Read Judgment: Omkar Singh V. Jaiprakash Narain Singh & Anr.
New Delhi, February 10, 2022: While noticing that the High Court committed a grave error in acquitting one accused while maintaining conviction for the other, the Supreme Court has opined that once the conviction of one accused for the offence of murder with common intention u/s 302/34 of IPC stood confirmed, then the conviction of the other co-accused for similarly charged offence must also have been confirmed.
A Division Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna observed that both the accused with a common intention went to the place of the deceased and the motive had been established and proved.
Going by the background of the case, one Omkar Singh, son of Parasnath Singh, lodged an FIR stating that due to the enmity going on between his family members with Udaibhan Singh and his father Jaiprakash Narain Singh @ Lala (Respondent – Original accused) his father was killed. As per the allegation, on insisting Jaiprakash Narain Singh, Udaibhan Singh shot Parasnath with a country made pistol on his chest from a point blank range and threatened the informant on account of which they kept quiet. Thereafter both the accused ran away.
On conclusion of the investigation, the IO filed the charge-sheet against both the accused for the offences u/s 302 r/w/s 302/34 of the IPC. The Trial Court convicted Udaibhan Singh for the offences punishable u/s 302 of IPC and Jaiprakash Narain Singh for the offences punishable u/s 302 r/w/s 34 of IPC and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. On appeal, the High Court believed the eye witnesses so far as Udaibhan was concerned and confirmed the judgment and order of conviction passed by the Trial Court.
The High Court however, acquitted Jaiprakash Narain Singh mainly on the ground that the three prosecution witnesses had given him role of exhortation only and no overt act had been assigned to him and therefore there might be an exaggeration of his role and false implication by the witnesses in order to see that both the accused – father and son were put behind the bars because of the property dispute between the parties. Hence, the present appeal.
After considering the submissions, the Top Court observed that once even the High Court also found all the three prosecution witnesses trustworthy and reliable and in fact confirmed the conviction of first accused for the offence punishable u/s 302/34 of the IPC, the High Court ought not to have thereafter doubted the presence of second accused – first respondent.
Once the High Court had even confirmed the conviction of first accused relying upon all the three eye witnesses, the High Court ought to have confirmed the conviction of first respondent – second accused also relying upon the three eye witnesses, added the Court.
Accordingly, the Apex Court quashed the judgment and order passed by the High Court acquitting the first Respondent and restored the order passed by the Trial Court convicting him for the offence punishable u/s 302/34 of IPC and sentencing him to undergo life imprisonment.