11 Feb 2121

Death caused without premeditation in a sudden quarrel out of the heat of passion does not amount to an offence under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Supreme Court of India

Case : Khokan @ Khokhan Vishwas v. State of Chhattisgarh Criminal Appeal No. 121 of 2021

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, M.R. Shah, JJ.

Decided on : 11 Feb 2121

Relevant Statutes

Section 300, 302 and 304-I of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. According to the prosecution, on 08.08.2006 at about 6:30 p.m., the deceased Manku Ram was in the house of his neighbour, Devan. While having a conversation regarding money with the deceased the accused quarrelled with him, pushed him down, and stood upon his abdomen which resulted in internal injuries.

2. The next day, at about 6:30 p.m., the son of one Channu Ram informed Manki, sister of the deceased regarding the severe pain in his abdomen. She got him admitted to N.M.D.C. Apollo Central Hospital, Bacheli for treatment. At night he was referred to Maharani Hospital, Jagdalpur for treatment. During treatment, Manku Ram died on 11.08.2006. As per the post mortem report conducted by Dr. J. Gupta (PW-3) the cause of death of the deceased was a shock as a result of septicemia caused by injuries in the small intestine.

3. The learned trial Court convicted the accused for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and awarded a life sentence. The High Court of Chhattisgarh confirmed the same.

4. The accused then preferred appeal before the Supreme Court.

Issue of the Case

Whether the conviction of the appellant/accused should be altered to Section 304-I of the Indian Penal Code, 1860?

The Observations of the Court

The Honourable Supreme Court observed that:

1. The action of the appellant to push the deceased down and stand up on his abdomen was preceded by a quarrel between the deceased and the accused in the heat of passion. From the evidence on record, and as per the case of the prosecution, it could not be said that the appellant had the intention of such action on his part to cause death or such bodily injury to the deceased that was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death of the deceased. Even the case would not fall under clause 3 of Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It could also not be said that there was any intention on the part of the accused of causing bodily injury to the deceased and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.

2. Therefore, the case would fall under exception 4 to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. As per explanation to exception 4, it is immaterial in such cases which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault. Therefore, both the courts below materially erred in holding the appellant guilty for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. At the most, the appellant committed the offence under Section 304-I of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

3. However, the deceased was admitted to the hospital after 24 hours and thereafter he died within three days due to septicemia. If he was given the treatment immediately, the result might have been different. In any case, there was no premeditation on the part of the accused; he did not carry any weapon; the quarrel started all of a sudden, and that the accused pushed the deceased and stood on the abdomen.

The Decision Held by the Court

The Honourable Supreme Court allowed the appeal and held that:

1. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court and the learned trial Court convicting the appellant for the offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 were modified to the extent of convicting the appellant for the offence under Section 304 Part I of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and sentencing him to the period of 14.5 years already undergone by him.

2. The rest of the judgment and order passed by the learned trial Court, confirmed by the High Court, was confirmed.

3. The appellant was thus set at liberty.

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