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Om Prakash V. State of Punjab

 Om Prakash V. State of Punjab 1961 AIR 1782, 1962 SCR (2) 254


Bimla Devi, was married to the appellant in October, 1951. Their relations got strained by 1953 and she went to her brother’s place and stayed there for about a year, when she returned to her husband’s place at the assurance of the appellant’s maternal uncle that she would not be maltreated in future. She was, however, ill-treated and her health deteriorated due to alleged maltreatment and deliberate undernourishment. In 1956, she was deliberately starved and was not allowed to leave the house and only sometimes a morsel or so used to be thrown to her as alms are given to beggars. She was denied food for days together and used to be given gram husk mixed in water after five or six days.


She managed to go out of the house in April 1956, brothers of the appellant, caught hold of her and forcibly dragged her inside the house where she was severely beaten. Thereafter, she was kept locked inside a room.  


FACTS OF THE CASE:

1. Bimla got married to appellant but after some time their relation got strained as she was ill-treated and her health deteriorated because of maltreatment and malnourishment. Hence, she left her husband’s house.

2. Her husband’s maternal uncle convinced him to come back home with the assurance that she’ll not be again maltreated.

3. After coming back to her husband’s home, she was again maltreated and was locked in a room, but somehow she tried to escape from there and reached a civil hospital in Ludhiana.

4. Before Dying she made a statement which is known as a dying declaration in front of the magistrate. On that behalf case was registered against the appellant.

5. High court concluded that the statement made by the victim was correct and her condition was all because of the maltreatment. 


ISSUES RAISED:

There were two basic contentions which were raised in front of the Hon’ble Supreme Court:

Whether the act of the appellant qualifies as an offence under the IPC? 

The act of the appellant is an offence under section 511 or section 307? 


APPELLANT’ S ARGUMENTS:

The counsel of the appellant contended that the appellant had fulfilled his obligation towards his wife by providing her required funds and food and that it cannot be expected of him to help his wife in feeding herself as that is only needed in cases wherein the person is not capable of taking care of oneself which was not the case for her. He also stated that the allegations made by the prosecution nowhere prove that the appellant had failed to perform this duty. 


 It was argued by the appellant’s side that the components adding upto allege an offence under section 511 of the IPC is materially different from those of section 307 of IPC. This is different in case of offence as defined under section 307 wherein the ultimate act which is enough to bring about death is counted as an attempt. Thus, the act of not providing food to Bimla Devi cannot be considered as an act enough to cause her death as it would have been able to have that effect only when it was continued for a long time which didn’t happen in the present case. 


RESPONDENT’ S ARGUMENTS:

The entire case of the prosecution was based on the mistreatment meted out by the appellant and his family to his wife was the reason attributable to her sensitive health condition. It was contended that they had not only starved her because of which she had become enfeebled which was evident from her appearance but also that she was confined and beaten up by the appellant’s family members. These acts were enough to impute liability upon the appellant under the IPC as given by Punjab High Court. 


 It was contended by the prosecution that the act of the appellant and his family indicate the fact that they were done with the intention of leading Bimla Devi to her death. This was further proved by the conduct of the appellant and his mother when they had asked the doctor who was tending to the appellant’s wife to take her back without letting her get the treatment for the same. There was nothing to indicate that any better treatment was to be provided by them to her. Thus, they qualify as an attempt to commit murder under section 307 as they had the requisite intention and the act was capable of causing death. 

HELD:

A person can be made guilty for the offence of attempt to murder as mentioned under Section 307 of the IPC if he does the act with the intention to bring about this outcome (death by murder) .

The facts and circumstances show that the appellants have done an act knowing that this act can lead to the death of the victim. Court quoted a line that “Beginning of attempt is in itself an attempt”. Therefore, the appellant was held liable under section 307 read with section 511 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as he has done a series of acts that can be considered as an attempt. Hence, the appeal was rejected.


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