The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled on January 18 that in the event of a contradiction between the medical account and the eyewitness account, “the credible eyewitness account is to be accorded preponderance and precedence over the medical account.” The court dismissed the appeals of four individuals against the murder conviction.
The HC division bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Kuldeep Tiwari heard the appeals filed by Subhash and others against the conviction verdict in a March 2013 case in which the four convicts were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a citizen of Haryana, Satyavan.
Dharampal, the father of Satyavan, a native of Hisar, said to the police that he and Subhash and his relatives were at odds over a property issue and that Subhash had threatened him with severe repercussions during a verbal brawl.
Dharampal had claimed that on the evening of October 25, 2009, as he was on his way to his fields in Pabra and his son Satyavan was ahead of him, a car sped past him and struck Satyavan on the back in his presence.
He said that Subhash, who was behind the wheel, ran over Satyawan with the assistance of other defendants. A murder FIR was filed, and during the trial, the Hisar trial court found the four accused guilty of murdering Satyavan.
At the high court, DharampalAn was represented by senior counsel Sumeet Goyal, attorneys Rose Gupta, Shivam Kaushik, and Paramvir Parmar.
Thus, Subash and others contested the conviction order before the court of appeals. The defence attorneys maintained that Dharam pal’s oral statement was an improvement above his written statement, casting doubt on the origins of the prosecution’s case, and that there is no basis for incriminating the defendant.
The fatal injuries sustained by Satyawan were caused by Subhash’s rapid use of the Tata Sumo’s brakes, so as to prevent the offending vehicle from colliding with Satyawan, the defence attorney contended.
The Bench, after hearing the matter, stated that “even if in his cross-examination Dharampal, did in the above manner rather minimally improve or embellish upon his previously made statement in writing, the said purported improvement or embellishment, does not cast any doubt or any impact upon the credibility of Dharampal, particularly when in his examination-in-chief, rather he makes a pointed incrimination against all the accused, inasmuch as, all being present at the crèche.”
Dr. Vishal Goyal, who performed an autopsy on Satyawan’s body, stated in his deposition that the cause of death was haemorrhage and shock due to injuries on vital organs, which were ante mortem in nature and sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of life. Additionally, in his examination-in-chief, he testified that it is possible that the deceased was lying on the road with his back to the road, and that a vehicle had run over him. However, he also testified that the chance of the deceased dying for the aforementioned cause was extremely remote.
The HC stated that the “opinion regarding the possibility of death of the deceased while lying on the road having faced towards the road, and, some vehicle crossing over his body, though has been deemed remote by Dr Vishal Goyal…but the proven incrimination as made by Dharampal, an eyewitness to the event, about all the accused being present at the crime scene”
Further, an admission by the main accused Subhash that he was present at the crime scene, “in so far as, his unsuccessful attempt to save deceased Satyavan, from being brought under the wheels of Tata Sumo vehicle, which he was driving at the relevant time, rather connects the convicts, with the pulverisation of the deceased under the wheels of Tata Sumo vehicle,” the court said.
In addition to dismissing the appeals of the convicted, the High Court also rejected Dharampal’s appeal against the acquittal of another accused, Vikas.