20 Feb 2010

Result of crime irrelevant for conviction: Supreme Court

In a recently reported decision, the Supreme Court has declared that the result of the criminal act done by the accused is not relevant for determining the conviction of the accused. The Supreme Court was dealing with an appeal filed by an accused convicted for offence of 'attempt to murder' contending that the victim had only suffered simple injuries and therefore conviction should be set aside. The Supreme Court, however, was not impressed. It declared that in order for a person to be convicted for an offence of murder, it was not essential that bodily injury capable of causing death should have been rendered. The act along was sufficient. 

The decision states as under;

4. It is to be noted that the alleged offences are of very serious nature. Section 307 relates to attempt to murder. It reads as follows: “Whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge, and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if hurt is caused to any person by such act, the offender shall be liable either to (imprisonment for life), or to such punishment as is hereinbefore mentioned.” 
5. To justify a conviction under this Section, it is not essential that bodily injury capable of causing death should have been inflicted. Although the nature of injury actually caused may often give considerable assistance in coming to a finding as to the intention of the accused, such intention may also be deduced from other circumstances, and may even, in some cases, be ascertained without any reference at all to actual wounds. The Section makes a distinction between an act of the accused and its result, if any. Such an act may not be attended by any result so far as the person assaulted is concerned, but still there may be cases in which the culprit would be liable under this Section. It is not necessary that the injury actually caused to the victim of the assault should be sufficient under ordinary circumstances to cause the death of the person assaulted. What the Court has to see is whether the act, irrespective of its result, was done with the intention or knowledge and under circumstances mentioned in the Section. An attempt in order to be criminal need not be the penultimate act. It is sufficient in law, if there is present an intent coupled with some overt act in execution thereof.
6. It is sufficient to justify a conviction under Section 307 if there is present an intent coupled with some overt act in execution thereof. It is not essential that bodily injury capable of causing death should have been inflicted. The Section makes a distinction between the act of the accused and its result, if any. The Court has to see whether the act, irrespective of its result, was done with the intention or knowledge and under circumstances mentioned in the Section. Therefore, an accused charged under Section 307 IPC cannot be acquitted merely because the injuries inflicted on the victim were in the nature of a simple hurt.
7. This position was highlighted in State of Maharashtra v. Balram Bama Patil and Ors. (1983 (2) SCC 28), Girija Shanker v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2004 (3) SCC 793), R. Parkash v. State of Karnataka (JT 2004 (2) SC 348) and State of M.P. v. Saleem @ Chamaru and Anr. (2005 (5) SCC 554) and, State of Madhya Pradesh v. Imrat and Anr. 2008 (11) SCC 523.
8. In Sarju Prasad v. State of Bihar (AIR 1965 SC 843) it was observed in para 6 that the mere fact that the injury actually inflicted by the accused did not cut any vital organ of the victim, is not by itself sufficient to take the act out of the purview of Section 307.
9. Whether there was intention to kill or knowledge that death will be caused is a question of fact and would depend on the facts of a given case. The circumstances that the injury inflicted by the accused was simple or minor will not by itself rule out application of Section 307 IPC. The determinative question is intention or knowledge, as the case may be, and not nature of the injury. The basic differences between Sections 333 and 325 IPC are that Section 325 gets attracted where grievous hurt is caused whereas Section 333 gets attracted if such hurt is caused to a public servant.

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