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Supreme Court Reduces Sentence Of Convict On Ground Of Absence Of Intention To Kill

Shivani Negi ,
  29 July 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court Of India
Brief :

Citation :
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2043 OF 2023

Date of Order:

20th July 2023

Bench:

Justice BR Gavai

Justice J.B Pardiwala

Parties:

ANBAZHAGAN

APPELLANT(S)

VERSUS

THE STATE REPRESENTED BY

THE INSPECTOR OF POLICE

RESPONDENT(S)

SUBJECT

  • The appeal seeks to overturn the High Court’s dismissal of the appellant’s appeal, arguing that the order of conviction and sentence was affirmed.
  • The appellant’s intent to cause death was not considered under Section 300 of the IPC, and the appeal was partially allowed, leading to a five-year prison sentence.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

  • Section 300 IPC
  • Section 304 IPC

OVERVIEW

  • The appellant, Balasubramaniam, was an agriculturist in Tamil Nadu, who owned land in Sirukinathupalayam. Balasubramaniam had a pathway leading to the appellant’s land, which he had issues with. On 25.10.2015, Balasubramaniam threatened the driver of a lorry to not drive through the pathway leading to the appellant’s agriculture field. 
  • The appellant asked the driver to move the lorry to his field, which was questioned by the deceased. The appellant, after verbal altercation, allegedly picked up a “Hoe” and inflicted a single blow on the deceased’s head, causing the deceased to fall unconscious and later die in the hospital.
  • The FIR was lodged on 25.10.2015 at 19.30 Hrs., and the police filed a charge sheet for murder. The case was committed to the Court of Sessions, where PW 8 Chidambaram and PW 9 Jeeva were the main witnesses. Both eye witnesses claimed the appellant and the deceased verbally altered the path, and the appellant inflicted one blow with the weapon of offense on the deceased’s head, leading to his death.
  • The Trial Court deemed the case a culpable homicide not punishable under Section 302 of the IPC, based on evidence and genesis of the occurrence. The High Court ruled that the trial court was right in holding the appellant guilty. The appellant appeals.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT

  • Senior counsel, Mr. S. Nagamuthu, argues for appellant’s change in conviction from Section 304 Part I to Section 304 Part II, reducing sentence and avoiding merits appeal.
  • ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
  • Dr. Joseph Aristotle S. argued that the Trial Court and High Court rightly convicted the appellant for the offense punishable under Section 304 Part I of the IPC. He argued that the case falls within clause thirdly of Section 300 of the IPC, and therefore, the courts rightly convicted the appellant.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • The case is argued that the accused only has knowledge of the likelihood of causing death, not the intention to kill. The distinction between intent and knowledge is unclear.
  • The IPC defines culpable homicide and murder by imputing the accused’s intention or knowledge when they committed the act causing the death. The framers used the words ‘intention’ and ‘knowledge’ to distinguish between knowledge and intention. Knowledge of potential consequences is not the same as intention to cause them. In cases where mens rea is not required, awareness of harmful consequences is considered knowledge.
  • To prove culpable homicide, either specific intentions must be proven. However, even without intention, the offence is culpable if the acter causes death with knowledge that the result may result in death.
  • The principles in Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab provide guidelines for courts to exercise judicial discretion in determining clauses of Section 300 of the IPC. The court has discussed the distinction between Sections 299 and 300, ‘culpable homicide’ and ‘ murder’, and noted that confusion may arise if courts lose sight of the true scope and meaning of the terms used. The safest approach is to focus on the keywords used in the various clauses of these sections.
  • The court must determine the accused’s intention or knowledge in committing an offense. If the intention is described in Clauses (1) to (4) of Section 300 of the IPC, the act is considered murder even if only a single injury was caused. 
  • Section 304 of the IPC has two parts: the first establishes the crime of murder and grants the accused an exception to Section 300, while the second never establishes the crime. The accused cannot bring their case within the exceptions.
  • The question is whether the appellant intended to cause bodily injury sufficient to cause death. The appellant could only be attributed with knowledge of the injury’s potential cause, so the case does not fall under Section 300 of the IPC.

CONCLUSION 

  • The appeal was partially allowed, with the appellant’s conviction altered to Section 304 Part II, and he was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for five years.
     
 
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