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Supreme Court reduced sentence of life imprisonment to 10 years for murder and partially allowed appeal filed by convict

January 20, 2018



Life term reduced to 10 yer rigorous Imprisonment in Murder Case

A Bench of Supreme Court Judges Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Dr. D. Y. Chandrachud passed Judgment in Atul Thakur v. State of Himachal Pradesh etc. etc., Criminal Appeal No. 522-523 of 2016 and reduced the sentence of life imprisonment to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years to one of the convict in one of the appeals


The High Court of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla had modified the order of conviction and sentence passed by the Sessions Judge (forests), Shimla thereby convicting the appellant under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to imprisonment for life along with fine.

The facts of the case are the appellant along with three others were tried for offence punishable under Sections 302, 201 read with Section 34 of IPC by the Sessions Judge (Forests), Shimla. The case of the prosecution is that a telephone message was received at Police Station, West Shimla at around 4.45 A.M. on 28.07.2011, informing that a quarrel had taken place near Tunnel 103, from where one Hunny was brought to IGMC Hospital (Shimla) in seriously injured condition. On reaching the hospital, the SHO Shakuntala Sharma was informed that the injured had succumbed to the injuries. She then recorded the statement of Rajinder Singh under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In his statement, Rajinder Singh disclosed that he had two children. His daughter Pooja was doing computer course and his younger son Hitesh Thakur, 22 years of age, was also doing computer course from Lakhar Bazar. He stated that Hitesh had left home on 27.07.2011 after taking meal, on his motorcycle for attending computer course. He had then informed his sister Pooja on her mobile that he was going with his friend Akhilesh and would not be returning during the night. He requested his sister to inform their mother. At about 3 a.m. on 28.07.2011 one Atul Thakur telephonically informed him that his son Hitesh was brought to IGMC Hospital, Shimla as he was not feeling well and asked him to come to the hospital. On receiving that telephonic information he rushed to the hospital and found that his son was lying dead in wounded condition. At that time, the appellant was also present there.

After recording the statement, investigation proceeded and four accused, who had visited the house of Mukesh Thakur where a drink party was arranged during the night of 27.07.2011 and 28.07.2011, were sent for trial for the stated offence. The Trial Court after analysing the evidence acquitted the other three accused but found the appellant guilty of the offence punishable under Section 304, Part-II and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for five years and to pay fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default to undergo further imprisonment for one year vide judgment dated 31st December, 2014.

Against the said decision, the appellant filed an appeal before the High Court. The complainant also filed an appeal before the High Court against the acquittal of three accused as well as for enhancement of sentence of the appellant. Both the appeals came to be disposed of by common judgment dated 1st April, 2016. The High Court upheld the finding of fact regarding the involvement of the appellant in the commission of crime. However, it reversed the finding and conclusion recorded by the Trial Court regarding the nature of offence. It concluded that taking an overall view of the matter, the appellant was guilty of offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC for the murder of Hitesh Thakur and not under Section 304 Part-II, as held by the Trial Court. At the same time, the High Court affirmed the order of acquittal in favour of the other accused who were tried along with the appellant.


The court said that "We are of the opinion that neither the factum of use of knife by the appellant during the assault nor the multiple blows (six) given by the appellant can be the sole basis to deny the appellant of the benefit available under Exception 4 to Section 300 of IPC. The Court is obliged to take an overall view of the matter on the basis of the established facts. This principle is restated in Surain Singh's case (supra)."


"The next question is whether the appellant is right in his persuasive argument to restore and revive the decision of the Trial Court on the quantum of sentence. The Trial Court awarded the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for five years only for offence under Section 304 Part-II of IPC and fine of Rs.10,000/- and in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of one year. For that no special reason has been recorded by the Trial Court. Considering the nature of offence and the trivial reason for which the appellant got enraged and assaulted Hitesh Thakur, that too by a knife and also gave multiple blows, does not warrant a light punishment. We would, however, accept the argument of the respondents that in the fact situation of the present case, the sentence period should not be less than 10 years imprisonment with fine. That would meet the ends of justice."

"Accordingly, we partly allow these Criminal Appeal Nos.75 and 227 of 2015 filed by original accused No.1 Atul Thakur. We modify the impugned judgment of the High Court against the appellant in respect of nature of offence and instead restore the order of the Trial Court in that behalf. The appellant is held guilty for an offence punishable under Section 304 Part-II of IPC and is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 (Ten) years with fine of Rs.10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand), in default to undergo further imprisonment for one year. Needless to mention that the appellant shall be entitled to set off under Section 428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure."





Read the Judgment of Supreme Court of India in Atul Thakur v. State of Himachal Pradesh etc. etc dated 19.1.2018



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