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Report No. 35

Case No. 11

Sunder Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1956 SC 411 (Not in SCR)

(Bhagwati, Venkatarama Ayyar, Sinha JJ.)

(Judgment by Sinha J.)

The appellant was in intimacy with the wife of the deceased and this was the motive for the crime. On the night of the occurrence, the appellant and the deceased went out together, and only the appellant returned. Blood stained marks were seen on appellant's shoes during the investigation, and he was arrested. Thereafter blood-stained clothes were also discovered with him. A sword was recovered at the scene of offence at his instance, and there was other evidence also. He was convicted and sentenced to death. The conviction was upheld by the Allahabad High Court, which confirmed the sentence also.

While discussing the appeal filed on certificate granted by the High Court under Article 134(1)(c), the Supreme Court very strongly criticised the High Court for granting the certificate. The High Court's order was described as erroneous. There was no substantial question of law or principle involved and the High Court would not be justified in granting a certificate. Attention of the High Court was drawn to Nar Singh v. State AIR 1954 SC 457: 1955 SCR 238 and Baladin v. State AIR 1956 SC 181: (Not in SCR).

Case No. 12

Basdev v. State of Pepsu, AIR 1956 SC 488: 1956 SCR 363.

(Bhagwati and Chandrasekhara Aiyar, JJ.)

(Judgment by Chandrasekhara Aiyar J.)

The appellant, a retired military Jamadar was charged with the murder of a young boy aged about 16 years. They along with others went to attend a marriage in another village and went to the house of the bride to take the midday meal. Some persons has settled down in their seats and some had not. The appellant who was very drunk and intoxicated, asked the boy to step aside a little so that he may occupy a convenient seat, but the boy did not move and the appellant whipped out a pistol and shot the boy. in the abdomen. The boy died. It was found that though the appellant was under the influence of drink, he was not so much under the influence that his mind was so obscured that there was incapacity in him to form the required intention.

His drunkenness and absence of pre-meditation were taken by the Sessions into account regarding the sentence. He was therefore convicted of murder under section 302, but awarded the lesser penalty.

An appeal to the Pepsu High Court was unsuccessful. The Supreme Court granted special leave, limited to the question, whether the offence committed fell under section 304 of the Penal Code, having regard to the provisions of section 86 of the Penal Code.

The Supreme Court held, that while it was true that drunkenness which renders the accused incapable of entertaining requisite intent should be taken into consideration along with other facts proved in order to determine whether or not he had this intent, yet in this case the drunkenness had not proceeded to that degree. The accused had failed to prove such incapacity as would have been available to him as a defence. The offence was not reduced from murder to culpable homicide and "the conviction and .sentence are right".

The case contains an excellent discussion of the effect of drunkenness and approves of the proposition laid down by the House of Lords in D.P.P. v. Board 1920 AC 479. and summarised in Russell on Crime, 10th Edition, page 63 on the subject.

Case No. 13

Narayanan v. State of Travancore-Cochin, AIR 1956 SC 99 (Not in SCR)

(Bose, Jagannadhadas and Sinha JJ.)

(Judgment by Bose J.)

Appellant was convicted under section 302 for murdering one 'A' and sentenced to death. There was longstanding litigation in which the appellant and the deceased were on opposition sides. There was a fight between the son-in-law of the deceased and the appellant. The deceased, not participating in the fight, merely asked the son-in-law to stop fighting, and said that he would settle their dispute. Thereupon the appellant stabbed the deceased with a penknife which he drew out from his waist, and hit him on the chest causing injury which eventually killed the deceased.

The injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. Two special facts to be noted are, that the fight was started by a slap by the son-in-law on the face of appellant, resulting in a minor scuffle between the two; and that the pen-knife was drawn out by the appellant from his waist. He was convicted under section 302 and sentenced to death.

The Supreme Court upheld the conviction and held that exception 4 to section 300 did not apply, since it was impossible to say that there was no undue advantage taken when the accused stabbed the unarmed person who had no threatening gesture and merely wanted to stop fighting.

On the question of sentence the Supreme Court made the following observations while reducing it to transportation of life:-

"We feel the lesser sentence is called for, because the slap on the face evidently made the appellant who appears to be a hot-blooded man lose control of himself That would not afford justification for killing an innocent bystander who intervened with a mild admonition to the appellant's adversary to stop fighting. But we feel that on the question of sentence this is not the type of case in which the death sentence is called for. There was no premeditation and the knife was not ready in the hand but was drawn from the waist after the appellant had been slapped and the quarrel between the (son-in-law) and him had started."

Case No. 14

R. Venkalu v. State of Hyderabad, AIR 1956 SC 171

(Bose, Jaganadhandas & Sinha JJ.)

(Judgment by Sinha J.)

The accused set fire to the cottage in which the deceased was sleeping. They also took care to lock the door from outside, so that servants sleeping outside could not give help, and to prevent villagers from bringing help to the person who was being burnt alive.

(There was a longstanding dispute about land). They were convicted under section 302, Indian Penal Code and sentenced to death. The High Court confirmed the sentence. On appeal (by special leave) to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court confirmed the conviction, and observed1 as follows:-

"The circumstances disclosed in the evidence point to the conclusion that the offence was committed after a pre-concerted plan to set fire to the cottage after the man had as usual occupied the room and gone to sleep. There is no doubt the charge of murder has been brought home and that in the circumstances there is no question but that they deserve the extreme penalty of the law".

1. Para. 10 in AIR.

Case No. 15

Wazir Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1956 SC 754 (Not in SCR)

(Bhagwati & Ayyar J.)

(Judgment by Bhagwati J.)

X and Y were charged under section 302 and 34 Indian Penal Code with the murder of S. Both were armed with rifles and had the common intention of killing B, but the shot fired by them at B resulted in the death of S. Some of the injuries received by S were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, but it was not established which of the two accused was responsible for those fatal injuries. The Sessions Judge convicted both and passed the sentence of death. The High Court in the confirmation proceedings confirmed the sentence of death on X but reduced the sentence on Y to transportation for life.

X appealed by special leave to the Supreme Court, the appeal being limited to the question of sentence only. Contention of X was, that the common intention to kill B could not, by section 301, be transferred to the murder by B of S, because there was at no time any common intention to murder S. Held, on the evidence on record there was nothing which could necessarily lead to the conclusion that it was the appellant X who was responsible for inflicting the fatal injuries on the deceased. If it was doubtful as to who out of the two responsible, there was nothing to choose between X and Y.

If Y was awarded the lesser penalty, there was equally good reason in favour of X also. Further, the act of the Appellant X would certainly fall within section 326 involving transportation for life. Under these circumstances, there was no justification for confirming the death sentence awarded to X. The High Court should not have distinguished the case of X. Conviction under section 302 read with 34, confirmed, but sentence reduced to transportation for life.

Case No. 15A

Ram Chandra v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1957 SC 381 (387), para. 6.

(Jagannadhadas, Imam and Govinda Menon JJ.)

(Judgment by Jagannadhadas J.)

In this case, there was no tangible evidence (direct or circumstantial) of the murder. The Supreme Court observed, "It is true that in law a conviction for an offence does not necessarily depend upon the corpus delicti being found." But, on the evidence, the Supreme Court gave the benefit of doubt to the appellants as regards the offence of murder, and set aside the conviction for murder and sentence of death confirmed by the High Court of Allahabad.

The case was one of conspiracy to extort Rs. 10,000 from one C by kidnapping and murdering his son aged about 14 years. On the facts, the Supreme Court regarded it as proved that the appellants had kidnapped the boy. Findings of the lower courts on offences under section 364 (kidnapping) and section 386 (extortion), Indian Penal Code were maintained and sentences on those counts confirmed.

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