Explained| When does the intention to cause death becomes irrelevant to prove an offence under Section 300 “Thirdly” IPC? 

Supreme Court: The bench of Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka*, JJ has held that once the prosecution establishes the existence of the three ingredients forming a part of “thirdly” in Section 300, it is irrelevant whether there was an intention on the part of the accused to cause death. Further, it does not matter that there was no intention even to cause the injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature. Even the knowledge that an act of that kind is likely to cause death is not necessary to attract “thirdly”.

Factual background

One Vijay Singh, along with deceased Balveer Singh were forcibly taken in a vehicle. When the vehicle reached unmetalled road, it was stopped. Thereafter, the accused banged deceased Balveer Singh flat on the ground. While the accused no.1 was holding Balveer Singh, the accused nos.4 and 5 started assaulting deceased Balveer Singh. There was no scope for Balveer Singh to resist. Thus, he was taken out of the vehicle and was forced to lie down on the ground. Thereafter, the accused started assaulting him. Apart from the injuries on non-vital parts, there was a fracture of 6th to 10th ribs on the right side and the right lung was ruptured. Even the windpipe and food pipe were ruptured. There was an injury to liver. The cause of death as certified by the Board was excessive bleeding due to injuries on vital parts like right lung as well as liver and the resultant shock.

Analysis

The Court took note of the ruling in Virsa Singh v.  State of Punjab[1], wherein the Court had explained the facts that the prosecution must prove to bring a case under Section 300 “thirdly”.

“12. To put it shortly, the prosecution must prove the following facts before it can bring a case under S. 300, “Thirdly”;

First, it must establish, quite objectively, that a bodily injury is present;

Secondly, the nature of the injury must be proved; These are purely objective investigations.

Thirdly, it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular bodily injury, that is to say, that it was not accidental or unintentional, or that some other kind of injury was intended. Once these three elements are proved to be present, the enquiry proceeds further and,

Fourthly, it must be proved that the injury of the type just described made up of the three elements set out above is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. This part of the enquiry is purely objective and inferential and has nothing to do with the intention of the offender.

13. Once these four elements are established by the prosecution (and, of course, the burden is on the prosecution throughout) the offence is murder under S. 300, “Thirdly. It does not matter that there was no intention to cause death. It does not matter that there was no intention even to cause an injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature (not that there is any real distinction between the two). It does not even matter that there is no knowledge that an act of that kind will be likely to cause death. Once the intention to cause the bodily injury actually found to be present is proved, the rest of the enquiry is purely objective and the only question is whether, as a matter of purely objective inference, the injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. No one has a licence to run around inflicting injuries that are sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature and claim that they are not guilty of murder. If they inflict injuries of that kind, they must face the consequences; and they can only escape if it can be shown, or reasonably deduced that the injury was accidental or otherwise unintentional.”

Hence, in the facts of the case, the Court held that it is impossible to say that the injuries on the chest which resulted into fracture of 5 ribs and rupture of right lung were accidental or un-intentional. From the medical evidence, it was clear that the injuries on the vital parts like right lung and liver which resulted into bleeding and shock were sufficient to cause the death in the ordinary cause of nature.

The Court noticed that the factum of bodily injuries, its nature and the intention to inflict the particular bodily injuries have been established in the case at hand.

[Vinod Kumar v. Amritpal, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1150, decided on 30.11.2021]


Counsels

For appellant: Advocate Manish K. Bishnoi

For accused: Advocate Gp. Capt. Karan Singh Bhati


*Judgment by: Abhay S. Oka

[1] 1958 SCR 1495

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