2014 ALL MR (Cri) 1739
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

V.K. TAHILRAMANI AND MRIDULA BHATKAR, JJ.

Shekhar @ Shankar Hanmant-Hosmani Vs. The State Of Maharashtra

Criminal Appeal No. 381 of 2009

10th July, 2013

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. MURTAZA M. NAJMI
Respondent Counsel: Ms. S.V. SONAWANE

Penal Code (1860), Ss.302, 304 Part I, 304 Part II - Criminal P.C. (1973), S.374 - Murder or culpable homicide - Determination - Prosecution case that accused had poured kerosene from stove on deceased and then set her on fire because she did not pay accused sum demanded by him - Contention that said case would not fall under S.302 but fall under S.304 Part I or 304 Part II as act of accused was not premeditated or preplanned but incident occurred on spur of moment in fit of anger - Both parties had worked into fury on account of verbal altercation going on between them, proved from evidence of witness - Accused took kerosene from stove available in house, proved by evidence - He did not take any undue advantage or acted in cruel or unusual manner - At the same time, facts also make it clear that accused did not just have knowledge that his act is likely to cause death, he also intended to cause death of deceased - As such, Exception 4 to S.300 applies to facts of case - Proper conviction is u/S.304 Part I - Hence, conviction u/S. 302 set aside. (Paras 8, 9)

JUDGMENT

MRS. V. K. TAHILRAMANI, J. :- The appellant has preferred this appeal against the judgment and order dated 30.3.2005 passed by the learned Sessions Judge, Satara in Sessions Case No.22 of 2004. By the said judgment and order, the learned Sessions Judge convicted the appellant under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to life imprisonment and fine of Rs.1000, in default, R.I. for three months.

2. The prosecution case briefly stated is as under:

Deceased Shobha was a sex worker. The appellant was known to her. Shobha had sexual relations with him. Since about 1½ months prior to the incident, the appellant was residing with Shobha. PW3 Poonam was residing in the house adjacent to Shobha's house. On 19.6.2003, at about 9 pm, a quarrel took place between the appellant and Shobha as the appellant demanded Rs.2,000/- from Shobha and Shobha refused to give the said amount. This was heard by her neighbour PW3 Punam. In the course of the quarrel, the appellant poured kerosene on Shobha and set her on fire. Shobha extinguished the fire. She covered herself with a blanket and went out of the house. Punam saw Shobha coming out of the house covered with a blanket. On the way, she met her friend PW2 Anjana. Shobha removed a part of the blanket and showed PW2 Anjana that she had burn injuries on her person. Shobha told PW2 Anjana that the appellant had set her on fire because she did not pay the appellant Rs.2,000/- which was demanded by him. Shobha further told Anjana that the appellant had poured kerosene from a stove on her body and then set her on fire. She told Anjana that this had happened in her house. Anjana then took Shobha to Civil hospital, Satara and got her admitted. PW9 Police Constable Shinde recorded the dying declaration of Shobha (exhibit 24). This dying declaration was recorded at 11.30pm. Thereafter, PW6 Sitaram Nikam, who was serving in the Tahsildar Office, Satara, recorded another dying declaration (exhibit 26) of Shobha. The dying declaration recorded by PW9 Police Constable Shinde, which is at exhibit 24, was treated as FIR. Thereafter, investigation commenced. In both the dying declarations, Shobha stated that the appellant demanded Rs.2,000/- from her which she refused to give and hence, the appellant poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. Shobha died on 26.6.2003 on account of septicemia due to burn injuries.

3. Charge came to be framed against the appellant u/s 302 of the Indian Penal Code. He pleaded not guilty to the said charge and claimed to be tried. His defence is that of total denial and false implication. After going through the evidence adduced in this case, the learned Sessions Judge convicted and sentenced the appellant as stated in para 1 above, hence, this appeal.

4. We have heard the learned advocate for the appellant and the learned APP for the State. We have considered their submissions, the judgment and order passed by the learned Sessions Judge and the evidence in this case. After carefully considering the same, we are of opinion that the appellant poured kerosene on Shobha and set her on fire.

5. The conviction of the appellant is based on the two dying declarations (exhibits 24 and 26). Exhibit 24 was recorded by PW9 police constable Shinde on the day of the incident i.e., on 19.6.2003 at 11.30am. Thereafter, PW6 Nikam recorded the dying declaration of Shobha, which is at exhibit 26. In both the dying declarations, Shobha stated that the appellant demanded Rs.2,000/- from her. She refused to give the same. Hence, the appellant poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. In addition to the two dying declarations (exhibits 24 and 26), the prosecution is relying on the oral dying declaration made by shobha to PW2 Anajana. Anjana knew deceased Shobha as they were in the same profession. Anjana also knew the accused since her childhood. Anjana has stated that some time after 8pm, Shobha met her on the road. She had covered herself with a blanket. Shobha removed the blanket and showed Anjana that she had sustained burn injuries on her body. Shobha told her that the appellant set her on fire because she did not pay him Rs.2,000/- which was demanded by him. Shobha further told her that the appellant poured kerosene from a stove on her body and then set her on fire. Shobha also informed that the incident had happened in her house at Shanivarpeth.

6. In addition to the two dying declarations (exhibits 24 and 26) and the oral dying declaration made to PW2 Anjana, heavy reliance is placed by the prosecution on the evidence of PW3 Punam, who was the neighbour of Shobha. Punam has stated that her room was adjacent to the room of Shobha. On the evening when the incident occurred, Punam was at home. She heard a quarrel going on between the appellant and Shobha. She heard Shobha shouting. Thereafter, she opened the door of her house and found that the door of Shobha was closed. The appellant was demanding money from Shobha. Shobha told him that she did not have money. Thereafter, Shobha shouted loudly and then Punam heard the sound of burning. After that, Punam saw Shobha coming out of the house covered with a blanket and Shobha ran away. The evidence of this witness establishes that quarrel took place between the appellant and Shobha and immediately after the quarrel Shobha ran out of the house covered with a blanket. The evidence of PW8 Indu, who was also a neighbour of Shobha, is on the same lines as that of PW3 Punam.

7. Mr.Nazmi submitted that even if it is accepted that the act of the appellant in setting Shobha on fire resulted in her death, the case would not fall u/s 302 of the Indian Penal Code but it would fall u/s 304 part II or at the most section 304 part I of the Indian Penal Code. He pointed out that the evidence on record shows that a quarrel was going on between the appellant and Shobha which has been deposed to by PW3 Punam as well as by PW8 Indu, who was also her neighbour. Mr.Nazmi further submitted that the act of the appellant was not premeditated or preplanned. He submitted that the incident occurred on the spur of the moment in a fit of anger. Mr.Nazmi submitted that the fact that the incident had occurred during the course of a sudden quarrel, would bring the case under Exception 4 to section 300 of the Indian Penal Code and would thus be covered under section 304 part II of the Indian Penal Code.

8. To bring a case under Exception 4 to Section 300 of IPC, all the ingredients mentioned in it must be found. It is to be noted that the word 'fight' occurring in Exception 4 to Section 300 of IPC is not defined in the Indian Penal Code. It takes two to make a fight. Heat of passion requires that there must be no time for passion to cool down. In this case, the evidence shows that both the parties had worked themselves into a fury on account of verbal altercation going on between them. The appellant poured kerosene on Shobha which was taken from a stove which was there in the house. However, for the application of Exception 4, it is not sufficient to show that there was a sudden quarrel and there was no premeditation, but it must be further shown that the offender has not taken any undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner. The facts of this case show that the appellant did not take any undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner. However, we are not prepared to accede to the submission of Mr.Nazmi that the case would fall u/s 304 part II of the Indian Penal Code. In our view, the case would fall u/s 304 part I of the Indian Penal Code because we are of the opinion that the appellant did not just have the knowledge that his act is likely to cause death, as contended by Mr.Nazmi but in fact, the appellant intended to cause death of Shobha. We say so, on the basis of the injuries sustained by Shobha. Looking to all these facts, we are of the considered opinion that the case cannot fall u/s 304 part II of the Indian Penal Code.

9. Considering the evidence on record, we are of the view that Exception 4 to Section 300 applies to the facts of the case and the proper conviction would be u/s 304 part I of the Indian Penal Code. Hence, the conviction u/s 302 of the Indian Penal Code is set aside. Instead, the appellant is convicted u/s 304 part I of the Indian Penal Code. In our view, custodial sentence of eight years R.I. and a fine of Rs.1000/- in default, S.I. for two months would meet the ends of justice.

10. Appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent.

11. Office to communicate this order to the Appellant and the Superintendent of jail where the appellant is lodged i.e., Kolhapur Central Prison.

12. At this stage, we must record our appreciation for the able assistance rendered by the learned advocate Mr.Nazmi who has very ably conducted the matter. We quantify total legal fees to be paid to him in this appeal by the High Court Legal Services Committee at Rs.2,500/-.

Ordered accordingly.