SC: Proof of grievous hurt not a sine qua non for the offence u/s 307 of IPC

Today, i.e. on 4th February 2019, in the matter of The State of Madhya Pradesh v. Kanha @ Omprakash, the Hon’ble Supreme Court pronounced that forensic/other evidence of grievous/life-threatening hurt is not a sine qua non/essential condition for the offence of “attempt to murder” under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. The intention of the accused can be ascertained from the actual injury, if any, as well as from surrounding circumstances.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Proof of grievous or life-threatening hurt is not a sine qua non for the offence under Section 307 of the Penal Code. The intention of the accused can be ascertained from the actual injury, if any, as well as from surrounding circumstances. Among other things, the nature of the weapon used and the severity of the blows inflicted can be considered to infer intent. (Para 11)

The lack of forensic evidence to prove grievous or a life-threatening injury cannot be a basis to hold that Section 307 is inapplicable. (Para 16)

The Hon’ble Supreme Court referred to its judgements in:

State of Maharashtra v Balram Bama Patil [(1983) 2 SCC 28],wherein it was held that:

To justify a conviction under Section 307, it is not essential that bodily injury capable of causing death should have been inflicted. Although the nature of injury actually caused may often give considerable assistance in coming to a finding as to the intention of the accused, such intention may also be deduced from other circumstances, and may even, in some cases, be ascertained without any reference at all to actual wounds. The section makes a distinction between an act of the accused and its result, if any. Such an act may not be attended by any result so far as the person assaulted is concerned, but still there may be cases in which the culprit would be liable under this section. It is not necessary that the injury actually caused to the victim of the assault should be sufficient under ordinary circumstances to cause the death of the person assaulted. What the Court has to see is whether the act, irrespective of its result, was done with the intention or knowledge and under circumstances mentioned in this section. An attempt in order to be criminal need not be the penultimate act. It is sufficient in law, if there is present an intent coupled with some overt act in execution thereof. (Para 9)

State of M P v Saleem [(2005) 5 SCC 554], wherein it was held that:

It is sufficient to justify a conviction under Section 307 if there is present an intent coupled with some overt act in execution thereof. It is not essential that bodily injury capable of causing death should have been inflicted. The section makes a distinction between the act of the accused and its result, if any. The court has to see whether the act, irrespective of its result, was done with the intention or knowledge and under circumstances mentioned in the section. Therefore, an accused charged under Section 307 IPC cannot be acquitted merely because the injuries inflicted on the victim were in the nature of a simple hurt. (Para 13)

Jage Ram v State of Haryana[(2015) 11 SCC 366], wherein it was held that:

For the purpose of conviction under Section 307 IPC, the prosecution has to establish (i) the intention to commit murder; and (ii) the act done by the accused. The burden is on the prosecution that the accused had attempted to commit the murder of the prosecution witness. Whether the accused person intended to commit murder of another person would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. To justify a conviction under Section 307 IPC, it is not essential that fatal injury capable of causing death should have been caused. Although the nature of injury actually caused may be of assistance in coming to a finding as to the intention of the accused, such intention may also be adduced from other circumstances. The intention of the accused is to be gathered from the circumstances like the nature of the weapon used, words used by the accused at the time of the incident, motive of the accused, parts of the body where the injury was caused and the nature of injury and severity of the blows given, etc. (Para 12)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_04-Feb-2019

-Tushar Kaushik

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