Read Order: Ratto and Others v. State of Punjab and Another

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, June 3, 2022: While reiterating the law laid down by the Apex Court to the effect that under Section 307 IPC, infliction of a bodily injury sufficient under normal circumstances to cause death is not necessary and the Court has to see if the act, irrespective of its result, was done with an intention or knowledge and under circumstances mentioned in Section 307 IPC, the Punjab and Haryana has directed the Trial Court to rehear both the parties and pass fresh order regarding the framing of charges.

The Bench of Justice Karamjit Singh was considering the present revision petition filed against the order of the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Rupnagar, vide which the petitioners were charged under Sections 148, 307, 353, 186, 323 read with Section 149 IPC. 

The aforesaid FIR was lodged against the petitioners with the allegation that they started pelting stones at the government officials. It was also alleged that one of the accused namely Sohan Singh had thrown a petrol bomb (a bottle filled with petrol which was set on fire) towards the boat in which the complainant and other government officials were going.

It was the case of the petitioners’ counsel that the petitioners were not armed with any weapons and regarding the allegation of the petrol bomb, the Counsel added that no such bottle was recovered during the investigation of the case. It was also the counsel’s argument that there was nothing on record to establish that anyone sustained burn injuries due to the throwing of the alleged petrol bomb and that no damage was caused to the boat due to the hurling of the alleged petrol bomb. It was further contended that as per the MLR of the injured stated that injury found on his person was simple in nature and was caused by a blunt weapon.

Thus, in these circumstances, the Counsel vouched for setting aside the impugned order whereby the trial Court framed charges under Sections 307, 353, 186, 323 read with Section 149 IPC and under Section 148 IPC. 

Also, the Counsel brought to the Court’s attention the fact that earlier also similar orders passed by the trial Court to frame charges against the petitioners were challenged on two occasions and on both of them, the matter was remanded back to the trial court with a direction to pass a fresh order after rehearing the petitioners. 

On the contrary, the State Counsel stated that the government officials including the complainant went to take possession of the land belonging to Gram Panchayat in compliance with the warrant of possession issued by the Court concerned in this regard. That the said land was across the river and as such, all the aforesaid government officials were going in a boat to reach the spot and when they reached near the other side of the river, they were attacked by the petitioners while they were still sitting in the boat. 

It was further stated by the Counsel that the aforesaid government officials were attacked with stones and one of the accused namely Sohan Singh hurled a petrol bomb towards the boat but it fell in the river. Due to stone-pelting one stone hit on the right side of the forehead of the complainant and other government officials also sustained injuries due to aforesaid stone-pelting.

Therefore, it was the case of the State Counsel that all the petitioners constituted unlawful assembly with an intention to cause bodily harm sufficient to cause death, to the complainant and other government officials. The State counsel further submitted that the intention of the petitioners was very clear as one of them also used a petrol bomb to cause harm to the government officials who were travelling in a boat. 

Thus, the Counsel added that for the purpose of framing the charge under Section 307 IPC, the intention is of paramount importance, irrespective of the nature of the injuries sustained by the victims and that the trial Court rightly held that a prima facie case was made out against the petitioners to frame charges under Sections 307, 353, 186, 323 read with Section 149 IPC and Section 148 IPC.

After considering the rival submissions, the Court made reference to the Apex Court in the case of State of Maharashtra Vs. Balram Bama Patil, wherein it was held that it is not necessary that a bodily injury sufficient under normal circumstances to cause death should have been inflicted, rather the concerned Court has to see is whether the act, irrespective of its result, was done with an intention or knowledge and under circumstances mentioned in Section 307 IPC. 

Justice Singh however added that at the same time,“At the same time, the Trial Court is not a mere post office or mouthpiece to frame the charges at the behest of prosecution but has to exercise its judicial mind to the facts of the case in order to determine whether a case for trial has been made out by the prosecution”.

However, the bench noted,  “This however, does not mean the trial Court should make a roving inquiry into pros and cons of the matter and weigh the evidence as if it was conducting a trial.”

Coming to the instant case, the Court opined that the petitioners (accused persons) were not armed with any weapon and they only started pelting stones and one such stone hit on the head of complainant Jastinder Singh who at that time was posted as Block Development and Panchayat Officer. Also, the Court was of the opinion that the fact that the petitioners who were not armed with firearms or deadly weapons started pelting stones, prima facie reflected, that they were having no intention to kill any person. 

Also, the recordings made in the MLR about the injury being simple in nature were taken into consideration by Justice Singh. 

Thus, in view of the above, it was held, “The medico legal reports of other injured persons are not placed on record. Thus, prima facie making it clear that only complainant-Jastinder Singh sustained simple injury that too caused with blunt weapon. Nothing is available on record regarding use of petrol bomb as has been observed by the Coordinate Bench of this Court while passing order”. 

Therefore, in view of the above, the Court was of the view that the impugned order of the Additional Sessions Judge, Rupnagar, regarding the framing of charges was required to be reconsidered. 

Consequently, the impugned order was quashed and the trial Court was directed to rehear both the parties and to pass fresh order regarding the framing of charges in accordance with the law, in a time-bound manner. 

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