Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Supreme Court: Death Occurred Due To Single Injury Can Also Attract offence U/S 302 IPC (Murder)

From the above stated decisions, it emerges that there is no
hard and fast rule that in a case of single injury Section 302 IPC
would not be attracted. It depends upon the facts and

circumstances of each case. The nature of injury, the part of the
body where it is caused, the weapon used in causing such injury
are the indicators of the fact whether the accused caused the death
of the deceased with an intention of causing death or not. It cannot
be laid down as a rule of universal application that whenever the
death occurs on account of a single blow, Section 302 IPC is ruled
out. The fact situation has to be considered in each case, more
particularly, under the circumstances narrated hereinabove, the
events which precede will also have a bearing on the issue whether
the act by which the death was caused was done with an intention
of causing death or knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but
without intention to cause death. It is the totality of the
circumstances which will decide the nature of offence.
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 577 OF 2020

Stalin  Vs  State 

Author: M. R. Shah, J.
Dated:September 9, 2020.
Leave granted.
2. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned
judgment and order dated 18.01.2017 passed by the Madurai
Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Madras in Criminal
Appeal (MD) No. 122 of 2016 by which the High Court has
dismissed the said appeal and has confirmed the Judgment and
Order of conviction and sentence passed by the learned IV
Additional District and Sessions Court, Tirunelveli in Sessions Case No. 354 of 2012, convicting the appellant herein – the original
accused for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC, the
original accused has preferred the present appeal.
3. At the outset, it is required to be noted that vide order dated
01.04.2019, this Court has issued a notice in the present appeal
limited to the extent as to whether the conviction ought to have
been under Section 304 Part II or Section 302 IPC. Therefore, this
Court is required to consider whether the appellant herein – the
original accused has been rightly convicted for the offence
punishable under Section 302 IPC or is to be convicted for any
other lesser offence, viz. Section 304 Part II IPC.
4. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant – original
accused has vehemently submitted that as it is a case of a single
blow, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted. It is submitted that
even the socalled
motive alleged for the incident is prior to four
months of the incident in question and, therefore, as such, the
prosecution has failed to establish and prove the motive for the
accused to kill the deceased.

4.1 It is submitted that, as such, the occurrence had taken place
out of a sudden and grave provocation and therefore the offence
would fall under Exception I to Section 300 IPC and, therefore, the
appellant has to be convicted for the lesser offence than Section 302
IPC.
4.2 Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant –
accused has heavily relied upon the decisions of this Court in the
cases of Kunhayippu v. State of Kerala (2000) 10 SCC 307 and
Musumsha Hasanasha Musalman v. State of Maharashra
(2000) 3 SCC 557 in support of his submission that for causing a
single stab injury, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted.
4.3 Making the above submissions and relying upon the above
decisions of this Court, it is prayed to convert the conviction from
Section 302 IPC to Section 304 Part II IPC.
5. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State has
vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the
case and on appreciation of the entire evidence on record, both the
learned Trial Court as well as the High Court have rightly convicted
the accused for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC. It is

vehemently submitted that the accused caused the injury by a knife
blow on the vital part of the body – Lever. It is submitted that
considering the fact that the accused was having a knife; the injury
inflicted by the accused was on the vital part of the body; and that
there was no any grave and sudden provocation established and
proved, it is submitted that both the Courts below have rightly
convicted the accused for the offence punishable under Section 302
IPC.
5.1 Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State has
vehemently submitted that there is no absolute proposition of law
laid down by this Court in any of the decisions that in case of a
single blow, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted. It is submitted
that it is held by this Court in catena of decisions that number of
injuries is irrelevant; it is not always the determining factor for
ascertaining the intention. It is submitted that as held by this
Court, it is the nature of injury; the part of body where it is caused;
the weapon used in causing such injury which are the indicators of
the fact whether the accused caused the death of the deceased with
an intention of causing death or not. Learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the State has relied upon the following decisions of this
Court on the single injury and, in such a case, whether Section 302
IPC would be attracted or not:
(i) Mahesh Balmiki v. State of M.P. (2000) 1 SCC 319;
(ii) Dhirajbhai Gorakhbhai Nayak v. State of Gujarat (2003) 9
SCC 322;
(iii) Pulicherla Nagaraju v. State of A.P. (2006) 11 SCC 444;
(iv) Bavisetti Kameswara Rao v. State of A.P. (2008) 15 SCC
725;
(v) Arun Raj v. Union of India. (2010) 6 SCC 457;
(vi) Singapagu Anjaiah v. State of A.P. (2010) 9 SCC 799;
(vii) Ashokkumar Nagabhai Vankar v. State of Gujarat (2011)
10 SCC 604;
(viii) Vijay Ramkrishan Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra
(2012) 11 SCC 592;
(ix) Som Raj v. State of H.P. (2013) 14 SCC 246;
(x) State of Madhya Pradesh v. Kalicharan (2019) 6 SCC 809;
(xi) State of Rajasthan v. Leela Ram (2019) 13 SCC 131;
(xii) Ananta Kamilya v. State of West Bengal (2020) 2 SCC 511

6. Now, so far as the submission on behalf of the accused that
the prosecution has failed to establish and prove the motive and/or
that the motive alleged of the incident is prior to four months of the
incident in question, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
State has vehemently submitted that, as rightly observed by the
High Court, in a case where the eyewitnesses
are available, the
motive becomes insignificant. It is submitted that, in the present
case, PWs 1, 2 and 3 are the eyewitnesses
to the incident and
therefore, the motive is insignificant in the present case. Heavy
reliance is placed on the decision of this Court in the case of
Sukhpal Singh v. State of Punjab (2019) 15 SCC 622.
7. Heard learned counsel on behalf of the respective parties at
length. As observed hereinabove, the only aspect which is required
to be considered in the present appeal is whether the appellant –
accused has committed an offence punishable under Section 302
IPC or any other lesser offence, more particularly, Section 304 Part
II IPC?
7.1 It is the case on behalf of the appellant – accused that as it is
a case of single injury, Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted and

the case would fall under Section 304 Part II IPC. While
considering the aforesaid submission, few decisions of this Court on
whether in a case of single injury, Section 302 IPC would be
attracted or not are required to be referred to:
7.1.1 In Mahesh Balmiki v. State of M.P., (2000) 1 SCC
319, this Court while deciding the question of whether a single blow with a knife on the chest of the deceased would attract Section 302 IPC, held thus: (SCC pp. 32223, para 9)
“9. … there is no principle that in all cases of a
single blow Section 302 IPC is not attracted. A
single blow may, in some cases, entail conviction
under Section 302 IPC, in some cases under Section
304 IPC and in some other cases under Section 326
IPC. The question with regard to the nature of
offence has to be determined on the facts and in the
circumstances of each case. The nature of the
injury, whether it is on the vital or nonvital
part of
the body, the weapon used, the circumstances in
which the injury is caused and the manner in which
the injury is inflicted are all relevant factors which
may go to determine the required intention or
knowledge of the offender and the offence
committed by him. In the instant case, the deceased
was disabled from saving himself because he was
held by the associates of the appellant who inflicted
though a single yet a fatal blow of the description
noted above. These facts clearly establish that the
appellant had the intention to kill the deceased. In

any event, he can safely be attributed the knowledge
that the knifeblow
given by him was so imminently
dangerous that it must in all probability cause
death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause
death.”
7.1.2 In Dhirajbhai Gorakhbhai Nayak v. State of
Gujarat (2003) 9 SCC 322, this Court while discussing the
ingredients of Exception 4 of Section 300 IPC, held thus: (SCC pp.
32728,
para 11)
“11. The fourth exception of Section 300 IPC
covers acts done in a sudden fight. The said
Exception deals with a case of prosecution (sic
provocation) not covered by the first exception, after
which its place would have been more appropriate.
The Exception is founded upon the same principle,
for in both there is absence of premeditation. But,
while in the case of Exception 1 there is total
deprivation of selfcontrol,
in case of Exception 4,
there is only that heat of passion which clouds
men's sober reason and urges them to deeds which
they would not otherwise do. There is provocation in
Exception 4 as in Exception 1, but the injury done
is not the direct consequence of that provocation. In
fact, Exception 4 deals with cases in which
notwithstanding that a blow may have been struck,
or some provocation given in the origin of the
dispute or in whatever way the quarrel may have
originated, yet the subsequent conduct of both
parties puts them in respect of guilt upon an equal

footing. A “sudden fight” implies mutual provocation
and blows on each side. The homicide committed is
then clearly not traceable to unilateral provocation,
nor could in such cases the whole blame be placed
on one side. For if it were so, the Exception more
appropriately applicable would be Exception 1.
There is no previous deliberation or determination
to fight. A fight suddenly takes place, for which both
parties are more or less to be blamed. It may be that
one of them starts it, but if the other had not
aggravated it by his own conduct it would not have
taken the serious turn it did. There is then mutual
provocation and aggravation, and it is difficult to
apportion the share of blame which attaches to each
fighter. The help of Exception 4 can be invoked if
death is caused (a) without premeditation, (b) in a
sudden fight, (c) without the offenders having taken
undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual
manner, and (d) the fight must have been with the
person killed. To bring a case within Exception 4 all
the ingredients mentioned in it must be found. It is
to be noted that the “fight” occurring in Exception 4
to Section 300 IPC is not defined in IPC. It takes two
to make a fight. Heat of passion requires that there
must be no time for the passions to cool down and
in this case, the parties had worked themselves into
a fury on account of the verbal altercation in the
beginning. A fight is a combat between two and
more persons whether with or without weapons. It
is not possible to enunciate any general rule as to
what shall be deemed to be a sudden quarrel. It is a
question of fact and whether a quarrel is sudden or
not must necessarily depend upon the proved facts
of each case. For the application of Exception 4, it is
not sufficient to show that there was a sudden
quarrel and there was no premeditation. It must

further be shown that the offender has not taken
undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual
manner. The expression “undue advantage” as used
in the provision means “unfair advantage”.”
7.1.3 In Pulicherla Nagaraju v. State of A.P. (2006) 11 SCC
444, this Court while deciding whether a case falls under Section
302 or 304 Part I or 304 Part II IPC, held thus: (SCC pp. 45758,
para 29):
“29. Therefore, the court should proceed to
decide the pivotal question of intention, with care
and caution, as that will decide whether the case
falls under Section 302 or 304 Part I or 304 Part II.
Many petty or insignificant matters — plucking of a
fruit, straying of cattle, quarrel of children,
utterance of a rude word or even an objectionable
glance, may lead to altercations and group clashes
culminating in deaths. Usual motives like revenge,
greed, jealousy or suspicion may be totally absent in
such cases. There may be no intention. There may
be no premeditation. In fact, there may not even be
criminality. At the other end of the spectrum, there
may be cases of murder where the accused attempts
to avoid the penalty for murder by attempting to put
forth a case that there was no intention to cause
death. It is for the courts to ensure that the cases of
murder punishable under Section 302, are not
converted into offences punishable under Section
304 Part I/II, or cases of culpable homicide not
amounting to murder, are treated as murder
punishable under Section 302. The intention to
cause death can be gathered generally from a

combination of a few or several of the following,
among other, circumstances: (i) nature of the
weapon used; (ii) whether the weapon was carried
by the accused or was picked up from the spot; (iii)
whether the blow is aimed at a vital part of the
body; (iv) the amount of force employed in causing
injury; (v) whether the act was in the course of
sudden quarrel or sudden fight or free for all fight;
(vi) whether the incident occurs by chance or
whether there was any premeditation; (vii) whether
there was any prior enmity or whether the deceased
was a stranger; (viii) whether there was any grave
and sudden provocation, and if so, the cause for
such provocation; (ix) whether it was in the heat of
passion; (x) whether the person inflicting the injury
has taken undue advantage or has acted in a cruel
and unusual manner; (xi) whether the accused dealt
a single blow or several blows. The above list of
circumstances is, of course, not exhaustive and
there may be several other special circumstances
with reference to individual cases which may throw
light on the question of intention. Be that as it
may.”
7.1.4 In Singapagu Anjaiah v. State of A.P. (2010) 9 SCC
799, this Court while deciding the question whether a blow on the
skull of the deceased with a crowbar would attract Section 302 IPC,
held thus, (SCC p. 803, para 16):
“16. In our opinion, as nobody can enter into the
mind of the accused, his intention has to be gathered

from the weapon used, the part of the body chosen for
the assault and the nature of the injuries caused. Here,
the appellant had chosen a crowbar as the weapon of
offence. He has further chosen a vital part of the body i.e.
the head for causing the injury which had caused
multiple fractures of skull. This clearly shows the force
with which the appellant had used the weapon. The
cumulative effect of all these factors irresistibly leads to
one and the only conclusion that the appellant intended
to cause death of the deceased.”
7.1.5 In State of Rajasthan v. Kanhaiya Lal (2019) 5 SCC
639 this Court in paragraphs 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5 held as follows:
“7.3. In Arun Raj [Arun Raj v. Union of India, (2010)
6 SCC 457 : (2010) 3 SCC (Cri) 155] this Court observed
and held that there is no fixed rule that whenever a
single blow is inflicted, Section 302 would not be
attracted. It is observed and held by this Court in the
aforesaid decision that nature of weapon used and vital
part of the body where blow was struck, prove beyond
reasonable doubt the intention of the accused to cause
death of the deceased. It is further observed and held by
this Court that once these ingredients are proved, it is
irrelevant whether there was a single blow struck or
multiple blows.
7.4. In Ashokkumar Magabhai Vankar [Ashokkumar
Magabhai Vankar v. State of Gujarat, (2011) 10 SCC 604 :
(2012) 1 SCC (Cri) 397] , the death was caused by single
blow on head of the deceased with a wooden pestle. It
was found that the accused used pestle with such force
that head of the deceased was broken into pieces. This

Court considered whether the case would fall under
Section 302 or Exception 4 to Section 300 IPC. It is held
by this Court that the injury sustained by the deceased,
not only exhibits intention of the accused in causing
death of victim, but also knowledge of the accused in that
regard. It is further observed by this Court that such
attack could be none other than for causing death of
victim. It is observed that any reasonable person, with
any stretch of imagination can come to conclusion that
such injury on such a vital part of the body, with such a
weapon, would cause death.
7.5. A similar view is taken by this Court in the
recent decision in Leela Ram (supra) and after
considering catena of decisions of this Court on the issue
on hand i.e. in case of a single blow, whether case falls
under Section 302 or Section 304 Part I or Section 304
Part II, this Court reversed the judgment and convicted
the accused for the offence under Section 302 IPC. In the
same decision, this Court also considered Exception 4 of
Section 300 IPC and observed in para 21 as under: (SCC
para 21)
“21. Under Exception 4, culpable homicide is
not murder if the stipulations contained in that
provision are fulfilled. They are: (i) that the act was
committed without premeditation; (ii) that there was
a sudden fight; (iii) the act must be in the heat of
passion upon a sudden quarrel; and (iv) the offender
should not have taken undue advantage or acted in
a cruel or unusual manner.”
7.1.6 In the case of Bavisetti Kameswara Rao (supra), this
Court has observed in paragraphs 13 and 14 as under:

“13. It is seen that where in the murder case there
is only a single injury, there is always a tendency to
advance an argument that the offence would invariably
be covered under Section 304 Part II IPC. The nature of
offence where there is a single injury could not be
decided merely on the basis of the single injury and thus
in a mechanical fashion. The nature of the offence would
certainly depend upon the other attendant
circumstances which would help the court to find out
definitely about the intention on the part of the accused.
Such attendant circumstances could be very many, they
being (i) whether the act was premeditated; (ii) the
nature of weapon used; (iii) the nature of assault on the
accused. This is certainly not an exhaustive list and
every case has to necessarily depend upon the evidence
available. As regards the user of screwdriver, the learned
counsel urged that it was only an accidental use on the
spur of the moment and, therefore, there could be no
intention to either cause death or cause such bodily
injury as would be sufficient to cause death. Merely
because the screwdriver was a usual tool used by the
accused in his business, it could not be as if its user
would be innocuous.
14. In State of Karnataka v. Vedanayagam [(1995) 1
SCC 326 : 1995 SCC (Cri) 231] this Court considered the
usual argument of a single injury not being sufficient to
invite a conviction under Section 302 IPC. In that case
the injury was caused by a knife. The medical evidence
supported the version of the prosecution that the injury
was sufficient, in the ordinary course of nature to cause
death. The High Court had convicted the accused for the
offence under Section 304 Part II IPC relying on the fact
that there is only a single injury. However, after a

detailed discussion regarding the nature of injury, the
part of the body chosen by the accused to inflict the same
and other attendant circumstances and after discussing
clause Thirdly of Section 300 IPC and further relying on
the decision in Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab [AIR 1958
SC 465] , the Court set aside the acquittal under Section
302 IPC and convicted the accused for that offence. The
Court (in Vedanayagam case [(1995) 1 SCC 326 : 1995
SCC (Cri) 231] , SCC p. 330, para 4) relied on the
observation by Bose, J. in Virsa Singh case [AIR 1958 SC
465] to suggest that: (Virsa Singh case [AIR 1958 SC
465], AIR p. 468, para 16)
“16. … With due respect to the learned Judge
he has linked up the intent required with the
seriousness of the injury, and that, as we have
shown, is not what the section requires. The two
matters are quite separate and distinct, though the
evidence about them may sometimes overlap.”
The further observation in the above case were:
(Virsa Singh case [AIR 1958 SC 465] , AIR p. 468, paras
16 & 17)
“16. … The question is not whether the
prisoner intended to inflict a serious injury or a
trivial one but whether he intended to inflict the
injury that is proved to be present. If he can show
that he did not, or if the totality of the
circumstances justify such an inference, then, of
course, the intent that the section requires is not
proved. But if there is nothing beyond the injury
and the fact that the appellant inflicted it, the only
possible inference is that he intended to inflict it.
Whether he knew of its seriousness, or intended
serious consequences, is neither here nor there. The
question, so far as the intention is concerned, is not

whether he intended to kill, or to inflict an injury of a
particular degree of seriousness, but whether he
intended to inflict the injury in question; and once the
existence of the injury is proved the intention to
cause it will be presumed unless the evidence or the
circumstances warrant an opposite conclusion. But
whether the intention is there or not is one of fact
and not one of law. Whether the wound is serious or
otherwise, and if serious, how serious, is a totally
separate and distinct question and has nothing to
do with the question whether the prisoner intended
to inflict the injury in question.
17. … It is true that in a given case the enquiry
may be linked up with the seriousness of the injury.
For example, if it can be proved, or if the totality of
the circumstances justify an inference, that the
prisoner only intended a superficial scratch and
that by accident his victim stumbled and fell on the
sword or spear that was used, then of course the
offence is not murder. But that is not because the
prisoner did not intend the injury that he intended
to inflict to be as serious as it turned out to be but
because he did not intend to inflict the injury in
question at all. His intention in such a case would
be to inflict a totally different injury. The difference
is not one of law but one of fact; …”
(emphasis supplied)”
7.2 From the above stated decisions, it emerges that there is no
hard and fast rule that in a case of single injury Section 302 IPC
would not be attracted. It depends upon the facts and

circumstances of each case. The nature of injury, the part of the
body where it is caused, the weapon used in causing such injury
are the indicators of the fact whether the accused caused the death
of the deceased with an intention of causing death or not. It cannot
be laid down as a rule of universal application that whenever the
death occurs on account of a single blow, Section 302 IPC is ruled
out. The fact situation has to be considered in each case, more
particularly, under the circumstances narrated hereinabove, the
events which precede will also have a bearing on the issue whether
the act by which the death was caused was done with an intention
of causing death or knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but
without intention to cause death. It is the totality of the
circumstances which will decide the nature of offence.
8. Now, so far as the submission on behalf of the accused that
the motive alleged is of the incident prior to four months of the
present incident and that the prosecution has failed to establish
and prove is concerned, it is required to be noted that in the
present case there are three eyewitnesses
believed by both the
Courts below and we also do not doubt the credibility of PWs 1, 2

and 3. As held by this Court in catena of decisions, motive is not
an explicit requirement under the Penal Code, though “motive” may
be helpful in proving the case of the prosecution in a case of
circumstantial evidence. As observed hereinabove, there are three
eyewitnesses
to the incident and the prosecution has been
successful in proving the case against the accused by examining
those three eyewitnesses
and therefore, as rightly observed by the
High Court, assuming that the alleged motive is the incident which
had taken place prior to four months or the prosecution has failed
to prove the motive beyond doubt, the same shall not be fatal to the
case of prosecution.
8.1 As observed and held by this Court in the case of Jafel Biswas
v. State of West Bengal (2019) 12 SCC 560, the absence of motive
does not disperse a prosecution case if the prosecution succeed in
proving the same. The motive is always in the mind of person
authoring the incident. Motive not being apparent or not being
proved only requires deeper scrutiny of the evidence by the courts
while coming to a conclusion. When there are definite evidence
proving an incident and eyewitness
account prove the role of

accused, absence in proving of the motive by prosecution does not
affect the prosecution case.
9. Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid
decisions, more particularly the decisions on the single injury and
the facts on hand, it is required to be considered whether the case
would fall under Section 302 IPC or any other lesser offence. PW3
– Nelson, who is an eyewitness
to the incident right from the
beginning, deposed that when the deceased – Kalidas served extra
beer to two persons who came from outside, the accused became
angry and told the deceased why he is giving more beer to outtown
people and not giving to local people and thereafter the problem
started and in that scuffle the accused took out the knife and
stabbed from behind. From the medical evidence, the deceased
sustained the following injuries:
“External Injuries:
A stab wound about 3 x 1.5 cm and 8 cm deep with
clean edges present over the back on the right side
corresponding to D11 vertebera present. Wound edges
swollen, read with adherent blood.”

10. As per Exception IV to Section 300 IPC, culpable homicide is
not murder if it is committed without premeditation in a sudden
fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the
offender having taken undue advantage and not having acted in a
cruel or unusual manner. In the present case, at the place of
incident the beer was being served; all of them who participated in
the beer party were friends; the starting of the incident is narrated
by P.W.3, as stated hereinabove. Therefore, in the facts and
circumstances, culpable homicide cannot be said to be a murder
within the definition of Section 300 IPC and, therefore, in the facts
and circumstances of the case narrated hereinabove and the
manner in which the incident started in a beer party, we are of the
opinion that Section 302 IPC shall not be attracted.
11. Now, the next question which is posed for consideration of this
Court is whether the case would fall under Section 304 Part II IPC?
Considering the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case
and more particularly that the accused inflicted the blow with a
weapon like knife and he inflicted the injury on the deceased on the
vital part of the body, it is to be presumed that causing such bodily

injury was likely to cause the death. Therefore, the case would fall
under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and not under Section 304 Part
II of the IPC.
12. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the
appeal is allowed in part. The impugned judgment and order
passed by the High Court confirming the conviction of the accused
for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC is hereby modified
from that of under Section 302 IPC to Section 304 Part I IPC. The
accused is held guilty for the offence punishable under Section 304
Part I IPC and sentenced to undergo 8 years R.I. with a fine of
Rs.10,000/and,
in default, to further undergo one year R.I. The
appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent.
……………………………J.
(ASHOK BHUSHAN)
……………………………J.
(R. SUBHASH REDDY)
……………………………J.
(M. R. SHAH)
New Delhi,
September 9, 2020.

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