top of page

INTOXICATION AS SUCH IS NOT A DEFENCE: SC

Suraj Jagannath Jadhav v. The State of Maharashtra , Criminal Appeal No. 1885 OF 2019 on 13th December 2019.

The order was by the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice M.R.Shah that appeal made by the accused was dismissed and he was convicted under Section 302 of the IPC.

While the accused was under intoxication, he poured kerosene on his wife and threw a match stick on her. Due to that was in on fire. The Trial Court and the High court passed the order that the accused was punishable under Section 302, so the aggrieved accused has preferred the present appeal in the Supreme Court.

The question of law is whether the death of the said person is murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder? And whether the accused is punishable under Section 302 or under Section 304 of part II IPC?

The learned counsel appearing on the behalf of the appellant Shri Sushil Karanjkar has submitted that there was no intention for the accused to kill his deceased wife, he even tried to save her by pouring water on her and while doing so he got injuries. He further contended that the accused was under the influence of liquor so he was not aware of his actions.

The counsel relied on the case Kalu Ram v. State of Rajasthan to alter the sentence under Section 304  of part II IPC and not under Section 302.

Shri Nishant Ramakantrao Katneshwarkar while differing from the appeal held that the accused is punishable under Section 300 and so the offence committed by the accused is culpable homicide amounting to murder. He further said that every person of average intelligence will know about the consequences of pouring kerosene on a person and setting them on fire. As contended by the counsel for the appellant that Section 300 will not be attracted as it is not exception 4 to Section 300 IPC.

The accused may have poured water on his deceased wife but it does not alter the conviction under Section 304 of part II of the IPC. It is not considered as an explanatory factor because he helped the deceased only when she made out a help noise. The pronouncement in the case Kalu Ram v. State of Rajasthan will not be considered appropriate because the situation is different in the present case.

The above submissions made by the counsel on the behalf of the State has relied upon the judgment of the cases Santosh v. State of Maharashtra and Bhagwan Tukaram Dange v. State of Maharashtra. The state prayed for the dismissal of the appeal.

The question which was contended by the appellant was answered by the court that the accused was fully in conscious which can be proved by stating the conversion between the appellant and the deceased, there is no record found that he was in a highly intoxicated stage so Section 300 is applicable and the exception in that Section is not relevant.

The SC held that, “The accused was fully conscious of the fact that if kerosene is poured and match-stick is lit and put on the body, a person might die due to burns. Therefore, the case would fall under Section 300 fourthly and Exception 4 to Section 300 IPC shall not be applicable.”

In claiming the intoxication as a mitigating factor the SC answered that intoxication can be considered as claimed only when the accused is a habitual drinker. In this case, it can be considered only as an aggravating factor so the plea made by the appellant was rejected as the crime committed was a brutal and diabolic act. The plea can be allowed only when the accused prove the intoxication leads to the absence of his knowledge in the consequence of his actions and in the formation of his intention. The case Kalu Ram which was citied by the appellant was found irrelevant by the court.

The SC held that,

“Intoxication, as such, is not a defence to a criminal charge. This Court, in that case, rejected the plea of drunkenness after noticing that the crime committed was a brutal and diabolic act.”

The SC held to convicted the accused under Section 302 of IPC and they don’t find any misrepresentation made by the Trial Court and the High Court so they completely agree by their judgment. So the appeal made by the accused was dismissed.

-Manusri Ramakrishna

Articles

bottom of page