Read Order: Gurpreet Singh v. State of Punjab 

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 8, 2022: While dealing with a revision petition in a case of rash and negligent driving leading to the death of one of the injured victims, the Punjab & Haryana High Court has held that the High Court in a revisional jurisdiction would not interfere in the opinion of the Courts below if such an opinion is a possible opinion on the basis of the evidence brought on record and would not substitute its own opinion merely because such opinion is also a possible opinion.

The Bench of Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj also added that the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court being restricted to examining whether there is any manifest error of law or procedure, such a power is to be exercised when there is apparent illegality, gross procedural irregularity or impropriety leading to miscarriage of justice, legal infirmity or gross misappreciation of the evidence that does not reconcile to the conclusion drawn by the Court.

By means of the instant revision petition, a challenge was raised to the judgment of the Trial Court in case pertaining to an FIR whereby the petitioner was convicted for offences under Section 279, 337, 338, 304-A IPC along with the subsequent dismissal of the appeal. 

This was a motor accident case. Two persons Harpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh were riding on a scooter and were hit by a car being driven by the petitioner. While undergoing treatment, one of the injured victims succumbed to his injuries. On the statement of the complainant, the FIR in question was registered. The petitioner-accused was arrested, charge-sheeted and convicted under Sections 279, 337, 338, 304-A IPC.

Aggrieved, the petitioner filed an appeal, but the same was dismissed. Hence, the present revision petition was filed. 

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the prosecution failed to prove the petitioner’s guilt beyond doubt and that the Courts below recorded the judgment of conviction solely upon the preponderance of probabilities which runs contrary to the settled tenets of criminal jurisprudence. It was further submitted that the prosecution failed to show any MLR to establish that the deceased received any injuries in the alleged incident and also to establish that the death of one of the complainants was a result of the alleged incident. 

The primary question which arose for Court’s consideration was whether the petitioner was driving the offending car in question and whether the offending vehicle was being driven by the petitioner in a rash and negligent manner so as to endanger human life and public safety. 

Firstly, the statement of Harpreet Singh (examined as PW) was perused by the Court who stated that the scooter on which the deceased as well as the said witness were riding was hit from the backside by the offending vehicle resulting in the witness as well as the deceased sustaining multiple injuries. The Court also observed that, when confronted about the identification of the petitioner, the witness specifically replied to have known the petitioner and also that the petitioner eventually visited his house. 

Further, the testimony of other independent eyewitnesses was also found to be sufficiently corroborated, by the Court. Later, the statement of the deceased- complainant, on whose statement the FIR was lodged was pursued by the Court.  The Court opined that his statement gained significant importance since the same was a statement made by the deceased regarding the circumstances of the transaction that ultimately resulted in his death. Further, Justice Bhardwaj asserted,

“The proximity of the statement and death of Mandeep Singh is an issue to be considered and there being a continuity and immediate proximity as well as link of the transaction in the form of incident and the ultimate consequence in the form of death of the said transaction, the statement…becomes admissible in evidence in terms of Section 32 of the Evidence Act. The statement having been made under expectation of death and in the proceedings where the issue required to be determined is as regards the cause of death, the said statement assumes significance of dying declaration and becomes a substantive piece of evidence that may not require any further corroboration unless sufficient evidence is produced to convince the Court to disregard the said testimony and to render it unreliable or unworthy of any credit”, said the Court.

Then the Court went on to make observations on the involvement of the offending vehicles. The Court noted that both the scooter and the car were examined and the petitioner could not explain the damage caused to the car. In this regard, the Court also opined that even though the petitioner claimed that he was not driving the offending vehicle, however, being the registered owner of the vehicle, it was for him to explain and to bring forth the person who was statedly/ allegedly driving the offending vehicle in question at the time of the incident. 

The Court noted that apart from denying his involvement, the petitioner did not produce any other evidence and that this failure assumed significance considering that the witnesses specifically named the petitioner to be the driver at the time when the accident. 

Refusing the petitioner’s argument that the death could not be linked to the alleged accident, the Court concluded that a perusal of the medico-legal report as well as post-mortem report conclusively established that the death in question occurred as a result of the injuries sustained by the deceased on account of the accident in question. 

Lastly, after making the above-stated observations on the scope of the revisional power of the High Court, the Court opined that the petitioner failed to point out any legal infirmity of impropriety in the judgment of the Courts below. 

The Court also observed that the petitioner was unable to indicate as to how the findings recorded by the Courts below were not borne out from the evidence adduced on record or that the conclusions so drawn would not be possible conclusions on the appreciation of evidence.

Thus, the revision petition was accordingly dismissed. 

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