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Report No. 35

Case No. 91

Dasrath Paswan v. State of Bihar, AIR 1958 Pat 190

(Sahai and H.K. Choudhary JJ.)

(Judgment by Choudhary J.)

Accused was a student of class X. He failed at the examination successively for 3 years. Being very much upset at these failures he decided to end his life and informed his wife of his decision. The wife, aged 19, and a literate woman, asked him to first kill her and then kill himself. In accordance with this suicide pact, the accused killed his wife and was arrested before he could kill himself. It was held that the case fell not under section 302 but under section 304, First Part, in view of the Fifth Exception to section 300. The wife gave her consent without fear of injury or misconception. A lenient view was taken and the accused was sentenced to 5 years' rigorous imprisonment.

Case No. 92

Hazara Singh v. State, AIR 1958 Punj 104: ILR 1957 Punj 1941

In this case, the accused laboured under a strong delusion that his wife was unfaithful. The brooding over the character of the wife had an effect on his mental faculties, which effect was described by the medical witness as taking the form of temporary insanity. But it was not insanity of the type mentioned in section 84, Indian Penal Code. The murder was committed at night by throwing nitric acid on all parts of the body of the wife. He was sentenced to death by the Sessions Judge after conviction under section 302, Indian Penal Code.

The High Court, while upholding the conviction, reduced the sentence to imprisonment for life, as the mental state of the accused showed that it was not a proper case for the extreme penalty. Tek Chand J. pointed out that according to medical evidence, the accused was sensible in every respect but had a delusion about his wife's unfaithfulness. This delusion did not mean that he was incapable of knowing the nature of the act, etc. Assuming that his wife did have illicit relations, the law did not excuse taking the life of a faithless wife.

But the circumstances of the case showed that the convict was unbalanced, was not quite normal and was labouring under an unshakable delusion. "A mental derangement which falls short of unsoundness of mind as understood in law, is a circumstance which must be taken into consideration in awarding the sentence."

Case No. 93

Peethambaran, AIR 1959 Ker 165

(Koshi C.J. and M.S. Menon J.)

(Judgment by Koshi C.J.)

(i) In this case, a deaf and dumb person (otherwise sane) convicted of murder was sentenced by the High Court with the minimum sentence of life imprisonment. The case was disposed of by the High Court by virtue of the provisions in section 341 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. (Case law elaborately discussed).

(i) A suggestion was also made as to why the State Government should not, under section 401, Criminal Procedure Code reduce the sentence.

(ii) Since life imprisonment was the minimum imprisonment, it was awarded. But the judgment shows that if a lighter sentence was allowed, the court would have awarded a still lighter sentence.

Case No. 94

Thannoo v. State, AIR 1959 All 131 (132)

(R.K. Chowdhry J.)

In this case, the accused had been convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304, Indian Penal Code and sentenced to nine years' rigorous imprisonment by the Sessions Judge. Relations between the accused and the deceased were strained, because of the fact that the accused wanted to build some building on the disputed land which the deceased did not like. There was an altercation with exchanges of abuses between the appellant and the deceased, and then the appellant struck the deceased with a lathi on the head. This single blow caused the death of the deceased on the spot.

On appeal to the High Court, the High Court took the view that the act of the appellant clearly fell within section 300 (thirdly), and the case was one of murder. An injury had been inflicted intentionally; and the injury was such as was sufficient undoubtedly in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, because, it had caused depressed fracture of the skull and laceration of the brain and death was instantaneous (citing the Supreme Court case of Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1958 SC 465) (not reported in the SCR.

The court pointed out that section 300, Indian Penal Code clause thirdly did not require that the intention must be related to the words "bodily injury is sufficient". In other words, the intent required need not be linked up with the seriousness of the injury.

The appeal was dismissed and conviction and the sentence maintained. The High Court observed that the conviction should have been under section 302, but apparently did not alter the conviction.

Case No. 95

Puttawwa (in re:), AIR 1959 Mys 116: ILR 1958 Mys 411

(Sreenivasa Rau and A. Narayana Pai, JJ.)

In this case the accused, a widow, was convicted of an offence under section 302, Indian Penal Code for having killed her newly born child, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life. The Sessions Judge also recommended that in the circumstances of the case, the case was a fit one for Government to reduce the sentence to one year's rigorous imprisonment.

In the appeal against the conviction to the High Court, the High Court set aside the conviction on the facts. The accused had lost her husband, married again and lost her second husband; while staying in her parental house, she came to have illicit intimacy with one A; she was sent out from her parent's house; then she came to a village and obtained shelter in the cattle shed of one T, who, on discovering that she was carrying, wanted her to leave the house. She, however, prevailed upon T to allow her to stay there. In the night she gave birth to a have child, and the wife of T assisted her during the confinement.

Some time afterwards, the dead body of a child was found lying near the house of C. The prosecution case was, that that child was the child born to the accused and killed by her. (Post mortem examination of the discovered child showed that it had born alive and strangled to death). The accused denied having committed the offence. She admitted that she had given birth to a child, but stated that she became unconscious; that she did not know that the child was born alive, that she saw the child some hours after the delivery and it was lying dead, and T's wife took it away for burying.

The High Court, on the facts, held that it was not proved that the child discovered and found dead near the house of C was the child born to the accused, and acquitted her. It agreed that even in the absence of discovery or production of dead body, a conviction for murder could be sustained. But the evidence must establish that the particular person was intentionally killed which was not proved here.

The High Court also decided that remissions of sentence did not mean acquittal, and the aggrieved party had every right to vindicate himself or herself.

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