2 Nov 2023 6:46 AM GMT
An offender who takes undue advantage of a situation is not entitled to the application of Exception 4 to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, held the Supreme Court while sustaining the conviction of a husband for the murder of his wife.In this case, the deceased(wife) had poured kerosene on herself to prevent further torture after a quarrel with her husband(appellant). The husband...
An offender who takes undue advantage of a situation is not entitled to the application of Exception 4 to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, held the Supreme Court while sustaining the conviction of a husband for the murder of his wife.
In this case, the deceased(wife) had poured kerosene on herself to prevent further torture after a quarrel with her husband(appellant). The husband allegedly lit a matchstick and threw it upon her uttering “You Die” with an intention to kill her.
Challenging his conviction under Section 302 and 498A IPC, the husband relied on Exception 4, contending that the incident happened in a "sudden fight or quarrel".
It is pertinent to note that Exception 4 states- “Culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the offender having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
Explanation.—It is immaterial in such cases which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault.”
The Court observed : “The exception clearly in unequivocal term states that it would be applicable where culpable homicide is committed not only without premeditated mind in a sudden fight or quarrel but also without the offender taking “undue advantage” of the situation. In the instant case, the appellant upon seeing the deceased drenched in kerosene clearly took advantage of the situation and lighted a matchstick and threw it upon her so that she can be burnt. The appellant having taken “undue advantage” of the situation cannot be extended the benefit of Exception 4 to Section 300 IPC so as to bring the case within the ambit of PartII of 304 IPC.”
The bench comprising Justices Abhay s Oka and Pankaj Mithal was hearing an appeal against a judgment of the Kerala High Court.
In the present case, the court noted that there were multiple dying declarations, oral and ocular evidence that point out that the deceased died due to burn injuries after being set ablaze by the appellant.
Now the question before the court was “whether this was a premeditated kill or was it due to grave and sudden provocation which would not amount to murder or it’s a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder”?
The Court ruled out the possibility of this being a case of sudden quarrel and provocation since they had a history of quarreling. On that day itself, they had quarreled and in the meanwhile, PW1(a neighbour) had visited their house and left. It was after this that burning took place, so there was sufficient intervening time.
As far as the application of exception 4 of section 300 IPC is concerned, the court held that culpable homicide must be committed without any premeditated mind and without taking any undue advantage.
In this case, the court highlighted the fact that the appellant took undue advantage of the situation to throw a matchstick at her to burn her while she was drenched in kerosene.
In light of the above, the court dismissed the appeal and held that the appellant was guilty of culpable homicide amounting to murder.
Case title: Anil Kumar v. State of Kerala
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 948
Click here to read the judgment