SC Verdict In Soumya Case Is Wrong, Must Be Reviewed: Justice Katju

SC Verdict In Soumya Case Is Wrong, Must Be Reviewed: Justice Katju


On his blog, the retired Supreme Court Justice has cited Section 300 and an illustration to support his argument that Govindachamy is guilty of Soumya’s murder too.


Former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju has said the Supreme Court must review its Thursday judgment in Soumya case, in which the apex court found accused Govindachamy not guilty of murder but only guilty of rape.

The prosecution version, which was accepted by the High Court, was that Soumya was travelling alone in a ladies compartment (with no other passenger in the compartment) in a train going from Ernakulam to her home town Shornur. On the way the accused, Govindachamy, who was a habitual offender, entered the compartment, pulled her hair back and hit her head against the wall of the compartment 4 or 5 times, and then raped her, leaving her almost unconscious. The Supreme Court found Govindachamy not guilty of murder and so set aside the death sentence awarded to him. However, it has upheld the life sentence for rape under Section 376, and imposed punishment of 7-year imprisonment under Section 325. Read the Supreme Court judgment here.

The retired judge, known for speaking his mind, cited Section 300 and an illustration to support his argument that Govindachamy is guilty of murder too. He wrote on his blog:

Section 300 states that it is a case of murder (for which capital punishment can be imposed under Section 302) even if there was no intention to kill, if the accused inflicts a wound sufficient to cause the death of a person in the ordinary course of nature.
Section 300 reads :

" Murder.—Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or—

(Secondly) —If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused, or—

(Thirdly) —If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be in­flicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or—

(Fourthly) —If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.

Illustrations
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(c) A intentionally gives Z a sword-cut or club-wound sufficient to cause the death of a man in the ordinary course of nature. Z dies in consequence. Here, A is guilty of murder, although he may not have intended to cause Z’s death.
With respect to the Supreme Court it has totally ignored the Third part of section 300, and Illustration (c). The head is a vital part of the body of a human, and repeated banging it against a wall is sufficient in the ordinary cause to cause death.”

Pointing out another ‘gross error’ in the judgment, he wrote:

In paragraph 15 of its judgment, the court observed that P.W. 4 and P.W. 40, who were travelling on a coach adjacent to the ladies compartment in which Soumya was travelling alone, said they were told by a middle aged person in their compartment that Soumya had herself jumped off the train. But the evidence of P.W. 4 and 40 was hearsay, which is inadmissible in evidence. How could the Supreme Court have relied on it? This is a gross error in the judgment.”

Thus, the retired Supreme Court judge mooted on his blog that the apex court has erred in law in not holding the accused guilty of murder, and that its judgment needs to be reviewed to this extent.