Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Whether paper cutter can be considered as deadly weapon?

A paper cutter is also a species of knife inasmuch as, it has a
handle and a blade. Although it is meant for a specific purpose of cutting
paper, there is no denying the fact that its blade is very sharp and is
capable of delivering a fatal injury.
26. In the present case, the paper cutter had been placed on the
complainant’s neck. Undeniably, a deep cut on the neck – which could
be easily inflicted by the said instrument – could be fatal. Indisputably,
such an instrument used as a weapon and placed on the neck of a victim
is sufficient to terrorize a victim into yielding under fear of an injury. In
the given circumstances, this Court is not persuaded to accept that that
use of a paper cutter in committing robbery did not invite a punition
under Section 397 of the IPC.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
 Judgment delivered on: 03.02.2020
 CRL.A. 391/2016

GULFAM @ ZAHOOR Vs  STATE 

CORAM
HON’BLE MR JUSTICE VIBHU BAKHRU
Dated:FEBRUARY 03, 2020


1. The appellant has filed the present appeal impugning a judgment
dated 16.12.2015, whereby he was convicted for the offences
punishable under Sections 392/397 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
(IPC). The appellant also impugns an order on sentence dated
23.12.2015, whereby he was sentenced to undergo rigorous
imprisonment for a period of seven years for the offence punishable
under Section 397 of the IPC; rigorous imprisonment for a period of
five years for the offence under Section 392 of the IPC; and a fine of
₹500/- was imposed on him, in default of which, the appellant would
have to undergo fifteen days of simple imprisonment. All the aforesaid
sentences were directed to run concurrently.

2. Briefly stated, the case of the prosecution is that on 13.12.2014
at about 11:00 pm, near red light Welcome towards Seelam Pur, Delhi
the appellant committed the robbery of a mobile phone belonging to
Mohd. Firoz (the complainant) and during this incident, the appellant
used a weapon – a paper cutter. Thereafter, certain public persons
apprehended the appellant and gave him beatings. Consequently, FIR
No. 853/2014 under Sections 397/392 of the IPC was registered with
PS Seelam Pur, thus setting criminal law into motion.
3. The charge sheet was filed against the appellant and by an order
dated 03.02.2015, he was charged with the commission of the offences
punishable under Sections 392/397 of the IPC. The appellant pleaded
not guilty and the case was set down for trial. During the course of the
trial, the prosecution examined six witnesses and the defence did not
lead any evidence.
Evidence
4. The complainant (Mohd. Firoz) was examined PW1. He stated
that he worked in computer designing at Netaji Subhash Place, Delhi.
On 13.12.2014, at night time, he was going home from office. At about
11:00-11:15 pm, he was going to the Welcome side on foot to take an
auto after deboarding at the Seelampur Metro Station. Suddenly, one
person came from behind him, caught hold of his collar and put a paper
cutter on his neck and told him to hand over all his belongings to him.
PW1 stated that he did not have any valuable items. The assailant then
put his hand into PW1’s pocket and took out his mobile phone (Redmi

Note make). He also tried to take money (about ₹30-₹40), however, he
did not take the same. Thereafter, the assailant told PW1 to go away
from the spot. PW1 then ran away from the spot and after about fifteen
paces, he found 3-4 persons of the locality who PW1 informed about
the incident. The said 3-4 persons then apprehended the assailant and
gave beatings to him. PW1’s mobile phone and the paper cutter were
recovered from the assailant. Thereafter, he made a call at 100 number
following which, a PCR and the local police came to the spot.
5. In his cross-examination, PW1 affirmed that the accused came
fromhis back side. Thereafter, PW1 stated that the accused put his hand
on the pocket of his pant and felt the mobile phone; he asked PW1 what
the article was and thereafter, PW1 took his phone out and handed the
same over to the accused due to fear. PW1 denied informing the police
that the accused had put his hand into PW1’s pocket and took out the
mobile phone. PW1 stated that the accused did not take any other
articles from the person of PW1 and did not check his bag either. PW1
stated that the incident occurred at a public spot and at the material time,
there was traffic on the road. However, he did not try to stop any vehicle
to ask for help. PW1 affirmed that he handed over his mobile phone and
the paper cutter, which he had recovered from the accused, to the police
when the police reached the spot.
6. HC Anil Dutt, PCR NE Zone, deposed as PW2. He stated that on
13.12.2014 at about 11:24 pm, a call was received fromthe PCR control
room that a mobile phone was robbed from the informant near Shyam
Medical store double storeyWelcome and the assailant was caught hold

of by the informant. The PCR reached there at about 11:30 pm. PW2
stated that public persons were present at the spot. The informant
(Firoz) met them there and produced the accused Gulfam before the
police officials and stated that the accused had been apprehended with
the help of public persons. The informant handed over the mobile phone
and the paper cutter (weapon of the offence) to ASI Gopal Das. In his
cross-examination, PW2 affirmed that the IO did not ask any public
persons to join the investigation in his presence.
7. ASI Gopal Das, PCR Line Model Town, deposed as PW3. He
deposed that when he, along with Ct Subhash, reached the spot the PCR
was already present there. The complainant produced the accused
before PW3 and made allegations that the accused had robbed his
mobile phone by putting a knife on his neck. The complainant produced
one mobile phone and one paper cutter and alleged that the said mobile
phone was robbed and the paper cutter was used by the accused in the
incident. The accused was in an injured condition and thus, PW3 sent
him to GTB Hospital for medical examination. PW3 affirmed his
signatures on the rukka (Ex. PW-3/A) at point A. PW3 correctly
identified the paper cutter allegedly used by the accused. In his crossexamination,
PW3 stated that the custody of the accused was handed
over to the police officials by the complainant and the accused was
intoxicated. He denied asking public persons to join the investigations.
8. HC Rakesh Kumar, PS Seelampur, deposed as PW4. He proved
the FIR on the basis of the rukka and the DD entry for the registration
of the FIR (Ex. PW-2/A).

9. Ct Subhash, PS Seelampur, deposed as PW5. PW5 deposed that
on 13.12.2014, he was posted at PS Seelampur. He along with ASI
Gopal Das reached at the spot where the complainant met them and
produced the accused. Many public persons were present at the spot.
Thereafter, PW5 stated that he was sent to PS Seelampur along with
rukka for the registration of an FIR. He proved the sketch of the paper
cutter (Ex. PW-3/B). Thereafter, he stated that the IO sealed the paper
cutter in a cloth pullanda bearing the seal of RK. IO also seized the
mobile phone of Red Me make and affixed the seal of RK on the same.
In his cross-examination, he stated that the colour of the paper cutter
was deep blue (firozi). Further, he deposed that one mobile phone of
Samsung make was recovered from the accused from his search and
nothing else was recovered. He could not recollect whether the IO had
asked any public persons to join the investigations. He denied the
suggestion that efforts were not made to join any public persons.
10. SI Rizwan Khan, PS Seelampur, deposed as PW-6. He stated that
in the intervening night of 13/14.12.2014 at about 01:20 am, he was
present at the PS and Ct Subhash came to him and handed him a copy
of the FIR of this case and the original rukka for further investigation.
He reached the spot with Ct Subhash where he met ASI Gopal Das who
produced one mobile phone of Red Me make and one paper cutter as
produced by the complainant to him and was allegedly recovered from
the accused Mohd. Gulfam. On checking the phone, it contained two
SIM cards. He also checked the IMEI number of the said mobile phone.
PW6 stated that he interrogated the accused and thereafter, arrested him.

PW6 also stated that on a search of the accused, one mobile phone of
Samsung make was recovered from his person. PW6 correctly
identified the accused in open court.
11. In his cross-examination, he affirmed that he had requested some
persons to join the proceedings, however, none agreed. He denied the
suggestion that since he had not earlier stated that he had made efforts
to join public persons, thus, he had conducted the proceedings while in
the PS.
12. The accused’s statement under Section 313 of the CrPC was
recorded on 17.11.2015. In his statement, conducted in a questionanswer
format, he denied all suggestions made and stated that he is
innocent and has been falsely implicated in the case.
Reasons and Conclusion
13. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant contended that a
paper cutter is not a deadly weapon and therefore, even if it is accepted
that the appellant had used a paper cutter for the purposes of robbing
the complainant, an offence under Section 397 of the IPC was not
established. He relied on the decision of the Coordinate Bench of this
Court in Guddu v. State: Crl. A. 721/2018 decided on 19.03.2019, in
support of his contention. He further contended that a paper cutter could
not be equated with a knife, as it was stationery item. He submitted that
the blade of a paper cutter is not robust and usually breaks if it is met
with any resistance. He submitted that therefore, a paper cutter could
not be equated with a knife.

14. Next, he relied on the decision of this Court in Bishan v. The
State: (1984) 6 DRJ 78, wherein the Coordinate Bench of this Court
has held that a vegetable knife could not be considered as a deadly
weapon. He referred to the decision of Mathai v. State of Kerala:
(2005) 3 SCC 260 and drew the attention of this Court to the following
observations made by the Supreme Court: “The facts involved in a
particular case, depending upon various factors like size, sharpness,
would throw light on the question whether the weapon was a dangerous
or deadly weapon or not.” He submitted that in the present case, there
was no evidence that the paper cutter was a sharp one and in fact the
sketch (Ex. PW 3/B), produced on record, has indicated that the edges
of the paper cutter were blunt.
15. The evidence on record clearly establishes that the appellant had
used the paper cutter for the purposes of robbing the complainant’s
mobile phone. There are minor inconsistencies in the testimony of the
complainant; however, the same are not material. The learned counsel
appearing for the appellant also did not seriously canvas that the
appellant was not involved in the incident, as described by the
complainant and as found by the Trial Court.
16. In view of the above, the only question that needs to be addressed
is whether the use of the paper cutter in committing the robbery would
justify the appellant being punished under Section 397 of the IPC. In
Guddu (supra), this Court had referred to earlier decisions of this Court
in Rajender Yadav v. The State (NCT of Delhi): (2013) VII AD (Delhi)
359, wherein this Court has held that a vegetable knife could not be

considered as a deadly weapon so as to attract the punitive provision of
Section 397 of the IPC. The Court has also relied on an earlier decision
in Charan Singh v. State: (1998) Crl. L.J. NOC 28 (Delhi), wherein
this Court has held that it was essential for the prosecution to produce
evidence establishing that the knife used was a deadly weapon.
17. There is a divergence of opinion in various decisions of this Court
as to whether it was necessary to establish that a knife is a deadly
weapon. One line of cases follows the view that the question whether a
knife is a deadly weapon is to be determined by various factors,
including the design of a knife and the manner in which it was used.
There was yet another line of cases where this Court had taken a view
that a knife of any description is, still, a knife and the same is a deadly
weapon.
18. In Phool Kumar v. Delhi Administration: (1975) 1 SCC 797, the
Supreme Court had observed that the appellant therein had a knife in
his hand and “he was, therefore, carrying a deadly weapon open to the
view of the victims sufficient to frighten or terrorize them.”.
19. In Balik Ram v. The State: (1983) Crl. L.J. 1438, this Court
observed: “What would make a knife deadly is its design or the manner
of its use such as is calculated to or is likely to produce death.”. In a
later decision in Salim v. State (Delhi Admin.): (1988) 14 DRJ 85, this
Court referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Phool Kumar
(supra) and relying on the observation that a knife is a deadly weapon,
did not accept the view as articulated in Balik Ram (supra) and held as

under:
“9……We all understand what a knife means and to
categorise it or to fix its size for it to be a deadly weapon
may not be appropriate. A knife has also been' described
as a pocket knife, pen knife, table knife, kitchen knife,
etc. It cannot be denied that a knife can be used as a
weapon of offence. It can cut, it can pierce, it can be
deadly. To say that a knife to be a deadly weapon should
be of a particular size would perhaps be not a correct
statement. In the present case, the evidence shows that the
injury was caused to Singh Ramwitness by a sharp-edged
weapon and there is a statement that the accused Salim
was carrying a knife and it was with that knife that the
injury was caused to the witness. It would not be
necessary for the witness to further state as to that was the
size of the knife to attract the provisions of Section
397 Indian Penal Code as was contended by Mrs.
Ahlawat. This contention that case under Section
397 Indian Penal Code is not made out fails.”
20. This Court observed that in Balik Ram (supra), the Court had not
taken note of the decision of the Supreme Court in Phool Kumar
(supra), wherein the Supreme Court had held that a knife is a deadly
weapon. In Bishan (supra), this Court followed its earlier decision in
Balik Ram (supra) and sought to distinguish the decision of Phool
Kumar (supra). Further, the decision in Bishan (supra) was not
considered or referred to by this Court in Salim (supra).
21. In the aforesaid facts, it is contended that the line of cases
following the decision in Salim (supra) ought not to be relied upon, as
they are not good precedent because this Court had not taken note of the
earlier decision in Bishan (supra).

22. This Court is unable to accept the aforesaid contention. It is
correct that in Bishan (supra), this Court had distinguished the decision
in the case Phool Kumar (supra) by observing that in that case, the
question turned upon the interpretation of the use of the weapon and
who actually used the weapon. Although Bishan (supra) was not
referred to in Salim (supra), the Court had relied on the observations
made in Phool Kumar (supra) and had clearly not interpreted the same
in the manner as done in Bishan (supra). Be that as it may, the
observations made by this Court in Salim (supra) are unambiguous.
23. It is also relevant to refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in
Ashfaq v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi): (2004) 3 SCC 116, wherein
the Supreme Court had approved the findings of the Court below that
“a knife is equally a deadly weapon, for purposes of Section 394 IPC”.
24. In Sonu @ Shahnawaz v. State (NCT Govt. of Delhi): Crl.
1141/2017 decided on 19.11.2019, this Court had examined the two
lines of cases and had held that in view of the observations made by the
Supreme Court in Phool Kumar (supra) and Ashfaq (supra) as well as
the decisions of this Court in Salim (supra); Ikram Ansari and Ors. v.
State (NCT of Delhi) and Ors.: (2014) 8 High Court Cases (Del) 277
and Sanjay Kumar v. State: Crl. A. 442/2014 decided on 18.09.2014,
and held that it was not essential to categorize a weapon in order to
determine whether it is a deadly weapon or not.

25. A paper cutter is also a species of knife inasmuch as, it has a
handle and a blade. Although it is meant for a specific purpose of cutting
paper, there is no denying the fact that its blade is very sharp and is
capable of delivering a fatal injury.
26. In the present case, the paper cutter had been placed on the
complainant’s neck. Undeniably, a deep cut on the neck – which could
be easily inflicted by the said instrument – could be fatal. Indisputably,
such an instrument used as a weapon and placed on the neck of a victim
is sufficient to terrorize a victim into yielding under fear of an injury. In
the given circumstances, this Court is not persuaded to accept that that
use of a paper cutter in committing robbery did not invite a punition
under Section 397 of the IPC.
27. The appeal is unmerited and is, accordingly, dismissed.
VIBHU BAKHRU, J
FEBRUARY 03, 2020

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