In an Order passed on 22-09-2020 in a criminal appeal, the SC explained the ‘subtle and nuanced’ distinction between attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Sec 308 of the IPC) and voluntarily causing hurt with a sharp-edged weapon ( Sec 324 IPC)
Under the former (Sec 308), injuries must be such as are likely to cause death but, in the latter, the injuries may or may not endanger one’s life, the three-judge bench observed.
The bench noted that Sec 308 of the IPC provides that, “whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.” And in case of any such hurt the guilty is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both. On the other hand, Sec 324 of the IPC, criminalises wilful infliction of injuries on another and states that “whoever voluntarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death would be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both”.
Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Surya Kant stated, “To secure conviction under Sec 308 of the IPC, the prosecution must prove that the accused had requisite ‘intention’ or ‘knowledge’ to cause culpable homicide, which in turn can be ascertained from the actual injury as well as from other surrounding circumstances. In contrast to Sec 308 of the IPC which necessarily requires proving ‘intention’ or ‘knowledge’, to attract Sec 324 of the IPC it is sufficient if a person voluntarily causes hurt by means of an instrument for stabbing or cutting.
Offence punishable under Sec 308 IPC postulates doing an act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if one by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. An attempt of that nature may actually result in hurt or may not. It is the attempt to commit culpable homicide which is punishable under Sec 308 of the whereas punishment for simple hurts can be meted out under Sec 323 and 324 and for grievous hurt Sec 325 and Sec 326 of the IPC. Qualitatively these offences are different.
Judgment Link – Roop Chand v. State of Delhi