17 June 2024


High Court of Delhi

Mukesh Vs. State




Mere presence of a knife on Appellant cannot impute pre-meditation on his part

The Appellant has impugned the judgment and the order on sentence passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, whereby he has been convicted for committing the offence punishable under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and sentenced to undergo Life Imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 1 Lac and, in default of payment of fine, to further undergo Simple Imprisonment for one year. The only issue which arises for our consideration is whether an offence under Section 302 or 304 of IPC is made out i.e. whether it is a case of murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In view of fact that the Appellant used a knife to stab the deceased, this Court has no hesitation in concluding that irrespective of whether or not he had the intention to cause death, he definitely had the intention of causing such bodily injury, i.e. a stab wound on the chest, that is likely to cause death. Hence, the act of the appellant is clearly covered under the ambit of Section 299 of IPC and would qualify as Culpable Homicide.

The facts of the present case do not indicate that at any stage the Appellant, upon grave and sudden provocation, had lost the power of self control and caused the death of the deceased. The eyewitness testimony does not seem to point to either a grave or sudden provocation or any act of the appellant deprived of self control. Hence Exception 1 to Section 300 of IPC shall not be applicable in this case.

Regarding Exception 4, the Supreme Court, in Gurmukh Singh v. State of Haryana, while discussing the question as to whether the offence therein fell under Section 302 or Section 304 of IPC, has identified four ingredients which need to be fulfilled for invoking the said exception which are that death should be caused (a) without premeditation, (b) in a sudden fight; (c) without the offender's having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner; and (d) the fight must have been with the person killed.

From the facts as established on record, ingredients of Exception 4 are satisfied in the instant case. The prosecution has not been able to demonstrate any animosity or premeditation in the actions of the Appellant. Mere presence of a knife on the appellant cannot impute premeditation on his part. PW 1 has stated in his cross examination that Appellant was a 'Bad Character' of Khichripur, hence the possession of a knife can be reasonably attributed to various other factors and not a premeditated intention to cause the death of the deceased. As per the statement of PW-1 there was a quarrel between the appellant and the deceased regarding some money that appellant had loaned to the deceased which he was unable to pay back. It was during this quarrel that the Appellant took out a knife and stabbed the deceased on his chest, which injury proved to be fatal. Further, in the instant case the Appellant inflicted a single stab wound, which clearly appears to be an act done at the spur of the moment without any premeditation. There were no further injuries inflicted on the deceased and hence it cannot be stated that the Appellant had acted in a cruel or unusual manner. Though it cannot be said that whenever the death is on account of a single blow, the offence is one of 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder' and not of 'murder', this fact, when weighed with the other facts and circumstances of the case, becomes a factor in deciding whether the offence falls under the Exceptions to Section 300 of IPC.

Hence, the facts do not point to a calculated or pre- meditated intent on part of the Appellant to kill the deceased. Clearly, present is not a case for conviction under Section 302 of IPC. In view of the contentions put forth and the factual background, Exception 4 to Section 300 of IPC would be applicable to the present case. It would, therefore, be appropriate to convict the accused under Section 304 Part I of IPC.

The Appeal is entitled to succeed in part. The Appellant's conviction under Section 302 of IPC is altered to Section 304 Part I of IPC. His sentence is therefore modified; instead of life imprisonment, he shall serve rigorous imprisonment for ten years. The sentence of fine is also modified to the extent that fine of Rs. 1 lakh is reduced to Rs. 50,000/- and in default of payment of fine, he shall undergo SI for three months.


Gurmukh Singh vs. State of Haryana MANU/SC/1542/2009

Tags : Conviction Legality Offence Nature

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