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Report No. 35

Case No. 86

State v. Basu Tanti, AIR 1957 Pat 462: ILR 34 Pat 462

(Mishra and Sahai JJ.)

(Judgment by Misra J.)

This was a case of death by poisoning caused by the accused by administering oleander in liquor in high doze. Accused did this act for the benefit of his friend (son-in-law of the deceased) for a petty domestic matter between the husband and wife. It was held that this was an extremely wicked murder, and sentence of death could not be commuted.

Case No. 87

Murugian (in re:), AIR 1957 Mad 541 (546): ILR 1957 Mad 805

(Somasundaram and Basheer Ahmed Sayeed JJ.)

(Judgment by the latter).

In this case the accused murdered his wife (who was also his sister's daughter). The accused had suspected intimacy between one P and his wife, and asked her to stop her relations. The wife said that she would not leave P as he had looked after her well, and then abused him and swore that she would continue her intimacy with P. The accused lost his self-control and murdered her. The Sessions Judge convicted him under section 302, Indian Penal Code, and sentenced him to imprisonment for life.

On appeal, the High Court regarded the case as falling within first exception of section 300 (Part I). It altered the conviction to one under section 304, Part I and reduced the sentence to five years. It expressed the view that the English decisions to the effect that mere words or a sudden confession of adultery would not constitute provocation, did not apply in India. In western countries, violation of marital ties was looked upon with a greater latitude than in India where adultery is an offence.

In a society where adultery is made punishable, if the lawfully wedded wife not merely resorts to adultery but also swears openly in the face of the husband that she would persist in such adultery, and also abuses the husband for remonstrating against such conduct, the court should take a more serious view of the matter in deciding whether such acts could not cause the husband to lose his self-control. (Case-law discussed).

Case No. 88

Sunder v. State, AIR 1957 All 809

(Mukherji and Choudhary JJ.)

(Judgment by Choudhary J.)

The accused dealt 4 "Kanta" blows out of which 3 were dealt on the skull. In these circumstance, the mere fact that he was old-70 or 75 years of age-did not warrant commutation of death sentence. He was old enough to have known better and his life was not being nipped in the bud.

Case No. 89

Satyavir v. State, AIR 1958 All 746

(D.N. Roy and R.K. Choudhary JJ.)

(Judgment by Choudhary J.)

Determination of the right measure of punishment is a matter of discretion and, therefore, within the province of the trial court. Hence interference by the appellate court is justified only on exceptional ground. One such ground may be that the trial court proceeded on wrong principle.

The assumption that the sentence of death was the normal penalty for murder and life imprisonment the exception, was based on the law embodied in section 367(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code before the Amendment of 1955 which came into force from 1st January, 1956. Since the Amendment, the question of proper sentence is to be decided not on any such assumption but like any other point for determination with the decision thereon and the reasons for the decision as provided in section 367(1). Absence of cause of enmity between the accused and the deceased is a circumstance justifying lesser punishment.

Note.- After this case, the Allahabad High Court has considered the amendment of section 367 fully in a later case-Jan Mohammad v. State, AIR 1963 All 501 (DB). A.P. Srivastava J. took the view, that the amendment did not change the substantive rule (Dalip Singh v. State, AIR 1953 SC 364 (367), that for murder, death was the ordinary sentence. But K.B. Asthana J. doubted that. See Para. 10-13 and 33-35.

Case No. 90

In re Govinda Reddy, AIR 1958 Mys 150: ILR 1957 Mys 177

(Hombegowda J. and Malimath J.)

(Judgment by Hombegowda J.)

This was a case of murder of 6 persons (belonging to an advocate's family) coupled with robbery. While confirming the conviction and the sentence of death awarded to each of the 3 appellants under section 302 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, the High Court repelled the contention that in a case of circumstantial evidence the extreme penalty should not be imposed1. The question of sentence was to be determined not with reference to the volume or character of evidence but with reference to the fact whether there were any extenuating circumstances.

The Supreme Court case of Vadi Velu v. State of Madras, AIR 1957 Supreme Court 164 was cited to the effect that the nature of proof had nothing to do with the question of punishment. In the instant case, there were no extenuating circumstances. Appellants acted barbarously and killed 6 persons including 2 children who were fast asleep. They committed the murders for gain and were prepared for all eventualities and the murders were dastardly. No sentence other than death could be appropriate. (The appellants had been convicted of certain other offences also not relevant for the present purpose.

1. Para. 41 in the AIR at p. 183 right hand.

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