High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Jarnail Singh v. State of Punjab - CRA-D-405-db-1997  RD-P&H 3523 (30 May 2006)
Criminal Appeal No.405-DB of 1997
Date of decision:3.7.2006
Jarnail Singh ..Appellant
State of Punjab ...Respondent
CORAM: HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE AMAR DUTT
HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE A.N.JINDAL
Present: Ms. Vandana Malhotra, Advocate, for the appellant.
Mr. M.S.Sidhu, Senior Deputy Advocate General, Punjab.
Amar Dutt, J.
Jarnail Singh being aggrieved by the judgment dated 14.2.1997 passed by the Sessions Judge, Faridkot had filed the present appeal through the Punjab Legal Services Authority.
At the time of arguments, Ms.Vandana Malhotra, Advocate on behalf of the Punjab Legal Services Authority has filed an office report of the Additional Member Secretary of the Punjab Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh for bringing to the notice of this Court that the appellant having already been released from the District Jail, Faridkot on 19.10.2005 after having completed his sentence on the basis ****
of remissions granted to him has intimated the Authority that he had already undergone the sentence and he did not wish to pursue the appeal any more before stating that :-
"Hence, in view of the statement given by the appellant in writing appropriate orders may be passed" The filing of this application brings into focus two significant lapses:-
(i) the fact that the casual approach with which persons In- charge of providing legal aid to down trodden and under privileged section of society, who are not able to finance their own litigation approach the task assigned to them inasmuch as before supplying this information they have not even studied the extant legal position which obliges the High Court to decide an appeal that is being filed before it in cases where it does not choose to deal with the same under Section 384(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure; and
(ii) the fact that in our judicial system, we are at times not able to decide the rights of the parties in criminal matters before the decision on the appeal is rendered irrelevant from the stand point of the appellant. What has been stated by the ****
appellant incorporates the anguish of an undertrial/ convict who has already undergone the imprisonment imposed on him without having the benefit of an appellate judgment.
Taking up the second issue first we are of the view that as such a situation does not bring any credit to the institution, it might be appropriate for the institution to consider ways and means of ensuring that the cases of persons who are in custody are decided before they complete the sentences awarded to them.
Regarding the first issue, the information supplied by the Punjab Legal Services Authority ignores the principle laid down in Khedu Mohton and others vs. State of Bihar, AIR 1971 S.C.66, which is to the following effect:-
"An appeal under Sec. 417 can only abate on the death of the accused and not otherwise. Once an appeal against an acquittal is entertained by the High Court, it becomes the duty of the High Court to decide the same irrespective of the fact that the appellant either does not choose to prosecute it or is unable to prosecute it for one reason or the other." The officer-in-charge of the Legal Services Authority is expected to be aware of this settled proposition, the necessary consequence ****
whereof is that a legal aid counsel will have to be nominated even in cases where the appellant might have already undergone the sentence. While providing such a counsel it would also be necessary for the Authority to apprise them that the case will have to be argued on merits.
In view of this, it would only be appropriate to direct the office to bring this observation to the notice of Hon'ble the Chief Justice for passing such administrative orders as his Lordship may deem fit.
Having said this, we may now proceed to deal with the appeal on merits.
Briefly stated, the facts of the prosecution case as brought out in the testimony of its witnesses are that deceased Gurdev Kaur was married with Natha Singh PW7 about 28 years prior to 29th of March, 1994, the
date of the incident. From the wed lock three sons have been born. On the date of the occurrence, at about noon time, Natha Singh was sitting on his cot in the room while his wife Gurdev Kaur and daughter-in-law Rani were sitting under the Neem tree in the court yard. Jarnail Singh armed with a Kulhari had entered the house and raised a lalkara calling upon Gurdev Kaur to get ready as she had deserted him and spoiled his life and consequently would not allow her to live. On hearing this, Gurdev Kaur and Rani got up from the cot. Natha Singh also came out of the room. In the meantime, the appellant had given a Kulhari blow on the neck of ****
Gurdev Kaur, on account whereof she fell on the ground. Rani and Natha Singh raised an alarm and in their presence Jarnail Singh gave three more Kulhari blows on the person of Gurdev Kaur, whose neck was severed from the body. The appellant thereafter ran away from the spot taking the Kulhari with him. The efforts of Natha Singh to apprehend Jarnail Singh were futile.
The alleged motive for the incident was the fact that Jarnail Singh appellant had illicit relations with Gurdev Kaur and the sons of Natha Singh had come to know of the same and on their asking Gurdev Kaur had stopped meeting the appellant with which state of affairs he had not been able to reconcile and, consequently, had taken the extreme step.
Thereafter, Natha Singh leaving Rani PW8 near the dead body went to the Police Station, Lambi along with Santa Singh Chowkidar. In the area of village Killianwali, he met Inspector Anokh Singh PW10, Station House Officer of the aforesaid Police Station, who had recorded the statement of Natha Singh and on its basis formal FIR was recorded.
Inspector Anokh Singh and the police party had accompanied Natha Singh and Santa Singh Chowkidar to the place of occurrence where he had after preparing the inquest proceedings sent the dead body for post mortem. He had also picked up blood stained and simple earth from the place of ****
occurrence and after making them into sealed parcels taken the same into possession. He prepared rough site plan of the place of occurrence and recorded the statements of the witnesses. He searched for the accused but Jarnail Singh was not available. On return to the Police Station, Inspector Anokh Singh had deposited the case property with Moharrir Head Constable. On 30.3.1994, when Inspector Anokh Singh was at Bus Stand, Lambi in connection with the search of the accused, Constable Kartar Singh had produced the clothes of the deceased and the bangles along with post mortem report. On 16.4.1994, the appellant was produced before the Inspector by Puran Singh Sarpanch PW5. The appellant was arrested and the Kulhari which was produced by him was taken into possession.
On completion of the investigation, a challan was presented against the appellant before the Illaqa 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 appellant under Sections 302 and 450 IPC and, accordingly, framed the charge under those Sections and when the appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge, the prosecution was called upon to lead its evidence.
To bring home the charge, the prosecution examined Dr.R.S.Randhawa PW1, MHC Major Singh PW2, LC Rachhpal Singh PW3, Constable Kashmir Singh PW4, Puran Singh PW5, Ram Narain PW6, Natha Singh PW7, Rani PW8, Constable Jaskaran Singh PW9 and Inspector Anokh Singh PW10.
When examined under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in order to explain the incriminating circumstances appearing in the prosecution evidence against him, the appellant denied the same and stated that he had illicit relations with Gurdev Kaur and the matter came to the notice Panchayat of the village and the members of the family of Gurdev Kaur, who did not like it. On the day of the occurrence, he had been called to the house of Natha Singh by Gurdev Kaur when she was all alone in the house. The couple had been found in a compromising position when Natha Singh came there with a Kulhari. Thereafter, he had been able to escape but Natha Singh had severed the neck of Gurdev Kaur with a Kulhari and with the help of the Panchayat had falsely implicated him in this case. He raised hue and cry but none in the village came to his support.
He, however, had produced no evidence in defence.
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 him under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.500/-. In default of payment of fine, he was ordered to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for two months. He was also convicted under Section 450 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years and to pay a fine of Rs.250/-. In default of payment of fine, he was ordered to undergo further rigourous imprisonment for one month. The substantive sentences of imprisonment were,however, ordered to run concurrently. Hence, the present appeal.
We have heard Mr.M.S.Sidhu, Senior Deputy Advocate General, Punjab and with his help have perused the record and examined the statements of Natha Singh PW7 and Rani PW8.
Though suggestions had been put to these witnesses but nothing material has been brought out in the cross-examination which would help us to come to the conclusion that the defence version regarding the manner in which the incident took place was more probable and, therefore,liable to be accepted. The appellant had admitted his presence at the time when the incident in which Gurdev Kaur lost her life, took place.
The appellant is coming up with a version that Natha Singh and his sons ****
had caught him in a compromising position. It is inconceivable that if that was correct the appellant would have escaped from the spot without receiving any injury at the hands of Natha Singh and his three sons. In cross-examination of the witnesses too nothing substantial has been brought on the record which would enable us to reject the prosecution version as improbable. In our opinion, the conviction of the appellant recorded by the trial Court does not suffer from any legal or other infirmity.
For the reasons recorded above, this appeal fails and the same is dismissed.
July 3,2006 ( A.N.Jindal)
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