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A Person cannot be acquitted die to Long-Pendency of the case and other Accused have Died: SC

A PERSON CANNOT BE ACQUITTED DUE TO LONG-PENDENCY OF THE CASE AND OTHER ACCUSED HAVE DIED: SC

Cause Title: Karan Singh v. The State of Uttar Pradesh and Others

Case Number: Criminal Appeal No 327/ 2022 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 717/2020

Quorum: Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice V. Ramasubramanian

Judgment Date: 02/03/2022

Counsel for Appellant: Mr. Ajit Kumar Sinha

Counsel for Respondent: Mr. Sanjay Kumar Tyagi

Author: Pragash B, Advocate, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court



Background of the Case

On 08.04.1980, about 12:15 PM., one Rati pal filed complaint at Kaanth Police Station alleging that eight days before Holi, one Rajkumar Singh had purchased a buffalo from his elder brother Brahmapal Singh at the price of Rs. 1900/-. Rajkumar had promised to pay the price eight days after Holi to Brahmapal Singh but he failed to do so and in result the later did not permit Rajkumar Singh to harvest his crops. On 07.04.1980, Rajkumar asked Brahmapal Singh to come to Simra Khera on 08.04.1980 to collect his money.

On 08.04.1980, the complainant’s cousin brother, Mahendra Singh came to complainant’s house and asked Brahmapal Singh to go to Simra Khera with him to collect money from Rajkumar Singh. The Complainant’s brother-in-law (Shreepal Singh), Brahmapal Singh, the Complainant (Rati Pal), a villager Badshah Singh and Mahendra Singh went to Simra Khera to the house of Sher Singh Thakur and sat on a cot in the sitting area.

Rajkumar Singh came with the rifle in his hand along with the appellant, Karan Singh who was armed with a rifle, Sukhlal, Jagdish Singh and Harpal Singh with a single barrel gun and Nankoo Singh with a double barrel gun. When Brahmapal Singh asked for money and Harpal Singh asked Rajkumar Singh to discharge his debt to Brahmapal Singh as soon as possible at which Rajkumar Singh shot Brahmapal Singh on head and he fell unconscious. Thereafter, the associates of Rajkumar Singh opened fire in which the complainant, Badshah Singh, Shreepal Singh and Mahendra Singh ran away from the spot but out of the shots fired, one shot hit Mahendra Singh. The complainant and other eye witnesses ran into Sher Singh Thakur’s house and when they returned to the place of occurrence, they found Brahmapal Singh dead.

The chargesheet was filed against the accused persons namely Rajkumar Singh, Harpal Singh, Jagdish Singh, Karan Singh, Sukhlal Singh and Nankoo Singh under Sections 148, 302/149 and 307/149 of the IPC. Dr. P. K. Gupta (PW5) who conducted the post mortem examination of the deceased found several gunshot injuries on the body. The Appellant and other accused persons were tried by the Sessions Court. The prosecution examined six witnesses, namely Dr. R.N. Rastogi (PW1), Rati Pal Singh (PW2), Shreepal Singh (PW3), Mahendra Singh (PW4), Dr. P.K. Gupta (PW5) and the Investigating Officer (IO) Jagdish Singh (PW6). The Trial Court convicted the accused for murder and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. The Trial Court order was based on reliable eye-witnesses’ testimonies, motive to kill the deceased and death by 16 bullet injuries.

The appellant with other convicted persons filed Criminal Appeal No. 1813/1983 which has been dismissed by the High Court by the judgment and order dated 30/07/2018 under appeal.While the appeal was pending before the High Court, five out of six accused died and only the appellant is alive. Now the appeal lies with the Honourable Supreme Court of India.

Findings of the Court

The Honourable Apex Court of India held that

a) PW2 and PW3 had clearly mentioned that the Appellant and PW4 Mahendar Singh were both present at the place of occurrence. The Appellant’s presence has been proved by two eye witnesses.

b) It has been proved by the eye witnesses, that the Appellant carried a rifle.

c) But PW2 and PW3 deposed that all the accused had opened fire. (Para 46)

…… The Prosecution was required to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, which it has done, and not beyond all iota of doubt. The fact that one of the injured witnesses may not have mentioned the name of Appellant Karan Singh does not demolish the evidence of other witnesses.” (Para 46)

We find no grounds to interfere with the concurrent findings of the Trial Court and the High Court. The fact that the trial/appeal should have taken years and that other accused should have died during the appeal cannot be a ground for acquittal of the appellant. The appeal is thus dismissed. (Para 47)


Cases Referred

1. Palvinder Kaur v. State of Punjab, AIR 1952 SC 354.

2. Hanumant Govind Nargundkar v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1952 SC 343.

3. Mrinal Das and Others v. State of Tripura, AIR 2011 SC 3753.

4. Navaneethakrishnan v. State by Inspector of Police, (2018) 16 SCC 161.

5. Rohtash Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2013) 14 SCC 434.

6. Narayan Chetanram Chaudhary and Another v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2000 SC 3352; (2000) 8 SCC 457.

7. Kuriya and Another v. State of Rajasthan, (2012) 10 SCC 433.

8. Kathi Bharat Vajsur v. State of Gujarat, (2012) 5 SCC 724.

9. Gura Singh v. State of Rajasthan, (2001) 2 SCC 205.

10. Sukhchain Singh v. State of Haryana, (2002) 5 SCC 100.

11. Ref. Sunil Kumar v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi, (2003) 11 SCC 367.

12. Ashok Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2010) 12 SCC 350.

13. Shivlal v. State of Chattisgarh, (2011) 9 SCC 561.

14. Shyamlal Ghosh v. State of West Bengal, (2012) 14 SCC 434.

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