Singh Vs. State of Punjab  Insc 152 (3 March 2005)
Balakrishnan & B.N. Srikrishna
APPEAL NOS. 776-777 OF 2004 K.G. BALAKRISHNAN, J.
Additional Sessions Judge, Bhatinda, tried four accused for the offences
punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.
the final report filed by the police was against five accused, but one of the
accused was discharged. The Sessions Judge acquitted all the four accused. The
State of Punjab filed a criminal appeal against the
acquittal of the accused persons and the de-facto complainant filed a revision
challenging the acquittal. The appeal and the revision were considered by the
High Court and the Division Bench found all the four accused guilty of the
offences punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and each one of
them was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.2,000/-,
with a default sentence of six months further imprisonment. Aggrieved by the
findings of the High Court, A-2 and A-3 have filed Criminal Appeal Nos. 776-777
of 2004 and the fourth accused, Balbir Singh has filed Criminal Appeal Nos.
713-714 of 2004. During the pendency of the appeal before the High Court, the
first accused, Gorkha Singh passed away.
incident giving rise to these appeals happened on 1.10.1993 at about 9.30 AM. Deceased Tara Singh had purchased an agricultural
field in village Kailey Bander from one Gurdial Kaur in 1990 and since then he
had been cultivating that land with the help of his sons, PW-2 Badal Singh, Gurdev
Singh and Harpal Singh. According to the prosecution, the appellants herein
expected to inherit the property owned by Gurdial Kaur on her death and the
purchase of the property by Tara Singh was resented to by them and they bore a
grudge against him. On the date of the incident, PW-2 Badal Singh and his
father deceased Tara Singh were coming back from the field. PW-3 Jaswinder Kaur,
the daughter-in-law of deceased Tara Singh was also in the near vicinity. When
Tara Singh reached near the field of one Mithu Singh, the four appellants,
namely, Sikander Singh, Gora Singh, Gorkha Singh and Balbir Singh emerged from
the nearby field and Gora Singh told that Tara Singh must be taught a lesson. Sikander
Singh, threw away his 'Sotti' (wooden stick) and caught hold of Tara Singh. The
turban of Tara Singh fell down whereupon Gorkha Singh, who was armed with a 'kulhari'
(axe) gave a blow on the left side of the head of Tara Singh. Gora Singh, who
was armed with an axe, also hit Tara Singh on the right side of his head. Balbir
Singh also gave two blows to Tara Singh with a 'Ghope' (pointed rod). PW-2 Badal
Singh and PW-3 Jaswinder Kaur cried out, but the appellants continued to give
blows to Tara Singh, who fell on the ground and died. PW-2 Badal Singh left
PW-3 Jaswinder Kaur near the dead body of his father and went to meet the Sarpanch
of village Kailey Bander. The Sarpanch was not available, so PW-2 reported the
incident to his brother, Bhag Singh.
also met Chowkidar Banta Singh. It may be noticed that Tara Singh was formerly
a permanent resident of village Virk Khurd and only after the purchase of the
property from Guardial Kaur he had come down and settled near the agricultural
field. PW-2 Badal Singh then proceeded to his village Vir Khurd and met Jaswant
Singh, the elder brother of his father and along with him he went to the police
station and gave the First Information Report.
Sub-Inspector Bhajan Singh PW-5 took over the investigation and reached the
place of incident. He recovered the turban and shoes worn by deceased Tara
Singh and some blood- stained soil from the place of incident. He held inquest
over the dead body and sent the same for post-mortem examination through the
Head Constable. There were as many as thirteen injuries on the body of deceased
Tara Singh. PW-1 Dr. Kulbir Singh, who conducted the post-mortem deposed that
injury no. 11 was fatal and the two horizontal bruises measuring 15 x 2 cms had
corresponding internal injury and the seventh and the eighth ribs of deceased
Tara Singh were fractured and the fractured ribs had pierced the lung tissue.
According to him, the death was due to hemorrhage and shock.
their examination under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the accused
set up a very curious plea to the effect that they were falsely implicated and
that deceased Tara Singh was attacked by two unknown persons and that DW-1 Gurjant
Singh was a witness to the incident and the accused examined Gurjant Singh as
DW-1. He deposed that while he was sitting in his house, he heard an alarm and
when he reached the place, he saw two persons causing injuries to Tara Singh,
but he could not identify them. He found Tara Singh dead on the spot and went
to inform his relations and he could not meet anyone. He came to know that Tara
Singh was formerly a resident of village Virk Khurd and proceeded to Virk Khurd
in his car.
he met PW-2 Badal Singh and then they came back to Kailey Bander. PW-2 Badal
Singh made consultation with Jaswant Singh and gave the First Information
statement to the police.
Sessions Judge, of course, did not accept the evidence of DW-1, but he
acquitted the accused mainly for the reason that there was inordinate delay in
giving the First Information statement to the police by PW-2 and as the witness
could not satisfactorily give any explanation, this was taken as a serious
lapse on the part of the prosecution. Another reason given by the Sessions
Judge was that PW-2 Badal Singh could not have been present at the scene of occurrence
as he did not make any attempt to save his father from the assailants.
According to the Sessions Judge, had PW-2 been present at the scene of
occurrence, he would have certainly intervened to save his father. The Sessions
Judge was also of the view that there was no penetrating injury found on the
body of the deceased Tara Singh, although according to PW-2, the accused had
given a piercing thrust on the body of the deceased Tara Singh with a 'Ghope'
and that there were contradictions between the medical evidence and the oral
High Court reversed the findings of the Sessions Judge and held that the delay
in giving the F.I.R. was of no consequence as it was satisfactorily explained
by PW-2. The High Court was also of the view that PW-2 being a young man could
not have intervened in the attack on his father as there were four assailants,
who were armed.
to the High Court, the same could not be taken as a factor to disbelieve PW-2.
The High Court thus reversed the findings of the Sessions Judge.
heard Shri Ranjit Kumar, learned Senior Counsel for the appellants and also the
counsel for the State of Punjab. The evidence of PW-2 and PW-3
shows that the accused attacked the deceased with various weapons. The
prosecution evidence shows that deceased Tara Singh and his family members were
originally the residents of village Virk Khurd. They had purchased the
agricultural property in question about three years before the incident and
constructed a hutment nearby and started living there. When PW-2 saw the
ghastly incident of attack on his father by the assailants, he could not seek
the help of anybody from the village Kailey Bander where the incident took
place, probably because he had no acquaintance there.
went in search of the Sarpanch of the village but could not meet him and
therefore he was constrained to go to his own village Virk Khurd and met his
father's elder brother and then went to the police station. It cannot be said
that a young person like PW-2 acted in an unreasonable manner. The counsel for
the appellants pointed out that two of his brothers were in the nearby field,
but PW-2 did not inform them. As stated before, deceased Tara Singh with his
family members had come to village Kailey Bander three years before the
incident and probably they too may not have any acquaintances.
it is quite probable that for this reason PW-2 chose to go to the village Sarpanch.
The High Court was fully correct in holding that PW-2 cannot be disbelieved for
not having intervened in the melee as there were four assailants who were armed
with weapons. In our view, the High Court rightly reversed the findings of the
Sessions Judge. The contention of the appellants counsel that there were
contradictions between the medical evidence and oral evidence also is of not
much consequence as the witness could not be in a position to specifically say
as to which portion of the weapon was used when there was a sudden attack by a
group of persons.
to the nature of the offence committed by the appellants, there is evidence to
the effect that the appellants only wanted to teach a lesson to Tara Singh.
They were aggrieved by the fact that deceased Tara Singh had purchased the
agricultural land which they expected to get from Gurdial Kaur. Two of the
assailants were armed with axes, but they did not use the sharp edge of those
weapons and the injuries sustained by deceased Tara Singh would show that there
were no deep penetrating injuries.
of the injuries were of minor nature, having possibly been caused by the blunt
edge of the weapon. The doctor, who conducted the post-mortem examination
deposed that injury no. 11, namely, two bruises on the back of the deceased
Tara Singh fractured two of his ribs. The evidence of PW-2 and PW-3 clearly is
to the effect that it was Sikander Singh who caused those injuries, which
ultimately proved fatal. Two other injuries were caused by Gorkha Singh, the
first accused. Appellants Gora Singh and Balbir Singh are not alleged to have
caused any fatal injury to the deceased Tara Singh.
Singh, though armed with a 'Kulhari' (axe), used the blunt portion of that axe.
Sikandar Singh was armed with a 'Sotti' (wooden stick). He caught hold of
deceased Tara Singh to enable other assailants to cause injury to him and Sikandar
Singh himself gave 'Sotti' blows on the back of the deceased which resulted in
causing fracture of the ribs and, in turn, piercing of the lung tissues of the
deceased Tara Singh. There is no dispute that these injuries were caused on Tara
Singh. It is clear that Sikandar Singh dealt the fatal blows which ultimately
resulted in the death of the deceased. If the entire prosecution evidence is
considered in the background of the so called motive alleged, it is very
difficult to discern that these appellants had any common intention to cause
the death of the deceased. The 'Sotti' blows dealt on the back of deceased Tara
Singh proved fatal causing fracture of ribs which pierced his lung tissues.
careful analysis of the prosecution evidence and the role played by each one of
the appellants, we are of the view that the evidence does not show that these
appellants shared a common intention to cause the death of the deceased.
However, appellant Sikandar Singh caused injuries on deceased Tara Singh which
proved to be fatal at the end. The act committed by Sikandar Singh would come
within the offence punishable under Section 304 Part I IPC as he could be
attributed with the knowledge that the injury caused by him is likely to cause
death. The grievous injuries caused by other appellants, namely Gora Singh and Balbir
Singh, would fall within the mischief of Section 326 IPC.
result, we set aside the conviction and sentence of all the appellants under
Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and alter the conviction of the appellants
as follows: Sikandar Singh is found guilty of the offence punishable under
Section 304 Part I IPC and he is sentenced to undergo imprisonment for a period
of seven years and the other appellants, namely, Gora Singh and Balbir Singh
are found guilty of the offence punishable under Section 326 IPC and sentenced
to imprisonment for a period of three years. The appellants are entitled to set
off the period of imprisonment already undergone by them. The appeals are
accordingly disposed of.