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Even though the witness could not identify the accused in court, if the statement is relevant in cha

Darshan Singh v. St. Of Punjab Criminal Appeal Nos. 1688/2009 & 1690/2009 – 6th December 2019

CORAM: A two-judge bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta

The facts of the case are that  FIR was filed by Jarnail Singh on 28th March 2005 at 12.35 PM. He had taken land lease of 7 bighas of land from Pritpal & Mohan Singh, the sons of Khushal Singh & had sown wheat crops. He also took land lease of 7 bighas of land from Faqir Chand and had sown wheat there too. The wheat of the latter’s land is small, but the wheat of the former’s land is 2.5 feet in height. About 10.30 AM, with Mohinder Singh (the village headman) & Hari Pal (the Sarpanch), he saw foul smell emitting from a jute bag with maggots around it in Pritpal’s field and suspected it to be a dead body & he went alone & told that to the Police. The Statement was recorded by Balwant Singh who later came as a witness too. The Body was unidentifiable. Doctor Harbhajan Singh, Doctor Navtejpal Singh & Doctor Gulshan prepared the post-mortem report & she had died ten days ago & Doctor Harbhajan Singh, on the request of the police, opined that she had been poisoned by Phosphine which was found in her vitals & also suffered from haemorrhage. The prosecution story is the deceased name is Surjit Kaur. U/s. 161 of Cr.PC, 1973, Avtar Singh, Jagmohan Singh, Swaran Kaur and Darshan Singh. They are the son, grandson, daughter in law and servant working for the son of the deceased respectively. The deceased had inherited 5 bighas of land from her another son, Gurmit Singh (who died issueless), which her living son and family were not happy. She sold one bigha and leased out four to Avtar Singh at Rs. 4000 per bigha & he didn’t pay at all & the matter came to Panchayat & so the suspicions on these four are strong.

The learned Sessions on an order dated 23rd and 26th May 2007 acquitted Avtar Singh but convicted Jagmohan Singh, Swaran Kaur and Darshan Singh

The prosecution relied upon the Sarpanch and the village headman’s statements. They had directed Avtar Singh to pay the lease amount to his mother and they promised to pay by 20th March 2005 Rs.2000

The police had found a telephone diary of the deceased, found the milkman’s number. The milkman, Jagtar Singh said he keeps some acid to check the milk’s fat & that the accused, Swaran Kaur got some acid from him, saying that she needed to clean some vessels.

The deceased’s sons-in-law, Kuldeep Singh and Ujjagar Singh identified the deceased by her clothes as her face was disfigured due to acid.

On 30th March 2005, a witness named Bhupinder Singh brought the accused Darshan Singh, Jagmohan Singh, Swaran Kaur. The former admitted the location of a folding iron chair in Avtar Singh’s home while the latter admitted the location of an acid bottle on a shelf. Avtar Singh was arrested.

The witness, Bhupinder Singh was examined as the witness of extra-judicial confession. He stated he brought the accused before the police on 30th March 2005. He claims of knowing the news of the death by newspapers. Darshan Singh admitted he gave the deceased a blow by the iron chair while Jagmohan Singh held her which the latter admitted too. Swaran Kaur admitted having poured acid on the deceased’s face.

The Trial Court relied upon the testimonies of Bhupinder Singh, Kuldeep Singh to convict Darshan Singh, Jagmohan Singh, Swaran Kaur & dismissed the testimony of the statement of Sukhdev Singh(deceased )

The HC dismissed the appeal of the appellants relying upon statements of Bhupinder Singh and Kuldip Singh and motive proved by Harpal Singh

Before the SC, the Appellants contended that prosecution has failed to see the complete chain of events. Evidence of last seen is not believed by the trial court which isn’t correct & extra-judicial confession is a shred of weak evidence. Also, it is contended that Kuldeep Singh saw her last on 20th March 2005 and the post-mortem reports predict that as the date of her death. This is to be very importantly noted as the findings recorded by the lower courts are not sustainable.

The learned counsel for the State argued that though evidence of last seen is not accepted the statement of Sukhdev Singh (deceased) is relevant to the extent he had seen a man and a woman on the motorcycle.

The Court observed there is no evidence led by the prosecution of administering Phosphine but the post-mortem report says hyoid bone fracture. The Court also observed that in the report it is given that the duppatta around the deceased’s neck has two turns which are unusual especially for a woman of the age of the deceased. Also, the witness of  last seen could not identify the appellants, but the fact remains that he identified that a jute bag was thrown by a man and a woman who came on a TVS Motorcycle and is relevant in the chain of circumstance to support the prosecution case. Since in the extra-judicial confession of Bhupinder Singh, Darshan Singh confessed too, therefore, the extra-judicial confession is supported by medical evidence. So it was held the prosecution has proved the chain of circumstance of the appellants to be guilty.

Extra-judicial confession was taken as relevant evidence and the appellants are to surrender to undergo the remaining sentence

View/ Download the Judgment: Darshan Singh v. St. Of Punjab

– Nardhana Ram



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