High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
Case Law Search
Vajinder Singh & Anr. v. State of Punjab - CRA-279-db-1997  RD-P&H 3402 (24 May 2006)
Criminal Appeal No.279- DB of 1997
Date of decision:25.5.2006
Vajinder Singh and another. ..Appellants Versus
State of Punjab ...Respondent
CORAM: HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE AMAR DUTT
HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE BALDEV SINGH
Present: Mr.K.S.Ahluwalia and Mr.J.S.Rattu, Advocates, for the appellants.
Mr.A.S.Virk, Additional Advocate General, Punjab.
Amar Dutt, J.
Vajinder Singh and his mother Surjit Kaur have filed the present appeal to challenge the conviction and sentence imposed upon them by the Sessions Judge, Ludhiana on 28.2.1997.
Briefly stated, the facts of the prosecution case as brought out in the testimony of its witnesses are that the marriage between Vajinder Singh and Gurmit Kaur deceased had been solemnised on 7th
of April,1993 and from the wed-lock a daughter had been born.
Vajinder Singh appellant was a tailor by profession and was not doing fairly well in his trade. Prior to the incident, he is stated to have asked his wife to bring money from her parents to expand the business but Gurmit Kaur since deceased had told him that her parents were not in a position to help him financially. About 1½ months prior to the date of occurrence i.e. 24.4.1995, appellant Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (2)
Vajinder Singh had taken his wife to Khanna and after leaving her there with her Massar had gone to Delhi to get money from his father-in-law, who did not pay any amount. The result was that Gurmit Kaur was ill-treated by him and her mother-in-law. Surjit Kaur,the mother of Vajinder Singh was also mal-treating the deceased in spite of the fact that she being pregnant was asked not to perform house hold chores.
On 24.4.1995, at about 11.00 a.m., Gurmit Kaur had asked Vajinder Singh to take her to a doctor for a regular check up. He had refused to do so and asked her to accompany his mother. When the deceased had insisted, Vajinder Singh had got infuriated and had threatened to finish her. At that time the deceased was standing in the court yard of the house and her husband brought a plastic Can containing kerosene from the kitchen and poured the same on her. While doing so, he called his mother to set Gurmit Kaur on fire. Surjit Kaur had complied with the request and when the deceased shouted for help Vajinder Singh had gagged her mouth with his hands and in the process had received some burn injuries on his arms. Hearing the screams, some people were attracted at the spot and they removed Gurmit Kaur to the hospital.
On receipt of a telephonic message from
Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (3)
C.M.C.Hospital, Ludhiana, ASI Sat Parkash reached there and recorded the statement Ex.PL of Vajinder Singh accused. He was,however, not satisfied with the version given by the accused and again on 25th
of April,1995, he
had gone to the hospital and filed an application Ex.PE for ascertaining whether Gurmit Kaur was fit to make a statement. On this application Dr.Arun Ganguli had made an endorsement Ex.PE/1 declaring her to be fit to make a statement, whereupon ASI Sat Parkash had recorded the statement of Gurmit Kaur, which is exhibited as PM and forwarded the text thereof to the Police Station Division No.2, Ludhiana and on its basis formal FIR Ex.PM/2 was registered by SI Harbans Singh. After registration of the FIR, SI Harbans Singh went to the place of occurrence and took into possession plastic Can containing small quantity of kerosene and match box. He also prepared site plan Ex.PN of the place of occurrence and searched for the accused Surjit Kaur, who was found to be absconding.
She was ultimately arrested on 27.4.1995. On May 3,1995, Gurmit Kaur succumbed to the burn injuries and thereafter ASI Sat Parkash went to the hospital and completed the inquest proceedings. After the discharge of Vajinder Singh from the hospital, he was arrested on 5.5.1995. On completion of the investigation, a challan was presented against the appellants before the Illaqa Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (4)
Magistrate, who committed the same to the Court of Sessions for trial as offences disclosed therein were exclusively triable by that Court.
On going through the papers sent up with the challan, the trial Court found that prima facie a case was made out against the appellants under Sections 302/34 IPC and, accordingly, framed the charge under those Sections and when the appellants pleaded not guilty to the charge, the prosecution was called upon to lead its evidence.
To bring home the charge, the prosecution examined Dr.K.J.S.Kakker PW1, Charanjit Kaur PW2, Narinder Singh PW3, Harminder Singh PW4, Dr.Arun Ganguli PW5, Constable Gurdev Singh PW6, Gurdip Singh PW7, Harbhajan Singh PW8, Jagdish Lal PW9 and ASI Sat Parkash PW10.
After completion of the prosecution evidence, when the incriminating circumstances were put to the appellants, they denied all of them and asserted that they were innocent and had been falsely implicated. Vajinder Singh appellant took the following plea:- "On 24.4.1995, I went to my shop in the morning and at about 10.30 A.M. came back to the house and went with the empty gas cylinder to Krishan Gas Company from where a slip was obtained for Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (5)
issuing a refill and after I obtained the refill from the trolley loaded with gas cylinders parked near Daresi Ground, I came back to my house at 11.30 A.M. and at that time my wife was heating the water over a stove lying near the bath room and she started pouring kerosene oil in the burning stove and caught fire. On hearing her screams I rushed from the kitchen after placing the cylinder there to her rescue and poured water on her from a tub whereas my sister-in-law put a blanket around her and while extinguishing the fire both of my arms were also burnt. I had also received burn injuries on other parts of my body. Our neighbours had also helped in extinguishing fire. Meanwhile some other persons from the mohalla also gathered and Harjit Singh had arranged the three wheeler in which myself and my wife were taken to C.M.C. & Hospital and got admitted there for treatment. My wife had accidentally caught fire. My brother had informed my in-laws on the phone about the incident. On getting the telephone message my mother in law and father in law reached the hospital during the night of April 24,1995. My father in law is a greedy person and he cooked up a false case against me and my mother. My wife had Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (6)
also told the Medical Officer at the time of her admission in the hospital that she had accidentally caught fire and this fact was incorporated in the bed head ticket but my father in law in connivance with the employees of the hospital got the bed head ticket destroyed. I had never demanded any money nor had mal-treated the deceased. I was having good business and had never suffered any loss of business and I am innocent."
whereas Surjit Kaur stated as under:-
"I was residing with my younger son Jasbir Singh and had never mal-treated the deceased nor ever asked the deceased to bring money from her parents. My daughter-in-law had accidentally caught fire and I have been falsely implicated and I am innocent."
In defence, appellants examined Jasbir Kaur DW1, Harjit Singh DW2, Ravinder Kumar DW3 and Dr.Naresh Bajwa DW4.
After hearing the arguments, the trial Court came to the conclusion that the prosecution has been able to prove its case against the accused beyond all reasonable doubts and, accordingly, convicted them under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and sentenced them to undergo imprisonment for life and to Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (7)
pay a fine of Rs.1000/- each. In default of payment of fine, they were ordered to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for three months each. Hence, the present appeal.
We have heard Mr.K.S.Ahluwalia and
Mr.J.S.Rattu, appearing on behalf of the appellants and Mr.A.S.Virk, Additional Advocate General, Punjab, appearing on behalf of the State and have perused the record.
The case against the appellants is built up on and around the statement made by deceased Gurmit Kaur detailing the circumstances in which she had received burn injuries. This statement was given before ASI Sat Parkash on 25.4.1995 at 5.45 p.m. in C.M.C.Hospital, Ludhiana. It had, after giving details of the family of the husband consisting of two sisters and one brother, all of whom were married and were living jointly though being separate in business, adverted to the circumstance that Varjinder Singh was suffering loss in his business and had been soliciting the monetary help from his in-laws to support his business ventures. It also contained information that her parents and other members of their family (Massar) had not been able to accede to the demands and, therefore, appellant-Vajinder Singh had on 24.4.1995 returned from Khanna and misbehaved with Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (8)
the deceased. It was then that the crisis was precipitated when appellant Vajinder Singh retorted to the protest registered by the deceased against her being asked to attend to all the house-hold work in spite of her being in an advance stage of pregnancy. Vajinder Singh had got enraged and told that "Today I will finish you for ever" and thereafter brought five litre plastic can of kerosene from the kitchen and poured the kerosene on her and asked his mother Surjit Kaur to set her ablaze. She also stated that her brother-in law Jasbir Singh had reached there and denied the knowledge of who extinguished the fire. The deceased was removed to the hospital and died after nine days of the incident. Dr.K.G.S.Kakker PW1 had attributed the death to septicaemic shock which was sufficient to cause death in the normal course of nature and in cross-examination the only thing which was suggested is that in post mortem the Board of Doctors did not find any smell of kerosene, which in our opinion is absolutely uncalled for in view of the fact that the burns would have been dressed on each of the days that elapsed after the incident before Gurmit Kaur breathed her last.
The fact that no doctor had attested the statement of Gurmit Kaur was sought to be emphasised in spite of the fact that by endorsement Ex.PE/1 Dr.Arun Ganguli PW5 had declared her to be fit to make a statement. Though it Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (9)
was suggested to the Investigating Officer that he had fabricated the statement in consultation with the parents of the deceased yet in the absence of any credible evidence being brought on the record in the shape of statements of the residents of the locality, it would be difficult for us to accept as correct the challenge especially when Surjit Kaur, the mother-in-law of the deceased, had absconded immediately after the occurrence and Jasbir Singh, the brother of Vajinder Singh, who even according to the deceased lives on the first floor of the house had reached the room after she had been set ablaze, has chosen not to appear in the witness box.
On behalf of the appellants it had been
submitted that the first report regarding the incident in this case was made by Vajinder Singh appellant and there is nothing on the record to show that what has been stated by the appellant was incorrect. In view of this, it was sought to be urged that the police has conducted an unfair investigation inasmuch as they had not tried to determine the correctness of the version given by Vajinder Singh.
While there is no doubt that Gurmit Kaur along with her husband Vajinder Singh was removed to the hospital by her family members but there is nothing on the record to show as to what were the injuries that had been sustained Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (10)
by Varjinder Singh. The Investigating Officer while recording the statement of Vajinder Singh Ex.PL, had appended a note indicating his doubts regarding the correctness of the defence version, which is to the following effect:-
"On the basis of this statement, no congizable offence has been found because as per his statement he caught fire when he was extinguishing the fire of his wife and his wife Gurmeet Kaur caught fire with stove, accidentally. But as Vajinder Singh has got recorded in his statement that when his wife was filling oil in the burning stove then she caught fire. This fact is not believable because when oil is filled in burning stove, its air goes out and fire extinguishes automatically. Since Gurmeet Kaur wife of Vajinder Singh has burnt about 50 per cent due to catching fire and she has been declared unfit to give statement by the doctor. When she will be declared fit to make statement, then her statement will be recorded and thereafter action will be taken accordingly. On return, entry shall be made in the roznamcha and intention shall be given to the SHO."
Though it is correct that in view of this note the investigating agency has not specifically tried to verify Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (11)
the correctness of the defence version but impliedly the same has been rejected by the investigating agency and the defence having not taken any steps to bring on record any material which would help us to assess the correctness of the two versions especially the evidence regarding the burns which are alleged to have been sustained by Vajinder Singh, we have no hesitation in rejecting like the trial Court, the defence version. The fallacy in the stand of the defence is evident for if Gurmit Kaur was actually trying to pour kerosene into a burning pressure stove the pressure would have decreased and the flames automatically extinguished. The fact that Jasbir Singh, brother of the appellant, had not appeared in the witness box also indicates that even the male members of the family were not prepared to support the version put forth by Vajinder Singh in defence. The half hearted support given by DW1 Jasbir Kaur also does not support the defence version inasmuch as when she reached at the spot, she had been informed that Gurmit Kaur was trying to heat water on the stove when she caught fire and at that time neither any match box nor can of kerosene or utensils were lying in the kitchen. The trial Court's observation that in April there would be hardly any necessity of boiling water is also not, in any way, of the mark.
Crl.A.No.279-DB of 1997 (12)
Looked at from any angle, we find that the prosecution version does not suffer from any infirmity and, therefore, will have to be upheld.
For the reasons recorded above, this appeal fails and is dismissed.
May 25,2006 (Baldev Singh)
Double Click on any word for its dictionary meaning or to get reference material on it.