The Bombay High Court sentenced a man for an imprisonment of eight years under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) i.e., culpable homicide not amounting to murder on account that the occurrence of the incident took place all of a sudden and on petty count.

The Aurangabad Bench was dealing with a criminal appeal filed by a man who was dissatisfied with the judgment of the Trial Court by which he was convicted for the offence of murder under Section 302 of IPC and was sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life.

A Division Bench of Justice Vibha Kankanwadi and Justice Abhay S. Waghwase observed, “… it is manifest that occurrence took place all of a sudden, that too on petty count. Hence, we are of the firm opinion that, it is not at all a case attracting Section 302 of the IPC. Bearing in mind the circumstances in which incident in question took place, incident being a sudden one, it should attract offence under Section 304 Part I of the IPC only.”

The Bench relied upon the judgment in the case of Anbazhagan v. The State represented by the Inspector of Police (Criminal Appeal no.2043 of 2023) in which the Supreme Court had discussed the subtle distinction between Section 304 Part I and Part II of the IPC.

Advocate Satesh Jadhav represented the appellant while Additional Public Prosecutor S.D. Ghayal and Advocate Hemant U. Dhage represented the respondents.

Facts of the Case -

The Police Station had charge-sheeted the appellant-convict for the offence under Section 302 of the IPC on the premise that in 2015, the convict came to the field of the deceased and demanded extra saplings from him. When deceased refused, quarrel took place and thereafter, he mounted attack on the deceased by means of wooden handle of spade. He also used the handle for pressing neck of deceased and thereafter, the deceased was shifted to hospital where Doctor examined and declared him dead.

The brother of the deceased set law into motion on the strength of which, the Police Station registered a crime and the said crime was investigated and on its completion, the convict was charge-sheeted. The prosecution adduced evidence of in all 13 witnesses and relied on documentary evidence like FIR, inquest panchanama, post mortem report, recovery panchanama, etc. The defence denied to lead any evidence. After appreciating evidence of prosecution and on hearing both sides, Trial Judge held the death to be homicidal one and also held charges proved and thereby convicted the appellant which was questioned by way of a criminal appeal before the High Court.

The High Court in view of the above facts said, “… in our opinion, it is not a case of homicide. Rather it is a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. … Therefore, on meticulous re-examination, re-appreciation of available evidence on record, it appears that there was no motive, intention or premeditation. Incident has taken place all of a sudden only on refusal to comply with the demand of extra saplings.”

The Court noted that the occurrence having taken place suddenly, exception 4 to Section 300 of the IPC comes into play and it is not at all a case attracting Section 302 of the IPC as held by the Trial Judge.

“Appellant – Digambar @ Digu Baburao Shirole is hereby held guilty for committing offence punishable under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for eight years”, ordered the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court partly allowed the appeal, set aside the conviction under Section 302 IPC, and sentenced the appellant to suffer rigorous imprisonment of 8 years under Section 304 Part I of IPC.

Cause Title- Digambar @ Digu Baburao Shirole v. The State of Maharashtra & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023:BHC-AUG:26251-DB)

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