Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bakhru, J., in the present petition observed that,

“A deadly weapon is one, which is lethal and is likely to cause death when used in the manner in which it is intended. By its very nature, a deadly weapon is one, which is likely to result in a fatality.”

Appellant was convicted of the offences punishable under Sections 393/398 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 25/27 of the Arms Act, 1959.

The present appeal has been filed impugning the judgment for the above-stated conviction and order of sentence.

It has been submitted that the accused was armed with a pistol which he placed on the complainant’s temple and asked him to hand over whatever he had.

While the accused was fleeing from the spot, two patrolling police officials pursued and apprehended him and the police officials snatched the pistol carried by the accused.

Analysis and Decision

Police Officials Testimony

Bench while analysing the facts and submissions in the present case stated that merely because witnesses from the general public that had allegedly assembled at the spot, were not examined does not mean that the testimony of the police officials is required to be discarded.

Supreme Court’s decision in Kalpnath Rai v. State, (1997) 8 SCC 732  was referred in the above context, wherein following was the Court’s proposition:

“There can be no legal proposition that evidence of police officers, unless supported by independent witnesses, is unworthy of acceptance.”

Further, there wasno doubt on the fact that a country made pistol (katta) was recovered from the accused also the fact that he was apprehended while he was fleeing from the spot has also been established.

Question to be determined is whether the appellant’s conviction under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act is maintainable?

The country made pistol (katta) recovered from the appellant was designed to discharge a projectile and therefore, even though it may have fallen into disrepair it, nonetheless, falls within the definition of a ‘firearm’ within the meaning under Section 2(e) of the Arms Act.

Further the Court observed that the possession of ammunition is a punishable offence under Section 25 of the Arms Act. The use of such ammunition is punishable under Section 27 of the Arms Act.

Thus, there is little doubt that the appellant is guilty of committing an offence punishable under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act.

Next issue to be examined is whether the country made pistol (katta) can be termed as a “deadly weapon” under Section 398 IPC?

Section 398 IPC states that if an offender is armed with a deadly weapon at the time of robbery or dacoity, the same would constitute an offence under Section 398 IPC.

Key Question:

Whether the country made pistol (katta) can be termed as a “deadly weapon” even if it is in a state of disrepair?

Court stated that in order for any weapon to be termed as deadly, it should one which is capable of or likely to cause death if used in the manner in which it is intended to be used.

There may be a large number of instruments or objects, which can be used in a lethal manner, however, if they are not intended or meant to be used in that manner, they cannot be understood to be weapons for the purposes of Section 398 of the IPC.

Bench also noted that there are a large number of instruments which if used in a particular manner, may result in a fatality. A pen is not a deadly weapon and merely carrying the said writing instrument, at the time of committing robbery or dacoity, would not constitute an offence punishable under Section 398 of the IPC.

Two necessary ingredients of a ‘deadly weapon’:

first, that it should be a weapon and capable of being used as such

second, that it must be inherently lethal and if used in the intended manner is likely to result in death.

Hence in view of the above analysis, it can be construed that even though the country made pistol recovered from the appellant constitutes a firearm, it cannot be considered as a deadly weapon.

In the present matter, at the material time, the pistol could not be used to inflict any fatal injury, if used in the manner in which it was meant to be used — that is, for the purpose of firing a bullet — on account of it being in disrepair.

Thus the impugned judgment convicting the appellant under Section 398 of the IPC was set aside and his sentence was also reduced.[Sonu v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1213, decided on 15-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A.K. Pathak, J., modified the appellant’s conviction and sentence while allowing his appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby he was convicted for an offence under Section 397 IPC (robbery or dacoity, with attempt to cause death and grievous hurt).

As per the victim, on the day of the incident, he was standing at a bus stand when the appellant along with one another robbed him of his phone and wallet by placing a paper cutter blade on his belly. The appellant was apprehended, however, the other person ran away. He was tried and convicted by the trial court aforestated.

Sunita Arora, Advocate for the appellant pressed the appeal only on the point that no offence under Section 397 was made out, and at best the appellant could be convicted for an offence under Section 392 (punishment for robbery).

Perusing the record, the High Court found favour with the appellant’s submission that the paper cutter blade which was recovered could not be termed as a “deadly weapon” within the meaning of Section 397. Discussing earlier cases, the Court held that the prosecution failed to show that the appellant used any “deadly weapon” while committing robbery and therefore ingredients of offence under Section 397 were not attracted in the case. Resultantly, the appellant’s conviction was altered to Section 392. Also, on his appeal for leniency in a sentence, the Court reduced appellant’s sentence to the period of imprisonment already undergone by him. [Guddu v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7855, decided on 19-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Anu Malhotra, J., allowed a criminal petition filed against the judgment of the trial court wherein the appellant was convicted under Sections 392 and 397 IPC along with Section 27 of Arms Act.

The appellant was alleged to have robbed the house of the victim (complainant), and in the act, it was alleged, he used a deadly weapon (knife) that terrorized the victim. The appellant was booked under the above-mentioned sections. He was tried and convicted by the trial court. In the instant appeal, the appellant confined his challenge to the conviction under Section 397. It was contended that there were no allegations against the appellant that he used any deadly weapon in the course of committing the robbery, and as such, he could not be convicted under the said section.

The High Court perused the record and found that in his statement, the victim clearly stated that the co-accused in the case had a knife. But as to the appellant, the victim stated that he did not remember what weapon the appellant was holding. The Court referred to a Supreme Court decision in Dilawar Singh v. State of (NCT of Delhi),(2007) 12 SCC 641: (2008) 3 SCC (Cri) 330, wherein it was held, the word ‘offender’ (as used in Section 397 IPC) envisages individual liability and not any constructive liability. In the instant case, though recovery of the knife was made on the statement of the appellant, however, no specific attributions were made to the appellant carrying a knife at the day of the incident. Noting such facts and circumstances, the High Court held that no culpability could be fixed against the appellant under Section 397, for which the use of a knife is a sine qua non. Accordingly, while upholding his conviction under Section 392 IPC along with Section 27 of Arms Act, the High Court set aside the appellant’s conviction and sentence under Section 397 IPC. [Mumtaz v. State,2018 SCC OnLine Del 9534, decided on 13-06-2018]