This article is written by Ayushi Mahajan, from Centre for Legal Studies, Gitarattan International Business School (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University). This article talks about Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code and its exceptions presented with the landmark case law Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab.
Table of Contents
There was only one injury on the body of the person, which was inflicted by a thrusting spear.
The doctor told that the injury which is on the body of the person was enough to cause death in the normal or ordinary course of nature. It was concluded by the Sessions Judge that the accused only caused serious injury. In this situation, the third clause of Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 applies.
The High Court upheld the conviction and it was argued that the third clause of Section 300 did not apply as it was proved that the accused inflicted the bodily injury onto the victim which was enough to cause death in the normal course of nature.
The third clause of Section 300 states that “If it is done with any intention of causing any bodily injury on the body of a person and the bodily injury is intended to be inflicted is enough in the ordinary course of nature to cause death”.
The inflamed injury was a perforated wound 2 times transverse to the left side of the abdominal wall of the lower part of the iliac region which is just above the inguinal canal. Three intestinal coils were also coming out of the wound which was inflicted. The doctor who examined the body said that the injury is the cause of death in the normal course of nature. The incident took place around 5 PM on 13 July 1955. Khem Singh died the following day at around 8 PM.
Sessions court analysis
The learned Sessions Judge concluded that the appellant was 21 to 22 years old and said-
“When the general object of the assembly only causes to complain, I do not think that Virsa Singh was really to cause Khem Singh’s death, but a hasty and foolish act led to a vigorous blow. Which eventually caused his death. Peritonitis was also monitored and Khem Singh died from it. But Khem Singh may not have died or lived for a long time for this.”
Based on these facts, he said that as the case falls under Section 300 ‘third’, the convicted Virsa Singh under Indian Penal Code, Section 302.
High Court analysis
The judges of the High Court concluded that “the whole case happened suddenly and on occasion.” He admitted that the appellant had hurt Khem Singh and accepted the victim’s medical report that the blow was so fatal.
It was argued with the use of too many words that the facts determine the above factors and do not disclose the crime of murder because the prosecution has still not able to prove that there was a strong intention to cause the bodily injury that would cause in the normal or ordinary course of nature to cause the death. Section 300 was cited with its “third” clause which is:
“If this is done with an intention to cause bodily injury to a person with an intention of causing bodily injury is sufficient in the normal course of nature to cause death.”
It was stated that the intention for which the clause is required must be related, not only to the cause of bodily injury but also, “and that the intention to cause bodily injury which is enough in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death.”
Supreme Court observations
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that-
“This is the favourite argument in such a case but it is very disappointing. If there is an intention to cause the bodily injury to cause death which is enough in the ordinary course of the nature to cause the death, then the intention maybe is to kill and in that event, the “third” shall be unnecessary as the Act would fall under the first part of the Section which is namely-
“If the act by which death has occurred is intended to cause death.”
“In our opinion, the two clauses are distinct and separate. The first is subjective to the offender:
“If it is done with the intention of causing the bodily injury to any person.
It must then of course, be found first that there was bodily injury and the nature of the injury must be established, that is to say, whether the injury is on the foot or arm or abdomen, no matter how deep it is cut, any vital organs cut. These are purely objective facts and leave no discussion for inference or deduction; To this extent the investigation is purposeful; but then it comes to the question of intent, it is the subject to the offender and it must be proved that he has the cause of bodily injury that exists.”
Once it is found, the probe changes to the next Section:
“Intent to cause bodily injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.”
Reasoning and decision
The court stated that the actual readings of this Section show that it is not enough to prove that the injury which is present is enough to cause the death in the normal course of nature, but in addition to being shown The injury that was present is the only injury that is intended to be inflated.
Was it enough in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death or is it a matter of a presumption or deduction from proven facts about the nature of the injury and has nothing to do with the question of intent?
The court granted a four-point test, which the prosecution must do to look into and prove the case so that the case can be brought under Sec. They are:
- First, it should establish, fairly objectively, that a physical injury exists.
- Second, the nature of the injury has to be proved. These are purely objective investigations.
- Third, it must be proved that that particular bodily injury was intended to inflame, that is to say, it was not accidental or unintentional, or that any other type of injury was intended. Once these three elements are proven to exist, the investigation proceeds.
- Fourth, it must be proved that the type of inquiry made by the above three elements stated above is enough to cause death in the normal course of nature. This part of the investigation is purely objective and impractical and has nothing to do with the intent of the criminal.
Once all these four elements are established by the prosecution, the offence is then said to be murder under Section 300 (thirdly).
The accused can only escape when he can be shown, or reasonably deduced, that the injury was unintentional or otherwise accidental.
The third clause of Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, consists of two parts. Under the first part, it has to be proved that the intention is to inflame the injury of the victim. Under the present and second part, it must be proved that this injury was enough to cause death in the normal course of nature. The words “and intended to cause bodily injury” are merely descriptive.
All this means, it is not enough to prove that the injury was sufficient to cause death in the present simple course of nature; It should also be shown that the purpose of the injury was to drive away if the injury was found. Was it enough to cause death in the simple subject of conjecture or deduction from the course of nature? Proving the facts about the nature of the injury and having nothing to do with the question of intent.
The court dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant and punished him accordingly.
Analysis of the section
The court had inconsistently read clause 3 of Section 300 of the IPC and the intent being set aside was linked to the second part of the following service:
If one intends to injure, which in the normal course of nature is sufficient to cause death, then the intention is to kill and in that event, the ‘third’ shall be unnecessary as the Act would fall under the first part of the Section namely – “If the act by which death has taken place is the cause of death.”
In our opinion, the two Sections are controversial and separate. The first is subject to the offender: “If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to a person”. It must, of course, be found first that there was bodily injury and the nature of the injury must be established. These are purely objective facts and leave no room for inference or deduction and to this extent the inquiry is objective; But when the question of intent comes, he is subject to the culprit and must prove that his body is hurt.
Once it is found, the inquiry turns to the next clause— “and the cause of bodily injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.” Its first part is descriptive of the first part of the Section.
So the crux of the judgement, is that what needs to be proved is not that the accused intended to incite the injury which was sufficient to cause death in the normal course of nature, but that he intended to inflict the same bodily injury as would have been found Is present on the body of the deceased. Then it is the latter of the investigation which is objective in nature to find out whether the injury was sufficient in the normal course of nature. Thus intention is only connected and limited to the cause of bodily injury and does not have knowledge or intention about the cause of such bodily injury which is sufficient to cause bodily injury, it is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature.
Court sentenced Virsa Singh, under Section 302 of IPC which is punishment for murder. It states that anyone who commits murder will be sentenced to death, or sentenced to life imprisonment and fined. This Section sets the punishment for manslaughter, stating that whoever commits murder shall either be sentenced to death or punished with life imprisonment and shall also be liable to fine.
In other words, the Indian Penal Code prescribes only two types of punishment, capital punishment and life imprisonment, one of which should be imposed on a convict of murder, who is also required to be fined if required in court. Will be responsible.
The death penalty is provided in the rarest of rare cases otherwise, if proved, life imprisonment is maximum.
The two cases are quite distinct and separate, although evidence about them may occasionally overlap. The question is whether the prisoner in intended to inflict the injury and not to intend to inflict a significant injury with a trivial object. If he can show that he has not done so, or if the totality of the circumstances justifies that inference, then, of course, the necessary intentions for this Section are not proved.
But if there is nothing but injury and therefore the factless fact that the appellant provoked it, the only possible conclusion is that he intended to inflame it. Whether he knows the seriousness of it or intends for dire consequences, neither here nor there is.
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