Virender vs State Of Haryana on 16 December, 2019


Supreme Court of India

Virender vs State Of Haryana on 16 December, 2019

Author: Mohan M. Shantanagoudar

Bench: Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, R. Subhash Reddy

                                                        NON-REPORTABLE


                              IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                             CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                             CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1339 OF 2010



              Virender                                    .....Appellant

                                           Versus

              State of Haryana                            .....Respondent




                                       JUDGMENT

MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR, J.

This appeal is presented questioning the judgment

dated 28.07.2009 passed by the High Court of Punjab and

Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal Appeal No. 168-DB of

2001, confirming the judgment of the Sessions Court,

Narnaul dated 16.02.2001 passed in Sessions Case No. 5 of

2000, convicting the appellant/accused along with two other

accused for the offence under Section 302 read with Section
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
GULSHAN KUMAR
ARORA
Date: 2019.12.16
16:45:27 IST

34 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter “IPC”).
Reason:

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2. The case of the prosecution in brief is that on the

intervening night between 6/7.11.1999, the first informant,

Suresh Kumar, and his brother Krishan Kumar (the

deceased), had gone to their field, which they had taken on

Batai, for irrigation purposes; at about 1:30/2:00 AM on

07.11.1999, the informant sent Krishan Kumar to verify the

water flow in the channel which passed through the ‘Dol’ of

the field of Accused No.3 Hawa Singh; when Krishan Kumar

was near his tubewell (situated near the middle of Hawa

Singh’s field), the first informant heard noises of abuses, and

on reaching the said place he saw Hawa Singh armed with a

kulhari (axe), Accused No.1 Satpal armed with a dantali

(sickle), and Accused No.2 Virender, the appellant herein,

armed with a lathi; and Hawa Singh raised a cry exhorting

that the deceased should be taught a lesson. Thereafter,

Hawa Singh gave an axe blow to the deceased on the right

shoulder, Satpal aimed two sickle blows on the head of the

deceased which, however, fell on his left arm, and the

appellant gave a lathi blow on the left knee of the deceased,

who fell to the ground. At that point of time, Hawa Singh

gave the deceased an axe blow on his chest, and Satpal

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gave him a sickle blow on the left knee. When the first

informant raised a hue and cry, the uncle of the first

informant, Jugal Kishore, came to the spot, and also

witnessed the incident. Thereafter, the accused ran away

from the scene. The first information report was lodged on

the morning of 07.11.1999. As mentioned supra, both the

Courts convicted all the three accused for the offence

punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the

IPC.

3. The other two accused, namely Hawa Singh and Satpal,

seem to have not filed appeals against the same, accepting

the judgment passed by the High Court. It is brought to our

notice that those accused have already undergone their

sentence, and have been released from custody.

The appellant herein was released on bail by this Court

on 26.07.2010.

4. Heard Mr. Naresh Kaushik, learned counsel appearing

on behalf of the appellant, and Mr. Anish Kumar Gupta,

learned Additional Advocate General appearing for the

respondent-State.

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5. The case of the prosecution mainly rests on the

evidence of PWs 14 and 15, who were the eye-witnesses of

the incident. PW-14, the first informant, is the brother of the

deceased, and PW-15 is their uncle, who had arrived at the

scene after hearing the cries of the first informant.

6. The appellant herein was convicted for the offence

punishable under Section 302, IPC with the aid of Section 34,

IPC, inasmuch as both the Courts concluded that the

appellant had shared the common intention to murder the

deceased with the other two accused.

7. It has been shown that Accused No.3, Hawa Singh had a

motive to commit the murder of the deceased, inasmuch as

he was eyeing the property which was being cultivated by

the deceased on a Batai basis, and though Hawa Singh had

requested the landlord to give the land on Batai basis to him,

the deceased had secured the land instead. It was in this

context that the murder was committed through the overt

acts of the two accused other than the appellant. The moot

question, however, is whether the appellant herein also

participated in the offence, especially since he has not been

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shown to be a friend or relative of the other accused, or to

have any specific motive for murdering the deceased.

8. In this regard, we would first like to turn our attention to

the nature of injuries suffered by the deceased. As

mentioned supra, the appellant was supposed to have

assaulted the deceased with a lathi, while the other two

accused assaulted the deceased with sharp cutting weapons

such as an axe and sickle. The evidence of the doctor and

the post-mortem report disclose that the deceased had

sustained seven injuries, out of which five were incised

injuries. The other two were, firstly, an abrasion of size 2 x 1

cm on the left frontoparietal region, and secondly, a

lacerated wound of size 6.5 x 1.5 cm on the right knee joint.

The death was opined to have occurred on account of the

incised injuries numbered 2, 5 and 7 in the post-mortem

report, though even Injury No. 5, an incised wound

measuring 18 x 6 cm on the chest and abdomen, was stated

to be individually sufficient to cause death. The wound,

which started in the middle of the sternum, extended up to

the abdomen, ending 6 cm above the umbilicus. Parts of the

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small and large intestines were also found lying outside the

wound.

9. Thus, from the post-mortem report and the evidence of

the doctor, it is amply clear that the death was caused due

to incised injuries, of such a nature which could have been

caused by the axe and sickle carried by the other two

accused. On the other hand, the other two injuries, being a

laceration and an abrasion, which could possibly be

attributed to the appellant, may even have been a result of

the deceased falling to the ground, since injuries such as

bruises, abrasions and lacerations may very well be

sustained as a result of a fall. Thus, there does not appear to

be strong evidence of the active participation of the

appellant in the offence.

10. A perusal of the evidence of PWs 14 and 15 raises

further suspicion in the mind of the Court about the

complicity of the appellant herein in the offence in question.

Though in their examination-in-chief, these witnesses

deposed that the appellant herein assaulted the deceased

with a lathi on his knee and head, it was proved in the cross-

examination that these statements made before the Court

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were “improvements”. If these improvements are excluded

from consideration from the evidence of PWs 14 and 15, it

can be safely said that the prosecution has not proved its

case beyond reasonable doubt about the active involvement

of the appellant in the offence in question through any overt

act.

11. Proceeding on the basis that the appellant was present

on the spot of the offence, we do not find that the

commission of the offence of murder stands proved as

against the appellant with the help of Section 34, IPC, either.

In order to invoke the principle of joint liability in the

commission of a criminal act as laid down in Section 34, the

prosecution should show that the criminal act in question

was done by one of the accused persons in furtherance of

the common intention of all. If this is shown, the liability for

the offence may be imposed on any one of the persons in

the same manner as if the act was done by him alone. It

may be difficult to procure direct evidence to prove the

intention of an individual, and in most cases it has to be

inferred from the facts and relevant circumstances of the

case. The common intention may be through a pre-arranged

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plan, or it may be generated just prior to the incident. Just as

a combination of persons sharing the same common object

is one of the features of an unlawful assembly, so is the

existence of a combination of persons sharing the same

common intention one of the features of Section 34.

12. As held by the Constitution Bench of this Court in

Mohan Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 174,

common intention denotes action in concert, and a prior

meeting of minds—the acts may be different, and may vary

in their character, but they are all actuated by the same

common intention. However, prior concert in the sense of a

distinct previous plan is not necessary to be proved. As

mentioned supra, the common intention to bring about a

particular result may well develop on the spot as between a

number of persons. Thus, the question as to whether there is

any common intention or not depends upon the inference to

be drawn from the proven facts and circumstances of each

case. The totality of the circumstances must be taken into

consideration in arriving at the conclusion whether the

accused persons had the common intention to commit the

offence with which they could be convicted.

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13. The instant case must be assessed in terms of the

above legal position. Looking to the facts and circumstances

at hand, i.e. that the appellant herein had no specific motive

to participate in the commission of the offence, did not have

any rivalry with the deceased or his family, and has not been

shown to be a friend, relative or hireling of the other two

accused, we are of the considered opinion that the

prosecution has failed to prove any common intention on the

appellant’s part, inasmuch as there is no hint of any motive

or reason for him to have either participated in pre-planning

the murder of the deceased, or to develop the common

intention to do so while present at the spot of the offence.

We are of the opinion that both the Courts have concluded

against the appellant merely on assumptions and

conjectures and not on reliable evidence, in spite of the

prosecution having failed to discharge its burden to prove

the case against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.

14. It has been brought to our notice that the appellant has

already suffered more than five years of imprisonment. Be

that as it may, since we find that the evidence against the

appellant is shaky and insufficient to bring home guilt

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against him, we are of the opinion that the benefit of doubt

must enure to him. Hence, the judgment of conviction

passed by the Trial Court and confirmed by the High Court as

against the appellant stands set aside. The appellant is

acquitted from the charges levelled against him. Since he is

already on bail, he need not be arrested in connection with

the crime in question. The bail bonds, if any, executed by

him stand discharged. The appeal is allowed accordingly.

……………………………………..J.
(Mohan M. Shantanagoudar)

……………………………………..J.

(K. M. Joseph)

New Delhi;

December 16, 2019.

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