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In Re: Subbia Goundan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1936Mad788; 165Ind.Cas.330
AppellantIn Re: Subbia Goundan
Excerpt:
- - he did not clearly find whether the prosecution version of a deliberate blow aimed at the deceased was true or whether the defence theory of the blow having been meant originally for the wife falling accidentally on the deceased was true. as a matter of fact, what the doctor said was that if the wife bad received such an injury it was possible that it might not have proved fatal......order of acquittal. the only reference that has to be made to this charge is necessitated by the learned sessions judge's insistence in more than one place on what he calls the right of the husband to beat his wife for impudence or impertinence. the learned sessions judge was so much obsessed with his belief in the existence of such a right that he went to the length of criticising the police for having included the charge of causing hurt to the wife in the charge sheet and even the sub-magistrate for including it in the charges sent by him for trial in the sessions court. it is perhaps enough to say that though the learned judge may be entitled to have his own views on the subject in a private capacity, yet he was not justified in laying down the law in this manner from his seat on.....
Judgment:

Pandrang Row, J.

1. This is a case taken up in revision by Burn, J., on a perusal of the calendar and judgment in S. C. No. 49 of 1936 on the file of the Sessions Judge of Madura. In that case, one Subbia Goundan was charged with having voluntarily caused hurt to his wife Nachammal, aged 20 years, and also with culpable homicide not amounting to murder of his mother-in-law, Nagammal, aged 60 years, who died as a result of the injury received by her. The beating of the wife took place first, and when the wife's mother Nagammal went there, she received an injury and fell down and died soon afterwards. There is no need to go into the details of the evidence so far as the charge of causing hurt to the wife is concerned, for the accused was acquitted of that charge and no appeal has been filed by the Local Government from the order of acquittal. The only reference that has to be made to this charge is necessitated by the learned Sessions Judge's insistence in more than one place on what he calls the right of the husband to beat his wife for impudence or impertinence. The learned Sessions Judge was so much obsessed with his belief in the existence of such a right that he went to the length of criticising the Police for having included the charge of causing hurt to the wife in the charge sheet and even the Sub-Magistrate for including it in the charges sent by him for trial in the Sessions Court. It is perhaps enough to say that though the learned Judge may be entitled to have his own views on the subject in a private capacity, yet he was not justified in laying down the law in this manner from his seat on the Bench, and declaring in general and unqualified terms that a husband has the right of punishing his wife by beating her for impudence or impertinence. No such general or unqualified right is now-a-days recognised by law, and wife-beating is not eo nomine one of the Exceptions in the Chapter of 'General Exceptions' in the Penal Code. One can easily imagine the serious consequences of such a declaration being made from the Bench by a Sessions Judge. We think it necessary to state in unmistakable terms that the learned Sessions Judge's declaration of the rights of husbands in this regard has no foundation, so that no one may rely upon that in future as a justification for wife-beating.

2. As regards the other charge, viz., the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the learned Sessions Judge was of opinion that the act of the accused amounted only to an offence punishable under Section 323, I.P.C. He did not clearly find whether the prosecution version of a deliberate blow aimed at the deceased was true or whether the defence theory of the blow having been meant originally for the wife falling accidentally on the deceased was true. He says it is possible that the accused wanted to give his mother-in-law a thrashing, and that it is equally possible that a blow intended by him for his wife fell by accident on the old woman's head. He lays stress on the fact that the old woman's skull must have been very brittle and fragile, and that the blow must have caused the fracture of the skull on this account, and that it could not be said that the accused intended to inflict an injury which was likely to result in death or' which he must have known to be likely to result in death. He adds further that the Doctor's opinion is that if the blow had fallen on his wife there may not have been any fracture at all. As a matter of fact, what the Doctor said was that if the wife bad received such an injury it was possible that it might not have proved fatal.

3. It is not necessary however to decide now the question whether the act of the accused really amounted to culpable homicide not amounting murder. The conviction is for voluntarily causing hurt, and it is not possible in revision to alter the conviction into one of a more serious offence. The sentence imposed by the learned Sessions Judge as a result of this conviction under Section 323 is one month's simple imprisonment; this sentence is undoubtedly much too lenient. The blow was delivered with a stick about two or three fingers in thickness. We have seen the stick, viz., M.O. 2, and there can be no doubt that a blow with such a stick on the head is a very serious matter, and it cannot possibly be said that a sentence of one month's simple imprisonment for a blow with such a stick on the head would have been an adequate punishment, even if such blow had not resulted in the death of the woman; and even if the woman had lived, the sentence would have been much too lenient. Mr. K. V. Gopalaswami on behalf of the Crown suggests that the maximum sentence should have been imposed under Section 323. No doubt the question of sentence is a matter of discretion of the trial Court, and we should have been loath to interfere if that discretion had been judicially exercised. In this case however it does not appear to have been judicially exercised; on the other hand, the learned Sessions Judge seems to have thought that a very lenient sentence would be sufficient for hitting the mother-in-law by accident when he meant to hit the wife. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, we are of opinion that a sentence of not less than nine months' rigorous imprisonment will meet the needs of this case. We therefore enhance the punishment into one of nine months' rigorous imprisonment under Section 323, I.P.C. The imprisonment of one month already undergone by the accused, though simple, must be taken into account and deducted from the nine months to which he is now sentenced.


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