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NANKAUNOO V/S STATE OF U.P. SC 47 Decided On, 19 January 2016

In the Supreme Court of India


Introduction

In this case, the Supreme Court held that the sufficiency of injury to cause death must be proved to sustain a conviction under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and that cannot be inferred from the fact that death has taken place.

The Case arose out of a special leave petition and it was decided by three Judge Bench comprising of the former Chief Justice, T.S. Thakur, Justices A.K. Sikri and R. Banumati, hold the judgement. The three judge bench modified conviction of an a person who was convicted for murder as that under Section 304 Part 1 IPC. In this case, the appellant was accused of killing the deceased using a country made pistol which was never recovered during investigation. Relying on the oral testimony and medical report, the Trial Court had convicted the accused. The High Court affirmed conviction. He approached Apex Court.

Facts

Deceased-Chhedi Lal was running a barber shop. The appellant visited the shop of Chhedi Lal and asked for a haircut. An altercation took place between the two when appellant insisted the deceased for haircut claiming preference over other customers; but the deceased-Chhedi Lal declined his demand. The appellant felt insulted and left the barber shop threatening the deceased. In the evening, deceased closed the shop and went back home. Later, the deceased went towards the canal to answer the nature’s call. When the deceased reached there, the appellant emerged carrying a pistol in his hand and threatened the deceased as he had insulted the appellant in the market and that he would not spare him alive. The deceased fled to save himself and appellant fired from his pistol which hit the deceased on his left thigh and he had fallen down. The incident was witnessed by Janoo, Udan and Muneshwar. Also father of the deceased and his son saw the incident when they were returning from their field. On the alarm raised by the deceased and the witnesses, the appellant fled away from the scene. The deceased was taken on a cot to his house and on the narration of incident by the father of the deceased, the complaint was written.

Thereafter, deceased was taken to Police Station where FIR was registered against the appellant under Section 307 IPC. Superintendent recorded the statement of Chhedi Lal who was lying injured outside the Police Station and the deceased was sent to Hospital from where he was referred to District Hospital but the deceased died on the way to the hospital. FIR was altered from Section 307 IPC to Section 302 IPC and further investigation was taken up.

Judgement

The Apex Court observed that in the light of unimpeachable oral evidence which is corroborated by the medical evidence, non-recovery of ‘country made pistol’ does not materially affect the case of the prosecution. The Court added that any omission on the part of the investigating officer cannot go against the prosecution case. Story of the prosecution is to be examined dehors such omission by the investigating agency. Otherwise, it would shake the confidence of the people not merely in the law enforcing agency but also in the administration of justice, the Bench said. However the court observed “The emphasis in clause three of Section 300 IPC is on the sufficiency of the injury in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The sufficiency is the high probability of death in the ordinary course of nature. When the sufficiency exists and death follows, causing of such injury is intended and causing of such offence is murder. For ascertaining the sufficiency of the injury, sometimes the nature of the weapon used, sometimes the part of the body on which the injury is caused and sometimes both are relevant. Depending on the nature of weapon used and status of the injury, in some cases, the sufficiency of injury to cause death in the ordinary course of nature must be proved and cannot be inferred from the fact that death has, in fact, taken place” The court then modified the sentence to Section 304 Part 1 IPC as it observed that the injury was on the inner part of left thigh, which is the non-vital organ and as the gunshot injury was caused in the inner part of left thigh, the sufficiency of injury to cause death must have been proved and could not have inferred from the fact that death has taken place. But the prosecution has not elicited from the doctors that the gunshot injury on the inner part of left thigh caused rupture of any important blood vessel and that it was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death, the Bench said.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court held that the sufficiency of injury to cause death must be proved to sustain a conviction under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and that cannot be inferred from the fact that death has taken place.

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