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“Rupinder Singh Sandhu v.

State of
Punjab, 2018”

Legal Methods | First Trimester

National Law School of India University


Prashant Moti Munshi
ID no.:2494
Ist Year, B.A. LLB (Hons.)
Introduction

This paper aims to disagree and criticize the judgment of the court in the case of ‘Rupinder Singh
Sandhu v. State of Punjab, 2018’1 due to the inconsistency applied in valuing the prosecution’s
testimony. This paper will analyze the proceedings of this case and will point out the discrepancy
wherein the court considers the prosecution’s testimony with greater value in deciding the case
of the first accused and then with lesser value with regards to the second accused.

Background

The case was first tried at the trial court in Patiala, Punjab. The court held that the death of
Gurnam Singh (hereinafter, ‘deceased’) was not caused due to a subdural hemorrhage but by a
case of sudden cardiac arrest, thereby acquitting Navjot Singh Sidhu (A1) and Rupinder Singh
Sandhu (A2) of culpable homicide amounting to murder. The court also held both Jaswinder
Singh (PW3) and Avtar Singh (PW4) (who claimed to be eye-witnesses) as untruthful witnesses
due to their lack of corroboration with regards to their presence with the deceased.

The prosecution appealed to the High court. The High court reversed the acquittal of both A1
and A2 and held both PW3 and PW4 as truthful witnesses. Following the reversal, The
defendants appealed to the Supreme Court.

Analysis of the Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court deals with the cases of each of the accused separately. With regards to A1,
based on medical reasons, the court found it difficult to sustain his conviction and hence
acquitted him of charges under Section 299 or 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It was
medically proved that it was the cardiac arrest and not the fist blows which led to a subdural
hemorrhage that caused the demise of the deceased. For this reason, A1 is charged with Rs.1000
fine under Section 32 clearly establishing that he committed the fist blows based on the
testimonies of PW3 and PW4 and that they are truthful witnesses as opposed to the submissions
of A1.

1
Rupinder Singh Sandhu v. State of Punjab (2018) SCC 526
Coming to the case of A2, the FIR does not mention the name of the second accused and merely
describes him as a clean-shaven man. The FIR does not mention any incident wherein A2 attacks
or inflicts injury upon the deceased. It only mentions that he had inflicted injury upon PW3.
There is also no material on record that can be used as a basis to prove that A2 was the ‘clean-
shaven man’ being referred to apart from the testimonies of PW3 and PW4. The court held that
the conclusion of the High court was wholly unsustainable, thereby setting aside the decision of
the High court and finding A2 not guilty of any crime (neither under Section 304 nor Section
323). This decision of the court is based on the rule that a person is innocent until proven guilty
beyond reasonable doubt when it comes to criminal law.

However, PW3 identified A2 as the ‘clean-shaven’. In the case of Mohar v. State of U.P.2 the
court held that the evidence of an injured witness is very convincing in nature because the fact
that the witness has bodily injuries implies his presence at the occurrence of the incident. The
same can be applied here. Even in the case of Abdul Sayeed v. State of M.P.3, the court states the
same and also adds on by saying that since that witness had been physically injured, the chance
of him sparing the actual accused to falsely implicate another is very low. In the case of
Kunjumon v. State of Kerala4, the testimony of the injured witness was still considered even
though it was taken 6 years after the incident, which is a longer time gap than in this case. Also,
in the case of Pramod Mandal v. State of Bihar5 , the Court held that the traumatic experience
that was seen by the witness on that day would have created a clear image of the face of the
assailant that he would not be able to forget even though there was a time gap between the
incident and the identification of the assailant. Apart from this, the incident took place in broad
daylight. Therefore, PW3 should have been able to get a clear view of A2 and would be capable
of accurately identifying the clean shaven man regardless of the time gap. Due to the above-
mentioned reasons, A2 should be held guilty under Section 323.

However, there is an inconsistency in the judgment of the Court. With regards to whether or not
A2 is to be charged under Section 323, the court does not consider the testimony of PW3 or
PW4. At this moment the Court denies the accuracy of their testimonies based merely on time

2
Mohar v. State of U.P. (2002) SCC 606
3
Abdul Sayeed v. State of M.P (2010) SCC 259
4
Kunjumon v. State of Kerala (2012) SCC 750
5
Pramod Mandal v. State of Bihar (2005) SCC 75
gap. The Court does not give the necessary importance to their testimonies. However, when it
comes to the case of A1, the Court finds him guilty of Section 323 based upon their testimonies.
The Court is valuing their testimonies at different levels in the two cases, leading to
inconsistency in the judgment.

Conclusion

The court is being inconsistent with regards to the worth they assign to the prosecutions’
testimonies at different instances. The court should not be allowed to do so and should be
consistent with how it applies testimonies. Consistency, or its lack thereof, may alter the
outcome of the case and should therefore be uniformly applied.