Murder and the law: India

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Attempt to murder

Even if the injuries are minor, it could be an attempt to murder: SC

August 29, 2023: The Times of India

The Supreme Court has held that an accused can be convicted of attempt to murder even if the injuries caused were simple, if the intention was to cause serious injury. An SC bench rejected the plea of an accused who challenged his conviction under Section 307 of the IPC, saying the injury caused to the complainant, a constable, were not serious. Police had gone to nab him for allegedly threatening and demanding ransom.


August 29, 2023: The Times of India

New Delhi : The Supreme Court has held that an accused can be convicted for the offence of attempt to murder even if the injuries caused by him were simple in nature if the intention was to cause serious injury.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Dipankar Datta rejected the plea of a accused who challenged his conviction for an attempt to murder (under Section 307 of IPC) on the ground that injury caused to the complainant was not serious in nature. The convict had attacked a police constable when the police had gone to nab him for allegedly threatening and demanding ransom from the public.

The court noted that the convict had tried to hit the head of the constable which he managed to duck and his shoulder got injured.

“As rightly submitted by the counsel appearing on behalf of the State, merely because the injuries sustained by the complainant were very simple in nature, that would not absolve the appellant/accused from being convicted for the offence under Section 307 of the IPC. What is important is an intention coupled with the overt act committed by the appellant/accused. In the instant case, it was proved by cogent evidence that the appellant/accused had tried to assault the complainant with Gupti and that too on his head. Though the complainant received injury on his right shoulder while avoiding blow on his head, from the blunt part of the Gupti, such an overt act on the part of the appellant/accused would be covered by the offence punishable under Section 307 of the IPC,” the court said.

Testicles, squeezing of, not attempt to murder

PTI, June 25, 2023: The Indian Express

Squeezing another person’s testicles during a fight cannot be termed ‘attempt to murder’, the High Court (HC) of Karnataka has said.

It differed with the Trial Court which had convicted a 38-year old man for ‘causing grievous hurt’ for such an incident. It also reduced the sentence from seven years imprisonment to three years.

The HC reasoned that the accused had no intention of murdering the victim and the injury was caused during a fight.

“There was a quarrel between the accused and complainant on the spot. During that quarrel, the accused chose to squeeze the testicles. Therefore, it cannot be said that the accused came with an intention or with preparation to commit murder. If at all he has prepared or attempted to commit murder, he could have brought some deadly weapons with him in order to commit murder,” it said.

The HC said that the accused has caused grievous hurt to the victim. Though the injury may have caused the death of the victim it was not the intention of the accused.

“Though he has chosen the testicles which is the vital part of the body which may cause death and the injured was taken to the hospital, also undergone surgery and the testicles was removed which is a grievous hurt. Therefore, I am of the view, it cannot be said that the accused with an intention or preparation had attempted to commit murder. The injury caused by the accused could be brought under Section 324 of IPC by causing grievous injury by squeezing the private part which is the vital part of the body,” Justice K Natarajan said in his recent judgement.

The complaint by the victim Omkarappa stated that he and others were dancing in front of the ‘Narasimhaswamy’ procession during the village fair when the accused Parameshwarappa came there in a motorcycle and picked up a quarrel. During the fight that ensued, Parameshwarappa squeezed the testicles of Omkarappa causing grievous injury. After the police inquiry and trial, he was convicted and sentenced.

Parameshwarappa, a resident of Mugalikatte in Kadur in Chikkamagaluru district, approached the HC with an appeal challenging his conviction by the Trial Court in Chikkamagaluru.

The Trial Court had sentenced him to seven years imprisonment under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC, one month imprisonment under Section 341 (wrongful restraint) and one year imprisonment under Section 504 (insult to provoke). 
The incident dates back to 2010 and the Trial Court convicted Parameshwarappa in 2012. His appeal, filed in 2012, was disposed of by the HC earlier this month.

Death threats

Generally no action is taken

Online posts can land one in jail but one can get away with death threats; Examples- 2016-17
From December 8, 2017: The Times of India

See graphic:

Online posts can land one in jail but one can get away with death threats; Examples- 2016-17

Gay panic defence

Bombay HC accepts gay defence, reduces murder term/ 2018

Shibu Thomas, HC accepts ‘gay panic defence’, cuts murder term, August 24, 2018: The Times of India

Around seven years after a 35-year-old man was arrested for stabbing his friend to death in Mumbai’s Nagpada area, he used the rare “gay panic defence” to get a lighter sentence.

The Bombay HC earlier this month struck down the murder conviction and life imprisonment given to the man, and held him guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. A division bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Sarang Kotwal sentenced him to imprisonment for the term he had already served and ordered his release.

The accused did not contest the fact that he was responsible for the death of his friend, but claimed that he had killed the man as he was forcing him to have “unnatural sex” and had assaulted him. He invoked the “gay panic defence”, a rare legal strategy first used in US courts in the 1960s for a lesser sentence.

“We are of the considered view that the explanation, as given by the (accused), is plausible. If a person is asked to indulge in unnatural sex and assaulted, it is quite probable such a person in heat of passion would assault the person demanding such unnatural act,” said the bench, adding that the accused was entitled to the benefit of doubt. The court noted that the accused had served a prison term of six years and nine months. “We find that the sentence undergone by the (accused) would sub-serve the ends of justice,” the judges said.

The case goes back to November 20, 2011, when a scrap dealer in Nagpada heard cries for help coming from his neighbour, who had a butcher shop. When he opened the door, he found his neighbour lying in a pool of blood and the accused trying to come out. The scrap dealer pushed the accused back into the room, locked it and called other shop owners and police. When they opened the shop, they found the butcher was dead and the accused in an injured condition. A sessions court in 2013 held the accused guilty of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The accused challenged the verdict in high court. His lawyers Payoshi Roy and Yug Chaudhary claimed that the accused was responsible for the death, but the deceased was compelling him to have unnatural sex. When he refused, the deceased started assaulting him. The accused snatched the weapon and assaulted the deceased “in heat of passion”, the lawyers said, urging for a lesser sentence.

Additional public prosecutor Sultana Sonawane said that the number of stab wounds sustained by the deceased made it was clear the accused intended to cause death. The prosecutor added that the injuries sustained by the accused were self-inflicted. The trial court had held that the accused’s injures appeared self-inflicted, relying on the scrap dealer’s statement. The HC said considering the serious nature of injuries sustained by the accused, they could not have been self-inflicted, and it was not safe to conclude it based on the sole testimony of one witness, the scrap dealer.

The Bombay high court struck down the murder conviction and life imprisonment given to a Mumbai man, and held him guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder

Murder committed in inebriated condition

From the archives of The Times of India 2010

Drunk husband kills wife, SC says he wasn’t in his senses


New Delhi: A drunk man objects to his wife being in an inebriated condition, picks up a fight and assaults her with an axe leading to her death. The trial court convicted him of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The Bombay High Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

But, the Supreme Court felt that since the fight took place in an inebriated condition, probably both husband and wife had no control over their acts and the husband while striking her with the handle of an axe did not realise that it would cause death.

With doubts created by the version given by the couple's daughter, who was an eyewitness to the incident, a Bench comprising Justices D K Jain and Deepak Verma felt that the offence could be categorized under Section 304-I, which meant the act was likely to cause death but the perpetrator did not have the knowledge that his action would actually result in death.

The husband, Pundalik, and wife, Rukhmabai, used to quarrel frequently. On June 2, 2002, both visited Yaolkhed in Akola district of Maharashtra and came home drunk. On reaching home, Pundalik questioned his wife as to why she got drunk, which led to a verbal duel between them. He got angry and assaulted the wife with an axe in front of their two daughters. Rukhmabai succumbed to injuries.

Hearing the appeal against the decision of the HC, the apex court noticed that one of the daughters, who was examined as an eyewitness, did not support the case of the prosecution. It also found that the trial court held him guilty only on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

The SC also saw the evidence of the doctor who conducted the postmortem. The doctor gave an opinion that the injury which proved fatal was possibly caused by the handle of the axe and not by the sharp metallic side and that the other injuries were not sufficient to cause death.

After perusing the evidence, the bench said: “taking into account all factors and in view of the totality of facts and circumstances of the case, in our opinion, the appellant has committed an offence punishable under Section 304-I of the IPC and not the offence punishable under Section 302.”

Allowing the appeal partly and modifying the sentence, the bench said “a custodial sentence of rigorous imprisonment for a period of 8 years would meet the ends of justice.”

Provocation, grave and sudden

Not a “cruel act“ of murder

CUT IN LIFE TERM - Death due to provocation not `cruel act' of murder: SC, April 12, 2017: The Times of India

Death due to “grave and sudden provocation“ could not be termed as a “cruel act“ of murder, the Supreme Court has said while reducing the life term of a man to 10-year-jail term in a homicidal case.

A bench comprising justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal granted the relief to Punjab resident Surain Singh who had filed an appeal against a 2008 judgment of high court of Punjab & Haryana which had confirmed a 1998 trial court verdict awarding life imprisonment to him.

“It cannot be said that the accused had any intention of causing the death of the deceased when he committed the act in question. The incident took place out of grave and sudden provocation and hence the accused is entitled to the benefit of section 300 (murder) exception 4 (sudden fight) of the Indian Penal Code.“

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