16 yrs on, High court acquits Army man over colleague’s ‘murder’ - ECAS Punjab

16 yrs on, High court acquits Army man over colleague’s ‘murder’

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Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24

Mystery continues to shroud the disappearance of an Army man more than two decades after he left his place of posting for a two-month vacation and never reached home. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled it was not established whether "Balbir Singh had died a homicidal death or, in fact, had died at all".

The assertion came as a Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu acquitted the sole convict in Balbir Singh's "murder" case — fellow Army man Sukhdev Singh. The appeal in the matter was filed some 16 years back.

The court was told that Balbir Singh had proceeded on a two-month leave on April 7, 1997, but never reached home, following which the family approached his unit in Dehradun. Inquiries revealed that Balbir Singh had left the unit along with Sukhdev Singh. At that time, he was carrying Rs 40,000.

Suspecting that Balbir Singh had been murdered, his wife moved an application before the Barnala SSP before the FIR for murder and another offence was registered.

In the trial that ensued, the Ferozepur Sessions Judge convicted and sentenced Sukhdev Singh to imprisonment for life for murder under Section 302 of the IPC and seven years for disappearance of evidence under Section 201 of the IPC.

However, the Division Bench asserted that Balbir Singh's belongings were not recovered from the accused. There was, rather, no evidence, direct or indirect, that Balbir Singh had met a homicidal death.

The Bench observed that the charge sought to be proved against the accused was that he and Balbir Singh were sanctioned the leave together and were last seen together on the night of April 7, 1997.

The Bench asserted that the nature of evidence was "not very convincing" and added the projected motive did not appear "very plausible". Allowing the appeal, the Bench set aside the judgment of conviction and order of sentence.

from The Tribune https://ift.tt/3eTu62E

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