Supreme Court rejects plea of grave and sudden provocation of mother who administered poison to children in suicide attempt

children in suicide attempt

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of Ahsanuddin Amanullah* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., allowed the appeal against the impugned judgment of the High Court of Madras for rejecting the for premature release of appellant passed by the State of Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court granted benefit of premature release however, rejected the contention that the case of appellant will fall under Exception to Section. 300 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’).

In the case at hand the Appellant had an affair with one Suresh, the relationship was allegedly illicit and abusive. Due to the conduct of Suresh appellant took the decision to commit suicide along with her twin children. While committing the act her niece prevented the appellant by blocking her. However, the twins were declared dead by the time they reached the hospital. Trial Court convicted the Appellant for murder of her children and for attempting to commit suicide under Sections 302 and 309 of IPC for life imprisonment.

Decision and Analysis

Whether appellant’s case falls under Exception 1 of Section 300, for grave and sudden provocation

Appellant contended that, she tried to commit suicide along with her children but the only reason which led her to take such step as she was deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation which falls under Exception 1 of Section 300 of the Penal Code. It was further contended that Appellant being the mother taking the extreme course of family suicide, along with her two sons is an extenuating circumstance covered under Exception 1 to Section 300 of the IPC.

Appellant also contented that, the Trial Court should have tried her for Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder under Section 304, IPC as she did not have any ‘intention’ to kill the children. However, the High Court partly allowed the Appellant’s plea by acquitting the Appellant under Section 309, IPC for attempting to commit suicide. The Court was not convinced for giving the benefit of converting the conviction from Section 302 to Section 304, IPC as per the facts and circumstances of the case.

The Court opined that circumstance in which the Appellant poisoned her children was clearly reflecting state of tremendous mental stress. Further the Court stated that it was difficult to grant Exception 1 of Section 300, IPC.

The Court held, “Appellant never tried to murder her sons with a view to continue her illicit relationship. On the contrary, she had tried to commit suicide herself along with her children not with a view to continue her illicit relationship with her paramour but rather, in disappointment and frustration over the quarrel picked up by her paramour. An institution to sermonise society on morality and ethics and we say no further on this score, bound as we are, by the brooding presence of the rule of law.”

Issue of Premature Release

The Government Order dated 01-02-2018 for premature release was issued in Home (Prison-IV) Department, suggesting the benefits of premature release in case of life imprisonment after minimum completion of ten years.

However, in the instant case, the Appellant applied after completing imprisonment for almost 20 years. State level Committee recommended for premature release of the appellant but the State of Tamil Nadu rejected the said recommendation on the ground of cruel and brutal nature of the offence committed by the appellant.

The Court found no justifiable ground for the State of Tamil Nadu for not accepting the recommendation of the State Level Committee.

The Court held that, the Appellant is entitled to the benefit of premature release as per Government Order issued by the Home (Prison-IV) Department.

Order of rejecting the for premature release set aside.

Judgment Pronounced by- Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J

[Nagarathinam v. State, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 559, decided on 04-05-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Appellant: Raghunatha Sethupathy B, AOR, S. Nagamuthu, Senior Advocate, (S. Prabu Rama Subramanian, Bharathimohan M, Karuppiah Meyyappan, Vairavan, Ms. Priya R, Sabari Balapandian, Avinash Kumar, Advocates);

For the Respondent: Dr. Joseph Aristotle S., AOR and Ms. Vaidehi Rastogi, Advocate 1.

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