Sudershan Kumar Vs. The State of Delhi
 INSC 218 (30 October 1974)
MATHEW, KUTTYIL KURIEN MATHEW, KUTTYIL KURIEN
CITATION: 1974 AIR 2328 1975 SCR (2) 520 1975
SCC (3) 831
Penal Code-s. 300, Thirdly-scope of
When the deceased declined to marry him the
appellant who was her paramour, threatened to kill her in a manner that she
would have a lingering death. He carried out the threat by pouring acid over
her when she was lying on a cot. The deceased who had sustained extensive acid
burns over her body died a few days later. The trial court convicted him under
a. 302 I.P.C. and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. The High Court
confirmed the conviction and sentence.
On appeal it was contended that the intention
of the appellant was not to kill the deceased but only to disfigure her and,
therefore, the offence would fall under s. 304 part I or under a. 326 I.P.C.
and that death was due to negligence.
Dismissing the appeal, HELD: The appellant is
guilty of offence punishable under s. 302 I.P.C. [525B] (1) To bring a case
under cl. 3 of s. 300 the prosecution must establish : (i) bodily injury (ii)
the nature of the injury (iii) intention to inflict that particular bodily
injury and (iv) that it is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of
nature. Once these four elements are established by the prosecution the offence
is murder under s. 300 cl. 3 I.P.C.; it does not matter that there was no
intention to cause death. It does not matter that there was no intention even to
cause an injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary
course of nature.
[522E-H] In the present case it is
established beyond doubt that the accused intended to cause injuries by
throwing acid and the injuries were actually caused on the person of the
Virsa Singh v. The State of Punjab 
S.C.R. 1495, followed.
(2) There is no substance in the argument
that death was due to negligence. There is no evidence that the deceased died
because she did not receive proper treatment. The appellant threatened the
deceased that if she did not marry him .she would have a lingering death. The
act of the appellant in pouring acid on the body was a pre-planned one and
intended to cause the injuries which were sufficient in the ordinary course of
nature to cause death. [525B]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 54 of 1971.
Appeal by Special leave from the Judgment
& Order dated the 31st March, 1970 of the Delhi High Court in Cri A. No. 38
Bawa Gurcharan Singh and D. D. Sharma for the
Girish Chandra, for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
MATHEW J. When the special leave to appeal was granted, this Court limited it
to the question of the nature of the offence committed by the appellant
(accused) in causing the death of one Maya Devi by pouring acid on her body.
521 The prosecution "a was as follows.
Maya Devi, aged 19 years at the tame of her death was the daughter of Raj
Kumari (P.W. 1). Both the mother and daughter had taken to the procession of
dancing and used to live in an apartment on G. B. Road, Delhi The accused had
illicit connection with Maya Devi and he often used to go to the residence of
the deceased. The accused wanted to marry Maya Devi but she declined, as he was
always married to another woman. A few days' before the occurrence, the
appellant took Maya Devi with him to his house and she stayed there for about
12 days. Thereafter Maya Devi was brought back by the accused to her mother's
apartment. On that occasion also the accused asked Maya Devi to marry him but
she refused. The accused then threatened Maya Devi that if she would not marry
him, she should either leave Delhi or he would kill her in such a manner that
she would have a lingering death.
On August 14, 1967, at about 6 A.M., Maya
Devi was lying on her cot with her son aged about one month. Raj Kumari was
lying on another cot in the same room. The accused came to the room holding a
jug containing acid and a bottle. The accused then poured the acid out of the
jug on Maya Devi, her son and Raj Kumari. They started crying and the accused
threw the jug on the cot and placed the bottle on the ground and ran away. Maya
Devi was thereafter removed to the city Clinic, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi, a
private hospital at about 6.30 A.M. Raj Kumari and the son of Maya Devi were
also taken to the hospital. They were examined by Dr. V. K. Jain. He found that
Maya Devi had extensive injuries on her perlion. The doctor found that there
were a few streaks and patches of acid burns on the right arm and forearm of
Raj Kumari. Acid burns were also found on the scalp of the child of Maya Devi.
After getting first aid from the City Clinic,
Raj Kumari went to Police Station Kamla Market and lodged the F.I.R. at 8.30
A.M. and found Maya Devi lying in a precarious condition. She was not in a
position to give any statement. On August 16, 1967, the Assistant Sub-Inspector
went to the clinic and with the permission of Dr. Jain, recorded the statement
of Maya Devi in which she stated that it was the accused who had thrown acid on
her, her mother and her son on the 14th morning.
After August 16, 1967, Maya Devi started
having toxaemia and infection of the bums. It was, therefore, thought better to
transfer her to the Special Burns Unit in Safdarjang Hospital. Accordingly, on
August 21, 1967, Maya Devi was admitted in the, Safdarjang Hospital at about 9
P.M. She was treated in that Hospital by Dr. K. S. Raj Kumar, House Surgeon and
Dr. (Miss) Nirmala Lakshmi Narain. On August
23. 1967. Shri V. N. Chaturved,
Sub-divisional Magistrate, Hauz Oazi, went to Safdarjang Hospital and recorded
the statement of Maya Devi. In that statement also she stated that the accused
had thrown acid on her, her mother and 522 son on the morning of August 14, 1967.
Maya Devi died in Safdarjang Hospital it 2.50 A.M. on August 26, 1967. The
usual inquest report was prepared and the dead body was sent to the mortuary.
Post-mortem examination of the dead body was performed by Dr. S. S. Kaushal on
August 26, 1967 at 6 P.M.
The accused, in his statement under s. 342,
Cr.P.C. said that be never wanted to marry Maya Devi, that she was living with
him as his wife without any formal marriage, that he never threatened Maya Devi
that in case she did not marry him he would kill her and that he did not go to
the house of Maya Devi on the morning of August 14, 1967 with a jug and bottle
The learned Sessions Judge accepted the
prosecution case and convicted the accused under s. 302 I.P.C. and sentenced
him to imprisonment for life. The conviction and sentence were confirmed by the
The appellant's contention was that he did
not intend to kill Maya Devi but intended only to disfigure her, and,
therefore, the offence would fall either under s. 304, part I or under s. 326
of the Indian Penal Code. The offence of murder is defined-under s. 300 of the
I.P.C. According to clause 3 of that section, culpable homicide is murder if
the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing
bodily injury to any Person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is
sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
In Virsa Singh v. The State of Punjab(1),
this Court said:
"To put it shortly, the prosecution must
prove the following facts before it can bring a case under s. 300
First, it must establish, quite objectively,
that a bodily injury is present;
Secondly, the nature of the injury must be
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
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.
(1)  S.C.R. 1495, at 1500-1501.
523 This part of the enquiry is purely
objective and inferential and has nothing to do with the intention of the
Once these four elements are established by
the prosecution (and of course, the burden is on the prosecution, throughout
the offence is murder under s. 300, 3rdly. It does not matter that there was no
intention to cause death. It does not matter that there was no intention even
to cause an injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary
course of nature. . .".
In the present case, it is established beyond
all reasonable doubt that the accused intended to cause injuries by throwing
acid and injuries were caused on the person of Maya Devi. Dr. V. K. Jain, who
treated Maya Devi in the City Clinic has stated in his evidence that the
injuries suffered by Maya Devi were sufficient collectively,. in the ordinary
course of nature, to cause death. The opinion of Dr. Jain is corroborated by
the evidence of Dr. K. S. Raj Kumar. He said that the burns were to the extent
of 35 per cent of the body, that if the bum exceeded 30 per cent, the same
would be dangerous to life and that the injuries on Maya Devi were dangerous to
life. Dr. S. S. Kaushal who conducted the postmortem examination was of the
view that death was due to toxaemia and septi-semia from actions of toxine on
account of the extensive superficial ulceration of the body caused by some
corrosive material. The evidence of these doctors would show that the injuries
caused to Maya Devi were of a dangerous character. The fact that Maya Devi
lingered for about 12 days would not show that the death was not the direct
result of the act of the appellant in throwing acid on her. The medical
evidence is clear that 35 per cent of the surface of the body of Maya Devi was
burnt as a result of the injuries received by her.
"The involvement of one-third to
one-half of the superficial surface of the body is likely to end fatally".
(see Modi's Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology, 17th ed., p. 196).
In Suppurative cases, death may occur after
five or six weeks or even longer(ibid, p.198).
Taylor says that after the fourth day of the
injury, "the chief danger to life is the occurrence of sepsis in the
It was contended for the appellant that death
of Maya Devi was not the direct result of the injuries caused by the said burns
but was on account of some supervening circumstances not resulting from the
injuries and therefore, the appellant could not be held guilty of murder. He
relied on the evidence of Dr. (Miss) Nirmala Lakshmi Narain who had stated, on
her cross-examination, that the cause of death of Maya Devi was malaena and
respiratory failure. Malaena, according to Dr. Jain is nothing but passing of
old blood in the.
(1) See "Taylor Principles and Practice
of Medical Jurisprudence". 12th ed., Vol. I, p. 331.
524 stools. The evidence of Dr. S.S. Kaushal
who performed the post-mortem examination of the dead body is definite. He
.lm15 "Death, in my opinion, was due to
toxaemia and septisema from absorption of toxms from extensive superficial
ulceration of the body caused by some corrosive material." As already
stated, the evidence of Dr. Jain and Dr. Raj Kumar .is also to the effect that
the injuries caused on Maya Devi were sufficient in the ordinary course of
nature to cause death. The fact that Maya Devi developed symptoms of malaena
and respiratory ,failure and they also contributed to her death cannot in any
way ,affect our conclusion that the injuries caused by the acid bums were the
direct cause of her death.
"Since Curling first drew attention to
the occurrence of duodenal ulcers after burns numerous cases have been recorded
both in vivo and post-mortem after burns. Petechiae of the stomach and
duodenum, often with erosions, occasionally acute ulcers, is a more common
post-mortem finding : the condition is due to anoxia from hypotension and
stasis. The large bowel may also be involved" (see Taylor's Principles and
Practice of Medical Jurisprudence, 12th ed. Vol. I, p. 331).
Modi, in his Medical Jurisprudence, has
stated that burns would cause "Inflammation of serous membrances and
internal organs, such as meningitis, peritonitis, oedema glottidis, pleurisy,
bronchitis, broncho-pheumonia, pheumonia, enteritis and periorating ulcer of
the duodenum (17th ed. p. 197).
Nor is there any substance in the argument
that Maya Devi was not given proper treatment and that her death was due to
negligence of the doctors who treated her. The evidence shows that immediately
after she received the injuries, she was taken to the City clinic and there Dr.
Jain treated her.
As her condition did not improve, she was
removed to the Burns Unit of Safdarjang Hospital. There is no evidence that it
was because she did not receive proper treatment that the developed toxaemia
and septi-semia-Explanation 2 to s. 299 is relevant in this context :
"Where death is caused by bodily injury,
the person who causes such bodily injury shall be deemed to have caused the
death, although by, resorting to proper remedies and skillful treatment the
death might have been pre- vented".
The argument of counsel that the accused only
intended to disfigure Maya Devi and not to cause her death overlooks the
evidence of Raj Kumari that the appellant threatened Maya Devi that if she 525
did not marry him, she will have a lingering death and also the evidence
furnished- by the dying declaration of Maya Devi that the appellant threatened
to kill or disfigure her with acid.
The act of the appellant in pouring acid on
the body was a preplanned one and he intended to cause the injury which he
actually caused. As the injuries caused by the appellant were sufficient in the
ordinary course of nature to cause death, the appellant is guilty of an offence
punishable under s. 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
In these circumstances, we confirm the
conviction and sentence and dismiss the appeal.
P.B.R. Appeal dismissed.