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Murder of wife by husband under the influence of alcohol amounts to culpable homicide not amounting to murder: Bombay High Court

The decision that murder of the wife by husband, while being intoxicated with alcohol does not amount to murder, but falls under the purview of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code is upheld by High Court of Bombay through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE JUSTICE SMT. SADHANA S. JADHAV & HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE MILIND N. JADHAV in the case of Sham Timanna Gaikwad versus The State of Maharashtra(CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 14 OF 2014).

Brief facts of the case are that the Appellant is a 40 year old labourer married to Laxmi (the deceased) for 15 years and have an 8 year old daughter. Appellant worked as a sweeper in a police station in Salgar Vasti, Solapur, on a daily pay. He was addicted to alcohol. After drinking, he used to fight with Laxmi, abusing and beating her. He used to harass and beat Laxmi, demanding that she provide money from her parents for house construction. When Laxmi went to her maternal home, she told her brother Raju Jadhav about Appellant’s behaviour. When Laxmi visited her brother, he would always give her some money and send her back to the Appellant’s house. On one such occasion when the Appellant was drunk, he killed Laxmi with a ‘pharashi’-tile or a stone. Laxmi bled profusely and the Appellant, was scared, ran away. When asked by one of his neighbors, the Appellant disclosed of killing his wife to the neighbor. The neighbor took Laxmi to the hospital, where she was declared dead. He filed an FIR in the police station and Laxmi’s sister in law also filed an FIR. A point that is to be noted here is that the Appellant had, two days prior to the incident threatened the deceased to kill her, which she told her brother but was sent back to her matrimonial home. The Appellant and Laxmi’s daughter was also present in the crime scene, who turned hostile later on. After investigation, examination of evidence it was proved that the Appellant had killed Laxmi and he was booked under Section 302 and Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The present case is an appeal against conviction of the accused.

The Counsel for Appellant, Mr. Lokesh Zade, argued that there is no direct evidence against the Appellant and the death of Laxmi was caused by the falling of the stone which was kept on the window and that the testimony of their daughter cannot be considered as she turned hostile.

The Counsel for Respondent, Ms. P.P. Shinde argued that the death of Laxmi was caused by the Appellant and the circumstancial evidences prove the same. She contended that the Appellant used to harass Laxmi and had threatened to kill her. She argued that the Appellant had killed Laxmi with full knowledge and intention. She argued for the judgement of the conviction to be upheld.

The Court, after considering the submissions and arguments of both the sides, the witnesses, the evidence, came to a conclusion that the Appellant had indeed killed Laxmi and that argument that Laxmi died accidentally by the falling of the stone from the window was unreasonable, but he did so without any knowledge or intention as he was under the influence of alcohol. Hence the Appellant was charged with Section 299 IPC read with Exception 4 of Section 300 IPC. The Appellant, under Part II of Section 304, is sentenced by the court to undergo imprisonment for a period of ten years and to pay a fine of Rs.20,000.00, and in default thereof, to undergo imprisonment for an additional period of six months.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY- ATIVA GOSWAMI

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