1. Pritam Singh and Bakhtwar Singh, both of village Dhurkot Ransin, not in any way related to each other but united merely by bond of friendship, were brought to trial under Section 302/34, I.P.C. before the learned Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, Pritam Singh on conviction under Section 302, I.P.C. has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Being of the view that there was no common intention to cause the murder of the deceased Jhanda Singh, the learned Judge has sentenced the second appellant Bakhtawar Singh to a term of four and a half years' rigorous imprisonment under Sections 326/34, I.P.C. Both the convicts have been represented in this Court by Mr. Mehra, who has argued the appeal on their behalf. There is also a revision petition (Criminal Revn. No. 410 of 1967) for enhancement of the sentence awarded to the appellants. This judgment will dispose of both the appeal and the revision petition,
2. Pritam Singh, appellant, is the nephew of Jhanda Singh, deceased, his fattier LalSingh being the brother of Jhanda Singh Karnail Singh, also a nephew of Jhanda Singh, was murdered about 10/12 years ago; Pritam Singh with his brothers Kalla Singh and Sita Singh were prosecuted for this crime, and Jhanda Singh, deceased, appeared as a prosecution witness. While Kalla Singh was found guilty and actually sentenced to death, Pritam Singh and Sita Singh were acquitted though in the first instance they were also sentenced to imprisonment for life. Kokra Singh, another brother of Jhanda Singh, had made a gift of his landed property in favour of Kalla Singh and Jhanda Singh had successfully challenged this alienation. Jhanda Singh had initiated partition proceedings against Lal Singh, father of Pritam Singh, appellant, in 1964 and Jhanda Singh was to appear in the Court of the Assistant Collector, Moga, on 25th of April, 1966. On that day, Pritam Singh had also to appear in a Court in Moga in a complaint case which had been brought by him against one Dev Singh, and the second appellant Bakhtawar Singh had already been examined as a prosecution witness.
3. Jhanda Singh, accompanied by his son Jodh Singh, was on his way from Dhurkot to Moga in the early morning of 25th of April, 1966. At 7 a.m., they had reached as far as Baude, which is at a distance of about 3 miles from Dhurkot; the busstop from where a bus had to be boarded was only a few karams from Baude village where the occurrence took place. At a distance of 40 karams from the kotha of one Arjan Singh, the two appellants, armed with a gandasa each, came out from behind the reeds along the path and attacked Jhanda Singh with their weapons. While only one injury was given by Pritam Singh from the blade of the gandasa, the remaining seven blows were aimed from the wrong sides of the gandasas by the two appellants. A fairly consistent version has been given about the assault by Jodh Singh and Hardayal Singh, also a resident of Dhurkot and on his way to Moga to attend some business of his own in Court. Pritam Singh initiated the attack by giving a gandasa blow on the right ear.
The second, third and fourth blows of Pritam Singh given from the wrong side of the gandasa were on the head, chin and right arm of Jhanda Singh. Bakhtawar Singh gave two injuries with the wrong side of the gandasa on the right deltoid while the third and fourth injuries were on the mouth and right eye of Thanda Singh, all given from the wrong side of the gandasa. By the impact of the blows given by Bakhtawar Singh the handle of the gandasa (Ext. PO-1) got separated from the blade (Ext. PO-2) and both of these were left behind. Pritam Singh carried away his gandasa with him. There was also spilling of blood at the spot where the assault took place. Jodh Singh leaving behind Hardayal Singh ran towards his village to fetch his tractor trolley and he had gone about 150 karams from there when Dalip Singh also a cultivator of Dhurkot, met him in the way.
Jodh Singh related the occurrence to Dalip Singh and requested him to bring his tractor-trolley from the village. Dalip Singh went to village Dhurkot and brought the tractor-trolley driven by Gurbachan Singh, brother of Jodh Singh. Jagrup Singh and Dalip Singh also came in the trolley. Jhanda Singh bled profusely and had become unconscious. He was placed on a cot which had been brought from a house belonging to the carpenters in the neighbourhood. On arrival of the tractor-trolley Jhanda Singh was placed in it with a cot and they proceeded towards Civil Hospital, Moga, at a slow speed. The party reached Moga Hospital, which is at a distance of 16-17 miles from Baude, at about 10-50 a.m. He was examined at about 11 a.m. by Dr. Kuldip Singh, Radiologist, and he found eight injuries on his person, one being an incised wound on the right side of the face, four lacerated wounds, two contusions and one abrasion.
He was unconscious and not in a fit condition to make a statement. There were three grievous injuries, besides the first injury on the right ear. Information was sent by Dr. Kuldip Singh to the police station, which is at a distance of about one and a half furlongs from the hospital at 11-30 a.m. On account of the critical condition of Jhanda Singh he was advised treatment at the V. J. Hospital, Amritsar, where he was taken by Jodh Singh. Jhanda Singh succumbed to his injuries and died at Amritsar on 29th of April, 1966 at 10 p.m.
4. Dr. Narinder Mohan, who performed the post-mortem on the body of Jhanda Singh on 1st May, 1966, found eight injuries, most of which had been stitched. Death, in his opinion, was due to shock and haemorrhage as a result of the third injury in the temporal region which was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. In the doctor's opinion, the deceased may have become unconscious 5-10 minutes after the receipt of the injuries.
5. Kamakar Singh, Head Constable of Police Station, Moga, on receipt of the medico-legal certificate at about 12 noon went to the hospital and found Jhanda Singh lying unconscious. He waited a little while and then returned to the police station. He again went to the hospital at about 2-15 P. M, and Jhanda Singh was still unconscious. It was then that Jodh Singh's statement was recorded which is the basis of the formal first information report of the occurrence which was lodged at Nihalsinghwala Police Station, at a distance of four miles from Baude.
6. Assistant Sub-Inspector Mohkam Singh of Police Station Nihalsinghwala was in village Bir Badhnian on 25th April 1966, when the first information report was received at the police station and proceeded to the spot at about 8-30 p.m. for investigation. He found Dalip Singh who had been left behind as also Hardayal Singh who had gone with Jhanda Singh in the tractor-trolley and had returned to the scene of occurrence in the evening, guarding the spot. Bloodstained earth was taken into possession and also the handle (Exhibit PO-1) and the blade (Ext. PO-2) of the gandasa which were lying there. The hole in the broken end of the handle fitted 'with the holes in the ends of the blade'. Statements of Dalip Singh and Hardayal Singh were recorded by the A.S.I. Mohkam Singh who searched for the accused in village Dhurkot and other villages but they were not available. On 29th of April 1966, he had gone in search of the accused to village Dhurkot and found them in the kotha of Mahla Singh in the fields, about a mile from the village. Both the appellants were taken into custody and the chaddars (Exhibits PO-4 and PO-5) worn by Bakhtawar Singh and Pritam Singh, respectively, were taken into possession as they were stained with blood. The chaddars worn by the accused, the bloodstained earth recovered from the spot and also the dang and blade of the gandasa taken into possession from the scene of occurrence, were all found to be stained with human blood by the Serologist, according to his report, Ext. P-19.
7. In the statements made by the appellants under Section 342, Cr.P.C. the murder of Karnail Singh and the conviction and sentence of death of Kalla Singh therefor has been admitted, as also the sentences imposed on Pritam Singh and his brother Sita Singh. It is further admitted that the gift made by Kokra Singh to Kala Singh was successfully challenged by the deceased Jhanda Singh. It is also not denied that the deceased Jhanda Singh had a date in Court on 25th of April, 1966, in the partition proceedings which he had instituted against Lal Singh. Pritam Singh's own business in Court at Moga on 25th April, 1966, likewise, has not been denied. The actual assault and its consequential results have not been admitted by the appellants, nor their arrest with the bloodstained clothes on 29th April, 1966.
So far as Pritam Singh is concerned, he attributed the case against him to the hostility of Jodh Singh, son of the deceased, on account of the murder of Karnail Singh. According to him, he was arrested actually by the police on 25th April, 1966, from Mogha where he had gone to attend his case, but was placed in handcuffs some days later. Bakhtawar Singh, the second appellant, has attributed the case to his enmity with Hardayal Singh, who, according to him, has projected himself into an eyewitness to settle old scores. One Malkiat Singh, cousin of Hardayal Singh, was prosecuted for keeping an unlawful pistol and Bakhtawar Singh had appeared as a witness against him. Malkiat Singh was again prosecuted for possession of illicit arms and Balwant Singh, a first cousin of Bakhtawar Singh, was a prosecution witness against him. So far as this aspect of the defence of Bakhtawar Singh is concerned, it would be well to point out that he has 3 other adult brothers and father living with him in the village. As to why he should have been singled out of these relatives for false implication has not been explained.
8. From Jodh Singh, P.W. 4, who appeared as an eye-witness, it was sought to be elicited that Jhanda Singh had other enemies and it has been very strenuously urged by Mr. Mehra that the possibility of Jhanda Singh being murdered while he was alone by some unknown person cannot be ruled out. If that had been so, the telltale parts of the gandasa which had separated would not have been left behind at the scene of occurrence. It is urged that Jodh Singh was not an eye-witness and subsequently on information being received of Jhanda Singh's murder, the appellants have been implicated. We do not think that there is any justification for this submission. The deceased, the accused and the witnesses had their common destination, on the morning of 25th of April, 1966, all of them coincidentally having to attend, different Courts in Moga in their respective causes. Baude village, only three miles, from Dhurkot, had a bus-stop from where public vehicles ply for Moga. Jodh Singh. was accompanying his old father who had business before the Assistant Collector and there is nothing unnatural in his accompanying him to that place.
9. Much has been made of the statement of Dr. Kuldip Singh who examined Jhanda Singh on his arrival in the Moga Hospital at 11 a.m. on 25th April, 1966, that the person who accompanied Jhanda Singh was Jagrup Singh. Now, Jodh Singh has explained that he had gone to purchase-medicines soon after his arrival at the hospital and that is why Jagrup Singh alone was present at the hospital at the time when he was first examined by Dr. Kuldip Singh. It has also been pointed out that Kamakar Singh, head constable who first came to the hospital at 12 noon, did not find Jodh Singh there and it was only on his second visit at 2-15 p.m. that the statement of Jodh Singh was recorded. On his first visit Kamakar Singh found Jhanda Singh in Article unconscious condition and nobody was. there to tell him anything about the occurrence. Naturally, he came back to the-police station.
The explanation of Jodh Singh that he had gone to fetch medicines appears to be reasonable in the circumstances. No presumption can arise that Jodh Singh did not come with Jhanda Singh to the hospital and only came there later when the report of the occurrence was given after thought and deliberation. Mr. Mehra has also urged that if Jodh Singh had in fact reached the hospital earlier at 11 a.m., he could have gone to the police station himself to make the statement. Now, he was more concerned with the condition of his father and he may well have thought that he may recover his consciousness to give his own statement to the police as a first information report. It has not been disputed that Jhanda Singh never regained his consciousness once he lost it after the assault.
10. The statement of Jodh Singh finds corroboration in the testimony of Dalip Singh, P.W. 10, also a resident of Dhurkot Ransian, whose disinterestedness in the whole affair does not appear to have been doubted. According to Dalip Singh, he was on his way to Moga at about 7 a.m. when he found Jodh Singh at a distance of 150 karams from Baude, running in the direction of the village. On enquiry, Jodh Singh told him that Pritam Singh and Bakhtawar Singh had assaulted his father and requested Dalip Singh to fetch his tractor-trolley. Dalip Singh acceded to the request and himself brought the tractor-trolley which was driven by Gurbachan Singh, brother of Jodh Singh, and Jagrup Singh also accompanied them. Dalip Singh remained at the scene of occurrence while the others proceeded to Moga. He witnessed the recovery of bloodstained earth and the handle and blade of the gandasa (Exts. PO-1 and PO-2) after the police had arrived at the scene at about 8-30 p.m. Hardayal Singh, who had gone to Moga, also returned in the evening and both he and Dalip Singh were present when the police arrived at the scene of occurrence for investigation.
Dalip Singh's business in Moga, unlike those of the deceased, the accused and other witnesses, was to obtain cement from there. The only flaw on which emphasis has been laid is that Dalip Singh's return to village Dhurkot to bring the tractor-trolley has not been mentioned in his police statement or the first information report. Dalip Singh also witnessed the arrest of the accused persons on 29th April, 1966, and truly speaking, there is nothing in his statement or cross-examination to invite the criticism that he is a partisan witness and has deposed about matters which he did not witness. We accept the evidence of Dalip Singh unreservedly and in agreement with the learned Sessions Judge we regard it as an important wing of the prosecution case.
11. The long arm of coincidence also brought in Hardayal Singh, P.W. 5, at about 7 a.m. near the scene of occurrence. He left Dhurkot, from where he hails, at 6-30 a.m. and Jhanda Singh with his son was just ahead of him when the appellants suddenly emerged from the reeds in Baude village at 7-30 a.m. The version of the occurrence given by this witness tallies with those of others. This witness saw his counsel at Moga in connection with a case pending against him in the Court. For this reason, he did not accompany the party of the deceased to the hospital. According to him nobody from village Baude came near the scene of occurrence. Like the other witnesses, Hardayal Singh says that Jagrup Singh, Gurbachan Singh and Dalip Singh came back in the tractor-trolley and they all went in it to the hospital in Moga, leaving only Dalip Singh at the scene of occurrence, Malkiat Singh, his cousin, may have been convicted under Section 25 of the Arms Act, according to this witness. He was not in a position to say if Bakhta-war Singh, appellant, was a witness in that case. Details of some other litigation were brought out in cross-examination of Hardayal Singh, but they are not indicative of the hostility between him and Bakhtawar Singh. After finishing his business in Moga, he came back to the spot and awaited the arrival of the police along with Dalip Singh.
12. Jit Singh, P.W. 11 of Dhurkot, who joined the investigation, has supported the recoveries of the chaddars from the persons of the appellants when they were arrested on 29th of April, 1966.
13. That Bakhtawar Singh appellant had been examined in the case State v. Dev Singh has been proved by Har Gopal (P. W. 13) Ahlmad of the Court of Shri Gurdial Singh, Judicial Magistrate, Moga. The pedency of this litigation is admitted by the appellant Pritam Singh who had to attend the Court on this account on 25th of April, 1966.
14. The required attendance of Jhanda Singh in the Court of Moga on 25th of April, 1966, is also proved by Chandar Parkash, Moharrir Judicial, P. W. 14. The investigating officers, Kamakar Singh P. W. 15 and Mohkam Singh P. W. 16 have supported the prosecution and the broad aspects of their testimony have been adverted to.
15. Mr. Mehra has very strongly contended that the prosecution case suffers from the inherent defect of unnaturalness and improbability. It has been pressed before us that an old man like the deceased could have been waylaid by a single person and later on the crime was foisted on the appellants as a result of enmity. The plea of improbability can be pressed into service in many criminal cases like the present one. The veracity of the prosecution case is to be judged by the reliability of the witnesses who have deposed about the occurrence. If the witnesses are natural and have given a consistent, straightforward and unbiased account, their evidence is not to be discredited on the ground that a rational-minded accused would not behave or act in the manner stated by these witnesses. There are various ways in which a Court can assure itself that the case presented by the prosecution is concocted or substantially embellished.
If the villagers of Baude did not come forward to depose about the occurrence no inference can be drawn that the assailants did not commit the crime. The appellants, according to the prosecution case managed to escape but the component parts of the weapon of offence in the hands of Bakhtawar Singh were left behind to tell their own tale. It is also submitted by Mr. Mehra that if the murder had taken place on account of a vendetta, the younger man (Jodh Singh) should have been the target and not Jhanda Singh himself. The prosecution story is not to be subjected to the critical and meticulous test of rationalism. It is the experience of Criminal Courts that criminals who are brought to trial seldom act rationally and the motive in most cases is such that it would not impel an ordinary thinking individual to commit the crime.
16. Mr. Mehra has asked us to discredit the story of the tractor-trolley being brought from Dhurkot by Dalip Singh. It is suggested that it was easier for Jodh Singh to have got a vehicle of this description from Baude village. Now, Jodh Singh had a tractor-trolley of his own and may have considered it a futile exercise resulting in delay to make enquiries from Baude village about the loan of a tractor-trolley. He may have thought it more expedient and speedier to obtain his own vehicle from the village though it was three miles away from the scene of occurrence.
17. We do not think that there is any scope to interfere with the conviction of Pritam Singh appellant once we accept the ocular testimony of the witnesses. The gandasa, it is submitted, was never used by him from its right side except for one injury. The vital part was not involved and it is possible that chastisement of Jhanda Singh was the only motive of assault. The injuries, according to the doctor, were sufficient to cause death, and it made Jhanda Singh unconscious from the time he received them. We are of the opinion that the convictions of the two appellants are well-based. Bakhtawar Singh has been given the benefit of the submission that death may not have been the common intention of the two accused. The sentence of four and a half years' rigorous imprisonment imposed on Bakhtawar Singh under Section 326/34, Indian Penal Code, is not unreasonable. We find no force in this appeal which fails and is dismissed. Nor do we see any reason to enhance the sentences imposed on Pritam Singh and Bakhtawar Singh. The petition for enhancement also fails and is dismissed.