1. The accused, a man of 26, has been convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Gangayya, aged 20. The referred trial raises the question whether we should confirm the sentence of death. The appeal is by the accused praying that the conviction be set aside. It is certain that the deceased was stabbed in the abdomen in the night of 19th August when he was sleeping on the pial of the house in the occupation of one Atchayya. At his cries the other persons who were sleeping there and the deceased's relations came to his help. They carried him on a cot to the house of the Assistant Surgeon and from there to the local fund hospital where he died on the morning of 21st August at 8 o'clock. The post mortem examination disclosed the fact that the stab had penetrated the abdominal cavity and had pierced the intestines and that death was due to profuse internal haemorrhage and acute peritonitis.
2. P.W. 7 the father of the deceased who went to the scene of crime at once on hearing what had happened to his son says that at 9 that night he had seen and talked to the deceased at that place and that the accused was there at the time. He saya that the accused and the deceased used to sleep on the pial with 7 or 8 other men. P.W. 8 is one of the men who used to sleep on that pial. He says that on the night in question the accused lay down to sleep at 10 p.m. beside him and that when the hubbub arose on account of the stabbing of the deceased, the accused was not there. P.W. 11 is the watchman of a choultry and his house is next door to the choultry and about 20 yards from the scene of crime. He says that in the middle of the night he was awakened by a knocking at his door and went there and saw the accused. The accused fell down in front of his door. The accused told this witness that he had stabbed Gangayya and then had stabbed himself and at that time there were several knife wounds on the person of the accused. The witness told the accused to go and lie down at some place and not in front of his house and the accused went to the choultry nearby and lay down on the pial of the choultry. P.W. 12 is the wife of P.W. 11 and she gives evidence to the same effect. These two witnesses are corroborated by the Sub-Inspector of Police who says that P.W. 11 came to him at the police station and reported this incident. The Sub-Inspector is P.W. 13/ He saya that he went at once to the choultry and saw the accused lying there with wounds on his person and the knife lying near ,the steps of the choultry two yards away. That knife is M.O. 1.
3. The accused was committed for trial not only for the murder of Gangayya but also on a charge of attempting to commit suicide, but the learned Sessions Judge reserved the charge of the latter offence to a separate trial.
4 There is also evidence, which we have no reason to doubt, that the deceased himself stated that the accused was the man who stabbed him. He said so to his father P. W. 7 and he made a similar statement to the Magistrate who recorded his dying declaration in the morning, but learned Counsel for the appellant very rightly stresses the fact that when P.W. 8 got to the side of the injured man, the latter told him that he did not see the person who stabbed him. It is clear in our opinion that the deceased did not see his assailant and his statements that the accused stabbed him were based on what people round him said. But quite apart from that, there is ample evidence to bring home the offence to the accused, namely the evidence of P. Ws. 11 and 12, which, as we have said, is corroborated by the statement made by P.W. 11 at the police station at the very earliest opportunity. The evidence of these two witnesses is also corroborated by the condition of the accused when the Sub-Inspector found him lying on the pial of the choultry immediately afterwards. In the Magistrate's Court, the appellant filed a written statement saying that on that night he was in a fit of madness and while he was lying asleep some unknown person inflicted the injuries on him. In the Sessions Court he said that this statement was correct and denied the truth of P. Ws. 11 and 12, but gave no reason why they should implicate him falsely.
5. Learned Counsel for the appellant contends that at the best the offence committed by the appellant would amount to causing grievous hurt. His argument is based on the fact that P.W. 2, the Assistant Surgeon, stated in answer to a Court question that the deceased might have survived if a major operation had been performed at once. The witness also stated that he did not open the abdomen as that was a major operation for which he had not the necessary expert assistance and when he was asked why he did not call in some other qualified medical man which he could have done, he said that he was afraid that even so the deceased might possibly die under the operation and he would come to be blamed. The fact remains that the appellant stabbed the deceased on a vital part of the body and that the deceased died as a direct result of that injury. It is clear also that such an injury is one which in the ordinary course will cause death. There were 26 ounces of fluid blood in the peritoneal cavity and, as we have said, there was acute inflammation of the peritoneum. That the deceased might have been saved if expert medical attention had been afforded at once makes no difference as to the nature of the crime. We agree with the learned Sessions Judge that the accused was guilty of murder and also that the appropriate sentence is death. We confirm the conviction and the sentence passed on the appellant and reject his appeal.
6. We regret to have to place it on the record that the conduct of the Assistant Surgeon in this case calls for adverse comment. He saw the injured man at his house at 12-30 in the night and made a most perfunctory examination of him, applied some bandages to the wound and told his relations to take him to the hospital. P.W. 7 the father of the deceased says that the doctor was angry at being disturbed from his sleep, and hit him a blow with his fist. P. W. 5 the uncle of the deceased says that when they got to the hospital, there was no ward attendant there and' nobody to do anything for the injured man and that they themselves laid him on a cot. The Assistant Surgeon in his evidence says that he did not think that the wound on Gangayya's abdomen was anything but merely superficial and therefore he thought there would be plenty of time to attend to him in the morning. He admits however that when ha saw him in the morning he realized that the patient was in a very grave and dangerous situation and he sent for the Magistrate to take his dying declaration. It seems to us that this witness must have made a very perfunctory examination of the deceased when he was brought to his house shortly after receiving the fatal injury, and we think this is a matter which should be brought to the notice of the Surgeon-General.