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Buta Ram and anr. Vs. the State of Haryana - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1981CriLJ461
AppellantButa Ram and anr.
RespondentThe State of Haryana
Excerpt:
.....- 1. bail has been pressed for the petitioners on the premises that the act complained of does not fall squarely within the ambit of section 307, indian penal code. keeping apart the sentimentality which stands generated by the press reports that a large scale of adulteration of liquor, manufactured and sold in the state of haryana, has led to numerous innocent deaths, it would be safe not to express any further opinion on the merits of the case at hand......consumption as also injurious for health. since the petitioners were alleged to be found keeping liquor unfit for human consumption, they stand arrested for the offence under section 307, indian penal code, and lesser offences, with which we are not concerned for the moment.2. illustration (d) given out under section 307, indian penal code is to the following effect:a, intending to murder z, by poison, purchases poison and mixes the same with food which remains in a's keeping; a has not yet committed the offence defined in this section. a places the food on 27s table or delivers it to z's servants to place it on z's table. a has committed the offence defined in this section.whereas mr. sibal, learned counsel for the petitioners, contends that mere mixing of pyridine in the liquor.....
Judgment:
ORDER

M.M. Punchhi, J.

1. Bail has been pressed for the petitioners on the premises that the act complained of does not fall squarely within the ambit of Section 307, Indian Penal Code. Admittedly, the petitioners are liquor licensees and it is alleged that at their liquor vends liquor samples were taken from the liquor meant for sale. The chemical analysis of those samples indicated that there was pyridine as one of its constituents. The Chemical Examiner termed them as unfit for human consumption as also injurious for health. Since the petitioners were alleged to be found keeping liquor unfit for human consumption, they stand arrested for the offence under Section 307, Indian Penal Code, and lesser offences, with which we are not concerned for the moment.

2. Illustration (d) given out under Section 307, Indian Penal Code is to the following effect:

A, intending to murder Z, by poison, purchases poison and mixes the same with food which remains in A's keeping; A has not yet committed the offence defined in this section. A places the food on 27s table or delivers it to Z's servants to place it on Z's table. A has committed the offence defined in this section.

Whereas Mr. Sibal, learned Counsel for the petitioners, contends that mere mixing of pyridine in the liquor bottles yet kept in the petitioners' keeping would not make it an attempt to murder, the learned District Attorney for the State of Haryana contends that its placement in the shop for delivery to the wary customer makes it squarely fall within the ambit of the said section.

3. It is patent that the dividing line is very thin. There is a catena of precedents defining an attempt to murder. The broad outline thereof is that if the accused has done what he could do with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if he by that act caused the death, he would be guilty for the murderous assault under Section 307, Indian Penal Code, but if something had yet to be done, the act or omission of the accused would be at the preparatory stage and not tantamount to an attempt to murder. Keeping apart the sentimentality which stands generated by the press reports that a large scale of adulteration of liquor, manufactured and sold in the State of Haryana, has led to numerous innocent deaths, it would be safe not to express any further opinion on the merits of the case at hand. Since for the purposes of this petition, it stands undisputed that the liquor containing pyridine was available for being sold to the public at large at the liquor vends of the petitioners, there remained nothing further to be done except its handing over to a prospective customer, and the act would be an attempt to murder within the meaning of Section 307, I.P.C. The question still remains whether pyridine is poison so as to squarely fall within the ambit of the illustration quoted above. In Webster's New International Dictionary, pyridine has been defined:

Pyridine: A colourless liquid nitrogenous base, C5H5N, of pungent odour, obtained in the distillation of bone oil, coal tar, etc. and by the decomposition of certain alkaloids. It is the parent of many organic compounds, as nicotine. It is used in denaturing alcohol, as a solvent, as a germicide, as a remedy for asthma, etc. Structurally, it may be considered as benzene in which one CH group has been replaced by N.

4. The learned District Attorney contends that the chemical examiner has found pyridine in the liquor to be unfit for human consumption and therefrom it should be taken that the substance was poisonous He has also stressed that what is poisonous is a relative term vis-a-vis the intending user and cannot be generalised in uniform.

5. On careful consideration of the contentions raised, I am of the view that since the liquor was thrown open for sale to the public at large, then the generalities do come in as we do not have any conception of the intended victim in our mind as 'Z' was in the illustration above quoted.

6. It is conceded that the labels on the liquor bottles have to carry a suitable inscription that it is deleterious to health. Despite that, it is consumed on a large scale. At the present stage of investigation, which is stated to be otherwise complete, the prosecution does not positively urge that pyridine is poison but since its traces have been found in the sample and opined as unfit for human consumption, but wishes it to be treated as poison. That question is to be determined by evidence and expertise on the subject. As at present advised and for the purpose of this petition, I do not propose to place pyridine at the level of! poison.

7. For the foregoing reasons, the petitioners are entitled to bail pending investigation/trial. They are ordered to be so released to the satisfaction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. Kurukshetra. However, nothing said herein would affect the merits of the case if put up for trial.


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