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Case Study :Bunni Lal Choudhary v/s State Of Bihar

Bunni Lal Choudhary v/s State Of Bihar

(Air 2006 Sc 2531)
The present case belongs to the category of Single blow and Single stab cases wherein death was caused by a single stab of the knife. The appeal before the Hon'ble Supreme Court dealt with the Section 299 and 300 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Hon'ble Supreme Court reiterated that intention is essential on the part of the accused while causing fatal injury to attract punishment under Section 302 of the IPC. Similarly, prior knowledge with regards to the act in execution of a common object is necessary to attract Section 149 of the IPC.

Factual background
The present case involves the sale of a she-buffalo by Sattan Choudhary to the victim, Shambhu Raut for a sum of 6800 rupees. The victim paid 6100 rupees at the time of the transaction, and 700 rupees were due. As per the brother of the victim, Yogendra Raut, the victim went to the house of Sattan Choudhary to return a sum of 400 rupees. However, Sattan Choudhary wanted the remaining 300 rupees to be paid at the same time. The son of Sattan Choudhary, Maniraj Choudhary (A-3) pointed a country-made pistol towards him.


After some time on the day of occurence, Brahmdeo Raut (PW-5), and Shambu Raut, the victim were going to Bathan. At the mid-way, suddenly Bunnilal Chaudhary (A-1), Birendra Chaudhary (A-2), Maniraj Chaudhary (A-3), Dashrath Chaudhary (A-4), Magister Chaudhary (A-5), Bali Choudhary (A-6), Jagdish Chaudhary (A-7), Amarjit Chaudhary (A-8), Naresh Choudhary (A-9) and Rajdhari Chaudhary (A-10) holding a revolver and lathis in their hands came at the scene of occurrence and surrounded them.

Bunnilal Choudhary (A-1) chased Shambhu Raut and attacked him with a knife on the left side of the chest. Brahmdeo Raut was given a knife blow on his head by Magister Chaudhary (A-5). All the accused fled away after they heard the villagers approaching them. Shambhu Raut was seriously injured and taken to Sidhwalia Hospital where he was declared dead.

On the basis of fardbeyan of Yogendra Raut (Ex. P-5) taken at the Sidhwalia Hospital, FIR was registered against all the ten accused persons under Sections 147, 148, 149, 324, 307 and 302 of the IPC.

The accused in their 313 CrPC statement denied having given any knife blow to the deceased as well as beatings to P.W. 5- Brahmdeo Raut. Their defence was that they were implicated in a false case by the complainant.

The learned Sessions Judge found the accused persons guilty and sentenced them under Section 302/149 of the IPC. Maniraj Chaudhary (A-3), Dashrath Chaudhary (A-4), Bali Chaudhary (A-6), Jagdish Chaudhary (A-7), Amarjit Chaudhary (A-8), Rajdhari Chaudhary (A-10) were also found guilty under Section 147 of the IPC, whereas Bunnilal Chaudhary (A-1), (A-5), Birendra Chaudhary (A-2), Magister Chaudhary (A-5) and Naresh Chaudhary (A-9) were also held guilty under Section 148 IPC.

On appeal, the learned Judges of the High Court altered the conviction of Bunnilal Chaudhary (A-1) from Section 302/149 IPC to Section 302 IPC simpliciter and acquitted Bali Chaudhary (A-6) and Jagdish Chaudhary (A-7) of the charges. The conviction and sentence of other accused persons under Section 302/149 IPC recorded by learned trial court has been left unchanged.

Issue
Criminal Appeal No.605/2005 was filed by Bunnilal Chaudhary (A-1) and Criminal Appeal No. 606/2005 was filed by Birendra Chaudhary (A-2), Maniraj Chaudhary (A-3), Dashrath Chaudhary (A-4), Magister Chaudhary (A-5), Amarjit Chaudhary (A-8), Naresh Chaudhary (A-9) and Rajdhari Chaudhary (A-10).

The two appeals arise out of the common judgment and order dated 5th November, 2003 passed by the Hon'ble Patna High Court.

The Judgement
Hon'ble Lokeshwar Singh Panta, J., observed that the apex Court cannot entirely prefer the Hon'ble High Court's view on a proper perusal of all the circumstances of the case.

Criminal Appeal No. 605/2005 preferred by Bunnilal Chaudhary (A-1):
This Criminal Appeal was partly allowed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court as explained below:

Contradictory Testimony
The Hon'ble Supreme Court scrutinized the evidence and pointed out the contradictory statements made by the informant, Yogendra Raut. Similarly, the statements made by the sister, Nirmala Devi could not corroborate the story of the informant. The informant's story was further contradicted by the eye-witness Ram Nath Bind (PW-7).

Single Stab by the Accused

Evidence provided by P.W. 5, P.W. 9 and P.W. 10 clearly proved that the victim, Shambhu Raut was apprehended by Bunnilal Chaudhary (A-1) and was given one blow of knife which landed on the left side of the chest of Shambhu Raut; following which the victim died.

The post mortem of the deceased Shambhu Raut revealed anti-mortem injuries including a penetrating wound, a punctured left lung and aorta. The injuries were caused within 24 hours of the examination. It is to be noted that Dr. Vijay Kumar, who conducted the post-mortem, could not ascertain the cause of death.

Lack of Mens Rea

The counsel appearing on behalf of Bunnilal Chaudhary contended that Bunnilal lacked the requisite intention to cause death, and can only be held liable for culpable homicide not amounting to murder for inflicting fatal injury on the deceased Shambhu Raut.

The Apex Court observed that A-1 had neither motive nor intention to murder the victim, Shambhu Raut as:
  • It is undisputed that the injury inflicted on the left side of the chest of the deceased was a single one.
  • As corroborated by the post-mortem, the injury was not even stated to be likely to cause death in the post-mortem.
  • A-1 did not attempt to cause serious injury to any vital part of the body of the deceased.

Section 300 (iii) IPC not applicable

The Apex Court held that the present case is not covered under Clause (iii) of Section 300. Section 300 (iii), IPC, consists of two parts:
  • The bodily injury must be intended

    This is the subjective part and specifies that the injury must be intentional and not accidental. Based on the facts and circumstances of the case, it was established that the single stab on the deceased was not accidental and was intended to be inflicted on the person of the deceased.
  • The bodily injury intended to be caused must be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death

    This is the objective part and provides that the court must be satisfied that 'the intended injury' was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. In the present case, as corroborated by the post-mortem, the injury caused by A-1 was not sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. Hence, the second part is not fulfilled in the present case.

Section 304 (ii) applicable

The death of the victim caused by A-1is covered under the third part of Section 299, IPC. The third part of Section 299, IPC provides that the act by the accused is done 'with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death'. In the present case, the single stab on the left side of the chest of the deceased by A-1 was done with the knowledge that such an act is likely to cause the death of Shambhu Raut.

Hence, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the case falls within the third part of Section 299 and will be punishable under the second part of Section 304 IPC as culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Consequently, the conviction of Bunnilal Chaudhary (A-1) was altered from Section 302 to Section 304 Part-II, IPC.

Criminal Appeal No. 606/2005

The second appeal was filed on behalf of other accused persons namely, Magister Chaudhary, Birendra Chaudhary, Maniraj Chaudhary, Dashrath Chaudhary, Amarjit Chaudhary, Naresh Chaudhary and Rajdhari Chaudhary.

Common object not established
The Hon'ble Supreme Court observed that there was no evidence to prove Section 302/149 IPC against all the other accused. Further, no witness proved that the accused persons had come on the scene of occurrence with an intention to commit the murder of Shambhu Raut. None of them caused any injury to the victim with the weapons they allegedly were carrying with them.

Under Section 149 IPC, the liability of all the other accused can only be attracted if they knew beforehand that the offence actually committed was likely to be committed in prosecution of the common object. Such knowledge may reasonably be collected from the nature of the assembly, arms or behaviour on or before the scene of occurrence.

The apex Court observed that there was no evidence to sustain the conviction of the other accused persons. Hence, Magister Chaudhary, Birendra Chaudhary, Maniraj Chaudhary, Dashrath Chaudhary, Amarjit Chaudhary, Naresh Chaudhary and Rajdhari Chaudhary were acquitted of the offence under Section 302/149 IPC.

End-Note:
  • Bunni Lal Choudhary v/s State Of Bihar Air 2006 Sc 2531

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