Author: Aanice Tressa Thomas, 3rd Year Student at Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur.
Citation: 2020 (3) SCC 115: AIR 2020 SC 966
Date of the decision: 21 January, 2020
Bench: Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, K.M. Joseph
Original copy: View
Status involved: “The Indian Evidence Act, 1872”, “The Indian Penal Code (Section 300, Section 304, Section 302)”, “The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005”
Facts of the case:
- The appellant of the case, Paul and Jessy, the deceased, tied the knot on the 31st August 1997.
- It was found that the marriage was violent in nature since the wife was subjected to different kinds of cruelty, physical and mental included, by both her husband and her mother-in-law.
- On the 11th October 1998, the mother-in-law was found making commotion in the house at their home, unable to manage on her own, the wife went out to search for her husband, the appellant. The appellant was discovered drinking liquor with his friends. The appellant was found assaulting his wife in front of his friends and thereafter on the same day at 11 p.m., the wife was dead.
- The autopsy report mentioned that the wife, the deceased was throttled to death, although the appellant presses on the note that his wife suicided.
- By the order dated 18th February 2005, the accused was acquitted. On 29th March 2012, a division bench of Kerala High Court, allowed a criminal appeal to be filed.
- The Counsel for the appellant pleaded an alteration for the conviction to be changed from Sec 302 to Sec 304 Part-II of the IPC. The Counsel for the appellant further brings into notice that the appellant must be held under exception 4 of Sec 304 since this case was a culpable homicide not amounting to murder and that the appellant had not pre-meditate his actions.
- The Counsel for the respondent- State insisted by giving support on the fact that this was a clear case murder by throttling. The Counsel for the respondent- State gave the post-mortem certificate which shows clear signs of injuries sustained on the deceased, the wife by the appellant, the husband and the appellant. It must be understood that the appellant had not given clear statements as to how the deceased sustained injuries on her body. Various contusions and abrasions were found in the deceased’s, the wife’s chest and furthermore there were convexities found in the same area. This would be impossible to conclude that those injuries were made by the deceased herself.
- Must the appellant be extended the benefit of exception 1 or exception 4 of Sec 300 of the IPC?
- Is it justified for the appellant’s conviction under Sec 302 of the IPC to be altered to Sec 304 Part- II of the IPC?
- The appellant would not be extended the benefit of exception 1 or exception 4 of Sec 300 of the IPC and therefore it would not be justified for the appellant’s conviction under Sec 302 of the IPC to be altered to Sec 304 Part- II of the IPC.
- It was adjudged that this was a pure case of murder and no exceptions of Sec 300 were drawn attention to. The High Court under Sec 302 of the Indian Penal Code sentences the appellant to rigorous imprisonment for life with a fine of Rs. 10,000/-.
- The appeal was therefore dismissed.
- The High Court had found in the earlier statements that the appellant had claimed that the deceased had committed suicide by hanging. But it was ascertained and disclosed that the cause of death of the deceased, the wife was not by suicide and was in fact murder caused by throttling. The injuries caused to the deceased revealed more than what had to be established. It must be taken into notice that Sec 106 of the Evidence Act should be taken into consideration due to the very fact that the quarrel happened in the bedroom of the appellant and there was no one besides the appellant and the wife, the deceased. The cause of death was in fact murder by throttling and the hypothesis of the death being suicide was inadmissible.
- It was also found that the wife, the deceased had confronted a situation where she was hit with a blunt object due to which she faced an almost immediate death. Taking recourse to Sec 313 of CrPC, the first Sec 313 questioning held appellant into mentioning that his wife, the deceased had committed suicide. It was the medical evidence done on the deceased, the wife that proved that the cause of death was murder and not suicide. The blood on the nail clippings meant there was resistance by the deceased, the wife, this was also supported by the injuries caused on the aggressor, the appellant, the husband which was not uncommon in nature and it was proved that those marks were caused due to resistance when throttling was done upon the deceased, the wife.
- It was after the matter was circumscribed that the appellant had stated that the murder done on his wife, the deceased was with a Kunda. This took place by the non-avoidance of the inculpatory admissions of the appellant as under Sec 313 of CrPC
- It must be noted that there was a quarrel between the mother-in-law and the deceased on 11th October 1998, where the mother-in-law actuated the deceased, the wife, to fetch her husband, the appellant. It was also found that the appellant had assaulted his wife in front of the appellants friends while under the control of alcohol which further shows the ill-treatment on the wife, the deceased. Therefore it is hard to make this incident fall under exception 1 or exception 4 of Sec 300 of IPC, since there was neither a sudden provocation done by the deceased nor was there any evidence to state that this quarrel was done due to a heat of passion. Accordingly the appellant cannot be extended a benefit of exception 1 or exception 4 of Sec 300 of IPC.
- The above para stated as to why such an act performed by the appellant comes under Sec 300 of the IPC proves that the appellant mustn’t be given the benefit of the conviction under Sec 304 of the IPC. The act performed by the appellant was in fact culpable homicide amounting murder. As taking recourse to this case, the act committed by the appellant was no doubt culpable homicide which amounts to murder and is quite clear as to the fact that this falls under Sec 302 of the IPC.