People should not be convicted on doubts: Supreme Court 2018

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.58 OF 2007
Rupinder Singh Sandhu … Appellant
Versus
State of Punjab & Others              …     Respondents
WITH
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 59 OF 2007  
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 60 OF 2007
J U D G M E N T 
Chelameswar, J.
1. Around 1.45 pm on 27.12.1988, First Information Report
No.244 came to be registered by Sub­Inspector Kaka Singh (PW5)
of   Police   Station   “Kotwali”   of   Patiala   District   of   the   State   of
Punjab on the basis of information given by one Shri Jaswinder
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Singh (PW3).  From the narration in the FIR, it appears that the
incident which eventually culminated in the death of Gurnam
Singh could have simply passed off as yet another incident of
road rage but for the death of Gurnam Singh.  According to the
FIR, around 12.30 p.m., an incident occurred at the traffic light
of Battian Wala Chowk in front of the State Bank of Patiala,
Patiala City.  Jaswinder Singh (PW3), Avtar Singh (PW4) and the
deceased Gurnam Singh were travelling in Maruti Car No.CH I
8422 driven by the deceased.   Both the accused herein were
travelling by vehicle No.PAD 6030.  A dispute arose on the right
of way between the accused and the deceased.  In the process the
first accused who is a cricketer of some fame got out of his
vehicle, pulled the deceased out of his vehicle and inflicted fist
blows.  When PW3 tried to intervene, the second1
 accused herein
got out of the vehicle and gave fist blows to PW3.   Thereafter,
they removed the keys of the car of the deceased and fled away
from the scene of occurrence.  PW3 and PW4 took Gurnam Singh
who was “in a state of unconsciousness” by a rickshaw to a hospital,
known as Rajendra Hospital where the doctors announced that
1 It must be mentioned here that though the FIR clearly mentioned the name of first accused, the name of
second accused was not mentioned. He was only described as a clean shaven man.
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Gurnam Singh was dead.  
2. Thereafter, PW3 went to the police station (leaving PW4 in
the hospital) and lodged the FIR.
3. Case was registered under Sections 304/34 of the Indian
Penal Code, 1860 (hereafter referred to as “IPC”) against the first
accused and un­named second accused. 
4. Around 3’O Clock, PW5 reached Rajendra Hospital along
with PW3.  PW5 prepared the inquest report, which was attested
by PW3 and PW4.  The dead body of Gurnam Singh was sent for
post­mortem examination.  At about 3.30 p.m., PW3 to PW5 went
to the scene of occurrence where PW5 prepared rough site plan.
At 4.30 p.m., post­mortem examination over the dead body was
conducted   by   PW2.     A   copy   of   the   FIR   was   received   by   the
concerned Magistrate admittedly around 5.30 p.m.
5. PW2 Dr. Jatinder Kumar Sadana, who conducted the postmortem
  examination,   recorded   two   external   and   one   internal
injuries:
1) 0.75 cm x 0.5 cm abrasion present over left temporal
region at the injunction of upper part of pinna.
2) 0.5 cm x 0.5 cm abrasion over the front of left knee,
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and 
Subdural hemorrhage present over the left temporal
region.
PW2 recorded that the injuries are ante­mortem in nature and
caused by ‘blunt weapon’.  He opined that the cause of death of
Gurnam Singh could be given only after receiving the report of
the pathologist.  The pathologist’s report dated 09.01.1989 was
received   in   due   course   by   PW2.     Inspite   of   the   pathologist’s
report, PW2 was not able to give any definite opinion regarding
the cause of death of Gurnam Singh.  He, therefore, addressed a
letter dated 11.1.1989 to the Civil Surgeon, Patiala requesting
him   to   refer   the   case   to   the   Forensic   Expert   of   Government
Medical   College,   Patiala.     In   response   to   the   said   request,   a
Medical Board comprising six members, which included PW1 Dr.
Krishan Vij and PW2, came to be constituted by an office order
dated   13.01.1989   of   Principal,   Government   Medical   College,
Patiala.  PW1 was described therein to be Convener of the Board.
6. Thereafter, some correspondence took place between SHO
Police Station “Kotwali” and PW2.  The SHO made an attempt to
secure a more precise medical opinion regarding the cause of
death   of   Gurnam   Singh.     PW2   declined   to   give   any   further
opinion maintaining that  “regarding   the   opinion   whether   the   injury
could be because of fist blow, any such clarification would be given in the
Court.”
7. In   the   background   of   the   abovementioned   facts,   a   final
report (charge­sheet) under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure,   1973   (hereafter   referred   to   as   “CrPC”)   dated
06.03.1989 came to be filed on 14.07.1989, (i.e. 4 months after
its preparation) under Section 304 IPC, only against the second
accused exonerating the first accused.  On 13 October 1989, the
case   was   committed   to   Sessions   Court,   Patiala   by   Additional
Chief Judicial Magistrate, Patiala resulting in the registration of
Sessions Case No.79/89.  A charge against A2 under Section 304
Part­I IPC was framed on 25.09.1990 in Sessions Case No.79.
During the course of the trial, the Sessions Court after recording
the evidence of PW3 thought it fit by its order dated 30.08.1993
to summon the first accused also to stand trial exercising its
power under Section 319 CrPC.  
8. In   the   meanwhile,   on   22.07.1989,   PW3   filed   a   private
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complaint against both the accused for commission of offences
under Section 302/324/323 read with Section 34 IPC.   A1 was
summoned in the said case by an order dated 03.09.1993.  After
repeated adjournments, [the reasons for which are not necessary
at present], both the cases were consolidated by an order dated
20.08.1994.
9. On   20.08.1994,   charges   were   framed   against   both   the
accused.   Charges under Section 304 Part­I IPC were framed
against both the accused in case arising out of the FIR No.244.
Charges under Section 302 IPC against first accused and charges
under Section 302/34 IPC against second accused were framed
respectively in complaint case for causing the death of Gurnam
Singh.  Charges under Section 323/34 IPC were framed against
both the accused for causing hurt to PW3.   Both the cases were
consolidated vide order dated 20.08.1994.
10. In   order   to   establish   the   guilt   of   the   accused,   the
prosecution   examined   five   witnesses   and   exhibited   various
documents.2
   PW3 and PW4 are said to be eye­witnesses to the
2 Inquest Report as Ex.PH, Site Plan as Ex.PT; recovery memo of certain articles as Ex.PU; application to
collect the result of Pathologist as Ex.PV; FIR Ex.PQ; Statement of PW3 Jaswinder Singh as Ex.DC; Statements
of PW4 Avtar Singh as Ex.DG, Ex.DD, Ex.DE; report under Section 173 CrPC as Ex.DH.
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offence.   PW1 and PW2 are doctors connected with the postmortem
examination of the dead body of Gurnam Singh.  PW5 is
the Sub­Inspector who registered FIR.  
11. The accused examined one witness in their defence i.e. DW1
Raghbir Singh.  
12. The Trial Court recorded3
:
That,   death   of   Gurnam   Singh   was   not   caused   by
subdural   hemorrhage   but   it   was   a   case   of   sudden
cardiac death;
That, Gurnam Singh suffered sudden cardiac attack
because of which he fell to the ground and received
injury on left temporal region which caused subdural
hemorrhage;
That, it is not certain at what point Gurnam Singh
died, but his death was not due to violence; 
Neither Jaswinder Singh (PW3) nor Avtar Singh (PW4)
are truthful witnesses because there appears to be no
corroboration of their presence with Gurnam Singh.  
and,   therefore,   concluded   that   the   prosecution   has   failed   to
establish the case beyond reasonable doubt and acquitted both
3 See Judgment of Sessions Judge, Patiala in C.S. No.79/18.8.94/20.8.94 dated 22.9.1999 para 41
“Therefore the medical evidence provides no corroboration whatsoever, to the eye-witness account.
Furthermore, the death of Gurnam Singh was not caused by the subdural hemorrhage, but it was a case of
sudden cardiac death as confirmed by the Cardiologist. When Gurnam Singh suffered sudden cardiac
attack he fell to the ground and received abrasions on left temporal region and left knee the former injury
gave rise to subdural hemorrhage. It is not certain at what point Gurnam Singh died, but his death was not
due to violence. Neither Jaswinder Singh nor Avtar Singh are truthful witnesses because there appears to be
no corroboration of their presence with Gurnam Singh.”
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the accused herein.  
13. The matter was carried in two appeals to the High Court by
the State and also by the complainant.  The High Court reversed
the acquittal and found both the accused guilty under Section
304 Part­II and 304 Part­II read with Section 34 IPC respectively
for causing the death of Gurnam Singh.  Apart from the above, A2
was also found guilty for an offence under Section 323 IPC for
causing injuries to PW3. 
14. Hence, these three appeals – Criminal Appeal No.58 of 2007
filed by Rupinder Singh Sandhu (A­2); Criminal Appeal No.59 of
2007 filed by Navjot Singh Sidhu (A­1); and Criminal Appeal
No.60 of 2007 filed by Shri Jaswinder Singh (PW3).
15. Shri   R.S.   Cheema   and   Shri   R.   Basant,   learned   senior
counsel appeared for A­1 and A­2 respectively.  Shri Siddhartha
Luthra and Shri Ranjit Kumar, learned senior counsel, appeared
for   the  de   facto  complainant   (PW3   Jaswinder   Singh).     Shri
Nidhesh Gupta, learned senior counsel, appeared for A­1 in the
appeal filed by PW3 Jaswinder Singh. Shri Sangram S. Saron,
Advocate appeared for the State.
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16. Enormous submissions are made before us by each of the
learned senior counsel mentioned above.
17. Some of the submissions made by the three learned senior
counsel for the accused are common.  Briefly stated they are:­
i. the conclusion of acquittal recorded by the Trial
Court is not to be interfered with by the appellate
Court   unless   there   are   compelling   reasons
warranting interference;
ii. there are no such circumstances in the case on
hand which warranted interference by the High
Court with the conclusion of acquittal recorded
by the Trial Court;
iii. merely because a second view is possible to be
taken on the material on record, the Appellate
Court is not justified in reversing the conclusion
of acquittal and in this case that is exactly what
happened; and
iv. the conclusion of the Trial Court that PW3 and
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PW4   are   not   truthful   witnesses   is   based   on
cogent   reasoning.   The   High   Court   has   not
recorded any tenable reasons to demonstrate that
the conclusion of the Trial Court is manifestly
illegal;
18. Apart   from   the   abovementioned   submissions   made   in
common on behalf of both the accused it was submitted on behalf
of A­1:­
i) the   medical   evidence   on   record   does   not
corroborate   the   evidence   of   PW3   and   PW4,   a
factor which has been strongly relied upon by the
Trial Court to disbelieve PW3 and PW4.  The High
Court   did   not   record   any   cogent   reasons   for
reversing the Trial Court’s opinion; and
ii) the medical opinion on record does not clearly
establish   the  exact   cause  of   death   of  Gurnam
Singh.   In the absence of clear medical opinion
regarding the cause of death, one of the essential
elements   of   the   offence   of   culpable   homicide
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under Section 299 IPC, it cannot be said that the
bodily injury alleged to have been caused by A­1
resulted in the death of Gurnam Singh.
19. On behalf of the second accused, it is additionally argued
that the prosecution is required to prove by credible evidence (i)
that  A­2 was present along with A­1 and participated in the
incident, and (ii) the exact nature of his participation, and (iii) he
shared a common intention with A­1 to commit an offence under
Section 299 IPC.  
There   is   absolutely   no   credible   evidence   on   record   to
establish the above.  The High Court neither examined any one of
the above mentioned questions nor gave any reason whatsoever
to reverse the conclusion of the Trial Court insofar as it relates to
A­2.  
20. “Before   a   man   can   be   convicted   of   a   crime,   it   is   usually
necessary for the prosecution to prove that a certain event or a certain
state of affairs which is forbidden by the criminal law has been caused
by his conduct and that this conduct was accompanied by a prescribed
state of mind.  The event or state of affairs is usually called the actus
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reus  and the state of mind, the  mens rea  of the crime.     Both  these
elements   must   be   proved   beyond   reasonable   doubt   by   the
prosecution.”4
21. Both the accused are convicted for the offence prescribed
under Section 299 IPC while A­1 was found guilty of the offence
simpliciter, A­2 was found vicariously guilty5
 of that offence with
the aid of Section 34 IPC.  The accusation being that they caused
the death of Gurnam Singh by their conduct accompanied by the
requisite  mens   rea  and   such   conduct   constitutes   the   offence
prescribed under Section 299 IPC. 
22. The question is whether the High Court is right in holding
that all the requisite elements to find the accused guilty of the
offences for which they were tried are proved beyond reasonable
doubt?  To hold either of the accused guilty for an offence under
Section 299 IPC either simpliciter or vicariously with the aid of
Section 34 IPC, it is required to be proved that each of the two
accused was present and participated in the incident and caused
injuries which resulted in the death of Gurnam Singh.
4 Smith J.C. & Hogan Brian, The Elements of a Crime in CRIMINAL LAW (5th ed. ELBS 1983) p.29
5 See AIR 1963 SC 174 para 13 – Mohan Singh and Another Vs. State of Punjab,
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23. The undisputed fact is that Gurnam Singh was declared to
have been brought dead to the Rajendra Hospital around 12.45
pm   on   the   fateful   day.     According   to   the   prosecution   (FIR),
Gurnam Singh received fist blows from A­1 around 12.30 pm and
became unconscious.  The FIR is conspicuously silent about any
physical attack by A­2 on Gurnam Singh.
To find either of the two accused guilty of the offence under
Section 299 IPC, it must be proved that Gurnam Singh died as a
consequence of the physical attack and the resulting injuries
therefrom.     We   shall   defer   the   examination   of   the   medical
evidence regarding the cause of death of Gurnam Singh for the
time   being   and   proceed   on   the   basis   that   the   death   was
homicidal as a consequence of the injuries received by him.  The
question is ­ who caused the injuries?
24. Prosecution   sought   to   prove   the   presence,   identity   and
participation of both the accused in the crime by the evidence of
PWs   3   and   4   ­   cited   as   eye­witnesses   to   the   offence.   They
asserted in their evidence that they were travelling on the fateful
day   along   with   the   deceased   and   witnessed   the   occurrence.
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However, the Trial Court recorded a conclusion that neither of
them is a “truthful witness” because “there appears to be no
corroboration   of   their   presence   with   Gurnam   Singh”.   The
conclusion of the Trial Court is based on the following factors:
i. both the witnesses (PW3 and PW4) are related to
each other and the deceased;
ii. though the incident took place at a very busy
location in the city of Patiala in broad day light,
no   independent   witness   was   examined   by   the
prosecution to corroborate the evidence of PW3
and PW4;
iii. police did not either seize the vehicle in which the
deceased   and   PWs   3   &   4   were   said   to   be
travelling at the time of the incident nor the site
plan of the scene of occurrence prepared by the
police indicate the presence of the car; 
iv. there were inconsistencies in the evidence of both
PWs 3 & 4 regarding the number of the vehicle in
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which the accused were travelling at the time of
the occurrence and also regarding the fact as to
which one of the accused was driving the said
vehicle.  The number and the driver’s name given
by   them   in   evidence   is   not   the   same   as   the
number and the name of the driver given in the
FIR; 
v. the version of the prosecution that PW3 was the
injured witness is not believable. It is only an
attempt to create evidence that PW3 too had been
present and attacked by the accused; and
vi. though   the   witnesses   deposed   that   they
accompanied the deceased Gurnam Singh on the
fateful day and were proceeding to the bank to
withdraw some cash, no corroborating material,
such as, cheque book etc. has been placed on
record   to   substantiate   the   version   of   the
witnesses.     
25. On the other hand, the High Court held ­ (i) both PW3 and
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PW4 deposed consistently regarding the incident, (ii) that they
had no past enmity with the accused to falsely implicate the
accused, not  even a suggestion  of the existence of any such
motive was made to PWs 3 and 4 in the cross­examination; and,
(iii) the inconsistencies with regard to the number of vehicle by
which the accused were travelling and which one of the accused
was driving the vehicle are immaterial. Therefore, the High Court
opined that they are trustworthy witnesses.
26. It   is   argued   before   us   on   behalf   of   the   accused   that;
according to the prosecution case, Gurnam Singh was carried
from the scene of occurrence to the hospital in Rickshaw by PW3
and PW4. Neither the Rickshaw puller was examined nor any
record of the hospital is proved to establish that PW3 and PW4
accompanied Gurnam Singh to Rajendra Hospital. The said facts
coupled with various other discrepancies noticed by the Trial
Court in assessing truthfulness of the evidence of PW3 and PW4,
make it highly unsafe to convict the accused on the basis of such
evidence.     
27. Having   regard   to   the   material   on   record   and   the
submissions made, we are of the opinion that the case of each of
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the two accused are to be considered separately.
28. We shall first deal with the case of the second accused
Rupinder Singh Sandhu because, in our opinion, his case can be
decided without examining any one of the common submissions
made on behalf of the accused.   
29. In the entire judgment of the High Court, there are only two
sentences   which   mention   the   name   of   the   second   accused.
There is no discussion in the judgment of the High Court as to at
what point of time during the course of investigation, A­2 was
identified to be the other clean shaven person travelling with A­1
on the fateful day and what is the evidence on the basis of which
the prosecution reached such conclusion except the statements
(made after 7 years after the event) of PW­3 and PW­4 made at
the  time of the trial.   It is unfortunate  that  the High Court
thought it fit to reverse the acquittal recorded by the Sessions
Court and to convict A­2 for an offence under Section 304 Part II
read with Section 34 IPC on the basis of such frivolous analysis.6
6 (a) In the meantime, Navjot Singh Sidhu accused came out from the Gypsy. Jaswinder Singh PW-3 knew
him as he was a famous player of Cricket. Navjot Singh Sidhu started reprimanding them and used
objectionable language. Jaswinder Singh PW-3 and others asked him not to use objectionable language and
thereafter Navjot Singh Sidhu caught hold of Gurnam Singh from the collar and took him out of the Maruti car.
Thereafter he gave fist blow on the person of Gurnam Singh. One blow landed on the temporal region above
the left ear. Rupinder Singh Sandhu also came out of the Gypsy and gave injuries to Jaswinder Singh
PW-3.
17
30. For the purpose of deciding the case of A2, we presume that
PWs 3 and 4 were accompanying Gurnam Singh on the fateful
day and witnessed the incident.  The interesting feature of the
case is that the FIR mentioned the name of only A1 and the
second participant in the incident is said to be a “clean shaven
man”.   The FIR does not mention that the clean shaven man
either attacked or inflicted any injury on the body of Gurnam
Singh.  It only mentions that he inflicted fist blows on PW3.  The
material   on   record   is   absolutely   bereft   of   the   information
regarding the fact as to at which point of time A­2 was identified
to be that ‘clean shaven man’ who participated in the incident
along with A­1 by the investigating agency.   Nor is there any
material on record to indicate the basis on which the prosecution
came to the conclusion that A­2 is that clean shaven man.
PW3 and PW4 were examined at the time of inquest over the
dead body of Gurnam Singh, which took place according to the
prosecution at 3.30 p.m. on the date of occurrence.   Even those
statements   of   PW3   and   PW4   do   not   mention   the   name   or
(b) We cannot overlook this fact that Navjot Singh Sidhu has conceded that he came to the place of
occurrence after hearing a commotion. Rupinder Singh Sandhu has denied his presence and has stated
that he has been falsely implicated. The best defence witness would have been the co-employee of Navjot
Singh Sidhu, but strangely none has come forward to state that at that moment of time when the occurrence had
taken place, Navjot Singh Sidhu was in the Bank premises and after hearing a commotion, he went out.
18
identifiable description of A­2.
Admittedly, at no point of time a test identification parade
was held to establish the identity of the clean shaven man to be
A­2.     The   only   material   on   record   to   connect   A­2   with   the
offences is the evidence of PW3 and PW4 at the trial where they
deposed that A­2 is that clean shaven person who was present
along with A­1 on the date of the incident.
The   evidence   of   PW­3   was   recorded   on   two   occasions,
initially on 9.7.1993 in the Sessions case arising out of the police
report at which point of time only A­2 was put to trial for various
offences in connection with the incident which resulted in the
death of Gurnam Singh.
PW­3 deposed at that point of time as follows:­
“The accused present in Court Rupinder Singh was not
known to me prior to the occurrence.”
Again, he was examined on 16.8.1995 at the joint trial of
both the sessions cases against both the accused herein.   In the
chief examination, he stated;
“I observed that one clean shaven person whose name
was Rupinder Singh Sandhu was found sitting on the driver
seat.     The witness has pointed out towards Rupinder Singh
19
Sandhu accused now present in the Court.
And further as follows:­
“Thereafter Rupinder Singh (Sandhu) accused came out from
the   Gypsy   and   he  started   causing   me   injuries   with   fist
blows.    Rupinder Singh (Sandhu) gave fist blows on the left
inside of my chest and on the left side of my forehead.”
The relevant portion of the cross examination reads as
follows:­
“I stated in Ex. PQ that thereafter Rupinder Singh (Sandhu)
came out from the Gypsy.  Attention of the witness has been
drawn to Ex. PQ where name of Rupinder Singh (Sandhu)
has not been mentioned.     The narration of that the clean
shaven man came out of the vehicle.   I stated in Ex. PQ that
Rupinder Singh (Sandhu) gave fist blows on the left side of
my chest and on the left side of my forehead.  Attention of
the witness has been drawn to Ex. PQ where the portion
‘attacked’   by   Rupinder   Singh   (Sandhu)   have   not   been
mentioned.   Narration is that Rupinder Singh (Sandhu) gave
fist blows to him.
31. From   our   analysis   of   the   above   material,   the   following
conclusions emerge:
(i) Neither PW3 nor PW4 knew the second accused prior
to the date of the offence;
(ii) Even on the date of the offence they did not know his
name   or   other   particulars   which   could   lead   to   his
identification; 
20
(iii) The prosecution did not bring on record any material
to establish as to how they came to the conclusion that
the person accompanying the first accused is Rupinder
Singh Sandhu (A­2); 
(iv) The only evidence to connect A­2 with the crime is the
statements of PWs 3 and 4 made at the time of the
trial (some 7 years after the incident) that A­1 was the
other person accompanying A­1 on the fateful day;  
(v) There is nothing either in the deposition of PW3 or
PW4 that A2 ever attacked the deceased; and  
(vi) There is no other evidence on record to show that A­2
attacked the deceased.
These aspects are not considered by the Trial Court obviously
because   the   Trial   Court   opined   that   PW3   and   PW4   are   not
truthful   witnesses.     Nor   did   the   High   Court   examine   these
aspects while reversing the acquittal order of the Trial Court. In
the impugned judgment of the High Court, there is no discussion
regarding the identity of A­2 or the role played by him in the
incident.     Without   any   discussion   whatsoever   regarding   the
21
evidence either to prove the presence of A­2 along with A­1 at the
time of the occurrence or the role played by A­2 in the incident
insofar as it pertained to the death of Gurnam Singh, the High
Court chose to record a finding of guilt against A­2 under Section
304 Part­II read with Section 34 IPC.   It must be remembered
that the evidence of PW3 and PW4 was recorded some 7 years
after the incident. The first time PW3 ever identified the other
clean shaven man accompanying A­1 on the fateful day to be A­2
was   on   9.7.1993   at   the   trial   of   the   Sessions   Case   in   Crime
No.244. Even by then some 5 years had elapsed from the date of
offence. 
32. The High Court abruptly recorded a conclusion that A­2 is
guilty of an offence of Section 304 Part­II read with Section 34
IPC.   Such a conclusion in our view is wholly unsustainable.
Even if we believe for the sake of argument (we emphasise only
for the sake of argument) that A­2 was present with A­1 at the
time of the incident, there is nothing on record to prove that he
attacked Gurnam Singh or that he shared a common intention
with   A­1   to   commit   the   offence   of   culpable   homicide   not
amounting to murder. 
22
The conclusion of the High Court that A­2 is also guilty of
the offence under Section 323 IPC is equally unsustainable in
view of our discussion above, especially in view of the fact that
there is no trustworthy evidence regarding his presence along
with A­1 at the time of the offence.  It is not safe to convict A­2 on
the basis of the evidence of PWs 3 and 4. 
We therefore, set aside the Judgment of the High Court
insofar as A2 is concerned. 
33. We shall now deal with the case of first accused.   Once
again it is necessary to examine whether the death of Gurnam
Singh   is   caused   by   A­1   as   alleged   by   the   prosecution.     For
recording any conclusion against A­1 in this regard,  first,  it is
necessary to know exactly what is the cause of death of Gurnam
Singh, and second, that the conduct of A­1 in inflicting the fist
blows on Gurnam Singh resulted in the death of Gurnam Singh.
Even if both the above­mentioned factors are established beyond
reasonable doubt, it must further be proved that A­1 had the
requisite  mens   rea  to  commit the crime defined under either
Section 299 or Section 300, IPC.
34. We now examine each one of the above questions.
23
To hold A­1 guilty of causing the death of Gurnam Singh, it
must be proved that (i) he inflicted fist blows on Gurnam Singh
as alleged by the prosecution; and (ii) the injuries resulting from
the fist blows caused the death of Gurnam Singh.
35. In order to establish the fact that A­1 inflicted fist blows on
Gurnam Singh, prosecution relied upon the evidence of PWs 3
and 4 who claimed that they were travelling along with Gurnam
Singh at the time of the occurrence in the car driven by Gurnam
Singh and, therefore, witnessed the occurrence.
The Sessions Court disbelieved the evidence of PWs 3 and 4
principally on two grounds, firstly that the evidence of PW3 and
PW4 was not consistent and kept varying from time to time and
secondly,   the   medical   evidence   does   not   corroborate   the
testimonies of PWs 3 and 4.   On the other hand, as already
noticed by us (at para 25), the High Court disagreed with the
conclusion of the Sessions Court regarding the trustworthiness of
the evidence of PWs 3 and 4.
36. The submission of the A­1 is that PWs 3 and 4 are planted
witnesses   and   the   circumstances   appearing   from   the   record
24
create any amount of doubt regarding the fact that:
PWs   3   and   4   were   in   fact   travelling   with   Gurnam
Singh and witnessed the offence,
According to A­1, the circumstances are:
(i)    PWs 3 and 4 were related to the deceased and
therefore they are interested witnesses. 
(ii)   The failure of the prosecution  to examine any
independent   witness   (i.e.   witness   unconnected
with   the   deceased)   though   a   good   number   of
people must have witnessed the occurrence as it
occurred in broad day light in the city of Patiala. 
(iii)  Non­production of the records of the hospital7
 to
indicate  that  Gurnam Singh   was taken  to  the
hospital by PWs 3 and 4.
(iv) The fact that the FIR which is said to have been
registered by PW5 at 1.45 pm at the instance of
PW3 reached the concerned Magistrate only at
7 It is submitted that as a matter of general practice, whenever a patient is taken to a hospital, the hospital
records the details of the persons who brought the patients to the hospital more particularly in cases having
medico-legal implication.
25
5.30 pm that evening (i.e. approximately after a
lapse of 4 hours) though the distance between
the police station and the Magistrate is only two
kilometers leads to a doubt that the timing of the
registration of the FIR is manipulated to give the
impression   that   the   incident   was   promptly
reported.  The purpose being to plant PWs 3 and
4 as eye­witnesses to the occurrence. 
(v)  That the prosecution did not seize the vehicle by
which deceased, PW3 and PW4 were said to have
been traveling. 
37. We   shall   now   examine   the   tenability   of   the   above
submissions.
38. The  fact  that   PWs  3 and   4 are  related  to  the   deceased
Gurnam   Singh   is   not   in   dispute.   The   existence   of   such
relationship by itself does not render the evidence of PWs 3 and 4
untrustworthy.   This Court has repeatedly held so and also held
that the related witnesses are less likely to implicate innocent
26
persons exonerating the real culprits.8
39. Admittedly, the incident took place in broad daylight in a
busy area of Patiala city.     Obviously, the incident would have
been witnessed by many others.   It is, therefore, the submission
of the accused that the non­examination of   any   person   other
than   PWs   3   and   4   renders   the   evidence   of   PWs   3   and   4
untrustworthy.   
We find it difficult to accept the submission.   The mere fact
that   some   more   witnesses,   who   would   have   witnessed   the
occurrence, were not examined does not render the evidence of
PWs   3   and   4   untrustworthy.     In   fact,   in   a   matter   like   this,
examining   any   other   witness   who   was   supposed   to   have
witnessed   the   offence   would   increase   the   burden   of   the
prosecution to establish that such a witness is not a chance
8 See Rizan v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2003) 2 SCC 661, para 6
6. We shall first deal with the contention regarding interestedness of the witnesses for
furthering the prosecution version. Relationship is not a factor to affect credibility of a
witness. It is more often than not that a relation would not conceal the actual culprit and
make allegations against an innocent person. Foundation has to be laid if plea of false
implication is made. In such cases, the court has to adopt a careful approach and analyse
evidence to find out whether it is cogent and credible.
Also see, Dalip Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1953 SC 364, para 26
26. A witness is normally to be considered independent unless he or she springs from
sources which are likely to be tainted and that usually means unless the witness has
cause, such as enmity against the accused, to wish to implicate him falsely. Ordinarily, a
close relative would be the last to screen the real culprit and falsely implicate an innocent
person. It is true, when feelings run high and there is personal cause for enmity, that there
is a tendency to drag in an innocent person against whom a witness has a grudge along
with the guilty, but foundation must be laid for such a criticism and the mere fact of
relationship far from being a foundation is often a sure guarantee of truth.
27
witness.    
40.   Coming   to   the   submission   that   the   relevant   records   of
Rajendra   Hospital   to   which   Gurnam   Singh   was   taken
immediately after the incident were not proved to establish that
PWs 3 and 4 were the persons who carried Gurnam Singh to the
hospital need not necessarily lead to the conclusions that PWs 3
and 4 were not trustworthy witnesses.   No doubt, the production
of such record would have gone to corroborate the fact that PWs
3 and 4 were accompanying Gurnam Singh at the time of the
incident   and   immediately   thereafter.   Corroboration   is   not
required for every fact sought to be proved by the prosecution.  If
a fact is proved by some credible evidence, to insist upon further
corroborating   material   would   only   make   the   enforcement   of
criminal law an absurdity. 
41. Another submission of the defence is that PWs 3 and 4 are
planted   witnesses   by   the   prosecution,   though   they   did   not
actually witness the occurrence of the crime. The accused seek to
raise a doubt regarding the fact that FIR is registered at 1.45
p.m. because the FIR reached the Magistrate around 5.30 p.m.
28
The concerned court, admittedly, is only at a distance of 2 to 3
kilometers from the police station.   It is, therefore, argued that
the prosecution manipulated the time of the registration of the
FIR though it was recorded at a much later point of time after
procuring the presence of PWs 3 and 4 to figure as eye­witnesses.
In our opinion, the logic adopted by the accused suggesting
the possibility of the PWs 3 and 4 being planted witnesses is
untenable.
      
Admittedly, the post­mortem was conducted by PW2 on the
dead body of Gurnam Singh at 4.30 p.m. on the date of the
occurrence. PW2 in his deposition stated that body was identified
by PWs 3 and 4.  The post­mortem report also mentions the fact
that body was identified by PWs 3 and 4.  It, therefore, follows
that PWs 3 and 4 were present by 4.30 p.m.  i.e., at the time of
the post mortem.   No submission is made that PW2 is not a
trustworthy   witness   or   that   the   post­mortem   report   is   not   a
reliable document.
The post­mortem was preceded by an inquest conducted by
PW5 (sub­Inspector Kaka Singh). He deposed that on receipt of
29
the   report   of   PW3   around   1.45   p.m.   after   completing   the
formalities of registration of the FIR, he proceeded to Rajendra
Hospital at 3.00 p.m.  Thereafter, he prepared the inquest report
(Ex. PH) in the presence of PWs 3 and 4 who attested the inquest
report.  After completion of the inquest, PW5 entrusted the dead
body to two police constables namely Bahadur Singh and Gurpal
Singh with a requisition for post mortem (Ex. PG).   
Obviously, it takes some time to conduct inquest.   If PW5
reached the Rajendra Hospital at 3.00 p.m., the time gap of one
and half hours between the commencement of the inquest and
the commencement of the post­mortem cannot be said to be an
unreasonable   period   for   conducting   the   inquest   and   making
appropriate   arrangement   for   the   post­mortem   examination.9
Both from the inquest report and the post mortem report, it can
be noticed that PWs 3 and 4 presence was mentioned.   Under
Section 174 CrPC, an officer in charge of police station receiving
information of the death of a person under the circumstances
specified in the said section is required to proceed to the place
where the dead body is, draw up a report of the apparent cause
9 PW2 stated in the cross-examination – “The post-mortem was started 4.30 p.m. on 27.12.1988. I must have
received the police papers few minutes earlier to 4.30 p.m.”
30
of   death   and   then   forward   the   dead   body   for   (post   mortem)
examination to the nearest Civil Surgeon.  Therefore, neither the
inquest could have taken place without the registration of the
crime nor the post mortem examination could be undertaken
without   a  requisition  from  the   investigating  officer.   There  is
nothing in the examination of PW5 (SI) to suggest that he did not
follow the procedure prescribed under Section 174, CrPC. 
From the above, it follows at least by 3 p.m. PWs 3 and 4
were present and actively associated with the above­mentioned
events.   If they were to be planted as eye­witnesses, it must have
happened between 12.30 and 3.00 p.m.  That means in a gap of
two   and   a   half  hours   between   12.30   p.m.  to   3.00   p.m.,   the
investigating  officer  must  have  identified  PWs 3  and  4  to  be
witnesses who  would act to the dictation of the investigating
agency and support the version of the prosecution and plant
them. Such a theory in our opinion would be a fantastic piece of
fiction and it pre­supposes that PW­5 for some unknown reasons
bore an enmity to A1 to plan such a deep plot to implicate A­1 in
the crime.  In the process, we must not forget that A­1, even by
the date of the occurrence, was some kind of a celebrity.   We
31
would find it difficult to believe such a version.   The general
tendency – if we do not take leave of common sense – is to turn a
blind eye to the violations of law committed by celebrities.
42. Another aspect of the matter which was vehemently argued
by the learned counsel for the accused is that the non­seizure of
the vehicle by which the deceased and the PWs 3 and 4 were said
to have been travelling at the time of the occurrence throws
doubt about the presence of PWs 3 and 4 along with the deceased
at   the   time   of   the   occurrence.   We   fail   to   understand   the
submission.   Even if the vehicle were to be seized, we do not
understand how it would go to prove the fact that PWs 3 and 4
were also travelling by that vehicle.    
43. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the Sessions Court was
wrong and the High Court was right (though the reasons are not
well articulated) in believing the presence of PWs 3 and 4 at the
time   of   the   commission   of   the   offence   along   with   deceased
Gurnam Singh.   We must hasten to add that from the above
finding   it   does   not   follow   that   their   entire   evidence   is
unimpeachable. 
32
44. Then it becomes necessary to examine as to what extent the
evidence of PWs 3 and 4 is credible.  Both the witnesses in their
evidence before the Sessions Court stated that they travelled with
the deceased on the fateful day in a Maruti car driven by Gurnam
Singh.     Both   of   them   stated   that   there   was   an   altercation
between A­1 and the deceased regarding the right of way which
resulted in the 1st  accused giving fist blows to Gurnam Singh.
They  did  not   make  any   allegation   in   their  evidence   that   A­2
attacked Gurnam Singh.  Their version is that when they tried to
intervene to rescue Gurnam Singh, the 2nd accused attacked PW3
by giving fist blows.
Though, it is the evidence of PWs 3 and 4 that A­1 inflicted
fist blows on Gurnam Singh, the post­mortem report indicates
only   two   external   injuries   –   one   on   the   temporal   region   and
another on the left knee of the deceased – both are abrasions.
The 2nd injury, i.e. abrasion on the knee, according to PW­2 could
be the result of the fall.  Notwithstanding the narration of PWs 3
and 4 that A­1 inflicted  fist  blows  (multiple blows), it is most
unlikely that a person would simultaneously aim at the head and
33
also the knees of the victim while giving fist blows.  Of course, it
is possible that A­1 delivered more than one fist blow but only
one of them landed on the head of Gurnam Singh and the others
missed the target.   That leaves us with the position that A­1
inflicted a single injury on the head of the deceased and we can
safely conclude that the 2nd injury on the knee of the deceased
occurred due to a fall at any road.  It is not the suggestion of the
prosecution that Gurnam Singh died of the injury on his knee.
45. The   injury   on   the   head   of   Gurnam   Singh,   as   already
noticed, is an abrasion admeasuring 0.75 cm x 0.5 cm over the
left temporal region at the junction of upper part of pinna.  There
is a corresponding subdural hemorrhage present over the left
temporal region of Gurnam Singh.  But the question is whether
that single injury caused the death of Gurnam Singh.  
46. PW­2 in the post­mortem report did not give any opinion
regarding the cause of the death of Gurnam Singh.  On the other
hand, he recorded as follows:
“The cause of death in this case will be given after receiving the
report   from   the   Pathologist,   Government   Medical   College,
Patiala.     Both   the   injuries   are   ante­mortem   in   nature   and
caused by blunt weapon.”
34
It is significant to note that PW2 was of the opinion that the
injuries   were   ante­mortem   in   nature   and   caused   by  a   blunt
weapon.  
47. The   pathologist   gave   a   report   dated   9.1.89   (Ex.PJ).     He
noticed a large number of abnormalities in the condition of the
heart of Gurnam Singh.
“Heart weighed 430 gm and measured 12x8x6 cm. Epicardial
fat   was   increased,   especially   over   right   ventricle.     Both   the
branches of left coronary artery i.e. anterior descending branch
and   circumflex   branch   and   right   coronary   artery   showed
atherosclerosis with calcification and narrowing of the lumen.
Maximum thickness of left ventricular wall was increased to 1.8
cm.   Myocardium showed stromal fat infiltration, especially of
right ventricle and multiple focus areas of fibrosis in the wall of
left   ventricle.     Cusps   and   chambers   of  the  ears   showed   no
Pathology. No evidence of myocardial infarction was seen.
Root   of   aorta   showed   atherosclerosis   with   focal   areas   of
calcification.”
Insofar as the brain is concerned, the pathology report reads as
follows:
“Four pieces of brain, covered with Pia Meter, together weighed
550 gms and measured 11x11x5 cm.  No pathology was seen on
gross or Microscopic examination.”
It is relevant to note that the pathologist did not notice any
pathology either on the gross or microscopic examination.   On
receipt of the pathology report, PW­2 opined that it is necessary
35
to obtain a further opinion of forensic expert.   He, therefore,
wrote to the Civil Surgeon, Patiala on 11.1.89 requesting that the
case be referred to forensic expert, Government Medical College,
Patiala.  
48. On   13.1.89,   the   Principal,   Government   Medical   College,
Patiala,   acting   on   the   abovementioned   letter   dated   11.1.89,
constituted a Board consisting of 6 members of whom two were
examined as PWs 1 and 2 in the trial of the case.   PW­1 was
designated as the Convener of the said Medical Board.   PW­1
gave a very cryptic opinion (Ex.PA) on 17.1.89, as follows:
“Death in this case is attributed to the effects of head injury and
cardiac condition.   However, the head injury in itself could be
sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature”.
49. In view of the lack of clarity in the opinion, the prosecution
time and again sought for a clarification of the opinion.  On two
occasions, i.e. on 31.1.89 and 3.2.89, PW­1 declined to give any
further clarification and communicated as follows:
“In this context, it is for your kind information that the
opinion expressed earlier stands as such.”
“This is for your kind information that the facts regarding
the case have already been stated and need not be asked over
and again.  If any clarification is needed, that will be submitted
in the Court.”
36
50. The Sessions Court analysed the evidence of PWs 1 and 2
and   the   above   mentioned   correspondence   between   the
investigating officer and the doctors from paras 33 to 36 and
recorded:­
“… That there was a very minor abrasion over the left temporal
region,   there   was   no   fracture   of   the   skull,   the   sub­dural
hemorrhage seen by Dr. Jatinder Kumar Sadana (PW­2) had not
been measured as its magnitude and size was not indicated in
the   post   mortem   report.   The   witness   in   cross­examination
admitted that a sub­dural hemorrhage is not fatal in all the
cases.
xxx xxx xxx
Dr. Gurpreet Singh10, Head of the Cardiology Department
was of the view that the cardiac condition as reported by the
Pathologist could also result in sudden cardiac death under
stress.     This   means   that   Gurnam   Singh   could   well   have
suddenly   died   without   any   external   injury   on   account   of   a
Neurogenic   or   vasovagal   shock   and   the   post   mortem
examination would not have revealed this fact.  It was only after
the   pathologist   examined   xx   the   heart   of   the   patient   and
reported various medical defects therein that the Cardiologist
formed the opinion that it was a case of sudden cardiac death.
xxx xxx xxx
In any case, the Board has not stated that death was the
result of the head injury or death was the result of cardiac
condition or death was the result of head injury coupled with
the cardiac condition or death was the result of head injury
which led to the cardiac condition.”
and finally held:
10 He was one of the Members of the Medical Board
37
“Conclusion on the basis of the medical evidence is that the
deceased died on account of sudden cardiac death under stress,
fell   and   received   the   two   abrasions   including   the   subdural
hemorrhage in question.   This conclusion is quite consistent
with the medical opinion expressed by the Pathologist and by
Dr. Krishan Vij and Dr. Jatinder Kumar Sadana.”
51. On the other hand, the High Court recorded a conclusion,
as follows:
“……….None of the doctors i.e. Dr. Krishan Vij PW­1 and Dr.
Jatinder Kumar Sadana PW­2 have stated in their testimony
that the mode of death of Gurnam Singh was cardiac failure.
All they have stated is that by going through the report of the
Pathologist, the cardiac condition of heart of Gurnam Singh
was very weak.  We cannot be oblivious of the fact that on the
opening of the skull, subdural hemorrhage was present over
the left parietal region and brain as spelt out by Dr Jatinder
Kumar Sadana PW­2.   It is in fact this hemorrhage which
caused the death of Gurnam Singh, and not a cardiac arrest.”
52. It is submitted by the accused that the above conclusion of
the High Court is not based on any evidence and is a pure
conjecture.
53. We have already noticed that PW2, who conducted the postmortem,
did not identify the cause of death of Gurnam Singh. He
only forwarded the opinion of the Medical Board to the Police.11
PW­1,  who  headed the  Board,  simply  repeated the  statement
11 Deposition of PW 2: After the receipt of the report of the Pathologist Ex. PJ the case was forwarded to the
Professor and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicines, Medical College, Patiala for expert opinion
through Civil Surgeon, Patiala. After this board was constituted by the Principal, Medical College, Patiala and
cause of death was given. This was forwarded in original to the SHO, P.S. Kotwali, on 17.1.1989. It is Ex. PK
which is signed by me.
38
made in Exhibit PA.
“Deposition   of   PW   1:   After   perusal   of   the   record   and   the
discussions   held,   opinion   was   given   which   is   Ex.   PA.
According to Ex. PA the death in this case was attributed to
the effects of the head injury and cardiac arrest. However, the
head injury in itself could be sufficient to cause death in the
ordinary course of nature.”
On the face of the above evidence, the High Court came to
the conclusion that it is the subdural hemorrhage which caused
the death of Gurnam Singh and not cardiac arrest. 
54. As rightly pointed out by the accused, we find no basis in
the evidence on record for such a conclusion. When Exhibit PA
says that death in the case is “attributed to the effects of head injury
and cardiac condition”, to conclude that the cause of death is only
hemorrhage and not cardiac arrest is contrary to the evidence on
record. On the other hand it must be remembered the pathologist
reported  that   he   did  not  notice   any  pathology on the brain
either   on  “gross   or   microscopic   examination”.   PW­2,   who
conducted   the   post­mortem   examination,   did   not   give   any
description   of   the   hemorrhage   except   to   state   that   subdural
hemorrhage existed in the parietal region. He admitted in the
cross examination that he did not mention the magnitude or size
39
of the hemorrhage.12
55. PW­1 is also the author of a textbook on Forensic Medicine
and Toxicology. In the Sixth Edition of his book he stated as
follows:
“On most occasions, bleeding is slight but fatal compression of
the brain by a large subdural haemorrhage can occur within a
few hours. It has been suggested that about 100­150 ml is
usually   the   minimum   associated   with   fatalities.   Fatality   is
frequently associated with some concomitant brain injury. If
there   is   no   primary   brain   damage,   the   mortality   from   the
subdural haemorrhage is usually related to the victim’s age,
neurological status and delay from the time of trauma to the
surgical evacuation of the haematoma.”
13
It can be noticed from the above statement – (i) subdural
hemorrhage   by   itself   does   not   cause   death   but   it   is   the
compression of brain caused by a large subdural hemorrhage
which causes the death; and (ii) about 100­150 ml of hemorrhage
is usually the minimum associated with fatalities. 
56. We shall assess the evidence on record in the instant case in
light of the above analysis. The statements made in (Ex PA) and
the evidence of PW1 that the head injury itself could be sufficient
to cause the death in the ordinary course of nature are mere ipse
12Deposition of PW 2: Though I mentioned in the post-mortem report that there was subdural hemorrhage on
the left temporal region, but I Have not mentioned its magnitude or size, whether it was 1 cm or it was 10 cms.
13 Textbook of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology Principles & Practice, 6th Ed, Krishan Vij, Elsevier, pp 267-268
40
dixit.   Neither any specific details regarding the volume of the
subdural hemorrhage are available on record, nor any medical
opinion that the subdural hemorrhage caused the compression of
the brain that caused the death of Gurnam Singh. There is no
evidence   of   any   concomitant   brain   injury.     The   post­mortem
report and the evidence of PW2 are silent in this regard. The
pathologist’s report is clear about the absence of any pathology in
brain.  Such being the evidence on record, the conclusion of the
High Court that Gurnam Singh’s death is caused by subdural
hemorrhage but not cardiac arrest, in our opinion, is not based
on   any   evidence   on   record   and   is   a   pure   conjecture.     We,
therefore, find it difficult to sustain the conviction of the first
accused and set­aside the same.  Because to find a man guilty of
culpable homicide, the basic fact required to be established is
that the accused caused the death.  But, as noticed above, the
medical evidence is absolutely uncertain regarding the cause of
death of Gurnam Singh.  
57. The only fact established on evidence is that A­1 gave a
single fist blow on the head of the deceased Gurnam Singh.  No
weapon was used, nor was there any past enmity between the
41
accused and the deceased.  It all started with a dispute regarding
the   right   of   way   resulting   in   a   brawl   between   them,   a   very
common sight in this country. 
58. Apparently, some verbal exchange took place between the
accused and the deceased.  It is not clear from the record as to
what   exactly   are   the   words   spoken   by   them   except   a   vague
indication that some intemperate language was employed by both
of them, nor is it clear who initiated the exchange.  
59. In view of our above conclusion, we do not see any reason to
discuss the various submissions made in Criminal Appeal No.60
of 2007 filed by the  de facto  complainant.   Their entire case is
sought to be built up on the lapses in the investigation process
and the conduct of the accused in securing the anticipatory bail
within few days of the incident and the decision of the State
initially not to prosecute A­1.  Various other factors sought to be
relied   upon   by   the  de   facto  complainant   pertain   to   certain
deficiencies in the process of the investigation (such as the nonseizure
of the vehicle by which deceased and PWs 3 and 4 were
travelling and the disinclination of the State to array the first
42
accused   herein   as   the   accused   in   the   Sessions   Case
No.79/18.8.94/20.8.94 either by design or otherwise) make no
difference to the conclusion that the first accused cannot be held
to be responsible for the death of Gurnam Singh in view of the
medical evidence.  The de facto complainant also calls upon this
Court to believe that in view of the celebrity status of the first
accused,   the   State   went   out   of   its   way   to   shield   his   crime.
Therefore, the first accused must be held to have caused the
death of Gurnam Singh.
60. No   doubt   that   there   are   lapses   in   the   investigation.   We
cannot hazard a guess whether such lapses occurred because of
the general inefficiency of the system or as a consequence of a
concerted effort made to protect the accused.   The law of this
country is not that people are convicted of offences on the basis
of doubts. 
61. We must also mention here that the  de facto  complainant
moved an I.A. No. 50523 of 2018 praying that the content of a CD
be received as additional evidence, along with the CD allegedly
containing some interview given by the first accused to some TV
43
channel.    The  said CD  is  said  to   contain  certain   statements
which would go in the opinion of the  de facto  complainant to
prove the guilt of the accused.  
62. For receiving such material on record at this stage, in our
opinion, requires the examination of too many questions of law
including questions of the interpretation of some of the provisions
of the Constitution.   Assuming for the sake of argument that this
Court in exercise of its extra­ordinary jurisdiction can receive
such evidence, necessarily such an exercise requires the giving of
an opportunity to the first accused before such evidence is taken
on record.
In our opinion, all that is avoidable for the reason: even if it
is assumed that the first accused admitted to his participation in
the   occurrence,   (a   fact   which   we   have   already   concluded
independent of his own confession alleged in the TV show) in the
light of the medical evidence on record, he cannot be held guilty
of causing the death of Gurnam Singh.     We, therefore, see no
reason to entertain the application.  Such admissions, if any do
not help improve the case of the de facto complainant.
44
63.  The net result of all the above discussion is that the first
accused cannot be held to be responsible for causing the death of
Gurnam Singh. Therefore, the judgment under appeal is required
to be set aside and is accordingly set aside.   The material on
record leads us to the only possible conclusion that we can reach
that the first accused voluntarily caused hurt to Gurnam Singh
punishable under Section 323 IPC.    
64. The   next   question   is   what   would   be   the   appropriate
punishment for such an offence.   Section 323 IPC stipulates a
punishment   of   imprisonment   of   either   description   for   a   term
which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to
Rs.1000/­ or with both.  In the circumstances of the case having
regard to the facts that (i) the incident is 30 years old; (ii) there is
no past enmity between the accused and the deceased; (iii) no
weapon was used by the accused; and (iv) the background in
which   it   happened,   we   are   of   the   opinion,   a   punishment   of
imposition of fine of Rs.1000/­ would meet the ends of justice in
this case.
45
65. In view of the foregoing, we allow the appeals of the accused
as indicated above and dismiss the appeal of the complainant.  
………………………………….J.
                                            (J. CHELAMESWAR)
………………………………….J.
                      (SANJAY KISHAN KAUL)
New Delhi
May 15, 2018
46