Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Prashant Kumar Mishra, J. disposed of a criminal appeal where he altered the conviction of the appellant from the one under Section 302 (punishment for murder) to that under Section 304 Part I (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Penal Code.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of her sister-in-law. The appellant had developed a fancy for the deceased. The marriage of the deceased was fixed on the day previous to the incident. On the morning of the day of the incident, the appellant inflicted axe blow on the deceased in the field. She went to her house and after some time she was taken to the police station where she registered FIR. After that, she was taken to the hospital but she died on the way. The appellant was tried and convicted by the trial court for the offence of murder punishable under Section 302. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant filed the present appeal.

The High Court noted that the deceased having died immediately after lodging FIR, it was required to dwell on the legal character of the said FIR, as to whether the same was admissible in evidence as dying declaration. Relying on Dharam Pal v. State of U.P., (2008) 17 SCC 337, the Court observed: “The legal position is therefore well settled that the FIR lodged by the deceased would attain the character and legal status of dying declaration if the victim dies before his/her examination in the Court.” Considering the same, the Court upheld the finding that the appellant committed the act that resulted in the death of the deceased.

However, the Court considered medical opinion of the doctor who conducted the post-mortem on the deceased, who stated that the deceased would have been saved if she would have been administered treatment immediately after the incident. The relatives of the deceased committed mistake by taking her first to the police station, rather taking her to the hospital. Considering such mitigating circumstances, the High Court altered the conviction of the appellant mentioned above. Also, the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to him by the trial court was reduced to 10 years, as already undergone by the appellant.[Ram Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 83, decided on 22-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel, JJ., dismissed the appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 300 IPC.

The appellant was accused of murdering the deceased by repeatedly stabbing him with a knife. The trial court convicted the appellant for murder under Section 302. The said order of conviction was challenged by the appellant in the instant appeal. Counsel for the appellant submitted that the incident was not premeditated; it was a result of a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel between the appellant and the deceased. Based on such submission, counsel for the appellant contended that Exception 4 to Section 300 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder)  stood attracted to the case.

The High Court referred to Surinder Kumar v. State (UT of Chandigarh), (1989) 2 SCC 217 and Ghapoo Yadav v. State of M.P., (2003) 3 SCC 528. It was observed that to attract Exception 4 to Section 300, not only must the defence be able to show that the offence was committed without pre-meditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel, but more importantly, it must be shown that the offender ‘did not take undue advantage and did not act in a cruel or unusual manner’. However, in the present case, on the facts and circumstances, the Court was of the view that the exception did not get attracted to the case. The testimony of witnesses as also the post-mortem report clearly showed that whatever may have been the provocation, the act of brutally stabbing the deceased with repeated knife blows, was an act done in a cruel and unusual manner which was disproportionate to the provocation. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Rajesh Bansal v. State,2018 SCC OnLine Del 10563, dated 14-8-2018]

High Courts

Kerala High Court: In a recent case of Hyzel Stewert’s unnatural death, a bench of Kemal Pasha J. directed to quash the final report filed by the 3rd additional respondent and also directed the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch to conduct the investigation in the matter and to file a final report at any rate within a period of 3 months.

In the instant case, the unfortunate father of a young girl filed a complaint under Section 482 CrPC for expeditious disposal of a case filed earlier in respect of his daughter’s death, alleging that from the very beginning the local police had showed a lethargic attitude in conducting the investigation in the case, and that the accused have influenced the police on the basis of his money power and muscle power.

The Court went through the copy of the postmortem certificate of the victim and noted that “there is not even an inch of space in her body which is free from injuries”, “Can it be believed that a person who has sustained these much of ante-mortem injuries could climb over some thing in order to reach the fan on the roof and to hang for committing suicide?”. The Court assumed the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution relying on the decision of M/s Pepsi Food Ltd. v. Special Judicial Magistrate (1998) 5 SCC 749, that High Court can exercise its power of judicial review in criminal matters, and rejected the contention of the Sri P. Vijayabhanu, the learned Senior Counsel for the additional respondents that the injuries on the body of the deceased resulted from resuscitation attempts resorted to by the doctors to resuscitate the deceased who was suffering from heart ailment.

The Court found that the whole investigation is shabby, and noted that “this Court is not making an opinion as to whether an offence under Section 302, IPC is there in this case or not. Even if she is murdered, the offence under Section 304-B, IPC will lie in the matter, over and above the offence under Section 302, IPC”. The Court stated that “the investigation conducted by the investigation officer was not proper and adequate. The apprehension forwarded by the petitioner seems to be genuine”. On the basis of the above finding, the Court directed to quash the final report filed by the 3rd additional respondent, and directed the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch to conduct a further investigation in the matter by himself or by making use of a team of high officers under him, and to file a final report within 3 months of this Order. Stebert Kumar v. State of Kerala2014 SCC OnLine Ker 19574, decided on 19-12-2014.