JARNAIL SINGH & ANR. VERSUS STATE OF PUNJAB

JARNAIL SINGH & ANR. VERSUS STATE OF PUNJAB


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL  APPEAL NO. 634 of 2010
JARNAIL SINGH & ANR.            APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
STATE OF PUNJAB     RESPONDENT(S)
WITH
CRIMINAL  APPEAL NO. 633 OF 2010
BALKAR SINGH                 APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
STATE OF PUNJAB & ORS.   RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
Vikram Nath, J.
1. These two appeals question the correctness
of   the   judgment   and   order   dated   14.09.2009
passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana
at Chandigarh in Criminal Appeal No.205 (SB) of
1
2002   (Sohan   Lal   and   others   Vs.   The   State   of
Punjab) whereby, the High Court confirmed the
conviction   of   the   appellants   namely,   Jarnail
Singh,   Salwant   Singh   and   Balkar   Singh   under
Sections 409/109, 420/109, 467/109, 471/109,
474/109, 477­A/109 and 120­B   of the Indian
Penal Code, 18601
 and Sections 13(i)(d) and 7 of
the   Prevention   of   Corruption   Act,   19882
  to
undergo three years rigorous imprisonment with
fine of Rs.1000/­ and in default of fine to undergo
additional six months imprisonment, awarded by
the Special Judge, Faridkot vide judgment and
order dated 28th January, 2002.
FACTS:
2.     Briefly   stated   the   relevant   facts   could   be
summarised as under: 
1 In short “IPC”
2 In short “PC Act”
2
(i) One Malkiat Singh, a driver of the Punjab
Roadways Depot, Muktsar made a complaint
dated 04.05.1996 to the higher officers of the
Department alleging that General Manager of
the   Punjab   Roadways   Depot,   Muktsar   in
connivance  with  conductor  and  others  has
been selling and using tickets got printed on
his own and sold through his own persons,
who used to collect money for him and, as
such, has caused loss to the tune of crores of
rupees to the Depot. 
(ii) On the basis of the said complaint, the
Deputy Commissioner addressed a letter to
the Senior Superintendent of Police, Muktsar
and on its basis, an FIR was registered by
Inspector, Dilbag Singh. 
3
(iii) The Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar also
forwarded   the   complaint   to   the   Secretary,
Transport Department, Chandigarh regarding
the   alleged   scandal.   The   Secretary  in   turn
required three Officers namely, 
(a)   Mr.   Darshan   Singh   Sandhu,   Deputy
Secretary,   Forest   and   Wildlife,
Chandigarh, Muktsar (PW­20), 
(b)Mr. M.S. Sandhu, S.D.M., Zira (PW­21)
and, 
(c) Mr. Amarjit Singh Shahi, S.D.M., Bassi
Pathana (PW­22);
to make a surprise checking and submit
their report. 
(iv) These three officers made checking of the
conductors   of   the   buses   on   the   routes   of
Delhi­Muktsar   and   Sirsa­Muktsar   on
4
11.05.1996.   They   took   into   possession   old
tickets   and   tickets   value   of   which   was
increased by affixing stamps on the same, the
diaries and way­bills of drivers, and the cash
in their possession in the ticket bag. 
(v)   The   Enquiry   Committee   also   recorded
statements. The statements of conductors of
some   of   the   buses,   which   were   given   on
contract basis by the General Manager were
also recorded. 
(vi) The Enquiry Committee also recorded the
statements   of   General   Manager,   Traffic
Manager   and   the   Assistant   Mechanical
Engineer. 
(vii) The Committee was of the view that with
the connivance of the General Manager, a big
scandal was committed and the Government
5
was put to loss of lakhs of rupees by the
Inspectors   of   Muktsar   Depot   and   also
Inspectors   of   other   Depots   and   even   the
Inspectors   of  the flying  squad  and the  Incharge   of   the   flying   squad   were   also
conniving in the same. 
(viii)   On   the   basis   of   the   detailed   enquiry
report,   a   recommendation   was   made   for
suspending   the   General   Manager,   Traffic
Manager,   Assistant   Mechanical   Engineer,
concerned Inspectors and Conductors.
(ix) On the basis of legal opinion given that a
prima facie case was made out for registering
a case under Sections 409, 419, 420, 465,
468, 467, 471, 474, 477­A and 120­B of IPC,
an FIR was registered. 
6
(x)   Accordingly,   after   due   investigation,   a
police report under Section 173(2) the Code
of Criminal Procedure, 19733
 was submitted
on the basis of which, cognizance was taken
and charges were framed against fifteen (15)
persons, viz.   seven (7) Conductors, four (4)
Inspectors   and   four   (4)   Managers/Senior
officials. The prosecution examined as many
as twenty­three (23) witnesses and also filed
documentary evidence.
3.   All the incriminating circumstances and the
evidence led by the prosecution were put to the
accused at the stage of section 313 CrPC. The
accused   denied   all   the   allegations   and   pleaded
innocence.
3 In short “CrPC”
7
4.   The   Trial   Court   vide   judgment   dated
28.01.2002   acquitted   two   Managers/Senior
officials namely, Iqbal Singh and Amrik Singh and
two   Inspectors   namely,   Gurucharan   Singh   and
Kharaiti Lal. Rest of the eleven(11) accused were
convicted   by   the   Trial   Court.   Against   the
judgment of the Trial Court four (4) appeals were
filed bearing Nos.179 (SB) of 2002, 205 (SB) of
2002, 228 (SB) of 2002 and 245 (SB) of 2002. The
High   Court   vide   judgment   and   order   dated
14.09.2009   acquitted   the   remaining
Managers/Senior Officials namely, Jagdip Singh
Galwatti   and   Amarjeet   Singh   Sandhu.   It   also
acquitted   remaining   two   Inspectors   namely,
Sohan Lal and Teja Singh. It further acquitted
three Conductors namely, Charanjeet Singh, Iqbal
Singh   and   Sham   Lal.   One   of   the   conductors
8
namely, Jugraj Singh had died during the trial
and   against   him   proceedings   were   abated.   The
High Court thus confirmed the conviction of three
conductors namely, Jarnail Singh, Salwant Singh
and Balkar Singh, who are before this Court.
5. We have heard learned counsel for the parties
and perused the material on record.
6.   The   submissions   advanced   on   behalf   of   the
appellants may be summarized as follows:
(i)   The   enquiry   report   jointly   submitted   by   the
three officers who were examined as PW­20, PW21   and   PW­22   were   not   placed   on   record   in
original,   an   objection   was   taken   regarding   its
admissibility as only a xerox copy was filed. The
Trial Court had taken it on record subject to the
objection by the defence that the same would be
9
admitted subject to proof and further evidence.
This order was passed by the Trial Court on 15th
February,  2001  on  an  application,  filed  by the
Public   Prosecutor   under   Section   65(c)   and   the
Indian Evidence Act, 18724
, seeking permission to
give secondary evidence of the original document,
namely,   the   affidavit   of   Malkiat   Singh   and   the
enquiry   report   given   by   the   three   officers.   The
Trial   Court   by   the   above   order   allowed   the
application   for   permission   to   lead   secondary
evidence   of   the   above­mentioned   documents
subject to proof of its existence and subsequent
loss of the said documents. Thereafter, no further
evidence was led by the State to prove the loss of
the existence of the original documents thereby
enabling   the   Trial   Court   to   accept   the   said
explanation and permit them to lead secondary
4 In short “Evidence Act”
10
evidence.   No   further   evidence   was   led   by   the
State.
(ii) The enquiry report at best could be said to be
a   fact­finding   report   and   was   not   a   piece   of
evidence.   It   could   have   been   the   basis   for
registering the FIR and nothing more than that.
Even the Trial Court, when the true copy of the
report   was   being   exhibited,   had   recorded   the
objections of the defence in the following terms in
the statement of Arjan Singh, PW­18, who had
come   to   prove   the   said   report   in   the   following
terms: "Objected to as  these documents  will  be
exhibited   subject   to   proof   of   the   existence   of
documents in original and loss thereof."
(iii) The Investigating Officer, Baljeet Singh Buttar,
PW­23 stated that he had received a photocopy of
the affidavit of Malkiat Singh marked with a letter
11
of Deputy Commissioner and enquiry report from
the Station House Officer, Dilbag Singh and that
he conducted the investigation. He further goes
on  to  say  that  he  does  not  know  whether the
original of the enquiry report, affidavit and other
documents were lost.
(iv)   In   support   of   the   above   submissions,   the
appellants have relied upon the judgment in the
case   of  Ashok   Dhulichand   Vs.   Madhavrao
Dube5
.
(v) The alleged used tickets/fake tickets/tickets
bearing the nomination of higher value were taken
into custody by the Inspection Committee while
inspecting the three buses from the conductors
present on the vehicle. These seized tickets are
said to have been subsequently handed over to
5 (1975) 4 SCC 664 (Para 7 thereof)
12
the Investigating Officer or at the Police StationDilbagh.   These   seized   tickets   were   never   seen
either by the Inspecting Team or by the police at
any stage. There was no segregation of the tickets
seized   by   the   Inspection   Team   from   the
conductors   of   the   three   different   buses.   Even
before the Court, these tickets were produced in
an   unsealed   form   and   are   said   to   have   been
proved by PW­8 and PW­15. Both these witnesses
were neither the witnesses of recovery nor they
had   personal   knowledge   of   said   recovery   of
tickets. They only said that these are the same
tickets which they had seen at the police station.
(vi) There is no evidence of sale of such tickets of
higher   denomination   to   any   passenger   as   no
passenger   was   examined   during   the   trial.   The
case   of   the   prosecution   at   best   is   that   of
13
possession   of   such   fake   tickets   and   nothing
beyond that.
(vii) Lastly, it was submitted that the excess cash
alleged   to   have   been   found   at   the   time   of
inspection also has neither been proved, nor any
evidence was led with respect to the same, nor
were any such questions put to the accused at the
stage of Section 313 CrPC. Such evidence as such
could not be read against the accused. For the
above proposition, reliance has been placed upon
the following judgments: ­
(1) Jai Dev Vs. State of Punjab6
,
(2)   Sharad   Birdichand   Sarda   Vs.
State of Maharashtra7
,
(3)   Sujit   Biswas   Vs.   State   of
Assam8
,
6 AIR 1973 SC 612 (Para 21)
7 (1984) 4 SCC 116 (Para 143-145)
8 (2013) 12 SCC 406 (Para 20)
14
(4)   Samsul   Haque   Vs.   State   of
Assam9
(viii)   Lastly,   the   counsel   for   the   appellants
submitted that the prosecution failed to prove his
case not only beyond reasonable doubt but, in
fact, it completely failed to prove its case in the
absence of any legally, reliable, admissible and
unimpeachable evidence. In support of the above
submissions,   he   placed   reliance   upon   the
following judgments: 
(1)   Sarwan   Singh   Vs.   State   of
Punjab10
,
(2)   Shivaji   S.   Bobade   Vs.   State   of
Maharashtra11
,
(3)   Subhash   Chand   Vs.   State   of
Rajasthan12
,
9 (2019) 18 SCC 161 (Paras 13, 22, 23)
10 AIR 1957 SC 637 (Para 12)
11 (1973) 2 SCC 793 (Para 19)
12 (2002) 1 SCC 702 (Para 24)
15
(4)   Sujit   Biswas   Vs.   State   of
Assam13
,
(5) Rajiv Singh Vs. State of Bihar14
,
(6) State of U.P. Vs. Wasif Haider15
.
7. On the other hand, learned counsel for the
State of Punjab has supported the judgment of
the High Court. It was submitted that conviction
of the appellants is based upon reliable, cogent
and convincing evidence led by the prosecution. It
is also submitted that PW­8 and PW­15 proved
the recovery of the tickets and further that PW20, PW­21 and PW­22 proved the inspection and
the enquiry report and, as such, nothing further
remains to be established for conviction of the
appellants. It is also submitted that appellants
are assailing the judgment of the High Court on
13 (2013) 12 SCC 406 (Para 13)
14 (2015) 16 SCC 369 (Page 69)
15 (2019) 2 SCC 303 (Para 22).
16
purely   technical   grounds;   the   Court   should
examine   the   substantive   material   on   record,
which has been relied upon by the High Court to
uphold the conviction. 
8. Having considered the submissions advanced
and the material on record, we now proceed to
analyse the evidence relevant for the conviction of
the appellants as also the submissions made. 
9.  PW­8   is   Charanjeet   Singh,   who   at   the
relevant time was posted as Station Supervisor,
Muktsar   Depot.   In   his   examination­in­chief,   he
has stated that he, along with Tarlochan Singh,
Chief Inspector, Punjab Roadways, Muktsar had
compared   the   tickets   with   the   way­bills   and
dockets. He has sought to distinguish the tickets
of Jarnail Singh and Salwant Singh as also Balkar
17
Singh. He has also sought to identify those tickets
vis­a­vis, the respective buses being conducted by
the aforesaid three conductors. On his statement,
exhibits were marked of the tickets shown to him.
However, in the cross­examination, PW­8 clearly
states that all the tickets and the way­bills shown
to him in Court were actually shown to them in
the Police Station by the police. None of these
documents were sealed at that time. We did not
know at that time that which tickets are relating
to which bus or conductor. He was not present,
when the alleged tickets and way­bills were taken
into possession by the police or anyone else from
the bus conductors. He cannot say whether these
way­bills   and   these   tickets   were   connected   or
relevant with any bus mentioned in his report.
Lastly, in the cross­examination, he states that
18
numbers of the tickets issued to the conductors
by the Head Office were note supplied to them for
comparison and checking.
10. PW­15 is Tarlochan Singh, Inspector Punjab
Roadways,   Muktsar.   He   states   in   his
examination­in­chief that on 04.08.1986, he along
with Charanjeet Singh, Station Supervisor (PW­8)
were   deputed   to   check   the   vouchers,   way­bills
and tickets pertaining to the three buses. After
checking the records, they have submitted their
report Ext. PW­8/A, which bears his signatures.
He further repeats the same statement as given
by Charanjeet Singh (PW­8) regarding the tickets
of the three buses, where Jarnail Singh, Salwant
Singh   and   Balkar   Singh   were   deputed   as
conductors.   However,   in   the   cross­examination,
he   admits   that   all   the   way­bills   and   tickets
19
referred   to   above,   were   shown   to   them   in   the
Police Station. None of these were sealed at that
time. He did not know which tickets or way­bills
were   relating   to   which   bus   as   they   were   not
recovered   in   his   presence.   No   numbers   of   the
tickets   issued   by   the   Office   or   Depot   were
supplied to them for checking purposes.
11. PW­8 and PW­15 are the two witnesses relied
upon by the High Court to uphold the conviction
of   the   appellants.   From   the   perusal   of   their
statement as noted above, we are afraid that the
High Court could have recorded conviction on its
basis for the following reasons:
 Firstly, there is no evidence of the seized
tickets being sealed at any stage. 
20
 PW­8 and PW­15 have clearly stated that
they   were   not   present   at   the   time   of
recovery of these tickets. 
 They have also clearly stated that these
tickets were not sealed, when they went
to the Police Station. 
 They have further stated that they do not
know   whether   these   way­bills   and
tickets are connected or relevant to any
of the vehicles mentioned in their report.
 They also stated that no numbers of the
tickets issued to the conductors by the
Head office, were supplied to them for
comparison in checking.
21
12. PW­20, PW­21 and PW­22 are the members
of the Inspection Committee constituted by the
Deputy Commissioner. They had checked three
buses   on   11.05.1996,   which   are   said   to   be
manned by the present appellants as conductors.
Their   statements   are   more   or   less   similar,   as
such,   they   are   not   being   repeated   but   the
contents as stated in their examination­in­chief
and in their cross­ examination are referred to
hereunder:
(i) In their examination­in­chief, it is stated
that the Committee was constituted by the
Deputy Commissioner to check buses of the
Punjab Roadways, Muktsar Depot, as there
was a complaint regarding use of already sold
tickets (Khaddar tickets) by the conductors in
22
connivance   with   the   officers   of   Muktsar
Depot of Punjab Roadways. 
(ii)   The   Members   of   the   Committee   were
Darshan   Singh   Sandhu,   M.S.   Sandhu   and
Mr. Amarjeet Singh Shahi. 
(iii) They checked three buses and in one of
the buses they found a suspended conductor
was   present   in   place   of   the   regular
conductor. 
(iv) Upon enquiry, the conductors informed
that they were carrying used tickets and that
they were doing this on the orders of higher
authorities. 
(v) They took the tickets in their possession. 
(vi)   They   further   stated   that   they   cannot
identify   the   accused   from   whom   they   had
taken which ticket.
23
(vii)   They   made   further   enquiry   after
inspecting   three   buses   and   recorded   the
statements of the General Manager and the
Traffic   Manager   and   also   the   concerned
conductors and also inspected the relevant
records. 
(viii) Upon enquiry, it was found that even
some buses of Punjab Roadways were plying
on   roads   without   permit   and   without   any
time schedule. 
(ix)   It   is   specifically   stated   in   the
examination­in­chief that they could not tell
the name of the conductor, number of the
buses and the number of the Khaddar tickets
recovered   from  the   accused   conductor  and
which Khaddar tickets were recovered from
which accused. 
24
(x)   It   is   further   stated   that   they   had
mentioned the details in the enquiry report
Ext.PW­20/A. 
(xi) They  admitted that Ext. PW­20/A is  a
photocopy. The original enquiry report was
submitted   to   the   Deputy   Commissioner,
Muktsar, who had forwarded the same to the
Secretary,   Transport   for   immediate   action
and suspension. 
(xii) They also stated that their statements
were recorded by the police. 
(xiii) Apparently,  in  view of the  statements
given in the examination­in­chief not much of
cross­examination   was   required,   as   such,
only formal questions were put during crossexamination, which we need not refer to here.
25
13. From the above statements of the Inspecting
Team, they failed to firstly prove the recovery of
the tickets to have been validly made. Secondly,
they also failed to prove the enquiry report as only
a photocopy was filed and objections to the same
was   recorded   in   the   statement   itself,   that   the
same would be exhibited subject to proof of the
existence of the documents in original and loss
thereof. The prosecution did not make that effort
to   prove   the   existence   of   the   original   and   loss
thereof   in   order   to   take   an   order   for   leading
secondary evidence. Thus, no reliance could be
placed upon the enquiry report and even the High
Court has recorded that enquiry report was not a
piece of evidence. Once, the recovery of the tickets
is found to have not been made in accordance
with   law,   nor   the   seized   tickets   could   be
26
connected to the three different buses and the
conductors   manning   the   said   buses   (the
appellants), it would not be safe to rely upon the
unconfirmed   tickets   to   connect   them   to   the
appellants. Secondly, the enquiry report having
not  been  proved  despite  the  State  applying  for
leading secondary evidence and not pursuing it
any   further,   there   appears   to   be   a   complete
vacuum of substratum on the basis of which, the
entire case was set up by the prosecution.
14. In   view   of   our   finding   that   there   is   no
evidence   to   establish   the   charge   against   the
appellants, we need not burden this judgment by
referring   to   the   case   laws   relied   upon   by   the
appellants.
15. Accordingly, the Appeals are allowed.
27
16. The judgment of the High Court and the trial
court qua the present appellants are set aside.
17. The conviction of the appellants is set aside.
They stand acquitted of all the charges levelled
against them. They are already on bail. Their bailbonds stand discharged.
…………..........................J.
[AJAY RASTOGI]
………….........................J.
[VIKRAM NATH]
NEW DELHI
JULY 12, 2022
28

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