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Madhya Pradesh High Court Converts Wife's Conviction U/S 302 IPC For Burning Husband To Death To S.304, Says Act Committed In 'Heat Of Passion'

Zeeshan Thomas
22 April 2022 10:00 AM GMT
Madhya Pradesh High Court Converts Wifes Conviction U/S 302 IPC For Burning Husband To Death To S.304, Says Act Committed In Heat Of Passion
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench recently converted the conviction of the Appellants, including the wife of the deceased, under Section 302 to Section 304 IPC, for burning the deceased to death, observing that the same was done under the heat of passion. While acquitting the Appellants, the Court also took into consideration that they were first-time offenders...

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench recently converted the conviction of the Appellants, including the wife of the deceased, under Section 302 to Section 304 IPC, for burning the deceased to death, observing that the same was done under the heat of passion.

While acquitting the Appellants, the Court also took into consideration that they were first-time offenders and that Appellant/wife had to take care of her children.

The facts of the case were that two of the Appellants had caught hold of the deceased, while the Appellant/wife poured kerosene on him and set him on fire. The deceased was later taken to hospital by his relatives where he succumbed to the injuries. Before his death, he gave a dying declaration to the Tehsildar, wherein he had made specific allegations against all the Appellants/accused.

Considering the testimonies of witnesses and documents on record, the lower court had observed that although the prosecution witnesses had not supported the case of the prosecution, there was no reason to disbelieve the dying declaration of the deceased. The trial court had further noted that the said dying declaration was corroborated by medical evidence. Accordingly, the lower court had convicted the Appellants U/S 302/34 IPC. Aggrieved by their conviction, the Appellants preferred the appeal before the Court.

The Appellants submitted before the Court that they were not assailing the findings on merits of the case at that stage. However, they argued that even if the dying declaration of the deceased was believed to be true, it was clear that it was the deceased himself who had come to the house of the Appellant/wife to instigate a dispute with her. They further submitted that the incident took place in the heat of passion and without a pre-intention or common object to set the deceased on fire. Therefore, they concluded, the offence would not travel beyond Section 304 Part I IPC because it fell under Exception 4 of Section 300 of the IPC. The Appellants also added that they were first-time offenders and had been incarcerated for more than 11 years. The Appellant/wife further pleaded that she was a mother of three and that in order to settle her life, she be set free.

Per contra, the State argued that the deceased had suffered 100 percent burn injuries and that despite his said injured state, none of the Appellants/accused came to his rescue. Therefore, it was asserted that all the Appellants had shared a common intention to commit the murder of the deceased and hence, no interference of the Court was called for and the appeal was liable to be dismissed.

Considering the submissions of the parties and trial court record of the case, the Court held that that the lower court had rightly relied on the dying declaration of the deceased. The Court then ventured to examine whether the offence fell under the provision of Section 304 Part I IPC.

Evaluating the dying declaration of the deceased, the Court opined that act was carried out in the heat of passion and was not premeditated-

It is clear from the aforesaid dying declaration that there was no pre-planning or premeditation to commit the crime by the appellants. In a heat of passion, appellants No.1 and 2 caught hold of the deceased and his wife out of anger brought kerosene and poured him.

The Court referred to the decision in Ongole Ravikanth v. State of A.P. wherein the Apex Court had dealt with facts similar to the case in hand-

In similar facts and circumstances of the case, the apex Court in the case of Ongole Ravikanth V/s. State of A.P. : AIR 2009 SC 2129 where the husband poured the kerosene on the wife and set her on fire, found that the incident took place all of a sudden without any pre-intention then the act of the accused is found to be punishable u/s. 304 Part I of the IPC and affirmed the judgment of conviction and sentence passed by the High Court. The aforesaid judgment has been relieved upon by the co-ordinate Bench of this Court in the case of Bherusingh V/s. State of M.P. (Cr. Appeal No.539/2005 decided on 13.3.2012).

Considering the said judicial precedence within the ambit of the factual matrix of the case, the Court held that the offence would not travel more than Section 304 Part I and therefore, the sentence awarded by the lower court was liable to be reduced-

In view of the foregoing discussion, in the considered opinion of this Court, the offence would not travel more than Section 304 Part I of the IPC. Accordingly, the conviction of the appellants is converted from Section 302/34 to Section 304 Part I read with Section 34 of the IPC. The appellants have no criminal past and it is their first offence. Appellant No.3 has three children, out of which two were minor at the time of the incident and since last 11 years no one is there to lookafter them and now they have to be settled in their life. Hence, the sentence awarded to the appellants is reduced from the life imprisonment to the period already undergone

With the aforesaid observations the Court directed the released of the Appellants, unless they were required in any other cause. Accordingly, the appeal was partly allowed.

Case Title : Rajaram and ors v State Of MP

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 121

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

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