“The Supreme Court addresses fundamental rights, justice, and judicial accountability while disapproving of the High Court’s ruling in a murder case.”

Case Title: Manikandan v. State by The Inspector of Police 

Case No.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 407 OF 2019 

Dated On: 5th April, 2024 

Quorum:  Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal 



The case centres on the murder of a man named Balamurugan who resided with his parents. The deceased allegedly gave accused no. 1 instructions to deliver idlis, and later that evening, upon discovering that accused no. 1 had neglected to do so, he went to his residence to confront him, according to the prosecution. 

It seems that his altercation with Accused No. 1 was the cause of the disturbance. The prosecution claims that upon hearing the disturbance, PW-2 (mother of the deceased) and PW-3 (the brother-in-law of the dead) raced over to the location. Accused no. 2 was in the area. Following that, Accused No. 1 went into his home, took a billhook with him, and used it to beat the deceased. The deceased’s right index finger took the first blow. The deceased then fled to a neighbouring property belonging to a Karunanidhi. The accused trailed after him. While accused no. 1 was assaulting the deceased by placing a billhook around his neck, accused no. 2 was holding the deceased. subsequent to that, both the accused ran away. 



The appellants claimed that the initial information report indicated that the incident happened about 10.30 p.m., according to the skilled attorney representing the appellant. That being said, based on the post-mortem reports’ mention of the estimated time of death, it seems that the incident had to have occurred prior to 7 pm. The second claim he makes is that the prosecution primarily examined witnesses who were close to the dead, even though there were other impartial eyewitnesses present. 

In his second admission, he alleges that despite the fact there were numerous unaffiliated eyewitnesses, the prosecution had only decided to question those who were interested and directly connected to the killed.  

He claimed that the post-mortem records revealed the dead had one small cut on his finger and one cut on his neck. He added that there was an unexpected altercation between the dead and the accused number one, and that during that altercation, the accused number one attacked the deceased without any warning. Consequently, he would argue that this is an instance in which Section 300 of the IPC’s Exception 4 will apply, making it an offence under Part 1 of Section 304 of the IPC.  



Asserting that there are no significant inconsistencies or omissions in the evidence of PWs 2 through 5, which instils confidence, was the learned counsel representing the respondent, the State.  

He contended that there was a clear intention on the part of accused no. 1 to assault the deceased, as evidenced by the fact that, following a disagreement with the deceased, he entered his home, brought a billhook, and attacked the victim. Learned counsel argued that the deceased sought to flee after the accused number one struck him once on the index finger.  

The dead was chased by both accused; accuser no. 2 restrained the deceased, and accused no. 1 then fatally struck the deceased in the neck with a billhook. He recommended the exclusion of this case from the provisions of Section 300 of the IPC’s Exception 4. 



S.300 provides the exceptions to Murder. Exception 4- If the crime is done in the midst of a furious argument, without any prior planning, and without the perpetrator taking unfair advantage of the situation or acting in an unusually harsh way, it is considered culpable homicide rather than murder. 

S.302 of The IPC- It prescribes punishment for intentionally causing the death of another person, in simpler terms, Murder. 



The Court pronounced the judgment by initially stating that during PW2’s main cross-examination, she tried to establish a case that the accused had disparaged her daughter-in-law. To be fair, she didn’t say as much in the police-recorded statement. Most significantly, she said during cross-examination by accused no. She stated “Yesterday, my husband, myself, and other witnesses went to the Haridwar Mangalam Police station.” There, we received instruction on how to present evidence from the police.  

The Court further laid down that It is important to remember that PW-1 through PW-5’s evidence was recorded on November 20, 2008. It is evident from this that on November 19, 2008, the first five interested witnesses—PW-1 through PW-5—who were close relatives of the dead were summoned to the police station, where they received instruction from the police on how to make a deposition against the accused. 

 It’s important to remember that the prosecution refrained from asking the witness any questions throughout the re-examination. The investigating officer provided no justification for this. Since the first five witnesses were “taught” how to depose at the Police Station, the court was compelled to proceed on that premise.  

This leads to the situation that appears, which is that PWs 1 through 5 were called to the Police Station and instructed on how to depose exactly one day prior to their testimony being recorded before the Trial Court. What would happen if witnesses in a police station were “taught”? It is conceivable. The cops are clearly trying to influence the material witnesses for the prosecution with this brazen action. As interested witnesses, they were all of them. Since it is quite likely that the aforementioned witnesses received instruction from the police on the previous day. 

The court was rather disappointed by the Police and further, to put it mildly, held that this type of police meddling in the legal system was disturbing. This was a blatant abuse of authority on the part of the police apparatus. The prosecution witness cannot be tutored by the police. Even if there are more eyewitnesses, their statements were concealed, making this behaviour even more terrible.  

The court, while pronouncing the judgment, held that the appellants were wrongfully convicted by both the Sessions Court and the High Court. The appeals were therefore granted. The appellants were found not guilty of the charges brought against them, and the contested judgements and decrees are overturned. Their bail bonds were cancelled.  


“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.” 


Judgment reviewed by Riddhi S Bhora 

Click to view judgment.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *