Singh & Anr Vs. State of Punjab  Insc
346 (14 August 2002)
Hegde & Bisheshwar Prasad Singh. Bisheshwar Prasad Singh, J.
appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment and order of the High
Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh dated 13.02.2001 in Criminal Appeal
No.439 (DB) of 1997, whereby the High Court dismissed the appeal preferred by
the appellants and confirmed the judgment and order of the learned Additional
Sessions Judge, Ferozepur dated 29.4.1997 in Sessions Case No.76 of 1994,
Sessions Trial No.43 of 1997 finding the appellants guilty of the offences
under Section 302 and 201 IPC and sentencing them to undergo rigorous
imprisonment for life under Section 302 IPC and rigorous imprisonment for two
years under Section 201 IPC.
appellants along with one Jasbir Singh were accused of having committed the
murder of Kuldip Kaur, the wife of the informant, and Soni, the daughter of the
informant. Since, it was found that Jasbir Singh was a juvenile, his case was
separated for trial by the competent court. We are informed that he has since
been acquitted. The appellants herein were acquitted by the trial court of the
charge levelled against them for the murder of Soni, which order has been
affirmed by the High Court.
informant, Sucha Singh is the elder brother of Kuldip Singh, appellant No.1. Bakshish
Kaur, appellant No.2 is the wife of the younger brother of the informant
namely, Gurmit Singh.
victims were the wife and daughter of the informant.
FIR was lodged by Sucha Singh, PW-6 on 19.02.1994 at 8.15 p.m. In his report the informant stated that he was a
resident of village Pirojwal Mangal Singh. He has three younger brothers
namely, Gurmit Singh, husband of accused No.2, Surjit Singh and Kuldip Singh,
appellant No.1. They all resided in the Dera constructed by them in their
fields. Kuldip Singh, the youngest brother was unmarried. The informant was
married twelve years ago to Kuldip Kaur (deceased) and they had four children,
the eldest being a daughter, Soni aged about 9 years. The informant was
employed as a Foreman at a Sheller at Moga. His younger brother, Gurmit Singh,
husband of appellant No.2, was also employed as a Foreman at a Sheller in Bhuche
Mandi. About three years ago Gurmit Singh was married to Bakshish Kaur,
appellant No.2. Last year there were disputes between his wife, Kuldip Kaur
(deceased) and the wife of Gurmit Singh, namely, appellant No.2, Bakshish Kaur.
The disputes related to the partition of the house, clothes and jewellery etc..
Such disputes were a regular feature. On 02.01.1994, which was a Sunday, when
the informant came home on the weekend he was told by his wife Kuldip Kaur
(deceased) that there was again a quarrel with Bakshish Kaur, appellant No.2
regarding distribution of jewellery etc.. Appellant No.2 had threatened her
that she must leave this house or else she will finish her. On 03.01.1994,
while going on duty the informant assured his wife that he will take premises
on rent at Moga and shift his family.
06.01.1994 Bakshish Kaur, appellant No.2 came to his work place at Moga and
informed him that his wife was missing since last night, and his daughter had
died on account of electric shock. He immediately rushed to his Dera and found
his daughter dead. The left hand of his daughter was charred, perhaps on
account of electric shock. The informant was perplexed and disturbed and in
that state of mind acceded to the advise given to him by the appellants to
throw away the dead body of Soni in the Satluj river. On 07.01.1994, he
appeared before Malkiat Singh, ASI, Incharge Chowki P.P. Kamalke and reported
regarding his missing wife. He was ever since searching for his wife.
19.01.1994, Resham Singh, PW-7, informed him that his wife who used to take
milk from him regularly, did not come to take milk on 05.01.1994. He, therefore
went to her house at about 7 p.m. There he
heard raula (noise) and saw appellant No.2, Bakshish Kaur and her brother, Jasbir
Singh catching hold of Kuldip Kaur by her legs while Gurmit Singh, appellant
No.1 was strangulating her. Kuldip Kaur died, but out of fear this witness did
not talk to anyone. On the basis of the information given to him by Resham
Singh, the informant, was lodging the FIR complaining that Jasbir Singh had
killed his wife as well as his daughter and had concealed the body of his wife.
The FIR further records that the informant along with Resham Singh were going
to the police station for registration of the case when they met the Station
House Officer at Dharamkot bus stand, and the report was recorded there.
case was investigated by Surinder Pal, Sub Inspector, PW-12. After recording
FIR, he searched for the accused on that day but he could not trace them out.
On 20.02.1994 he again searched for them but they were not traceable. On
21.02.1994, Buta Singh, Sarpanch, PW-8, produced all the three accused before
him and he interrogated them separately. He first interrogated Kuldip Singh
whose voluntary statement was recorded (Ex. PN), thereafter he interrogated Jasbir
Singh and Bakshish Kaur, appellant No.2 whose voluntary statements were
recorded which have been marked Ex. PO and Ex. PQ respectively. From the
voluntary statements made by them it became known that the body of Kuldip Kaur
had been concealed in the courtyard of Kuldip Kaur under a heap of Parali. He,
therefore, sent a written request to the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Zira for
permission to exhume the dead body of Kuldip Kaur. The medical officer was
similarly requested for post mortem examination of the dead body. Shri Inder
Dev Singh, Naib Tehsildar was deputed to supervise the proceeding, Dr. Rachhpal
Singh Sandhu, medical officer had also come to the place of occurrence. In the
presence of all these persons the dead body of Kuldip Kaur was exhumed and memo
Ex. PK was prepared which was attested by
the informant, Sucha Singh, Inder Dev Singh, Naib Tehsildar, the Medical
Officer, Dr. Rachhpal Singh and Sukhvinder Singh, PW-10.
case of the prosecution is that the three accused had come to the house of Buta
Singh, PW-8 on 21.02.1994 and had told him that the police was searching for
them and that he should help them since he had considerable influence with the
had confessed before him that they had committed the murder of Kuldip Kaur. The
prosecution, therefore, in support of its case pressed into service the extra
judicial confessions said to have been made by the accused before Buta Singh,
from Resham Singh, PW-7, who claimed to be an eye witness, the case of the
prosecution rests on circumstantial evidence. The circumstances on which the
prosecution relied are two, namely, confessions made by the appellants before
the Sarpanch, Buta Singh, PW-8, and voluntary statements made by the accused
before the Investigating Officer resulting in the discovery of the dead body of
Kuldip Kaur. Since Resham Singh resiled from his statement made in the course
of investigation and categorically stated that he had not seen anybody
committing the murder of Kuldip Kaur, and reported nothing to anyone, the courts
below have rightly held that his evidence is of no help to the prosecution. The
courts below have recorded finding of guilt, on the basis of these two
contended before us on behalf of the appellants that the courts below have
erred in relying upon these two circumstances which were not even established
by cogent evidence on record. The evidence adduced by the prosecution was
contradictory and created a grave doubt about the truthfulness of the
prosecution case. He submitted that the very first requirement in cases that
rested on circumstantial evidence, namely that the incriminating circumstances
in the first instance must be established by cogent and reliable evidence, was
regard to the submission urged before us we now proceed to examine the relevant
evidence on record.
shall first examine the evidence of PW-7 who, as stated earlier, was declared
hostile to the prosecution. He has stated that he knew the family of the
appellants who were having their residence in their fields. He also admitted
that Kuldip Kaur, wife of Sucha Singh used to collect milk from his house and
that Kuldip Kaur (deceased) and Bakshish Kaur, appellant No.2 used to
frequently quarrel. He, thereafter, went on to state that on 05.01.1994, he had
gone to Moga to recite Akhand Path, and in his absence Kuldip Kaur (deceased)
had collected milk from his house. On the next day he heard that the daughter
of Sucha Singh namely, Soni had died on account of electric shock. He had,
therefore, gone to the house of Sucha Singh for condolence. He categorically
stated that he had not seen anyone committing the murder of Kuldip Kaur.
the cross examination of this witness, it appears that in the course of
investigation his statement was recorded under Section 161 Cr. P.C. wherein he
had stated that on 05.01.1994, Kuldip Kaur as usual had not come to collect
milk and after waiting he had gone to the Dera of Sucha Singh at about 7 p.m. and
had witnessed the murder of Kuldip Kaur from a distance. He had seen that in
the room of Gurmit Singh, Bakshish Kaur, appellant No.2 and Jasbir Singh, her
brother, had caught hold of Kuldip Kaur from her legs while Kuldip Singh
strangulated Kuldip Kaur to death. He had not narrated this incident to anyone
out of fear. He denied having narrated this incident to Sucha Singh. He even
denied having accompanied Sucha Singh to the police station and that on
19.02.1994 the FIR was recorded in his presence. He was confronted with his
statement under Section 161 Cr. P.C. but he denied having made any such
view the courts below have rightly held that the evidence of Resham Singh is of
no help to the prosecution. We are then left with the evidence led by the
prosecution to establish the two circumstances on which the case of the
prosecution rests. We shall first consider the evidence relating to the
confession said to have been made by the appellants before the Sarpanch, Buta
Singh, PW-8. PW-8 deposed that on 21.02.1994, all the three accused came to his
house and told him that they were being chased by the police and have therefore
come to him since he had influence with the police. They confessed before him
that they had committed the murder of Kuldip Kaur and Soni as there used to be
frequent quarrels between Kuldip Kaur and Bakshish Kaur. According to PW-8,
nothing else was told to him. Leaving all the three accused in his house he proceeded
to the city but met Surinder Pal, SHO, PW-12 on the canal. He informed him that
all the three accused were with him and he wanted to produce them before him.
PW-12 asked him as to when he would produce the accused and he told him that if
they could stay there for some time he will produce them immediately.
Thereafter, he went to his village, brought all the accused with him and
produced them before PW-12. His statement was recorded by the police. He denied
to have told the police that he had told the accused persons who had confessed
before him that they should come after a day or so and that in the meantime he
would talk to the officers concerned, and that the accused had left his house.
He also denied to have stated in his statement under Section 161 Cr. P.C. that
on 05.01.1994, Jasbir Singh had met his sister Bakshish Kaur and they along
with Kuldip Singh had conspired to eliminate Kuldip Kaur. He also denied having
stated that Bakshish Kaur, appellant No.2, had invited Kuldip Kaur to her house
and when Kuldip Kaur came to her room she was strangulated by Kuldip Singh,
while Bakshish Kaur and Jasbir Singh caught hold of her by her legs. He also
denied having told the police that after some time Soni, daughter of Kuldip Kaur
aged about 9 years came to the house of Bakshish Kaur and on seeing her mother
dead she started weeping. The accused apprehending that she may disclose their
secret electrocuted her with live electric wire.
will thus appear that the version given by this witness before the Court is
quite different from the version in his statement under Section 161 Cr. P.C.
This witness cannot be said to be reliable, and therefore, one has to
critically scrutinize his evidence before acceptance. As regards the production
of the accused before the police, he stated that the accused were not
interrogated in his presence, neither was his signature obtained by the police
on any paper regarding production of the accused. He categorically asserted
that he had produced the accused on 21.02.1994 and his statement was recorded
on that day. His statement was not recorded by the police on 20.02.1994. This
witness asserted that in the statement made by him in the course of
investigation he had told the police that all the three accused were in his
house and further told PW-12 that he would produce them before him where upon
PW-12 asked him as to when they would be produced and he replied by saying that
he could produce them right away. He was confronted with the statement recorded
under Section 161 Cr. P.C.
it was not so recorded.
the evidence of Buta Singh, PW-8, it is evident that the accused confessed
before him on 21.02.1994 and on that very day he produced them before the
police when his statement was also recorded. He categorically denied the fact
that his statement was recorded on 20.02.1994.
other hand, we have the evidence of PW-12, the Investigating Officer. He has
stated that he had searched for the accused on 19.02.1994 but they could not be
traced. On 20.02.1994 also he searched for them but they could not be found.
that day Sarpanch of the village came to the place of occurrence and gave a
statement before him under Section 161 Cr. P.C. On the following day, i.e.
21.02.1994, when he along with other police officials was present on the bridge
of the canal, the Sarpanch, namely, Buta Singh produced the three accused
before him. It would thus appear that according to the Investigating Officer
the statement of Buta Singh was recorded on 20.02.1994.
following day, he produced the accused before him. There is obvious
inconsistency in the testimony of these two witnesses.
case of the prosecution as put forth before the Court is that the accused were
produced by Buta Singh, PW-8 before the Investigating Officer, PW-12 on
21.02.1994. The question is as to when the accused confessed their guilt before
Buta Singh, PW-8.
Singh is to be believed, the accused confessed their guilt before him on the
same day on which he produced them before the police. According to him, the
accused were waiting in his house while he went to meet the police officer. He
categorically denies having made any earlier statement before the police on
other hand, according to the Investigating Officer, PW-12, Buta Singh had made
statement before him on 20.02.1994 and had thereafter produced the accused
before him on 21.02.1994. The evidence of these two witnesses gives rise to a
lot of uncertainty as to whether the confessions were made on 20.02.1994 or on
21.02.1994 and also whether the accused were taken into custody on 20th or 21st
February, 1994. If it is believed that Buta Singh had produced the accused
before the police on the same date on which he made a statement before the
Investigating Officer, then it must follow that the accused were taken into
custody on 20.02.1994. If the confessions were made by them on 21.02.1994 while
in custody, they will be inadmissible in evidence. At the same time there is
considerable doubt as to whether the confessions were made before Buta Singh on
20.02.1994. As it is, an extra judicial confession, is considered to be a weak
type of evidence. In the instant case such extra judicial confession is said to
have been made before a witness who stands thoroughly discredited in his cross
examination. He has resiled from the version disclosed by him in the course of
investigation and recorded under Section 161 Cr. P.C. His evidence does not
inspire confidence. In addition, his evidence read together with the evidence
of PW-12 creates considerable doubt as to whether the accused confessed their
guilt before Buta Singh, PW-8 on 20.02.1994 or 21.02.1994.
for the appellants drew our attention to Ex. PC, which was the requisition sent
by the Investigating Officer to the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Zira requesting
him to get the body exhumed. His letter states that the accused had admitted
having committed the murder of Kuldip Kaur. The Investigating Officer in the
course of his cross examination has admitted that the date written on the said
requisition was 20.02.1994 but the same has been struck off and in its place
the date 21.02.1994 has been written. In normal course we would not attach much
significance to such correction being made, but having regard to the evidence
on record this correction of the date on Ex. PC acquires significance. Having
regard to the evidence on record, we are satisfied that the evidence adduced by
the prosecution to establish the fact that the appellants had confessed before Buta
Singh on 21.02.1994 is inconsistent and does not inspire confidence. The
prosecution, therefore, has failed to establish the first circumstance in the
second incriminating circumstance relied upon by the prosecution is that after
the accused were produced before the Investigating Officer, PW-12, they were
interrogated separately and in the course of interrogation they made voluntary
statements leading to the discovery of the dead body of Kuldip Kaur.
the body was exhumed and post mortem examination conducted over the dead body
of the deceased which was identified to be that of Kuldip Kaur.
to PW-12, after the accused were produced before him by Buta Singh, Sarpanch,
PW-8, he first interrogated Kuldip Singh who made a disclosure statement that
he along with Bakshish Kaur and Jasbir Singh had kept concealed the dead body
of Kuldip Kaur under a heap of Parali lying in the courtyard of the house of Kuldip
Kaur which he only knew and could get the same recovered. The disclosure
statement was reduced into writing and the same was proved by him and marked as
Ex. PN which is signed by appellant Kuldip Singh and attested by ASI, Niranjan
Singh and Head Constable Chamkaur Singh. Thereafter he interrogated Jasbir
Singh who made similar statement which was recorded and exhibited as Ex. PO.
Lastly, he interrogated Bakshish Kaur, who also made an identical statement.
Her disclosure statement was exhibited as Ex. PQ. Exhibits PN, PO and PQ, the
three disclosure statements have been recorded by the Investigating Officer,
PW-12. We have perused the disclosure statements and we find that the
Investigating Officer has made an obvious mistake while stating that the
accused had stated that the body was kept concealed under the heap of Parali in
the Dera of Kuldip Kaur. In fact the disclosure statements are to the effect
that the body has been kept concealed in the Dera of Gurmit Singh, husband of Bakshish
to the disclosure statements the Investigating Officer, as earlier noticed,
sought directions of the SDM to exhume the dead body and also requested the
medical officer to perform the post mortem examination. The prosecution led
evidence to prove that the body was exhumed and the same was identified as that
of Kuldip Kaur.
prosecution evidence is consistent that the body was exhumed from the courtyard
of Sucha Singh. PW-10, Sukhvinder Singh, brother of deceased Kuldip Kaur,
PW-12, the Investigating Officer and other witnesses have said so. What is
surprising is the fact that Sucha Singh himself has not said a word about the
discovery of the body. In fact, in his deposition, he has not stated anything
about what happened after he lodged the FIR, though it appears from the
evidence of PW-10 that Sucha Singh, PW.6, had also signed the inquest report as
well the memo prepared regarding taking possession of the dead body of Kuldip Kaur.
However, it is not necessary to dilate on this aspect of the matter.
obvious from the facts brought on record that according to the disclosure
statements made by the accused the dead body was lying buried in the courtyard
of Gurmit Singh, husband of Bakshish Kaur. On the other hand, the evidence is
equally clear that the dead body was actually recovered from the courtyard of Sucha
Singh, husband of Kuldip Kaur. It cannot therefore be said that the dead body
of Kuldip Kaur was recovered pursuant to the disclosure statements made by the
accused. There is also no scope for any confusion because the accused being
members of the same family could make no mistake about the courtyard of one or
the other. Moreover, Sucha Singh, PW-6, in his deposition has clearly stated
that he had constructed his house with a boundary wall and his brothers also
had separate houses with boundary walls. The courtyards of all the three
brothers were therefore clearly demarcated and therefore the recovery cannot be
explained by conjecturing that though they mentioned the courtyard of Gurmit
Singh actually they meant the courtyard of Sucha Singh. We may only notice at
this stage that Buta Singh in the course of investigation had informed the
Investigating Officer that Bakshish Kaur had invited Kuldip Kaur to her house
and she has been killed there. Similarly, Resham Singh, PW-7, in the course of
investigation claimed to have seen the murder being committed in the house of Gurmit
Singh. We have referred to the statement made by these witnesses in the course
of investigation only to recapitulate the background in which the disclosure
statements were recorded. But as a matter of fact the body was found buried in
the courtyard of Sucha Singh and not the courtyard of Gurmit Singh.
these circumstances, it is not possible to hold that the dead body of Kuldip Kaur
was recovered pursuant to the alleged disclosure statements made by the
appellants herein. The prosecution has therefore failed to establish the second
incriminating circumstance as well.
view of our finding that the evidence regarding confessions made by the
appellants and recovery of dead body pursuant to the disclosure statements made
by them is unbelievable and unacceptable, there is no other evidence on record
on the basis on which the conviction of the appellants can be upheld. We, therefore,
allow the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment and order of the High
Court dated 13.02.2001 and acquit the appellants of the charges levelled
against them. Appellant No.2 is on bail. Her bail bonds are discharged.
Appellant No.1 shall be released forthwith unless required in connection with
any other matter.