Sethi, J. -
(1.)Though sad, yet it is a fact that people do not hesitate in resorting to vengeance even on the unfortunate deaths of their nears and dears. There is a tendency to rope in as many people as possible for facing the trial relating to the death or injuries to the unfortunate victims. Sometimes it is over -enthusiasm and many a times designed effort to harass the relations and friends of the real culprits. It has been found that on occasions innocent persons including aged, infirm, ladies and children are booked for standing at the dock and remain confined in jails till the pendency of the cases. Some are acquitted by the trial Court and many by the appellate Courts but only after their languishing in confinements for years. Such efforts of unscrupulous survivors of the crime or the relations of the victims invariably but unfortunately helps the real culprits as it becomes difficult for the Court to sift the grain out of the chaff. Under such circumstances and in view of the prevalent criminal jurisprudential system in the country, the doctrine of presumption of innocence in favour of the accused makes the justice itself a victim which ultimately weakens the criminal justice dispensation system. Be that as it may, on onerous duty is cast upon the criminal Courts in the country to ensure that no innocent is convicted and deprived of his fundamental liberties. However, in cases of group clashes and organised crimes, persons beyond the screen, executing the crime should not be allowed to get scot free. In cases involving number of accused persons, a balance approach by the Courts is required to be insisted upon. Neither any innocent person should be convicted nor a guilty acquitted under the cloak and cover of the loose and liberal interpretations of the statutory provisions and the technicalities of procedural wrangles. In cases of arson and murder where large number of people are accused of committing the crime, the Courts should be cautious to rely upon the testimony of witnesses speaking generally and in an omnibus way without specific reference to the accused or the role played by them.
(2.)For the death of Vijay Singh aged 16 years and for attempting to murder Sanuj Singh (PW5) 12 persons including the appellants were tried for offences punishable under Sections 302, 149, 307 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 27 of the Arms Act. All the accused belong to one clan and very closely related to each other. The trial Court convicted all of them under Sections 302, 307 read with Section 149, IPC and under Section 27 of the Arms Act and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for life under Section 302 and 3 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 27 of the Arms Act. No separate sentence was passed for the offence under Section 307 in view of the life imprisonment. Appeal filed by the accused persons were dismissed by the High Court vide judgment impugned in this case. In these appeals all the accused persons, except Awadhesh Singh (A -11) have challenged the judgments of the Courts below.
(3.)It was alleged by the prosecution that on the day of Shravan Purnima falling on 25th August, 1991 at about 5 p.m. the deceased Vijay Singh along with Sanuj Singh (PW5) had gone to Thakurbari situated at Tarawanna Khanda of Village Dhanawana for offering puja in the temple on the occasion of Raksha Bandan. While they were in the temple, all the accused persons, armed with fire arms, came firing from all the directions. On the extortion of Ram Nandan Singh (A1), Jawahar Singh (A -2) fired from his gun at Vijay Singh who was injured and fell near the well outside Thakurbari. When Sanuj Singh (PW5) started running towards South, he was also fired at by Upender Singh (A -3), in consequence of which he also fall in the field. Thereafter Upender Singh further assaulted Sanuj Singh by the butt of his fire arm. The occurrence is stated to have been witnessed by witnesses, namely, Kamala Singh (PW2), Bankey Singh (PW2) Gano Singh (PW4) and Brij Nandan Singh (PW7) who claimed to be working in nearby fields and had seen the occurrence from behind the "punj" of husk near the Thakubari. On commotion the accused persons ran away towards the village. Vijay Singh succumbed to his injuries on the spot and Sanuj Singh was taken to Hospital at Sarmera. After reaching the hospital, the witnesses came back to the place of occurrence where the dead body of Vijay Singh was lying. The police is stated to have come at the place of occurrence at about 2. 30 a.m. When the statement of Brij Nandan Singh was recorded and FIR registered. Besides the five eye - witnesses, the prosecution examined six other witnesses. Dr. B.P. Verma (PW3) has conducted the post- mortem on the dead body of Vijay Singh and Dr. Anjani Kumar (PW9) examined the injured person Sanuj Singh, Dr. S.K. Jha (PW11) treated Sanuj Singh after he was referred to Biharsharif Hospital for treatment. The evidence of PW6 was tendered by the prosecution whereas PW8 is the Investigating Officer and PW10 is the X- Ray Technician.