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Amar Pal Singh v. State Of U.P. - CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 2707 of 1981  RD-AH 18292 (27 November 2007)
HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD
Court No. 54.
Criminal Appeal no. 2707 of 1981
Amar Pal Singh and three others. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . .Appellants.
State of U.P. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . .Respondent.
Hon'ble R.K. Rastogi,J.
This is an appeal under section 374(2) Cr.P.C. by Amar Pal Singh, Jai Pal Singh, Harpal Singh, sons of Ganga Ram Singh Jat, and Harbansh Singh son of Thana Singh against judgment and order dated 5.11.1981 passed by the Addl. Sessions Judge II, Moradabad in S.T. no. 593 of 1978, State Vs. Jai Pal Singh and three others, whereby he has convicted appellant no.1 Amar Pal Singh under section 302/34 I.P.C. and 307 I.P.C. and sentenced him to life imprisonment and five years rigorous imprisonment respectively, whereas appellants Jai Pal Singh, Harpal Singh and Harbansh Singh have been convicted under section 302/34 I.P.C. alone and sentenced to life imprisonment. The case relates to police station Hasanpur district Moradabad and has arisen out of crime no.149 of 1978.
The prosecution case in short is that on 14.7.1978 at about 3 P.M. in village Hafijpur within the circle of police station Hasanpur district Moradabad one Khem Singh, father of Chetan Singh was done to death at Rathkhana( chariot yard) of Ram Kunwar P.W.2. It was alleged that deceased Khem Singh was named as accused in murder case of Chandra Bhan who was related to the present appellant. He was, however, released on bail in the said murder case. On account of this enmity, the appellants were looking for an opportunity to kill Khem Singh.
On the fateful day the deceased was sitting with Ram Kunwar P.W.2 at the aforesaid Rathkhana and was smoking Hukka when all the four appellants duly armed with guns reached there. On the exhortation of Jai Pal Singh and Amar Pal Singh appellants, all of them opened fire on Khem Singh stating that they were taking revenge for killing Chandra Bhan. Ram Kunwar Singh P.W.2 tried to plead with them not to do so at least at his Rathkhana.Then appellant Harpal Singh exhorted his companions to eliminate the witness Ram Kunwar also. On this Jai Pal Singh and Amar Pal Singh opened fire on Ram Kunwar from their respective guns and injured him. On account of the injuries Khem Singh died on the spot and Ram Kunwar also fell on the ground. About 8 or 9 fires were made on deceased Khem Singh. First informant Chetan Singh claims that immediately before the incident he was coming to the aforesaid Rathkhana of Ram Kunwar to take Khem Singh back home when all this happened and he witnessed the occurrence and raised alarm and then appellants opened fire on him also but incidentally he did not receive any injury.
F.I.R. of this incident was lodged by Chetan Singh on the same day at 18.05 hours at the police station which was about 6 ½ miles away from the place of occurrence. He mentioned that the occurrence was witnessed by Preetam Singh, Dharm Singh, Khacheru Singh , Raj Pal Singh and others.
Acting upon this report lodged by Chetan Singh, investigation of the crime was taken up by Sri Raja Ram Nagar, P.W.8, who was posted as Station Officer of the police station. He immediately proceeded to the place of occurrence along with the assisting police force and sent the injured Ram Kunwar for medical examination and directed Sub Inspector Sri Atar Singh Malik P.W.4 to hold inquest on the body of deceased Khem Singh on the spot. Search of the accused persons was made but they could not be apprehended. He then recorded the statement of the first informant as well as the statements of the witnesses Raj Pal Singh, Preetam Singh, Dharm Singh and Khacheru Singh. Site plan of the place of occurrence was prepared on the next day,i.e. 15.7.1978. The statement of injured RamKunwar under section 161 Cr.P.C. was, however recorded on 28.7.1978, i.e. 14 days after the incident.
Medical examination of Ram Kunwar was held on 15.7.1978 at about 5.30 A.M. Dr.R.K.Sharma P.W.7 had found the following injuries on his body:
"Multiple rounded wounds about 40 in number over right hypochondrium, right lumber region in front and right iliac fossa. Two rounded wounds in 5th and 6th enter-costal spaces ( right side) were also present. Few wounds were oval in the direction towards umblicus. Abdomen was rigid. Bowel sound absent. Lever dullness marked, wound not probed. Advised X-Ray of abdomen and chest. Fresh blood was found oozing from oval shaped wound. In his opinion, injuries were caused by fire arms and were kept under observation."
Autopsy on the dead body of Khem Singh was performed by Dr. D.Misra, P.W.5 on 15.7.1978 at about 5 P.M. The doctor found the following ante-mortem injuries on the body of the deceased:
1. Fire arm wound of entry 1 ½" x 1 ½" x peritonial cavity deep over the left side of upper part of the abdomen 2" below the coastal margin. Margins were inverted. Blackening, tatooing and burning were present. The under-lying muscles and peritonium were found lacerated under the injury. The small gut was lacerated through and through 1/2" x 1/2" x whole thickness deep at three places. The mesentry was lacerated 2" x 1" and whole thickness deep and abdominal aorta lacerated ½" x ¼" x whole thickness deep. The abdominal cavity contained about 2 pints of blood. Four pieces of wadding and 3 pellets were removed from the peritonium cavity.
2. Fire arm wound of entry 2" x 2" x peritonium cavity deep over left side of lower part of abdomen, 2" to the left of midline, 2½" above the root of thigh. Margins inverted. Blackening, burning and tatooing were present. The underlying muscles and peritonium were lacerated under the injury. The pelvic colon was also lacerated 1" x 1" x whole thickness deep under the injury.
3. Fire arm wound of exit 3" x 3" peritonium cavity deep over the right side of lower part of lumber region 2" to the right of mid-line and 2" above the iliac crest. Margins everted. No blackening, burning and tatooing were present. The under-lying muscles and peritonium were found lacerated corresponding to injury no.2.
4. Fire arm wound of entry 1½" x 1" x muscle deep over front of upper 1/3rd on left thigh. Margins inverted. Blackening, burning and tatooing were present. One piece of wadding and one big pellet were removed from the wound
5. Fire arm wound of entry 1/10" x 1/10" x, muscle deep over front of left side on chest, 2" to the right of nipple at 10 -O'clock position. Margins inverted. No blackening, burning and tatooing were seen.
6. Multiple fire arm wounds of entry each 1/10" x 1/10" x muscle deep. Margins inverted. No blackening, burning or tatooing was seen over the outer aspect of upper one-third of right arm in an area of 6" x 5". Four small pellets were removed.
7. Multiple fire arm wounds of entry 1/10" x 1/10" x muscle deep and margins inverted. No blackening, burning or tatooing was seen over the outer aspect of upper one-third of left arm in an area of 5" x 5". Five pellets were removed from the wound, small in size.
8. Fire arm wound of entry 2"x ½" x bone deep over the back of the right thigh. Blackening, burning and tatooing present. Margins inverted."
The cause of death was determined as shock and haemorrhage as a result of injury no.1 and death in the opinion of the doctor had occurred one day prior to the time of postmortem-examination. The Doctor also found 13 pellets in the wounds which were handed over to the police.
On the basis of the statements of the eye witnesses given before the Investigating Officer, postmortem report, medical report and other circumstances the police found sufficient material against the accused appellants, and so charge sheet was submitted against them. They were accordingly tried and have been convicted in the manner mentioned above.
During pendency of this appeal, two appellants Amar Pal Singh and Harpal Singh expired and, therefore, their appeal has abated. This leaves us with the appeal of only two appellants Jai Pal Singh and Harbansh Singh.
In the trial, 11 witnesses were examined by the prosecution while no oral evidence was adduced by the accused persons in defence. The witnesses examined by the prosecution included three eye witnesses, namely, Chetan Singh, first informant, P.W.1, Ram Kunwar P.W.2 and Preetam Singh P.W.3.They have tried to support the prosecution story.
Amongst other witnesses S.I. Atar Singh Malik P.W.4 is the officer who had held inquest. Dr. D.Misra P.W.5 conducted the postmortem examination of the dead body of the deceased. Tej Pal Singh P.W.6 is head constable who registered the crime on the report of Chetan Singh. Dr. R.K.Sharma P.W.7 is the Medical Officer who conducted medical examination of injured Ram Kunwar on 15.7.1978 at 5.30 A.M. P.W.8 Raja Ram Nagar is the Investigating Officer. P.W.11 Jagdish Singh is the constable who carried the dead body for delivering it at mortuary.
Ram Kunwar P.W.2 had filed an affidavit Ex.Ka 16 in the trial court to the effect that he was being threatened by the accused persons not to depose against them in the case. He while deposing before the court, however, did not own the affidavit and, therefore, the prosecution examined Sri Rajat Bansal, Advocate, P.W.9 and Sri Dal Chand P.W.10, Clerk of the Advocate, to prove that the affidavit, Ex.Ka 16 was sworn by Ram Kunwar.
The trial court found the prosecution evidence in the case to be wholly reliable and accordingly recorded conviction of the accused-appellants.
We have heard Sri P.N.Misra, learned Senior Counsel, for the appellants and Sri Kamlesh Kumar Tiwari, learned A.G.A. for the State. We have also carefully gone through the entire evidence on record and reasons given by the trial court in its judgment in regard to the conviction.
The argument of Sri P.N. Misra is that the trial court has committed serious mistake in appreciating the circumstances in the light of the evidence adduced by the prosecution. His contention is that the F.I.R. in this case was ante-timed which creates doubt about truth in the prosecution version. Elaborating his arguments he pointed out that there was ample opportunity for the prosecution to ante-time the F.I.R. There was delay in medical examination of the injured Ram Kunwar and also in postmortem examination of dead body of the deceased which was conducted after 24 hours. Copy of the F.I.R. was not sent along with other papers to the doctor who had conducted the postmortem examination of the dead body and language of the F.I.R. suggests that it was prepared at the police station itself whereas the first informant claims that the F.I.R. was prepared in the village itself. In addition to this Sri P.N.Misra pointed out that in inquest report police officer who prepared it mentioned that the F.I.R. was lodged at the police station by Raj Pal Singh son of Lekh Raj Singh. Later on this was scored out and in its place it was written that the F.I.R. was lodged by Chetan Singh son of Khem Singh Jat. There was also some other cutting and over-writing in the inquest report Ex.Ka 2.
The learned counsel for the appellants further pointed out that Chetan Singh informant, also claims to be an eye witness, but the circumstances would show that he was not present there and even as per the F.I.R. version his presence on the spot was by chance.
The learned A.G.A. on the other hand argued that the conclusion arrived at by the trial court is just and proper and that the F.I.R. version was corroborated by eye witnesses including the injured witness, namely, Ram Kunwar P.W.2.The contention of the learned A.G.A. is that no advantage can be given to the accused persons on the basis of minor contradictions.
We have carefully examined the respective contentions in the light of the evidence on record and the attending circumstances relating to the case.
Before discussing the evidence it would be proper to mention here that as per the statement of Chetan Singh P.W.1 a F.I.R. with regard to murder of Chandra Bhan was lodged earlier by appellant Jai Pal Singh and in the said F.I.R. besides Khem Singh, (deceased of this case), Mahendra Singh, Ram Kunwar ( P.W.2 of this case )and 6 -7 other persons were also named as accused. It has also come in the evidence of Preetam Singh P.W.3 that his grand father and Mahendra Singh's grand father were real brothers. He has also admitted that there has been enmity between Mahendra Singh and the accused appellant Harbansh Singh. Thus all the three witnesses examined by the prosecution in this case had enmity with the accused appellants.
Let us first examine whether the F.I.R. in this case was ante-timed. As mentioned earlier, incident is said to have been occurred on 14.7.1978 at 3 P.M. and the F.I.R. was lodged on 14.7.1978 at 18.05 hours by Chetan Singh son of Khem Singh. The first circumstance which raises doubt about lodging of the F.I.R. by Chetan Singh at the time claimed by the prosecution is that in the inquest report, which was prepared at about 9 P.M. on the same day, the officer concerned has mentioned the name of first informant as Raj Pal Singh son of Lekh Raj Singh Jat. Subsequently by correction the name of Chetan Singh son of Khem Singh Jat has been written. No logical explanation was given by the prosecution about this discrepancy. The explanation which the Sub Inspector Atar Singh P.W.4, has tried to give in this regard is that about a month before the incident he had visited the house of Khem Singh in connection with his arrest and at that time Khem Singh had called Raj Pal Singh, and then the person who appeared on that call was considered by him to be Raj Pal Singh son of Khem Singh, and when that very person appeared before him at the time of preparation of inquest report of Khem Singh in the present case he considering that person to be Raj Pal noted his name in the inquest report but when that person told him that his name was not Raj Pal Singh but Chetan Singh, he corrected the mistake in the inquest report and noted the name of Chetan Singh in it. This explanation is liable to be rejected outright because the inquest report is supposed to have been prepared after the F.I.R. is registered and copy of the F.I.R. is available with the Investigating Officer and the team of the police officials assisting the Investigating Officer, the Officer preparing the inquest report is supposed to know the name of first informant from the copy of the F.I.R. Secondly, Raj Pal Singh has not been mentioned in the inquest report as son of Khem Singh but he has been mentioned as son of Lekh Raj Singh. This Raj Pal Singh is the person who has incidentally been mentioned in the F.I.R. by Chetan Singh as eye witness and has been shown as son of Lekh Raj Singh. This circumstance to our mind goes strongly to suggest that the F.I.R. was ante-timed.
Another circumstance equally important in this regard is to the effect that copy of the F.I.R. was not sent to the doctor who conducted the postmortem examination along with other documents sent by the police. This is evident from the statement of the Dr.D. Misra P.W.5 in para 11 of his deposition before the court. The prosecution has not given any explanation as to why copy of the chik report was not sent to the doctor along with other papers at the time of postmortem examination of the dead body of the deceased. This is a strong circumstance to show that till the time of postmortem examination the F.I.R. was not in existence. This assumes significance when we find that there was very strong enmity between the accused persons and the first informant side.
In addition to it, it has further been noted that written report on the basis of which crime was registered is claimed by Chdetan Singh P.W.1 to have been prepared in the village itself at his own house whereas reading of the F.I.R., however, shows that its language is such as if it has been written and prepared at the police station itself.
The effect of undue delay in lodging of or ante timing of the F.I.R. was considered by the Hon'ble Apex Court in 'Meharaj Singh Vs. State of U.P.' (1994) 5SCC 188 and the following observation was made:-
" F.I.R. in a criminal case and particularly in a murder case is a vital and valuable piece of evidence for the purpose of appreciating the evidence led at the trial. The object of insisting upon prompt lodging of the F.I.R. is to obtain the earliest information regarding the circumstance in which the crime was committed, including the names of the actual culprits and the parts played by them, the weapons, if any, used, as also the names of the eye-witnesses, if any. Delay in lodging the F.I.R. often results in embellishment, which is a creature of an afterthought. On account of delay, the F.I.R. not only gets bereft of the advantage of spontaneity, danger also creeps in of the introduction of a coloured version or exaggerated story. With a view to determine whether the F.I.R. was lodged at the time it is alleged to have been recorded, the Courts generally look for certain external checks. One of the checks is the receipt of the copy of the F.I.R., called a special report in a murder case, by the local Magistrate. If this report is received by the Magistrate late, it can give rise to an inference that the F.I.R. was not lodged at the time it is alleged to have been recorded, unless, of course the prosecution can offer a satisfactory explanation for the delay in despatching or receipt of the copy of the F.I.R. by the local Magistrate. Prosecution has led no evidence at all in this behalf. The second external check equally important is the sending of the copy of the F.I.R. along with the dead body and its reference in the inquest report. Even though the inquest report, prepared under section 174, Cr.P.C., is aimed at serving a statutory function, to lend credence to the prosecution case, the details of the F.I.R. and the gist of statements recorded during inquest proceedings get reflected in the report. The absence of those details is indicative of the fact that the prosecution story was still in an embryo state and had not been given any shape and that the F.I.R. came to be recorded later on after due deliberations and consultations and was then ante-timed to give it the colour of a promptly lodged F.I.R. In our opinion, on account of the infirmities as noticed above, the F.I.R. has lost its value and authenticity, and it appears to us that the same has been ante-timed and had not been recorded till the inquest proceedings were over at the spot by P.W. 8."
Considering the effect of the ante-timed F.I.R. in the present case we have also to keep in mind that there is an injured witness whose presence on the spot cannot be doubted. We are of the view that if the testimony of the injured witness, Ram Kunwar P.W.2, in the case is wholly reliable and is free from doubt or suspicion, the effect of the F.I.R. being ante-timed could be set off to a great extent. However, examination of the testimony of Ram Kunwar P.W.2 in this case shows that it is not wholly reliable, or free from suspicion. Not only his testimony is doubtful in the present case, but from his testimony even presence of P.W.1 Chetan Singh on the spot becomes doubtful.
It has come in the evidence that the house of Chetan Singh P.W.1 is about 500 yards away from the place of occurrence. He himself claims that he was at the chabutara and his presence on the spot was by chance; that he was coming to the Chabutara of Ram Kunwar in order to take Khem Singh back home. Ram Kunwar P.W.2 states that after the incident village people had enquired from him as to who were the persons who had caused injuries and then he disclosed the names of the culprits to them. He further added that even Chetan Singh P.W.1 had enquired from him about the names of the accused, and to him also he had disclosed the names of the culprits. It is noteworthy that if Chetan Singh had himself seen the occurrence there was absolutely no point for asking by him as to who were the real culprits. This question by Chetan Singh to Ram Kunwar in the light of the circumstances mentioned above indicating that the F.I.R. is ante-timed, gives support to the defence argument that Chetan Singh was not there.
As per the F.I.R. version, all the four appellants had opened fire upon Khem Singh, and when Ram Kunwar tried to plead with them not to do this, Jai Pal Singh and Amar Pal Singh had opened fire upon him also. This was done on the exhortation of Harpal Singh. The statement of the injured witness Ram Kunwar in this regard given before the trial court is quite contrary to the version given in the F.I.R. First of all, contrary to the F.I.R. version that all the appellants were armed with guns, the witness Ram Kunwar P.W.2 says that only two of the appellants were armed with country made pistols and the remaining two were empty handed. In his examination-in-chief he has, however, clearly stated that all the four appellants had opened fire . He has, thus, given self-contrary statement on a very material point and it is also inconsistent with the prosecution version. Not only this, he has also given inconsistent statement with regard to the persons who had opened fire on him. The F.I.R. shows that Jai Pal and Amar Pal Singh both had opened fire on him and it was so stated by P.W.1 Chetan Singh, who claims to be an eye witness. But Ram Kunwar P.W.2 stated that only Amar Pal Singh had opened fire on him. In the cross examination he has gone to the extent of accepting that appellant Harbansh was an old and weak person, who was suffering from Asthma and so he remained lying at his house. He subsequently specifically admitted that Harbansh Singh had not opened fire nor had made any other assault with lathis etc. The defence drew the attention of this witness to the fact that in his examination-in-chief he had mentioned that all the four appellants were armed with guns and all the appellants had opened fire. Giving explanation in this regard, he stated that this deposition was made by him on the suggestion of the police as well as fellow villagers. This witness admitted that he realizes difference between a gun and a country made pistol and that they are different weapons. His statement before the court shows that at one place he says that all the four appellants were armed with guns, and even before the Investigating Officer also he had stated that all the four appellants had fired from single barrel guns, but before the court he stated that the culprits had used country made pistols. These contradictions would not have been material otherwise, but in view of the circumstances mentioned above and argument of the defence counsel that the incident might have taken place in night in dark, they assume significance.
There is yet another circumstance which creates doubt. According to the prosecution case Ram Kunwar P.W.2 had suffered injuries on 14.7.78 at about 3 P.M. His medical examination was conducted at Meerut on 15.7.1978 at 5.30 A.M. He is the person who had received fire arm injuries and in the F.I.R. it was mentioned that the injuries were so severe that he, too, could die, and that the other injured Khem Singh had already died on the spot. In these circumstances, if the incident had taken place at 3 P.M, the victim must have rushed to the doctor without loss of any time and medical examination must have been done on the same day without delay. The prosecution has tried to explain the delay by saying that Ram Kunwar was first taken to P.H.C. Gajraula where some first aid treatment was given to him and bandage was put on his injuries and then he was sent to Meerut. There is, however, no document on record to show that Ram Kunwar was taken to Gajraula and was given first aid before being referred to Meerut. The doctor who examined the injuries at Meerut also did not mention about any previous examination of the injuries nor did he mention about any bandage put on the injuries of Ram Kunwar.
On the basis of the discussion made above, we are of the view that the statement of Ram Kunwar, the injured witness, is not free from material contradictions and it is difficult to decide as to what was the truth and who in fact were the culprits. Chetan Singh P.W.1, as mentioned earlier, is the son of deceased Khem Singh and his presence on the spot was doubtful. He was also a chance witness and the fact that the F.I.R. was ante-timed makes his testimony wholly unnatural.
Preetam Singh P.W.3, as mentioned earlier, is related to Mahendra Singh, who was accused in the murder case of Chandra Bhan in the report lodged by Jai Pal Singh, appellant. According to his testimony he was at his house where he heard the noise and then he rushed to the place of occurrence. He claims that he had seen all the four accused persons stating that they are going to take revenge of the murder of Chandra Bhan. He also claims that when he reached the place of occurrence, he found all the four appellants armed with guns and all the four had opened fire upon Khem Singh. He also stated that on seeing Ram Kunwar, Amar Pal Singh and Jai Pal Singh had opened fire on him. As such the statement of Ram Kunwar P.W.2 who is injured witness, is contrary to his version. Ram Kunwar had shown fire arms with two of the appellants only and had stated that he was fired at only by one of the four accused appellants. The testimony of this witness being materially contradictory to the statement of Ram Kunwar P.W.2, the injured witness, does not inspire confidence and specifically so when he is highly inimical to the accused persons.
Taking cumulative effect of the circumstances and the testimony of the witnesses into consideration, we are of the view that prosecution has failed to bring true facts before the court . The incident is highly doubtful and it is clearly established from the record that the F.I.R. was ante-timed. The witnesses were inimical and they have given contrary statements on material points. The injured witness Ram Kunwar P.W.2 also has given quite self contrary statements on the material points. The prosecution evidence, therefore, in our opinion, is totally unbelievable and it is not safe to place reliance on the said evidence and to hold any of the accused-appellants guilty. The trial court in our view failed to appreciate the relevant circumstances and evidence on record. The appeal , therefore, deserves to be allowed.
The appeal of appellants Jai Pal Singh and Harbansh Singh is allowed and the order of their conviction under section 302/34 I.P.C. and the sentence of life imprisonment are set aside. They are acquitted of the charge. Their personal and surety bonds are
discharged. They are on bail. They need not surrender.
The appeal of appellants Amar Pal Singh and Harpal Singh has already abated.
A copy of this judgment be certified to the trial court for information and execution.
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