Impugned judgment and order dated 18th January 2017, was passed by the Madurai Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Madras in Criminal Appeal by which an appeal filed by the Appellant, Mr.Stalin in the case of Stalin v. State represented by the Inspector of Police, against his conviction for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, ordered by Additional District and Sessions Court, Tirunelveli was dismissed.
However, the order and judgment were confirmed by the appellant and duly signed but he was feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with it, hence, made a criminal appeal in the Apex Court i.e. Supreme Court. Therefore, the court considered whether the appellant who is the original accused here, has been rightly convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC or is to be convicted for any lesser offence, viz. Section 304 Part II IPC.
It was contended by the counsel on behalf of the appellant-accused that the present case is a case of a single blow, and hence, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted. It was vehemently submitted that the so-called motive which was alleged for the incident was before four months of the incident in question and the prosecution had failed to establish and prove the motive for the accused to kill the deceased.
Additionally, the occurrence had taken place out of a sudden and grave provocation made by the deceased, which made the offence fall under Exception I to Section 300 IPC, and therefore, the appellant has to be convicted for the lesser offence other than Section 302 IPC.
It was submitted by the Counsel appearing on behalf of the State that based on the facts and circumstances of the case as well as on the appreciation of the entire evidence on record, the accused was rightly convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC by both Trial Court and the High Court.
It was further contended that the accused caused injury to the deceased by a knife blow on the vital part of the body Liver and the grave and sudden provocation on the part of the deceased was neither established nor proved. Hence, both the Courts below have rightly convicted the accused for the offence punishable under Section 320 IPC.
It was further submitted by the State that, “there is no absolute proposition of law laid down by this Court in any of the decisions in case of a single blow, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted and in a catena of decisions, the number of injuries is irrelevant; it is not always the determining factor for ascertaining the intention”.
The fact whether the accused caused the death of the deceased intending to cause death or not depends upon the nature of the injury, the part of the body where it caused, and the weapon used in causing such injury(Mahesh Balmiki v. State of M.P. (2000) 1 SCC 319).
Also, in the case where there is eyewitnesses are available, the motive of the accused becomes insignificant. Hence, the motive alleged of the incident which is before four months cannot be questionable.
Observations of the Court:
The court is of the view that in the instant case, the deceased was disabled from saving himself from the accused because he was occupied by the associates of the accused who inflicted though a single yet a fatal blow on his vital part of the body i.e. Liver by a knife.
This established that the appellant had the intention to kill the deceased because it can be attributed that the knowledge to the accused that a knife blow given by him was so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.
Pointing to the fact, that the act had been done in the sudden and grave provocation, it was observed by the court that as per Exception IV to Section 300 IPC, “culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the offender having taken undue advantage and not having acted cruelly or unusually”.
In this case, the beer was being served at the place of incident and the persons who participated in that beer party were friends. Hence, there was the absence of premeditation i.e. the fight took place by chance and the fight happened in a heat of passion i.e. there was no time for this fight to cool down and the parties i.e., the accused and deceased had worked themselves into a fury on account of the verbal altercation in the beginning.
Also, the accused had not taken any undue or unfair advantage from the fight because all the matter had been started from the party itself, therefore, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted.
It was also observed by the court that it is a well-settled principle that motive is not an explicit requirement under IPC, it can though only help prove the case of circumstantial evidence.
In this case, there are three eyewitnesses to the incident and the prosecution was failed in proving the motive which had taken place before four months of the incident beyond a reasonable doubt.
From all the above observations and considering the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, it was held by the court that, “the accused inflicted the blow with a weapon like a knife and he inflicted the injury on the deceased on the vital part of the body, it is to be presumed that causing such bodily injury was likely to cause the death”.
Therefore, the case would fall under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and not under Section 304 Part II of the IPC. Hence, the appeal of an accused is allowed and he is held guilty for the offence punishable under Section 304 Part I IPC and sentenced to undergo 8 years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 10,000/-.