High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Pritpal Singh & Anr. v. State of Punjab - CRM-68489-m-2005  RD-P&H 3274 (18 May 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT FOR THE STATES OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH
Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005
Date of decision: May 29, 2006.
Pritpal Singh & Anr.
State of Punjab
Present: Shri Navkiran Singh, Advocate for the petitioner.
Shri B.S. Sewak, Dy. Advocate General, Punjab for the respondent.
Shri V.K. Gupta, Advocate for the complainant.
Surya Kant, J. (Oral)
The prayer in this petition is to release the petitioners on regular bail in FIR No.79 dated 26.6.2005, under sections 302, 341, 147, 148, 149, 120-B IPC, registered at Police Station Julkan, District Patiala.
The FIR was recorded on the statement of Lachhman Singh complainant, made on 26.6.2005. As per the allegations, the complainant's brother Kirpal Singh, who was a Member Panchayat, came to the complainant during mid-night and informed that he, the said Kirpal Singh, had gone towards the canal distributory bridge to see that people may not break the distributory in order to fetch water for their paddy crops and due to which the road of Mandi gets damaged and causes lot of disruption in traffic. He found that the co-villagers, namely, Gurmeet Singh, s/o Sucha Singh, Pritpal Singh, s/o Sucha Singh, Goldy, s/o Pritpal Singh, Rana, s/o Gurmeet Singh, Harpreet Singh @ Pappu, s/o Partap Singh, Chain Singh, Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005 -: 2 :-
s/o Prem Singh, Jats, resident of village Hadana were standing with their sickles and were preparing to break the canal distributory. However, when he (Kirpal Singh) asked them to refrain from breaking the canal distributory, they tried to enter into an altercation with him, however, he being alone, got afraid and came back to his brother, namely, the complainant. It has been further alleged that thereafter the complainant and his brother Kirpal Singh started for the house of Sarpanch Jarnail Singh to inform him regarding the above said occurrence and when they neared the house of Jarnail Singh, s/o Chiranji Lal, then two motor cycles came from behind, which was being driven by Rana, s/o Gurmeet Singh, and Goldy, s/o Pritpal Singh, and two persons were riding pillion, who were identified by the complainant in the light of electric bulb which was on in the verandah of house of Jarnail Singh. After stopping their motor cycles, all of them encircled the complainant. Out of them, Gurmeet Singh was armed with a 12 bore gun while Pritpal Singh was having a dang in his hand and the rest of the four were empty-handed. Meanwhile, Harpreet Singh @ Pappu and goldy gave lalkara that today the comrade should be dealt with for restraining them from breaking the canal distributory. On saying this, Rana and Chain Singh allegedly caught hold of the brother (Kirpal Singh ) of complainant from the arms and Harpreet Singh and Goldy attacked on the legs of Kirpal Singh and threw him on the ground. Pritpal Singh stopped the complainant with his dang though the complainant raised hue and cry to stop the attackers.
Meanwhile, Pritpal Singh incited Gurmeet Singh by saying as to what he was waiting for and he should blow him off with gun fire. Then Gurmeet Singh fired shots from his 12 bore double barrel gun, which hit on the left side of the chest of the complainant's brother. It was about 12.30 a.m. and Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005 -: 3 :-
on hearing the gun shots and the complainant's cries, various villagers ran towards the circular road, however, the accused persons ran away from the spot with their respective weapons.
On 27.6.2005, the complainant Lachhman Singh is stated to have made a supplementary statement under section 161 Cr.P.C. (Annexure P-1) alleging that he was quite puzzled and upset when he got recorded his statement on 26.6.2005 and forgot to tell that his brother Kirpal Singh was caught hold from arms by Rana and Chain Singh and from legs by Harpreet Singh @ Pappu and Goldy and was thrown on the ground and Gurmeet Singh fired at his brother with 12 bore gun on the left side of chest and that after the first gun shot injury, his brother tried to make himself free and he turned upside down, then Gurmeet Singh fired another shot at his brother Kirpal Singh, who was lying upside down which hit him on the upper portion of back on the left side.
It appears that during the course of investigation, the accused party made allegations that the whole family was being falsely implicated, therefore, an inquiry was marked to an IPS Officer in the rank of Superintendent of Police, who vide his report dated 25.7.2005 concluded as follows:-
"After examining all respectables, witnesses produced and circumstances, it is evidently revealed that in the above mentioned case, out of the nominated accused, Pritpal Singh son of Sucha Singh and Harpreet Sigh @ Pappu son of Partap Singh may not have been proved to be present on the spot, but were present at a distance. They could not be proved to be present on the spot but different witnesses as it was mid-night, Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005 -: 4 :-
so during enquiry, no clear eye witness could come forward.
So, Pritpal Singh and Harpreet Singh above mentioned should be arrested under section 120-B IPC and challan be presented in the court. Remaining accused Gurmeet Singh, Harpal Singh @ Goldy and Jagvinder Pal Singh @ Rana resident of Hadana during enquiry have been found to be the real accused who have been arrested and are in judicial custody in Central Jail Patiala. The applications attached do not need any other action or enquiry in this office. Report is submitted to you for necessary action and orders."
As can be seen from the above extracted part of the inquiry report, the petitioners Pritpal Singh and Harpreet Singh @ Pappu have not been proved to be present at the place of occurrence and were allegedly at a distance. It was recommended that they should be arrested under section 120-B IPC and challan be accordingly presented against them. It is in this factual backdrop that the petitioners seek their release on bail.
Notice of motion was issued and thereafter arguments were heard in the matter on May 5, 2006, and having regard to the fact that the case was fixed for prosecution evidence, the trial court was directed to record the statement of the complainant on the date fixed, i.e., 15.5.2006.
Thereafter, a reply by way of affidavit dated 8th May, 2006 has
been filed on behalf of the complainant, which, in the interest of justice, is taken on record.
Learned Counsel for the petitioners has also produced a certified copy of the order dated 15th
May, 2006 passed by the learned trial
court along with certified copy of the charges framed against the main Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005 -: 5 :-
accused, namely, Gurmeet Singh, as well as against the petitioners to show that they have been implicated with the aid of section 120-B IPC only. The order dated 15.5.2006 passed by the learned trial court further indicates that though Lachhman Singh complainant was seen in the court complex on that day yet he did not appear to get his statement recorded. The case was accordingly adjourned to 21.7.2006 for prosecution evidence.
In support of the prayer made in this petition, Learned Counsel for the petitioners contends that:- (i) as per the allegations, no overt act has been attributed to the petitioners; (ii) the allegation that petitioner No.2 attacked on the legs of the deceased is totally false as in the post mortem report, no injury on the legs of the deceased has been found; (iii) as per the allegations, it is Gurmeet Singh who committed the murder of the deceased by causing injuries with two gun shots, and no other injury has been found on the body of the deceased; (iv) as per the inquiry report by a senior police officer, the petitioners were not present at the time of occurrence, therefore, the story propounded by the complainant stands falsified; (v) there is not an iota of evidence to show that there was any meeting of minds prior to the occurrence, therefore and, thus, prima-facie no case under section 120-B IPC is made out against the petitioners; (vi) the complainant's version that he witnessed the occurrence becomes highly doubtful, more so, in view of his supplementary statement which shows that he has made an attempt to improve the case; (vii) the petitioners are in custody from the last more than six months; (viii) the complainant and the prosecution are delaying the trial as despite directions issued by this Court on May 5, 2006, the complainant did not appear and get the statement recorded; (ix) the conclusion of trial will take considerably long period; (x) since the star prosecution witness is Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005 -: 6 :-
the brother of the deceased, there is no likelihood of the petitioners' tampering with the evidence and/or influence the prosecution witnesses.
Learned State Counsel though has opposed the prayer in this petition, however, it is not denied by him that the inquiry report dated 25.7.2005 of the S.P., Patiala was accepted as correct and the challan was presented on 23.9.2005 as per the said report only. It is not disputed by him that as per the said inquiry report, the petitioners were not found present at the time of occurrence, though, the inquiry officer suspected their involvement and recommended their implication under section 120-B IPC.
Learned Counsel for the complainant has also supported the learned State Counsel.
It may also be mentioned here that after conclusion the hearing in this bail application and before the orders could be pronounced, learned counsel for the complainant has handed over a telegram, purported to be dated 14th
May, 2006, from Jagdev Singh, son of the deceased, alleging that the accused party had threatened him and his uncle, Lachhman Singh complainant in the present case, that if they appeared in the court to depose against them on 15th
May, 2006, they will be killed, due to which they got frightened. The aforesaid telegram has been marked as "A" and is taken on record.
Learned Counsel for the petitioners, however, has explained that the telegram is nothing but a device to justify the non-appearance of Lachhman Singh complainant before the trial court for his deposition, as directed by this Court vide order dated 5th May, 2006.
After hearing Learned Counsel for the parties, having regard to the nature of allegations against the petitioners and prima-facie evidence in Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005 -: 7 :-
support thereof and the conclusion drawn by the S.P., Patiala in his report dated 25.7.2005, it appears that the case of the petitioners is distinguishable from the case of the main accused, namely, Gurmeet Singh, who is alleged to have caused fatal gun shot injuries to the deceased. Since, as per the challan presented by the police, the petitioners have not been found present at the place of occurrence, the attributions made to them by the complainant in the FIR as well as in the supplementary statement, would require close scrutiny by the trial court. Though, it is not desirable to pre-judge the prosecution case on merits as it may cause prejudice to either of the parties, however, the cause of administration of criminal justice system shall hardly be served by further retention of the petitioners in custody. Having regard to the period which the petitioners have already spent in judicial custody, and the fact that conclusion of trial will take a considerably long period, and also keeping in view the requirement of protection to the vital prosecution witnesses, but without expressing any views on the rival contentions made on behalf of the parties, this petition is disposed of with the following directions:-
(i)the case is now fixed before the trial court on 21.7.2006 for which date, the prosecution witnesses have also been summoned. In this view of the matter, the trial court shall give an opportunity to the prosecution to examine Lachhman Singh complainant as the first prosecution witness on that day. An endeavour shall be made by the trial court to examine as many other witnesses, as would be possible;
(ii) in view of the alleged apprehension and fear of the Crl. Misc. No.68489-M of 2005 -: 8 :-
complainant and his nephew's mind, as mentioned in their telegram referred to above, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala is directed to assess the threat perception of the complainant and/or their other family members and to take immediate necessary steps in accordance with law; (iii) however, even if it is found that there is no threat to the complainant and/or his family members, the SSP, Patiala, as an abundant precaution, is directed to provide adequate security to the complainant immediate before 21st July,
2006, and to produce him in court under police protection, which shall continue to be provided till his statement is recorded;
(iv) on conclusion of cross examination of Lachhman Singh, the petitioners shall be released on bail to the satisfaction of the trial court;
(v) however, if Lachhman Singh complainant evades his examination as the first prosecution witness on 21.7.2006 and/or does not want to be examined, the petitioners shall still be released on bail to the satisfaction of trial court.
May 29, 2006. [ Surya Kant ]
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