Accused convicted under Section 7 of Essential Commodities Act and sentenced to 1 year R.I. - Accused faced trial for 13 years - Sentence reduced to already undergone 25 days

PUNJAB AND HARYANA HIGH COURT

Before :- Mohinder Pal, J.
Criminal Appeal No. 721-SB of 2000. D/d. 01.12.2010

Davinderjit Singh - Appellant
Versus
State of Punjab - Respondent

For the Appellant :- Mr. Puneet Sharma, Advocate, Amicus Curiae.
For the Respondent :- Mr. Ranbir Singh Rawat, Assistant Advocate General, Punjab.

Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh Judgments


JUDGMENT

Mohinder Pal, J. - This appeal is directed against the judgment of conviction and the sentence order dated 19.7.2000 passed by the learned Special Judge, Sangrur, convicting the appellant under Section
7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (for short the Act') and sentencing him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year and to pay fine of Rs. 1,000/-, in default whereof to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for three months.
2. The facts of the prosecution case are as under :
3. On 2.5.1997 at about 1.30 P.M, when Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh along with other police officials was present at Bus Stand of Malerkotla in connection with patrolling, received a secret information that the appellant, who was running a Karyana' shop, was selling kerosene oil of blue colour, which could be sold only by the Depot Holder, at a higher price to the public and he could be caught red handed if a raid was conducted. receipt of this information, Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh along with other police personnel reached the office of Assistant Food and Supplies Officer, Malerkotla. Assistant Food and Supplies Officer, Malerkotla, Ram Chander and Inspector 'Grade-I Sadhu Singh were found present in the office and they were disclosed the facts. Both of them joined the raiding party. The 'Karyana' shop of the appellant was thereafter raided. At the time of raid, the appellant was found sitting in his shop and three-four persons were standing in the shop holding Cans in their hands. On seeing the raiding party, those persons slipped away from the shop of the appellant. Three plastic Cans of 35 Litres were found lying inside the shop. One measure of the capacity of one litre made of iron, one 'Keap' of iron and two plastic Cans of the capacity of 5 litres each were also lying there. On checking by Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh, the three plastic Cans of the capacity of 35 litres each,were found to contain kerosene oil of blue colour. The appellant could not produce any licence for keeping the kerosene oil of blue colour which could only be sold by the approved Depot Holders having licences issued by the Government. Samples were drawn from each Cans and thereafter sample bottles and the Cans were sealed and taken into possession. This led to the registration of the instant case against the appellant and the police, after investigation, submitted challan in the Court.
4. After considering the report submitted under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the trial Court served the appellant with a notice under Section 7 of the Act, to which he did not plead guilty and claimed a trial.
5. In support of its case, the prosecution examined as many as five witnesses i.s Constable Paramjit Singh (P.W.1), Head Constable Nirmal Singh (P.W.2), Deputy Superintendent of Police Gurmail Singh (P.W.3), Ram Chander, Assistant Foods and Supplies Officer (P.W.4) and Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh, Investigating Officer (P.W-.5).
6. On closure of the prosecution evidence, statement of the appellant was recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in which he denied the prosecution allegations and pleaded false implication. He further stated that retired Deputy Superintendent of Police Hardev Singh, who was the friend of Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh (P.W.5), had got him implicated in this false case as a dispute between the father of the appellant and the daughter-in-law of the said retired Deputy Superintendent of Police regarding eviction from the shop was going on. In defence, the appellant tendered in evidence copy of judgment dated 20.1.1998 (Exhibit DA) and copy of decree sheet (Exhibit D.B).
7. I have heard the learned counsel for the parties and have gone through the records of the case.
8. Learned counsel for the appellant has argued that the recovery witnesses in this case are official witnesses and there is no corroboration to their evidence from independent source. No doubt, the recovery witnesses i.e Ram Chander, Assistant Foods and Supplies Officer (P.W.4) and Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh (P.W.5) are official witnesses and there is no corroboration to their evidence from independent source, but merely because of their official status their sworn testimonies cannot be discarded. They recovered kerosene oil from the appellant in the discharge of their official duties. They had no axe to grind against the appellant. No discrepancy worth the name could pointed out by the learned counsel for the appellant in the statements of Ram Chander, Assistant Foods and Supplies Officer (P.W.4) and Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh (P.W.5). The appellant, in his statement recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, stated that retired Deputy Superintendent of Police Hardev Singh, who was the friend of Sub Inspector Gurbhajan Singh (P.W.5), had got him implicated in this false case as a dispute between the father of the appellant and the daughter-in-law of the said retired Deputy Superintendent of Police regarding eviction from the shop was-going on. Had it been true, the appellant would have approached the higher authorities of police against the police personnel who had been Instrumental in falsely implicating him in this case. However, the appellant did not do so. The defence version was, for the first time, introduced by the appellant in his statement recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which does not inspire confidence. Under the circumstances, I do not see any ground which may warrant interference in the impugned judgment of conviction.
9. Consequently, the conviction of the appellant under Section 7 of the Act, as recorded by the learned trial Judge, is upheld. However, keeping in view the fact that the Sword of Damocles has remained hanging over the head of the appellant for more than thirteen years, the incident being of May, 1997, I am of the opinion that ends of justice will be adequately met if the sentence of one year's rigorous imprisonment awarded to the appellant is reduced to the period already undergone by him, which is about 25 days, and fine is increased from Rs. 1,000/ to Rs. 5000/-. I order accordingly. The appellant will deposit the increased amount of fine in the trial Court within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. In case the appellant fails to deposit the amount of increased fine, as mentioned above, he shall undergo further rigorous imprisonment for two months.
10. With the above modification in the impugned sentence order, this appeal is dismissed.

Appeal dismissed.
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