The Supreme Court has, on many occasions converted conviction under Sec. 302 to one under Sec. 304 Part II. However, every case depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Therefore, the conversion of conviction depends on various grounds. In the instant case, the Court examined the ground of lack of premeditated intention.
The appeal was filed against an Order of conviction under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The dispute between the deceased and the Appellant was over land. The Appellant assaulted the deceased who was harvesting in his field, with a lathi. The High Court concluded that it was not premeditated. The Court maintained the sentence under Sec. 302.
It has been submitted that the independent witnesses were not examined. The witnesses who were examined were all related to the deceased. Additionally, the blood found on the lathi did not match the blood group of the deceased. Lastly, the assault was not premeditated.
Per contra, the Counsel for the State submitted that the Appellant was the aggressor. The Appellant intended to cause death. This was based on the assault made on the head. Additionally, references to decisions were made to state that evidence of related witnesses cannot be dismissed.
The Court observed that ‘lathi’ is linked to the identity of a villager. Therefore, the circumstances and the method by which the deceased was assaulted, and other situations need to be considered by the Court while deciding ‘intention or knowledge’ of the Accused.
The Court referenced to Chamru Budhwa v. Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1954 SC 652. Therein, the Court, with similar facts and circumstances, observed that ‘he acts appears to have been done with the knowledge that it was likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death within the meaning of Part II of Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code.’
Similarly, in Gurmukh Singh v. the State of Haryana, (2009) 15 SCC 635, the Court observed that in cases where the assault was made without premeditation, the conviction needs to be altered from Sec. 302 to Sec. 304 Part II. The same situation was dealt with in Mohd. Shakeel v. the State of A.P., (2007) 3 SCC 119.
The Appeal was allowed. Further, the conviction under Sec. 302 was altered to Sec. 304 Part II of IPC. Additionally, since the Appellant was under custody for a maximum period under Sec. 304 Part II of IPC, the Appellant was set at liberty.
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