HM Journal

IS EXHORTING THE CRIMINAL JUST BEFORE THE CRIME, A CRIMINAL ACT?

Court: The Supreme Court of India

Judgment Name: Sandeep Vs State of Haryana(Criminal Appeal No. 1613 of 2018)

Judgment Date: August 27, 2021.  

Bench: Justice Uday U Lalit, Justice Ajay Rastogi.

Introduction:

It is an appeal case from the High Court of Punjab and Haryana where all the appellants had been convicted under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and the Section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959. One of the accused, Krishna Devi on being aggrieved by the decision of conviction by the High Court filed a Special Leave Petition which was later dismissed. However, the Special Leave Petition of the other accused was granted by this Court. Owing to this, Krishna filed a review petition before this Court in regard to the dismissal. The Court then decided to club all the four appeals and adjudicate upon them in this case.  

Brief Facts of the Case:

  1. An FIR was lodged by Ram Singh, neighbour of Ishwar Singh, on 13th March, 2007. Both were cousin brothers and had a rift in their families due to the encroachment in the common street by Ishwar’s family which had been later resolved by the Panchayat.
  2. On 9th March, 2007, Ram Singh and his wife had put some waste materials in that common street which fumed Ishwar. Owing to this incident, Ishwar, Pradeep, Sandeep (sons of Ishwar) and Krishna (wife of Ishwar) abused Ram’s sister, Kaushalya.
  3. Ram’s family clearly told them that the waste materials shall be removed at 8 am by the labourers but all their efforts to calm them went in vain. The parents of Sandeep and Pradeep instigated them to teach Ram and his family a lesson.
  4. Pradeep stood with a weapon and on being instigated by Sandeep shot it which hit Surender (Ram’s brother) and he succumbed to his injuries on the spot after which he was rushed to the hospital by Ram.

Issues in the Case:

  1. Whether Pradeep was the murderer of Surender?
  2. Whether there is an involvement of Sandeep, Ishwar and Krishna in the murder?

Contentions of the Appellants:

  1. The Counsel for the Appellants stated that respondents had a parrot like statement for the mishap and considering the already existing rift between the two families, their statements should be relied upon.
  2. They stressed upon the fact that Pradeep gave medical attention to the dead which is not possible if he were the murderer.
  3. All the important documents had been attested only by the Respondent 1, 2 and 3 and no other independent witness was present which makes these documents unreliable.

Contentions of the Respondents:

  1. The Counsel for the Respondents emphasized on the fact that the FIR had been lodged in a few hours after the incident. Moreover, the statements of the Respondents were corroborative to the medical reports.
  2. The High Court had rejected the plea of presence of Pradeep in providing medical attention and the reasoning provided by the Court is beyond any interference.
  3. The most important contention of the Respondents was that weapon of Pradeep was proved to be the weapon of offence by the Laboratory Reports.  

Observations of the Court:

The Court opined that the crime of Pradeep was beyond any doubt because the trajectory travelled by the bullet coincided with the fact that he had been shot from the rooftop. Moreover, the statements of the eyewitnesses have been the same since the FIR and therefore cannot be questioned. The Report clearly stated that, The country-made pistol marked W/1 (chambered for .315″ cartridges) is defined in Arms Act 54 of 1959. Its firing mechanism was found in working order. The .315″ fired bullet marked BC/1 has been fired from country-made pistol marked and not from any other firearm even of same make and bore, because every firearm has got its own individual characteristic marks”.  

Therefore, in light of the material on record, the Court had upheld the decision of the Trial Court and the High Court.

The Court then adjudicated upon the crime of the other accused. The Bench took into account the facts that the parents of the sons were responsible for the initial exhortation because of which Pradeep went to the rooftop with the firearm. However, the exhortation just before he shot Surender was by Sandeep and had a greater impact as it instigated Pradeep to such an extent that he went on to shoot Surender.

Judgment:

In the light of the entire circumstances, the Court opined that the involvement of the parents in the actual shooting was doubtful whereas the exhortation by Sandeep was beyond any reasonable doubt.

Therefore, the appeals of Pradeep and Sandeep were dismissed while the Criminal Appeal of Ishwar and Krishna arising out of the Special Leave Petition was allowed. Ishwar and Krishna was released by the Court unless they are required to be in custody for some other offence committed by them.

Opinion:

The researcher believes that this judgment is just and fair beyond all doubts. The person who exhorts the criminal just before his crime is an equal criminal as he incites the feeling to commit the offence. In this case, the crime had been performed by Pradeep but the incitement to commit the crime in him had been invoked by Sandeep which makes him an equal criminal in the murder of Surender,

This case is very important in light of the circumstances where criminals are exhorted to commit crimes and shall be an instrumental precedent in the similar future cases.

Written by: Drishti Rathi, Christ University(Delhi), 3rd Year

REFERENCES:

  1. Sandeep Vs State of Haryana 2021 SCC Online SC 642.  
  2. https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2012/13131/13131_2012_35_1501_29597_Judgement_27-Aug-2021.pdf.

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