted to criminal
trespass Mr. Kohli, learned counsel for the ten accused persons, has stressed,
the fact that the last date for execution of the warrants for delivery of
possession 922 was sometime in April 1960 so that on June 7, 1960 they were not
executable in law.
Though the Sessions Court accepted the
contention that the warrants had ceased to be executable before June 7, 1960
and the High Court agreed with it Mr. Khanna, who appeared before us on behalf
of the State of Punjab, has challenged the correctness of the proposition. We
have no doubt about the correctness of the view taken by-the courts below which
it may be mentioned is supported by a long line of decisions of all the High
Courts in India. (Vide Anand Lal Bera v. The Empress(1).Chelli Latchanna and
others v. Emperor(2); Nand Lal v. Emperor (3); Kishori Lal and another v.
Emperor.(4) An examination of the provisions of rr. 24 and 25 of S. 21 of the
Code of Civil Procedure makes the position clear.
Rule 24 deals with the issue of process for
the execution of decrees and provides in sub-r. 3 that in every such process
"a day shall be specified on or before which it shall be executed."
Rule 25 then proceeds to say that the officer entrusted with the execution of
the process shall endorse thereon the date on and the manner in which it was
executed and further that if the latest day specified in the process for the
return thereof has been exceeded the reason of the delay or if it was not
executed the reason why it was not executed, and shall return the process with
such endorsement to the Court. Mr. Khanna has contended that the words
"reason of the delay" in rule 25 contemplates a situation where the
process has been executed after the date mentioned in it under r. 24. In our
opinion, there is no substance in this contention. If r. 25 be read as a whole
and in the light of the Provision in sub-r. 3 of r. 24 it is quite clear that
the "delay" mentioned in r. 25 refers to the delay in returning the
process whether after or without execution and not to any delay in execution.
The words on sub-r. 3 of r. 24 as quoted above clearly show the (1) I.L.R. 10
Cal.  p. 18. (2) A.I.R. 1912 Patna p. 480.
(3) A.I.R. 1924 Nagpur p. 68. (4) A.I.R. 1934
Allahabad p. 1016.
923 intention of the legislature that the
execution must be completed by the date specified on the process for this
purpose. To hold otherwise would be to ignore the force of the words, "on
or before which it shall be executed". It does not stand to reason that
after providing in r. 24 that the process must be executed on or before the
date specified on it for that purpose, the legislature would proceed to undo
the effect of these words "shall be executed" by permitting execution
even after that date. There is no justification for reading such intention in
the use of the words "the reason of the delay". These words, as we
have already stated can on an ordinary grammatical interpretation be referred
to the delay in returning the process to the Court. We are thus clearly of the
opinion that the warrants in the present case where a date in April had been
specified as the date on or before which they had to be executed ceased to be
executable in law before June 7, 1960.
The question then is whether when Rattan
Singh and others went on the lands of which possession was to be taken under
the warrants, they were committing the offence of criminal trespass. The answer
to this question depends on whether in entering upon the property these persons
acted "with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or
annoy" persons in possession of the property. It is not suggested that the
entry was with intent to commit any offence or to intimidate or to insult the
persons in possession of the property. It has been strenuously contended
however by Mr. Kohli that in entering upon these properties for the purpose of
dispossessing those in possession in the purported execution of warrants which
had ceased to be executable Rattan Singh and others must be held to have acted
"with intent to annoy" these in possession. These persons, it is
argued, knew very well that the natural and inevitable consequence of their
action was that the persons in possession would be annoyed. It necessarily
follows therefore according to the learned counsel that they had the intention
to annoy those persons.
924 The proposition that every person intends
the natural consequences of his act, on which the learned counsel relies, is
often a convenient and helpful rule to ascertain the intention of persons when
doing a particular act. It is wrong however to accept this proposition as a
binding rule which must prevail on all occasions and in all circumstances. The
ultimate question for decision being whether an act was done with a particular
intention all the circumstances including the natural consequence of the action
have to be taken into consideration. It is legitimate to think also that when
s. 441 speaks of entering on property " with intent to commit an offence,
or to intimidate, insult or annoy" any person in possession of the
property it speaks of the main intention in the action and not any subsidiary
intention that may also be present. One of the best expositions of the meaning
of the word "intent" as used in the Indian Penal Code was given in a
decision of the Bombay High Court in 1900 in Bhagwant v. Kedari (1).
Examining the definition of the word
"fraudulently" in s. 25 of the Indian Penal Code, viz., "a
person is said to do a thing fraudulently if he does that thing with intent to
defraud but not otherwise". Batty J. observed thus at page 226 of the
Report:"The word 'intent' by its etymology, seems to have metaphorical
allusion to archery, and implies "aim" and thus connotes not a casual
or merely possible result-foreseen perhaps as a not improbable incident,. but
not desired but rather connotes the one object for which the effort is made-and
thus has reference to what has been called the dominant motive, without which
the action would not have been taken." The fact that these observations
were made for the purpose of ascertaining what is meant by the word
"fraudulently" does not diminish their general value and correctness.
In our opinion, the observations of the learned Judge as regards the meaning of
the word "intent" indicates the correct approach (1) I.L.R. 25 Bombay
925 to adopt in deciding whether the
necessary ingredient of the offence of criminal trespass that the entry was
"with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy"
any person in possession of the property has been established.
It follows from this that the mere fact that
the natural consequence of the entry was known to be annoyance to the person in
possession would not necessarily show that the entry was made "with intent
to annoy". That fact as to what the natural consequence would be and the
presumption of this being known to the person so entering would be only one
circumstance to be taken into consideration along with other circumstances for
the purpose of deciding the question with what intent the entry was made.
Surprisingly enough the Bombay High Court held only a few years later in
Emperor v. Laxaman Raghunath(1) which was a case under s. 448 of the Indian
Penal Code that to prove the intention necessary for the purpose of the offence
of criminal trespass it is sufficient to show that the man did the act with the
knowledge that the probable consequence would be annoyance to the complainant.
Fulton J. who delivered the judgment of the Court said that the result of the
authorities seem to be that "although there is no presumption that a
person intends what is merely a possible result of his action or a result which
though reasonably certain is not known to him. to be so, still it must be
presumed that when a man voluntarily does an act, knowing at the time that in
the natural course of events a certain result will follow, he intends to bring
that result". It is fair to notice that Fulton J.had been a party to the
earlier decision in Bhagwant v. Kedari (2), though no reference to what was said
about the meaning of the word "intent" in that case appears to have
been made in the latter case. It is to be noticed that this view of the law in
Laxman Raghunath's case(" has not been followed by the Bombay High Court
in recent years. In Emperor v. D' Cunha (3) it was explained that while the
question of knowledge (1) I.L.R. 26 Bombay 558.
(2) I.L.R. 25 Bombay 202.
(3) 37 B.L.R. 880.
926 as to what would be the natural
consequence of the act can be taken into consideration in deciding the
intention of the party that is only one of the circumstances that have to be
The view that annoyance is a natural
consequence of the act.
and it is known to the person who does the
act that such is the natural consequence is not sufficient to prove that the entry
was with intent to annoy has been consistently taken in the Calcutta High
Court. See Nizamuddin v. Jinnat Hussain(1); Satish Chandra Modak v. The King(2)
; Bata Krishna Ghosh v. The State(3); The State v. Abdul Sakur(4).
The same view was taken by the Madras High
Court in 1896 in the case of Queen Empress v. Rayapadaayachi(5). As a different
view was taken by that High Court in 1912 in Sellamuthu Servaigaran v.
Pallumuthu Karuppan(6) the matter was examined by a Full Bench of the High
Court in Vullappa v. Bheema Row(7) in 1917. The full Bench held that the
correct view had been taken in Queen Empress v. Rayapadaayachi(5) (supra) and
that the legislature did not intend in s. 441 that doing the act with the
knowledge of its consequence should be punishable. Kumaraswami Sastriyar J.
stressed the fact that wherever the Penal Code wanted to make a man liable for
knowledge of consequences it expressly said so as in ss. 118 to 120, 153, 154,
217, 293 etc. The learned Judge agreed with an observation of Sir William Mark
by (Elements of Law, para 222) in that a consequence would follow or a
knowledge "that it is likely to follow without any desire that it should
follow is an attitude of mind which is distinct from intention.................
The Madras High Court has thereafter adhered to this view of the law.
The Allahabad High Court took a similar view
of this matter in Emperor v. Motilal(8). Mr. Kohli (1) A.I.R. 1948 Cal. 130.
(2) A.I.R. 1949 Cal. 107.
(3) A.I.R. 1957 Cal. 385. (4) A.I.R. 1960
(5) 9 Mad. 240. (6) I.L.R. 35 Mad. 186.
(7) I.L.R. 41 Mad. 156. (8) I.L.R. 47 All.
927 has relied on a decision of the Allahabad
High Court in Kesar Singh v. Prem Ballabh (1) in which the learned Judge (Desai
J.) held that where the probable consequence of the act of the accused was to
cause annoyance to the complainant it will be presumed that they committed the
trespass with that intention and as that intention was not rebutted the accused
was rightly convicted under s. 447.
We think, with respect, that this statement
of law as also the similar statements in Laxaman Raghunath's Case(2) and in
Sellamuthu Servaigaran's Case (3) is not quite accurate.
The correct position in law may, in our
opinion, be stated thus: In order to establish that the entry on the property
was with the intent to annoy, intimidate or insult, it is necessary for the
Court to be satisfied that causing such annoyance, intimidation or insult was
the aim of the entry;
that it is not sufficient for that purpose to
show merely that the natural consequence of the entry was likely to be
annoyance, intimidation or insult, and that this likely consequence was known
to the persons entering; that in deciding whether the aim of the entry was the
causing of such annoyance, intimidation or insult, the Court has to consider
all the relevant circumstances including the presence of knowledge that its
natural consequences would be such annoyance, intimidation or insult and
including also the probability of something else than the causing of such intimidation,
insult or annoyance, being the dominant intention which prompted the entry.
Applying these principles to the facts of the
present case, we are satisfied that the courts below are right in holding that
Rattan Singh and others have not been shown to have had the intention to annoy.
It may be true that they knew that annoyance would result. Armed as they were
with the warrants of execution it is reasonable to think however that the
intention which prompted and dominated their action was to execute the
warrants. We think (1) A.I.R. 1950 All. 157.
(2) I.L.R.26 Bombay 558.
(3) I.I.R. 35 Mad. 186.
928 also that the courts below were right in
their view that Rattan Singh and others could not be reasonably expected to
know that the warrants had ceased to be executable in law.
Taking all the circumstances into
consideration we have come to the conclusion that the courts below were right
in their view that criminal trespass was not committed or apprehended from the
acts of Rattan Singh and others who entered the property and rightly rejected
the defence plea that the object of those who assembled was to defend the
property against trespass.
There was therefore no difficulty in holding
that the assembly of the villagers was an unlawful assembly with the common
object of killing Rattan Singh and others who wanted to dispossess them.
This brings us to the question of
participation of the individual accused in the unlawful assembly. As it is
clearly a question of fact this court would ordinarily refuse to investigate
the same. Mr. Kohli however complains that the High Court's findings on this
question is vitiated by serious error in reading the evidence. Evidence has
been given, the correctness of which can no longer be disputed, that these 10
accused persons were found lying injured at the place of occurrence when the
rest of the mob finally dispersed. The defence suggestion was that even so it
may well be that they had come to the place of occurrence only out of curiosity
to see how the thing developed. One of the reasons given by the High Court for
rejecting this argument was that it " was also proved from the statements
of lqbal Singh, a non-official (P.W. 9), Munshi Singh, Head Constable (P.W.
22), Kaul Singh, Assistant Sub-Inspector (P.W. 24) and Ranjit Singh, Head
Constable (P.W. 26) that jellis, gandasas, and lathis were recovered from their
possession." If this had really been proved the High Court's remarks that
there could be "little doubt about their being in the mob and
participation in the assault" would be fully justified.
It has however been pointed out by Mr. Kohli
that the evidence of these witnesses does not really establish the recovery 929
of any weapons from the possession of these appellants. All that the evidence
shows is that such weapons were found lying in the field near the injured
persons and were taken into possession. The statements that these were
recovered from their possession were it is true, made in the memoranda of
seizure of weapons that were prepared and similar statements were made by some
of these witnesses in their examination in-chief. In cross-examination however
they all admitted that there was no recovery from the person of any of these
appellants. It appears clear that when the mob dispersed after the police
firing, leaving some of the persons in the mob dead and some injured some
weapons were also left in the field. Some of these were stained with blood. It
is not unlikely that these had belonged either to some out of the men who were
lying dead or injured. What is clear however is that the weapons had not been
proved to have been recovered from the possession of any of these appellants.
It is unfortunate that the learned Judges who beard the appeal in the High
Court did not examine the evidence with the care it deserved.
In view of the serious error made by the
learned Judges we have found it necessary to examine the evidence for ourselves
to decide whether or not the oral testimony as regards the participation of
these appellants in the unlawful assembly should be accepted or not. We have
come to the conclusion that this evidence should be accepted.
One, circumstance that cannot be overlooked
is that, the place where these appellants were found lying injured were well
away from the inhabited portion of the village.
It is hardly likely that villagers who came
out of their houses only out of curiosity would venture so far forth into the
fields. It is also to be noticed that of these ten appellants some were the
tenants judgment-debtors and the rest close relations of them.
We are satisfied, on a consideration of all
the circumstances, that these appellants were not mere onlookers but joined the
unlawful assembly with the common object as alleged by the prosecution.
1/SCI/64-59 930 That offence under s. 304
Part 11 and sections 326, 324 and 323 I.P.C. were committed by some members,
out of these who had assembled in pursuance of the common object of all is
clearly shown by the evidence and is not disputed before us.
We are unable to agree with the contention
raised on behalf of the State in the State's appeal that offences under s. 302
of the Indian Penal Code were committed by causing the death of Rattan Singh
and Dharam Singh. Our conclusion therefore is that the appellants have been
rightly convicted under s. 304 Part 11 read with s. 149, s. 326/149, s. 324/149
and s. 323/149 of the Indian Penal Code.
The last submission made before us on behalf
of the 10 appellants is that in consideration of all the circumstances of the
case the sentences passed on the appellants are too severe. The question of
sentence is in the discretion of the Trial Court and would not ordinarily be
disturbed by -the High Court in appeal if it has. been exercised judicially.
There is still less reason ordinarily for this Court to interfere with
sentences passed by the Trial Court and confirmed by the High Court.
It is difficult to say however that in the
present case the discretion on the question of sentence has been exercised
judicially. It cannot be overlooked that of these ten appellants six are women
and four men. No specific part has been allotted to these women. It is
reasonable to think in all the circumstances of the case that they did not take
a leading part in the occurrence but came into the field when their men folk
came out-partly to save their fields and partly to save their menfolk. Neither
the Trial Court nor the High Court appears to have taken any notice of these
circumstances and passed the same sentence on the men as well as the women. In
the peculiar circumstances of this case we think that interference on the
question of sentences passed against the women is called for. It appears that
they have served out more than two years and nine months of the sentence
imposed on them and had 931 been in custody for about 10 months before that. On
a consideration of all the circumstances of the case we reduce the sentence on
these women-appellants under s. 304 Part 11 read with s. 149, s 326 149 and s.
148 to the period of imprisonment already undergone.
Of the four male appellants Surjan was aged
70 at the time of the trial and Gokul 66. Surjan is thus about 73 years old now
and Gokul just less than 70. In consideration of their age we think that the
interests of justice will be served if their also reduced to the period of
imprison undergone. We reduce their sentences Let these accused persons be set
at required in connection with some other We see no reason to interfere with
the sentences passed on the other two male appellants.
The appeal by the accused persons is thus
dismissed except as regards the modification in sentences of eight of them.
The appeal preferred by the State of Punjab