K. G. Balakrishnan, J. -
(1.)Ten accused persons were tried by the Additional Court of Sessions, Karnal, for offences punishable under Ss. 302, 307 and 148 read with S. 149, I.P.C. for causing death of two persons, namely, Surmukh Singh and Tehal Singh. All the accused were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for life for the offences under Ss. 302 and 307 read with S. 149, I.P.C. Accused No. 2, Bakha Singh and accused No. 7 Sukha Singh were also found guilty under Ss. 25 and 27 of the Arms Act. All the accused filed an appeal before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The High Court acquitted accused No. 6, Labh Singh, son of Inder Singh and confirmed the conviction and sentence of all other accused persons. Their conviction and sentence are challenged before us in these appeals.
(2.)Briefly stated, the facts of the case are thus. Deceased-Surmukh Singh was the 'Sarpanch' of Gram Panchayat, Jalmana. The Gram Panchayat had leased out 25 acres of land in favour of the first accused, Jassa Singh alias Jaswant Singh and the 8th accused, Sarang Singh, son of Dalip Singh. They had been in possession of this land for about 10-12 years. About two and half months prior to the date of occurrence of the incident, this land was reauctioned and Subeg Singh, Narinder Singh and Kehar Singh became successful bidders. Kehar Singh is the brother of deceased-Surmukh Singh. Accused-Jassa Singh instituted a civil suit to retain possession of the said leasehold land. The Gram Panchayat contested the suit and the Civil Court passed an order to the effect that Jassa Singh shall be divested of his possession only in accordance with law. Surmukh Singh, the Sarpanch, then initiated proceedings before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to evict Jassa Singh from the property. Jassa Singh made a complaint before the Deputy Commissioner, Karnal, alleging that Sarpanch Surmukh Singh had leased out the land to his own persons for a lesser amount and stated that he was prepared to deposit an amount of Rs. 84,000/-. Pursuant to the direction of the Deputy Commissioner, Jessa Singh deposited the sum of Rs. 84,000/- with the Block Development and Panchayat Officer. Narinder Singh, son of Balwant, and Subeg Singh then filed a civil suit before the Civil Court, Karnal, for an injunction to restrain the officers from putting up the land on re-auction. The Civil Court granted the injunction in favour of Narinder Singh and others. Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Assandh, took up the proceedings for ejectment of Jassa Singh and others. While these proceedings were pending, on 2nd July, 1992 at about 5.00 p.m. Surmukh Singh, his brother Gurmukh Singh, along with some others went to the leasehold property. There were two tractors - one was being driven by one Gurvinder Singh and the other by Subeg Singh. Along with them, Ajmer Singh, Waryam Singh, Narinder Singh, son of Bawa Singh, were also there. At about 6.00 p.m. when Surmukh Singh and Narinder Singh were sitting on the boundary of the field, all the appellants came there. While appellants-Jassa Singh, Bakha Singh and Sukha Singh were armed with guns, other accused persons were having 'Gandasis' with them. According to prosecution. Labh Singh and Jassa Singh made exhortations to kill Surmukh Singh, the Sarpanch. Gurmukh Singh and his deceased-brother, Surmukh Singh made an appeal to the appellants not to pick up a quarrel and that they may settle the dispute in Court. But the appellants advanced towards the tractor driven by Gurvinder Singh and Jassa Singh fired a shot at Surmukh Singh. Appellant-Bakha Singh also fired a shot at Surmukh Singh. Surmukh Singh fell down on the ground. Appellant-Sukha Singh also fired a shot at Surmukh Singh with his 12 bore gun. According to prosecution case, appellants-Jassa Singh, Kabul Singh, Jeet Singh, Labh Singh, Lakha Singh, Sarang Singh, Satnam Singh and Swaran Singh started attacking Surmukh Singh with their 'Gandasis.' Appellants-Bakha Singh and Sukha Singh fired shots at others also and some of them took shelter behind the ridge of the field. Thereafter, all the appellants went away from the scene. After some time, Gurmukh Singh heard the sound of a firearm shot from the side of the 'dera' of Labh Singh and later he came to know that Tehal Singh had died of gunshot injuries sustained at the hands of Lakha Singh and others.
(3.)Gurmukh Singh gave First Information Statement before the Police, which was recorded by Jarnail Singh, Asstt. Sub-Inspector. The Asstt. Sub-Inspector immediately reached the place of occurrence and made arrangements for taking photographs. P.W. 25, Rohtash Singh, the Station House Officer visited the place of occurrence and prepared the inquest over the dead bodies of Surmukh Singh and Tehal Singh. The statement of P.W. 14, Darbara Singh, was recorded by Rohtash Singh. Darbara Singh stated that at about 6.15 p.m., he along with his son Gurdev Singh went to the 'dera' of Resham Singh where Tehal Singh and Kuldeep Singh had also come in search of some labourers for planting paddy on the next day. When P.W. 14, Darbara Singh reached near the field of Resham Singh, appellants-Bakha Singh, Jassa Singh, Lakha Singh and Sukha Singh came running to that place. Bakha Singh and Sukha Singh were armed with guns and Jassa Singh and Lakha Singh were armed with 'Gandasis.' Bakha Singh fired two shots at Tehal Singh and Sukha Singh also fired a shot at Tehal Singh. P.W. 14 Darbara Singh and his son Gurdev Singh made a hue and cry and the appellants ran away from the place of occurrence with their weapons.