(1.)The respondents Purati and Tara Chand along with Ved, Balwan, Dhapan, Jagdish and Lal Chand were tried before the Additional Sessions Judge, Sonepat, for the murder of one Partap Singh and causing injuries to others. The learned Judge by judgment dated 18-5-1972 convicted these respondents for offences under Section 302, I.P.C., and Sections 323, 325 read with S. 149, I.P.C. They were sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life and ordered to pay a sum of Rs. 500/- each under S. 302, I.P.C., R.I. for one year under Seetion 148, I.P.C., R.I. for one year under Section325 and R.I. for six months under Section 323, 1. P.C. The other accused were convicted for the minor offences and released on probation under Section 360/361, Cr.P.C. The respondents appealed against the conviction and sentence. The High Court by the impugned judgment dated 30-11-1982 disposed of the appeal thus:-
Admittedly there was no prior enmity between the parties. The quarrel arose out of a very insignificant matter like the burning of dry sugarcane leaves on the common boundary of the fields of the two parties. The ensuing altercation would probably have been forgotten had Partap Singh deceased not died. Even when there is an altercation arising out of a minor incident there is some tendency on the part of the prosecution witness to exaggerate matters. The three eyewitnesses have of course fully supported the prosecution case but the investigating officer recorded the statement of one Paras Ram at the time of making the inquest report which gives a somewhat different version. The learned trial judge has himself found that the object of the unlawful assembly was not to commit the murder of the deceased. It is precisely for this reason that five accused persons have been released on probation and only, two accused, i.e., Puran and Tara Chand appellants, have been convicted under Section 302, I. P.C. We do not propose to go into the details of the controversy and in the peculiar circumstances of this case convert the conviction of Puran and Tara Chand appellants into one under Section 304, Part-1, I.P.C., on the basis that in view of the statement made by Paras Ram at the time when the investigating officer made the inquest report a somewhat different version was given. This Paras Ram was not produced as a witness by the prosecution. Since there was no prior enimity between the parties, we order that the sentence already undergone by Puran and Tara Chand appellants will meet the ends of justice. They are however, ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 12,000/- each. In default of payment of this fine, the defaulter is ordered to undergo rigorous imprisonment for five years. The sentences of imprisonment imposed upon Puran and Tara Chand appellants on other counts are also reduced to that already undergone by them. The total fine, if realised, shall be paid to the next heirs of Partap Singh deceased as compensation." (Emphasis supplied).
The High Court has, by this cryptic order, acquitted respondents of the major charge under Section 302, I.P.C., and recorded their conviction under Section 304 Part-1 reducing the sentence of life imprisonment to a term of imprisonment already undergone while enhancing the sentence of fine. The State has not preferred any appeal against the order of acquittal or reduction of sentence. The respondents, it appears, have accepted the judgment. Sham Sunder, the de facto complainant, however, being aggrieved approached this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution. This Court has granted special leave to appeal.
(2.)The High Court, exercising power under Section 386, Cr. P.C., in an appeal from a conviction may reverse the finding and sentence and acquit the accused or alter the finding maintaining the sentence or with or without altering the finding alter the nature or the extent or the nature and extent of the, sentence but not so as to enhance the same.
The powers of the High Court in dealing with the evidence are as wide as that of the trial court. As the final court of facts, the High Court has also duty to examine the evidence and arrive at its own conclusion on the entire material on record as to the guilt or otherwise of the appellants before it.
(3.)It is true that the High Court is entitled to reappraise the evidence in the case. It is also true that under Article 136, the Supreme Court does not ordinarily reappraise the evidence for itself for determining whether or not the High Court has come to a correct conclusion on facts but where the High Court has completely missed the real point requiring determination and has also on erroneous grounds discredited the evidence and has further failed to consider the fact that on account of long standing enmity between the parties, there is a tendency to involve innocent persons and to exaggerate and lead prejudged evidence in regard to the occurrence, the Supreme Court would be justified in going into the evidence for the purpose of satisfying itself that the grave injustice has not resulted in the case.