Vs. State of Maharashtra  INSC 304 (23 April 2010)
APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 864 OF 2010 (Arising out of
S.L.P.(Crl.) No.6094 of 2009) Pundalik -- Appellant VERSUS State of Maharashtra
-- Respondent ORDER Leave granted.
in this appeal is to the final judgment and order dated 23rd October, 2008,
delivered by the High Court of the Judicature at Bombay in Criminal Appeal
No.431 of 2003. By the impugned judgment, the High Court has upheld the
conviction of the appellant for an offence punishable under Section 302 of the
Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short "the IPC").
prosecution version in nutshell is as follows:
appellant, an agricultural labourer was residing in a one room tenement near
the fields of his employer with his family, comprising his wife Rukhmabai - the
deceased; two daughters Jyoti and Deepa; son Santosh and mother. According to
the prosecution the appellant was in the 2 habit of beating his wife over petty
matters after consuming liquor. On the fateful day i.e. 2nd June, 2002, the
appellant and his wife visited town Yaolkhed in district Akola. They returned
to the house in a drunken condition. The appellant questioned his wife as to
why she had consumed liquor, which led to a verbal duel between them. The
appellant got angry, picked up an axe and assaulted her with the handle of the
axe. The incident happened in presence of the two daughters, who were present
in the room.
daughters went to inform their maternal grandparents about the occurrence.
Rukhmabai succumbed to her injuries on the same day at 5.00 p.m. The appellant
went to the police station and lodged a report that his wife had died due to
intoxication on account of excessive drinking of liquor. However, another
report was lodged with the police station by a neighbour of the parents of the
deceased against the appellant for having committed the murder of his wife.
the course of investigation, the handle of the axe was got recovered by the
appellant along with his bloodstained shirt and a piece of sari. On completion
of investigation, charge-sheet was filed against the appellant. The case was
committed to the Sessions Court. Charge for an offence punishable under Section
302 IPC was framed. The appellant pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
prosecution, in order to establish the guilt of the appellant, examined as many
as 13 witnesses. One of the daughters of the appellant was also examined as eye-witness
but she did not support the case of the prosecution. The Trial Court on the
basis of circumstantial evidence, came to the conclusion that the appellant had
committed the murder of his wife and thus, convicted him for an offence
punishable under Section 302 IPC.
appellant was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a
fine of Rs.500/- with default stipulation. Appellant's appeal having been
dismissed by the High Court, he is before us in this appeal.
heard learned counsel for the parties.
counsel for the appellant submits that both the courts below were in error in
holding the appellant guilty of an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC. It
is urged that the sole eye-witness, namely, Deepa, the daughter of the
appellant, has not supported the case of the prosecution and there is no other
evidence on record to bring home an offence under Section 302 IPC against the
appellant. Learned counsel has pleaded that even if the prosecution version is
accepted in its entirety, a case under Section 302 IPC is not made out against
the appellant because the occurrence took place in the course of a sudden
quarrel in the heat of passion and, therefore, Exception 4 to Section 300 is
to the learned counsel, at best, the case would fall either under 4 Section 302
Part II or Part I of the IPC and, therefore, the appeal deserves to be allowed
to that extent.
counsel for the State, on the other hand, supported the decisions of the court
below. It was submitted that both the courts have rightly found the appellant
guilty of murdering his wife and no interference in the case is called for.
heard the learned counsel and perused the material on record, in our opinion,
the appeal deserves to be partly allowed. As noted above, even according to the
prosecution, there used to be frequent quarrels between the appellant and his
deceased wife. On the date of occurrence, finding his wife to be in an
inebriated condition, he got infuriated and in the heat of passion, assaulted
her with wooden handle of the axe. According to the medical evidence of Dr.
Rehman Khan (PW-11), who had conducted autopsy over the body of the deceased,
the cause of the death was due to haemorrhagic shock caused by haemorrhage due
to fracture of left shaft femur. In his opinion, the injury which proved to be
fatal, was possible by the handle of an axe. He admitted that other injuries
sustained by the deceased were not sufficient in the ordinary course of nature
to cause death but clarified that haemorrhagic shock was caused because of
collection of blood in thorarid cavity and fracture of shaft femur.
into account all these 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 Part I of the IPC and not the offence
punishable under Section 302 IPC.
afore-going reasons, the appeal is partly allowed; the conviction of the
appellant for an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC as recorded by the
Trial Court and affirmed by the High Court is converted to an offence
punishable under Section 304 Part I of the IPC. In our view, custodial sentence
of rigorous imprisonment for a period of 8 years would meet the ends of
justice. The appeal is allowed to the extent indicated above.
........................................J. [D.K. JAIN]
........................................J. [DEEPAK VERMA]
APRIL 23, 2010.