Gauhati High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Arun Dev Choudhury, J., held that sexual offences against minor cannot be compromised by parents.

An FIR was lodged by father of the victim girl alleging that while his minor daughter was on her way home, the petitioner dragged the minor to an isolated place, attempted to molest and murder her. Consequently, a case was registered against the petitioner under Section 354A(2)/307 read with Section 18 of the POCSO Act.

When the matter was pending before the Trial Court, the family of the informant and the petitioner’s family decided to compromise so as to put to an end to the matter. On the basis of such compromise, the petitioner had approached the court for quashing the entire criminal proceeding as well as the FIR contending that since the parties had compromised the matter, it would be a futile exercise to continue with the trial.

The Bench observed that the law is by now well settled that courts can compound cases in exercise of its power under Section 320 of the CrPC and even in the cases of non-compoundable offences the High Court in exercise of its power under Section 482 CrPC can quash criminal proceeding when disputes are amicably settled and the victim is having no objection to such compromise. However, offences involving moral turpitude and grave offences like rape, murder etc. even if compromised cannot be quashed in exercise of power under Section 482 CrPC inasmuch as such offences are against the State and cannot be restricted to two individuals or groups.

Considering the above, the Bench opined that the offences alleged were grave in nature involving minor victim alleging attempt of rape, therefore such allegation and criminal proceeding could not be quashed on the basis of a compromise entered into between the families of the victim and accused inasmuch when it was a sexual offence involving a minor, the parents, opined the Bench, could not give consent on behalf of the minor to compromise such serious offences.[Limhathung v. State of Nagaland; Cr. Rev. No. 5 of 2021, decided on 24-03-2022]


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: N Mozhui, K Kire, N Rupreo, and P. Mere, Advocates

For the Respondents: K Angami, PP


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this bief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant* and AS Bopanna, JJ has held that whilst motive is infallibly a crucial factor for proving an offence under Section 307 IPC, and is a substantial aid for evincing the commission of an offence but the absence thereof is, however, not such a quintessential component which can be construed as fatal to the case of the prosecution, especially when all other factors point towards the guilt of the accused and testaments of eye¬witnesses to the occurrence of a malfeasance are on record.

It is important to note that for the purpose of constituting an offence under Section 307 IPC, there are two ingredients that a Court must consider,

  • First, whether there was any intention or knowledge on the part of accused to cause death of the victim, and,
  • second, such intent or knowledge was followed by some overt actus rea in execution thereof, irrespective of the consequential result as to whether or not any injury is inflicted upon the victim.

The Courts may deduce such intent from the conduct of the accused and surrounding circumstances of the offence, including the nature of weapon used or the nature of injury, if any. The manner in which occurrence took place may enlighten more than the prudential escape of a victim.  It is thus not necessary that a victim shall have to suffer an injury dangerous to his life, for attracting Section 307 IPC.

In order to ascertain whether the requirement of ‘motive’ is indispensable for proving the charge of attempt to murder under Section 307 IPC, the Court explained that ‘motive’ is distinct from ‘object and means’ which innervates or provokes an action. Unlike ‘intention’, ‘motive’ is not the yardstick of a crime. A lawful act with an ill motive would not constitute an offence but it may not be true when an unlawful act is committed with best of the motive.

In Shivaji Genu Mohite v. State of Maharashtra, (1973) 3 SCC 219 and Bipin Kumar Mondal vs. State of West Bengal,  (2010) 12 SCC 91, the Supreme Court had held that,

“in case the prosecution is not able to discover an impelling motive, that could not reflect upon the credibility of a witness proved to be a reliable eyewitness. Evidence as to motive would, no doubt, go a long way in cases wholly dependent on circumstantial evidence. Such evidence would form one of the links in the chain of circumstantial evidence in such a case. But that would not be so in cases where there are eyewitnesses of credibility, though even in such cases if a motive is properly proved, such proof would strengthen the prosecution case and fortify the court in its ultimate conclusion. But that does not mean that if motive is not established, the evidence of an eyewitness is rendered untrustworthy.”

The Court, hence, concluded that absence of motive alone cannot abjure the guilt of the accused under Section 307 of IPC.

[Surinder Singh v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1135, decided on 26.11.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Surya Kant

Know Thy Judge | Justice Surya Kant

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and M.S. Karnik, JJ., partly allowed an appeal by reducing the sentence of the accused in light of the sentencing policy.

In the present matter, the lower Court’s decision was challenged.

Appellant faced trial for alleged commission of the offences punishable under Sections 307 along with 341 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Prosecution Version

Victim used to reside with her brothers at her maternal uncle’s house and worked as a babysitter. Appellant-Accused and the victim were residing in the same area and eventually from acquaintance they turned into lovers.

Victim’s uncle objected the affair, after which the victim stopped meeting the appellant-accused. Later, she expressed her clear refusal to continue the relationship.

On victim’s refusal, appellant-accused kept threatening her and on one occasion he had beaten her up too as he wanted her to marry him.

Day of the incident

Appellant- accused suddenly entered the rickshaw in which the victim was seated. The victim was pulled out of the rickshaw. The appellant-accused threatened the rickshaw driver and forced him to leave. The appellant-accused assaulted the victim with his fists and pulled her to the footpath.

On her refusal, the appellant-accused took out a knife from the right side pocket of his pant and inflicted injuries on her neck.

At that time, one police vehicle arrived. The appellant-accused ran away from the spot. The victim was taken to the hospital and on the basis of her statement, the offences under Section 307 and 341 of the IPC came to be registered.

Submissions

Appellant-accused’s counsel submitted that the cardinal principle of sentencing policy is that the sentence imposed on the offender should reflect the crime he has committed and it should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence.

APP on behalf of the respondent-State submitted that the sentence imposed by the trial Court in the facts and circumstances of this case cannot be said to be unjustified. In support of his submission that the appellant-accused deserves no leniency, he relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in State of M.P. v. Kashiram, (2009) 4 SCC 26.

Decision

In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, bench stated that it would be profitable to refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Punjab v. Bawa Singh, (2015) 3 SCC 441, in the context of duty of the Court to award proper sentence, wherein the following was stated:

“16. ………… undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law. It is the duty of every court to award proper sentence having regard to the nature of the offence and the manner in which it was executed or committed.”

In the present case, Court opined that the sentence imposed by the trial court required to be reduced.

The aggravating and mitigating factors and circumstances in which a crime has been committed are to be delicately balanced on the basis of really relevant circumstances in a dispassionate manner by the Court.

Court stated that in view of the dicta of the Supreme Court, “we are conscious of the social impact of the crime against women cannot be lost sight of and per se require exemplary treatment.”

Hence, considering the totality of circumstances, the imposition of sentence of imprisonment for life by the trial court appears to be harsh and hence the same needs to be reduced by maintaining the conviction.

Therefore, sentence of 10 years would meet the ends of justice. [Arumugum Arundatiyar v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 844, decided on 05-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: P.K. Lohra, J. granted bail and suspended the sentences of the applicant passed by the District Judge.

In the present facts of the case, the petitioner was accused and convicted of offences for an attempt to murder and wrongful restraint by the Additional District Sessions Judge, Bhadra and was handed down the maximum sentence of seven years of imprisonment for the serious offences.

The Counsel representing the applicant, K.R. Bhati prayed for suspension of sentences and submitted that the accused had remained in the custody for a period of four years and eight months out of the total period of seven months of sentence and the final appeal shall not take place in the near future, hence should be granted bail.

The Public Prosecutor for the State, R.R. Chhaparwal, denied and opposed the application for suspension of sentence.

The Court upon perusal of the arguments, facts, and circumstances of the case, granted bail and suspended the sentences passed by the Additional District Judge. The Court stated that the present application is the second application for suspension of sentence and the applicant had already served prolonged incarceration, hence until and unless the appeal has been finally disposed of the applicant shall be released on bail upon executing a personal bond of an amount along with two sureties. The Court also directed the applicant that he shall be present at all times until the appeal is finally disposed of.[Sandeep v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 2499, decided on 29-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A.K. Chawla, J. disposed of a criminal appeal by modifying the conviction of the appellant under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Penal Code to that under Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means).

The appellant was assailing the judgment of the trial court whereby he was convicted under Section 307 for stabbing the injured with a knife. The prosecution case was that the injured had advanced a loan to the appellant, and on the day of the incident, when the injured went to his house asking for payment of the outstanding amount, the appellant attacked him with a knife. The appellant denied the prosecution case. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant preferred the present appeal under Section 374 CrPC.

Arvind Kumar, Sneha Upadhyay and Tilak Angra, Advocates for the appellant contended that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Per Contra, G.M.Farooqui, APP appearing for the State, supported the impugned decision.

The High Court was of the opinion that it was imperative to ascertain as to whether the appellant actually intended to murder the injured. It was observed: “Offence of an attempt to murder is a serious offence. In proving the commission of such an offence, the prosecution is required to prove the basic ingredients of murder short of death. Does the instant case get even close to such a situation, the Trial Court has not given any serious thought to it. The case in hand is not one, where, the prosecution even suggests that the appellant assaulted PW8 with any premeditated mind. Who first picked the knife and wherefrom, the prosecution equally failed to prove.”

In the opinion of the Court, the evidence on record was not sufficient to prove that the appellant had any intention to commit murder. In such circumstances, it was held that conviction of the appellant for commission of offence under Section 307 could not be sustained. Appellant, however, was held liable for commission of offence under Section 324 IPC. He was released on probation of good conduct. [Ramveer v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 9129, decided on 15-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: K.K. Sonawane, J., acquitted the appellant who was convicted by the trial court for offences punishable under Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duties) IPC.

Dramatic Incident

On the night of 21-02-2002, a function for the inauguration of Bhartiya Yuva Morcha’s branch office was underway. A sudden fight occurred at the spot following lewd and offensive comments passed by one Shivaji Mundhe against the leader who was inaugurating the office. The audience started thrashing him but the Police personnel deployed on duty intervened and rescued him from the clutched of the violent mob. They were about to take away Shivaji Mundhe in the police jeep when the appellant snatched the revolver of the Polic personnel driving the jeep and put it near his ear. Suddenly from the crowd, someone pulled back the appellant and before any further untoward incident could have occurred, the police took away Shivaji Mundhe.

Conviction

A case was registered and charges were framed against 17 accused for various offences under the Penal Code, the Prevention of Damage to Property Act, 1984 and the Arms Act, 1959. The Additional Sessions Judge acquitted accused 2-17 from all charges holding that the prosecution failed to prove offences against them beyond the reasonable doubt. The present appellant was also exonerated from all charges but two. He was held guilty for the offences punishable under Sections 307 and 353 IPC. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant invoked the remedy under Section 374(2) CrPC and preferred the present appeal.

Acquittal

The High Court perused the entire record. Discussing Section 307, the Court observed, “It is evident from the aforesaid provision that there must be an act which is itself sufficient of causing death.”

Relying on illustration (C) of Section 307, the Court observed, “in a case of attempt to cause death by fire arm, the arm must be fired and till it’s fire no offence of attempt to commit murder under Section 307 of the IPC is held to be taken place.”

It was clarified that, “the provisions of Section 307 of the IPC would apply to the situation, when there has not been merely a commencement of an execution of the purpose, but, something remains short of complete execution; the consummation being hindered by the circumstances, independent of the will of the author.” However, distinguishing the present case on facts, the Court held, “It is to be reiterated that till appellant used the weapon for firing, he cannot be blamed for the offence of attempt to commit murder. But, if he opened the fire and intervention of someone else prevented the shot from taking effect, the offence under Section 307 of the IPC would be held committed against the appellant. In such peculiar circumstances, in the present case, conviction of appellant under Section 307 of the IPC is not sustainable and deserves to be quashed and set aside.”

Furthermore, it was held, ” the appellant had no strain relations or animosity with the police personnels, nor they had come in contact with each other prior to the incident. The restive mob vented wrath against the miscreant PW-4 Shivaji Mundhe. There was no reason for the appellant to assault police constable for committing his murder. It is unsafe to fasten guilt on the appellant for the charge under Section 307 of the IPC.”

Regarding conviction of offence under Section 353 IPC, it was held that “there is no propriety to fasten the guilt under Section 353 of IPC against the sole appellant, when he has been absolved from the offence of unlawful assembly, rioting etc.”

Reversing the order of conviction passed against the Appellant Court, held that, “the act of
appellant flashing the revolver to the Police Personnels would not (by) itself (be) sufficient to constitute offence under Section 307 of the IPC against him.”

Holding as such, the Court allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant. [Walmik v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 449, decided on 28-02-2019]