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Report by Pranav Mathur

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, on 31st January 2023, dismissed an appeal filed before it by a murder convict, in the case of Ashok Malviya v. State of Madhya Pradesh. It deliberated on provisions of law related to Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as the “IPC”), which prescribes punishments for the commission of murder, and for the commission of culpable homicide relating to murder. It also dived into the question of whether the facts of the case represent a culpable homicide amounting to murder as given under Section 304 of the IPC, or not.


The incident occurred on the 21st of December 2011, approximately three years after their marriage. After the passage of a year of their marriage, the appellant had started physically assaulting the deceased, mainly because she was incapable of bearing a child, due to the size of her uterus. On the date of the incident, the appellant and the deceased were in their home, and around 10 pm when the parents of the appellant came back after their day’s work, they found the deceased lying on the bed, and subsequently to this, called a few relatives to their place to assess the situation. Two of those relatives went to the police station and filed a complaint against him. He was arrested on the 23rd of December 2011. The police also recovered the dupatta that had been used to strangle the deceased.


The appellant outrightly denied committing the offence and signified his intention to move the case to trial. The first and foremost contention of the appellant was the lack of eyewitnesses to corroborate the sequence of events. His parents, and then his relatives did not, with their own eyes, see him strangle her, and therefore the court relying on the testaments of the witnesses should not have been enough to decide the case. It was also contended that the neck injury, even if proved was caused by the appellant, isn’t sufficient enough to attract the charge of murder, rather the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, under Section 304 of the IPC. The counsel for the appellant placed huge reliance on the cases of State of Madhya Pradesh v. Abdul Latif and Lavghanbhai Devjibhai Vasava v. State of Gujarat, which had held the contentions presented in the form of applicable judgments.


Initially, the Court deliberated upon the issue of whether the particular death was a homicide or not, and a thorough inspection of the medical records and investigations that had been submitted concluded that it indeed was a case of homicide. It considered the cross-examinations of various relatives of the appellant who were witnesses and concluded that the deceased was previously married, from which she had obtained a divorce, and the appellant had the knowledge of her uterus and still made the voluntary decision of marrying her. According to the post-mortem report of the deceased, she had ante-mortem injuries, and the cause of death was revealed to be asphyxiation, which was concluded from the mark on her neck. The Court further held that the appellant had a clear motive to commit the offence. The relations between the deceased and the appellant had grown severe after her inability of conceiving a child started frustrating him, and their relations were also corroborated by the examinations in chief of the witnesses. The Court was of the opinion that the crime did not occur pursuant to a sudden quarrel, which may have given provocation to the appellant, and therefore ruled out Section 304 of the IPC, and instead, charged the appellant with culpable homicide amounting to murder, which is punished under Section 302 of the IPC. Therefore, observing how the essentials of Section 300 of the IPC, which defines and gives exceptions to and of murder, were fulfilled in the present scenario and also observing how the minimal sentence possible had been given to the appellant by the Trial Court, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh dismissed the appeal.


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