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Pal Singh and anr. Vs. State of Punjab - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 179 of 1968
Judge
Reported in(1969)3SCC196
ActsConstitution Of India - Article 136
AppellantPal Singh and anr.
RespondentState of Punjab
DispositionAppeal Dismissed
Excerpt:
.....on the merits he was unable to attack the findings of the high court, but he urged that the sentence of death passed on pal singh should be reduced to sentence of imprisonment for life. he said that there was no reason for the sessions judge or for the high court to distinguish between the case of ajit singh who had been sentenced to imprisonment for life and the case of pal singh. in an appeal we have the same powers as the high court has. if the learned counsel's contention was right, in an appeal against acquittal by the high court this court would be incompetent to pass a sentence of death even if it was the only appropriate sentence on the facts of the case. ajit singh also threw a hand-grenade towards santokh singh and companions and this injured inder singh, deceased, and..........against the judgment of the high court dismissing the appeal of the appellants and confirming the death sentence imposed on pal singh, appellant. the sentence of life imprisonment imposed on ajit singh, appellant, was also confirmed.2. mr chagla, the learned counsel for the appellants urged that as for as pal singh is concerned this case should be remitted to the high court because the high court had failed to comply with the provisions of section 374 of the criminal procedure code, as it seems to have proceeded on a concession made by the appellants' counsel. further it failed to consider the defence case and did not reappraise the evidence in a critical manner to come to an independent conclusion with regard to the guilt of each of the appellants. we invited him to go into the.....
Judgment:

S.M. SIKRI, J.

1. This appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment of the High Court dismissing the appeal of the appellants and confirming the death sentence imposed on Pal Singh, appellant. The sentence of life imprisonment imposed on Ajit Singh, appellant, was also confirmed.

2. Mr Chagla, the learned Counsel for the appellants urged that as for as Pal Singh is concerned this case should be remitted to the High Court because the High Court had failed to comply with the provisions of Section 374 of the Criminal Procedure Code, as it seems to have proceeded on a concession made by the appellants' counsel. Further it failed to consider the defence case and did not reappraise the evidence in a critical manner to come to an independent conclusion with regard to the guilt of each of the appellants. We invited him to go into the question of merits. The learned Counsel first stated that we were not entitled to go into the merits because it was only the High Court which could confirm a sentence of death. On the merits he was unable to attack the findings of the High Court, but he urged that the sentence of death passed on Pal Singh should be reduced to sentence of imprisonment for life. He said that there was no reason for the Sessions Judge or for the High Court to distinguish between the case of Ajit Singh who had been sentenced to imprisonment for life and the case of Pal Singh. Both according to him, were under the age of 18 years and the Sessions Judge and the High Court had wrongly held that Pal Singh was about 23 years of age.

3. We see no force in the contention of the learned Counsel that we are not entitled to go into the merits of the case when an appeal is brought to this Court. In an appeal we have the same powers as the High Court has. If the learned Counsel's contention was right, in an appeal against acquittal by the High Court this Court would be incompetent to pass a sentence of death even if it was the only appropriate sentence on the facts of the case. There is nothing in the Criminal Procedure Code or Article 134(1)(c) or Article 136 of the Constitution to support the contention of the learned Counsel.

4. Coming to the merits of the case and the question of sentence: the High Court has found that on April 22, 1966, Pal Singh threw a hand-grenade at Santokh Singh and companions in a cremation ground where the dead body of Partap Singh was being cremated, causing injuries to Hukam Chand who died at the spot and Santokh Singh, PW, and some other persons received minor injuries. Ajit Singh also threw a hand-grenade towards Santokh Singh and companions and this injured Inder Singh, deceased, and Kishen Singh, PW. For an offence of this nature the ordinary sentence is death. The Sessions Judge held that as Ajit Singh, appellant, was below 18 years of age on date of the occurrence, it was possible that he might have acted under the influence of Pal Singh, and he awarded sentence of imprisonment for life to him. After examining the medical evidence before him, the Sessions Judge came to the conclusion that Pal Singh was 23 years of age on August 11, 1967 when he was clinically examined. The High Court also seems to have come to the conclusion that Pal Singh was nearly 23 years on the date of occurrence.

5. We have gone through the evidence of the doctors and we agree with the High Court that Pal Singh was about 23 years of age at the time of the occurrence. The High Court further observed:

“Even if we come to the conclusion that he is a young lad of eighteen years or so, the age alone would not be an adequate ground for imposing a lesser sentence. It has been observed above that Pal Singh has been directly responsible for, causing the death of Hukam Chand in a very dastardly manner. He and his companions injured not only some of their enemies but also some strangers. The use of the hand-grenades in the manner stated by the prosecution is very heinous. In this affair two persons lost their lives and a number of others received serious injuries. We are, therefore, of the opinion that there is no plausible ground on the strength of which the sentence of death imposed on Pal Singh should be converted into life imprisonment,”

6. It cannot be said that the High Court was wrong in this respect and it is not a case in which we should, under Article 136 of the Constitution, interfere with the order of the High Court. There is nothing in the merits of the case and the appeal must fail.

In the result the appeal fails and is dismissed.


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