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TitleTHE MURDER OF THE MAHATMA And Other Cases from a Judge's Notebook
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size14.5 MB
Total Pages286
Document Text Contents
Page 1

This is a book of memoirs by a very distinguished
Indian Judge who in 1959 was promoted to the office
of Chief Justice of the Punjab. It is largely taken up
with criminal cases--of arson, dacoity, poisoning, ven-
detta, and so on-in which the author was personally
concerned as a judge. Fascinating in themselves, these
accounts are made the more interesting by the author's
humorous and penetrating comments upon various fea-
tures of Indian crime-the brilliant gift for perjury
which some of his countrymen display, the long-term
village feuds that every now and then explode into
violence, the subtlety with which alibis are faked- and
false identities assumed. The book ends with an autho-
rita.tive and moving account of the murder of Gandhi,
at whose assassin's long drawn appeal against convic-
tion and sentence of death the author sat ou the Bench.

Gopal Khosla's book will prove of great interest, both
to experts in criminology and the Law, and to every
layman who loves reading about the vagaries of humaQ
nature and the customs of other lands.

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JAICO
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Page 143

IE MAHATMA

but something had been
;rately and carefully pre-
[, and there could be no
$ent at the scene of the
8, or of his having taken
~a~t of his having such a
.IClty or, at any rate, his

· \lso Karam Singh had no
,aster's gun, and this fact
Karam Singh and Kartar

d to appear in the court
• ler case. A police officer
whole day. Kartar Singh
A telegram was received
and a medical certificat~
post brought a medical

,hushan of Meelut. This
up, but at Meerut there
shan. The police obtain-

· tioners of Meerut. The
not in this list, and none

ard of him. Once again
-herring across the trail

of abandoning the chase.
:d over a wide area. They
:enders, but show a deep
)f the wretched informer
e to betray his friend or
) hi?J or hold him up to
:i his. anonymity is guar-
:i mention in the police
complete secret. Kartar
the Agra magistrate to

;:ss. Neither he nor his
(where near the office of

-

IMPERFECT ALIBI 135

the transport company. No one seemed to own the new
concern with the new name freshly painted over the sign-
board. But an informer came to the police one evening
and said that on the 28th, Kartar Singh and Kundan
Singh would go to the office of the Regional Transport
Authority, Agra, to renew the permits of their trucks. He
added that Karam Singh was also in Agra .

The quarry was at last within sight, and by midday of
28th both Kartar Singh and Karam Singh were in police
custody.

Kartar Singh answered all enquiries in his loud and re-
sonant voice, wearing all the while a look of injured
innocence. He said he had left Moga on the evening of
the 6th, and come to Agra to attend to the transport busi-
ness. He had brought his gun with him, and as there was
something wrong with the trigger he had given it for re-
pairs to a firm dealing in firearms at Agra, on the morn-
ing .of the 8th. He had been indiscreet enough to drink
too much liquor-it was all the fault of his partner Kun-
dan Singh-and had found himself in the police lock-up
when he came to his senses. On the 9th he was released
on bail and after a few days he went to Meerut to re-
present his case before the transport authority. There he
had fallen ill and had been unable to go to MOlla on the
19th. As soon as he recovered he came back to Agra and
had remained there till the police arrested him.

He went on to say that he knew nothing about what
had happened to Harjeet Singh and Gajjan Singh. He
couldn't say that he was sorry, but ... well ... God had
willed it so. But how could he have had anything to do
with the affair? He explained the change of name on the
signboard of the transport firm by a shrug of his should-
ers and complained of the iniquities of the income-tax
department. How else could they evade the unjust levy
except by changing the name of the company. Bya
strange coincidence, the trucks were. all away on long
journeys carrying goods to different parts of the country.

Page 144

136 THE MURDER OF THE MAHATMA

Karam Singh also protested his innocence and his
ignorance of the whole unfortunate affair. With a dis-
arming ingenuousness he admitted his presence at Singha-
wala on the 8th, but insisted that he had left the village
in the afternoon and come to Agra.

Had he any evidence of his presenre at Agra?
No. it was his misfortune that all his attempts to pro-

cure documentary evidence of alibi had failed. He could
produce witnesses, but would the police believe them?

Why did he make lIIiy ,attempt at aU, if he knew noth-
ing of tile murders?

Because he had a feeling, a sort of premonition, that
something untoward was afoot. He had noticed suspici-
ous characters, strangers to him, prowling about the vil-
lage. So he had run away lest he became involved in a
criminal case. As it was, he found it difficult to live down
his past, and another case, even a false one . . . .

So. Kanlpl Singh went on in his plausible, seemingly
innocent manner. He opened his large eyes till the long
curly lashes were outlined against the smooth rounded
flesh of his cheeks. He looked at the Sub-Inspector with
a soulful expression, till the latter turned away in em-
barrassment. The police could get no further with him,
but one thing was clear-he had no alibi and four-eye-
witnesses were ready to swear that he had shot dead two
men. Kartar Singh's statement about his gun was found
to be true, and a dealer in firearms produced the gun in
question.

In the meantime events had progressed satisfactorily at
Moga. The police had apprehended two men, Sukhan
Singh and Bhag Singh, who were believed to be Karam
Singh's accomplices. A third man, Bikker Singh, was
killed in the course of an encounter when he opened fire
on his pursuers.

Dhanno and her brother, Bachan Singh, were found. at
the house of a relativ.e who lived in a' village fifty miles
away, but nothing of consequence could be established

Ilv.

against them, and al
allowed to go away.

Four persons wen
Sukhan Singh and I
actual offence of mUi
ment. The prosecutic
produced evidence of
wala on April 8, inc
four eye-witnesses. .
four witnesses and all
lage shopkeeper, Sudl
Singh, tehsild8l'. who
Karam Singh on an '
bought a cartload of J
day, his son. Benarsi
the transaction in his
claimed to have seel
lambard8l"s house. '
ent and above repro!

Karam Singh (it wil
gated by the police, I
on April 8, and the e1
ed at first somewhat l
the preliminary enqu
sprang a surprise wh
taken by the prosecu
enquiry, he said that.
at Agra. He proctuc
which he had sworn a1
attested by Mr. Shar
document bore the off
discomfiture of the pi
ed . over photostat co
gentle hint that if al
original affidavit, he (
from negatives which

Page 285

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