(1.)Accused no. 5, who stood charged along with four others under sections 148/447 /302/307/323/1491 PC before the learned additional sessions judge, bhatinda in S. C no. 82 of 14.10. 91 RT 9 of 30. 10. 92 and was acquitted by the trial court, but, on an appeal by the state, convicted by a division bench of the High court of Punjab and Haryana in criminal appeal no. 56- DBA of 1996, is the appellant before us.
(2.)The case of the prosecution , as disclosed from the evidence led in is that : pw-3, along with his wife, his brother kaka Singh , the deceased and his wife accompanied by a labourer had gone for picking cotton in their lands and as they were in the process of doing so, Gurjant singh , (the appellant herein) , and Atma singh armed with "gandasas", Gurbax singh and Bachint Singh armed with 'spears', Geja Singh and three more persons armed with 'dangs' arrived on the spot and Atma Singh raised a lalkara that the complainant party be taught a lesson for buying their land and he gave gandasa blow to Kaka Singh on the left 'side of his head. The appellant was said to have given two gandasa blows on the head. Gurbax Singh was said to have given a spear blow on the left flank of kaka Singh. Bachint Singh gave a spear blow to PW-3 and a second blow in the portion above the navel and PW-3 fell down. Geja Singh was said to have given a dang blow on his head and left arm. The three persons who accompanied them, were also said to have given dang blows and on raising an alarm by the labourer chand Ram and the two ladies, the accused persons fled away with their weapons. Soon after the occurrence , the injured were said to have been taken to the primary health centre, Goniana and on the way Kaka Singh died. At the suggestion of the doctor, PW-3 Nachhattar singh was said to have been taken to and got admitted in the civil hospital at bhatinda and PW-5 recorded the statement of PW-3 in the hospital. On the basis of the statement recorded in the hospital at about 2.30 p. m. , the F. I. R. was said to have been recorded at police station Nehianwala at 3.15 p. m. and there upon PW-5 under took investigation.
(3.)Atma Singh and Bachint Singh were said to have been arrested on 28.10. 1990. In the course of investigation, atma Singh was said to have made a statement pursuant to which 'gandasa' , exhibit P-5 was recovered. Bachint singh was said to have made a disclosure statement, pursuant to which the 'spear' used, exhibit P-6 was recovered. A few days later, on 5.11.1990, the appellant and Geja Singh were arrested and while steps were being taken to declare gurbax Singh as a proclaimed offender, he surrendered on February 4,1991. On the basis of materials gathered during the investigation, the charge-sheet has been filed, as indicated above against the accused in respect of the occurrence which was said to have taken place on 15.10. 1990 at about 9.30 a. m. in the fields of Chatin Singh in village khialiwala. The learned trial judge, on a consideration of the materials placed on record did come to a positive conclusion that there is nothing to disbelieve the evidence of PW-3 and his testimony rather inspires confidence. Taken together, the medical evidence tendered by PWs. 1 and 2 and the recovery of the gandasa, exhibit P-5 and spear, exhibit P-6 were also found to lend corroboration to the statement about the occurrence which resulted in the death of Kaka Singh. The learned trial judge, at the same time, in our view, not justifiably declined to undertake a discussion about the common intention. So far as the motive part of it is concerned, the learned trial judge also found that it was proved on record that the land dispute existed between the parties and previous enmity was also proved on account of the murder of the brother of one of the accused i. e. Gurjant Singh by PW-3 etc. , and that it is normally seen that rustic villagers for the sake of land particularly with regard to the possession of land often commit such type of crimes and that a strong motive has been proved by crystal clear evidence. Despite coming to such a conclusion, the learned trial judge seems to have been swayed by the fact that no weapon was recovered from the appellant, that the complainant party had a grouse to involve the appellant for his having been a witness in the criminal case involving the murder of his brother Teja Singh previously and that the investigating officer initially felt that there was no case made out against him, to entertain a doubt about his actual involvement and extend to him the benefit of doubt by acquitting the appellant of the charge against him. The learned trial judge, thus, by his judgment dated 17. 04.1995 acquitted A-3 Gurbax singh, A-4 Geja Singh and A-5 Gurjant singh, the appellant. So far as A-2 bachint Singh is concerned, he was convicted for an offence under section 307 ipc and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of five years and to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- in default of payment of which, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of two months. So far as A-1 Atma Singh is concerned, he was found guilty of the offence under section 302 IPC and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000/- in default of payment of which, to undergo a further imprisonment for a period of three months.