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-Report by Pranav Mathur

The Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, on the 10th of February 2023, in the case of Narendra v. State of Madhya Pradesh, upheld the conviction of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as the “IPC”) given to the present appellant. The date of the judgment given by the Trial Court was the 11th of October 2012, and the appellant was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment with the submission of a fine.


The appellant was a son born out of the confines of marriage. After the demise of his father, his mother remarried, and eventually passed away. Subsequently, his stepfather solemnized his marriage with another woman, who is the complainant represented by the respondent in the present appeal. The appellant wanted to sell his father’s land in a village, and would therefore frequently ask his step-father to execute the sale, only to be advised against it. One fateful night, after dinner, when the appellant went to sleep with his stepfather, the complainant woke up to the sound of the appellant assaulting his stepfather with an axe, eventually killing him. Due to the gathering of people caused by her screams, the appellant ran away, and a complaint against him was filed the next day. The appellant abjured guilt and signified his willingness to go to trial. He was eventually charged with murder by the Trial Court.


The appellant contended that the Trial Court erred in appreciating the evidence in the case. It was further argued that the prosecution in the Trial Court failed to establish various key events that led to the appellant’s conviction. The complainant admitted during her cross-examination in the Trial Court that there were no sources of light to properly ascertain the face of the appellant and his alleged acts. It was further argued that no human blood had been found on the axe when it was seized from the appellant, and in conclusion, the appellant contended that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.


Placing reliance on the competence of the Trial Court, the respondent contended that due care and attention had been given to the evidence on record, and was only then appreciated by the Court. They mainly argued that the statements given by the complainant and other spot witnesses were in perfect sync with each other, and therefore the case had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.


The Court took into consideration the group of witnesses examined by the prosecution. It carefully took into consideration the post-mortem report submitted by the concerned medical officer, and based on those facts, concluded that the death was homicidal in nature. The appellant did not challenge the medical report, and the statements of the witnesses, which painted the entire scenario, based on which the Court, also taking cognizance of the number and nature of wounds caused, concluded that it was an act of murder with the intention to do as well. The Court, after taking into consideration the examinations and the cross-examinations of the witnesses, and the objections raised against them, concluded that the version given by the complainant cannot be said to be unbelievable. The Court opined that the deceased was last seen alive with the appellant himself, and the appellant has not been able to give valid reasons for the injuries that the deceased sustained, which further supported the claim of the petitioner.

As held in the case of Gosu Jairami Reddy and Anr. v. State of A.P., when direct evidence for an alleged crime is available, there is no need to search for the motive. Based on this principle, the High Court concluded that the Trial Court made no error in law while convicting the appellant for murder under Section 302 of the IPC. The Court, therefore, upheld the decision of the Trial Court, however, since the period of life imprisonment in default of payment of the fine wasn’t mentioned, the Court modified the punishment from life imprisonment and a fine of twenty thousand rupees to just the term of life imprisonment. The judgment of the Trial Court was therefore affirmed with the aforesaid modification.


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