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Overturning a wrongful conviction for murder: Krishna Kunjaram Nair @ Pillai vs. The State of Maharashtra

Date : 25/06/2007

The appellant was convicted under Section 302 r/w 34 of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for murder) and sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs.3000/-. As part of the appellant’s right to Legal Aid, HRLN were appointed to represent the appellant in his appeal against this conviction. Having reviewed the facts of the case, the appeal was partly allowed. The appellant was acquitted of charges under Section 302 r/w 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The appellant was instead convicted under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder). As the appellant had already been in prison since 14 August 1999, it was deemed that he had already served the sentence for conviction under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code and he was ordered to be set free, if not required in any other case.

Case Details and Status

Mrs. Rebecca Gonsalves of HRLN submitted that taking into consideration the background and circumstances of this case, the accused could not be convicted under Section 302 (Punishment for murder) but could be under Section 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) or Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder). The latter includes acts committed "without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death".

The appellant was accused with an absconding another. Whereas the appellant had struck the victim with a bamboo stick, the absconding accused had allegedly used an iron strip.

The post-mortem report and the background to the quarrel that led to the attack were examined. Mrs Gonsalves submitted that in all probability the injury that led to the death of the victim was inflicted using an iron strip. In addition, the appellant had no intention of killing the victim, as supported by the fact that he used a bamboo stick. For these reasons, Mrs Gonsalves argued that the case fell under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder). As the appellant had been in jail since August 1999 and had not been on bail during the trail, Mrs Gonsalves further argued that the sentence already undergone was sufficient for conviction under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code.

The appeal was partly allowed.

The appellant was acquitted of charges under Section 302 r/w 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The appellant was instead convicted under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder). As the appellant had been in prison since 14 August 1999, it was deemed that he had already served the sentence for conviction under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code and was ordered to be set free, if not required in any other case.

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