Vs. State of Tamil Nadu  INSC 161 (9 May 1988)
L.M. (J) Sharma, L.M. (J) Sen, A.P. (J)
1988 AIR 1245 1988 SCR Supl. (1) 222 1988 SCC (3) 207 JT 1988 (2) 437 1988
Penal Code, 1860: Section 302-Appellant convicted of murder of lady and
son-Death sentence by trial court-Confirmed by High Court-Courts below-Whether
right in imposing death penalty-Mitigating circumstances-Unfortunate
relationship between deceased, an elderly lady and appellant, in mid 20s-Sudden
spurning by partner-Appellant experiencing disappointment of discarded
lover-Vicious effect of film picturising violence seen by appellant- Supreme
Court converting death sentence to life imprisonment.
prosecution case was: The appellant, who was working under P.W.1, developed
intimacy with P.W.1's wife.
on being found out by her daughter, P.W.2, the wife was forced to terminate
on 20.7.1985, the appellant saw a late night film containing murder scenes of
four women and told his friend, P.W.5, that he would take revenge for the
betrayal by a lady. Thereafter he went to the house of P.W.1 and attacked the
wife with knife, and killed her son when he intervened.
also caused grievous injury to the daughter.
appellant was convicted by the trial court under s. 302 IPC for double murder
of the woman and her son and also under s. 307 IPC for attempting to kill her
daughter and for house trespass in order to commit the aforesaid offences, and
sentenced to death and life imprisonment respectively.
High Court dismissed the appeal, and confirmed the death sentence.
appeal by special leave, it was contended that although the appellant was not
in such a mental state as to attract s. 84 of the IPC, he was certainly so
agitated on account of the circumstances beyond his control that he should be
spared from the extreme penalty of death.
the appeal, 223 ^
The deceased was an elderly lady with two children who took a defiant attitude,
defending her conduct when she was first confronted by her own daughter, which
suggests that the unfortunate relationship between her and the appellant, in
his mid 20s, had developed with her encouragement. When suddenly spurned by his
partner, the appellant must have experienced the disappointment of a discarded
lover. His mental agitation was further fuelled by the movie, showing murder
after murder. And when this upsets a young man, already vulnerably disturbed,
the society cannot be completely absolved of sharing the responsibility for the
tragedy resulting from the vicious effect of films picturising violence.
[225F-H; 226A-B] Considering all these circumstances, and having regard to the
fact that when commanded by P.W.16, the appellant stopped immediately, thereby
resulting in the life of the daughter being saved, and that he did not attempt
to escape, the sentence of death passed against the appellant under s. 302
Indian Penal Code is converted to imprisonment for life. [226B-C]
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal No. 317 of 1988.
the Judgment and Order dated 23.1.1987 of the Madras High Court in Criminal
Appeal No. 408 of 1986 and R.T. 6 of 1986.
V. Krishnamurthy and V. Balachandran for the Appellant.
for the Respondent.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by SHARMA, J. The appellant was convicted
by the trial court for double murder of a woman, Jayasambal by name and her son
Vijay Anand, and was sentenced to death. He was further convicted under s. 307,
I.P.C. for attempting to kill Vijay Anand's sister Kavitha Priyadarsini and for
house trespass in order to commit the aforesaid offences, and was sentenced to
life imprisonment under each of the two counts.
appeal before the Madras High Court was dismissed and the sentence of death
confirmed. The present Special Leave Petition was filed against this judgment.
the preliminary hearing we were satisfied that the appel- 224 lant was rightly
convicted as mentioned earlier. We, however, directed notice to be issued on
the question of sentence. Accordingly, limited special leave is granted.
According to the case of the prosecution, Dr. Manickasamy (P.W.1), the husband
of the deceased Jayasambal and father of deceased Vijay Anand, was a doctor
working in the Government Hospital at Sadras and the appellant as a Leprosy Inspector under
him. The doctor had taken a second wife whom he was keeping in another house
with their 3 children. The appellant developed close association with the
doctor's family and became intimate with Jayasambal. The daughter Kavitha Priyadarsini
(P.W.2), one day in 1984, found to her shock, her mother Jayasambal and the
appellant in a compromising position, and raised a stiff protest with her
mother. Jayasambal attempted to justify her romance on the ground that the
doctor P.W.1 was also having two women in his life. When Kavitha threatened
that she would report the matter to her father, she (Jayasambal) relented and
agreed to terminate the illicit relationship on which Kavitha promised silence.
Thus forced by her daughter, Jayasambal attempted to avoid the company of the
appellant and to repel his advances. In the meantime the family had changed its
residence and the younger sister of Jayasambal joined them and started living
with them. She was examined in the case as P.W.3.
20.7.1985 the appellant went to a late night cinema show with his friend P.W.5.
The film contained murder scenes of four women. When the appellant came out of
the cinema hall after midnight he told his friend that he would
take revenge for the betrayal by a lady. He did not give any detail. P.W.5
stated at the trial that after dropping him at the dispensary, where he lived,
the appellant left by a bicycle; and he learnt the next morning about the death
According to the further prosecution story the appellant knocked the door of
P.W.1 soon thereafter. The doctor came out of his house and the appellant
suddenly rushed into his bed room, locked the door from inside and attacked Jayasambal
with a knife. The boy Vijay Anand aged about 12 years, got up and attempted to
intervene and was killed. His elder sister Kavitha (P.W.2) also became a victim
and suffered grievous injury. The doctor, P.W.1, and Jayasambal's younger
sister (P.W.3) raised shouts which attracted P.W.16, a Police Inspector living
in the neighbourhood. The Police Inspector saw the accused through the window
with a knife in his hand and ordered him to stop and to open the door. The
Both the trial court and the High Court, on appeal, closely examined the
evidence and came to the conclusion that the prosecution story was correct. A
plea of insanity under s. 84, I.P.C. taken on behalf of the accused was
rejected. We have examined the evidence and the circumstances and are in
agreement with the view of the High Court.
However, the question is whether the courts below were right in imposing death
penalty on the appellant or whether the appropriate sentence would be
imprisonment for life. Prima facie the case appears to be a very serious one
where two persons were killed and a third one seriously injured. The death of a
12 year boy trying to save his mother and the serious injury to his elder
sister leaves one shocked. Mr. Lalit, the learned counsel for the appellant
contended that although the appellant was not in such a mental state so as to
attract s. 84, I.P.C., he was certainly so agitated on account of circumstances
beyond his control that he should be spared from the extreme penalty of death. He
relied upon the decision in Srirangan v. State of Tamil Nadu,  2 SCR 270
wherein a lenient view was taken in favour of the appellant, a young toddy tapper
who while returning after his work "tense in state", was provoked and
"went into tantrums and inflicted triple killings."
have closely examined the circumstances in which the tragic event took place.
The deceased Jayasambal at the time of murder was about 35 years old with a
teen-aged daughter and a 12 year old son, and the appellant was in his late
20s. She was united with the doctor through love marriage, but the husband
later took another wife and got 3 children from her. The appellant was employed
in the hospital where the doctor P.W.1 was posted. In this background the
unfortunate illicit relationship developed between the deceased and the
appellant when the latter was in his mid 20s. The deceased was an elderly lady
with two children who took a defiant attitude, defending her conduct when she
was first confronted by her own daughter, which suggests that the unfortunate
relationship had developed with her encouragement. When suddenly spurned by his
partner, the appellant must have experienced the disappointment of a discarded
lover. We do not suggest that the erring wife should not have corrected herself
nor can the persistence of the appellant in the situation be appreciated, but
we are trying to analyse his psychology.
mental agitation was further fuelled by the movie, showing murder after murder.
The vicious effect of films picturising violence in detail on impressionable
minds has been subject of serious concern for some time now, but unfortunately
no 226 effective step has been taken so far to curb the growing tendency of a
section of the film industry to cash on human weakness. And when this upsets a youngman,
already vulnerably disturbed, the society cannot be completely absolved from
sharing the responsibility of the resulting tragedy. Proceeding further with
the facts in the present case, we find that when commanded by P.W. 16, the
appellant stopped immediately, as a result of which the life of Kavitha was
saved, opened the door, came out of the room and did not attempt to escape.
Considering the above circumstances appearing from the prosecution evidence, we
are of the view that the sentence of death passed against the appellant under
s. 302, Indian Penal Code, should be converted to imprisonment for life. Let
that be done and let all the sentences of imprisonment run concurrently.