The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man accused of murdereding another amidst quarell with neighbours over non-payment of electricity bill.

The Court was hearing a Criminal Appeal filed by an accused who has been convicted for offences punishable under Section 294(b) and 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

The bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan observed, “The Court said that the deceased had come to the spot only to resolve the fight among the family members of the appellant. Hence, according to the Court, it cannot be said that there was a sudden and grave provocation due to any act on the part of the deceased.”

Brief Facts-

The present case involves a family dispute over unpaid electricity charges that escalated into a violent altercation. The appellant, supported by his family, attacked PW-4 Kesavan. The deceased, Muthu, father-in-law of PW-4 intervened and was fatally injured by the appellant and another accused with billhooks. Eyewitnesses testified against the accused which led to the appellant's conviction under Sections 294(b) and 302 of the IPC. The High Court dismissed appeals against these convictions and acquittals of other accused. The Supreme Court issued notice based on the argument that the offence might fall under part II of Section 304 of the IPC.

The Court said that as the ocular evidence of the eyewitnesses inspires confidence, minor discrepancies in their evidence regarding the exact time of the incident are not sufficient to discard their testimony.

The Court further said that the appellant himself started the dispute by questioning the PW-4 on non-payment of the electricity bill. Therefore, as per the Court, the appellant's case will not fall under Exception 1 or Exception 4 of Section 300 of the IPC.

Accordingly, the Court found no reason to interfere with the view taken by the Court that the offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC was proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Finally, the Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title: Shanmugasekar v. State of Tamil Nadu (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 504)

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