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Report No. 35

Case No. 1

Kashmira Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1952 SC 159: 1952 SCR 526

(Fazl Ali, B.K. Mukherjea and Bose JJ.)

(Judgment by Bose J.)

The appellant was convicted of the murder of a small boy of 5 years and sentenced to death. On the facts, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal filed with special leave, and acquitted him of the charge of murder and kidnapping. He was, however, convicted of an offence under section 201 following Begu v. The King Emperor AIR 1925 PC 130: 52 IA 191. The Court pointed out, that where the murder committed is particularly a cruel and revolting one, it is necessary to examine the evidence with more than ordinary care, lest the shocking nature of the crime might prevent a dispassionate judicial scrutiny of the facts and law.

Note.- This does not mean that in every case of delay the sentence must be reduced to imprisonment for life. The death sentence may be maintained notwithstanding, delay, if the murder is brutal. Babu v. State, AIR 1965 SC 1467.

Case No. 2

Kalawati v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 1953 SCR 546: AIR 1953 SC 131 (135)

(Patanjali Sastri, C.J., Mukerjea, Chandrasekhara Aiyer, Bose and Ghulam Hasan JJ.)

(Judgment by Chandrasekhara Aiyar J.).

Sentence of death was, in this case, replaced by the sentence of transportation of life, having regard to the time that had elapsed since the offence and to the fact that the probable motive was one of prevention of cruelty to a helpless women-to a wife who was ill-treated by her husband. (In this case, the husband was murdered by the accused. The husband used to ill-treat his wife. The accused murdered the husband for protecting her from this cruelty).

Case No. 3

Dalip Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1953 SC 364 (367, 368): 1954 SCR 145

(Mahajan, Bose, and Jagannadhadas JJ.)

(Judgment by Bose J.)

Death Sentence should ordinarily be imposed for murder. [Section 367(5), Criminal Procedure Code was not referred to.] But, when the trial judge has imposed the lesser punishment for reasons which are such that a judicial mind could properly act on them, the appellate Court should not interfere with the discretion.

In the instant case, the Sessions Judge convicted the appellants under section 302, Indian Penal Code and sentenced them to transportation for life, as it was not possible to determine who inflicted the blows which were fatal and who took a lesser part. The case was one in which "no one has been convicted for his own act but is being held vicariously responsible." The Punjab High Court enhanced the sentence to death. The Supreme Court held, that the Sessions Judge had a discretion which had been judicially exercised. The discretion was his, and not the High Court's.

Sentence reduced to transportation for life1.

1. For other cases stressing that sentence is a matter of discretion, see Nar Singh, AIR 1954 SC 457: 1955 SCR 238 and Bed Raj AIR 1955 SC 778 (781).

Case No. 4

Nisa Stree v. State of Orissa, AIR 1954 SC 279 (Not in SCR)

(Mahajan, S.R. Das and Bhagwati JJ.)

(Judgment by S.R. Das J.)

The accused, a woman of 20 years, was convicted of murder on circumstantial evidence. On the date of the occurrence, about an hour before sunset, she was seen proceeding with the deceased in the direction of the scene of occurrence. She came home without the deceased in the evening, in hurried steps, with her cloth lifted up. The cloth was found to be stained with human blood, and two ornaments of the deceased seen on the person of the deceased when she was going towards the scene of murder, were discovered at her instance from the thatch of her hut. She was convicted of murder (and also under section 379) and sentenced to death. The sentence was confirmed by the High Court, which, however, gave certificate for appeal under Article 134(1)(c).

The Supreme Court held, that the circumstantial evidence in the case was only consistent with guilt of the accused.

The murder was cold-blooded and out of pure greed. Conviction upheld. (Question of sentence not specifically dealt with)1.

1. See also-

(i) Minai v. Emperor, AIR 1938 Nag 318: (1938) 39 Cr LJ 405, (Grille and Digby JJ.)-case of a woman murdering her husband by Dhatura poisoning. The woman was on terms of intimacy with one and committed murder to get rid of her husband. Death sentence confirmed.

(ii) Rasammal (in re:), AIR 1915 Mad 821 (In this case, a woman aged 50 years, had murdered her 5 years old grandson, with a heavy pointed file. She was sentenced to transportation. On revision, Ayling J. wished to enhance the sentence. Seshgire Aiyar J. disagreed, and considered the lesser sentence as proper owing to her age, and lapse of time. The matter was referred to Oldfield J. who enhanced the sentence to death, holding that sex and age had to be weighed against the other factors of the case, which were, pre-meditated and brutal murder, committed owing to the accused's hatred of her daughter-in-law.

(ii) Emp. v. Misri, 1909 ILR 31 All 592 (593, 598) (Death sentence on woman for murder of a girl of 12 years for ornaments confirmed by Richards & Alston JJ.).

(iii) Thithanchumma (in re:), AIR 1941 Mad 27 (Burn and Mocket JJ.)-Sentence of death on woman of 20 years confirmed. She had murdered a girl of 12 years by strangling, and took, her silver jewels worth Rs. 5. As the crime was deliberate and brutal the sentence was confirmed. Court noted that she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy at the time of murder, and had (since the murder) give birth to a child. But this was a matter for the Government to consider.

(iv) Karuppal (in re:), AIR 1944 Mad 50 (51) (Burn and Mockett JJ.).-A woman who had been ill-treated by her husband killed her own two children-girl of five and boy of two, by throwing them into a well. She also jumped into the well, but managed to get out. The Additional Sessions Judge sentenced her to death, saying that he had no option but to award the extreme penalty. The High Court reduced it to transportation for life, and agreed that even that was excessive in the circumstances of the case.

(v) Ma Shwe Yi (woman poisoning husband sentenced to death ILR 1 Rang 751; AIR 1924 Rang 179.

(vi) Emp. v. Feoly, ILR 39 All 161 (Richards CJ & SC Banerji J.).

(vii) Emp. v. Mt. Har Piari, AIR 1926 All 737 (741) (woman cruelly administering poison to husband sentenced to death).

Case No. 5

Kutuhal v. State of Bihar, AIR 1954 SC 720 (Not reported in SCR)

(S.R. Das and Bhagwat JJ.)

(Judgment by Bhagwat J.)

The appellant was convicted of the murder of an old woman of 70 years. The woman had died as a result of shock caused by injuries on her chest. The circumstances were such that the only reasonable inference was that the injuries were caused by the appellant. The appellant had an opportunity for the same and also strong motive to do away with the old woman. He was in great hurry to cremate the corpse and to dispose of the dead body.

He was convicted under section 302, Indian Penal Code and sentenced to death by the Sessions Judge. The High Court dismissed his appeal and confirmed the sentence. Having regard to these circumstances and to the fact that the appellant did not care to inform the relations of the dead woman, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction. (Sentence was also upheld).

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