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This case summary is written by Madhuri Pilania, a first year law student at Symbiosis Law School, Noida. 

Introduction

The case Harjinder Singh Alias Jinda versus Delhi Administration is about the appellant – Harjinder Singh Jinda and the Respondent – Delhi Administration. A person named Kewal Kumar has lost his life in a fight between his brother and the appellant. The appellant was convicted under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1960 (Herein thereafter, referred to as IPC) for murder by the Sessions and the High court. So he appeared in the Supreme Court. The issue in the case is about the appellant being convicted under the wrong section. 

The number of Judges or the  Coram –   S. M. SIKRI AND J. M. SHELAT, JJ

Original Judgement consists of four pages.  

Identification of Parties

PETITIONER: HARJINDER SINGH ALIAS JINDA

RESPONDENT: DELHI ADMINISTRATION

DATE OF JUDGEMENT: 14 November 1967

BENCH:  HON’BLE JUSTICE M. SHELAT,  HONOURABLE JUSTICE S. M. SIKRI 

Summary of Facts 

A fight took place between Dalip Kumar and Harjinder Singh who was the appellant. It was near a water tap in front of a tin factory in Zamirwali lane, Delhi. It took place on January 31, 1962 around 2:30 P.M.  Harjinder was defeated or worsted in the fight and then he left the place. Before leaving he threatened Dalip Kumar that he would teach him a lesson. Harjinder Singh returned with his brother Amarjit Singh to Dalip Kumar’s house. After reaching there he shouted and told him to come out of the house. The household named Tejabai opened the door and asked Harjinder Singh and his brother Amarjit Singh to go away. Then either both of them or only the petitioner pulled Dalip Kumar out of the house. They pulled him into the lane and started beating him near a lamp post in the corner of Zamirwali lane. 

When they were beating him, Kewal Kumar (Deceased), the brother of Dalip Kumar came and tried to enter into the fight and rescue his brother. 

According to Amarjit Singh, who is the accused person held Kewal Kumar and his brother who is the appellant took out the knife and stabbed Kewal Kumar the deceased.  

One other version is given by the prosecution witness 5 (P.W.5) Mohd. Ali, it happened that the Appellant’s brother was who was holding Harjinder, asked him not to fight. After that Harjinder took out the knife from the pocket. He opened the knife with both the hands and gave a blow under the belly and the upper portion of the thigh of Kewal Kumar. 

Mohd. Ali in his cross-examination stated that Harjinder Singh was holding Dlaip Kumar from the collar of his shirt by his left hand and Kewal Kumar was on his right-hand side at that time. 

When the appellant took out the knife and opened it, Dalip Kumar and his brother Kewal Kumar were struggling with him. He only stabbed Kewal Kumar once and he was in a bent condition. 

The deceased had a stab wound on the left upper thigh and below the inguinal ligament. 

The direction of the wound was oblique. His sartorius muscle was also cut along with the femoral artery and vein. There was an outflow of blood in the muscles and around the upper end of the left thigh. 

Relevant Laws and Issues 

Section 300, Thirdly and Section 304 were not proved. The offence had fallen under Section 304(1) of the Indian Penal Code. 

Section 304(1) of Indian Penal Code says that anybody who commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder must be punished with imprisonment for life or for a term which can extend to ten years and the person can also be held liable for fine. The punishment will be given if the death caused is done with the intention of causing death or causing bodily injury which is likely to cause death.  

Section 300(3) of Indian Penal Code says that The person is liable for punishment if the offence is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the injury is intended to inflict the injury is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. 

Two cases were referred – 

In Rajwant Singh v. the State of Kerela, it was laid down that an injury must be established first under the clause. The next is the nature of that injury in ordinary circumstances. The test is satisfied if the injury is found to be sufficient to cause death. After that, it must be proved that there was an intention to cause that very particular injury and not that particular injury. Also, neither the injury was accidental nor it was unintentional. If all the clauses are satisfied then the offence of murder has been committed by the person. 

In Virsa Singh v. State Punjab, it was laid down that these clauses must be established – 

It must establish the object that a bodily injury is there;

The nature of injury should be proved and it is purely objective;

It should be proved that an intention was there to inflict a particular injury which is not accidental or unintentional. Also, it should be proved that any other injury was intended. 

Once it is proved that all the three elements were present, the enquiry proceeds further. 

Then, it must be proved that the injury described is made up of three elements and it is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. This part of the enquiry is purely objective and inferential.

Issue

Whether the appellant has committed murder or not under Section 302 of IPC. The question was whether the prisoner had an intention to inflict serious injury or a trivial one.

Judgement (Ratio and Obiter) 

The petitioner was convicted by the Sessions Judge under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and it was upheld by the High Court. 

The case was appealed in the Supreme Court and then the judgement was delivered by Judge Sikri. The appeal by special leave was restricted to the question that whether the case comes under Section 302 of IPC or not. 

The Judges stated it was not clear or it was not proved, that the appellant had the intention to inflict a particular injury on a particular place like the upper thigh. Therefore, Section 300 of IPC is not possible to apply for the act of the accused person. 

The supreme court judges said that the High court has not considered the third ingredient laid by Judge Bose in the case, Virsa Singh v. State Punjab, whether it has been proved or not. 

In Judge’s opinion,  the situation justifies the inference that the accused did not intend to cause an injury on any particular place or a particular portion of the thigh. The evidence indicates that while the appellant was trying to assault Dalip Kumar and the deceased intervened, the appellant timing ‘himself one against two took out the knife and stabbed the deceased, It also indicates that the deceased at that stage was in a crouching position presumably to intervene and separate the two. It cannot, therefore, be said With any definiteness that the appellant aimed the blow that this particular part of the thigh knowing that it would cut the artery. It may be observed that the appellant had not used the knife While he was engaged in the fight with Dalip Kumar. It was only when he felt that the deceased also came up against him that he whipped out the knife.

Hence in the circumstances of the case, they held that the appellant’s offence falls under Section 304 Part 1. 

Critical Analysis of the Judgment 

In the sessions court, it was urged that the appellant has committed the offence which would fall under Section 326 IPC. Section 326 of IPC says that any person who voluntarily causes grievous hurt by any dangerous weapon or instrument which is likely to cause to death will be punished with imprisonment for life or for a term which can extend to ten years. 

The death of Kewal Kumar was not intentional. Harjinder Singh did not have the intention and knowledge to kill the deceased. When he took out the knife he stabbed him once as he must have thought that they will harm him. Harjinder Singh had also threatened Dalip Kumar which amounts to assault and under Section 352 he will be liable.

In the case of Rajwant Singh v. State of Kerala, It is discussed that there are two offences involving the killing of a person. They are the offence of culpable homicide and the more heinous offence of murder. The difference between thee two is the presence of mens rea and presence of this makes the offence greater. It is stated in Section 300 of IPC distinguishing murder form culpable homicide. In the case of Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab, the issue was to prove the intention to inflict inujury.

So, with these cases it can be understood that presence of mens rea is a very important element to determine conviction. Also knowledge of the act done is also important. In this case, the appellant did not have the mens rea and knowledge about the resulting death. 

The Sessions Court and the High Court convicted the appellant under Section 302 and held him liable for murder. However, the appellant was not liable for murder but for culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304(1). The Judges of Sessions Court and the High Court made the appellant liable under Section 302 which is not correct as he did not have the intention to kill him. If the appellant had not appeared before the Supreme Court he would have been punished for murder which he did not commit. He was not innocent but the fact that he did not intend to kill cannot be ignored. In my opinion, he was correctly held liable for culpable homicide not amounting to murder because of the above-stated facts. He did take out the knife to cause serious injury but not to a particular place.

Judge’s Reasoning

The Judges gave a reason that the deceased was in a squat position when Harjinder Singh struck him with the knife. The knife was five to six inches long but it was a pocket knife and was not a dangerous weapon. When Harjinder Singh struck him with a knife he must have known that Kewal Kumar was in a bent position. Being in that position the blow of knife would hurt him in the abdomen or near it. It is a vulnerable part of the body and the blow was likely to result in his death. This clearly states that he had the intention to cause a bodily injury to the deceased. 

In the opinion of the judges, they inferred that the accused did not have the intention to cause an injury on a particular place like thigh. The defence indicated that while the fight was going on the deceased had intervened and appellant finding him against two took out the knife. He also stabbed him but since the deceased was in a bent position he was hurt on the thigh. There is no definiteness that that appellant has aimed the blow at the particular place knowing that it would cut his artery. In such circumstances, it can not be proved that the appellant had the intention to inflict the particular injury on the particular place.

Conclusion

The appellant was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment as the conviction is altered from one under Section 302 to Section 304(1). He is not held liable for murder but for culpable homicide not amounting to murder because he wanted to hurt the deceased but did not have the intention to kill him. Also, he did not have the knowledge that stabbing him around thigh would cause his death. The death was caused by the negligence of Harjinder Singh the appellant and therefore he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

References 


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