Gauhati High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Suman Shyam and A.M. Buzor Baruah, JJ., altered the conviction and sentence of the appellant from that under Section 302 to Section 304 Part II of Penal Code, 1860.

The appellant was convicted for the homicidal death of his father-in-law. It was alleged that the appellant hacked the deceased to death with an axe. On receiving information, an FIR was registered under Section 302 against the petitioner. The appellant was tried and convicted by the trial court and sentenced to life imprisonment. The appellant filed the instant appeal against the said order. It is worth mentioning that conviction of the appellant was based on testimonies of eye-witnesses as well as the wife of the deceased (mother-in-law of the petitioner).

The High Court considered the record as well as submissions made by the parties. The Court noted that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses indeed proved that the death of the deceased was homicidal. The Court perused the testimonies of the witnesses and was of the opinion that the wife (CW 1) of the deceased was a material witness. Her testimony, according to the Court, was most important. It was noted that in her testimony, CW 1 had stated that there was a dispute between the appellant and the deceased over a sum of Rs. 1000. Also, there was an ongoing fight between both of them that started the previous day. The Court also noted that the eye-witnesses also stated that at the time of the incident, there was a fight between the appellant and the deceased who was also holding a bamboo stick. Further, although the appellant was equipped with an axe, he did not use the sharp edge of it while assaulting the deceased. In such circumstances, the High Court was of the opinion that it was a case where the act was committed in a fit of anger; the existence of a grave and sudden provocation could not be ruled out. Accordingly, the Court while upholding the finding of guilt against the accused, modified his conviction as stated above. Also, the sentence was modified from that of life to seven years imprisonment. [Joyram Kerkata v. State of Assam,2018 SCC OnLine Gau 643, dated 25-6-2018]

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