Guilty of murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder discussed by SC

What needs to be decided now is what offence has A2 committed. A2 has inflicted one stab wound on the deceased with a penknife after an altercation between the two sides. The blow landed on the chest, a vital part of the body of the deceased. The question is whether A2 is guilty of murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

20. In Hari Ram v. State of Haryana, (1983) 1 SCC 193, there was an altercation between the Appellant and the deceased. The Appellant had remarked that the deceased must be beaten to make him behave. He thereafter ran inside the house, brought out a jelly and thrust it into the chest of the deceased. this Court observed that in the heat of altercation between the deceased on the one hand, and the Appellant and his comrades on the other, the Appellant seized a jelly and thrust it into the chest of the deceased. This was preceded by his remark that the deceased must be beaten to make him behave. Therefore, it does not appear that there was any intention to kill the deceased. this Court, therefore, set aside the conviction of the Appellant under Section 302 of the Indian penal code and instead convicted him under Section 304 Part II of the Indian penal code and sentenced him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for five years.

21. In Jagtar Singh v. State of Punjab, (1983) 2 SCC 342, in a trivial quarrel the Appellant wielded a weapon like a knife and landed a blow on the chest of the deceased. this Court observed that the quarrel had taken place on the spur of the moment. There was exchange of abuses. At that time, the appellant gave a blow with a knife which landed on the chest of the deceased and therefore, it was permissible to draw an inference that the Appellant could be imputed with a knowledge that he was likely to cause an injury which was likely to cause death but since there was no premeditation, no intention could be imputed to him to cause death. this Court, therefore, convicted the Appellant under Section 304 Part II of the Indian penal code instead of Section 302 of the Indian penal code and sentenced him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for five years.

22. In Hem Raj v. The State (Delhi Administration) (1990) Suppl. SCC 291, the Appellant and the deceased had suddenly grappled with each other and the entire occurrence was over within a minute. During the course of the sudden quarrel, the appellant dealt a single stab which unfortunately landed on the chest of the deceased resulting in his death. this Court observed that as the totality of the established facts and circumstances show that the occurrence had happened most unexpectedly, in a sudden quarrel and without premeditation during the course of which the Appellant caused a solitary injury to the deceased, he could not be imputed with the intention to cause death of the deceased, though knowledge that he was likely to cause an injury which is likely to cause death could be imputed to him. this Court, therefore, set aside the conviction under Section 302 of the Indian penal code and convicted the Appellant under Section 304 Part II of the Indian penal code and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years.

23. In V. Subramani, there was some dispute over grazing of buffaloes. Thereafter, there was altercation between the accused and the deceased. The accused dealt a single blow with a wooden yoke on the deceased. Altering the conviction from Section 302 of the Indian penal code to Section 304 Part II of the Indian penal code, this Court clarified that it cannot be laid down as a rule of universal application that whenever death occurs on account of a single blow, Section 302 of the Indian penal code is ruled out. The fact situation has to be considered in each case. Thus, the part of the body on which the blow was dealt, the nature of the injury and the type of the weapon used will not always be determinative as to whether an accused is guilty of murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The events which precede the incident will also have a bearing on the issue whether the act by which death was caused was done with an intention of causing death or knowledge that it is likely to cause death but without intention to cause death. It is the totality of circumstances which will decide the nature of the offence.

24. The deceased received a single stab injury. PW-15 Dr. Subramani, who did the postmortem has described the said injury as a stab injury seen at the left chest, that is, junction of second rib bone and chest bone. On internal examination, he found that the injury had gone inside the left chest through the lungs into the heart. Undoubtedly, the injury was serious and on a vital part of the body, but it was caused by a penknife, which was in key bunch of the accused. A key bunch is carried by a person in routine course and a penknife is used for odd jobs, which a person may be required to do during the course of the day. It is not possible for us to say, in the facts of this case, that A2 had carried the penknife which was in his key bunch to stab the deceased. The background of this case also needs to be kept in mind. This case appears to have political overtones. The accused and the deceased belonged to different political parties. Admittedly, there was enmity between the two sides. There had been an altercation between the deceased and PW-1 on the one hand and the accused on the other hand. PW-1 had, at the instance of the deceased, asked for donation from A2 and A2 is stated to have made some disparaging remarks. The situation in the village was tense. The accused had then gone to the rice mill of the deceased. There again, there was an altercation between the two sides. The circumstances on record clearly indicate that A2 stabbed the deceased without premeditation, in a sudden fight in the heat of passion. His case falls in Explanation 4 to Section 300 of the Indian penal code. A2 knew that the act by which the death was caused was likely to cause death but it appears to us that he had no intention to cause death. In the light of the abovementioned judgments of this Court, this in our opinion, is a fit case where A2-Basavaraj should be convicted for the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and should be sentenced for five years rigorous imprisonment under Section 304 Part II of the Indian penal code. Needless to say that he must be given set off for the period already undergone by him.


SOURCE:-Ranjitham Versus Basavaraj and Others-(2011) 13 SCALE 221-(SUPREME COURT OF INDIA)