1. The appellant has been convicted of offences under Sections 303 and 301 of the Indian Penal Code. There can be no doubt that there was a fight in the course of which he caused the death of two persons and was himself seriously injured. He pleads the right of private defence.
2. One of the deceased men Sankappa Shetty was the brother of the appellant's wife. There was a dispute about the headship of a family under whom he and she were joint tenants. Sankappa was supporting one candidate, while his sister supported the other. On the day of the occurrence, he wanted paddy for paying his rent, broke out the store room, removed the paddy and put his own lock on the door. When he came back for more paddy, he found another lock on the door, and was told that it was his sister's. On this occasion he was accompanied by Narayana Hegde, the son of the candidate for the headship. When he was preparing to remove the lock, his sister came and held it. There was a struggle between them, in the course of which she called out that she was being killed. At this, the appellant who was working in a shed behind the house, ran up and struck Sankappa one blow with an aruval which killed him on the spot. This is the story of Sankappa's death as told by the prosecution witnesses themselves. It is clear that the appellant's wife was roughly handled. Her hands were cut and bruised, evidently with the idea of making her release her hold on the lock. The appellant heard her cry out that she was being killed, and found her being assaulted by certainly one and probably two men. Under the circumstances, we think that his plea should have been accepted. He had reason to suppose that his wife might be seriously injured and he struck one blow in her defence.
3. As regards the death of Narayana Hegde, it is obvious that the prosecution witnesses have concealed a great part of the truth. They do not attempt to account for the numerous wounds found on the appellant. The probability is that when he felled Sankappa in defence of his wife, he was attacked by Narayana Hedge who was undoubtedly armed. This being so, it is difficult to say that he was not exercising his right of, private defence here also.
4. We set aside the conviction and sentences and direct that the appellant be set at liberty.