A gave a severe beating to B who fell down and became unconscious. Thinking that B had died ‘A’ took away B and placed him on the railway line so that B’s body be crushed under the train. This was done by A in order to give it a colour of suicide…

By | August 1, 2021
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Question: A gave a severe beating to B who fell down and became unconscious. Thinking that B had died ‘A’ took away B and placed him on the railway line so that B’s body be crushed under the train. This was done by A in order to give it a colour of suicide and conceal his involvement. The train came and B was crushed. The Post-Mortem Report revealed that B died of injuries caused by the train. What offence or offences if any have been committed? [D.J.S. 1990]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites [A gave a severe beating to B who fell down and became unconscious. Thinking that B had died ‘A’ took away B and placed him on the railway line so that B’s body be crushed under the train. This was done by A in order to give it a colour of suicide…]

Answer

A has committed the offence of causing grievous hurt punishable under Section 325 of IPC and for tampering of evidence.

The facts of the present case are similar to the facts that come up in the landmark judgement of Palani Goundan v. Emperor [1919 ILR 547 (Mad)]. In this case, the accused had an argument with his wife. Enraged during the argument, the accused had hit his wife on the head with a ploughshare. This resulted in the wife falling down unconscious.

Assuming, that he has killed his wife, the accused in the fear of being charged for murder the mother of the accused and accused together tried tampering with the evidence and the crime scene. He hung the body of his wife to make it look like a suicide.

Later when the post mortem was conducted on the body of the wife, it showed the wife had survived the blow of the ploughshare and was only unconscious then and she had died due to being hung by the neck.

The issue which arose in the case was whether the accused is liable for the offence of Murder or is this case of Culpable Homicide?

The Madras High Court held that the appellant cannot be held liable for the offence of murder or culpable homicide. Conversely, he can only be held liable for the grievous hurt engendered when the ploughshare was being used to strike the victim and for interfering with proof.

The basis of the reasoning of the judgement was that the accused had no intention of causing her death when he strung her up with a rope as he had presumed she was already dead and one cannot kill a dead person once again. When looking at the definitions of culpable homicide and murder, a key element in both definitions is the intention to cause the death of a person.

Here Court observed from the facts that the accused did not have the intention of causing the death of his wife when he hit her with the ploughshare. The reason for the death of the victim was due to being hung by the neck. The accused had no intention of causing her death when he hung her as he had presumed she was dead and one cannot kill a dead person once again.

The court hence held this was not a case of murder or culpable homicide as the key element- intention to cause death, was absent in both scenarios, when the accused hit the wife with a ploughshare and when he hung her body.

Therefore, applying the reasoning in the present case as well, such an accused where there was no mens rea performed an act presuming the victim to be dead in mistake, can only be liable for the offence of causing grievous hurt and for tampering of evidence to give his act colour of a suicide committed by B.


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