Today, in the latest Judgment of Jugut Ram vs The State of Chhatisgarh (Criminal Appeal No. 616 of 2020), the Supreme Court converted the conviction of the appellant from Section 302 IPC to Section 304 Part II, IPC and considering the fact that he had already undergone maximum period of sentence, directed him to be released forthwith.
Jugut Ram, filed an appeal before the Supreme Court assailing his conviction under Section 302 of the IPC and the consequent punishment of life imprisonment, upheld by the High Court.
It was contended on behalf of Appellant that all the four witnesses are related to the deceased. The two independent witnesses were not examined. The serological report with regard to the blood group of the deceased matching that alleged to have been found on the lathi has not been established. The recovery of the lathi has not been properly proved. The deceased did not die immediately but succumbed to the injuries in the hospital. The assault was at the spur of the moment with no premeditation. The appellant had also suffered injuries.
Counsel for the State of Chhatishgarh opposed the appeal and argued that the deceased was in possession of the field. The appellant was the aggressor. The deceased succumbed on the spot. The intention to cause death is apparent from the assault made on the head, a sensitive part of the human body.
After hearing the parties a three Judges Bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice R.F. Nariman, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Indira Banerjee, observed that the High Court on the appreciation of evidence has concluded that the assault was not premeditated but had taken place in the spur of the moment. Despite this the High Court maintained the sentence of the appellant under Section 302, IPC because death had taken place pursuant to the assault by him.
Court observed that:
“A lathi is a common item carried by a villager in this country, linked to his identity. The fact that it is also capable of being used as a weapon of assault, does not make it a weapon of assault simpliciter. In a case like the present, of an assault on the head with a lathi, it is always a question fact in each case whether there was an intention to cause death or only knowledge that death was likely to occur.”
Considering the above, the Court altered the sentence from Section 302 IPC to 304 Part II IPC and released the appellant, as already undergone a maximum period of the sentence prescribed under law.