The Supreme Court has observed that even in cases when death occurs due to single stab injury, Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code [Murder] can be attracted.
There is no hard and fast rule that in a case of single injury Section 302 IPC would not be attracted, said the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah while disposing a Criminal Appeal.
In this case, the accused-murder convict had relied on two decisions viz Kunhayippu v. State of Kerala (2000) 10 SCC 307 and Musumsha Hasanasha Musalman v. State of Maharashra (2000) 3 SCC 557 to contend that for causing a single stab injury, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted.
Addressing this contention, the bench referred to some other judgments Mahesh Balmiki v. State of M.P., (2000) 1 SCC 319, Dhirajbhai Gorakhbhai Nayak v. State of Gujarat (2003) 9 SCC 322, Pulicherla Nagaraju v. State of A.P. (2006) 11 SCC 444, Singapagu Anjaiah v. State of A.P. (2010) 9 SCC 799 and State of Rajasthan v. Kanhaiya Lal (2019) 5 SCC 639 and observed:
From the above stated decisions, it emerges that there is no hard and fast rule that in a case of single injury Section 302 IPC would not be attracted. It depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The nature of injury, the part of the body where it is caused, the weapon used in causing such injury are the indicators of the fact whether the accused caused the death of the deceased with an intention of causing death or not. It cannot be laid down as a rule of universal application that whenever the death occurs on account of a single blow, Section 302 IPC is ruled out. The fact situation has to be considered in each case, more particularly, under the circumstances narrated hereinabove, the events which precede will also have a bearing on the issue whether the act by which the death was caused was done with an intention of causing death or knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without intention to cause death. It is the totality of the circumstances which will decide the nature of offence.
Regarding the other contention that the motive was not proved, the bench observed that motive is not an explicit requirement under the Penal Code, though "motive" may be helpful in proving the case of the prosecution in a case of circumstantial evidence. It added;
"the absence of motive does not disperse a prosecution case if the prosecution succeed in proving the same. The motive is always in the mind of person authoring the incident. Motive not being apparent or not being proved only requires deeper scrutiny of the evidence by the courts while coming to a conclusion. When there are definite evidence proving an incident and eyewitness account prove the role of 19 accused, absence in proving of the motive by prosecution does not affect the prosecution case"
However, taking note of the circumstances and evidence on record, the bench observed that the case would fall under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and not under Section 302 or 304 Part II of the IPC.
As per Exception IV to Section 300 IPC, 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 and not having acted in a cruel or unusual manner. In the present case, at the place of incident the beer was being served; all of them who participated in the beer party were friends; the starting of the incident is narrated by P.W.3, as stated hereinabove. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances, culpable homicide cannot be said to be a murder within the definition of Section 300 IPC and, therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case narrated hereinabove and the manner in which the incident started in a beer party, we are of the opinion that Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted.
Considering the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case and more particularly that the accused inflicted the blow with a weapon like knife and he inflicted the injury on the deceased on the vital part of the body, it is to be presumed that causing such bodily injury was likely to cause the death. Therefore, the case would fall under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and not under Section 304 Part II of the IPC.
The bench then held the accused guilty for the offence punishable under Section 304 Part I IPC and sentenced him to undergo 8 years R.I. with a fine of Rs.10,000/ and, in default, to further undergo one year R.I.
Case name: Stalin vs. State
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 577 OF 2020
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah