Supreme Court: In a criminal appeal against the Madras High Court’s decision, whereby the conviction order by the Trial Court for offence under Section 307 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) was confirmed, the Division Bench of Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah*, JJ. Set aside the conviction under Section 307 of the IPC for no severe blows having been inflicted upon the complainant.

In the matter at hand, a First Information Report (‘FIR’) was filed against the convicts and others under Sections 294(b), 323, 324, 452 and 307 read with 109 of the IPC. The complainant alleged that the convicts and others conspired to cause his death. The other accused persons were acquitted after the trial and the convicts were found guilty and were convicted under Section 307 of the IPC and sentenced to 10 years’ Rigorous Imprisonment and fined Rs.1000/- each. The convicted persons preferred an appeal before the High Court and the sentence of Rigorous Imprisonment was reduced from 10 years to 5 years. Hence, the present appeal.

The prosecution’s case was that the complainant and one of the convicts had an enmity following a land dispute. A civil case was also pending between them for the same. The convict had removed the fencing and picked up a quarrel with the complainant and threatened to kill him. Consequently, the convict conspired with other accused to kill the complainant and attacked him with a knife, but he managed to escape. The complainant’s mother came to his rescue and was also attacked with a cold drink bottle, causing simple injuries.

The Court referred to State of Madhya Pradesh v. Saleem, (2005) 5 SCC 554, wherein it was held that “to sustain a conviction under Section 307, IPC, it was not necessary that a bodily injury capable of resulting in death should have been inflicted. As such, non-conviction under Section 307, IPC on the premise only that simple injury was inflicted does not follow as a matter of course. The court has to see whether the act, irrespective of its result, was done with the intention or knowledge and under circumstances mentioned in the section.”

The Court also cited Jage Ram v. State of Haryana, (2015) 11 SCC 366 and State of Madhya Pradesh v Kanha, (2019) 3 SCC 605, wherein the same position was reiterated that because a fatal injury was not sustained alone does not dislodge Section 307 of the IPC. The Court also noted that it was observed that “the intention of the accused can be ascertained from the actual injury, if any, as well as from surrounding circumstances. Among other things, the nature of the weapon used, and the severity of the blows inflicted can be considered to infer intent.”

Upon considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court gathered that there were no allegations of repeated or severe blows having been inflicted upon the complainant. The Court also noted that even the injuries on the complainant and his mother were found to be simple in nature. Therefore, the Court held that the conviction under Section 307 of the IPC was unsustainable and that only the offences under Sections 323 and 324 of the IPC were made out. Thus, the Court interfered with the impugned judgment only to the extent of Section 307 of the IPC and modified the sentence by reducing it to the period already undergone in imprisonment.

[Sivamani v. State of Madras, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1581, Decided on 28-11-2023]

*Judgment Authored by: Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah

Know Thy Judge | Supreme Court of India: Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah

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