Stalin v. State Represented by Inspector of Police
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 577 OF 2020 decided on 09.09.2020
BENCH: M.R. Shah, J. Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy, JJ.
The incident took place at a beer shop wherein the deceased was serving beer. When he served extra beer to two persons who came from outside, the accused became angry and in that scuffle the accused took out the knife and stabbed the deceased from behind. It was a single blow at the vital part of the body i.e. liver, which resulted in his death. The Trial Court held the accused guilty under section 302 IPC and the High Court confirmed the order of conviction and sentence. Hence, the present appeal.
Whether the accused has committed an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC or any other lesser offence, more particularly, Section 304 Part II IPC?
The Learned Counsel for the Appellant submitted that the case is of single stab injury which do not attract section 302 IPC (heavily relied on Kunhayippu v. State of Kerala (2000) 10 SCC 307 and Musumsha Hasanasha v. State of Maharashtra (2000) 3 SCC 557). It was also submitted that the occurrence had taken place out of a sudden and grave provocation and therefore the offence would fall under Exception I to Section 300 IPC and, therefore, the appellant has to be convicted for lesser offence than Section 302 IPC. Moreover, the motive alleged for the incident is prior to four months of the incident in question and the prosecution has failed to establish and prove the motive for the accused to kill the deceased.
The Learned counsel for the State argued that there is no absolute proposition of law laid down by this court in any of the decisions that in case of a single blow, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted. It is held by this court in catena of decisions that number of injuries is irrelevant, it is the weapon used; the nature of the injury and the part of the body where injury caused which is the determining factor for intention. It was also submitted that there was no sudden or grave provocation and, in the case where eyewitnesses are available, the motive becomes insignificant.
The court then held the accused guilty for the offence punishable under Section 304 Part I IPC and sentenced him to undergo 8 years Rigorous Imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 10,000/- and, in default, to further undergo one-year Rigorous Imprisonment.
Court’s View Regarding Single Stab Injury
The Supreme Court has observed that even in cases when death occurs due to single stab injury, Section 302 of IPC can be attracted. Addressing this contention the bench referred number of judgments Mahesh Balmiki v. State of M.P., (2000) 1 SCC 319, Dhirajbhai Gorakhbhai Nayak v. State of Gujrat (2003) 9 SCC 322, Puricherla Nagaraju v. State of A.P. (2006) 11 SCC 444, Singapagu Anjaiah v. State of A.P. (2010) 9 SCC 799 and State of Rajasthan v. Kanhaiya Lal (2019) 5 SCC 639 and observed that it there is no hard and fast rule that in a case of single injury Section 302 IPC would not be attracted. It depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The nature of injury, the part of the body where it is caused, the weapon used in causing such injury are the indicators of the fact whether the accused caused the death of the deceased with an intention of causing death or not. It cannot be laid down as a rule of universal application that whenever the death occurs on account of a single blow, Section 302 IPC is ruled out.
Court’s View Regarding Motive
The other contention that the motive was not proved, the bench observed that the motive is not an explicit requirement under IPC, though motive may be helpful in proving the case of the prosecution in a case of circumstantial evidence.
The Court said that culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the offender having taken undue advantage and not having acted in a cruel or unusual manner. Since, the incident took place in that light, the court observed that the case would fall under Section 304 part I of IPC and not under Section 302 or 304 part II of IPC.