Gauhati High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Suman Shyam and Achintya Malla Bujor Barua, JJ., decided a criminal appeal wherein the conviction of the appellant-wife under Section 302 IPC for the murder of her husband was altered to culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304(II).

The appellant was alleged to have committed murder by attacking her husband with an axe. Before the trial court, the appellant took a defence that her husband mistakenly fell on the axe which resulted in his death. However, considering all the evidence available, the trial court held her guilty. Further, under Section 106 Evidence Act it was the duty of the accused to prove any fact which was exclusively within her knowledge. The appellant herein did not discharge the onus, and accordingly, she was convicted under Section 302. The appellant challenged the order in appeal.

The High Court perused the record and found that the fact-finding by the trial court did not suffer from any infirmity. The appellant, who was alone with the deceased at the time of the incident, was not able to discharge the burden of proving the fact exclusively within her knowledge. Moreover, nature of injuries suffered by the deceased, as shown in the post-mortem report, made the theory of the deceased falling on the axe, improbable. However, as per appellant’s statement and also statements of prosecution witnesses, the deceased was a drunkard who took up fights with the appellant. On the day of the incident also there was a fight between the appellant wife and her husband. The Court held that the incident was an outcome of the fight which gave grave and sudden provocation to the appellant that resulted in commision of the act. Considering the facts, the Court held that the appellant was a victim of circumstances and deserved the benefit of Exception 1 to Section 300. Accordingly, her conviction was altered from that under Section 302 to Section 304(II) IPC. Appeal was disposed of accordingly. [Suljina Dhan v. State of Assam, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 645, dated 25-6-2018]


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