Bombay High Court: Stating that, in the moment of anger spouses almost forgot about the two children who were hardly three years old at the time of incident, the Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and Prithiviraj K. Chavan, JJ., found that the case of a husband killing wife with a knife was a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Court also remarked that,
“The mother died, and the father was thrown to the gallows by his own act.”
In the present matter, appellant was convicted under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000 by the lower Court. On being aggrieved with the same, present appeal was filed.
Pravin Khimji Chavan had visited Police Station with blood-stained clothes on his person and informed PW2 that he suspected the character of his wife and on that count due to quarrel he killed his wife by assaulting her with a knife.
The informant led the police to his house and upon entering the house they saw the dead body of his wife in a pool of blood with injuries all over the body.
It was submitted that the accused has seen a stranger leaving his house hurriedly on 23-4-2011 and on inquiring about the same, his wife lost temper and started abusing him. Later she started creating ruckus and brought a knife while directing it towards his husband. Handing over the knife to husband, she started challenging him to show as to whether he had the courage to assault her and that was the juncture when the husband lost his mental balance resulting into mounting assault with the knife.
After the above episode, he went to the police station and informed them of the said incident.
Analysis, Law and Decision
High Court noted that the present matter was a case of custodial death.
Open and Shut Case
The Bench found that at the time of the incident, the accused, as well as the deceased, had consumed alcohol. It was true that the Police had not investigated the statement of accused, as if to say that it was an open and shut case.
In the accused’s view, he maintained his cool for quite sometime, however, he lost it when she brought the knife from the kitchen and provoked him to hurt her if he could.
The Court stated that “Probably the chauvinism in him had risen.”
Further, the deceased wife expressed disgust and abhorrence at his very manliness and had forgotten for a moment that he was the father of their two daughters.
The Bench stated that it is rightly said that,
“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape hundred days of sorrow.”
High Court remarked that,
“The statement of the accused recorded by the police would show that he was left with a feeling of mortification. According to him, he was left with a wounded pride, which resulted in the brutal death of his wife.”
Elaborating further, the Court expressed that in a very alternative case wherein murder of the wife at the hands of the husband was the subject, it was in a moment of the grave and sudden provocation by the wife resulting in husband violently attacking the wife.
“There is physical violence, there is sexual violence, however, this sort of physical violence is less seen amongst women even in a moment of anger and in all probabilities, it is the mother in a woman which supersedes her element of physical violence.”
In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, High Court expressed that the Indian Penal Code would define the above act not as murder but as culpable homicide not amounting to murder, as the offence was committed in a heat of passion, but the accused had acted in a cruel and unusual manner.
Therefore, appeal was partly allowed and the conviction of the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC was quashed and set aside and the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 304(I) of the IPC with imprisonment for 10 years. [Pravin Khimji Chauhan v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 309, decided on 15-2-2022]
Advocates before the Court:
Ms. Farhana Shah, Advocate for the Appellant.
Mr. Arfan Sait, APP for the Respondent – State.