Ranbir Singh &
Ors. Vs. State of Haryana  INSC 862 (30 April 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 604 OF 2006 Ranbir
Singh & Ors. ..Appellants Versus State of Haryana ..Respondent JUDGEMENT
R.M. LODHA, J.
persons were sent up for trial to the Sessions Judge, Sonepat for the offences
under Section 148, 302, 324 and 323 read with Section 149 IPC. The trial Court
convicted four among them and acquitted the other four accused; one of the
acquitted accused had died during the trial. The convicted persons were
sentenced under Section 302 read with 34 IPC to the life imprisonment and
varying period of imprisonments under other offences; fine with default
stipulation was also imposed. All the four convicted persons filed appeal
before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The High Court by its judgment
dated November 30, 2005 affirmed the conviction and sentence imposed by the trial
court. This appeal by special leave is preferred by these four convicted
prosecution version is this: on September 26, 1990, Suresh (PW-12) took his
buffaloes to Delhi Canal.
The buffaloes entered
into the canal water. At the same time Ranbir (A-1) also brought his buffaloes
to the canal.
Ranbir asked Suresh
to take out the buffaloes from the canal but Suresh refused to do so on the
ground that the canal water was deep. At this, Ranbir pushed Suresh into the
canal. Suresh came out of the canal water and went home crying and narrated the
incident to his brother Krishan (PW-1). Krishan protested with Ranbir in this
regard in the evening which led to an altercation between them. Ranbir
inflicted some injuries to Krishan which was reported to the police in the
night of September 26, 1990. On September 27,1990, Krishan is said to have been
medically examined. On September 28,1990, at about 8.00 A.M., PW-1 and his
uncle Balwan(deceased) were returning after answering the call of nature. When
they were about to take turn to the street to their house, Ranbir (A-1), Balbir
(A-2), Shiv Kumar (A-3), Sadhu (A-4) came out of the Gher of Ram Sarup (A-6).
A-1 was armed with an axe while A-2 had Jailwa in his hand, A-3 and A- 4 were
armed with lathies. A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-4 surrounded Balwan and exhorted to
finish him off as Krishan had escaped earlier. Seeing Balwan surrounded by A-1,
A-2, A-3 and A-4, PW-1, Rohtas (PW-13) and Sahab Singh (PW-11) came running
from their respective Gher. A-1 inflicted an axe blow on the head of Balwan
while A-2 inflicted jailwa blow from the log side on the head of Balwan. A-3
and A-4 also inflicted lathi blows on Balwan. Balwan fell down. PW-1, PW-11 and
PW-13 intervened. At this, A-3 and A-4 gave lathi blows to them also. A-2
attacked PW-11 as well. PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13 snatched lathies from A-3 and
A-4. By that time number of people had arrived; seeing them A-1, A-2, A-3 and
A-4 ran away from the spot. At that time, Lekh Ram (A-5), Ram Sarup (A-6),
Bhalle Ram (A-7), Krishan son of 3 Bhalle Ram (A-8) surrounded PW-1, PW-11 and
PW-13 but PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13 attacked them by lathies which they had
snatched from A-3 and A-4. PW-1, PW- 11 and PW-13 took Balwan to Primary Health
Centre, Ganaur in an unconscious condition but he died on the way. The doctor
on duty there declared Balwan dead.
lodged the complaint at Police Station, Ganaur at about 1.35 PM., based on
which first information report was registered.
Chand, ASI (PW-6) prepared inquest of the dead body and sent it for autopsy
which was conducted by Dr. R.N. Tehlan (PW-8) at about 5.00P.M.
Krishan Kumar (PW-3), Medical Officer, Primary Health Centre, Ganaur examined
PW-1, PW-11, PW-13, A-5, A-6, A-7 and A-8, all of whom were injured in the
Singh (PW-9) took all necessary steps towards investigation and after
collecting necessary evidence and on completion of investigation, filed charge
sheet in the Court of Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Sonepat against the
eight accused persons.
conducted post mortem examination and found following injuries on the dead
wound 10 x 3 cm present on right parietal area of the skull, anteo-postering, 3
cm lat. to midline, cutting scalp with regular margins. Right parietal bone was
fractured in pieces. The right parietal bone is fractured in pieces. Three
pieces are driven into the brain. (Right cerebral hemisphere) and surrounding
parietal bone is depressed. Brain matter is present in the wound. Clotted blood
present around in the layers of scalp, extra-dural and sub-dural area. Right
cerebral hemisphere showed haemotoma.
contusion on right supra-orbital ridge 3 cm x 2 cm, right eye was swollen.
3. Red-contusion 6 cm
x 2 cm back of left arm.
4. Red-contusion 6 cm
x 1.5 cm back of right fore-arm."
to PW-8, the cause of death of the deceased Balwan was head injury. PW-8 also
found that the injuries were ante-mortem in nature and sufficient to cause
death in the ordinary course.
the medical evidence, it is sufficiently established that death of Balwan was
homicidal. As a matter of fact, the counsel for the appellant did not challenge
this aspect at all.
10. That in the
incident that occurred on September 28, 1990, Balwan died and PW-1, PW-11,
PW-13, A-5, A-6, A-7 and A-8 sustained injuries is not in dispute.
11. Dr. Krishan Kumar
examined PW-11 at about 10.40 A.M. on September 28, 1990. He found the
following injuries on his person:
penetrating wound 1 cm x 0.5 x 1 cm deep present on the right side of chest, 6
cm above the right nipple and 9 cm below the sterno clavicular joint. Fresh
clotted blood present. No foreign body seen. There is cut mark on the shirt
above this injury mark with staining of blood. Adv. X- Ray.
2. An abrasion 0.5 cm
x 0.2 cm present on the chest 5.5 cm medially to the injury No. 1 and 2 cm
below the manubrium sterni.
3. Complaint of pain
chest and respiratory distress."
12. Dr. Krishan Kumar
also examined PW-13 at about 11.05 A.M on the same day and he found the
following injuries on the person of PW-13.
"1. An abrasion
5.5 x 1 cm present on the back of right shoulder. Red in colour. Movements
2. An abrasion 6 x
0.2 cm present on the post surface of left shoulder, 3 cm below the tip of
3. A contusion 6 x
2.5 cm present on the post surface right fore-arm, 11 cm below the elbow.
4. A contusion 6 x 2
cm present on the post surface of left fore-arm, 7 cm above the wrist.
5. A contusion 7 x 2
cm present on the P/L surface of left fore-arm, 14 cm above the wrist.
6. A contusion 5.5 x
2 cm present on the A/L surface of right upper arm, 10 cm above the
13. On September 28,
1990, Dr. Krishan Kumar also examined the accused. In the afternoon at about
on September 28,
1990, A-5 was medically examined and PW-3 found the following injuries on his
"1. A reddish
contusion 7 x 2.5 cm present on the post surface of left fore-arm, 4 cm above
the wrist. There is deformity and swelling around it. The movements of the
adjacent joints are restricted. Adv. x-ray.
2. ALW 1 cm x 0.5 cm
present on the dorsal aspect of P.I.P. joint of left index finger. Movements
3. ALW 3 x 0.5 x skin
deep present on the palmer aspect of left index finger and clots of blood
present. Movements painful.
4. A contusion 5 x 2
cm present on the A/L surface of middle of left fore-arm. Adv. X-Ray.
5. A contusion 1.5 x
0.5 cm present on the posterior surface of left side of back, 12 cm below the
tip of shoulder joint. Red in colour.
6. An abrasion 3 x
0.5 cm present on the anterior surface of right thigh, 12 cm above knee."
Injuries Nos. 1, 2,
and 3 were subjected to X-ray examination.
A-5 was also
radiologically examined by Dr. S.S. Wadhwa (PW-2). As per X-ray report (Ex.PE),
A-5 had suffered fracture of both bones of left fore-arm and dislocation of
proximal inter phalangeal joint of left index finger.
14. PW-3 at about
1.10 P.M. on September 28, 1990 medically examined A-8 and found the following
"1. ALW 1.5 X
0.5 cm x 0.5 cm present on the right side of scalp, 8.5 cm above the right ear
pinna, 13 cms away from the outer canthus of right eye. Fresh clots of blood
present. No FB seen. Adv. X-ray.
2. A contusion 6 x 7
cm present on the ante surface of middle of right upper arm. Reddish in colour.
3. A contusion 5 x 1
cm present on the post surface of right wrist. Movements normal.
4. A contusion 8 x 7
cm present on the post surface of left fore-arm in its middle. There is a
swelling and deformity around it. Movements restricted. Adv. X-ray.
5. A contusion 14 x 3
cm present on the post lateral surface of right thigh, 3 cm above knee. Red in
6. A contusion 8 x 2
cm present on the medial surface of left thigh, 10 cm above knee.
7. A contusion 5 x 3
cm present on the medial surface of right leg, 10 cm below the knee.
8. ALW 2.5 x 0.5 cm x
1.5 cm present on the ante surface of left leg, 17 cm below the knee. Clotted
blood present. Adv. X-Ray. Movements were painful"
15. A-6 was medically
examined by PW-3 on September 28, 1990 at 1.40 P.M. Following injuries were
found on his person:
8 "1. A
lacerated wound 9 x 1 cm x bone deep present on the right side of scalp, 10 cm
above the right ear pinna, 4 cm above the right eyebrow. Fresh clotted blood
No foreign body seen.
The injury was advised for X-ray.
2. An abrasion 1.5 x
0.5 cm present on the posterior surface of right wrist. Movements were normal.
3. One abrasion 1.5 x
0.5 cm present on the anterior surface of right thigh, 4 cm above knee.
4. A contusion below
the nail bed of left ring finger. The movements were present.
5. An abrasion 6 x 2
cm on the anterior surface of left thigh at its lower 1/3rd."
16. PW-3 at about
2.20 P.M. on September 28, 1990 medically examined A-7 also and found the
"1. ALW 1 x 0.3
cm. x 0.5 cm present on the left side of scalp, 10 cm above the left ear pinna
12 cm from the outer canthus of left eye. Fresh clotted blood seen. No FB seen.
2. An abrasion 7 x 1
cm present on the middle of right clavicle.
3. A contusion 17 x 2
cm present on the A/L surface of right upper arm, just above elbow. Movements
4. A contusion 7 x 3
cm present on the post surface of right fore-arm, above the wrist. There is
swelling and deformity around it. Movements very painful. Adv. X-ray.
5. ALW 2 x 0.5 cm present
on the palmer surface of left little finger at its base. Painful. Movements
6. A mild swelling
just above the base of left little finger.
7. An abrasion 2 x 1
cm present on the medial surface of right leg, 14 cm above the medial mallolus.
8. A contusion 10 x 3
cm present on the P/L surface of left leg, 5 cm above the lat. mallolus.
9. An abrasion 5 x 2
cm present over the lateral surface of left thigh, 22 cm above the knee."
17. PW-3 also
medically examined A-3 and found following injuries on his person:
"1. An infected
wound 4 x 1.5 cm x scalp deep present on the left side of scalp, 7 cm above the
left ear pinna and 12 cm behind and above the outer canthus of left eye.
2. An infected wound
2.5 x 0.5 cm x scalp deep present on the right side of scalp, cm above the
right ear pinna."
18. The learned
counsel for the appellant strenuously urged that the incident did not occur in
the manner suggested by PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13. He submitted that as a matter of
fact Balwan (deceased), PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13 had come armed with lathies to
Ram Sarup's Gher and started inflicting lathi blows to A-5, A-6, A-7 and A-8.
To protect themselves, in their right of private defence, A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-4
inflicted injuries to Balwan and unfortunately that resulted in his death.
Learned counsel submitted that accused had no intention whatsoever to cause his
death. The learned counsel would submit that at the highest, A-1, A-2, A-3 and
A-4 exceeded their right of private defence and for that they may be liable for
culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
submitted that the trial court as well as the High Court failed to appreciate
the defence version in right perspective which was apparent from the suggestions
put to PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13 in their cross examination as well as in the
statement of the accused under Section 313 Cr.P.C. In the alternative, he
submitted that the case is covered by Exception 4 to Section 300.
19. The controversy
before us is in narrow compass and that is whether the accused have been able
to probablise that the death of Balwan occurred in exercise of their right of
self-defence and whether they exceeded that right.
20. Initially, on
September 26, 1990, some argument took place between A-1 and PW-12 with regard
to taking out the buffalos from canal; A-1 pushed PW-12 in canal water.
PW-12 went home
crying. Then there was altercation later in the evening between PW-1 and A-1.
A-1 with the help of A-2 and A-5 is said to have inflicted some injuries to
PW-1 in that altercation. In this back ground, obviously it was PW-1 and his
family members who had an axe to grind against A-1, A-2 and A-5 and not the
accused party. Two days later, on September 28, 1990, the incident occurred
just out-side the Gher of A-6. The prosecution case is that A-1 and Balwan were
returning after answering the call of the nature and when they were about to
take turn to the street to their house, A-1 and A-2 armed with axe and jailwa
respectively and A-3 and A-4 armed with lathies surrounded Balwan and after
exhorting him, A-1 gave an axe blow on the head of Balwan; A-2 also gave blow
to Balwan on his head from log-side of jailwa and A-3 and A-4 gave lathi blows.
The prosecution case about commencement of incident appears to be little
doubtful. In our opinion, the prosecution has not come out with truthful version
as to how the incident commenced. This is so because, according to PW-1, he was
ahead of Balwan by 50 paces. If A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-4 were aggressors, they
would have attacked PW-1 as he had reached Gher of A-6 first and Balwan was
about 50 paces away from him. A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4 had no direct quarrel with
Balwan. Altercation was exchanged between A-1 and PW-1 two days before. Why
should have they spared PW-1? The prosecution version is, thus, not in
accordance with human probabilities. On the other hand, the defence version is
that PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13 and Balwan were armed with lathies;
they came to the Gher
of Ram Sarup (A-6) and started assaulting A-5, A-6, A-7 and A-8 and in their
self-defence they attacked assailants and as a result of which Balwan died.
That A-5, A-6, A-7 and A-8 sustained multiple injuries in the incident is
admitted by prosecution. The prosecution sought to explain the injuries on A-5,
A-6, A-7 and A-8 by submitting that PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13 snatched lathies from
A-3 and A-4 in their self-defence and gave lathi blows to A-5, A-6, A-7 and
However, PW-11 in his
cross examination stated that he did not snatch any lathi from A-3 and A-4. On
a careful consideration of the cross-examination of PW-1, PW-11 and PW-13, the
possibility of the complainant party being aggressors cannot be ruled out. The
defence has been able to probablise that complainant party attacked first. As a
matter of fact, A-5 received six injuries and few of these injuries were
A-8 sustained eight
injuries while A-7 received nine injuries some of which were grievous. A-6 also
When we observe this,
we are not oblivious of the fact that number of injuries on the accused side by
itself may not be 13 sufficient to establish right of private defence.
21. The Court should
take an overall view of the case and if a right of self-defence is made out
from the evidence on record, that right should not be construed narrowly
because the right of self-defence is a very valuable right and it has a social
purpose. (Vidya Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh1).
22. The aforenoticed
statement of law exposited in Vidya Singh1 has been reiterated by this Court in
Subramani and Another
v. State of T.N.2. In V. Subramani, this Court went on to observe:
have to be judged from the subjective point of view of the accused concerned in
the surrounding excitement and confusion of the moment, confronted with a
situation of peril and not by any microscopic and pedantic scrutiny. In adjudging
the question as to whether more force than was necessary was used in the
prevailing circumstances on the spot it would be inappropriate, as held by this
Court, to adopt tests by detached objectivity which would be so natural in a
courtroom, or that which would seem absolutely necessary to a perfectly cool
The person facing a
reasonable apprehension of threat to himself cannot be expected to modulate his
defence step by step with any arithmetical exactitude of only that much which
is required in the thinking of a man in ordinary times or under normal
23. The learned
counsel for the appellants has not set up before us the right of private
defence as a total defence.
1 1971 (3) SCC 244 2
(2005) 10 SCC 358 His whole emphasis was with reference to Exception 2 to
Section 300 that reads as follows:- "Exception 2. - Culpable homicide is
not murder if the offender, in the exercise in good faith of the right of
private defence of person or property, exceeds the power given to him by law
and causes the death of the person against whom he is exercising such right of
defence without premeditation, and without any intention of doing more harm
than is necessary for the purpose of such defence."
24. The existence of
good faith is a must before the accused claims benefit of this exception. While
acting in good faith, if the accused has exceeded the right of self-defence and
caused death of a person without pre-meditation and further he had no intention
to causing more harm than was necessary for the purpose of the defence although
in fact more harm was caused, the benefit of Exception 2 to Section 300 may be
available if the accused was not the aggressor.
25. The burden of
proving self-defence is always on the accused but it is not as onerous as the
one which lies with the prosecution. Such burden can be discharged by
probablising the defence. The accused may discharge his onus by establishing a
mere preponderance of probabilities either by laying basis for that plea in the
cross examination of prosecution witness or by adducing defence evidence.
26. The High Court
and the trial court in the instant case, failed to consider the plea of
self-defence set up by the accused in right perspective. Having considered the
matter thoughtfully, and in what we have discussed above, we are satisfied that
the accused have been able to make out a case for the benefit of Exception 2 to
27. The appellants
are, thus, held guilty of the offence punishable under Section 304 Part I read
with Section 34 IPC.
under Section 302 read with 34 IPC is altered to Section 304 Part I read with
Section 34 IPC.
28. We are informed
that the appellants have already suffered imprisonment of almost nine years. In
the circumstances, the sentence undergone, for the offence punishable under
Section 304 Part I IPC, shall meet the ends of justice. Their conviction and
sentence under other offences is maintained.
29. The appeal is,
accordingly, allowed in part. The appellants be released forthwith, if not
required in any other offence.
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