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SC: Death by single stab injury can also attract Section 302, IPC

The Supreme Court has observed that Section 302 (Punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 can be attracted even in those cases where death occurs as a result of a single stab wound.

While disposing a Criminal Appeal, Stalin vs. State (Criminal Appeal No. 577 of 2020), a three judges bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah observed that there is no hard and fast rule that in case of single injury section 302 of the Code would be ruled out.

In the present case, the accused inflicted a single blow with a knife-like weapon and inflicted injury on a vital part of the body of the deceased.

The accused, in his defence took the contention that in case of a single stab/wound injury Section 302, IPC can not be attracted and relied upon two earlier decisions of the apex court viz., Kunhayippu v. State of Kerala (2000) 10 SCC 307 and Musumsha Hasanasha Musalman v. State of Maharashra (2000) 3 SCC 557.

The Bench referred to other leading judgements on this issue and observed,

“It depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The nature of injury, the part of the body where it is caused, the weapon used in causing such injury are the indicators of the fact whether the accused caused the death of the deceased with an intention of causing death or not. It cannot be laid down as a rule of universal application that whenever the death occurs on account of a single blow, Section 302 IPC is ruled out.”

However, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the evidences on record and more particularly the fact that the accused inflicted the blow with a weapon like knife on the vital part of the body, it is to be presumed that causing such bodily injury was likely to cause the death.

The Court stated that the case would fall under Section 304 Part I of the Code and not under Section 302 or 304 Part II of the Code.

The bench held the accused guilty of offence punishable under Section 304 Part I IPC and sentenced him to undergo 8 years of rigorous imprisonment along with fine of Rs.10,000/­ and, in default, to further undergo one year rigorous imprisonment.






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