This case analysis is made by Bhavna Arul, a fourth-year law student from Symbiosis Law School.
Criminal Appeal No. 78 of 1954
Bhagwati, Jagannadhadas, V Ayyar, JJ)
AIR 1956 SC 654 / 1956 CriLJ 1265
The father of the accused and the father of victim had gotten into a fight. This fight led to the father of the accused getting severely injured to the extent of having his leg amputated. The accused, Kapur Sigh, was hence enraged by the amputation of his father’s leg and wanted to take revenge. After planning for a long time, Kapur Singh took the help of his friend Chand Singh to plan his revenge on the victim.
On 30th September 1952 Kapur Singh with the help of Chand Singh forcefully held the victim inflicted injuries upon him with a gandasa. The victim was hit over 18 times on his hands and legs. These wounds inflicted led to the death of the victim. The accused, Kapur Singh absconded after the incident.
Kapur Singh had initially absconded. Meanwhile, Chand Singh was charged for murder under Section 302, IPC and was given a sentence of transportation of life.
Kapur Singh was later arrested and tried. The sessions court held him liable under Section 302, IPC and he was given the death sentence. The death sentence was confirmed by the Punjab High Court. The current judgement analyzed was passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court which taken on appeal.
Whether the appellant had the intention to kill as per Section 300 (intention to murder) or not?
Section 32, IPC- Common Intention
Section 299, IPC- Definition Clause- Culpable Homicide
Section 300, IPC- Definition Clause- Murder
Section 302, IPC- Punishment Clause- Murder
Section 304, IPC- Punishment Clause- Culpable Homicide
The Supreme Court based its decision on the distinction of the meanings of Culpable Homicide and Murder.
When we look at the definition sections of murder and culpable homicide, it reads as follows-
Section 299. Culpable homicide. —Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.
Section 300. Murder. —Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or—
—If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused, or—
—If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or—
—If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.
The definitions of both may sound the same as both of the definitions talk about 2 key ingredients- the intention to cause death and an act that has caused death. However, culpable homicide is considered less severe than murder as the gravity of intention to cause death in culpable homicide is lower than the intention to cause death in murder.
The judgement of the Supreme Court was reasoned on the following factors-
- The injuries inflicted on the victim were only on his arms and legs.
- There was no injury recorded on any vital organ.
- The intention was only to cause grievous hurt on arms and legs of the victim.
- However, any reasonable person will know that gruesomely hitting someone 18 times will result in death of the person.
- There was no clear intention to kill the victim.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court overruled the judgement of the Session’s Court. It held the accused liable of Culpable Homicide under Section 304(1), IPC and set aside the sentence of the Session’s Court and changed it from death penalty to life imprisonment.
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