Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: In an appeal filed against the conviction of the appellants by the trial court under Section 307 IPC, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Arvind Singh Chandel, J., altered the conviction from Section 307 to Section 308 IPC.

The appellants were alleged to have assaulted the complainant by causing head injury to him. It was alleged that they had an enmity with the complainant and therefore on the day of the incident, they assaulted him with a danda. The appellants were charged under Section 307 IPC for an attempt to murder. The appellants challenged the decision of the trial court.

The High Court on considering the record found that the enmity between the parties arose out of certain money dispute. The Court found that the assault was made in the crowd. It was observed that if the intention to make the assault had been to commit murder, the appellants would not have committed the assault in a crowd. Further, as was evident from the medical report, only one grievous injury was caused on the head of the complainant. However, according to the medical expert, the injury was not dangerous to life. Had the intention of making the assault been to commit murder, the appellants would have caused more than one injury. In such circumstances, the intention to cause murder, a necessary ingredient to prove the offence under Section 307, was absent. The Court was of the view that the offence committed would fall under Section 308 (attempt to culpable homicide) since the appellants were aware that such injury could cause the death of the complainant. The appeals were partly allowed and the conviction was altered from Section 307 to Section 308. [Devi Singh v.  State of M.P.,2018 SCC OnLine Chh 513, dated 18-5-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Before the Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court, a woman convicted by trial court for murdering her husband by setting him on fire appealed against the conviction. The accused got married to the deceased husband and had a son out of the wedlock and since the day of marriage, the quarrels between the couple were common. There was a quarrel between both on 31st March, 2011 over some issue and on the same night at around 3:30 am, the accused set the deceased ablaze by pouring kerosene over him.

The two brothers of accused who lived in the same house heard their brother screaming and saw the accused on fire and the accused running away. He was taken to civil hospital where his dying declaration was recorded and henceforth, the accused was charged under Section 302 IPC. In her statement under Section 313 CrPC before trial court, she denied the evidence and witnesses of prosecution saying that the deceased might have committed suicide out of frustration from family quarrels.

In dying declaration, deceased stated that due to quarrel took place during the night, on 1st April 2011 at about 3.00 to 3.30 a.m., his wife accused poured kerosene on his person and set him ablaze in heat of anger, as a result he sustained burn injuries. In another dying declaration, recorded by Executive Magistrate in question answer form, he stated that the accused in a heat of anger, poured kerosene on his person and set him on fire. On the other hand, the accused contended that the FIR was lodged after 5 hours of the incident and the dying declarations were result of tutoring.

In appeal, the Court observed that the dying declarations were proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt and came to the conclusion that the Appellant did commit the offence, as alleged by the prosecution. The Court further observed the dying declarations carefully and said that it appeared that the accused-Rani, in a heat of anger, due to quarrel took place in the night, poured kerosene on the person of Vaijinath and set him on fire. The Court elucidated that it was abundantly clear that, neither there was premeditation on the part of the accused, nor there was preparation for such commission of offence and the offence was the result of a sudden anger and quarrel on a trifle issue. The Court decided to take into account these mitigating circumstances noticed by it, it held that the offence committed by appellant would fall under Exception 4 of Section 300 IPC. The Division Bench accordingly set aside the conviction under Section 302 and convicted the appellant under Section 300 IPC and sentenced a rigorous imprisonment of 7 years. [Rani @ Anjali v.  State of Maharashtra, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 175, decided on 17.02.2017]


Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa: While deciding the present case wherein the legality of an order by the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria to allow physician assisted euthanasia to a dying cancer patient, was debated, the Court held that it is the forte of the Legislature to introduce laws in respect of legalizing physician assisted suicide/euthanasia, and that the present case in not appropriate for the Court to develop the common law of murder and culpable homicide.

The applicant who was dying of cancer, approached the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria claiming an order that a medical practitioner could either end his life by administering a lethal substance, or provide him with the lethal substance to enable him to administer it himself, and that in the event if a medical practitioner must end his life, then such medical practitioner would not be subjected to prosecution or disciplinary steps by the relevant professional body. Furthermore the applicant as seeking the above relief as matter of right as enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the Constitution also sought an order that the common law in relation to the crimes of murder and culpable homicide should be developed in terms of Section 39(2) of the Constitution of South Africa. The applicant was allowed by the High Court to go for physician assisted euthanasia; unfortunately however the applicant died 2 hours prior to the passing of the Order. The High Court however refused to recall the Order stating that it’s Order had extensive societal implications, upon which then the State decided to prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Perusing the facts and the arguments for and against legalizing euthanasia, and also looking upon the complexities involved in the issue, the Court discussed the laws, the precedents regarding the issue. The Court further took notice of various countries wherein extensive laws have been laid down in respect of euthanasia, most particularly Netherlands and the State of Oregon, USA. However the Court noted that the separation of powers requires that Parliament should decide any changes on the law rather than requiring judges to do so. The Court further observed that the South African situation, social values and social-economic and political conditions are very different from the jurisdictions where euthanasia has been legalized. The Court also stated that the High Court was hasty in deciding the case and did not properly consider the South African law or international precedent cases and was wrong to assume that the common law on murder needs to be changed to accommodate assisted suicide and euthanasia. [Minister of Justice and Correctional Services v. Estate Stransham-Ford, 2016 SCC OnLine ZASCA 46 : 2016 ZASCA 197, decided on 06.12.2016]