The Supreme Court has recently upheld the conviction and sentence of the accused who were involved in killing a 55-year-old man.

The Court while considering the principle of sudden and grave provocation said that there was no sudden quarrel between the accused and the deceased.

The Bench of Justice Krishna Murari and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat held, “In the opinion of this court, there was no “sudden quarrel”. … There can be no stereotypical assumption or formula that where death occurs after a lapse of some time, the injuries (which might have caused the death), the offence is one of culpable homicide. Every case has its unique fact situation. … there is no infirmity in the impugned judgment. The conviction and sentence imposed on the appellants do not therefore, call for interference.”

It was also observed by the Bench that the injuries and the death were closely and directly linked to each other.

Advocate Jogy Scaria appeared on behalf of the appellants i.e., the accused while VMZ Chambers appeared for the respondent i.e., the State.

Brief Facts –

When the deceased was getting his hand levelled through a JCB machine, the appellants i.e., the accused reached that place and attacked him. The post-mortem report stated that the death was caused by injuries sustained by the deceased on his head.

The case was registered under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC against the accused persons. The Trial Court convicted the accused and sentenced them to life imprisonment and 6 months rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 323 of IPC and thereafter, the Chhattisgarh High Court partly allowed the appeal filed by the accused but affirmed their conviction and sentence.

The matter was therefore before the Apex Court. The question before the Court was whether the appellants were guilty of the offence of murder, punishable under Section 302, or whether they were criminally liable under the less severe Section 304 IPC.

The Supreme Court after hearing the contentions of both counsel noted, “Arguendo, even if the facts are assumed to disclose that there was a sudden fight, it cannot be said that the accused failed to act in a cruel manner, or did not take undue advantage. This is because they were armed: a fact which shows pre-meditation on their part. Moreover, they both attacked Vrindawan on the head, which is a vital part of the body, thus taking undue advantage of their situation.”

The Court further referred to the famous case of K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra 1962 SCR Supl. (1) 567 in the standard of reasonableness for applying the grave and sudden provocation was explained.

“… what is evident is that while there were pre-existing disputes of some vintage, between the appellants and the deceased, there is nothing to show that they had been aggravated. It is also, likewise, not clear whether the deceased said anything to the appellants which triggered their ire, leading to loss of self-control as to result in “grave and sudden provocation”, the Court said.

It was also observed by the Court that the appellants ought to have brought the relevant material or evidence on record, as what facts did exist, was within their peculiar knowledge.

The Court, therefore, held, “… what is important is the nature of injury, and whether it is sufficient in the ordinary course to lead to death. The adequacy or otherwise of medical attention is not a relevant factor in this case, because the doctor who conducted the post-mortem clearly deposed that death was caused due to cardio respiratory failures, as a result of the injuries inflicted upon the deceased.”

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the conviction of the accused.

Cause Title- Prasad Pradhan & Anr. v. The State of Chhattisgarh

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