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Sukhpal Singh v. State of Punjab - CRA-402-db-1997 [2006] RD-P&H 2265 (3 April 2006)

Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [1]


Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997

Date of decision: 24.4.2006

Sukhpal Singh Appellant


State of Punjab Respondent.


Present: Mr. Raman B. Garg, Amicus curiae, for the appellant.

Mr. A.S.Virk, Additional Advocate General, Punjab.


Sukhpal Singh (ASI under suspension) challenges his conviction by learned Sessions Judge, Faridkot, for the murder of Karamjit Singh alias Goru, a taxi driver of Kot Kapura. Sukhpal Singh was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life by judgment dated December 13, 1996 and has come up in appeal.

On the morning of June 27, 1993 Pritam Singh (PW-10), a Beldar deployed on the Rajasthan Canal, discovered an unidentified dead body lying in the canal and reported the matter to ASI Ravel Singh (PW-15) Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [2]

at 10.15 AM. On the basis of this information a case was registered under Section 302 IPC at Police Station Sadar Muktsar, District Faridkot, at 10.45 AM.

The body had been found near Burji No. 287 Rajasthan Canal within the area of Thandewala, about 8 km from the Police Station. ASI Ravel Singh (PW-15) commenced the investigation and inspected the spot.

He found that the body was of a 27 years old man, wearing a terricot sky coloured shirt and trousers stained with blood. The body also had an orange coloured underwear, a HMT Quartz watch as well as a purse containing Rs.

137/- in cash. Mouth was open and eyes were closed. Rigor mortis was present. There was a lacerated wound on the back of the head towards the left side. Blood was clotted and had oozed from the head. The injuries appeared to be fire arm injuries. Cause of death was recorded as bullet injury.

After completing the inquest, the Investigating Officer sent the body for post-mortem examination, which was conducted by Dr. Balwinder Singh (PW-1) Civil Hospital, Muktsar at 1 PM on the same date. The Medical Officer found the following injuries on the dead body.

"1. A lacerated wound 1.5 cm x 1 cm with inverted margins on the left side of back side of head 5 cm from midline, 2 cm above the posterior hair line. On dissection, the underlying muscles were penetrated, the skull bones were penetrated, the brain matter of left side of skull was lacerated and the left lateral ventricle and right lateral ventricle meninges were lacerated and penetrated. There was a bullet embedded in the right parietal region of brain Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [3]

with the collection of clotted blood. (Bullet handed over to police after signatures and seal).

2. A contusion bluish in colour 6 cm x 4 cm overlying the right eye underlying conjectives was congested.

3. Multiple abrasions on the abdomen varying in size from 3 cm x 5 cm in dimension reddish bluish in colour.

4. The soles of feet were having sodden appearance but no external injuries.

Organs of thorax and abdomen were healthy." In the opinion of the Medical Officer cause of death was bullet injury to the brain. The probable time that elapsed between injury and death was immediate and the time between death and post mortem was about 24 hours.

The Investigating Officer had earlier taken steps to have the body photographed by Varinder Kumar (PW-6), a photographer of Muktsar.

On the basis of these photographs, the body was identified by Surinder Singh (PW-5), a close relation of the deceased as being that of Karamjit Singh alias Goru, a taxi driver of Kot Kapura who plied Maruti Van PAR 3332 as a taxi. The identification was also confirmed by another relative of the deceased, Roop Singh (PW-9).

During the investigation, the Investigating Officer recorded the statement of Surinder Singh (PW-5) who informed him that Karamjit Singh deceased was the brother of his brother's wife and he himself was also married to Karamjit Singh's maternal uncle's daughter. Karamjit Singh owned and operated taxi PAR 3332. He used to park his taxi near Surinder Singh's Laboratory. On June 21, 1993, Karamjit Singh had gone to Vaishno Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [4]

Devi and had returned. On June 26, 1993 Karamjit Singh took his van but he did not return. When Karamjit Singh did not return Surinder Singh asked Kewaljit Singh (PW-7) about him and learnt that on June 26, 1993 Karamjit Singh had taken his van along with ASI Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh towards Muktsar-Malout.

Kewaljit Singh (PW-7) was the husband of Karamjit Singh's sister. Similarly Roop Singh (PW-9) was married to another sister of Karamjit Singh. According to Kewaljit Singh, on June 26, 1993 he was present at taxi stand, Kot Kapura, alongwith Karamjit Singh deceased when ASI Sukhpal Singh and his co-accused Hansa Singh (since acquitted) came there and asked Karamjit Singh to take them Muktsar-Malout.

Roop Singh (PW-9) stated that on June 26, 1993 he was returning from Muktsar to Kot Kapura on a scooter. When he reached near the bus stand of village Jhabelwali it began raining, so he took shelter in the Bus Stand. Karamjit Singh deceased alongwith ASI Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh passed that way in the van from the side of Muktsar. They stopped to ask Roop Singh if he wanted to come with them in the van but Roop Singh declined as he had the scooter with him. Apparently, it soon stopped raining Roop Singh proceeded on his way on his scooter. He saw Karamjit Singh turning his van downstream along the Rajasthan canal.

Darshan Singh (PW-8), on his way from his village to Muktsar via Bhuttiwala, reached Thandewala. There he saw Karamjit Singh's van parked on the canal bank with Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh sitting in it.

As Darshan Singh wanted to go to Amritsar and knew Karamjit Singh as well as Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh, he asked the accused as to where Karamjit Singh was so that he could hire the taxi. He was informed that Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [5]

Karamjit Singh was not with them and they were on some secret mission.

After the Investigating Officer had recorded the statements of Kewaljit Singh (PW-7) and Pritam Singh (PW-10) and after the identity of the deceased had been established, he set out to arrest the accused. Their houses were raided but they were not available. On July 2, 1993 the Investigating Officer went to Police Lines, Faridkot and inquired about ASI Sukhpal Singh but he was absent from duty. It was on July 9, 1993 that both ASI Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh were arrested when they were produced before the Investigating Officer by one Gurdev Singh. Maruti van PAR 3332 which was with them was also taken into possession. Sukhpal Singh's disclosure statement was recorded. In his statement he disclosed that a .38 bore revolver along with three live and two empty cartridges and Rs. 20,000/- had been kept by him in an iron box lying in his house. On the basis of this statement ASI Ravel Singh (PW-5) went to Sukhpal Singh's house and got the .38 bore revolver alongwith three live and two empty cartridges recovered and took them into possession.

After completion of the investigation, ASI Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh were sent up for trial. At the trial, charges were framed against both the accused on October 22, 1993 under Section 302 IPC against Sukhpal Singh and under Section 302/34 IPC against Hansa Singh. Both the accused were also charged under Section 201 IPC. The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

At the trial, the main witnesses examined by the prosecution were Dr. Balwinder Singh (PW-1), Sarpanch Harnek Singh (PW-4), Surinder Singh (PW-5), Kewaljit Singh (PW-7), Darshan Singh (PW-8), Roop Singh (PW-9) and ASI Ravel Singh (PW-15).

Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [6]

The accused were examined without oath under Section 313 Cr.P.C. They denied the prosecution allegations against them and stated that they were innocent and that the prosecution witnesses had deposed falsely. When called upon to enter defence, they examined Banarsi Lal (DW-1) and Hand Writing and Finger Print Expert, Anil Gupta (DW-2).

ASI Sukhpal Singh gave the following version:- "I am innocent. I have been falsely implicated. I was suspended by S.S.P. Faridkot on 3.5.1993 and was sent to Police Lines, Faridkot, where I remained present in the months of May and June 1993 throughout. In May I deposited my revolver and ammunition, because of my suspension, in Police Lines, Faridkot. On 28.6.1993 vide report No.3 in the Daily Diary I was detailed on duty to go to the office of D.S.P.Moga, regarding departmental enquiry. When I returned in the evening, police of P.S.Sadar Muktsar took me from the Police Lines. They also collected my revolver and ammunition from the officials of the Police Lines, Faridkot. I was detained for some days in illegal custody and my formal arrest was shown thereafter and recovery of revolver and ammunition was foisted against me. Revolver after firing in the police station was sent to Forensic Science Laboratory. Bullet was also foisted against me."

The learned Sessions Judge found that there was sufficient evidence against Sukhpal Singh but not against Hansa Singh.

Consequently, Sukhpal Singh was convicted and Hansa Singh was acquitted.

Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [7]

The learned counsel for the appellant has argued that there was no direct evidence against the appellant. The case was based on circumstantial evidence and the circumstances which the prosecution presented before the Trial Court were not enough to record conviction.

Extra-judicial confession made by the appellant before Harnek Singh (PW- 4) was weak and unreliable and the other evidence of the appellant of moving about with the deceased in the van was based on the testimonies of witnesses who all were related to the deceased and were naturally interested in success of the prosecution.

It is true that some of the witnesses who testified before the Trial Court like Surinder Singh (PW-5), Kewaljit Singh (PW-7) and Roop Singh (PW-9) were closely related to the deceased. Therefore, discussion of the prosecution evidence should commence with a re-appraisal of the evidence given by independent witnesses.

Pritam Singh (PW-10) was the first person to see the dead body of Karamjit Singh @ Goru in the Rajasthan canal. This was the starting point of the case. Although Pritam Singh (PW-10) did not fully support the prosecution, his failure to do so would not make much difference because he does not deny that he had not seen the body in the canal. It was on the basis of Pritam Singh's statement that the case was registered and the investigation was commenced.

ASI Ravel Singh (PW-15) carried the inquest proceedings and noticed that there was a lacerated wound on the back of neck and the injury appeared to be a fire arm injury. This was confirmed by the evidence of Dr.

Balwinder Singh (PW-1) who noticed a lacerated wound with inverted margins on the left side of back side of head 5 cm from the midline. The Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [8]

wound was 1.5 cm x 1 cm in dimension and the bullet was found embedded in the right parietal region of brain. The bullet was recovered and handed over to the police.

The dead body of the deceased was photographed before being disposed of after post-mortem. On June 30, 1993 Surinder Singh (PW-5) and Roop Singh (PW-9) were shown the clothes, wrist watch, purse and the photographs of the dead body and they identified the body that of Karamjit Singh alias Goru of Kot Kapura. The Investigating Officer recorded the statement of Karamjit Singh (PW-7) who disclosed that on June 26, 1993 Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh had come to the taxi stand and asked Karamjit Singh to take them to Muktsar-Malout whereafter the three of them left Kot Kapura. Therefore, the Investigating Officer went to Police Lines, Faridkot and asked about Sukhpal Singh and found him absent from duty.

On July 3, 1993 statement of Darshan Singh (PW-8) was recorded. On July 7, 1993, Harnek Singh (PW-4) went to the Police Station and got recorded his statement. It was to the effect that the accused had come to him in a van and confessed to him that they had committed a murder and the Muktsar police were after them. The witness asked the accused to come on the following day with Sarpanch Gurdev Singh but they never came.

The accused were produced before the Investigating Officer on July 9, 1993 by Gurdev Singh and Van PAR 3332 belonging to the deceased was also taken into possession on that day.

On interrogation Sukhpal Singh disclosed regarding .38 bore revolver which he had in his possession in a iron box in his house. The Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [9]

revolver and cartridges were recovered and taken into possession. The revolver was Sukhpal Singh's service revolver No. A-673. The revolver and the bullet recovered from the body were sent for examination by Ballistics Expert, Forensic Science Laboratory (Punjab) Chandigarh, who vide report dated July 30, 1993 concluded that the bullet was of .38 bore and had been fired from .38 revolver No. A-673.

HC Balkar Singh (PW-16) testified that on March 31, 1993 he was posted as Kot HC, Police Lines, Faridkot and the arms and ammunition of the Police Lines remained in his custody. As per entry in register dated March 31, 1993 Sukhpal Singh was issued revolver .38 bore No. A-376 along with 18 cartridges. The entry was signed by Sukhpal Singh.

The above mentioned circumstances form a strong link or chain of circumstances which point towards Sukhpal Singh being the murderer.

In our view, the most important circumstance is that murder weapon was the revolver that had been issued to Sukhpal Singh on March 31, 1993. The bullet recovered from the body of the deceased Karamjit Singh had been fired from the said revolver, which was later recovered from Sukhpal Singh when he was arrested. The appellant had not given any worthwhile explanation about the revolver issued to him. There was no cross- examination of the police witness who had provided the link evidence of the recovered bullet and the revolver being kept in safe custody and being produced before the Ballistics Expert. Therefore, this part of the prosecution evidence remains unchallenged.

At this stage, the evidence of the so-called interested witnesses may be examined. The appellant and his co-accused Hansa Singh had met Karamjit Singh deceased on June 26, 1993 at the Kot Kapura Bus Stand, Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [10]

and in the presence of Kewaljit Singh (PW-7), they had asked the deceased to take them to Muktsar-Malout. Surinder Singh (PW-5), another relative of the deceased, ran a clinic at Kot Kapura near the taxi stand where the deceased parked his taxi. Therefore, Surinder Singh knew about the movements of the deceased. On June 21, 1993, the deceased had gone to Vaishno Devi but he had returned therefrom. On June 26, 1993 he went on a trip in his van but did not return. Surinder Singh asked Kewaljit Singh about Karamjit Singh and learnt that the van of the deceased had been hired by the appellant.

Darshan Singh (PW-8) saw the van of the deceased on the canal bank at Thandewala. The accused and his co-accused were sitting in the van. As Darshan Singh was on his way to Amritsar and he knew Karamjit Singh deceased as well as both the accused, he asked the accused where Karamjit Singh was as he wanted to hire the taxi but the accused told him that they had come on some secret mission and Karamjit Singh was not with them. Similarly, Roop Singh (PW-9) testified that on June 26, 1993 while he was waiting in a bus stand for the rain to subside Karamjit Singh accompanied by the accused passed that way and stopped to offer a lift to Roop Singh as it was raining. Roop Singh declined the offer as he had a scooter with him. However, Roop Singh heard Sukhpal Singh and Hansa Singh asking Karamjit Singh to hurry up as they were getting late. After some time when it stopped raining, Roop Singh had gone on the same direction in which the van of Karamjit Singh had gone and after some days came to know that Karamjit Singh's body was found near Rajasthan canal and was lying in Police Station Muktsar. Roop Singh had also identified the dead body from its clothes, wrist watch and photographs.

Crl. Appeal No. 402 DB of 1997 [11]

From the above circumstances our conclusion is inescapable that the prosecution had successfully established that Karamjit Singh deceased had been shot in the head by Sukhpal Singh appellant with his .38 service revolver that had been issued to him. The deceased was a taxi driver whose taxi had been hired by the appellant for some mission. Two witnesses had seen the deceased in the company of the appellant in the van while one witness had seen the appellant and his co-accused in the van without the deceased, probably after he had been done away with.

The above circumstances can lead to only one conclusion that it was Sukhpal Singh-appellant who committed the murder of Karamjit Singh.

Consequently, the appeal is devoid of any merit and is dismissed.



24.4.2006 (R.S.MADAN)

prem JUDGE


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