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Balbir Singh Vs. State of Punjab [1999] INSC 285 (19 August 1999)

G.T. Nanavati, S.N.Phukan NANAVATI J.

The appellant had married Sukhwinder Kaur ' (the deceased) about four years before the date of incident which took place on 10,12.1990. The prosecution case was that neither the appellant nor other family members liked Sukhwinder Kaur and all of them had desired that she should die so that the appellant can marry again. It was also the prosecution case that on 10.12.1990, the appellant gave some tablets to Dhan Kaur, his mother, for giving them to Sukhwinder Kaur who was not feeing well, As a result of taking those tablets she became restless and was required to be taken to Civil hospital at Barnala on the same day In the evening. On being informed about the condition of Sukhwinder Kaur, the police had gone to the hospital and recorded her statement(Exibit PW8/8) and on the basis thereof an offence was registered under Section 304-B I.P.C. against the appellant and Dhan Kaur. Her dying declaration was also got recorded through a Judicial Magistrate on 11.12.1930 when she was in the hospital at Ludhiana. Sukhwinder Kaur expired on 12.12.1930 and the offence, which was earlier registered under Section 304-B IPC was converted into an offence under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant and Dhan Kaur were then charge-sheeted and tried for the offencs punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and in the alternative under Section 304-S read with Section 34 IPC. The Trial Court convicted both under Section 30.2 read with Section 34 IPC. They challenged their conviction by filing an appeal in the High Court but the same was dismissed. The present appeal is filed by Balbir Singh, the husband, and he is challenging his conviction on the ground that he could not have been convicted under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC on the basis of the evidence led in this case.

The only evidence against the appellant was an extra judicial confession stated to have been made by the appellant before the Sarpanch of the village, the dying declaration of Sukhwinder Kaur recorded by the Police on 10.12.1990 and the dying declaration recorded by the judicial Magistrate on 11.12.90. Both the Trial Court and the High Court relied upon the two dying declarations and also the extra judicial confession for the purpose of convicting the accused. It was submitted by the learned counsel for the appellant that the Courts below have committed a grave error in relying upon the extra judicial confession as it was highly improbable that in absence- of any relationship with the sarpanch or for any other good reason, the appellant would have gone to the Sarpanch and confessed that he had purchased the poisonous tablets which led to the death of Sukhwinder Kaur. If what the Sarpanch has deposed was really true, the investigating officer would have then tried to find out from whose shop the tablets were purchased. No such attempt was made. The evidence of Ssrpanch is not such as could have been accepted without any "independent corroboration. Even the trial Court and the High Court have not considered the said extra judicial confession as sufficient to prove the guilt of the appellant. It has been regarded as a piece of evidence furnishing independent corroboration to the dying declarations. An extra judicial confession even if believed is considered a very weak piece of evidence and ordinarily is not accepted without independent corroboration. In this case, it was of a doubtful character and therefosre it was wrong to rely upon it and ho7d that it afforded good corroboration to the dying declarations.

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