STATE OF PUNJAB Vs. JUGRAJ SINGH
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PUNJAB & HARYANA)
STATE OF PUNJAB
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Sethi, J. -
(1.)Both the appeals have been filed against the judgment of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana by which the judgment of the trial Court, convicting the respondents, was set aside and they were acquitted of the charge of murder and for offences under the Arms Act. The High court is alleged to have adopted an erroneous approach in appreciating the facts and the points of law involved in the case. The conclusions arrived at by the High Court are stated to be based on surmises and conjectures rather than on facts and circumstances of the case. The prosecution is stated to have proved the case against the respondents beyond all reasonable doubts. The High Court is shown to have committed a mistake of law by substituting its opinion for the opinion of the medical expert and then discarding the testimony of the two eye-witnesses of the occurrence.
(2.)The facts of the case reflect the horrifying situation prevalent in the country where the prosecution witnesses and their relations incur the risk of lives and sometimes actually lose their lives for deposing truth in a Court of law. Two unfortunate sons of Jagdip Singh, namely, Gurtej Singh aged 22 years and Soudagar Singh aged 24 years had to pay the price by losing their lives for the fault of their father having appeared as a witness against the respondents herein in a case in which Jugraj Singh, respondent and his companions had been convicted for the offence of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Though the enmity between the parties was not disputed and the homicidal death of Gurtej Singh and Sodagar Singh proved beyond doubt, yet the High Court, adopting hyper-technical approach, acquitted the accused vide the judgment impugned in these appeals.
(3.)The relevant facts for the purposes of deciding these appeals are that on 23rd October, 1989 Hardip Singh (PW. 2), his nephews Gurtej Singh (deceased), Sodagar Singh (deceased and Sarabjit Singh (P.W. 3) had gone to work in their field known as Bangiwala field. At about 5 p.m. when they were planning to return back to their houses, the respondents Jugraj Singh, armed with a Double Barrel Gun, Narinder Singh alias Naginder Singh, armed with another Double Barrel Gun and Avtar Singh, armed with Gandasa (a sharp edged weapon) came out from the adjoining fields. Jugraj Singh raised a Lalkara that sons of Jagdip Singh (who had appeared as a witness in a murder case against him) should not go alive. He fired a shot from his gun which hit Gurtej Singh on his head. Narinder Singh fired another shot which hit Sodagar Singh in the head near the left eye. Both Gurtej Singh and Sodagar Singh fell on the ground. Jugraj Singh and Narinder Singh thereafter fired one more shot each aiming at their targets. Avtar Singh gave Gandasa blow to Gurtej Singh. Hardip Singh (PW. 2) and Sarabjit Singh (PW. 3) who raised a hue and cry were fired at by Jugraj Singh and Narinder Singh from their armed weapons. Both the witnesses ran away from the place of occurrence and while they were running, they heard the sound of two more fire shots. Hardip Singh reached home and narrated the occurrence to his uncle Amar Singh and the women folk of the family. Hardip Singh and Amar Singh thereafter went to Police Station, Raman which was about 7 kilometers from the place of occurrence and lodged the Firtst Information Report, Exh. PJ. Hardip Singh (P.W. 2) along with ASI Jangir Singh and other police officials reached the spot where the inquest report was prepared and other formalities completed. The seized articles including turban of Gurtej Singh which had corresponding holes of pellets. All the articles recovered from the place of occurrence were taken into possession vide Memo Exh. PR. The accused were not traceable and were arrested only on 25th October, 1989. One Double Barrel Gun was recovered from Narinder Singh which was taken into possession vide Memo Exhibit PU, Jugraj Singh respondent made a disclosure statement regarding the possession of the gun and cartridges which was consequently recovered and sealed. On the disclosure statement made by Avtar Singh, the Gandasa was recovered. On completion of the investigation a charge-sheet was filed against the accused persons in the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Bhatinda. They pleaded not guilt and after completion of trial, the trial Court convicted the respondents under S. 302/34, IPC and Ss. 25 and 30 of the Arms Act and sentenced them to life imprisonment for the main offence. In appeal filed by the respondents before the High Court, the judgment of the trial Court was set aside and the respondents acquitted of the charges. Not satisfied with the acquittal of the respondents, the State has preferred Criminal Appeal No. 287 of 1997 and Hardip Singh (PW. 2) has filed Criminal Appeal No. 288 of 1997.
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