STATE OF PUNJAB Vs. HARDEEP SINGH
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PUNJAB & HARYANA)
STATE OF PUNJAB
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(1.)Daljit Kaur, wife of respondent no. 1, and daughter-in-law of-respondents 2 and 3 died an unnatural death on 2/08/1992 regarding which the FIR was registered in the police station, Sadar, Jallalabad in the State of Punjab. The FIR was registered on the basis of the statement of mukhtiar Kaur, PW 2, who is the sister of the deceased. Being not sure about the nature of the offence allegedly committed by the respondents, the prosecution initially filed a charge-sheet against them under sections 304-B and 498-A of the Indian penal Code. Perhaps as there was no evidence regarding the date of the marriage and demand of dowry, the public prosecutor filed an application for amendment of the charge which was accepted and the respondents were charged under section 302/34 and section 498-A of the Indian penal Code. After concluding the trial and mainly relying on the testimony of Mukhtiar kaur PW 2, the court held the respondents guilty for the commission of offences punishable under section 302 read with section 34 and sentenced them to imprisonment for life for the main offence and for two months each for the offences punishable under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. Not satisfied with the judgment of the trial court, the appellants filed appeal in the High Court which was allowed vide judgment impugned by setting aside the conviction and sentence awarded against them.
(2.)It is contended on behalf of the prosecution that the appellate court was not justified in reversing the findings of fact arrived at by the trial court particularly, when there was direct evidence of Mukhtiar Kaur, PW2 who had stood the test of cross-examination and the defence had not succeeded in weakening her testimony. It is further submitted that the conduct of the accused persons of running away and absconding-after the occurrence, was another circumstance which was ignored by the High Court while passing the order under appeal.
(3.)We have been taken through the statement of the witnesses particularly the statement of Mukhtiar Kaur, PW2. The High court has assigned valid and cogent reasons for not accepting her testimony to hold the accused guilty of the commission of the crime of murder punishable under section 302 or for the offences punishable under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. It is true that it is the quality of evidence and not the number of witnesses which is material to determine the culpability of the accused, but it is equally true that when the prosecution case is based on the testimony of a single witness, the courts are put at guard to scrutinise such evidence with due care and caution.
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