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Intention To Cause Death Immaterial If Prosecution Proves Ingredients Of "Thirdly" Of Section 300 IPC: Supreme Court

Shruti Kakkar
1 Dec 2021 4:17 AM GMT
Intention To Cause Death Immaterial If Prosecution Proves Ingredients Of Thirdly Of Section 300 IPC: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has observed that once the prosecution establishes the existence of three ingredients forming part of "thirdly" in Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, it is irrelevant whether there was an intention on the accused part to cause death.The bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and AS Oka was considering a criminal appeal against an order dated July 18, 2016 passed by the...

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The Supreme Court has observed that once the prosecution establishes the existence of three ingredients forming part of "thirdly" in Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, it is irrelevant whether there was an intention on the accused part to cause death.

The bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and AS Oka was considering a criminal appeal against an order dated July 18, 2016 passed by the Rajasthan High Court ("impugned order").

By the impugned order, the High Court while maintaining the conviction u/s 147, 364, 201 and 329/149 of IPC, had brought down the conviction u/s 302, IPC to Part II of Section 304 and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 8 years. The fine amount was not disturbed.

The 5 respondents were the accused(s) who were prosecuted u/s 147, 364, 302/149, 201 and 323/149 of the Indian Penal Code.

While allowing the appeal, setting aside the High Court's order and restoring the order passed by the Session's Court, the bench observed that,

"We are constrained to observe that the High Court adopted an easy method of accepting the only contention canvassed that the offence made out was culpable homicide not amounting to murder. As noticed earlier, the High Court ignored that there were injuries on the vital parts of the body of the deceased. The High Court did not notice that all the elements of "thirdly" in Section 300 were established."

Factual Background

While the deceased ("Balveer Singh") was walking towards his house with PW 1 ("Vijay Singh") from the railway station on October 5, 2005 they were pushed into a Tata Sumo by the accused(s). The accused(s) stopped the vehicle in an open field, banged and started assaulting the deceased. When they noticed a light of a vehicle approaching the place, they put the deceased and Vijay Singh in the vehicle and took the deceased to the house of a doctor. After noticing the deceased's serious condition, the doctor advised the accused(s) to take the deceased to Hanumangarh. While they were on their way, the wheel of the vehicle got punctured and noticed that the deceased had died. The accused took out the body of Balveer Singh from the vehicle and smashed his face by using pieces of bricks lying nearby, so that it could not be identified. Thereafter, they threw the deceased's body to the canal and threw the clothes into it by attaching bricks to it.

The Sessions Court convicted the accused(s) for offences u/s 147, 364, 302/149, 201 and 323/149 of the Indian Penal Code. They were sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life for the offence punishable u/s 302 r/w 149 of IPC. For the other offences, lesser punishments were imposed. All the sentences were ordered to run concurrently. For the offence punishable under Sections 302, the accused were directed to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/- each. They were also directed to pay a fine for other offences. Out of the fine amount, a sum of Rs.70,000/- was directed to be paid to the widow of the deceased.

Aggrieved the accused(s) had approached the High Court. The High Court while maintaining accused(s) conviction u/s 147, 364, 201 and 329/149 of IPC, had brought down the conviction u/s 302, IPC to Part II of Section 304 and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 8 years. The fine amount was not disturbed.

Aggrieved, the appellant approached the Top Court.

Contentions Of Counsels

Advocate Manish K Bishnoi, appearing for the appellant had contended that the injuries on the deceased's person were on vital parts of his body. It was also his submission that the deceased's 6th to 10th ribs were found to be fractured and right lung was ruptured and that there was an injury to his liver. He also submitted that the High Court proceeded on erroneous footing that there were no injuries on the vital parts of the body of the deceased. He further submitted that none of the exceptions to Section 300 of IPC were applicable. He also pointed out that before throwing the body of the deceased into a canal, his face was completely smashed by the accused. He submitted that "thirdly" in Section 300 of IPC was applicable.

Advocate Gp. Capt. Karan Singh Bhati, representing the accused(s) submitted that there was no evidence on record to show that objects like iron rod and sticks were used to assault the deceased. He submitted that no weapons were used to attack the deceased and that there was no intention on the accused's part to kill the deceased. He thus submitted that the High Court had taken the correct view that the offence punishable u/s Section 302 of culpable homicide amounting to murder was not made out.

Supreme Court's Analysis

To decide the issue as to whether the case will be covered by "thirdly" in Section 300, the bench in the judgement authored by Justice AS Oka relied on the judgement in Virsa Singh v. The State of Punjab 1958 SCR 1495. Relying on the same in which it was observed that,

"It does not matter that there was no intention even to cause the injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. Even the knowledge that an act of that kind is likely to cause death is not necessary to attract "thirdly".

Quoting from Virsa Singh, the Supreme Court mentioned the ingredients of Section 300 IPC "thirdly" as follows :

"To put it shortly, the prosecution must prove the following facts before it can bring a case under S. 300, "Thirdly";

First, it must establish, quite objectively, that a bodily injury is present;

Secondly, the nature of the injury must be proved; These are purely objective investigations.

Thirdly, it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular bodily injury, that is to say, that it was not accidental or unintentional, or that some other kind of injury was intended.

Once these three elements are proved to be present, the enquiry proceeds further and,

Fourthly, it must be proved that the injury of the type just described made up of the three elements set out above is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. This part of the enquiry is purely objective and inferential and has nothing to do with the intention of the offender"

The bench said that once the prosecution established the existence of three ingredients forming a part of "thirdly" in Section 300, it was irrelevant whether there was an intention on accused(s) part to cause death.

"Once the prosecution establishes the existence of the three ingredients forming a part of "thirdly" in Section 300, it is irrelevant whether there was an intention on the part of the accused to cause death. As held by this Court in the case of Virsa Singh (supra), it does not matter that there was no intention even to cause the injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of  nature. Even the knowledge that an act of that kind is likely to cause death is not necessary to attract "thirdly". Hence, it follows that clause "thirdly" of Section 300 will apply in this case".

It also observed that the irrespective of the accused taking the deceased to a doctor, the absence of intention to kill was not relevant since the injuries found by the prosecution witness on the deceased's face were not the ante mortem injuries established that before throwing the body of the deceased in a canal, his face was completely smashed by the accused. The court also said that the fact that the accused after killing the deceased went to a common relative was not of any assistance to the accused.

"The view taken by High Court in the impugned Judgment and order that the offence under Section 300 was not made out is not even a possible view which could have been taken on the basis of the evidence on record. As we are of the view that the High Court has committed a gross error by applying Section 304 Part II of IPC, the Judgment and order of the High Court will have to be set aside and the judgment and order of the Sessions Court will have to be restored," the Court said.

Case Title: Vinod Kumar V. Amritpal @ Chhotu & Ors.| Criminal Appeal No. 1519 Of 2021

Coram: Justices Ajay Rastogi and AS Oka

Citation : LL 2021 SC 695

Click Here To Read/Download Judgement


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