2016 ALL SCR (Cri) 207
SUPREME COURT

FAKKIR MOHAMED IBRAHIM KALIFULLA AND UDAY UMESH LALIT, JJ.

Puran Ram Vs. State of Rajasthan

Criminal Appeal No.723 of 2007

15th July, 2015.

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN
Respondent Counsel: Mr. PUNEET PARIHAR, Mr. SAURABH RAJPAL, Mr. MILIND KUMAR

Penal Code (1860), Ss.302, 304 Part II - Murder - Alteration of the offence to one u/S.304 Part II - Deceased while attempting to steal liquor from shop of accused, badly beaten by accused and received serious injuries - Deceased did not suffer instantaneous death - In fact evidence showing that after assault he was loitering here and there for money to get himself treated - Medical evidence also showing that deceased could have been saved if he had been given treatment at appropriate time - Therefore, conviction and sentence modified to one u/S.304 Part II. (Paras 10, 11, 12)

JUDGMENT

JUDGMENT :- Heard Mr. V. Ramasubramanian, the learned Amicus Curiae and Mr. Puneet Parihar, learned counsel for the respondent-State.

2. The appellant is aggrieved by the impugned judgment of the High Court of Rajasthan at Jodhpur in D.B. Criminal Jail Appeal No. 669 of 2002 dated 14th November, 2005. The Division Bench, by the impugned judgment, confirmed the conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and the appellant was sentenced to imprisonment for life apart from a fine of Rs.100/- with default clause.

3. The brief facts which lead to the above conviction by the trial court and the confirmation by the High Court was that the deceased by name, Kisna Ram, was a labourer and a bachelor living alone in Village Arayan. Just behind the house of the deceased the appellant was having his liquor store which he was managing secretly. It is stated that the deceased on an earlier occasion tried to steal the liquor which was prevented by the appellant after giving a light thrashing. Subsequently, when the deceased tried again to steal the liquor, the appellant is stated to have chased him away upto his house by inflicting lathi blows.

4. The said occurrence was witnessed by P.W. 5 Mst. Devli who is none other than the sister of the deceased. It is evident that the deceased being a poor man could not arrange for appropriate medical treatment nor could he inform the Police as the Police Station was situated about 13 Kms. away from the village. It was only after the arrival of P.W. 6 - Mastan Ram and P.W. 7 - Bhanwar Lal, the sons of P.W. 5, who had gone out of the village for earning their livelihood who returned on the next day i.e. 16th June, 2001 to whom P.W. 5 stated to have conveyed that the occurrence had taken place on 15th June, 2001 when Kisna Ram was assaulted by the appellant.

5. According to P.W. 6 when he went to see the deceased in his house he found him dead. That on the next day, i.e., 17th June, 2001 he lodged the F.I.R. The trial Court based on the evidence of P.W. 5 - Mst. Devli, P.W. 6-Mastan Ram, and P.W.3 the doctor who conducted the post-mortem on the body of the deceased and the other witnesses found that the appellant was responsible for the death of the deceased. Indeed the deceased was killed for the reasons which were narrated by P.Ws. 5 and 6. The trial Court taking into account the nature of the injuries sustained by the deceased as well as the evidence of P.Ws. 5 and 6 held that the appellant was liable to be convicted for the offence under Section 302 and imposed the sentence.

6. Before the High Court, on behalf of the appellant, it was argued that the offence as well can be brought under Section 304 Part II of the I.P.C. The High Court, however, could not be persuaded to accept the said submission again on the footing that the appellant gave repeated blows on the vital parts of the body of the deceased, that apart there were two bone deep injuries on the frontal and occipital region of the head and that the third injury was on the ribs. The High Court, therefore, took the view that it was clearly established that the appellant intended to cause the murder of the deceased Kisna Ram. The High Court, therefore, confirmed the conviction and sentence as imposed by the trial Court.

7. When this matter was posted before us, we issued notice on 4th January, 2007 confining to the question of offence.

8. When we heard the matter, Mr. V. Ramasubramanian, learned Amicus Curiae submitted that there was one major reason which supported the claim of the appellant that the rigor of the offence appears to be less in degree inasmuch as the version of P.W. 6 himself makes it clear that the deceased even after injuries on 15th June, 2001 was found to be loitering here and there in the village for want of money to go to the hospital as well as to the Police Station. Therefore, he failed to get himself treated immediately for the injuries sustained by him and that the said version of P.W. 6 is also supported by the version of P.W. 3, the doctor who conducted the post mortem on the deceased who stated that life of the deceased could have been saved in case he had been given medical treatment at the appropriate time and operated upon the injuries.

9. However, Mr. Puneet Parihar, learned counsel appearing for the respondent-State would contend that when the injuries which have been noted by P.W. 3 on the body of the deceased were so grievous mainly inflicted on the head and other vital parts of the body of the deceased as spoken to by P.W. 3 on the nature of the injuries sustained by the deceased and when the deceased being a poor man was not able to get himself treated for want of money and as the appellant was found to be responsible for the killing of the deceased, the conviction and sentence does not call for interference.

10. Having considered the respective submissions, we find force in the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant when he seeks for alteration of the offence by which the appellant is to be convicted. It is true that the injuries noted on the body of the deceased as noted by P.W.3, Dr. Rajesh Arora, were serious and grievous. When we examined the said aspect of the case in conjecture with the occurrence which has been narrated by P.Ws. 5 and 6, we find that the deceased was earlier reprimanded by the appellant when he tried to steal the liquor by giving a light thrash and subsequently when the deceased attempted to commit the same activity of attempting to steal the liquor the appellant had given him good thrashing which unfortunately resulted in the ultimate death of the deceased. However, the fact remains that the deceased did not suffer instantaneous death. Therefore, one thing was clear that the appellant who was enraged by the repeated attempt of the deceased to steal liquor wanted to teach him a lesson so that in future such conduct of the deceased can be curbed.

11. Going by the version of P.W.6, it is clear that after the deceased was assaulted on 15th June, 2001 he was found loitering in the village here and there asking for money to get himself treated as well as for reporting to the Police. It is to be noted that while the deceased a poor man was none other than the brother of P.W.5, P.Ws. 6 and 7 are sons of P.W. 5 who were earning members, but yet for no reason P.W.5 had not made any attempt even to take basic care of her deceased brother and he was allowed to loiter here and there for two days in the village for his monetary support. In fact, he died only on 16th June, 2001 as has been stated by P.W. 6 in his evidence. Therefore, P.W. 3, the doctor who conducted the post mortem even after narrating the nature of the injury sustained by the deceased rightly opined that the deceased could have been saved had he been given timely treatment and injuries had been operated upon.

12. Having regard to the said features relating to the injuries sustained and the failure to give appropriate treatment to such injuries, the deceased ultimately succumbed to it, we are of the firm view that the appellant can only be convicted for a lesser offence, other than the one under Section 302 IPC. We are, therefore, of the view that the conviction and sentence can be brought under Section 304 Part II IPC and having regard to the nature of injuries inflicted, the appellant can be imposed of the sentence of imprisonment of ten years.

13. With modification on the conviction from Section 302 to 304 Part II IPC and a sentence of ten years instead of life in all other respects, the judgment of the courts below stand confirmed.

14. The appeal stands disposed of on the above terms.

15. Fee of the learned Amicus is fixed at Rs.10,000/-.

Ordered accordingly.