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

Rajasthan High Court: Conviction of the appellant under Section 302 IPC was modified to Section 304(1) by a Division Bench comprising of Sangeet Lodha and Virendra Kumar Mathur, JJ.

The appellant was accused of causing the death of his wife by setting her ablaze. It was alleged that he used to drink and beat his wife and on the day of the incident he kicked her in the stomach, poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze. In this appeal, the appellant did not contend the finding of guilt against him, however, he contended that the conviction may be altered from Section 302 to Section 304(1) on the ground that he had no intention to cause the murder of his wife.

The High Court perused the record and found that the appellant was under the influence of intoxication at the time of the incident. The incident took place after a quarrel. The appellant also had a few burn injuries which might have been due to the reason that he tried to save her. The time gap between the incident and the death of the wife was almost one and a half month. Even the post-mortem report suggested that the cause of death of the deceased were multiple. In such facts and circumstances, the Court held that the intention of causing murder could not be attributed to the appellant. Neither the motive was proved. At best, he could be attributed with the knowledge that his act will cause such bodily injury that may cause death which was an element of an offence under Section 304(1) IPC. Accordingly, the conviction and sentence of the appellant was altered as mentioned hereinabove. [Bhagwan Lal v. State of Rajasthan, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1193, dated 15-5-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jharkhand: The Division Bench comprising of H.C. Mishra and B.B. Mangalmurti, JJ., recently heard an appeal against the acquittal of the respondent who had been accused under Sections 364 and 34 of the Penal Code.

The appellant’s son had been taken forcibly by the respondents owing to certain prevailing land disputes between the two parties. The appellants had alleged that the respondents had broken into their house by breaking through the thatched roof and kidnapped the son which after examining the evidence on record, was found to be untrue by the Trial Court and hence, the accused was acquitted of the charges framed against him.

The Court observed that the victim himself had testified that he had been forcibly taken away from his house for 20-21 days and eventually brought near the Deoghar Court and left by the accused. It noted that Section 364 of the Penal code mandates the intention of murdering the victim or putting him in the danger of being murdered, for the offence to be labeled as kidnapping under the impugned section. Since, the evidence showed that the victim had been left near the Deoghar Court after a few days, it was obvious that no intention to kill had been present in the minds of the accused and hence, offence under Section 364 Penal Code, couldn’t be made out. Thus, the appeal was dismissed. [Kamruddin Sheikh v. State of Jharkhand, 2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 123, order dated 26.2.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A criminal petition was filed under Section 482 CrPC praying to set aside the order of trial Judge; wherein a Single Judge Bench comprising of K.N. Phaneendra, J. held that the trial Judge erred in convicting the petitioner under Section 307 IPC.

The petitioner was accused of inter alia, offence under Section 307. It was alleged by the complainant that the accused was driving a Scorpio car. When the complainant tried to stop the said vehicle, the accused drove the vehicle backwards and stopped thereafter. The accused was charge-sheeted for offence under Section 307. Learned counsel for the petitioner-accused submitted that the contents of the FIR do not show any material to attract the offence under Section 307 IPC.

The High Court perused Section 307 IPC and was of the opinion that in order to attract the provisions of Section 307, there must be intention or knowledge on part of the accused. In such circumstance, if that act of the accused caused death of the victim, he would have been guilty of murder; but if the person survives then the offence under Section 307 is made out. Also, irrespective of the injuries sustained by the party, there may be constitution of offence under Section 307 of IPC.

In the instant case, the Court found that, there was no allegation in the FIR to show that the complainant was behind the car when accused drove the vehicle backwards. Also none of the witnesses made any allegations that the accused tried to run the car over the complainant. The Court was of the view that there was no material to establish that the accused had any knowledge or intention to do away with the life of the complainant.

Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the proceedings against the petitioner under Section 307 IPC were quashed. [Faizal v. Mohamad Aris, Crl. Petition No. 6826 of 2017, order dated 5.12.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Pratibha Rani, J, dismissed an appeal against conviction under Section 307 of the IPC. The appellant submitted before the Court that he had no motive to cause death of the injured as they did not know each other and had no enmity between them. The appellant cited these as grounds for motive being absent. The appellant further contended that he had been identified on the basis of a dossier from a Test Identification Parade.

The facts in brief are that, the injured had gone to take dinner at Zakhira and while returning near Zakhira and while returning he was stopped by a boy who asked him to hand over his valuables. Upon denial, the said boy, pushed and slapped him before stabbing him below the abdomen. The injured then ran towards the factory, where he resided. He was later taken to Hindu Rao Hospital by his brother Arjun Singh who also informed the PCR. The injured identified the assailant from the dossier shown during the Test Identification Parade.

Considering the nature of the stab wound on the vital part of the body, the nature of the weapon and the manner in which it was used, along with the motive i.e frustration on not being able to get valuables from the injured, the necessary intention and knowledge of causing injury can be clearly inferred. Appeal dismissed. [Mohd. Khurshid v. State, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 11534, decided on 08.11.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the review petition filed in the Soumya Rape and Murder case where the Court had set aside the death sentence awarded to the accused by the Kerala High Court, the 3-Judge Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, P.C. Pant and U.U. Lalit, JJ issued notice to Justice Markandey Katju, former Supreme Court Judge and requested him to appear in Court in person and participate in the proceedings on 11.11.2016 as to whether the judgment and order dated 15.09.2016 suffers from any fundamental flaw so as to require exercise of the review jurisdiction.

Justice Katju had, in a blog published on Facebook, expressed his views that the Supreme Court has grievously erred in law by not holding Govindaswamy guilty of murder. He had said that the Court had overlooked is that Section 300 IPC, which defines murder, has 4 parts, and only the first part requires intention to kill. If any of the other 3 parts are established, it will be murder even if there was no intention to kill. It is regrettable that the Court has not read Section 300 carefully. The judgment needs to be reviewed in an open court hearing. Taking note of the said post, the Bench said that such a view coming from a retired Judge of this Court needs to be treated with greatest of respect and consideration.

Justice Katju by a post on his Facebook page said that he would be delighted to appear and discuss the matter in open court, but would only like the Judges to consider whether, being a former Supreme Court Judge he is debarred from appearing by Article 124(7) of the Constitution. If the Judges hold that it does not debar him, he would be happy to appear and place his views.

On 15.09.2016, the Court had held that no case of murder was made out against Govindaswamy. It was held that regarding keeping of the deceased in a supine position for commission of sexual assault, the Court held that to hold that the accused is liable under Section 302 IPC what is required is an intention to cause death or knowledge that the act of the accused is likely to cause death. The intention of the accused in keeping the deceased in a supine position was for the purposes of the sexual assault. Further, the fact that the deceased survived for a couple of days after the incident and eventually died in Hospital would also clearly militate against any intention of the accused to cause death by the act of keeping the deceased in a supine position. [Sumathi v. Govindaswamy, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1145, decided on 17.10.2016]

High Courts

Calcutta High Court:  In the light of the increasing misuse of laws combating crime against women,  while deciding the question  that whether any assault or criminal force as under Section 354 IPC was used on the informant with the intent  to outrage her modesty, the Court held that during an altercation, a woman, if touched or pushed  accidentally in a wrongful manner, the same cannot said to be done with an intention to outrage her modesty and hence, it will not attract the provisions of Section 354 IPC.

In the instant case, owing to an ongoing civil dispute between the landlord and the tenant, a heated exchange took place between the party and the informant, where the petitioner allegedly pushed the informant from the front touching her. The petitioner, through his counsel Mr Rajdeep Majumdar, argued that there was no intention on the part of the petitioner to outrage her modesty and accidental or unintentional touching of a lady during physical altercation will not come in the Section 354 IPC which was refuted by the State, represented by Mr Pawan Kr. Gupta and the counsel for the private opposite party Mr. Iqbal Hussain.

The Court observing the Section 354 IPC and Supreme Court decisions in Vidyadharan v. State of Kerala, (2004) 1 SCC 215, and Rupan Deol Bajaj v. Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, (1995) 6 SCC 194, observed that intention must be proved for this offence but intention is not the sole criteria for conviction as the offence can be committed by a person assaulting or using criminal force to any woman, if he knows that by such act the modesty of the woman is likely to be affected. On the basis of the facts and the rulings of the Supreme Court, the Court found that there is no use of assault or criminal force on the informant intending to outrage or knowing that it will likely outrage her modesty therefore the informant may complain for physical harassment. Sumit Kumar Gupta v. State of West Bengal, CRR 3236 of 2014, decided on 22.04. 2014

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine