Bhagwan Singh vs. State of Uttarakhand
Criminal Appeal No.- 407 OF 2020 decided on- 18.03.2020
Bench– S.A. Bobde, B.R. Gavai, Surya Kant, JJ.
Facts of the case:
The appellant was convicted by the Trial court, for firing celebratory gunshots at a marriage procession causing death of 2 persons and injury to 3, under section 302 and 307 of IPC. The appellant went to appeal for reducing his sentence.
On appeal, the High Court rejected the contention of appellant that it was mere accident and instead the High Court stated that the accused had knowledge throughout that if the bullet is fired aiming at particular direction, it would result in his/her death.
Aggrieved by the decision of High Court, the Supreme Court entertained SLP on the question below mentioned.
Question of Law:
Whether the offence committed by appellant falls under Sec. 302 (Punishment of Murder) or Sec. 304 (Punishment for Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder) of IPC?
The Supreme Court, after hearing both the parties, held that the conviction of the appellant under Section 302 IPC is modified to Section 304 Part2 IPC and that under Section 307 IPC is altered to Section 308 IPC. The Supreme Court gave the judgment with following reasoning:
Firstly, both the persons who died were family members to the appellant and their presence suggests that there was no animosity between them. Additionally, the eye witness account states that the gun was aimed at roof and not to persons. Thus, the requisite intention was not proved to make the case fall under S.302 IPC.
Secondly, the contention of the appellant that a ball which was thrown by children accidently struck the hand in which he was holding gun which resulted in gunshot injury to persons is not correct as no striking by a ball would result in such firing.
The Court further held that the appellant had the requisite knowledge essential for constituting the offence of ‘culpable homicide’ under Section 299 and punishable under Section 304 Part2 of IPC. He is thus held guilty under Section 304 Part2 and not under Section 302 of IPC. On the same analogy, the appellant is liable to be punished for ‘attempt to commit culpable homicide’ not amounting to murder under Section 308, in place of Section 307 of IPC for the injuries caused to the other three victims.
Furthermore, the Court said that incidents of celebratory firing are regretfully rising, for they are seen as a status symbol. A gun licensed for selfprotection or safety and security of crops and cattle cannot be fired in celebratory events, it being a potential cause of fatal accidents. Such like misuse of fire arms convert a happy event to a pall of gloom.