Ramesh Alias Dapinder Singh vs The State Of Himachal Pradesh on 22 March, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Ramesh Alias Dapinder Singh vs The State Of Himachal Pradesh on 22 March, 2021

Author: Uday Umesh Lalit

Bench: Uday Umesh Lalit, K.M. Joseph

          Criminal Appeal No.347 of 2021
          Ramesh Alias Dapinder Singh vs. State of Himachal Pradesh.
                                                                                                     1


                                                                                            Reportable
                                           IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                         CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                            CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.347 OF 2021
                                (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.)No.2645 OF 2021)
                               (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.)D.No.26322 of 2019)


                          RAMESH ALIAS DAPINDER SINGH                                      …Appellant

                                                           Versus

                          STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH                                       …Respondent



                                                     JUDGMENT

Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

1. Delay condoned. Leave granted.

2. This appeal challenges the judgment and order dated 09.09.2016 passed

by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla in Criminal Appeal No. 267
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by Dr.
Mukesh Nasa
Date: 2021.03.22
of 2016.

16:13:00 IST
Reason:

Criminal Appeal No.347 of 2021
Ramesh Alias Dapinder Singh vs. State of Himachal Pradesh.
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3. The appellant – original accused No.3 was tried along with two others

in Sessions Trial No. 40 of 2014 on the file of Additional Sessions Judge (II),

Una, Himachal Pradesh, in respect of offences punishable under Sections 302,

323, 324 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘the IPC’, for

short).

4. The basic facts leading to the aforementioned Trial, as stated by PW1-

Sukhwinder Singh, the original informant, were as under:-

“…In November 2013, I had taken away Puja Devi daughter of
Satnam Singh, resident of Dangoli, Tehsil and Distt. Una, and had
subsequently married her. The accused Nirmal Singh is my
maternal uncle, and the aforesaid Puja Devi is his sister-in-law
(Saali). On this count, my maternal uncle Nirmal Singh nursed an
ill-will against me. I had come home to Pubowal from Baddi on
16.03.2014. I had met my friends Kulwinder alias Babbi and
Daljit Singh alias Deepu on 18.03.2014 at Pubowal at about 8.00
p.m. On my request, they accompanied me to house of my
maternal grandmother at Baliwal. We travelled to the said place
by motorcycle bearing registration No. PB.08-BL-1390,
belonging to Babbi. We reached my maternal home at about 8.30
p.m. In my maternal home, my grandmother and both my
maternal uncles, Sadhu Singh and Nirmal Singh were present. On
reaching the house we paid respect to my grandmother and uncles
by touching feet etc. But my uncles started abusing me and
quarrelling with me. During the scuffle, the shirt of Babbi was
torn. Thereupon, we hurriedly left the spot on the motorcycle,
which was being driven by Daljit Singh. When we had reached
near the High School, Kulwinder Singh alias Babbi stated that he
had dropped his purse somewhere. We began looking for the
purse, after getting down from the motorcycle. Suddenly both my
maternal uncles, Sadhu Singh and Nirmal Singh, along with their
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Ramesh Alias Dapinder Singh vs. State of Himachal Pradesh.

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driver namely Ramesh Kumar, came there on a motorcycle,
bearing No. HP.20C-3641, being driven by my uncle Sadhu
Singh. There was a stick (Danda) tied to the handle of the
motorcycle. Thereafter, the three persons got down from the
motorcycle and started assaulting us with Danda and fist blows
etc. My uncle Sadhu Singh had a Danda, whereas my uncle
Nirmal Singh had a sickle (Darat) in his hand. He gave me a blow
with the Darat, as a result of which my finger was cut. Then he
gave a blow which landed on the arm of Daljit Singh, and
thereafter gave another blow to Daljit Singh on his neck.
Thereupon, I ran and hid myself behind a bush. From there I saw
my uncles Sadhu Singh and Nirmal Singh administering blows to
my friends, Babbi and Daljit. On seeing this, I ran away further.
Thereafter, Babbi also ran away from the spot. The Driver
Ramesh, thereafter ran away from the spot and started raising a
cry, upon which many people gathered on the spot. Thereafter,
the police came to the spot at about 10.45 to 11.00 p.m.
Thereafter, I came out from the bush and saw the dead body of
Daljit Singh lying on the ground. I stated to the police about the
incident. The police recorded my statement, Ext. PW1/A. I have
seen the statement, which bears my signatures, which I had
appended after the contents of the statement were read over and
explained to me by the police. My friend Daljit Singh was
murdered. The police carried out the investigation on the spot.
…”

5. Kulwinder Singh alias Babbi, whose presence was referred to by PW1-

Sukhwinder Singh, was examined as PW7. But this witness did not support

the prosecution and was declared hostile. It was asserted by this witness as

under:-

“…It is incorrect that on my intervening, I was given a stick blow
by Sadhu Singh, which landed on my back, and I was given fist
and kick blows by Ramesh due to which I sustained injuries. Self
stated that our altercation was with some other persons. It is
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incorrect that Sadhu Singh caught me and in the process we fell
on the rough surface on the spot. I cannot say whether Daljit
Singh and Sukhwinder were given Darat blows by Harjinder
Singh alias Nimma, and Daljit Singh received injuries on his neck
and arm. It is correct that Sukhwinder had sustained injury on his
arm. However, I cannot say what was the reason from the same.
I did not see any injuries on the person of Daljit Singh and
Sukhwinder Singh, on the spot. It is correct that there was ample
moonlight at that time. It is correct that I escaped from the spot,
saving myself from the assault of the accused, towards the bushes.
…”

6. Thus, the testimonies of two witnesses, who had accompanied the

deceased, were not quite consistent. PW15-Dr. G. S. Didhra deposed about

the injuries suffered by PWs 1 and 7. Injuries of PW1 were:-

“1. Clean incised wound on left middle finger distal to inter
pnallyngeal joint.

2. Sickle shape clean incised wound on left middle phallynx or
ring finger.”

Further, following injuries were found on the person of PW7:-

“1. Clean impact contusion over left shaft of humerous. 3 cm
long.

2. Impact contusion below left angle of scapula measuring 3.5 x
0.5 cms.

3. Impact contusion about right supra scapular region measuring
4 cms x 0.5 cms.

4. Multiple patch abrasions over right elbow and its lower end.

Criminal Appeal No.347 of 2021
Ramesh Alias Dapinder Singh vs. State of Himachal Pradesh.
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5. Left impact contusion below left elbow joint measuring 2×3
cms.

6. Two impact contusions and abrasions over both knee joints,
right heel and toe (Metatarso phalyngeal joint).”

7. PW27-Dr. Piyush Nanda, who had conducted Post Mortem on the body

of the deceased, deposed about the injuries of the deceased as under:-

“(i) Clean incised measuring 3-1/2” x 1-1/2” x 4” and on the
left side, margin sharp extending below the angle of mandible
to the whole of ear lobe with cut through injury to the carotid
artery and jugular vessels with cut through injury to all the
neck muscle and fascia and tissue with fracture mandible
(angle).

(ii) Clean incised wound measuring 2×1” x bone depth with
fracture of metacarpal bones on the right wrist.

All the above injuries were found to be ante mortem in nature.
In my opinion he died due to haemorrhagic shock due to
injuries to the left carotid and jugular vessels.

… … …

I have seen the darat Ex. S1. The injuries of the kind
mentioned above are possible by the said weapon/implement.
My written opinion regarding the injuries being possible by
the weapon shown to me is in red circle Ext.PW27/C.”

8. Considering the eyewitness account, the Trial Court by its order dated

07.04.2016 convicted all three accused under Section 302 read with Section

34 of the IPC; Section 323 read with Section 34 of the IPC; and Section 324
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of the IPC and sentenced each of the accused to undergo life imprisonment

under the first count and sentences of rigorous imprisonment of one year and

three years on the second count and third count respectively, in addition to

imposition of fine and default sentence.

9. The convicted accused approached the High Court by filing Criminal

Appeal No. 267 of 2016, which was dismissed by the High Court by its

judgment and order dated 09.09.2016.

10. It must be stated that the order passed by the High Court affirming the

conviction and sentence, was accepted by accused Nirmal Singh and no

further challenge was raised. However, accused Sadhu Singh preferred

Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 1817 of 2019, which was dismissed by this

Court on 10.07.2019.

11. Appearing in support of the appeal, Mr. P.K. Dey, learned advocate

submitted that the appellant was neither armed with any Lathi or Danda nor

was there any assertion from PW1-Sukhwinder Singh attributing any specific

overt act to the appellant. On the other hand, such specific overt acts were

attributed to accused Sadhu Singh and Nirmal Singh. Mr. Dey also stressed
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the fact that the appellant had run away from the spot and had raised a cry,

upon which many people gathered at the spot. It was, therefore, submitted by

Mr. Dey that the appellant could not be said to be guilty with the aid of Section

34 of the IPC.

12. Mr. Abhimanyu Jhamba, learned Advocate appearing for the State,

however, relied upon the facts that the appellant had come along with accused

Sadhu Singh and Nirmal Singh who were separately armed with Danda and

Sickle; and that the appellant had given fist and kick blows. In the submission

of the learned counsel, these facts pointed towards active participation on part

of the appellant and, therefore, the courts below had rightly found him guilty

with the aid of Section 34 of the IPC.

13. The principle of vicarious liability under Section 34 of the IPC states,

“when a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common

intention of all”, each of those persons would be liable for ‘that act’ in the

same manner as if it were done by him alone.

First and foremost, the ocular testimony in support of the prosecution

is only by way of the testimony of PW1. That witness did not attribute any

specific overt act to the appellant insofar assault on the deceased was
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concerned; nor was the appellant stated to be armed with any weapon. It was

not even the case that the appellant had exhorted or had facilitated, in any

manner, the assault on the deceased. The only attribution to the appellant was

regarding common or collective act where “three persons got down from the

motorcycle and started assaulting with Danda and fist blows”.

14. Going by the narration of PW1, accused Sadhu Singh and Nirmal Singh

had abused him and his friends at the residence of his maternal uncle leading

to a quarrel and scuffle. The appellant was not attributed presence and

participation in such quarrel or scuffle.

15. In a situation where the overt acts were attributed to principal accused

and not to a person accompanying such principal accused, the observations in

some of the cases decided by this Court are:-

a) Dharam Pal and others v. State of Haryana1

“15. A criminal court fastening vicarious liability must satisfy
itself as to the prior meeting of the minds of the principal culprit
and his companions who are sought to be constructively made
liable in respect of every act committed by the former. There is
no law to our knowledge which lays down that a person
accompanying the principal culprit shares his intention in respect
of every act which the latter might eventually commit. The

1
(1978) 4 SCC 440
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existence or otherwise of the common intention depends upon the
facts and circumstances of each case. The intention of the
principal offender and his companions to deal with any person
who might intervene to stop the quarrel must be apparent from
the conduct of the persons accompanying the principal culprit or
some other clear and cogent incriminating piece of evidence. In
the absence of such material, the companion or companions
cannot justifiably be held guilty for every offence committed by
the principal offender. …”

b) Vithal Laxman Chalawadi and others v. State of
Karnataka2

“15. As regards the role of appellant Gangappa, the evidence on
record suggests that he gave a chappal-blow to PW 6, the mother
of the deceased Ramesh. There is no other overt act attributed to
Appellant 3-accused who appears to have joined the melee when
tempers ran high. The allegation that he exhorted Accused 1 and
2 to kill the deceased has not in our opinion been satisfactorily
proved to justify his conviction for murder with the help of
Section 34 IPC.

16. The nature of the evidence on record and the role that
appellant Gangappa is alleged to have played, does not, in our
opinion, establish that Appellant 3 shared the common intention
with Nijappa and Vithal to commit the murder of deceased
Ramesh. The conviction of Appellant 3-accused for the offence
of murder punishable under Section 302 IPC read with Section 34
IPC is, therefore, not sustainable. The evidence, however, proves
beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant, Gangappa assaulted
PW 6 Putalavva with a chappal. His conviction under Section 323
IPC by the trial court and the High Court deserves to be affirmed.”

2 (2010) 14 SCC 739
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Ramesh Alias Dapinder Singh vs. State of Himachal Pradesh.
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c) Bishu Sarkar and others v. State of West Bengal3

“7. … The allegations coming from all the witnesses are consistent
that none of the present appellants had dealt any blow by any
weapon and all that they did was to participate in the scuffle. It is
true that PWs 2 and 5 assert that the present appellants had caught
hold of Raju Bose. But it is not clear from the record whether such
act was so intended to enable Accused 1 to deal the fatal blow.
Further, PW 3 is completely silent on this aspect.

8. In the circumstances we deem it appropriate to grant benefit of
doubt to the present appellants and acquit them of the charge under
Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC. This appeal is thus allowed
and the conviction and sentence recorded against the present
appellants is set aside. …”

16. Having considered the entire material on record, in our view, it cannot

be said with certainty that the appellant shared the common intention with

accused Sadhu Singh and Nirmal Singh to commit the murder of the deceased

or that the appellant had done something ‘in furtherance’ of the common

intention of all. Giving him benefit of doubt, we absolve him of the liability

under Section 34 of the IPC insofar as the charges under Sections 302 and 324

of the IPC are concerned. We, however, find him guilty of the offence

3
(2017) 11 SCC 105
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punishable under Section 323 read with Section 34 of the IPC. Affirming

such conviction and sentence, we grant benefit of doubt to the appellant and

acquit him of all the other charges.

17. This appeal is, therefore, allowed to the aforementioned extent. If the

appellant has undergone the sentence in respect of offence under Section 323

read with Section 34 of the IPC, he be set at liberty, unless his custody is

required in connection with any other offence.

……………………..J.

[Uday Umesh Lalit]

……………………..J.

[K.M. Joseph]
New Delhi;

March 22, 2021.



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