[Case Brief] Atul Thakur v/s State of Himachal Pradesh, 2018

CaseAtul Thakur v/s State of Himachal Pradesh
Case NumberCriminal Appeal Nos. 522-523 of 2016
CourtSupreme Court of India
BenchChief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Dr DY Chandrachud
Author of the judgmentJustice AM Khanwilkar
Decided On January 19, 2018
Relevant Act/SectionsThe Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Section 34, 201, 300, 302 and 304 (Part II)

The Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973- Section 154 and section 428
Author of the casebriefSaumya Snehal

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

The victim Hitesh Thakur had visited the house of Mukesh Thakur (Accused No.2) where a drinking party was arranged during the night of 27.07.2011 and 28.07.2011. Deceased Hitesh and the accused were known to each other and were cordial. In this party, a large quantity of alcohol was consumed by them. Hitesh Thakur, while smoking, blew smoke in the face of the appellant, Atul Thakur. Resultantly, the appellant got enraged and a sudden physical fight started between them in which accused Atul stabbed Hitesh six times with a knife, which resulted in his death. The appellant, Atul Thakur along with three others were tried for offence punishable under Sections 302, 201 read with Section 34 of IPC by the Sessions Judge (Forests), Shimla. The Trial Court, however, acquitted the other three accused but found the appellant guilty of the offence punishable under Section 304, Part-II and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for five years and to pay fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default to undergo further imprisonment for one year. The appellant preferred an appeal in the High Court against his conviction and the acquittal of three accused as well as for enhancement of sentence of the appellant by the Trial Court. The High Court held the appellant guilty of offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC for the murder of Hitesh Thakur and not under Section 304 Part-II, as held by the Trial Court and affirmed the order of acquittal in favor of the other accused. The present appeal has been preferred in the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court. 

Issues before the Court of Law:

1) Whether this action of the accused which caused the death of Hitesh would amount to murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder?

2) Whether the accused Atul had taken an undue advantage or acted in a cruel or inimical manner so as to deprive him of the benefit of exception 4 of Section 300?

3) Whether the appellant is right in his persuasive argument to restore and revive the decision of the Trial Court on the quantum of the sentence?

The ratio of the Court:

No, this action of the accused does not amount to murder but amounts to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The Court concluded that action of the appellant-accused, Atul Thakur comes under the Exception 4 to Section 300. The evidence clearly establishes that the whole incident took place suddenly in the heat of passion and that the appellant assaulted Hitesh Thakur without any premeditation. It is of consideration that the accused had the knowledge that if an injury is caused with a knife on the chest or abdomen of a person then this act is likely to cause the death of the victim, hence it cannot be ruled out that the action of the accused was not with an intention of taking undue advantage. However, the intention of the accused to cause the death of the victim cannot be made out. The action of the accused on a trivial matter even in an inebriated condition cannot be given a light sentence and hence the punishment of 10 years would meet ends of justice.

Decision Held:

Supreme Court modified High Court’s judgment and restored the order of the Trial Court in that behalf. Supreme Court held the appellant guilty for an offence punishable under Section 304 Part-II of IPC and is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years with fine of Rs.10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand), in default to undergo further imprisonment for one year.

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