Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A)

    Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab
    Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab

    Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984

    Facts: Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab

    Balwant Singh, Director of Public Instructions (DPI) in Punjab, Chandigarh, and Bhupendra Singh, Senior Clerk of the Education Board of the Punjab School, Chandigarh, were arrested at approximately 5:45 p.m. near the Neelam Cinema after conducting a detailed investigation into crimes under IPC Sections 124(A) and 153(A).

    They were sentenced to a year of extreme incarceration and a fine of Rs.500 each. The sentence of rigorous imprisonment was to be extended by three months in the case of a default on the payment of the fine. This case before the Supreme Court is an appeal under Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 challenging both the conviction of the appellant and the sentence of the learned Judge of the Special Court, Chandigarh, on 2 March 1985.

    Balwant singh vs. state of punjab ipsc 124(a) and 153(A)
Section 51 of  CrPC (Code of  Criminal Procedure, 1973).
Section 14 of the Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1984.
    Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A)

    Laws and Statutory Provisions involved :

    • Section 124-A  and 153-A of the IPC (Indian Penal Code, 1860).
    • Section 51 of  CrPC (Code of  Criminal Procedure, 1973).
    • Section 14 of the Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1984.

    Legal history: –

    The appellants were arrested on the supposed allegation that they began shouting slogans in a crowded area near the place from where they were arrested after their duties were over. This was on the date of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The same was confirmed by the police officers, the two prosecution witnesses, Som Nath and ASI Labh Singh, who were on patrolling duty along with their senior officials who carried out the arrest. The witnesses also said that the slogans did not impact people’s daily lives around them, and their everyday tasks were carried out by everyone. While some people, they said, left the place out of fear, but on further questioning, they could not prove this fact.

    After leaving their offices at about 5 pm, the facts as reported by the appellants were that they met Mewa Singh and Surinder Pal Singh, the defense witnesses, and exchanged a greeting to proceed to go home in Mohali while going to the bus stand. This is when they were captured by Deputy S.P. Sudhir Mohan and Inspector Baldev Singh, which they claimed was a result of wearing a kirpan and not having tied their beards. The prosecution witnesses corroborated the same thing.

    At the time of the appellants’ detention, personal search warrants and personal search memos were prepared where only an HMT watch and one gold ring were confiscated without noting the existence of the kirpan. The same was confirmed by the prosecution witnesses. On the other hand, it was claimed in the statement made by Mr. Shitla Prasad, Munshi of District Jail, Defense Witness 1, that Kirpan was confiscated from the appellant at the time of admission to jail and was securely deposited with him. So, they did not corroborate their testimony.

    Issues involved: –

    • If two lonely individuals lift such casual slogans without performing any overt act and without any intention of provoking violence or causing disorder attracts the application of IPC Sections 124-A and 153-A?
    • If the trial court explained the fact that the alleged defendant was transported with kirpan from the police station to the district jail after omitting the mention of kirpan under investigation by means of a personal search warrant and memo under Section 51 of the CrPC?

    Petitioner’s contention –

    The learned counsel, Mr. V.M. Tarkunde, argued that the prosecution was not in a position to bring a case against the appellants beyond a reasonable doubt. It was repeatedly claimed that the incident took place in a crowded place and the prosecution was still unable to associate any independent individual present there to testify in their favor. In their case, this was mentioned as a serious infirmity.

    It was then alleged that the two chief prosecution witnesses, Som Nath and Labh Singh, made an unsuccessful attempt to conceal the fact that Balwant Singh was carrying the kirpan, which was later validated by the District Jail’s DW1 Munshi proof. It was eventually claimed that the witnesses of the prosecution were guilty of testifying falsely before the court and that the whole case was a made-up affair against the appellants.

    Alternatively, it was argued that even though the appellants had raised the slogans as charged by the prosecution, under IPC sections 124-A and 153-A it would not have made a successful argument as there was no public discord and no mens rea to provoke violence involved.

    Respondent’s contention: –

    It was argued that, in view of the prevalent circumstances at the time of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the acts carried out by the appellants constituted a crime pursuant to IPC sections 124-A and 153-A. The mere fact that no person may be identified with the prosecution does not lead to a rejection of the credible evidence presented by Constable Som Nath and ASI Labh Singh. It was further reported that no one was willing to associate with a police case despite many attempts made by Labh Singh.

    The Counsel also urged that no evidence be provided to indicate any trace of hostility between the witnesses of the prosecution and the appellants in order to wrongly suggest a crime against them.

    Judgement: –

    It was held that it was not necessary to conclude that the casual raising of slogans by two unknown people without any other explicit action attached, such as carrying out a procession, which did not lead to any disturbance of public order and no intention of causing violence can be said to evoke an offense as a serious sedition. The daily activities of individuals from either the Sikh community or any other community were not hindered and the police should have avoided adding too much attention to the casual slogans posed by the appellants.

    As mentioned by the Court, a clear reading of the section shows that it can be applied only when the accused brings or attempts to bring hate or contempt or excites or attempts to provoke disappointment with the Government founded by law in India, by words either written or spoken or visible signs or representations, etc. In conclusion, no crime under IPC Section 124-A was committed.

    With regard to the crime committed pursuant to Section 153-A of the IPC, in the opinion of the Court, only where written or spoken words have a propensity or aim to cause public disorder or disruption of law and order or have an impact on public tranquility can it be relied upon to prevent such an activity from taking place; in the present case, the facts clearly demonstrate that no disruption or appearance of disturbance of law and order or of public order or of peace and tranquility occurred in the region from which the appellants were apprehended while making slogans on account of the appellants’ activities.

    Subsequently, no mens rea is proven on the part of the appellants. Hence, under the relevant clause, no crime was committed.

    Conclusion: –

    In this case, on the date of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the previous judgment of the trial court that held conviction under sedition charges against the individuals shouting inflammatory slogans on a busy road was overturned, slating the fact that the slogans did not provoke any form of violence that is a primary requirement under section 124-A of the IPC.

    The case helps significantly to restructure a line between what is offensive and causes inconvenience and further stresses that the courts do not analyze the literal sense of the section but interpret it according to the facts of the case to take into account the real reason why it still has a place in Indian law, i.e. not restricting any freedom of expression and conduct, but limiting the excessive use of the same to preserve social order.

    Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab: IPC 124(A) & 153(A) Section 14 of the Special Courts Act 1984