1. These are two similar appeals by the State in cases in which the respective respondents, Jagir Singh and Ujagar Singh, were prosecuted under Section 61(1)(a), Excise Act and were acquitted on the same day, 29-10-1952, by the same learned Magistrate.
2. The facts in both the cases are almost identical, the allegations being that on 12-6-1952 a raiding party was organized by Excise Sub-Inspector Harbhajan Singh P. W. 1 and Sub-Inspector Jaswant Rai P. W, 2, Ghulam Massih Lambardar of Chetewani and Subedar Kartar Singh of Lallan Kalan, P. Ws. being included in the party, and a series of raids were carried out at Lalian Kalan the village to which both the accused belong. The evidence in both the cases is to the effect that the accused when interrogated both made statements that they had buried two pitchers of 'lahan' under trees situated in their respective fields. On this information the official and non-official witnesses went to the fields in question and duly recovered the pitchers of 'lahan' from the places where they were buried under the trees. Both the accused denied their guilt end denied having made the statements attributed to them, and also denied the alleged recoveries from the place in question. Ujagar Singh added that he had been implicated through the enmity of Subedar Kartar Singh of his village and produced two witnesses from the village who said that the pitchers of 'lahan' were brought from a 'taur' at some distance from the field of the accused, which apparently is a field jointly cultivated by the accused, his father and brothers.
In the other cases Jagir Singh produced two witnesses one of whom merely said that he was of good character while the other witness said that the pitchers of 'lahan' which were alleged to have been recovered from under the tree in the field were in fact brought from the village.
3. In neither case would it appear that the defence evidence was deserving of very serious consideration, nor was there any apparent reason for doubting the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses. The learned Magistrate, however, acquitted the accused in both cases on the strength of a decision of this Court by Khosla and Soni JJ. reported in -- 'Lachhman Singh v. The State', AIR 1951 Punj 135 (A). This decision related to five revision petitions by various accused who had been convicted of the possession of excisable articles as the result of a series of raids which were carried out in their village on the same day as in the present case. From a perusal of this judgment, however, I cannot find that any definite principle of law is laid down therein and the petitioners in that case appear to have been acquitted on various grounds. In some of the cases it seems to have been because the learned Judges did not rely really on the prosecution evidence and were of the opinion that when such a lot of raids were being carried out in a village where illicit distillation was evidently carried on on a large scale, the accused when giving information as to the hiding places of articles such as pitchers of 'lahan', might merely have been stating what they knew and not in any sense admitting their own possession of these incriminating articles. In the present eases I cannot see any reason for disbelieving the evidence that the accused both stated that they themselves had buried the pitchers of 'lahan' under trees in their family fields and that the pitchers of 'lahan' were recovered in consequence of these statements, which is sufficient to establish their conscious possession of the articles in question.
I would accordingly accept the appeals filed by the State and convict both the respondents under Section 61(1)(a), Excise Act and sentence each of them to pay a fine of Rs. 100/- or in default to undergo three months' rigorous imprisonment. The respondents must surrender to their bail bonds, which will be cancelled if the fines are paid, and otherwise they must be sent to jail to undergo their terms of imprisonment in default.
4. I am of the same opinion.