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In Re: Macherla Balaswamy of Guntur - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 41 of 1951
Judge
Reported inAIR1953Mad827; (1952)IMLJ772
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 85, 86, 300 and 304; Evidence Act, 1872 - Sections 14
AppellantIn Re: Macherla Balaswamy of Guntur
Advocates:K.S. Jayarama Ayyar, Adv. for C.K. Venkatanarasimham and A.V. Krishna Rao;Asst. Public Prosecutor
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredRex v. Meade
Excerpt:
criminal - plea of intoxication - sections 85, 86, 300 and 304 of indian penal code, 1860 and section 14 of evidence act, 1872 - accused allegedly committed offences under sections 302 and 304 - raised plea of intoxication under section 86 - protection under section 86 not to be granted to persons who commit offences under influence of liquor - accused seems to have knowingly committed offence - held, accused liable to be convicted. - - 1 may well have had fatal consequences. it would be extremely dangerous to extend the protection under section 86, penal code, to persons, who commit serious offences under the influence of liquor in varying stages and differentiate culpability in their favour as opposed to similar offences by perfectly sober persons. directed the jury that if they..........en venkayya, although charged in that connection of attempting to murder him under section 307, penal code. he has been sentenced to transportation for life and to two years rigorous imprisonment respectively.2. appellant and p. w. 1 lived very close to each other in guntur town. p. w. 1 had a bunk or petty shop by the road-side. there is evidence of some previous ill-feeling between them over the purchase of a house, which was ultimately bought by p. w. 1 in competition with the appellant. p. w. 1 says he filed a complaint against the appellant about a year before this offence, which was dismissed.3. the prosecution case based on the evidence of p. w. 1 and two eye-witnesses p. ws. 2 and 3, whom the trial court believed, was that between 6-30 and 7 p.m., on 19-4-1950, p. w. 1 was.....
Judgment:

Mack, J.

1. Appellant, a cooly aged 32, has been found guilty under S. 302, Penal Code of the murder of a woman, Bhudevamma by inflicting on her a single stab in the abdomen when she intervened when the appellant was stabbing her brother Venkayya (P. W. 1). He has also been found guilty under Section 324, Penal Cede, in respect of injuries he inflicted en Venkayya, although charged in that connection of attempting to murder him under Section 307, Penal Code. He has been sentenced to transportation for life and to two years rigorous Imprisonment respectively.

2. Appellant and P. W. 1 lived very close to each other in Guntur Town. P. W. 1 had a bunk or petty shop by the road-side. There is evidence of some previous ill-feeling between them over the purchase of a house, which was ultimately bought by P. w. 1 in competition with the appellant. P. W. 1 says he filed a complaint against the appellant about a year before this offence, which was dismissed.

3. The prosecution case based on the evidence of P. W. 1 and two eye-witnesses P. Ws. 2 and 3, whom the trial Court believed, was that between 6-30 and 7 P.M., on 19-4-1950, P. W. 1 was sitting on a bench near his shop. Appellant suddenly came near him with a knife and started stabbing him. When his sister, who was sitting at the shop counter came up to intervene, he stabbed her in the stomach. Appellant then ran away. Bhudevamma and P. W. 1 were both taken to the Central Crime Station, where two statements Exs. P-1 and P-2 v/ere recorded from them. In dying declarations, Exs. P-3 and P-8 made before the Stationary Sub Magistrate, both P. W. 1 and Bhudevamma described the appellant, as being fully drunk, though there is no reference to this either in Ex. P-1 or Ex. P-2. In his evidence, P. W. 1 admitted that in the committing Court he said that appellant came staggering in a drunken state. Appellant was arrested at 7 P.M., on 21-4-1950, two days later by a Head Constable (P. W. 11), who says he was even then in a drunken condition.

There can be no doubt that despite the opinion of the assessors, who thought that appellant was not guilty, the learned Sessions Judge has rightly found that appellant it was who stabbed both P. W. 1 and Bhudevamma. Mr. Jayarama Ayyar for the appellant has not seriously challenged this finding and concentrated his argument before us on the plea of intoxication, which he urged in this case would, under Section 88, Penal Code reduce the offence from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

4. The injuries on P.W. 1 may well have had fatal consequences. He was stabbed twice in the chest and once in the abdomen. One chest wound was 11/2' deep and the abdominal wound is also described as 11/2' deep. As the doctor P.W. 13 has deposed these wounds were on vital parts of the body and if they had penetrated a little further, they may have caused danger to life. Bhudevamma had a penetrating wound, not so deep, viz., 3/4' x 1/4' x 1/2' on the left side of the chest which unfortunately, however, punctured the stomach. In consequence of this, she died in the hospital the following night.

5. As we understand Mr. Jayaram Ayyar's argument it is that appellant was in a state of intoxication and therefore under Section 86, Penal Code, ho is not guilty of murder which requires a particular knowledge or intent and would be liable to be dealt with as if he had only the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been intoxicated. Section 86 may be set out 'in extenso' :

'In cases where an act done is not an offence unless done with a particular knowledge or intent, a person who does the act in a state of intoxication shall be liable to be dealt with as if he had the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been intoxicated, unless the thing which intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will.'

Sections 85 and 86 crystallize in tabloid form the law relating to intoxication or drunkenness as a defence or plea in mitigation of a criminal offence. Section 85 gives the same protection as Section 84 does to a person of unsound mind, who is by reason of intoxication 'incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law', provided that the thing which intoxicated him was administered without his knowledge or against his will. A person, who gets into a state of intoxication voluntarily, is presumed to have the same knowledge he would have had if he had not been intoxicated. When the state of intoxication is such as to make him incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law, he can only be punished on the basis of knowledge and not of a particular intention.

What is the 'state of intoxication' referred to in Section 86, Penal Code? There are, of course, many varying degrees of drunkenness, which culminate in a state in which the person becomes incapable of knowing the nature of any act. Mr. Jayarama Ayyar's argument would include in the state of intoxication under Section 86, Penal Code, intermediate stages, which witnesses may describe as drunk or fully drunk, but which may not have reached the stage of incapability contemplated under Section 85. We have no doubt that the words 'state of intoxication' in Section 86 can only mean intoxication, which renders a person incapable of knowing the nature of the act in question or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law when he commits it. It would be extremely dangerous to extend the protection under Section 86, Penal Code, to persons, who commit serious offences under the influence of liquor in varying stages and differentiate culpability in their favour as opposed to similar offences by perfectly sober persons.

6. Mr. Jayarama Ayyar has referred us to the House of Lords decision -- 'Director of Public Prosecutions v. Beard', 1920 AC 479 (A). That was a case in which Beard ravished a girl 13 years old and, in furtherance of the act of rape, placed his hand upon her mouth and his thumb upon her throat, thereby causing death by suffocation. The sole defence raised was drunkenness. Bailhache, J. directed the Jury that if they were satisfied that the accused was so drunk 'that he did not know what he was doing or did not know that he was doing wrong, the defence of drunkenness succeeded to the extent of reducing the crime to man-slaughter. Beard was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Court of Criminal Appeal substituted a verdict of manslaughter on the ground that the Judge was wrong in applying to a case of drunkenness the test of insanity and should have directed the Jury in accordance with the rule laid down in -- 'Rex v. Meade', (1909) 1 KB 895 (B) (SIC) Lord Coleridge J. summed up to the Jury as follows:

'Where it is part of the essence of a crime that a motive, a particular motive, shall exist in the mind of a man who does the act, the law declares this -- that if the mind at that time is so obscure by drink, if the reason is dethroned and the man. is incapable therefore of forming that intent, it justifies the reduction of the charge from murder to man-slaughter.'

The House of Lords in appeal restored the conviction of murder passed on Beard. Lord Birkenhead, delivering the judgment of the Court, held that the rule in -- (1903) 1 KB 895 (B)', did not apply and that the summing up by Bailhache J. did not amount to a misdirection although he was mistaken in applying to a ease of drunkenness the test of insanity.

7. In their close juxtaposition, Section 84 dealing with a person of unsound mind and Section 85 dealing with a person incapable of judgment by reason of intoxication against his will use the same criterion vis., an incapability 'of knowing the nature of the act or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law' and place insanity and involuntary drunkenness on the same footing. We are unable to see any real distinction in the view that we have taken of Section 86 and the position in English law as laid down In -- (1909) 1 KB 895 (B)', or in -- (1920) AC 479 (A)'. The view that we have taken is in accord with our own case law, though the approach is somewhat different.

Ayling J. in -- 'Re Maudru Gadaba', AIR 1916 Mad 489 (C), held that ordinary drunkenness makes no difference to the knowledge with which a man is credited and if an accused knew what the natural consequences of his act were, he must be presumed to have intended to cause them. Intention, of course, in many cases, is an inference from knowledge. As an intoxicated man is assumed to have the knowledge, he must, in the generality of cases, be assumed to nave had the intention. But there may be cases in which a person by reason of intoxication may under certain circumstances, be incapable of knowing the nature of a 'particular act' he commits or that it is either wrong or contrary to law, although his state of intoxication may not be such as to render him incapable of knowing the nature of all his acts. In such cases, in determining the quality of the offence, evidence may be necessary of a specific state of mind, which must be found as a fact and not assumed. It is only in such cases, which are rare, that Section 86 can be invoked by a person in some stage of intoxication to mitigate culpability, and to limit it to knowledge without inference of criminal intention, where the offence with which he is charged, such as murder, requires proof of a specific intention. Sections 85 and 86 were enacted in the Indian Penal Code in the year 1860 at a time when English judge-made law in the domain of intoxication had not been settled. It is a tribute to the anticipatory genius of the authors of that Code that we find even 90 years later no real difference between the law as sought to be crystallized there and English judicial decisions since then, which have gone up to the House of Lords. Sections 85 and 86 appear to us clear and unambiguous and we need not look beyond these sections, which appear to us to leave no room for doubt as to what the statutory law is and how it should be applied in defences raised on the ground of intoxication.

8. In this particular case, we are quite satisfied that although the appellant may have been the worse for liquor, he knew perfectly welt what he was doing when he came up to P.W. 1 with a knife and set about stabbing him, it would appear, murderously in his chest. The learned Sessions Judge appears to us to have taken a lenient and charitable view of the attack on P.W. 1, which was really more murderous than that on his sister Bhudevamma, who intervened and received only one stab in her abdomen. A man, who keeps on stabbing persons in vital parts, must clearly be presumed to know the consequences of his acts and it is not open to him to plead that he was so drunk at the time as not to know or intend what he was doing. We have no hesitation in rejecting this defence based on the distinction between knowledge and intention in Section 86, Penal Code, put forward to reduce the offence to one under Section 304, Penal Code. One of the witnesses to the stabbing, P.W. 2, told the investigating officer that he saw the appellant and P. W. 1 fighting before the stabbing. The learned Sessions Judge gave this as one of the reasons for not passing on the appellant the extreme penalty. On the whole, we do not think that the extreme penalty was called for in this case. We confirm the convictions of the appellant and also the sentences passed on him, though we think, as regards the attack on P.W. 1, he should have been more correctly convicted as charged under Section 307 Penal Code, instead of under Section 324, Penal Code. With these observations, we dismiss the appeal.

Somasundaram, J.

9. I had the pleasure of perusing the judgment of my learned brother and I entirely agree with him. I would, however, add a few words to it.

10. When a person voluntarily drinks and he is in a state of intoxication s. 86 says that he shall be dealt with as if he had the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been so intoxicated. Can he be dealt with as if he had the same intention is the question. A man is presumed to know the natural or the necessary consequences of his act, and intention being an inference of knowledge he is presumed to Intend the natural consequences of his act. This is true in a majority of cases but there may be some cases where knowledge alone may not be sufficient and specific intention may have to be proved to fix the person with liability for the crime. Suppose a man in a state of complete intoxication is found in the house of another during night time. Prom this circumstance alone can it be presumed that he had the intention to commit theft or any of the things mentioned In Section 441, Penal Code. I think not. Thesection, no doubt, imputes to him knowledge, theknowledge here being that it is wrong to enteranother man's house during the night. But thatis not enough for convicting him for criminaltrespass. There must be further proof that hehad the intention to commit an offence or oneof the things mentioned in Section 441. The intention in such cases cannot certainly be inferredmerely from the fact that he was found insidethe house though in a state of intoxication. Itis to cases of this kind that Section 80 in my opinionwill apply and not to cases where the intentionis ordinarily inferred from knowledge.


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