Delhi Administration Vs. Tribhuvan Nath
& Ors  INSC 523 (11 April 1996)
B.L. (J) Hansaria B.L. (J) Venkataswami K. (J)
JT 1996 (5) 417 1996 SCALE (3)622
O R D
Delhi had seen a carnage about a decade
back. The country had then lost its Prime Minister at the hands of an assassin.
Delhi thereafter lost thousands of
innocent humans and what is more shocking is that the victims belonged to one
community, namely, Sikh. The wrath fell on that community because the assassin
of the Prime Minister was supposed to be a Sikh. The materials on record
portray a hair raising scenario of Delhi starting from Ist November, 1984 - the assassination of the Prime
Minister having taken place on 31st October, 1984.
seems that from Ist November, 1984 onwards, mob had taken control of the city
for a few days and Sikhs of different localities subjected to all sorts of acrocities
They were murdered, thrown into drains or set ablaze. Their properties were
looted and their houses were burnt. The three respondents are among those who
were subsequently upto on trial for such offences. The trial court found all of
them guilty under various sections of law, to wit, 302/149, 436/149, 395,147
and 148 of the Penal Code. Various sentences were awarded on the respondents.
We may mention about the one under section 302/149 which was imprisonment for
life. All the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
appeal being preferred by the convicts, the High Court of Delhi by the impugned
judgment has, however, acquitted them of all the charges. Hence this appeal by
the Delhi Administration.
have heard Shri Lalit for the appellant and Shri Khanna for the respondents.
Both the learned counsel have taken us through all the relevant material on
record, which includes the testimonies of PW.1 - Mohan Singh, PW.2 - Satnam Kaur,
PW.4 - Rukki Kaur, PW.6 - Desh Singh and PW.8 - Harvinder Singh. We have also
been referred to the relevant portion of the judgment of the High Court by Shri
Khanna wherein reasons for disbelieving the witnesses, have been set out.
the evidence of aforesaid PWs is read as a whole, which has to be, what we
found is on 1.11.1984, at first around 11 a.m., a mob of about 200 people came to Block No.P-1, Sultan Puri, which
then had 30 to 35 jhudgies. Deceased Himmat Singh and Wazir Singh used to live
in those jhudgies.
mob which came around 11
a.m. was said to have
been armed with iron rods and sticks; but then it was not causing any damage.
Rather, it was being advised by this mob that the persons staying in jhudgis
should get their hairs cut if they wanted to save their lives. But then another
mob came which, according to PW.1, consisted of 200-1200 by PW.2 According to
PW.4 the mob consisted of 100 persons. PW.8 did not give the number. We are
really not concerned with the number as such. Suffice it to say that the mob
was a big one. This mob caused havoc and the members of this mob too were armed
with iron rods and sticks. It is at the hands of this mob that, according to
the aforesaid PWs, Himmat Singh and Wazir Singh lost their lives. Not only
this, to believe PW.4, her son Wazir Singh was burnt to death and thrown to
adjoining nullah. PW.2 also had stated about the mob throwing the murdered
persons in adjoining nullah. As thousands of persons have been so dealt with,
it would be too much to expect production of corpus delicti. We have mentioned
about this aspect at this stage itself because one of the reasons which led the
High Court to acquit the respondents is non-production of corpus delicti. We
are afraid the High Court mis-read the situation; mis-judged the trauma caused.
important question is whether the three respondents were part of the mob which
had caused death of Himmat Singh and Wazir Singh and indulged in other criminal
has taken pains to persuade us that these persons were not the members of the
second mob, which had indulged in murder, arson, loot etc., because PWs 1 and 2
have stated that they were among the first mob who had advised the jhuggi
dwellers to cut their hairs to save their lives. It is asked and to some extent
rightly, whether the saviours could have been the murderers? Shri Khanna
contends that, at best, the respondents were present when the second mob was perpetrating
the barbarous acts. That this was so is said to be brought home by reading that
part of the evidence of PW.2 - the widow of deceased Himmat Singh - where she
had stated that "at the time my husband was assaulted all the three
accused persons were standing there". It is, therefore, urged that they
were mere spectators and might have found themselves helpless to save their
neighbors, whom they had earlier advised to save lives by cutting their hairs.
have given our very careful consideration to this submission. We have, however,
to understand the aforesaid statement of PW.2 in the light of her entire
evidence. Not only this, we have to bear in mind the evidence led by others as
well and to see whether there are materials to show clinchingly and
convincingly that the respondents were part of the mob which had murdered Himmat
Singh and Wazir Singh and had done other illegal acts. Shri Lalit urged that if
the evidence of the aforesaid witness is read in toto, there will be nothing to
doubt that the respondents were part of the mob, even if it may be that they
were not armed, as is the evidence of PW.8.
it be seen whether the aforesaid statement of Mr. Lalit merits acceptance. We
may state that PW.1, after having stated that the three respondents who were
among the mob had advised the inmates of the jhuggies to cut their hairs, also
deposed that they mere to be seen in the second mob. Of course, he had not
named respondent-Wazir Singh to be among the second mob; but he is categoric
about the presence of two other respondents, namely, Tribhuvan Nath @ Raju and Sita
Ram. He had categorically stated that these two respondents were in the mob
which had murdered his brother-Himmat Singh. The evidence of PW.2 is also to
the same effect. She deposed about the presence of not only Raju and Sita Ram,
but of all the three as a member of the mob which had murdered her husband and
had thrown him in the adjoining nullah.
Though PW.8 is not an eye-witness to the murdering of Himmat Singh and Wazir
Singh, he was also living in one of the jhuggies in Block P-1, Sulta Puri, and
deposed, in general, about what the mob had done. According to his evidence,
the three respondents were present in the mob. At this stage, we may say
something about the identity of the three respondents. Though on T.I.P. (Test
Identification Parade) was held, that is not material in the present case
inasmuch as, admittedly, the three respondents were Pradhans of the Block and,
as such, were well known to the witnesses, which assertion of the PWs had not
been challenged in cross- examination.
are left with the evidence of PW.4 - Rukki, on whom the High Court came down
heavily; according to us, unjustifiably. Rukki is the mother of Wazir Singh and
she started her evidence by staying that at the relevant time her husband,
whose name was Sunder Singh, was missing. She further stated that her husband
was missing even when she deposed in the Court, which was on 28.10.1987. On the
face of such a clear evidence by Rukki, we fail to understand how the High
Court could say that Rukki had stated about killing of Sunder Singh also by the
mob. We are afraid the High Court committed patent error of law in attributing
this to PW.4 because of something which she had purportedly said on her police
statement. The law is well settled that what a witness had said during investigation,
cannot be used to discredit him/her unless that statement had been put to the
witness while deposing in the Court. The evidence of PW.4 clearly shows that
she had not been asked anything about her police statement regarding killing of
Sunder Singh by the mob. The High Court used another police statement of this
witness according to which the mob had not killed her sow Wazir Singh, who was
then around 17, but her younger son aged about 12. This police statement also
had not been put to PW.4 when she was in witness box. The High Court, according
to us, was not justified in stating that there were "glaring
absurdities" in the evidence of PW.4. As for us, we say PW.4 is reliable,
far from having made any absurd statement(s). We are sorry to state that the
High Court went wrong not only in law but also on facts in not only criticizing
PW.4, but in throwing out the case of the prosecution, which, according to us,
has been proved to the hilt.
We, therefore, set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and restore
the judgment of the trial court by which it had convicted the three
respondents, inter alia, under section 302/149 and for which the sentence
awarded was imprisonment for life. Having come to this conclusion, we have not
fell called upon to decide whether the respondents were guilty under sections
395 and 436 also, though they had apparently committed the offences under
sections 147 and 148. We do not propose to award any separate sentences for
The result is that the appeal is allowed and the three respondents are
convicted and sentenced, as aforesaid. Their bail bonds are cancelled and they
would surrender to serve out their sentence.
Before parting, we would state that Shri Khanna, who appeared for the
respondents, did plead very well to show their innocence. It is a different
matter that we have not been able to agree with him.
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