M. Hidayatullah, C.J.
1. The appellant, Brij Kishore Pandey, appeals to this Court by special leave which has been limited to the question of sentence of death imposed on him by the sessions Judge, Moradabad and confirmed by the High Court by its judgment dated July 29, 1968.
2. The facts of the case need not be stated at length, since the only question we have to determine is whether the sentence of death should be reduced to one of imprisonment for life. The appellant was a postal clerk working at the Head Post Office, Moradabad. He was employed in January 1967 and this incident is dated August 25, 1967. During the time of his employment, he was first at the registration counter but was later made a sorter which job he apparently disliked. He went one day to the Registration department and sat down in the chair of the Assistant Post-Master from where he was with much persuasion asked to leave. On the 25th August, 1967, the victim N.C. Sexena whose duty it was to see that the appellant did not any further enter the Registration department was seated near the Registration department and was questioning another person and taking down his explanation. Eye-witness who were many in number and who all belong to the postal department were also gathered there. When Saxena asked Chander Pal Shukla what his explanation was, the appellant who was previously sitting on a chair got up and said 'what is the statement'?, and taking out a knife, stabbed N.C. Saxena, first on the abdomen and again on his chest and lastly on his back. The appellant was forthwith apprehended and disarmed. N.C. Saxena was rushed to hospital but died about 28 hours later. The prosecution case is established by the evidence of eye-witnesses whom we see no reason to doubt and indeed the assessment of the evidence is ordinarily not done by this Court nor is there special leave which would entitle the appellant to ask us to enter facts.
3. The injuries which the appellant caused were serious. The knife blade had entered the right lung and cut it in its upper posterior part. The mesentery and the transverse colon were also cut. At the autopsy, it was also found that the right renal vein and artery were completely cut at their origin from the aorta. The injuries were therefore sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death and therefore the offence was rightly held to be murder. In the High Court the only question argued was one of sentence. The High Court agreed with the Sessions Judge that the extreme penalty of the law was the proper sentence to impose in the case.
4. Mr. M.V. Goswami who appeared before us, as amicus curiae, argued that the imposition of the death penalty was not merited in the case and drew our attention to several circumstances which show, according to him, that the appellant who is a youngman was not probably quite normal and was, in any event, of an excitable nature. He referred to three documents Exs. Ka 2, Ka 3 and Ka. 5. In Ex. Ka 2, it is stated that the appellant had absented; himself from duty on June 23, 1967 without taking leave or sending any information and had thus deserted duty. In Ka 3, which is dated July 7, 1967, it is stated that he was in the habit of assaulting persons one of the whom P.P. Gupta was named. It is stated that he had slapped some other persons, but that nobody was prepared to give a complaint in writing. In Ka 5 dated July 22, 1967, it is mentioned that the appellant is a men of quarrelsome nature and had assaulted on several occasions M.S Bhatnagar, Shafiul Hasan, Pramod Prakash, Tula Ram etc etc. It is also stated that the persons in the post Office were afraid of him and it was apprehended that there was 'every likelihood of some serious injury from his side.' In Ka 3, there is also reference that the opinion of the Civil Surgeon should be obtained as to whether he had actually any capacity to work or was deliberately taking no interest in his work. In Ex. 5 there is mention that:
It appears that he remains unsound mind and frequently uses abusive language.
Mr. Goswami referred us to the circumstance that there was no prior incident before the appellant used the knife on N.C. Saxena. There was no alteration nor was the appellant being questioned at that time. He stated that there was no evidence either of any provocation given to the appellant. He described the act of the appellant as that of an abnormal man practically bordering on insanity although the plea of insanity was not raised in the case. He therefore pleaded that the sentence of death should be changed into one of imprisonment for life regard being had to the circumstances above narrated and the age of the appellant which was given out as 22 years and 9 months. He also drew our attention to In re Ammalla Koteswara Rao (1) which deals with the change of law in Section 367(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure by which certain words which were existing before were deleted.
5. We do not think it necessary to lay down any law on the subject of awarding of death penalty and imprisonment for life. All that we can say is that both the sentences are legal and the courts have a fair discretion in the matter in the light of the circumstances existing in each case. We therefore proceed, to decide this case on its own facts without laying down any lay for future guidance.
6. What are the facts here? The appellant was a clerk in the post office; he apparently resented his change from being a Registration clerk to a Sorter. In his examination under Section 342, he stated as follows:
Due to poverty I came from such a long distance, i.e. Deoria and accepted this service. Due to my poverty the employees of this place began to look down upon me and the postman did not co-operate with me in my work nor did they maintain any yard-stick of my work. Having acted according to the instruction of Shri Gupta A.P.M. I began working from Registration Branch to Delivery Branch.
7. In this is the kernel of his grievance. He attributed the change from the Registration department to the Sorters' Branch because of his poverty and lack of sympathy on the part of his collegues and his superior officers. His acts, namely, of trying to assert himself in the Registration Branch clearly show that he was mentally disturbed over the change. On earlier occasion, he had gone and sat in the chair of the Assistant Post Master in the Registration Branch and on the fateful day, the incident also took place just outside the Registration department. On the previous occasion N.C. Saxena (the victim) was given the duty of keeping the appellant away from the Registration Branch. When the appellant went that morning near the Registration Branch, he saw Saxena sitting there and questioning another employee of the post office and he intervened in that conference and attacked Saxena with fatal results. The previous history of this man, which shows a certain amount of lack of control and a sense of grievance together with certain abnormalities of mind which had been noted in documents long before the incident, make us feel that it was an act of a person who was easily excited and therefore likely to be moved by irresistible impulses. Looking to his age we are also satisfied that we were at an age when this kind of grievance assumes inordinate proportion in the minds of excitable persons. On the whole, therefore, we think that although his act was probably preplanned in the sense that he had a knife with him, it was an act of a person who suddenly lost control. Although under our present law the plea of irresistible impulse is not yet accepted as a defence to a charge of murder, it may be taken into account in assessing the true punishment to be given in a given case. Therefore although we would be very unwilling to interfere in matters of sentence and do not want to lay down any hard and fast rule for the guidence of courts, we think that on the fact of the present case, the ends of justice will be amply served by reducing the sentence to one of imprisonment for life. With this modification the appeal fails and shall be dismissed.