Emperor v. Damullya Molla

In this 5-minute read you will learn how the jury in the Calcutta High Court did not find a man's action to be covered by exceptions under the Indian Penal Code.
CITATIONAIR 1931 Cal 261
COURTHigh Court of Calcutta
JUDGES/CORAMChief Justice Rankin
DATE OF JUDGEMENT25.07.1930

Introduction

Clauses 1-4 of Section 300 provide the essential ingredients, wherein culpable homicide amounts to murder. Section 300 after laying down the cases in which culpable homicide becomes murder, states certain exceptional situations under which, if murder is committed, it is reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable under section 304, IPC and not under section 302, IPC. Exceptions are:

  1. Grave and Sudden provocation
  2. Private Defense
  3. Exercise of Legal Power
  4. Without Premeditation in a sudden fight
  5. Consent

Grave and Sudden Provocations: Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident. The above exception is subject to the following provisions

  1. That the provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing or doing harm to any person.
  2. That the provocation is not given by anything done in obedience to the law, or by a public servant in the lawful exercise of the powers of such public servant.
  3. That the provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defense.

Facts

The facts of the case are as follows: The accused man committed a violent assault upon his wife. The quarrel seems to have begun in a trivial manner by a dispute when the wife had not served the accused his meal. She appears to have replied rudely to her husband and the accused seems to have then got into an extreme state of rage and began to beat her with a lathi and in spite of the attempt on the part of the daughter and afterwards of other people, he not only struck the woman with a lathi but followed her to a certain place, picked up a water-pot and hit her on the head. There were injuries caused by this savage assault on the woman as many altogether, taking great and small, as 13, but the cause of the woman’s death was undoubtedly the blow by the water-pot which made a contused wound on the head 5″ x 1″ bone deep, and it was discovered that there was a fracture of the left parietal bone caused by the blow by this water-pot. It is quite true that several people tried to stop the man and that; he persisted in this attack.

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Issues

The main issue in the case was: Whether the act of hitting wife with the water-pot can be covered under the exception of Grave and Sudden Provocation.

Summary of court decision and judgment

The verdict of the jury was accepted and the accused convicted of an offence under Clause 2, Section 304, I.P.C., and that he must be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of seven years.

Analysis

In this case the Hon’ble court was correct in deciding that the act of the husband was not covered under the exception of Grave and Sudden Provocation given under Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The following conditions must be complied with in order to invoke the benefits:

  1. The deceased must have given provocation to the accused.
  2. The provocation must be grave.
  3. The provocation must be sudden.
  4. The offender, by reason of the said provocation should have deprived of his power of self- control.
  5. The accused killed the deceased during the continuance of the deprivation of the power of self-control.
  6. The offender must have caused the death of the person who gave the provocation or that of any other person by mistake or accident.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra[1] has extensively discussed the law relating provocation in India and observed the following:

  • The test of “grave and sudden” provocation is whether a reasonable man, belonging to the same class to society as accused, placed in the situation in which the accused was placed would be so provoked as to lose his self-control.
  • Words and gestures may also, under certain circumstances, cause grave and sudden provocation to an accused so as to bring his act under exception.
  • The mental background created by the previous act of the victim may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether the subsequent act caused grave and sudden provocation for committing the offence; and
  • The fatal blow should be clearly traced to the influence of passion arising from the provocation and not after the passion has cooled down by lapse of time, or otherwise giving the accused room and scope for premeditation and calculation.
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Conclusion

Seeing the following points given in the landmark case of K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra (supra) it is very clear that in this case there was no such sudden provocation caused by the wife of the husband.


[1] AIR 1962 SC 605.