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Monday, December 12, 2016

converted to one under Section 304 Part 1 and 307 IPC and the sentence is reduced to the period already undergone. =we are of the comprehension that the appellant was overpowered by an uncontrollable fit of anger somuch so that he was deprived of his power of self-control and being drawn in a web of action reflexes, fired at the deceased and the injured, who were within his sight. The facts do not commend to conclude that the appellant had the intention of eliminating any one of those fired at, though he had the knowledge of the likely fatal consequences thereof. Be that as it may, on an overall consideration of the fact situation and also the time lag in between, we are of the view that the conviction of the appellant ought to be moderated to one under Section 304 Part 1 IPC and 307 IPC. Further, considering the facts of the case in particular, according to us, it would meet the ends of justice, if the sentence for the offences is reduced to the period already undergone. We order accordingly.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.  1145 OF 2016
              (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P (CRIMINAL) NO.4877 OF 2012)


GURPAL SINGH                                     .…APPELLANT

                                   VERSUS

STATE OF PUNJAB                                      ....RESPONDENT


                               J U D G M E N T

AMITAVA ROY, J.



      The subject matter  of  scrutiny  is  the  judgment  and  order  dated
01.10.2008 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at  Chandigarh  in
Criminal Appeal No. 378-DB of 2004 concurring with the verdict of the  Trial
Court in convicting the appellant for the offence  under  Sections  302  and
307  IPC  while  acquitting  the  co-accused  Harpartap  Singh,   his   son.
Following his conviction, the appellant had been awarded  sentence  of  life
imprisonment and fine of Rs.5,000/- with default sentence under Section  302
IPC and five  years  rigorous  imprisonment  and  fine  of  Rs.2,000/-  with
default sentence under Section  307  IPC.   Both  the  sentences  have  been
ordered to  run  concurrently.   The  High  Court  has  concurred  with  the
sentence as well.
2.    We have heard  Mr. Yatindra Singh,  Senior  Advocate,  learned  Amicus
Curiae for the appellant and Mr. Saurabh Ajay  Gupta,  learned  counsel  for
the respondent.
3.    The incident witnessing the death of Jatinder Singh and  the  injuries
sustained by Lakhwinder has the  genesis  in  a  trifle.    On  a  statement
rendered with regard thereto by Gurdial Singh(PW1),  the  First  Information
Report was registered against the appellant and his son Harpartap.   It  was
alleged that over a lingering land dispute between  the  informant  and  the
appellant, who are brothers, on 06.07.2002, while Jugraj,  the  son  of  the
informant was in his fields,  the  appellant  had  hurled   abuses  to  him.
Jugraj having felt humiliated and anguished, on returning  home,  complained
about the same to his father Gurdial, the  informant.   The  houses  of  the
brothers were adjacent to each other.   When  the  appellant  returned  home
from his fields, the informant went to the terrace of the roof of his  house
and summoned the  former  to  that  of  his.   The  appellant  and  his  son
Harpartap responded to the call whereafter informant enquired of  Gurpal  as
to why he had  abused  his  son.   This  enraged  the  appellant  and  while
arrogantly proclaiming that he was not only justified to do so but  that  he
would continue to conduct himself as done, rushed downstairs  of  his  house
and brought his DBBL  gun.  His son Harpartap, the acquitted co-accused  was
also with him.  It is alleged by the prosecution that on the exhortation  of
Harpartap, the appellant opened fire, which hit the informant  on  the  side
of his head.  Meanwhile drawn by the commotion, Paramjit Kaur, the  wife  of
the informant, Jatinder  Singh  and  Lakhwinder  Singh,  friends  of  Jugraj
rushed to the terrace.  On seeing them, the appellant  fired  from  his  gun
towards  them,  which  hit  Paramjit  and  Jatinder  on  their  abdomen  and
Lakhwinder on his  mouth  and  head.  On  hue  and  cry  being  raised,  the
appellant and the accused fled the scene.
4.    The injured were rushed to  the  Guru  Nanak  Dev  Hospital,  Amritsar
where they were  treated.   However,  Jatinder  succumbed  to  the  injuries
sustained.   After  completing  the  investigation,  charge-sheet  was  laid
against both the accused persons under Sections 302 and 307 IPC.

5.    The accused persons denied the charge and, therefore were tried.   The
prosecution   examined  several  witnesses  including  the  informant,   the
injured and the doctor who had performed  the  post-mortem  examination  and
had attended the injuries of others  involved.   The  accused  persons  were
examined under Section 313 Cr.P.C. and on the completion of the  trial,  the
Trial Court  convicted  the  appellant  under  Sections  302,  307  IPC  but
acquitted the co-accused  Harpartap.   To  reiterate,  the  High  Court  has
affirmed the conviction and the sentence recorded by the Trial Court.
6.     The  learned  Amicus  Curiae  has  persuasively   argued   that   the
prosecution has utterly failed to prove the  charge  against  the  appellant
which is patently deducible amongst others from the exoneration of  the  co-
accused Harpartap, who allegedly had instigated the former to open  fire  on
the deceased and the injured. Apart from contending that all  the  purported
eye-witnesses are relatives inter se, and therefore inherently partisan  and
thus are wanting  in  creditability,  the  learned  senior  counsel  in  the
alternative has urged without prejudice that even if the  prosecution  case,
as projected, is accepted in its entirety, no case  for  murder  or  attempt
therefor has been proved and, therefore in  any  view  of  the  matter,  the
sentence needs to be reduced appropriately.
7.    The learned counsel for the respondent, as  against  this,  has  urged
that in the  face  of  telltale  testimony  of  the  injured  eye-witnesses,
supported on all fours by the medical evidence, the charge levelled  against
the appellant stands proved beyond reasonable doubt and thus the  concurrent
determinations of the courts below do not warrant any  interference  in  the
appeal.
8.    We have examined the evidence pertaining to the incident as  available
on records.  The  eye-witnesses  including  the  informant  have  offered  a
consistent, coherent and convincing narration thereof which does  not  admit
of  any  doubt  of  their  trustworthiness.   The  plea  of   their   family
relationship to discredit them  does  not  commend  for  acceptance  in  the
attendant  facts  and  circumstances.   Noticeably,   in   course   of   the
investigation, amongst others, the 12 bore DBBL gun  loaded  with  two  live
cartridges used for the offence had been recovered from the appellant.   The
site plan prepared by the investigating  officer  also  pins  the  place  of
occurrence as deposed by the witnesses.  Further four cartridge shells  have
also been recovered from the said spot.

9.    The medical evidence reveals injuries on the deceased and the  injured
compatible  with  the  weapon  used.   The  charges  levelled  against   the
appellant thus have been proved beyond doubt.  The co-accused Harpartap  has
been acquitted in view of  absence of  any  incriminating  evidence  against
him. His acquittal, having regard to the state of evidence  has  no  bearing
on the  inculpatory  involvement  of  the  appellant  somuch  so,  that  his
conviction in isolation is sustainable.
10.    However,  in  the  singular  facts  of  the  case  and  noticing   in
particular, the progression of events culminating in  the  tragic  incident,
we are inclined to reduce the sentence awarded to  him.   Incidentally,  the
occurrence is of the year 2004 and  meanwhile  twelve  years  have  elapsed.
Further, having regard to the root cause of  the  incident  and  the  events
that sequentially unfolded thereafter, we are of the comprehension that  the
appellant was overpowered by an uncontrollable fit of anger somuch  so  that
he was deprived of his power of self-control and being drawn  in  a  web  of
action reflexes, fired at the deceased and the injured, who were within  his
sight.  The facts do not commend to conclude  that  the  appellant  had  the
intention of eliminating any one of  those  fired  at,  though  he  had  the
knowledge of the likely fatal consequences thereof.  Be that as it  may,  on
an overall consideration of the fact situation and  also  the  time  lag  in
between, we are of the view that the conviction of the  appellant  ought  to
be moderated to one under Section 304 Part 1  IPC  and  307  IPC.   Further,
considering the facts of the case in particular, according to us,  it  would
meet the ends of justice, if the sentence for the  offences  is  reduced  to
the period already undergone.  We order accordingly.
11.   Ex-consequenti, the appeal is partly allowed.  The conviction  of  the
appellant is converted to one under Section 304 Part 1 and 307 IPC  and  the
sentence is reduced to the period already undergone.  In this  view  of  the
matter, as a corollary, the  appellant  is  hereby  ordered  to  be  set  at
liberty forthwith, if he is not required to be detained in  connection  with
any other case.



                             .............................................J.
                                                     (DIPAK MISRA)



                              …...........................................J.
                                                  (AMITAVA ROY)

NEW DELHI;
DECEMBER 2, 2016.

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