Section 304 part 2 IPC

Supreme Court: In a criminal appeal against Telangana High Court’s concurrence with Trial Court’s order of conviction under Section 302 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and sentence of life imprisonment for 4 accused persons, the Division Bench of B.R. Gavai and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, JJ., confirmed conviction of 3 but and modified conviction under Section 304 of IPC with sentence of 10 years for the 4th accused.

Brief Facts

All 4 accused persons being from the same family came from the same village as the deceased. The deceased’s sister and the wife of one of the accused contested Gram Panchayat elections. The deceased’s sister succeeded, resulting in animosity between the two groups.

On the morning of 15-11-2001, the deceased was going for some work in an auto rickshaw having 2 co-passengers. When they reached the accused’s house whose wife lost the election, another accused stopped the auto rickshaw and dragged the deceased out by pulling his legs. The other accused persons joined and all four attacked the deceased with an axe, sword, stone and knife leading to severe injuries and on the spot death. The deceased’s son, being the eyewitness, proceeded to the police station to report the incident at night by way of complaint, which led to registration of First Information Report (‘FIR’) followed by investigation.

Statements of 6 eyewitnesses were recorded, and the post-mortem report reflected cause of death to be “cardio-pulmonary arrest due to transaction spinal cord at atlanto occipital joint.” There was recovery of an axe, sword and knife through three of the accused along with other material objects.

A chargesheet was accordingly filed on 9-01-2002 for offences under Section 302 read with Section 34 of IPC against all 4 accused and during trial, 18 witnesses were examined, 37 documents along with 10 material objects were marked. The Trial Court found all 4 guilty of murder and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment and imposed fine. They approached High Court initially acquitted all 4 vide judgment dated 21-06-2007, but in appeal to the Supreme Court, their conviction and sentences were set aside, and criminal appeal was remanded back to High Court for fresh consideration. The High Court confirmed the Trial Court judgment and SLP came before the Supreme Court.

Court’s Analysis

After giving ‘anxious consideration’ and scrutinizing the evidence of all eyewitnesses, the Court concurred with the decision of Trial Court and High Court to express that “their analyses and conclusions are based on correct appreciation of evidence and law.” The Court then highlighted the one aspect which stood out in the lower courts’ analyses pertaining to culpability of one of the accused for murder. The Court went on to examine the evidence against him and pointed out that the FIR mentioned that the said accused hit the deceased on head, chargesheet stated that he used a stone for the same, and no further details were provided, and even the witnesses did not mention any further.

The Court commented that none of the Courts/prosecution/defence focused upon his role and that there was nothing to attribute him with the intent to murder the deceased, and that both the Courts mechanically drew inference against him under Section 34 of IPC merely for his presence near crime scene and his familial relations with the rest of the accused persons.

The Court further explained that the atlanto occipital joint as revealed in the postmortem was a point at the back of the neck, the exact place where the other accused assaulted the deceased with an axe, which was taken by the two other accused one by one, as clarified by all the eyewitnesses. It clarified that the said accused only used a stone to assault the deceased, and never took the axe in hand, which led the Court to assume against the contention of said accused having the intention to commit murder of deceased and could not be convicted under Section 302 of IPC. Perusing the injuries, the Court noted that 10 of 12 injuries were caused by sharp-edged weapons. The Court opined that the cumulative circumstances regarding participation of the said accused reflected the lack of intention to commit murder of deceased — since others took axe and contributed to assault, and he only had stone in his hand as some of the witnesses mentioned about mere threats if anyone sought to intervene and prevent assault.

Thus, the Court held that the said accused did not share a common intention to commit murder of the deceased and acquitted him of offence under Section 302 read with Section 34, but found him liable for offence under part 2 of Section 304 of IPC as the same has been explained in Camilo Vaz v. State of Goa, (2000) 9 SCC 1. The Court cautiously explained that there was no escape from concluding that the said accused should have had the knowledge regarding use of stone to hit the head was likely to cause death, but the evidence was insufficient to deduce such conclusion of having a common intention with the other accused to commit murder.

The Court upheld the conviction and sentence of 3 other accused under Section 302 read with Section 304 of IPC. While convicting the said accused under Section 304 Part 2 of IPC, the Court sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for 10 years.

[Velthepu Srinivas v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2024 SCC OnLine SC 107, decided on 6-02-2024]

Judgment authored by: Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha

Buy Penal Code, 1860   HERE

penal code, 1860

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.