State Of Madhya Pradesh vs Kedar Yadav on 30 November, 2006

Supreme Court of India
State Of Madhya Pradesh vs Kedar Yadav on 30 November, 2006
Author: A Pasayat
Bench: Arijit Pasayat, S.H. Kapadia
           CASE NO.:
Appeal (crl.)  1334 of 2004

PETITIONER:
State of Madhya Pradesh

RESPONDENT:
Kedar Yadav	

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 30/11/2006

BENCH:
ARIJIT PASAYAT & S.H. KAPADIA

JUDGMENT:

J U D G M E N T

ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.

Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment of a learned
Single Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. By the
impugned judgment learned Single Judge while upholding the
conviction of the respondent for an offence punishable under
Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the ‘IPC’)
reduced the sentence to the period already undergone which
was about 1 year and three months. The trial court had found
the respondent guilty and had imposed sentence of ten years
rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.1,000/- with default
stipulation.

Background facts in a nutshell are as follows:

The respondent allegedly assaulted the complainant-
Parvat Singh by an axe causing several grievous injuries.
Complainant Parvat Singh (PW 10) lodged a report at the
police station to the effect that while he was doing night duty
at Dr. Ajay Lal Christian Hospital, the accused hit him on his
head by the sharp edge of an axe and other parts of the body.
Other persons were present there, who witnessed the incident.
They carried the complainant to the hospital for treatment.
Information was lodged at the Police Station and investigation
was undertaken. The informant was treated at the hospital for
multiple injuries sustained by him. After completion of
investigation, charge sheet was filed and the matter was taken
up for trial. Accused took the plea of false implication.
According to the medical report and the statement of the
doctor, there was a cut wound on the upper part of partial
bone which was straight cut and there was a parallel straight
cut below said injury and there was a cross cut wound on the
left acromiyo caviculas wound and the doctor had advised to
get x-ray of head, chest and left shoulder. According to
statement of witnesses and doctors and medical report on the
day of incident there were injuries on the body of complainant
caused by sharp edged weapon. Therefore, there was no
dispute as to presence of injuries on the body of the
complainant.

Placing reliance on the evidence of the victim and others,
the trial court found the accused guilty and convicted him and
imposed sentence as afore-noted. The trial court took note of
the evidence of the Doctor who had first examined the
informant. The trial court noted that in the opinion of the
doctor all the injuries were caused by sharp axe or another
sharp-edged weapon and was enough to cause death of the
victim. The doctor had advised to get X-ray of head, chest and
left shoulder of the victim. Several fractures were also noticed.
Taking note of the serious nature of the injuries inflicted and
the weapon used, the trial court held the accused-respondent
guilty and imposed sentence as afore-noted.

Respondent preferred an appeal before the High Court.
Learned counsel appearing before the High Court for the
accused-respondent did not question the finding of conviction.
The only prayer related to sentence. The High Court without
any discussion merely observed that the accused had
undergone sentence of about one year and 3= months, at the
commission of offence was aged about 20 years and an
uneducated labourer coming from rural area. Accordingly, the
period of sentence of imprisonment was reduced to the period
already undergone.

Learned counsel for the appellant-State submitted that
the sentence imposed by the High Court is very much on the
lenient side. In a case of this nature no leniency should have
been shown.

A bare perusal of the doctor’s evidence shows that the
accused in a merciless and cruel manner attacked the victim
on his head and shoulder causing grievous injuries. Therefore,
the reduction of sentence was uncalled for.

Learned counsel for the respondent on the other hand
submitted that though confession appears to have been made
before the High Court about conviction that was really not
called for. In any event, the occurrence took place nearly two
decades back. Even if prosecution version is accepted in its
totality, the offence punishable under Section 307 IPC is not
made out and at the most it is one under Section 324 IPC.
Referring to a judgment of this Court in Kundan Singh v. State
of Punjab (1982 (3) SCC 213) it is submitted that the High
Court has rightly reduced the period of sentence.

Though it is not necessary to examine whether Section
307 IPC had any application, in view of the stand of the
respondent that in reality that Section 307 IPC had no
application, we have considered that plea.

Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would
do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public
confidence in the efficacy of law and society could not long
endure under such serious threats. It is, therefore, the duty
of every court to award proper sentence having regard to the
nature of the offence and the manner in which it was executed
or committed etc. This position was illuminatingly stated by
this Court in Sevaka Perumal etc. v. State of Tamil Naidu (AIR
1991 SC 1463).

After giving due consideration to the facts and
circumstances of each case, for deciding just and appropriate
sentence to be awarded for an offence, the aggravating and
mitigating factors and circumstances in which a crime has
been committed are to be delicately balanced on the basis of
really relevant circumstances in a dispassionate manner by
the Court. Such act of balancing is indeed a difficult task. It
has been very aptly indicated in Dennis Councle MCGDautha
v. State of Callifornia: 402 US 183: 28 L.D. 2d 711 that no
formula of a foolproof nature is possible that would provide a
reasonable criterion in determining a just and appropriate
punishment in the infinite variety of circumstances that may
affect the gravity of the crime. In the absence of any foolproof
formula which may provide any basis for reasonable criteria to
correctly assess various circumstances germane to the
consideration of gravity of crime, the discretionary judgment in
the facts of each case, is the only way in which such judgment
may be equitably distinguished.

The object should be to protect the society and to deter
the criminal in achieving the avowed object of law by imposing
appropriate sentence. It is expected that the Courts would
operate the sentencing system so as to impose such sentence
which reflects the conscience of the society and the sentencing
process has to be stern where it should be.

Imposition of sentence without considering its effect on
the social order in many cases may be in reality a futile
exercise. The social impact of the crime, e.g. where it relates to
offences against women, dacoity, kidnapping,
misappropriation of public money, treason and other offences
involving moral turpitude or moral delinquency which have
great impact on social order, and public interest, cannot be
lost sight of and per se require exemplary treatment. Any
liberal attitude by imposing meager sentences or taking too
sympathetic view merely on account of lapse of time in respect
of such offences will be result-wise counter productive in the
long run and against societal interest which needs to be cared
for and strengthened by string of deterrence inbuilt in the
sentencing system.

The Court will be failing in its duty if appropriate
punishment is not awarded for a crime which has been
committed not only against the individual victim but also
against the society to which the criminal and victim belong.
The punishment to be awarded for a crime must not be
irrelevant but it should conform to and be consistent with the
atrocity and brutality with which the crime has been
perpetrated, the enormity of the crime warranting public
abhorrence and it should “respond to the society’s cry for
justice against the criminal”.

It is to be noted that the alleged offence was 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.”

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.

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.

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) and R. Parkash v.
State of Karnataka (JT 2004 (2) SC 348).

In Sarju Prasad v. State of Bihar (AIR 1965 SC 843) it
was observed in para 6 that 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.

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.

Section 307 deals with two situations so far as the
sentence is concerned. Firstly, 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 secondly 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 indicated in
the first part i.e. 10 years.

The nature of the injuries sustained, the weapon used
and the opinion of the doctors as noted above to the effect that
the injuries were enough to cause death, the trial court had
rightly convicted the accused-respondent for offence
punishable under Section 307 IPC. The decision In Kundan
Singh’s Case (supra) has no application to the facts of the
present case. The decision was rendered in the background of
the factual position as noticed in the judgment.

Considering the principles indicated above, the inevitable
conclusion is that the High Court was not justified in reducing
the sentence to the period already undergone. Taking into
account all relevant aspects including long passage of time
which per se is not a ground for reduction in sentence, order
of the High Court, so far as it relates to the reduction of period
of sentence, is set aside. The respondent shall undergo
custodial sentence for three years subject to such remissions
as may be available in law. Additionally, he shall pay a fine of
Rs.10,000/-. Deposit of the amount shall be made within
three months from today. If the amount is not deposited the
default sentence will be one year rigorous imprisonment. In
case the amount is deposited, a sum of Rs.8,000/- shall be
paid to the victim-Parvat Singh.

Appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent.

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