Manmeet Singh Alias Goldie vs. State of Punjab on 24 March,2015

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Manmeet Singh Alias Goldie vs. State of Punjab on 24 March,2015

                                                       IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                                    CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                                                     CRIMINAL APPEAL NO...505.../2015
                                   (arising out of SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (Crl)No.1873/2011)

Manmeet Singh Alias Goldie ....... Appellant


State of Punjab ...... Respondent


The instant appeal launches a challenge to the conviction of the appellant herein under section 396 of the IPC. For committing dacoity and murder of one Mohinder Singh and the constitutional sentence of imprisonment for life and fine of Rs. 3000/-, in default of further rigorous imprisonment for 2 months held out by the judgement and order dated 17.1.2007 passed in sessions case no. RT-4/15.3.05/17.5.05 by the learned Additional sessions judge, Rupnagar and affirmed by the judgement and order dated 1.11.2010 rendered by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in CRLA No. 133/2007. The case initiated when FIR was lodged with Morinda Police station on 28 May 2004. FIR was lodged by the informant, Gursatindar Singh on the date of incident i.e. 28 May 2004 contending that he along with Mohinder Singh,Cashier, Surinder Pal, Accountant city sub-division,PSEB and Balbir Singh, Cashier at about 11:00 am had travelled in a matador vehicle No.PB-11-6119, driven by Gurucharan Singh to collect the salary of employees from State Bank of Patiala, Kharar branch, a total of Rs.7,78,156 was collected from the bank and was put in a green coloured bag. According to informant, an amount of Rs 7,18,715 towards salary of city sub-division was put in another bag and both the bags were taken in the matador vehicle. At 2:30 PM when they reached the suburban subdivision office, cashier Mohinder Singh descended from the vehicle with the bag containing Rs.7,78,156. Then a gentleman aged 25/30 years with mulla looks confronted Mohinder Singh with a pistol like article in his hand and tried to snatch the bag of money. He resisted, then the intruder fired from which Mohinder Singh fell down. The short injured him on the left side of the chest. Assailant then carried the bag of money on a Bajaj Chetak scooter No. 5648 with another young man of the same age who was standing nearby. They both drove towards Kurali. Then informant raised alarm and Mohinder Singh was taken to the government hospital where he was declared dead. Information was registered as a FIR No.69 dated 25.05.2004 under section 302,397 and 34 IPC and 24,25 and 29 or Arms Act and charge sheet was laid under section 173 of the CrPC. At the trial before the learned Additional Sessions Judge,Rupnagar, charged under section 120B,302,149 and397 of the IPC. All the persons who had been sent up for trial denied the charges. Prosecution examined 27 witnesses. The accused persons brought 13 witnesses in defence. Despite the witnesses, they were convicted and sentenced as above but acquitted the four co-accused. Mr Hufeza Ahmadi, the learned senior counsel for the appellant argued that under section 396 of IPC, conviction of the appellant is not permissible and thus he is entitled to be acquitted. In contrary, the learned counsel for state argued the complicity of the appellant having been mistakenly proved by some of the witnesses , his conviction is unassailable in law. According to the witnesses acting on this information, Gurbachan Singh and then Satnam Singh and Sukhwinder Singh were arrested. Furthur, and amount of Rs.20,000 was recovered from Balwinder Singh. The witnesses furthur stated that on 11.08.2004,a scooter and a revolver was seized. He also stated that the accused Balwinder Singh, Satnam Singh, Manmeet Singh and Malkiat Singh had admitted their involvement in various similar such incidents. Later Malkiat Singh was charged for murder under section 302 IPC. It was thus patent that the accused person including the appellant , in terms of the charge so framed could be convicted, if proved for the offences under section 120B,302 and 396 IPC Then, prosecution also failed to prove the charge of conspiracy and in fact it was unreservedly recorded that the other four co-accused person could not be connected with the offences charged. Prosecutors even failed to provide any direct evidence that appellant was the assailant and that he had fired from pistol, in his possession at Mohinder Singh. The court held that since there is no direct evidence as well to establish the culpability of the appellant qua any of the offences. As a matter of fact the evidence of the above eyewitnesses does not indicate the involvement of five or more persons in the perpetration of the crime. With the failure of the state to prefer an appeal against acquittal of the four co- accused person but finding to this effect has also become final and binding. There is no overwhelming evidence to the contrary to overturn the concurrent findings of the courts below on the failure of the prosecution to prove for participation of 5 or more person in the commission of the alleged offences