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Distinction between Attempt To Commit Culpable Homicide Not Amounting To Murder [Sec.308 IPC] & Voluntary Causing Hurt By Dangerous Weapons [Sec. 324 IPC]: SC Explains
Roop Chand Vs State of Delhi
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2204 OF 2010
About/from the judgment:
In an order passed last month in a criminal appeal, the Supreme court explained the 'subtle and nuanced' distinction between attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder [[Section 308 IPC] and voluntarily causing hurt with a sharp-edged weapon [Section 324 IPC].
Under the former (Section 308), injuries must be such as are likely to cause death, but in the latter (Section 324) the injuries may or may not endanger one's life, the three judge bench observed.
The court was hearing an appeal of an accused against his conviction under Section 308 of Indian Penal Code. The issue considered by the bench headed by Justice NV Ramana was whether the offence committed by the appellant falls within the ambit of Section 308 or 324 of IPC?
In this context, the bench noted that Section 308 of IPC provides that "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 culpable homicide not amounting to murder"; and in case any hurt is caused to any person by such act, then "the accused is liable to be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both." Section 324 of IPC, on the other hand, criminalises willful infliction of injuries on another and states that whoever "voluntarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death", would be punished with "imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.", the bench also comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Surya Kant noted. It observed:
"To secure conviction under Section 308 of IPC, the prosecution must prove that the accused had requisite `intention' or `knowledge' to cause culpable homicide, which in turn can be ascertained from the actual injury as well as from other surrounding circumstances.
In contrast to Section 308 IPC, which necessarily requires proving `intention' or `knowledge', to attract Section 324 IPC it is sufficient if a person voluntarily causes hurt by means of an instrument for stabbing or cutting.
The distinction between attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and voluntarily causing hurt with a sharp-edged weapon, is subtle and nuanced. Under the former (Section 308), injuries must be such as are likely to cause death, but in the latter (Section 324) the injuries may or may not endanger one's life.
Applying the law to the facts of the case, the bench observed that the evidence on record falls short of establishing the requisite ingredients of Section 308 of IPC, though the accused is guilty of voluntarily causing hurt with a sharp-edged weapon within the meaning of Section 324 of IPC. The court also observed that the incident also doesn't reflect any mental depravity or criminal instincts on part of the accused and that he appears to be a poor labourer, and has not misused the concession of bail granted more than ten years back. While partly allowing the appeal, the bench said:
"It would be trite to note that Courts must award punishment in a judicious manner, after taking into account various relevant circumstances including the gravity and nature of offence, motive of the crime and other attendant circumstances. Applying these parameters, we are of the considered view that ends of justice would be adequately met if the sentence of the appellant is reduced to the period which he has already undergone. We order accordingly."
In Bishan Singh & Anr. vs. State (2007) 13 SCC 65, it was observed that, "before an accused can be held to be guilty under Section 308 IPC, it was necessary to arrive at a finding that the ingredients thereof, namely, requisite intention or knowledge was existing. There cannot be any doubt whatsoever that such an intention or knowledge on the part of the accused to cause culpable homicide is required to be proved."
"Offence punishable under Section 308 IPC postulates doing of an act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if one by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. An attempt of that nature may actually result in hurt or may not. It is the attempt to commit culpable homicide which is punishable under Section 308 IPC whereas punishment for simple hurts can be meted out under Sections 323 and 324 and for grievous hurts under Sections 325 and 326 IPC. Qualitatively, these offences are different. ", the Supreme Court held in Sunil Kumar Vs. State.
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