The Punjab and Haryana High Court has allowed the criminal appeal preferred by a father who was convicted by a Sessions Court in Jalandhar for the murder of his teenage daughter.
Rejecting the incriminating testimony given by the victim’s mother Shakuntla against her husband, a bench comprising Justices Sureshwar Thakur and NS Shekhawat observed that her conduct at the time of alleged incident was “unnatural” and that her testimony does not inspire Court’s confidence.
“Shakuntla admitted that there were number of residential houses around her house and people from those houses had come to the spot. Still further, even after the accused bolted the door from inside, she had not called anyone from the neighbour nor she reported the matter to the police at that time.”
The bench heavily relied on the case of Paramjeet Singh @ Pamma Vs. State of Uttarakhand where the Supreme Court held that a criminal trial is not a “fairy tale” where one can give free flight to one’s imaginations.
“In arriving at a conclusion about the guilt of the accused charged with the commission of a crime, the court has to judge the evidence by the yardstick of probabilities, its intrinsic worth and the animus of witnesses,” the Top Court had said.
The High Court had framed the following issues for consideration in appeal preferred under Section 374 of CrPC:
A) Whether the material witnesses produced by the prosecution are reliable and trustworthy?
B) Whether the death of Gurpreet Kaur was homicidal?
C) Whether the recovery of ‘Danda’ connects the accused with the commission of crime or not?
Regarding the first issue, the court noted that there were many “serious infirmities” in the case of the prosecution and reliance cannot be placed on its witnesses.
Regarding the second issue, the court noted that no post-mortem examination of the dead body was conducted and it is unsafe to hold only on the basis of oral testimonies of the witnesses that the death was homicidal in the instant case. As far as the statement of PW-4 Pritam Singh SI is concerned bones and ashes were collected from the cremation ground and the parcel was sent to the office of Chemical Examiner. However, the prosecution had not tendered the report of chemical examiner.
In absence of any medical reports, forensic report or any other related evidence, it cannot be held that the death in the instant case was homicidal. More so, as discussed above, the evidence led by the prosecution is not found to be creditworthy.
Regarding the third issue, the court noted that in this part of the country, danda is found in almost every house in a village and the recovery of danda from the appellant cannot be construed as an incriminating circumstance.
Still further, it is a matter of common knowledge that in this part of the country, danda is found in almost every house in a village and the recovery of danda from the appellant cannot be construed as an incriminating circumstance.
Accordingly, the court concluded that the conclusions drawn by the trial Court are wholly unsustainable and contrary to the settled principles of law. Extending the benefit of doubt to the appellant, the court ordered him to be acquitted of the charges.
Case Title: Surinder Pal Vs. State of Punjab