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The Academic Distinction Between Murder and Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder Has Always Vexed the Courts: Allahabad High Court

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EXCERPT

This appeal had arisen from the judgement in State of U.P. v. Jai Prakash Goswami and another (Case Crime No.1498/09) under Section 302 and 504 of I.P.C lodged in Police Station Sipri Bazar, District Jhansi. The learned Sessions Judge convicted both the accused for life imprisonment under Section 302, read with section 34 of Indian Penal Code with fine of Rs.5,000/- and in default for one-year simple imprisonment.

FACTS

The deceased was walking to the temple with his wife and daughter. Madhu Goswami and her husband Jai Prakash started abusing the deceased. During the fight, Jai Prakash brought an iron rod (sabbal). When the neighbours started coming, the husband and wife fled from the area and ran towards Rasbahar colony. Based on the complainant FIR in the police station, an investigation was carried out against both the accused. The prosecution started against both the accused of commission of an offence under Section 302 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The accused were committed to the court of the session as the case was triable exclusively by the court of sessions. 

ARGUMENTS BEFORE THE COURT

The counsel for the appellant argued that if the Court feels that the accused has caused the death based on the evidence they are not to be accorded the benefit of the doubt. The council emphasized the provisions of Section 304 of the IPC as the incident had happened at the spur of the moment and there was no great enmity between the deceased and the accused that there could be an intention to kill the deceased. The counsel further contended that evidence of the eye-witness also proved that there was no pre-planned attempt. It was stated by one of the witnesses that the incident occurred in front of the accused’s house but the site plan showed that the incident had taken place at another place. The counsel also contended that accused no. 2 i.e. husband did not use any weapon. 

The Counsel for the state disputed that both the accused had attacked the vital part of the body. He also stated that the accused might not have had enmity against the deceased but they had the knowledge that the inflexion of the iron rod would kill the deceased. There was the intention or else they wouldn’t have attacked the vital parts of the body using an object. The counsel further argued that there was the prior meeting of mind as the iron rod was given to the accused no. 2 husbands by the wife who is accused no. 1. It was submitted that both the accused had attacked in unison with the rod and the use of power would not show that the case falls under Section 304 of the IPC.   

COURT’S OBSERVATION

Based on the medical evidence and evidence of the witness, there was no doubt left about the guilt of the accused. The issue before the concerned court was whether the offence would be punishable under Section 299 or Section 304 I.P.C. The court stated that the safest way of approach to the application and interpretation of these provisions seems to focus on the keywords used in the various clauses of Section 299 and 300 of the Indian Penal Code. The court emphasized the concept of intention and knowledge. If there was the intention of causing death or the intention of causing bodily injury which is likely to cause death. Secondly, with the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death. Based on the FIR and the evidence the court observed that the accused was not carrying a weapon rather they had brought it from the home. The blow was an act of sudden quarrel and there was no pre-meditation. The court was convinced that the case could fall within section 304 of the IPC.

COURT’S DECISION

The accused had been in jail for more than 9 years. The court decided that this was a homicidal death but not murder. The Court held the accused guilty for commission of an offence under Section 304 of I.P.C. read with Section 34 but not with 302 read with Section 34 I.P.C. The punishment was reduced to ten years and if the fine would not be paid, the sentence would be a default sentence of three months simple imprisonment.

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