Closing Report for the Defence



Closing Report for the Defence


The defence report produced by Peter Peck.




Temporal Coverage




Three typewritten sheets


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[underlined] THE CLOSING ADDRESS FOR THE DEFENCE. [/underlined]
Mr. President and members of this honourable court martial you have listened with considerable patience to the evidence of both the prosecution and the defence.
Accused who is placed before you is defending himself against a charge of conduct to the prejudice of Air Force discipline. In order to substantiate that charge in its entirity [sic] the prosecution has [deleted] not [/deleted] set out to prove that the accused’s conduct was in fact prejudicial to Air Force discipline by virtue of stopping a lorry belonging to Karta Singh and that he did subsequent to the stopping of his lorry that he did discharge several rounds from a revolver.
The defence is a complete rebuttal of the whole charge but it does admit the firing of the revolver in the circumstances and for reasons as will be stated.
Let us analyse the evidence [inserted] of [/inserted] each witness as we proceed. Karta Singh has stated that when the accused came up to his lorry in the first incident, that he went up to the accused and the accused abused him – This is substantiated by the witness for the prosecution No. 3, but this witness also stated that Karta Singh abused the accused by calling him a “Bloody Fool”.
The defence deny abuse until Karta Singh had commenced it, then it became reciprocal.
Witness No. 3 also states that Karta Singh got a starting handle of his lorry and held it in an attitude that was obviously threatening towards the accused. Although this was not admitted by Karta Singh all the evidence for the defence states that he had this starting handle and further that he also struck at the accused and although [deleted] he [/deleted] it did not hit the accused it did damage the lorry. This apparently closed the incident and the accused went about his business.
Witnesses for the prosecution have stated that their vehicle was damaged and sometime broken down and that after they had adjusted their lorry it still went at a slow pace.
The prosecution and the defence both admit that Karta Singh’s lorry was broken down some little distance from Kharagpur but was heading for Kharagpur when repaired. Accused has stated and is collaborated by defence witness No. 2. that they drove off to the station and did in fact arrive at the Kharagpur Station shortly after the first incident.
Now even assuming that Karta Singh’s lorry was even travelling at [deleted] [indecipherable number] [/deleted] 5 or 10 miles per hour it is not possible from the prosecution evidence for the accused to anticipate where Karta Singh’s lorry would be at any given time after the first incident. Furthermore the accused did not set out on his journey to Midnapore Hospital until some forty minutes after the first incident took place. The prosecution have stated and the defence has admitted the second incident took place on an entirely different road to the first incident, and the prosecution witnesses have tried to infer in their evidence that the accused went after them deliberately.
Is this a reasonable inference considering the times and places of the first and second incidents. The prosecution have made great play on the accused being armed with a weapon 2 foot long.
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A weapon as long as the third witness’s arm, “bundocks” which have been translated to mean a rifle, and a pistol. Which again obviously infers that the accused went deliberately after them with these weapons.
Karta Singh, witness No. 1 for the prosecution spoke at length and demonstrated of the actions he took to evade the bullets coming from the accused’s [underlined] weapons. [/underlined] He actually produced scars on his chest, ascerting [sic] that these came from ricochettes. [sic] He further stated that the accused directed the shots towards him underneath Karta Singh’s vehicle.
Now witnes [sic] No. 3 for the prosecution, who sat in the driver’s seat of Karta Singh’s vehicle stated that he saw all the shooting and that Karta Singh stood with [deleted] h [/deleted] this starting handle raised above his head while the shooting was in progress. He also saw that the accused was [underlined] not [/underlined] shooting at Karta Singh.
Both Karta Singh and Munawar Ali are prosecution witnesses and yet Munawar Ali’s evidence substantiates the defence account of what did take place at that time. The truth of those statements the defence leaves entirely to you gentlemen to ascertain.
Karta Singh went to a doctor sometime after the incident and showed this doctor three wounds in his chest which the doctor as an expert said they were burn wounds or wounds as a result of a burn and superficial. Can you imagine, gentlemen, a bullet striking the metal of a chassis and rebounding on a person’s body at so short a range and yet only causing superficial wounds as the one described. It is hard to think that such a thing could possibly be believed.
This lorry of Karta Singh’s in the prosecution’s evidence travelled only 1 1/2 miles in between 45 and 60 minutes. Even assuming it was moving at the time of the second incident when the accused pulled up in front of it, it is obvious that it must have been going very slow for the driver to stop immediately and still leave himself room to carry on if he wanted to.
The defence contends that this lorry was either stopped or stopping when the accused was approaching the rear and this is further emphasised by the fact that either the driver or Karta Singh made some signal to the on coming lorry driven by the accused and that in fact the accused did not stop the lorry. If it is to be believed that the accused did stop the lorry then the prosecuting witnesses are averring that the accused went deliberately gunning for them.
This gentlemen is absurd!! The accused, having been waved down obviously assumed his assistance was required and it was mere coincidence that it happened to be the same lorry with the same three persons that were also involved in the first incident with the accused.
It’s possible of course that Karta Singh, on recognising the accused did think the accused was after him, knowing that he had already damaged a government vehicle during the previous incident. Otherwise why did he state that he was afraid of the accused when he saw him. But and this I must emphasise. . . if he saw, as he alleges the accused getting out of his lorry with a weapon in each hand, why did he go for a starting handle, why didnt [sic] he run away. And he did get that starting handle because his driver saw him and stated so in his prosecution evidence. The defence maintains that he could not be armed when he got down from his vehicle. He could not have been, he does not usually look like a walking arsenal. In fact Karta Singh saw that he had no weapons in his hands, that’s why he went for [deleted] his [/deleted] the starting handle.
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Gentlemen I ask you as individuals to put yourself in the place of the accused. Standing on the ground outside his lorry with nothing but his bare hands, the engine of his lorry [deleted] a [/deleted] stopped and a man of Karta Singh’s physique armed with a starting handle, which is obviously made of metal and could be a formidable weapon, and advancing towards you in an aggressive attitude and it must be aggressive, he is holding that weapon above his head ready for striking. Would not such a situation cause you to apprehend that if you were struck by that bar of heavy metal that you would receive some bodily injury? And wouldn’t it make you think of how to get at the first thing available to give you protection? That is the position the accuse [sic] found himself in, and the fact that the accused belongs to the service does not deny him the right to private defence.
[deleted] Now may I draw your attention to the Indian Penal Code, para’s [inserted] 96 x 97 x 99 x 100 x 102 [/inserted] [/deleted]
[deleted] Now on these sections of the Indian penal code, [/deleted] Defence [deleted] must [/deleted] asserts that the accused merely defended himself in the right of private defence. And that the action he took in firing his revolver was necessary to ward off the attack and to release the accused from further apprehension of such an attack. Prosecuting witness No. 3. stated that Karta Singh stood in his threatening attitude towards the accused while the firing was going on, this is also borne out by the accused himself and further when Karta Singh ran away the accused unloaded his pistol, got in his truck and drove away, well knowing that what he had done had stopped further aggression from Karta Singh.
The accused stated that he is normally armed with a pistol and further it was [deleted] B [/deleted] brought out of questions of the court to the accused that he had had the pistol in his possession for some time. Therefore, it must be infered [sic] from these two facts that the accused was familiar with a revolver and cannot it not be further infered [sic] that had he so desired he could have shot directly at Karta Singh and had he done so and even caused Karta Singh’s death he would still only be exercising his right of private defence.
Can you in any way assume on the evidence given that there was any conduct prejudicial to Air Force discipline by the accused in firing this pistol in his own defence and in this right of private defence.
If there is any doubt in your minds as to whether Karta Singh’s lorry was stationery or moving very slowly when the accused pulled his lorry in front of Karta Singh’s lorry I ask you to exercise this doubt in favour of the accused. If this is so there is no question of the accused committing an offence of conduct to the prejudice of Air Force discipline, and this is further supported by the fact that the accused reported the whole incident to his superior on his immediate return.
And on this the defence [deleted] also [/deleted] asks for an acquittal.


PJ Peck, “Closing Report for the Defence,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 23, 2024,

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