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If the case falls under any of the four limbs of Section 300 of IPC, there would be no occasion to a

Paul Vs. State of Kerala, Criminal Appeal No. 38 of 2020 – January 21, 2020.

The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K. M. Joseph pronounced the following judgment.

The deceased is the wife of the appellant. The appellant and his wife had caused the death of the deceased. They are charged under section 302 and 498-A. The impugned order of the High Court convicted the appellant under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs.10,000.  The accused were acquitted by an order. The mother of the accused died thereafter. A criminal appeal was filed by the state against the acquittal of the accused.

According to the contention made by the learned counsel of the appellant, the deceased was conceived but had an abortion. The appellant was drunken. They had a quarrel. The appellant contended that the deceased died by suicide. It was also found that the appellant sustained some injuries. Therefore, the conviction must be altered from 302 to s.304 of Part II of IPC. It was also pointed out that the acquittal was under the charge of S.498 A mentioning that there was no matrimonial cruelty on his late wife.

Exception 4 of section 300 of IPC – culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed in a sudden fight without being pre-meditation and in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel without the offender taking undue advantage and acting in a cruel and unusual manner. Exception I requires deprivation of power of control by the accused by virtue of grave and sudden provocation. The grave and sudden provocation must be given by the deceased. This exception will be immaterial in such a case which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault.

The counsel for the State contended that this is clearly a murder by throttling. It was also contended that the wife has been subjected to physical and mental cruelty by the appellant and his mother. The mother and the deceased had a fight and the deceased was assaulted by her husband. Then she was throttled to death by her husband. The State also contended that the medical evidence including the nail clippings and chemical tests concludes that this is not a case of suicide. So, the theory of suicide was unacceptable and was found that the appellant caused murder by throttling from the evident injuries.

It must also be appreciated that under Section 106 of the Evidence Act facts within the exclusive knowledge  of the appellant as to what transpired within the  privacy of their bed room even must be established by the appellant.

The Court came to a conclusion from the evidence that the case is not a case of suicide but an unambiguous case of homicide. In the case stating that the appellant had injuries, it was said that injuries on the aggressor are not uncommon. The injuries on other parts of the body of the respondent shows that there was physical violence caused by the appellant to the respondent.  The court also stated that there is no evidence to say that the quarrel was sudden and it provoked the suicide of the respondent. Section 86 of the IPC was not considered as it would not apply for those who previously have the particular intention of doing the grievous act and there no proper evidence to prove that the appellant was drunk.

If the case falls under any of the four limbs of Section 300, there would be no occasion to allow Section 304 to have play.  If the act which caused the death and which is culpable homicide is done with the intention of causing death, then it would be murder.  This is however subject to the act not being committed in circumstances attracting any of the 5 exceptions.

So, it is evident that the appellant caused the death of the respondent and it is clear that the act falls under Section 300 of IPC. Therefore, there is no scope of applying S.300 in this case and the appeal is dismissed leaving the impugned judgment as it is.

View/ Download the Judgment: Paul Vs. State of Kerala

– Vydurya Selvi Baskaran

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