LAL SINGH AND ANR. Vs. STATE
HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
Lal Singh And Anr.
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Teja Singh,Kesho Ram Passey, JJ. -
(1.) LAL Singh and Nikka Singh were tried by the Sessions Judge, Barnala, on the charges of murder. The former was convicted under Section 324 and was sentenced to 2 years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 100 while Nikka Singh was convicted under Section 326 read with Section 34 and was sentenced to 7 years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine or as. 250. Botu the convicts have preferred separate appeals against their convictions and sentence. Tara Singh, brother of Amar Singh, who was alleged to have met his death at the bauds of the convicts, has made a revision petition praying (1) that both Lal Singh and Nikka Singh should be convicted of murder, and (2) that their sentences be enhanced. The appeals as well as the revision petition came up originally before Kartar Singh Campbelpuri J. when Tara Singh's counsel submitted that because of the revision petition it was necessary that the appeals as wall as the petition should be heard by a Division Bench. The learned Judge, therefore, returned the records to the office "for necessary compliance", and the appeals and the revision are now before us.
(2.) IT is not denied that according to the rules framed by the High Court under the Patiala Judicature Farman of 1999 which are still in force, by virtue of the proviso to Section 68 of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union Judicature Ordinance, 2005 the appeals could he heard by a single Judge It is also not denied that the learned single Judge had the jurisdiction to hear the revision petition. What is, however, contended is that since one of the prayers of Tara Singh was that the convictions of Lal Singh and Nikka Singh as recorded by the Sessions Judge should be set aside and they may be convicted for murder, for which the maximum sentence could be transportation for life and further that because the maximum sentence that can be awarded under Section 326, Penal Code, is transportation for life and it was also prayed in the alternative by the Petitioner that the sentence under that section be enhanced which means that the enhancement could be upto the extent of transportation for life, the learned single Judge if he came to the conclusion that the revision petition be accepted whether to the extent that the convicts conviction be altered from Sections 324 and 326 to one under Section 302 or the sentence under Section 326 be enhanced, beyond seven years imprisonment ha would not be competent to give effect to that prayer. We have examined the different provisions of law on this point and it appears to us that the matter is not free from difficulty. Section 54 of the Judicature Ordinance of 2005 lays down that
except as otherwise provided any function which is hereby directed to be performed by the High Court in the exercise of its original, appellate or revisional jurisdiction, or as a Court of reference may be performed by any Judge of the High Court.
Provisos (b) and (c) are to the effect that an appeal from an order convicting an accused person for an offence and awarding a sentence of imprisonment for more than seven years or any reference in such a case, and an appeal from an order acquitting an accused person shall be heard by two Judges. These are the only exceptions to the general rule laid down in the body of the section and it is rot urged before us that the case of a revision petition like the one which is now before us comes within the purview of the exceptions. This means that if the words of the section are to be given effect to, there is nothing to debar a single Judge from hearing a revision petition in a case of this kind and in case he decides to accept it to award any sentence which it is open to the High Court to award. Section 31, Code of Criminal Procedure, lays down that High Court may pass any sentence authorised by law. It was urged before us that this section deals only with the powers of a High Court on the original side but the words of the section appear to us to be very wide and as at present advised we are not prepared to engraft any limitation upon it. At the same time, we cannot ignore the face that since according to the rules an appeal from an order of conviction where the sentence is more than seven years cannot be heard by a single Judge it looks somewhat anomalous that he should have the power to enhance the sentence of a person to more than seven years in a revision petition.
All the counsel appearing before us say that they have not been able to lay their hands upon any clear authority on the point and since we are of the view that the question, apart from being difficult, is of general importance and might arise in other cases, we formulate it in the following words and refer it, to a Fall Bench: "It is within the competence of a single Judge of the High Court, while accepting a revision petition arising out of a case is which the accused is awarded imprisonment for seven years or less, to enhance the sentence to more than seven years' imprisonment -
Opinion of the Full Bench
Teja Singh, C.J.
(3.) THE following question has been referred to the Full Bench:
(sic) it within the competence of a single Judge of the H.C. while accepting a revision petition arising out of a case in which the accused is awarded imprisonment for seven years or less, to enhance the sentence to more than seven years' imprisonment?;
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