Author: Hardik Bansal, Student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.
Co-Author: Srajan Tyagi, Student at National Law Institute University, Bhopal.
NAME OF THE CASE
Anda and Ors. v. The State of Rajasthan
DATE OF THE JUDGEMENT
CITATION OF THE JUDGEMENT
AIR 1966 SC 148
TYPE OF BENCH
NAME OF THE JUDGES
NAME & TYPE OF OPINION/S
the bench gave A Single Opinion on behalf of all the justices.
AUTHOR OF THE JUDGEMENT
COUNSELS REPRESENTING THE PARTIES
Adv. Prem Sharma and Adv. Rakesh Sinha.
Adv. Brij Bans Kishore and Adv. R.N. Sachthey
Intervenors/ Amicus: –
INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND
The case at hand deals with a Special Leave Petition filed by four appellants under article 136 of the Indian Constitution, who were convicted by a Division Bench of the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court under section 302 read with section 34 of Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred as IPC). Before this conviction, the Sessions Court had also convicted the appellants, but along with three others and under article 302 but, read with section 149, which changed when these three others were acquitted by the HC.
Now, the apex court had to hear the appeal on the ground whether the crime committed came under the purview of section 302 [MURDER] or section 304 [CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER].
The debate for qualifying a homicide as MURDER or CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER is as long as Penal Code itself and it still isn’t crystal clear and judges till this date find it troublesome to classify a case as either one. The judiciary (especially the SC) has on various occasions tried to differentiate the both. But as the situation stands today there is no conclusive authority to differentiate an offence under section 302 & 304. The defence always pleads 304 so as to mitigate the punishment as much as possible, while the prosecution always claims the other so as a harsher punishment meted out in the interest of the state. But the most important aspect in most of these debates always boils down to the factual matrix, which are unsurprisingly unique to each and every case and we get a different criterion in every such judgement only to get replaced by another one down the line.
The victim Behrun was the son of one Girdhari Jat was assaulted by a number of persons and received numerous injuries as a result he died on the same day of the incident June 29, 1961. It was proved by the prosecution that Girdhari Jat and his son Behrun were on inimical terms with the appellants. The incident occurred in the village ‘Hindas’ at the break of day around 5 – 5.30 AM, when Behrun was visiting his to attend to his farmlands. On his way when he was crossing the house of one Bhagu (originally accused since acquitted) he was assaulted and caught by Anda and Roopla (appellants 1 &2). While he was being taken inside Behrun desperately cries for help and tried to flee, he even held the frame of the door of the house very firmly to avoid being dragged into the house but failed when the assaulters hit him with lathis on his hands to loosen his grip. One of the neighbours Mooda (Prosecution Witness 8) alarmed by these cries, came to save the victim but was beaten off.
After getting beaten to a pulp, Behrun is admitted to the hospital and is examined by Mr. C.L. Sablok, Medical Officer in-charge, Merta City Dispensary (Prosecution Witness 4). He examined Behrun’s wound while he was barely alive on his arrival at the hospital but more accurately examined his body in the autopsy after Behrun was dead.
The details of the report encompassed the various injuries that were inflicted onto the body of Behrun and his CAUSE OF DEATH: –
There were a total of 30 wounds and injuries on the body of the deceased. After preparing the autopsy report the doctor determined the cause of death: –
‘Death in his opinion was caused by Shock and Syncope due to multiple bruises and injuries. Which individually weren’t sufficient to cause such death but their collective effect was sufficient to CAUSE DEATH IN ORDINARY COURSE OF NATURE.
According to the bench the invocation of section 34 wasn’t of the question but the issue formulated was: –
Was this a case of CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER or MURDER?
Hence, the issue thus formulated was on a mixed question of Fact and Law.
- The first contention by the appellant was on the granting of the leave petition, which according to the appellants entitled them to argue that the offence committed by all the accused didn’t come under section 302 of IPC.
- Secondly, they submitted that the offence committed was of Culpable Homicide not Amounting to Murder under § 299, and not of Murder defined under § 302 of IPC.
- The respondents claimed that the petition had only been granted to elucidate whether § 34 was properly invoked or not.
- Further, they also claimed that the offence committed by the accused was of murder under § 300 (1) and (3) of the IPC and not under § 299.
The current case cited many provisions from the IPC dealing with Joint Liability and Homicide.
- Section 34: Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention
This section provides that when a criminal act is committed by several persons with the common intention to cause that act, each if those persons is liable as if the act was done only one person alone. The word common intention implies a prior concert, that is, a prior meeting of the minds and involvement of all the members of the group in the performance of that plan.
- Section 35: When such an act is criminal by reason of its being done with a criminal knowledge or intention.
It basically talks about joint liability in furtherance of a common act with criminal knowledge or intention. This would lead to same level of liability being imposed on all the persons who are part of the crime.
- Section 38: Persons concerned in criminal act may be guilty of different offences
It explains that even when several offenders are committing a criminal act, they may be liable for different crimes. Ex: if A on the grave and sudden provocation is beating X, and passing by B also joins in on this pounding, having an ill-will towards Z and in pursuance of this beating Z dies, A would only be liable for Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder, but B would be convicted of Murder.
- Section 149: Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in the prosecution of common object
Whenever a member of an unlawful assembly commits a criminal act in pursuance of the common object of the assembly knew that this act was likely to happen, every member of such assembly at the time of commission of such act.
- Section 299: Culpable Homicide
Section 299 defines culpable homicide, as killing of a human by another for which the killer is liable or culpable (in layman terms).
- Section 300: Murder
A murder is merely a particular form of culpable homicide. Every murder is culpable homicide, but every culpable homicide is not murder. Culpable homicide is the genus, and murder, its species.
- Section 302: Punishment for murder
The section provides for the punishment of Murder, which extends to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
- Section 304: Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder
Provides for the punishment for Culpable homicide not amounting to murder which depends upon the nature of that culpable homicide.
No such doctrine or theory was invoked in the judgement.
No literature of any kind was cited by the learned Judges.
The judgement cited 3 cases that were relevant to the case at hand: –
- Oswal Danji Tejsi v. State
Here the accused were convicted under section 325 read with section 34 of the IPC by the trial court when they appealed in the Hon’ble Gujrat High Court.
In this case the victim was beaten up by three assailants by the virtue of which he sustained 21 injuries out of which only two were fatal and were caused by an iron-ringed stick. Thus, according to the bench it was neither a murder nor Culpable homicide but only a Grievous Hurt. And convicted the accused under §326 read with §34.
The case was cited by justice Hidayatullah to show the inadequacy of this judgement. According to him the judges only considered cl. 1 of §300 which deals with explicit intention to cause death, whereas according. to him they should have considered other clauses too for example clause 3.
- Brij Bhukhan v. State of Uttar Pradesh
Here the appellant had come in against an order of the Allahabad High Court which had sentenced him to death and the other accused to transportation for life. The victim here was assaulted on his way home and was beaten by the appellant and other accused. Owing to these injuries, victim Ram Prasad died very shortly after these assailants went away.
The medical report suggested that not one injury was such to cause death in ordinary course of nature. But according to the bench, the intention by which such injuries were inflicted was to cause death of the victim and such injuries were cumulatively sufficient to cause death of the victim.
And thus, the appeal was dismissed and the conviction as well as the death penalty was upheld.
The bench’s take from this case was that it was open to the court to look into the nature of the injuries caused and if these injuries were cumulatively sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature, cl. 3 of §300 did apply to the case.
- Chandgi v. State of Punjab
One serious injury was inflicted on the victim that was by a gandasi which had almost severed the arm of the victim. The court did not hold the accused guilty under §302/ 34, it rather observed that “The injury itself was not proved to be sufficient enough of causing death of the victim in ordinary course of nature, and thus according to the bench of the current case (Anda and Ors.) it was a distinguished judgement”.
- In Personam [CONCRETE JUDGEMENT]
The appeal was dismissed and the order of the high court was upheld. All the four accused were convicted of Murder under section 302 read with section 34 of IPC.
- In Rem [RATIO DECIDENDI]
“No case can, of course, be an authority on facts. In the last case inference was drawn from facts which were different. It is always a question of fact as to whether the accused shared a particular knowledge or intent. One must look for a common intention, that is to say, some prior concert and what that common intention is. It is not necessary that there should be an appreciable passage of time between the formation of the intent and the act for common intention may be formed at any time. Next one must look for the requisite ingredient that the injuries which were intended to be caused were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. Next, we must see if the accused possessed the knowledge that the injuries, they were intending to cause were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. When these circumstances are found and death is, in fact, caused by injuries which are intended to be caused and which are, sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death the resulting offence of each participant is murder.”
Thus, the ratio defines a criterion on how to decide whether a death caused by multiple assailants under circumstances like of the case itself is Murder or not and that section 34 is applicable only on case to case basis.
The court even before initiating the appeal made it clear that the leave was not granted to look into whether section 34 applied. But whether it was a Murder or Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder. Because section 34 was very easily applicable as in the present case the accused were obviously present at the spot by previous arrangement. The time and the place and the errand on which Behrun was engaged clearly show that they intended to waylay and beat Behrun. This intent was obviously shared and was the result of prior arrangements.
Moving onto the question of 302 or 304.
“The injuries were not on a vital part of the body and no weapon was used which can be described as especially dangerous. Only lathis were used. It cannot, therefore, be said safely that there was an intention to cause the death of Behrun within the first clause of Section 300. At the same time, it is obvious that his hands and legs were smashed and numerous bruises and lacerated wounds were caused. The number of injuries shows that everyone joined in beating him. It is also quite clear that the assailants aimed at breaking his arms and legs. Looking at the injuries caused to Behrun in furtherance of the common intention of all it is clear that the injuries intended to be caused were sufficient to cause his death in the ordinary course of nature even if it cannot be said that his death was intended. This is sufficient to bring the case within 3rdly of Section 300.” Thus, according to the court it was a case of murder under cl. 3 of §300 where the nature of the injuries is such that they were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
CRITICAL ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
The case at hand is a very old one and an initial case in the everlasting debate of Culpable Homicide and Murder. Even though the initial paragraphs of the judgement suggest the setting up of a comprehensive debate on both sides when a homicide amounts to murder and when it does not. But on the thorough reading of the entire judgement it is clear that it was a very narrow judgment and only addressed the factual scenario, setting up a precedent but only for very specific instances like that of the case itself.
The judgement very comprehensively like a commentary on the Indian Penal Code explains the nature and scope of sections 299 & 300. It goes into quite details of the legislation and explains from the perspective of a supreme court judge what the provision means and entails.
The judgement also shows that medical reports are of utmost concern in a criminal case, it goes into gruesome details of the report only to unearth the truth and to get the victim the justice it deserves.
Finally, the bench quite simply applies the law to the facts and comes to the decision that the cumulative injuries caused by the assailants on the victim are in furtherance of a common intention, which according to the bench, in this case, was to cause the death of the victim which made them liable.
Another disconnect from law observation of the researcher is that, in the case at hand and other older cases that were cited; lesser substance is cited. What it means is, the modern-day judgements have lot of precedents, books and even articles cited as authorities to give weight to the contentions and to prove their point unequivocally, but in turn making the judgement quite garrulous, hard to understand and interpret. In the older judgements, from the newly independent India era, the judgements have little to no cited authorities to rely upon. The judgements were mostly based on pure application of law to the facts without an excessive discussion on precedents and literary sources. This made the judgements very lucid, brief and to the point, which were easy to get a grasp of and appreciate.
Going back to the legal part of the analysis, the most important aspect in distinguishing a case between Culpable homicide amounting and not amounting to Murder is solely the nature and amount of intention involved in the offence if the intention was the cause death w/o any doubt of the victim it is very difficult to prove that such an offence was not MURDER for example: ‘A’ killing the paramour of his wife the instant he catches them in flagrante delicto would be liable for Culpable Homicide not Amounting to Murder. But, if in the same situation ‘A’ waits for a week before killing the paramour he would in most certainty be liable for the Murder of the man and be punishable under §302 and not §304.
This is not the only case to distinguish between the very perplexing provisions of Homicide in IPC. Many other judgements have come in the aftermath of this judgement which have yet again defined the criteria. The most pertinent being Reg v. Govinda which can also be illustration through (b), section 300.”
Thus, it is an old discursive decision one of the most disputed provisions of IPC, which still holds good.
Even though till this day there are no monochromatic distinctions between the Murder and Culpable Homicide not Amounting to Murder besides the amount and nature of intention involved.
 Indian Constitution 1950 art. 136.
 Indian Penal Code 1860 s 302.
 Indian Penal Code 1860 s 34.
 Indian Penal Code 1860 s 34.
 Indian Penal Code 1860, s 35.
 Indian Penal Code 1860, s 38.
 Indian Penal Code 1860, s 149.
 Indian Penal Code 1860, s 299.
 Indian Penal Code 1860, s 300.
Indian Penal Code 1860, s 302.
 Indian Penal Code 1860, s 304.
 Oswal Danji Tejsi V. State, AIR1961Guj16.
 Brij Bhukhan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1957 SC 474.
 Chandgi v. State of Punjab, Criminal Appeal No. 1 of 1957.
 12, Anda and Ors. v. The State of Rajasthan, AIR 1966 SC 148.
 9, Id.
 Reg v. Govinda, (1876) ILR 1 Bom 342.