The Supreme Court has held that the sufficiency of injury to cause death must be proved to sustain a conviction under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and that cannot be inferred from the fact that death has taken place. Three Judge Bench comprising of the Chief Justice, T.S. Thakur, Justices A.K. Sikri and R. Banumati, in Nankaunoo vs State of UP, modified conviction of an a person who was convicted for murder as that under Section 304 Part 1 IPC.
In this case, the appellant was accused of killing the deceased using a country made pistol which was never recovered during investigation. Relying on the oral testimony and medical report, the Trial Court had convicted the accused. The High Court affirmed conviction. He approached Apex Court.
The Apex Court observed that in the light of unimpeachable oral evidence which is corroborated by the medical evidence, non-recovery of 'country made pistol' does not materially affect the case of the prosecution. The Court added that any omission on the part of the investigating officer cannot go against the prosecution case. Story of the prosecution is to be examined dehors such omission by the investigating agency. Otherwise, it would shake the confidence of the people not merely in the law enforcing agency but also in the administration of justice, the Bench said.
However the court observed "The emphasis in clause three of Section 300 IPC is on the sufficiency of the injury in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The sufficiency is the high probability of death in the ordinary course of nature. When the sufficiency exists and death follows, causing of such injury is intended and causing of such offence is murder. For ascertaining the sufficiency of the injury, sometimes the nature of the weapon used, sometimes the part of the body on which the injury is caused and sometimes both are relevant. Depending on the nature of weapon used and situs of the injury, in some cases, the sufficiency of injury to cause death in the ordinary course of nature must be proved and cannot be inferred from the fact that death has, in fact, taken place"
The court then modified the sentence to Section 304 Part 1 IPC as it observed that the injury was on the inner part of left thigh, which is the non-vital organ and as the gunshot injury was caused in the inner part of left thigh, the sufficiency of injury to cause death must have been proved and could not have inferred from the fact that death has taken place. But the prosecution has not elicited from the doctors that the gunshot injury on the inner part of left thigh caused rupture of any important blood vessel and that it was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death, the Bench said.