Number of wounds caused by the accused is not a decisive factor to attract the Exception 4 under Section 300 IPC

Supreme Court: Explaining the Exception 4 under Section 300 IPC that provides for ‘death caused in a sudden fight’, the bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agrawal, JJ said that the number of wounds caused during the occurrence is not a decisive factor but what is important is that the occurrence must have been sudden and unpremeditated and the offender must have acted in a fit of anger.

The Court said that where, on a sudden quarrel, a person in the heat of the moment picks up a weapon which is handy and causes injuries, one of which proves fatal, he would be entitled to the benefit of this Exception provided he has not taken any undue advantage or acted in a cruel manner.

In the present case, there was dispute between the complainant and his relatives on one side and accused persons on the other side regarding their turn of irrigating their fields and hence, both the parties had gone to the court of Executive Magistrate, Faridkot for the settlement of the said dispute. Suddenly both the sides started quarrelling and had a heated exchange of words as the appellant-accused objected to the presence of one of the relative of the complainant and not a party to the proceedings and took out a Kirpan and assaulted the relative of the complainant.

Considering the facts of the case, the Court noticed that the injuries caused were the result of blow with a small Kirpan, which is used by ‘Amritdhari Sikhs’ as a spiritual tool and it cannot be presumed that the accused had intended to cause the inflicted injuries. The Court hence held that the act of the appellant-accused was not a cruel act and the accused did not take undue advantage of the deceased. The scuffle took place in the heat of passion and all the requirements under Section 300 Exception 4 of the IPC have been satisfied. Therefore, it was said that the benefit of Exception 4 under Section 300 IPC is attracted to the fact situations and the appellant-accused is entitled to this benefit. [Surain Singh v. State of Punjab, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 364, decided on 10.04.2017]

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