(1.)This is an appeal against a judgment of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad reversing the decision of the Sessions Judge of Aligarh in a criminal case. The appellants were tried by the Sessions Judge on charges under S. 302 read with S. 149, S. 148, Ss. 325 and 326 read with S. 149, and S. 201, Penal Code, but were acquitted. On appeal by the State Government, the High Court reversed the Sessions Judge's decision, and convicted the appellants and sentenced them to transportation for life under S. 302 read with S. 149 to five years rigorous imprisonment under Ss. 325 and 326 read with S. 149, and to two years' rigorous imprisonment under S. 147, Penal Code, all the sentences being made to run concurrently. The appellants thereafter applied to the Privy Council for special leave, which was granted on 28-10-1947.
(2.)The facts which were put before the Court on behalf of the prosecution may be briefly stated as follows : There is a plot No. 518 in Nagaria Patti Chaharum, village Shahgarh in the district of Aligarh which is about 30 bighas in area and is known as the "teesa" field. This plot was the "sir" land of several landlords including Mt. Bhagwati Kuer and Ratan Singh and had been let out to certain tenants. In 1944, Mt. Bhagwati Kuer, Ratan Singh and their co-sharers filed a suit for the ejectment of the tenants, and the suit was decreed. On 7-6-1945, possession over the plot was delivered by the Amin to Surajpal Singh, appellant 1, who was the mukhtar-i-am of Mt. Bhagwati Kuer. It was contended on behalf of Surajpal Singh that he took possession on behalf of all the co-sharers, but certain statements made by Ratan Singh in his evidence do not support this contention. However that may be, it appears that on 17-6-1945, Ratan Singh reported to the police, that he had sent his labourers to irrigate the "teesa" field, and while they were irrigating it Surajpal Singh and certain other persons came and tried to stop the irrigation and damaged the ploughs of Ratan Singh. On 18th June at about 7 A. M., the occurrence which is the subject-matter of the present trial took place. The prosecution version of the occurrence was that while Ratan Singh's labourers were working in the field under the supervision of one Behari Singh, the appellants with many other persons came armed with guns, spears and lathis, and some of the members of the appellant's party entered the field, out off the nosestrings of the bullocks and abused and assaulted the labourers, most of whom ran away. Thereupon, Deva Sukh, who was there to supply water to the labourers, protested and was beaten with lathis. At that point of time, Bihari Singh and 10 to 15 persons came and a fight took place between the parties. During the fight, one of the accused persons, Rajendra Singh, a young lad, fired his gun twice in the air, and thereafter Surajpal Singh took the gun from him and fired two 'shots hitting Nawab Mewati, who died instantaneously, and Behari Singh, who died later in the date. Three other persons, Zorawar, Rajpal and Lakhan also received gun-shot injuries. Sometime later, Surajpal Singh along with the other three appellants came to the spot and removed the dead body of Nawab in a cart. The body was thrown into a river and was recovered on 20-6-1945. After investigations 26 persons including the appellants were set up for trial.
(3.)After hearing the evidence in the case, the Sessions Judge delivered judgement on 20-2-1946. He held that the "teesa" field was in the possession of Surajpal Singh, that Behari Singh and Ratan Singh's men were aggressors and wished to take forcible possession of the field, that when resisted they had attacked the appellant's party, that the person who fired the gun had done so in self-defence and not with a view to killing Behari Singh and Nawab Mewati, and that the evidence adduced by the prosecution was so unsatisfactory that it was unsafe to convict the accused upon it. As to the charge of concealing evidence of the offence of murder by the removal of the dead body of Nawab, the Sessions Judge expressed the opinion that in order to convict a person on that charge it must be proved that the offence, the evidence of which the accused is alleged to have caused to disappear, had actually been committed, but since in the present case the charge of murder was not proved the accused could not be convicted for having caused disappearance of evidence connected with it. The Judge also held that the evidence being unreliable the charge under S. 201. Penal Code, had not been established beyond reasonable doubt.