Prem Singh Vs. State
(N.C.T.) Delhi  INSC 818 (24 April 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL
APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 589 OF 2002 Prem Singh
.....Petitioner Versus State of (N.C.T.) Delhi .....Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
1. Challenge in this
appeal is to the order passed by a learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court
in Criminal Appeal No. 233 of 1997 which dismissed the revision petition filed
by the appellant. The appellant, who had faced trial for alleged commission of
offences punishable under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short
the `IPC') and Section 27 of the Arms Act, 1959 ( in short the `Arms Act').
2. Learned Additional
Sessions Judge found the appellant guilty and convicted him to undergo rigorous
imprisonment for three years and to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000/- with default
stipulation. Similarly for the offence punishable under Section 27 of the Arms
Act, custodial sentence of three years and a fine of Rs.1,000/- with default
stipulation was filed.
3. Background facts in a
nutshell are as follows:
Preetam Pyare had agreed to purchase a
plot from Prem Singh and Sunder Lal and had paid Rs.2000/- as earnest money to
them. They, after accepting this earnest money, did not sell the plot to
Preetam Pyare and had sold it to someone else and when Preetam Pyare demanded
back his earnest money, they refused to return it. On 25.12.1992 at about 10.30
p.m. Prem Singh, Sunder Lal and Kakoo, came to the house of Preetam Pyare and
took him away saying that they will return his earnest money. Preetam Pyare and
his two sons Bhusan Lal and Kamal Kishore came along with them for having talks
on the return of money and they reached in front of H.No.407- D, while talking.
The wife of Preetam Pyare, Smt. Shanti Devi also followed them and while they
were talking, the talks became uncordial and abuses were hurled. Sunder Lal and
Kakoo were having lathis in their hands and Sunder Lal exhorted them to beat
them. On this Prem Singh took out a revolver and shot him in his chest. He also
shot at Bhushan Lal S/o Preetam Pyare, in his chest saying that, this is the
way to return the money. Kakoo and Sunder Lal had beaten Kamal Kishore, the
younger son of Preetam Pyare as a result of which he received injuries on his
head. When Smt.
Shanti Devi complainant, W/o Sh.
Preetam Pyare raised an alarm, the accused persons ran away from the spot. The
Mohalla people took the injured to the hospital. She then lodged a complaint
with the police on the basis of which, rukka was sent and on the basis of which
case under Section 307/34 IPC r/w of Arms Act 1959 was registered against the
accused persons. The MLC for the injured was obtained and the accused persons
were arrested. The revolver and the recovered bullet was seized and was sent
for analysis to the CFSL and after completion of the formalities, the challan
was filed in the court.
As accused abjured guilt, trial was
held, accused was convicted and sentence was imposed.
Questioning correctness of the
conviction and sentence as imposed the appellant filed an appeal. The primary
stand of the appellant was that there was no evidence worth a name and even the
so called injured witnesses refused to identify the assailant. The only
evidence against the appellant was the alleged recovery of the pistol which was
tested by the CFSL. It was found by CFSL that the bullet recovered from the
body of the injured matched those test fired through the same pistol. The
caliber also was the same. The High Court held that since pistol has been
recovered from the appellant, he can be convicted under Section 307 IPC. The
High Court found that the appellant who was a non-political leader belonging to
a National Political Party was a man of great means and he appeared to have
terrorized witnesses. The High Court held but he could not tamper with
scientific evidence. The scientific evidence connects his weapon with the
crime. That being so the High Court held that the conviction was in order.
4. In support of the
appeal learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the conclusions of the
High Court had clearly unsustainable. Merely because the appellant was the
owner of the weapon that did not bring out a case under Section 307 IPC so far
as he is concerned, and in any event Section 27 has no application.
5. Learned counsel for
the respondent-State on the other hand supported the judgment.
6. We find that this is
a case where even the injured did not identify the appellant to be the person
who had fired the short. Merely because he is the owner of the weapon that
cannot be a ground to convict him in terms of Section 307 IPC. Further, no
question was put to the appellant in his examination under Section 313 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short the `Code') regarding his purported
role. The judgment of the High Court is clearly unsustainable and is set aside.
The appellant is acquitted of the charges. The bail bonds executed to give
effect to the order of bail passed by this Court on 15.2.2002 shall stand
discharged. The appeal is allowed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
(ASOK KUMAR GANGULY)
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