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Indian Case Summary

Maina Singh vs State Of Rajasthan on 17 March, 1976 – Case Summary

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In the case of Maina Singh vs State Of Rajasthan on 17 March, 1976, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a complex legal scenario involving the application of sections 149 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The case revolved around a murder charge where Maina Singh, the appellant, and four others were initially accused of committing offences under sections 302/149 IPC. Maina Singh was charged with shooting at the deceased, while the other accused were charged with assaulting the deceased with a sharp-edged weapon. The trial court acquitted the four co-accused but convicted Maina Singh under section 302 read with section 34, IPC. The High Court dismissed the appeal of the State against the acquittal and the appellant’s appeal against conviction.

Facts of the Case

The case was rooted in a violent incident that occurred in the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. The appellant, Maina Singh, and his three sons were accused of attacking Amar Singh, the deceased, and his son, Ajeet Singh. It was alleged that Maina Singh suspected Amar Singh of informing authorities about his smuggling activities, leading to a strained relationship between them. The incident took place when Amar Singh, his son Ajeet Singh, and a mason named Isar Ram went for a bath at a local water body. Maina Singh and his sons, armed with a gun and sharp weapons, allegedly attacked Amar Singh and his son. Despite Amar Singh’s attempts to escape, he was chased down and fatally injured by the accused. Maina Singh was charged with firing the gun, while the others were accused of assaulting Amar Singh with sharp weapons.

Issues Raised

The primary issue raised in the appeal was whether it was permissible to invoke sections 149 or 34 IPC when all the named co-accused had been acquitted. The appellant argued that it was not lawful to assume that a criminal act was done by the appellant in furtherance of the common intention of the other accused when those accused had all been acquitted. The appellant’s contention was that the High Court could only convict him of an offence he might have committed in his individual capacity.

Court’s Observations

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal in part, stating that it was not permissible for the High Court to invoke sections 149 or 34 IPC. The court clarified that in a case where the charge and the evidence are confined to the named persons as co-accused, it would be permissible to conclude that others, named or unnamed, acted conjointly with one of the charged accused if there was other evidence to lead to that conclusion, but not otherwise. In this case, the charge related to the commission of the offence of unlawful assembly by the appellant along with four named co-accused, and no other person. There was also no direct or circumstantial evidence to show that the offence was committed by the appellant along with any other unnamed person. Therefore, when the other four co-accused had been acquitted, it would not be permissible to take the view that there must have been some other person along with the appellant in causing injuries to the deceased. The appellant would accordingly be responsible for the offence, if any, which could be shown to have been committed by him without regard to the participation of others.

The court also observed that the appellant was guilty of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to the deceased by means of an instrument for shooting and was, therefore, guilty of an offence under section 326 IPC. From the medical evidence, it was not possible to say that the death of the deceased was caused by gunshot or by blunt weapon injuries. However, it was proved that the appellant inflicted gunshot injuries on the deceased, one of the injuries being grievous.