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After going through the evidence, the court opined that the appellant’s overt act of killing the deceased happened during a fit of anger in the heat of a passionate verbal quarrel and would fall under Exception 4 to Section 300 IPC
The Supreme Court has recently converted conviction of a man from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, finding that the offence was committed in a sudden act after a verbal duel in a long-standing land dispute between the parties.
A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Rajesh Bindal reduced the sentence of appellant Mariappan from a life term to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment with Rs 50,000 fine, to be paid to the victim's family.
After going through the evidence, the bench said, "It can be safely concluded from the evidence led in the present case that the appellant’s overt act of killing the deceased happened during a fit of anger in the heat of a passionate verbal quarrel and would fall under Exception 4 to Section 300 IPC. Moreover, the clear intent needed to prove culpable homicide amounting to murder has also not been established by the prosecution."
The court partly allowed the appeal in the case.
Appellant Mariappan was held guilty by the trial court on the basis of recovery of murder weapon, a knife, at his instance and consistency of evidence against him while two other co-accused were acquitted. The Madras High Court had dismissed the appeal.
The case involved the murder of one Kolandaippam on March 17, 2009, wherein the core motive was identified as a longstanding enmity over a land dispute between the deceased and the three accused. Prior to the incident, there were several confrontations and threats, notably more than years earlier on the disputed land, and a subsequent altercation involving the deceased's wife and Pappa, the sister of the first accused.
"In the present case, while looking at the facts and circumstances of the case, it can be seen that the appellant had suddenly stabbed the deceased during a heated verbal argument with him and not during a pre-planned attack which was carried out with the sole intention of causing the death of the deceased. The previous enmity between the appellant and the deceased had been a contributory factor leading to the verbal altercation but it was not the reason for the accused to carry out a pre-planned fatal attack against the deceased. The appellant had acted “suddenly”, in the heat of passion and without a pre-planned approach to kill the deceased," the bench said.
The court also pointed out that right from the beginning i.e. the prosecution story as set up in the FIR was that initially that there was a heated discussion between the parties and in a fit of anger physical assault took place.
It also said that even the ocular testimony was also to the same effect.
However, on the basis of same evidence, the trial court had acquitted two co-accused and convicted only the appellant, court pointed out.
"It has also come in evidence that the appellant had caused only one injury whereas other accused had caused multiple injuries. However, the Trial Court acquitted the other two accused," the bench highlighted.
Case Title: Mariappan Vs State Rep by Inspector of Police
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