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Amrik Singh Vs. the State of Punjab - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Reported in1983CriLJ1405
AppellantAmrik Singh
RespondentThe State of Punjab
.....or regional transport authority has not communicated the order of refusal passed to the persons concerned, the period of limitation for filing an appeal would commence from the date when the parties concerned acquire knowledge of passing of the said order. - on the direction of the saint, harjit started akhand path at his house at village rang on 22nd june, 1979. wasawa singh, resident of veein pooin, first cousin of harjit singh's wife was not on good terms with harjit singh. when he reached near the fields of wasawa singh in the area of village veein pooin, wasawa singh along with his son jaimal singh besides boota singh and sulakhan singh were present in their fields and were taking toori (wheat chaff) to the tube-well. moreover, the persons like gulzar singh can be procured by surround the riders. my companions who were sitting separately surrounded the riders. balbir singh constable was in charge of that party. balbir singh constable caught the mare from the rein, but the rider of the mare in order to release the rein gave a kirpan blow to balbir singh, thereafter he dismounted the mare. he also grappled with balbir singh constable. he then exhorted his companion to what he was waiting for and. thereafter, the other rider took out a pistol from his dub and fired at balbir singh but it ac-cidently hit harjit singh. the other rider then escaped leaving behind his mare. harjit singh died at the spot. the mare of harjit singh deceased was loaded with two tubes of illicit - liquor and that of his companion, with one tube, i took into possession the tubes of.....

A.S. Bains, J.

1. Amrik Singh, Head Constable of the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Amritsar, has been convicted under Section 302, Indian Penal Code, and sentenced to imprisonment for life for the murder of Harjit Singh of village Kang committed on 23rd June, 1979 in the area of village Veein Pooin, by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Amritsar. He has challenged his conviction and sentence by way of this appeal.

2. Briefly stated the prosecution case as set up at the trial was that Harjit Singh (since deceased) was an Ex-army man and had settled as his village after his release from the Army for the last three years prior to his murder. He had three daughters. He became a follower of a Saint known as Sant Sangh-ranwala in order to get a son born in his family. The Saint forbade him from taking non-vegetarian food so that he may be blessed with a son. Harjit became teetotaler and used to visit the Dera of the Saint, Ultimately. God blessed him with a son, who was 11/2 years old at the time of this occurrence. On the direction of the Saint, Harjit started Akhand Path at his house at village Rang on 22nd June, 1979. Wasawa Singh, resident of Veein pooin, first cousin of Harjit Singh's wife was not on good terms with Harjit Singh.

3. On the morning of 23rd June. 1979, Harjit Singh (since deceased) came to invite Wasawa Singh on the Bhog ceremony. When he reached near the fields of Wasawa Singh in the area of village Veein Pooin, Wasawa Singh along with his son Jaimal Singh besides Boota Singh and Sulakhan Singh were present in their fields and were taking Toori (Wheat chaff) to the tube-well. In the meanwhile. Head Constable Amrik Singh, appellant along with about seven constables, of Police post Fatehabad came on cycles that side. Sulakhan Singh and Wasawa Singh PWs Knew these police officials they being posted in their police Post and Amrik Singh Head Constable used to hold naka invariably on the culvert near to, their village. Amrik Singh appellant had a rifle with him and one of the constables was also having a rifle and the remaining constables were holding Dandas. The appellant and his companions surrounded Harjit Singh, who was riding a mare, and made him to come down. The appellant threatened Harjit Singh that he was a dealer in the illicit liquor but Harjit Singh (since deceased) replied that he was a teetotaler and had come to invite Wasawa Singh for the Bhog ceremony. The appellant then demanded money from Harjit Singh as a condition to release him. Harjit Singh refused to pay any money to the appellant, whereupon the appellant and his companions started abusing Harjit Singh. Harjit Singh also returned the abuses to the appellant and told him that when he did not deal in any such activity, why should he pay the money to the appellant. The companions of the appellant then asked the appellant to teach a lesson to Harjit Singh; who was abusing him. The appellant then fired a shot from his rifle on front side chest of Harjit Singh, who fell down dead. The appellant also placed the dead body of Harjit Singh on the mare and took him towards Police Post Fatehabad.

4. Wasawa Singh (P. W. 3) rushed towards the village of Harjit Singh deceased and informed Shrimati Labh Kaur (P. W. 2) about the murder of her son Hariit Singh and also narrated the occurrence to Labh' Kaur. Labh Kaur (P. W. 2) accompanied by her other sons came to Police Post Fatehabad, but they were pushed back and were told that the dead body of Harjit Singh was lving at, the place of occurrence. Labh Kaur PW then reached the place of occurrence, but the police took the dead body fop post-mortem examination. On the same night, the police brought the dead body to the village and demanded its cremation but Labh Kaur PW refused to do so unless her relations were intimated. On the next day the police came to the village and got the cremation done in their presence.

5. Labha Kaur (P, W. 2) approached the Deputy Superintendent of police and Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), who were camping at Khawaspur Rest House, she was assured that justice would be done in the case, but nothing fruitful came out from the assurances of the police officers. On the other hand, the occurrence in which Harjit Singh was murdered was shown as a police encounter and a case under Section 307. I, P.C. was registered against the dececased.

6. The autopsy on the dead body of Harjit Singh was performed by Dr. Amrik Singh Bhatia (P W 1) on 23rd June. 1979 at 2.00 p. m. and the doctor observed the following antemortem injuries on the dead body:

1. An inlet wound 1.5 cm x 1 cm oval in shape on the front of the left shoulder, 12 cm below the top of the shoulder. Margins of the wound were inverted and echymosed.

2. A lacerated outlet wound 3.5 cm x 2 cm on the back and left side of chest, 3.5 cm lateral to the mid line and 13 cm below shoulder. The margins of the wound were everted,

On dissection;

After piercing, the bullet entering to the left chest wall and then piercing the left second intercostal space and fracturing the second rib, rupturing the left pleura and left upper lobe of the lung through and through, then the bullet came out through injury No. 2 after fracturing the 4th rib in its back. There was free fluid blood about 250 cc in the left chest cavity. In his opinion, the death was due to shock and haemorrhage as a result of injury to left lung, which was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.

7. After losing all hopes at the hands of the police officers, Smt. Labh Kaur (P. W. 2) came to the Court, and lodged the complaint Ex. PB regarding the occurrence. Shri S.S. Sandhu, Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Tarn Taran vide his order dated 28th April, 1982. on the basis of the preliminary evidence produced by the complainant, committed the appellant to the Court of Session to stand his trial for an offence punishable under Section 302, Indian Penal Code, for having committed the murder of Harjit Singh.

8. At the trial, the appellant denied the prosecution allegations as false and gave his own version, which is as follows :-

In the morning of 23-6-1979 we had held a naka. At about 3.45 a. m. two persons were observed coming on mares. They were two Sikh persons. One was on red mare and the other was on white mare. 1 then directed my companions to surround the riders. My companions who were sitting separately surrounded the riders. Balbir Singh constable was in charge of that party. Balbir Singh constable caught the mare from the rein, but the rider of the mare in order to release the rein gave a kirpan blow to Balbir Singh, Thereafter he dismounted the mare. He also grappled with Balbir Singh constable. He then exhorted his companion to what he was waiting for and. thereafter, the other rider took out a pistol from his dub and fired at Balbir Singh but it ac-cidently hit Harjit Singh. The other rider then escaped leaving behind his mare. Harjit Singh died at the spot. The mare of Harjit Singh deceased was loaded with two tubes of illicit - liquor and that of his companion, with one tube, I took into possession the tubes of liquor and the mares and sent intimation Ejc, PL to the police station for registration of case under Section 307 IPC against the two riders. I then prepared inquest Ex PJ on the dead body of Harjit Singh I also sent ruqa to the police post. AS1 Surjit Singh came at 5.50 AM from the police Post. He then took into possession the mares and the tubes, and the kirpan. and got registered cases under the Excise Act. He then took the investigation in his hand.

He also produced in defence D. W. 1 S. I. Surjit Singh of Police Station Kotwali, Amritsar, who at the time of occurrence was posted as in charge. Police Post, Fatehabad, D. W. 2 Balbir Singh constable of police Postl Fatehabad, P. W. 3 Inspector Kartar Singh. C.I.A. Staff Goraya, who at the time of occurrence was posted as such at Tarn Taran, D. W. 4 Paramjit Singh Sandhu, Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), Hoshiarpur who at the time of occurrence was posted as Superintendent of Police (Detective), Amritsar, D. W. 5 Dr. Davinder Singh Mahajan, who at the relevant time was posted as Medical Officer, Primary Health 'Centre, Fatehabad. and medically examined Balbir Singh constable on 23rd June, 1979 at 6.00 a. m., D. W. 6 Head Constable Tilak Raj, who was posted as Moharrir Head Constable at Police Post, Fatehabad in the month of June, D. W. 7 Swaran Singh, Moharrir Constable, police Post. Fatehabad. D. W. 8 A. S. I. Karam Singh, who was posted as in charge of Police Post, Fatehabad on 26th April, 1980, and had entrusted one white mare to Gulzar Singh of village Fatehabad. D. W. 9 Gulzar Singh son of Labh Singh and D.W. 10 Raghubir Singh, who on 23rd June. 1979. was posted as Deputy Superintendent of Police. Tarn Taran. and had verified the investigation of the case F. I R. No. 166/79, dated 23-6-1979 under Section 307, IPC read with Section 25 of the Arms Act.

9. The complainant in this case is an old lady Smt. Labh Kaur (P. W. 2). mother of Harjit Singh deceased. She was informed about the commission of the murder of Harjit Singh by the appellant by Wasawa Singh (p. W. 3). Wasawa Singh and P. w. 4 Sulakhan Singh are the witnesses of the occurrence and they have supported the prosecution version as given in the,earlier part of the judgment. Their statements do not suffer from any infirmity and they are truthful witnesses and were present near the place of occurrence at the time of the occurrence. It is a case of high-handedness of the police where the defence was fabricated in order to escape the legal consequences of the murder of Hariit Singh by the appellant.

10. It was canvassed by Mr. Sibal, learned Counsel for the appellant, that there was delay in lodging the complaint and that no reliance can be placed on a version given by Wasawa Singh and Sulakhan Singh P.Ws. after a long time of about three months. No doubt, there is a delay in filing the complaint. The occurrence took place on 23rd June, 1979' at 4.15 a. m. and the complaint was filed by the old lady against the appellant in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate 1st Class. Tarn Taran on 18th Sept. 1979. But this delay is amply explained by the old lady and the eye-witnesses as the police had not registered the case and kept the old lady waiting for two or three months under the impression that the police shall take action against the culprits for the murder of her son but when the police did not take any action, then she was compelled to file a complaint. Thus, in our view, the delay in lodging the complaint in the present case is of no consequence. The defence version given by the appellant is a purely concocted and fantastic story and we are of the view that the trial Court has rightly discarded the same. The appellant has tried to explain the circumstances which led to the death of Harjit Singh, which are not at all probable and is a concocted story. It is on the record that Amrik Singh appellant, who was working as Head Constable at Police Post Fatehabad at the time of occurrence, along with his companions had left the Police Post at 2 a. m. on 23rd June, 1979 for patrol duty towards village Veein Pooin. They did not leave the Police post for holding naka as there is no entry regarding this. According to the appellant, the occurrence took place at 3.45 a. m. when they observed two mares coming on the path. They observed two Sikh persons on those mares. One of the mares was red and the other was white. The appellant then directed his companions to surround the riders. Balbir Singh constable caught the mare from rein on which the deceased was riding, but Har-jit Singh deceased in order to release the rein gave a kirpan blow to Balbir Singh constable. Thereafter, he dismounted the mare and grappled with Balbir Singh constable. The deceased then exhorted his companion as to what he was waiting for and then the other rider took out a pistol from his dub and fired at Balbir Singh constable but the shot accidentally hit the deceased. This defence version, to our mind, is highly improbable. Although the appellant and his companions were armed two of them with rifles and the remaining with Dan-das, but strangely enough when the deceased gave a kirpan blow to Balbir Singh constable, nobody on the accused's side used any weapon in self-defence. The injury suffered by Balbir Singh constable is a simple injury and could be self-suffered. It is also highly improbable that the other companion of the deceased had fired a shot from his pistol which accidentally hit Harjit Singh deceased. It is also highly unbelievable that the other rider would then escape after dismounting from the mare when his companion (the deceased) is dead and the appellant and his other companions were armed and had two mares and cycles at their disposal to pursue the other rider and apprehend him. Thus, the story of the other rider seems to be an afterthought. In fact, there was only the deceased on mare and he was shot dead by the appellant and in order to escape from the penal consequences the story of the second mare with a rider was introduced. Strangely enough, no case was registered under Section 302, I. P C against the other rider. Only a report under Section 307, I.P.C. and the Excise Act was made. Special report did not reach the illaqa Magistrate although it was required under the law as one person had died. There is no entry of the mare in the daily diary report or in the inquest report. There is no mention of the pistol etc. In the daily diary report.

11. According to ASI Surjit Singh (D.W. 1), he reached the place of occurrence at 6 a. m. on 23rd June. 1979. According to the appellant, he had sent intimation Ex. PL to the Police Station Vairowal regarding the occurrence, on the basis of which the first information report was recorded at 5,30 a. m. and according to A, S. I. Surjit Singh CD. W. I) he had received the copy of the F.I.R. at the police post Fatehabad, whereafter he proceeded to the place of occurrence reaching there at 6.00 a. m.From this it would mean that the constable took the information first to the Police Station Vairowal at a distance of 12 Kms and after the F.I.R was completed, its copy reached the Police Post at Fatehabad at a distance of about 10 Kms, whereafter ASI Surjit Singh DW is stated to have left for the place of occurrence and reached there at 6.00 A. M. Thus, in our view, it is not humanly possible that the information travelled to the Police Station and thereafter to the police post so swiftly that ASI Surjit Singh reached the place of occurrence at 6 a, m. when the first information report was recorded at 5.35 a. m. at Police Station Vairowal. The information reached ASI Surjit Singh DW after the constable was to cover a distance of 22 Kms. ASI Surjit Singh DW must have received the information at about 6 a. m. and it was, not humanly possible for him to reach the place of occurrence at 6 a. m. According 'to Head Constable Tilak Raj CD. W. 6), he did not receive any copy of the F I. R, from the police Station that day. On the other hand, he had received a ruqa through constable Jasbir Singh from 'the appellant and had sent ASI Surjit Singh DW to the place of occurrence. He also admits that he had not sent any information on the basis of the ruqa received through constable Jasbir Singh to the Police Station for registration of the case. He further admits that after the departure entry of the appellant from the Policy Post at 2 a. m. tin 11.45 p. m. there is no other entry of any private person in the daily diary register at the Police Post. All these circumstances indicate that the information regarding the occurrence reached the Police Post Fatehabad, from where ASI Surjit Singh DW immediately rushed to the place of occurrence and the whole story of encounter was given shape and the formal F.I.R. recorded at Police Station Vairowal, otherwise HC 'Tilak Raj (D. W. 6) and ASI Surii Singh {D. W. 1) would not have given contradictory statements regarding the receipt of information about the occurrence first.

12. The holding of naka by the appellant also seems to be false as is mentioned in F.I. R Ex. P.C. Constable Balbir. Singh (D. W. 2) stated that they had reached the place of occurrence straight from the police Post and did not pass through any village nor had met anyone, whereas according to the information sent by the appellant on the basis of which formal F.I.R. Ex. PC was recorded, it is mentioned that after the departure of the patrol party, he had received a secret information and on the basis of the same he had held a naka. The statement of Balbir Singh (DW 2) supports the version of the occurrence as given by Wasawa Singh and Sulakhan Singh PWs when they stated that they had seen the deceased approaching on a mare towards them and, in the meantime, the police party came on cycles and stopped the deceased Harjit Singh on the path near to the field of Sunder Singh, demanded money from him and ultimately the appellant shot him dead.

13. The time of occurrence also does not seem to be at 3.45 a. m. as given by the appellant. According to ASI Surjit Singh (D. W. 1). the appellant had completed the inquest proceedings and prepared request for post-mortem examination before he reached the place of occurrence. A perusal of inquest report, Ex. PJ shows that no statement of constable Balbir Singh DW 2 was recorded although he was present there. ASI Surjit Singh (DW 1} stated that he recorded the statement of Balbir Singh constable after reaching the place of occurrence and thereafter had sent him to the hospital, whereas according to Balbir Singh constable, his statement was not recorded at the place of occurrence by the appellant and his statement was recorded on the next day in the hospital by ASI Surjit Singh DW. He has stated that when he left the place of occurrence for the hospital, inquest report Ex. PJ was still not prepared. If ASI Surjit Singh had reached the place of occurrence at 6 a. m. and had recorded the statements of the PWS and constable Balbir Singh injured DW, then constable Balbir Singh was not likely to have reached the hospital at 5.50 a. rn. and could not be medically examined at 6 a. m. Thus, it is clear that the timings of all these proceedings do not reconcile with each other.

14. There is another infirmity in the defence version. Balbir Singh constable (D. W. 2) was medically examined bv Dr. Devinder Singh Mahaj,an (D.W. 5) and this doctor admitted that the injuries on the person of Balbir Singh constable were simple in nature and. were of the type which could be self-suffered and, according to him, Balbir Singh injured had come himself walking. He also stated that the injured did not produce any request for his medico-legal examination or the injury statement. If Balbir Singh constable had in fact, suffered injuries on his person at the place of occurrence, then his injury statement would have been prepared bv the appellant and request for his medico-legal examination would have been forwarded to the doctor. The doctor also admitted that the injuries on the person of Balbir Singh constable were of such a nature which did nt necessitate his admission. But in spite of that he was admitted in the hospital for no obvious reason except for creation of an encounter story. Dr. Devinder Singh Mahajan DW also seems to have bungled. He seems to have issued false medico-legal certificate in respect of the injuries of Balbir Singh constable at the asking of the police. It is strange that he kept the report secret with him all the time till he appeared in the Court and although he left the dispensary at Fatehabad three years ago, he had not deposited the medico-legal register with the Civil Surgeon for which he had no explanation to give. According to Balbir Singh constable DW, his injuries had bled profusely to the extent that his clothes were drenched with blood and his clothes were retained by the doctor at the time of his medico-legal examination. However, Dr. Devinder Singh Mahajan had denied that the clothes of the injured were in any manner blood-stained or that he had retained any of his clothes, A bare look at the injuries would show that none of his clothes would get a drop of blood. There was only one incised wound on the thumb aspect of his left index finger which was only muscle deep. The rest of the injuries were lacerated or linear abrasions and normally no blood may have oozed out of those injuries.

15. There is yet another improbability in the defence version, it is alleged that the rider of the other mare had fired from his pistol while sitting on his mare at Balbir Singh constable when he was grappling with the deceased, but in that situation, the entry of the bullet in the body of the deceased would have been from above to down ward whereas in this case the inlet and exit wound are almost parallel.

16. There is yet another improbability in the defence version. According to' H. C. Tilak Raj (D.W. 6), the daily diary entry No. 13 showing arrival of ASI Surjit Singh (D.W. 1) and the appellant along with the case property des not mention anything about the ammunition. If the shot was not fired from the service rifle, then the rifle and the number of the cartridges returned to the Moharrir Head Constable was likely to have been entered in the daily diary. There is no entry in the record of the police Post regarding any other mare apart from the red mare belonging to the deceased which was entrusted to Labh Kaur (P. W. 2) under the orders of the Court along with articles of the deceased on, 26th April, 1980. Swaran Singh MC (D.W. 7) frmm the police Post has deposed from the record and stated that there! is no entry in-between 23rd June, 1979 and 26th April, 1980 in the record of[ the Police Post regarding the presence of any mare in the police post or their expenses incurred. ASI Karam Singh (DW 8) deposed that on 26th April 1980 he had entrusted one white mare to Gulzar Singh vide spurdiginama Ex. DW8/A, but Gulzar Singh had denied this fact. He has stated that his thumb impressions were obtained on a blank paper. Moreover, the persons like Gulzar Singh can be procured by the police and made to state anything at the instance of police. He is neither a member panchayat, nor a lamberdar or Sarpanch of the village and is employed as a siri with some landowner. ASI Karam Singh DW has admitted that he had not entered the mare in the register or obtained orders of any Court nor had applied for the disposal of unclaimed property to any Court. The defence witnesses are silent as to whom the other mare belonged. Moreover, if any such mare was received in the police post Fatehabad on that date, there must be some entry on the record regarding its expenses met by the police or at least any entry in the daily diary of its existence there. The presence of the PWs., namely, Wasawa' Singh and Sulakhan Singh, at the place of occurrence is not denied by ASI Surjit singh (D. W. 1).

17. The duty of the police is to prevent and detect crime and to bring the accused to justice. Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls in his book titled 'The Due Process of Law', 1980 Edn., in Chap. I of Part Three, has observed about the role of the police as follows: -'In safeguarding our freedoms, the police play a vital role. Society for its defence needs a well-led, well-trained and well-disciplined force of police whom it can trust; and enough of them to be able to prevent crime before it happens, or if it does happen, to detect it and bring the accused to justice. The police of course, must act properly. They must obey the rules of right conduct. They must not extort confessions by threats or promises. They must not search a main's house without authority. They must not use more force than the occasion warrants,'

The investigation in the present case had been tainted and aimed at to save the appellant and not to bring him to justice. Under the law the investigator is enjoined upon to unearth the crime and as soon as he receives the information about the crime, he is to proceed to the spot, ascertain the facts and circumstances of the case and arrest the suspected offender, collect the evidence relating to the commission of the offence, examine various persons including the accused, reduce their statements into writing, to search the places and take into possession the things considered necessary for the investigation and to be produced at the trial and then to form his opinion as to whether on the material collected any accused is to be placed before a Magistrate for commitment and to file a charge-sheet under. Section 173, Cri. P.C. In the nature of things, an investigator has to have and is clothed with many powers by the Jaw for the purpose of conducting investigation and where a murder has taken place, it is the duty of the investigator to send the special report to the illaqa Magistrate at once. But in the present case, none of the steps have been complied with by the investigator-ASI Surjit Singh (D. W. 1). We are constrained to remark that even the Superintendent of Police Paramjit Singh Sandhu, who appeared as D. W. 4, did not do his duty in accordance with law as enjoined upon him as a senior police officer what to say of ASI Surjit Singh (D.W-1). They have not investigated the circumstances leading to the death of Harjit Singh. Rather their every effort was to shield the appellant from' bringing him to justice.

18. For the reasons recorded, we are of the view that the complainant has succeeded in proving the case against the appellant beyond any reasonable doubt and that the defence version of encounter has been concocted.

19. In the result the appeal fails and is dismissed. Copy of this judgment be sent to the Government for taking suitable action against the police officers who connived with the appellant in creating a story of encounter and who appeared as defence witnesses.

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