Punjab-Haryana High Court
Bahadur Singh And Others vs State Of Punjab on 6 March, 2009
Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.
In the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh. Criminal Appeal No.540-SB of 1999.
Date of decision:6-3-2009
State of Punjab.
Coram: Hon\’ble Mr. Justice K. C. Puri. …Present: Mr. P. S. Brar Advocate for the appellants. Mr. K. S. Pannu, AAG Punjab. K. C. Puri, J. Judgment.
Vide impugned judgment dated 18.5.1999, passed by Shri Chanan Singh, the then Additional Sessions Judge, Bathinda, the appellants were convicted under Sections 324/323 read with Section 34 IPC but they were acquitted under Section 307/34 IPC. The fourth accused Sukhdev Singh was also acquitted, Vide Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. separate order of even date, appellant Bahadur Singh was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 1-1/2 years and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- and in default of payment of fine,to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for a month under Section 324 IPC and his co-appellants Maghar Singh and Ranjit Singh were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year each and to pay a fine of Rs.250/- each and in default of payment of fine, to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for one month each for an offence punishable under Section 324 read with Section 34 IPC. All the appellants were also sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months each for an offence punishable under Section 323 IPC. All the substantive sentences were ordered to run concurrently. A brief resume of the necessary facts is that the complainant party Manpreet Singh etc. purchased some land from accused Sukhdev Singh about a year earlier to the occurrence. But as accused Sukhdev Singh etc. felt that the complainant party purchased the said land from them at a lower price than actual one, so they nourished a grudge against the complainant party on account of which a dispute took place between the parties which, however, was settled between them by the Panchayat. But even Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.then the accused persons were having a grudge against the complainant and as such were allegedly on a look out for a chance to settle the scores with them.On 30.7.1993 at about 8-00 PM, when complainant- injured Manpreet Singh accompanied by Lakhvir Singh, Gurbachan Singh Sarpanch and their Siri (servant) Makhan Singh were returning from their fields in a jeep, driven by him along the passage and reached near the tubewell of Amar Singh son of Ajmer Singh of village Shergarh, accused Sukhdev Singh, accompanied by accused Bahadur Singh and Maghar, Singh, who all were duly armed with Gandasas and Ranjit Singh duly armed with a Kasia reached there from the opposite direction on their Eicher Tractor, which, on that day, was being driven by said accused Sukhdev Singh. They stopped the tractor quite in front of their jeep and thereby stopped the same. On this getting down from the tractor, accused Sukhdev Singh raised a Lalkara on which complainant Manpreet Singh came down from their jeep. On this, the accused persons at once attacked the complainant party. Accused Bahadur Singh inflicted a Gandasa blow on the person of complainant Manpreet Singh which hit him in his head from the sharp side. Accused Maghar Singh inflicted a Gandasa blow from the blunt Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. side on the person of Lakhvir Singh, which hit him in his head, as a result of which both complainant Manpreet Singh and Lakhvir Singh fell down on the ground. While Lakhvir Singh was lying on the ground, accused Ranjit Singh also inflicted two Kasia blows.Out of same, one hit on the back of left shoulder and the other in his back from the reverse side. Both of them as well as said Gurbachan Singh and Makhan Singh who accompanied them, raised an alarm on which all the accused persons fled away along with their weapons. After the occurrence, both the injured-complainant Manpreet Singh and said Lakhvir Singh were rushed to Civil Hospital, Bathinda, and were got admitted there. They were medico-legally examined there. A criminal case was registered on the basis of statement made by injured Manpreet Singh. Investigation was conducted and after completion of same, the accused were challaned. The accused were charge-sheeted accordingly to which they pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. In order to prove its case, the prosecution examined PW-1 Dr. Shavinder Kaur Bansal, PW-2 Manpreet Singh injured, PW-3 Lakhvir Singh, PW-4 Mohan Lal, Clerk, D.T.O Office, Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.Bathinda, PW-5 ASI Roop Singh and PW-6 HC Raja Pal Singh. After the prosecution evidence was over, the statements of the accused were recorded under Section 313 Cr.P.C. All the accused denied the prosecution allegations and pleaded innocence. Accused Bahadur Singh took up the following stand:- \”I am innocent. I was posted as a Constable during the day of occurrence at Bathinda. I was at Bathinda on the day and time of occurrence. I was arrested on 11.8.1993 when I was going on duty in Police Lines, Bathinda.”Accused Ranjit has taken the following plea:- \”I am innocent, On 30.7.93, I was posted as Gunman with Baba Balbir Singh who was PA of Baba Santa Singh. At about 8-00 P.M, I along with my brother Harjit Singh and my grand-father Bhag Singh, our Series, namely, Mota Singh and Naib Singh were coming on tractor to our house from the fields. The tractor was being driven by my brother Harjit Singh. When we reached near the tubewell of Amar Singh son of Ajmer Singh of Shergrh, a jeep came from the opposite side. Gurbachan Singh Sarpanch, Manpreet Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. Singh son of Sukhdev Singh, Sukhdev Singh, father of Manpreet Singh and two Seeries were sitting in that jeep. When the jeep was about to cross the tractor, Gurbachan Singh Sarpanch raised Lalkara towards us \’Ah Chale Hun Shergarh Wale\’. They stopped the jeep and reversed it and parked in front of the tractor. Accused Gurbachan Singh was armed with Kasia, Manpreet Singh was also armed with Kasia and they came down from the jeep and Gurbachan Singh gave a Kasia blow which landed on my head from its sharp side. At the same time accused Manpreet Singh also gave Kasia blow from its reverse side which landed on his head. I raised again said we raised Raula \’Marta Marta\’. And in self defence, I gave a Kasia blow on the head of Manpreet Singh. The accused present in court ran away from spot with their respective weapons in jeep, after inflicting me injuries. My brother Harjit Singh got me admitted into Civil Hospital, Talwandi Sabo. My grand-father Bhag Singh and brother Harjit Singh rescued me from the clutches of accused. I was saved because of the intervention of above mentioned Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. persons, failing which accused might have caused me more injuries. These injuries were caused with intention to kill me. I was medically examined in PHC, Talwandi Sabo. The accused caused me injuries because earlier we had a dispute with them regarding the land which was set at rest with the intervention of panchayat, but because of that grudge the accused caused me injuries. On the next day, the police came to PHC Talwandi Sabo where I made statement Ex.DC which was read over to me and I signed the same in token of correctness. At the time of causing injuries, lights of tractor as well as of jeep were on. Accused Sukhdev Singh had taken the following stand: \” I am innocent. I have 28 years service in Punjab Home Guards. I was posted as Assistant District Commandant, P.H.G, 4 years prior to the present occurrence and was posted at Bathinda. I was residing at Bathinda. I have been falsely implicated to affect my service. My son Ranjit Singh and my brother Bahadur Singh being Constables have been falsely implicated. I was found innocent during investigation by Sh. Mahinder Pal SI of Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. Police and Shri Sukhdev Singh Chahal, DSP.\” In their defence, the accused examined DW-1 ASI Malkiat Singh, DW-2 Gurmander Singh, Senior Clerk, DW-3 Dr. Mohan Lal, DW-4 Hans Raj, Assistant Account Clerks, DW-5 Harphul Singh, DW-6 Inspector Mohinder Kumar and DW-7 Sukhdev Singh Chahal, DSP. After the conclusion of trial, the appellants were convicted and sentenced, as noticed in the earlier part of the judgment. Feeling aggrieved, the appellants have filed the instant appeal.The learned counsel for the appellants has submitted that the prosecution has not examined independent witnesses. According to the prosecution case. Sarpanch Gurbachan Singh and Makhan Singh were also present at the time of occurrence. Both of them have not been examined. Only Manpreet Singh and Lakhvir Singh who are interested witnesses have been examined. Appellant Bahadur Singh has taken a definite stand that he was not present at the time of occurrence and had gone to Bhatinda. There is a delay of 21 hours in lodging the FIR and that delay has been used by the prosecution for falsely implicating the accused. Sukhdev Singh Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.was also arrayed as an accused by the prosecution but, after trial, he has been acquitted by the trial Court. It is further submitted that the interested prosecution witnesses have made material improvements while appearing in the Court. They have been duly confronted with their previous statements. Their testimony is liable to be ignored. The accused have been wrongly convicted under Sections 324/323/34 IPC. It is further submitted that Ranjit Singh, one of the accused has suffered two injuries. One of the said injuries was on his head. These injuries have not been explained by the prosecution in the FIR. It was only after improvements that the prosecution witnesses have tried to explain the injuries on the person of Ranjit Singh. It cannot believed that the said injuries were inflicted in self defence. The story propounded by the accused is more probable then the story of the prosecution. The learned counsel for the appellants has further submitted that the trial Court has wrongly held the appellants as aggressors. The occurrence has taken place in the common passage which was not near the field of complainant. The complainant party was in a vehicle i.e. jeep whereas the accused party is stated to be in the tractor-trolley. The injuries on the person of Ranjit Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.Singh have not been explained in the FIR. In fact, it was the complainant party which was the aggressor. The number of injuries cannot be a criteria for the purposes of adjudging as to which of the parties is the aggressor. Otherwise also, the complainant party suffered four injuries whereas the accused party suffered two injuries. In this way, there is no much difference. The complainant party was tried in a cross case under Section 324/34 IPC. The appellants have also been convicted under Sections 324/323/34 IPC. The complainant party is the aggressor. The injuries inflicted by Ranjit Singh were in his self defence. It is further contended that the plea of self defence of the appellants has not been properly appreciated by the trial Court. It is a clear cut case of self defence. The learned trial Court has held that the injuries on the persons of Manpreet Singh and Lakhvir Singh as simple.Even if the Court is not inclined to accept the prayer of the appellants that the complainant party was the aggressor, in that case also, at the most, it can be taken as a case of free fight. The origin of the fight is not proved from the evidence on the file. There was motive for the complainant party to cause injuries and there was no motive for the accused to inflict injuries. So, as prayer Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. has been made for acceptance of appeal and for acquittal of the accused.The learned counsel for the appellants has relied upon the following authorities:-
(a) Maghar Singh and another Versus The State of Punjab, 1974 C.L.R 128.(b). Hans Raj Versus State of Haryana, 2004(3) J.T.45. Gurmail Singh and ors.Versus State of Punjab, 2003(2) Cri. C.C.695.(d) Harbhajan Singh Versus State of Punjab, 1998 (4) R.C.R (Criminal) 560.(e) Major Singh Versus State of Punjab, 2005(3) R.C.R (Criminal) 936.(f) Kamal Singh Versus State of M.P , 2004(3) R.C.R (Criminal) 435.In reply to the above noted submissions, the learned State counsel has supported the judgment of the trial Court. It is contended that specific injury has been attributed to each of the appellants. One injury was found on the person of Manpreet Singh which was on the fore-head and three injuries were found on the Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.person of Lakhvir Singh. The learned trial Court has rightly held that no right of self defence has accrued in favour of the accused and has rightly held that the accused party is the aggressor. So, a prayer has been made for the dismissal of the appeal. I have given my thoughtful consideration to the rival submissions made by both sides and have gone through the record of the case.In this case, four accused i.e. three appellants and Sukhdev Singh were charged under Sections 307, 324, 323, 34 IPC. However, after trial, the learned trial Court acquitted all the accused under Section 307/34 IPC whereas Sukhdev Singh was acquitted for all the charges. The present appellants have been convicted under Sections 324, 323, 34 IPC. The presence of accused Ranjit Singh and Maghar Singh has not been disputed. However, it is the stand of Bahadur Singh that he was not present at the time of occurrence. One injury was found on the person of Manpreet Singh which was ultimately declared as simple by the doctor. As many as three injuries were found on the person of Lakhvir Singh PW and all those injuries were declared a simple by the doctor. As many as two injuries were found on the person of Ranjit Singh accused and one of them was on the head. Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. The motive for the occurrence, according to the prosecution witnesses, is that the complainant party had purchased land from Sukhdev Singh and the accused party was grumbling that the same was sold at less price. The complainant party has taken a stand that Bahadur Singh accused gave a Gandasa blow from the sharp side on the head of Manpreet Singh. Maghar Singh accused gave a Gandasa blow from blunt side on the person of Lakhvir Singh on the head. Accused Ranjit Singh gave two Kasia blows, from reverse side, on the back of left shoulder and back of Lakhvir Singh. The case of Bahadur Singh is that he was at Bhatinda on the day of occurrence whereas Ranjit Singh has taken a stand that he was posted as Gunman with Baba Balbir Singh who was PA of Baba Santa Singh. On the day of occurrence, at about 8-00 P.M, he along with his brother Harjit Singh and grand-father Bhag Singh, their Seeries, namely Mota Singh and Naib Singh were coming back on the tractor and when they reached near the tubewell of Amar Singh son of Ajmer Singh of village Sherpur, a jeep came from the opposite side. Gurbachan Singh, Sarpanch, Manpreet Singh, his father and two Seeries were sitting in that jeep. When the jeep was about to cross the tractor, Gurbachan Singh Sarpanch raised a Lalkara and the jeep was stopped. Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999. Gurbachan Singh gave a Kasia blow from its sharp side on his head. Manpreet Singh gave Kasia blow from its reverse side on his head. He has further stated that in self defence, he gave a Kasia blow on the head of Manpreet Singh. He has further taken the stand that there was a land dispute between the parties but the same was settled on the intervention of the panchayat. From the stand taken by both the sides, it is clear that the complainant and accused party have a land dispute which had been settled on the intervention of the panchayat. Both the parties have not disputed that the occurrence had taken place near the tubewell of Amar Singh in the common passage. It also emerges from the case of both the parties that the complainant party was in the jeep whereas the accused/appellants were on the tractor. The learned trial Court has held that since there were more injuries on the persons of the complainant party, so on that count, the accused party was the aggressor. However, the said finding does not sustain the test of legal scrutiny. There is not much difference between the injuries of the complainant party and the accused party. According to the trial Court, the complainant party has suffered as many as four simple injures whereas the accused party suffered two injuries. Admittedly, both the parties Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.were having weapons and they used the same. The place of occurrence does not belong to any of the parties. So, at the most, this can be taken as a case of free fight as the origin of the fight is not available. The complainant party was also tried under Sections 324/323/34 IPC but the complainant party is stated to have been acquitted by the trial Court. There is a delay of 21 hours in lodging the FIR. One of the accused namely Sukhdev Singh has been acquitted by the trial Court. Bahadur Singh accused has taken a stand that he was not present at the time of occurrence and was posted at Bhatinda. He has examined DW-1 ASI Malkiat Singh who has stated that Bahadur Singh was on duty at the relevant time. DW-4 Hans Raj has stated that Bahadur Sigh was given house rent as he was residing at Bhatinda. In authority in case Hans Raj (supra), the Hon\’ble Apex Court has held that delay in lodging the FIR is to be explained and some facts were not mentioned in the FIR or during investigation. Improvements were made at the trial. The facts could not be taken into consideration to convict the accused. Injuries on the person of Ranjit Singh have not been explained in the FIR. In authority in case Harbhajan Singh (supra), it has been held that if both the parties had come prepared to fight; they Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.were carrying weapons with them and they caused injuries to each other, then it is a free fight. It has been further held that if the origin of the fight is not disclosed, then both the parties are to be acquitted. In the present case, the complainant party has already been acquitted. So, in these circumstances, same treatment is to be given to the accused as in the facts of the present also, the origin of the fight has not come on the surface . Both the parties have land dispute. Both the parties came in vehicles along with weapons and used the weapons against each other. Therefore, I have no hesitation in holding that it is a case of free fight and the findings of the learned trial Court to the effect that the appellants are the aggressors are not tenable. Hence, keeping in view the above circumstances, this appeal stands accepted. The judgment of the learned trial Court stands set aside and the accused/appellants stand acquitted holding that it is a case of free fight, the origin of which cannot be ascertained.A copy of this judgment be sent to the trial Court for strict compliance.March 6th ,2009. (K. C. Puri ) Jaggi Judge Criminal Appeal No. 540-SB of 1999.