06/13/2024

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Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960)

This article is written by Varun Verma. The article provides a detailed analysis of the judgement in Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960). The article further elaborates on the facts of the case, issues, arguments by the petitioner and respondent, the rationale behind the judgement, and a critical analysis of the case.

Introduction

“Through violence, you may murder the hater, but you do not murder the hate.” –

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There’s a very thin line between grievous hurt (Section 325 of the IPC) and murder (Section 302 of the IPC); the case Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960) brings the limelight to that very shadowy area of law where the learned counsels argued on each side. One in lieu to bring justice to the deceased, and another in lieu to save a juvenile from wasting his life in prison. This Kerala High Court case brought out a repercussion in the heat of the moment between two juveniles, which resulted in giving away their whole lives. The case goes back to the 1960s, when two young boys of about 16 years of age came into a quarrel during their game at school, which later escalated to the point where the accused hit the deceased with a granite rock in cold blood, resulting in his death later due to injury, i.e., intracranial haemorrhage. The case first ended with imprisonment for life for the accused under Section 302 of the IPC, but later the High Court accepted the appeal of the respondent and altered the judgement to Section 326 of the IPC and imprisonment for 5 years.

Details of the case

Name of the Case: Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960)

Citation of the Case: AIR 1960 KER 301

Type of the Case: Criminal Appeal

Name of the appellant: Varkey Joseph

Name of Respondent: State of Kerala

Date of Judgement: 07/03/1960

Name of the Court: Kerala High Court

Laws Involved

Sections 27, 142, 143, 145, and 154 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Sections 299, 300, 302, 325, 326, 349, and 399 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Facts of Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960)

The case revolves around two schoolboys’ mere quarrel over a game during their school time, which turned into an incident that no one will forget for a significant time. Varkey Joseph, a boy of 16 years of age, was accused of committing murder and had been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life under Section 302 of the IPC.

Varkey Joseph (accused) and Kuttappan (deceased) were students in VI grade at the Government Higher Secondary School at Shertalli, Kerala. The boys developed hatred for each other when a heated dispute erupted, followed by a quarrel over a game just before the Christmas holidays in 1958. Subsequently, on a Saturday evening of 03/01/1959 around 7 p.m., both accused and deceased clashed again and were separated by Pws. 9 and 10, when they met on the road near Sheratalli Bhagavathi temple. After the incident, both the accused and deceased were sent in opposite directions, as the deceased headed north and the accused was sent to the south, in an effort to prevent further escalation of the conflict. An hour later, around 8 p.m. Kuttappan (deceased) came back to an open area against the Bhagavathi temple in front of Althara and sat down there. It was at this moment that the accused stealthily approached Kuttappan from behind, holding a granite stone, M.O. 1, in his hand, and forcefully struck him on his right temple near his ear.

After the forceful impact from the granite stone, Kuttappan fell forward onto his face. Pws. 3 and 11 and some other witnesses rushed towards him. He was moved to a nearby shop when Kuttappan pleaded for water. Amidst the commotion, someone hastily offered him soda instead to drink, which he vomited immediately after consuming, further accelerating his distress. He was rushed to the police station after his parents were informed. The police station was 300 metres away from the place of occurrence, where an FIR was filed around 9:45 p.m. Later that night, the boy was sent to the government hospital in Shertalli, where a nurse who was on night duty examined the injury and informed the doctor that the injury was minor. However, the next morning, when the doctor arrived and cross-examined him for some time, around 8 a.m., he suspected intracranial haemorrhage, and immediately the deceased was transferred to the District Hospital, Alleppey, for appropriate treatment. However, while undergoing treatment at the hospital, Kuttappan died at 5:30 a.m. on 05/01/1959. The accused was arrested the same day at 6:30 p.m. from his residence after the fact of the deceased’s death was intimated to the police.

In accordance with the information, the circle inspector, Pw. 19, investigated the case, while Pw. 20 carried out the autopsy and delivered the postmortem certificate. The case was arrived at before the learned session judge Alleppey, after the charge sheet was filed and committed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s Court. Once the accused was brought before the court and admitted the prosecution case, he gave his statement, in which he stated that the deceased, along with three other children, had beaten him, and after the quarrel on the road, Pws. 9 intruded and separated them. They followed him subsequently and beat him again. According to him, he only threw the stone at the deceased and did not hit him directly.

Altogether, the accused had a different version of the incident; according to him, in the brawl between him and Kuttappan, Kuttappan slipped and fell on the stone near Althara, through which Kuttappan might have suffered the injury. Four eye-witnesses to the incident were examined by the prosecution, Pws. 1, 2, 3, and 11. About 7 p.m. on the date of occurrence, the two brothers Pws. 1 and 2, who were later in the case also revealed as the neighbours of Kuttappan, were going to a nearby shop when they saw the brawl between the accused and deceased, and some people were questioning them. Subsequently, when the two brothers reached near the southern gate of the temple and stood there to see coconut throwing and fireworks, they saw Kuttappan seated 15 feet east of the Althara, after which the complete incident happened of the accused smacking the right temple of the deceased with granite stone and running away, dropping it.

On the attempts of the appellant’s learned counsel to convince the session court that the witnesses Pws. 1 and 2 did not actually see the accused hitting with the stone but rather heard the sound of the stone hitting. The session’s court, however, acknowledged the testimony of witnesses that they saw the assault on the deceased, and the court also recognised that even if the witnesses didn’t immediately react to the sound of hitting, they saw the accused clutching the stone in his hand and standing behind the deceased. As the case moved forward, these witnesses showed up clearly, as other eye-witnesses were totally corroborated. Following the case, eyewitnesses 3 and 11 also saw Kuttappan sitting near Althara when the accused approached him from behind and hit him in his right temple near the ear.

The defence cross questioned Pws. 11 and objected in court that the witness used to work with the parents of the deceased, and in his statement under Section 164, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, he stated Kuttappan was standing near Althara, but before sessions court he stated he was sitting, hence his statement could be biassed and confusing. However, the court did not find these discrepancies material and sufficient to disbelieve his statement, as he was present during the incident and the details fully corroborate with the other witnesses testimony, such as Pws. 1, 2, and 3.

In conclusion to the above and after some arguments from the defence, the learned session judge came to a verdict that it was proven beyond all reasonable doubts that the cause of death of the deceased Kuttappan was only the injury caused by the accused in hatred, and hence the verdict was that the offence was culpable homicide amounting to murder, as the injury was on a crucial part of the body. The wound certificate from the postmortem clearly reflected a contusion on the right temple, measuring 3” by 3”. On further dissection, there was haematoma under the skin and extradural haemorrhage with a clot measuring 6” by 3″, depressing the right side of the brain.

Issues raised

  1. What is the offence committed by the accused?
  2. Whether the accused is entitled to the benefits of Section 399 of the CrPC?
  3. Whether the section applicable is Section 325 or 326 of the IPC?
  4. What should be the right and appropriate sentence for the accused for his offence?
  5. Whether minor discrepancies in witnesses testimony were material enough to discard them?

Arguments of the parties

Petitioners 

The learned counsel of the deceased argued that the death of the deceased was clearly due to the hit made by the accused from the granite stone on his right temple near the ear, which was fully unprovoked and violent, due to which a 16-year-old boy suffered fatal intracranial haemorrhage leading to Kuttapan’s death, which makes him guilty of murder in cold blood. 

The learned counsel drew attention to the eye-witnesses’ testimonies (Pws. 1, 2, 3, 11), where they evidently mentioned they saw the accused approaching from behind, hitting the deceased, who was merely sitting on the east side of Althara. In the session court, the petitioner argued that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the accused intentionally knew the blow from the sharp granite rock would cause him serious injury; hence, he should be punishable under Section 302 and should be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life. 

Petitioner also contended that the accused wanted to exploit his age by stating he was just merely 14, but the record from his school, corroborated by the signature of his father, verified that the accused was 16 years of age at the time of the incident. The petitioner argued that the accused should receive the appropriate punishment for the offence committed under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

Respondent

The learned counsel of the accused argued that the allegations against the accused are not supportive in the circumstances, as the boy is just merely 16 years of age, and declaring him a hardened criminal would not be suitable given his state of mind at his age. The counsel also argued that the incident did not happen in cold blood but rather in a heat of passion, which was repercussions of when the deceased beat the accused with the help of other children. The accused acted rashly, in fear and panic.

The Counsel also states that the ill-will or quarrel at school is not even mentioned by the deceased itself in his First Information Report, thus the lay claim seems to be fabricated by the prosecution to falsely portray the case.

The counsel argued that there was no mention of the quarrel between the accused and deceased in the First Information Report on the day of the incident. Also, the counsel put a limelight on the witnesses, emphasising the discrepancies in their testimonies and challenging their admissibility in court not only on behalf of their testimonies but also as they were minors and their testimonies might be biassed against the accused.

The counsel also drew attention to the murder weapon, which here is supposed to be a granite stone, and urged the session judge to not consider it a “dangerous weapon” and put it under the provisions of Section 326 I.P.C.

The counsel also argued that in the investigation, the statements were recorded by the investment officer; however, my client was not given the right to a fair trial by not recording his side of the statements, resulting in violations of his rights. Moreover, the eye-witnesses that were presented in the case were properly linked to the deceased, as some of them worked for his father and others were neighbours, and they might be biassed for the case. No independent and neutral witnesses were present in the case.

In the closing argument, the defence counsel concluded by pleading with the session judges to alter the conviction from Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.), which pertains to murder, to Section 326 of the I.P.C., which deals with causing grievous hurt, and the counsel further urged the court to reduce the sentence to imprisonment to 5 years.

Laws discussed in Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960)

This case revolves around the judicial determination of the offence, the criminal culpability of the accused, and the sentencing based on the evidence and witnesses present. The court took a close look at the provisions involved and the facts of the case while deciding the punishment and passing the judgement. 

Section 299 IPC

This provision of the IPC states that “whoever causes death by acting with the intent to cause death, with intent to inflict such bodily harm that could likely result in death, or with the knowledge that their act will probably result in death, commits the offence of culpable homicide”.

In the present case, it was initially determined by the sessions court that the offence was culpable homicide amounting to murder, which amounted to murder, but after taking into account the nature of injury, the target portion of the attack on the deceased body, and the nature of the weapon which was used. They considered it clear that the accused’s use of a dangerous weapon like a granite stone with rough edges shows his intention of causing bodily injury likely to lead to death; hence, it is an act possibly charged under Section 299 IPC. 

Section 300 IPC

This provision of the IPC states that “except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder:

  1. If the act done and caused death with the intention of causing death; or
  2. If the act is done with the intent to cause such bodily injury that the offender knows is likely to cause the death of the person harmed,
  3. If the act is performed with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the intended bodily injury is severe and sufficient enough that in the ordinary course of nature it would lead to death,
  4. If the person committing the act knows that it is so extremely dangerous and that it must in all probability lead to death or such bodily harm that is likely to cause death and they commit such an act without any justifiable excuse for taking the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid”.

There are the following two exceptions to culpable homicide amounting to murder:

  • If an offender causes the death of the person who gave provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident while deprived of self-control power because of sudden or grave provocation. 
  • If an offender, in exercise of good faith, while using the right of private defence of person or property, exceeds the power given to him by law and causes the death of the person against whom he is exercising such a right of defence without premeditation. 

In this case, the stabbing by a granite stone on the right temple of the deceased shows that the accused had the intention of causing such bodily injury, which is so grave that it is likely to cause death. This was considered by the sessions court, and they mentioned that it was a culpable homicide amounting to murder. 

Section 302 IPC

This provision prescribes punishment for murder. It states that “whoever commits murder as per Section 299 IPC shall be punished with death, imprisonment for life, or a fine.”

In this case, the accused was convicted by the learned session judge for the murder of the deceased. The accused action causing the death of the deceased is based on believing the facts and evidence to punish him under the provision laid down by Section 302 of the IPC. In the postmortem report, severe internal injuries like contused muscles, a depressed fracture of the temporal bone, and extradural haemorrhage were found. These deep injuries reflected the dangerous nature of the blow by the accused using a deadly weapon.

Section 325 IPC

This section prescribes punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt. It states that anyone who voluntarily causes grievous hurt shall be punishable with imprisonment of either kind for a term that may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to a fine. 

In the present case, considering all the facts and evidence at hand, it’s clear that the accused voluntarily caused grievous hurt to the deceased, resulting in his death. The core essence of the case, as it pertains to Section 325 of the I.P.C., is whether the accused voluntarily caused serious bodily harm to the deceased, which later resulted in his demise. Given the grievous nature of the injuries, this provision is a potential offence by the accused.

Section 326 IPC

The instrument that was used as a weapon of offence was of such nature that it was likely to cause death, being a granite stone with rough edges. As the provision says, “whoever voluntarily causes grievous hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing, or cutting, or by means of any instrument which is used as a weapon of offence and is likely to cause death;

  • or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance;
  • or by means of any substance which is deleterious to the human body to inhale, swallow, or receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to a fine. 

Thus, since the act of the accused using the granite stone with rough edges satisfies the statements of this provision, it is held that his act is punishable under Section 326 of the IPC. It was established by the High Court, given the circumstances, that the accused caused grievous hurt to the deceased using the dangerous nature weapon intentionally to cause the death. Hence, this provision prescribes the most suitable punishment for the accused, as also considered by the High Court in acknowledging the facts and witnesses.

Section 164 CrPC

The provisions laid down in Section 164 of the CrPC ensure that confessions and statements are free of coercion and inducement and are made to the Magistrate voluntarily. As seen in the case, the accused gave a statement before the appointed court, claiming he had only thrown the stone at the deceased; however, later, before the sessions court, he altered his version of events. Under this provision, the Magistrate is obligated to state to the person making the confession that anything he states may be used as evidence against him. Thus, this case demonstrates the importance of different stages of statements made in legal proceedings.

Section 342 CrPC

According to Varkey, in his statement under Section 342 of the CrPC, he claimed that he and Kuttappan grappled with each other, and in this scuffle, Kuttapan himself fell onto the stone of Althara and sustained the injury. This provision states that “any court dealing with an application made to it for filing a complaint under Section 340 or an appeal under Section 341 shall have the power to make such an order it deems just.

Section 399 CrPC

This provision incorporated the revisionary powers of the Sessions Judge. In the case of any proceeding, the record of which has been called by the Sessions Judge, they may exercise all or any of the powers that may be exercised by the high court under Section 401(1). In the present case, the accused tried to take advantage of the benefits under Section 399 of the CrPC, but it was found that the accused was exactly 16 years old at the time of committing the offence, thus not being under the age of 16; he couldn’t get the mentioned benefits of this provision. The age of the accused is a vital factor in determining the sentencing aspect; thus, it was primarily considered to determine the punishment. 

Section 27 of Evidence Act 

This provision states that “when a fact is deposed as discovered as a result of information received from a person accused of any offence while in police officer custody, so much of that information, whether amounting to a confession or not, as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered, may be proven.” In simple terms, it conveys that when any information is shared by the person under police custody that leads to the revelation of a fact, the court considers it a confession made by that person.  

Section 142 of Evidence Act 

This provision in the Evidence Act states that “leading questions must not be asked in an examination in chief or in a re-examination, if objected to by the adverse party, except with the permission of the Court. The court shall permit leading questions on matters that are introductory, undisputed or, in the court’s opinion, have already been sufficiently proven. 

Section 143 of Evidence Act

This provision states that “leading questions may be asked in cross examination”.

Section 145 of Evidence Act

This provision states that “a witness can be cross-examined about previous statements made by them, whether in writing or reduced to writing, if the statements are relevant to matters in question. This can be done without such writing being shown to the witness or proving it. But if the intent is to contradict the witness with the writing, their attention must be drawn to those specific parts that will be used for the purpose of contradicting them before the writing can be proved.”

Section 154 of Evidence Act

This provision states that “the court may, at its discretion, allow the person calling a witness to put any questions on him that the opposing party might put in cross-examination”. This basically provides power to the court before a case is presented to allow or disallow any questions based on their appropriateness, decency, and relevance to the case. This section proves to be of great help when a case involves a child, like in the present matter, as it empowers the court to intervene and prevent any questions that are improper in nature and inappropriate to ask in the given place.  

Case laws

In Ahmed Ali v. State of Tripura (2009), the Supreme Court mentioned reducing the accused’s punishment to three months of rigorous imprisonment, considering the accused’s tender age while committing the offence. As a young person, the accused might be ignorant of the repercussions of his actions, and the reduction of the sentence was justified. 

Similarly, in Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala, we saw how the session judge, after carefully examining all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, reduced the term of imprisonment of the accused. The sessions judge determined that at the time of the incident the accused acted impulsively and without knowing the repercussions. Thus, the session court reduced the term of his imprisonment to 5 years.

In Jagroop Singh v. State of Haryana (2004), the court has emphasised that for convicting someone under Section 326, there must be proper evidence for proving the guilt of the accused beyond genuine doubt. 

In the case of State of Karnataka v. Siddegowda and Anr. (1995), the injury that was caused by a sharp-edged weapon to the muscle nerves was considered a simple hurt and not a grievous hurt. Along with this, another injury was on the forehead, which was hit by an axe and was considered to be a grievous hurt under Section 326.

In the case of Mathai v. State of Kerala (2005), the court held that clauses of Section 326 must be strictly interpreted and constructed. The grievous hurt includes “the emasculation, permanent injury to eyesight or either of the eye, permanent deafness or injury to either of the eye, privation of any member or joint, impairing of limb, permanent disfiguration of the head or face, fracture or dislocation of a bone or tooth, or any hurt which risks life or which causes the victim to eb during the time of twenty days in severe bodily pain or unable to follow his ordinary pursuits”.

Similar facts were found in Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala, where the accused caused great hurt to the deceased by striking his right side temple with granite stone, which ultimately resulted in haemorrhage on the right side of the brain. Thus, the High Court altered the decision to Section 326 of the I.P.C. after carefully examining the nature of the injuries.

Judgement in Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960)

The present case was an appeal against the sentence by the Court of Session Alleppey, which held the accused charged under Section 302 of the IPC for murder. In the case, four eyewitnesses were examined who gave their testimony, sharing that the accused hit the deceased, who was sitting in front of the temple with the granite stone from behind at his right temple, after the hatred developed during the quarrel. This resulted in grievous hurt and the subsequent death of the deceased. 

The court of session deeply observed the given facts of the case and, taking witnesses also into consideration, convicted the accused with charges like life imprisonment under Section 302 of the IPC. They gave this judgement with the rationale behind it that the offence committed by the accused was a culpable homicide amounting to murder because of the nature of the grievous injury, the vital portion of the attack on the body, and the deadly weapon used.

Later, when the accused appealed in the High Court, they altered the conviction from Section 302 of the IPC to Section 326 of the IPC for causing grievous hurt and a lack of facts meeting the requirements under Section 302 Murder. The accused was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for up to 5 years. The rationale behind this judgement by the High Court was their views after a close examination and nuanced analysis of the facts of the case. The court classified the offence as grievous hurt under Section 320, aggravated by using a weapon likely to cause death as per Section 326. The court determined that the severe blow was due to a juvenile quarrel between them, which shows that the accused does not have the intention to cause death (mens rea).

Analysis of Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala (1960) 

In this case, a 16-year-old boy named Varkey Joseph was convicted of murder and tried by the Sessions Judge of Alleppey for the murder of his schoolmate, Kuttappan. The prosecution’s primary objective in the case was to prove that Varkey had the intention of causing Kuttappan’s death under Section 302 of the IPC. To support the argument, the prosecution argued the critical state of the targeted body part attacked, the nature of the injury inflicted, and the weapon used for the commission of the crime. Based on these facts, it indicated that the offence was held punishable as being a culpable homicide amounting to murder by the Session’s Court, and it found the accused punishable accordingly. 

On appeal, the High Court modified the conviction from murder (Section 302) to voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapon (Section 326). The court believed that the accused intended to inflict a serious blow on Kuttappan due to their previous quarrels, which came under Section 326 IPC. This decision was based on the following factors:

  • Accused age was below 16 years at the time of incident.
  • It was determined that the offence was a result of a boyish quarrel.
  • There was no previous and direct intention to cause the death of Kuttappan.

Thus, this case highlights the importance of distinguishing between murder under Section 302 and voluntarily causing grievous hurt by a dangerous weapon under Section 326 based on the circumstances of the offence. 

The present case involves varied concepts of criminal law, procedure, evidence, etc. The analysis of the case also needs delving deep into the main concepts involved in the case, like the following:

Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

Mens Rea is a simple legal term that states the guilty mental state, the lack of which declines the crime situation of a particular offence. This Latin maxim means that an “act does not render a person guilty unless the thought is also guilty.” This maxim is applicable in various areas of criminal law, like murder. A murder offence can not be charged, as the provision suggests, unless the situation includes mens rea. 

Grievous hurt by dangerous weapon

This includes types of hurt like “emasculation, permanent injury to eyesight or either of the eye, permanent deafness or injury to either of the eye, privation of any member or joint, impairing of limb, permanent disfiguration of the head or face, fracture or dislocation of a bone or tooth, or any hurt which risks life or which causes the victim to be during the time of twenty days in severe bodily pain or unable to follow his ordinary pursuits. When this type of hurt is caused by an instrument of firing, wounding, or cutting, it’s referred to as a grievous hurt under Sections 320 and 326.

Culpable homicide amounting to murder

Culpable homicide amounts to murder when the act is done with the intention of causing death or such bodily injury that is likely to cause the death of a person, if the inflicted bodily injury is sufficient enough to cause death or if there is knowledge involved that the act done is so brutal that it can cause death and do such an act without any excuse. As per the IPC, the following conditions need to be considered while holding someone liable for murder: 

  • Intention of causing death
  • Intention of inflicting such bodily injuries that the offender knows, in most probabilities, will cause the death of the person to whom such harm is inflicted. 
  • Intention of inflicting bodily injuries on any person and the harm caused or injuries inflicted are enough in ordinary course of action to cause death of the person. 
  • The offender knows that the committed act will in all probability cause the death of the person or bodily injury that will lead to death due to the dangerous nature of the act and commits it without any excuse. 

Criminal culpability 

Criminal culpability means the legal responsibility borne by the person committing a criminal offence and encompasses the mental state, actions, and intentions of the person at the time of the offence. It is understood on the basis of mens rea (the state of mind of the defendant), the wrongful nature of their action, and their degree of criminal intention. The ascertainment of criminal culpability is essential to the determination of punishment for the offence committed.  

Juvenile justice

Juvenile justice is a collection of criminal laws aimed at responding to young people who are not old enough to be held responsible for their criminal acts. There is a juvenile justice system established with the aim of dealing with challenges faced by society and children. The main aim of this system is to protect the children by providing them with a treatment and an environment that fosters positive human development in them. The objective of these systems is to rehabilitate those children rather than punish them.

Witness credibility

A credible witness is an individual who presents themselves as competent, reliable, and sincere in their testimony, believing in their ability to precisely convey incidents or information. Testimony is often assumed to be true due to their knowledge, experience, honesty, and training. A credible witness offers an objective view of what has occurred in the case; this plays an important role in confirming your event versions and adding weight to the incident. Their credibility also helps the approach of taking third-party information to confirm the facts of the case and what’s been told by the petitioner and respondent of the case.  

The judgement in this case was given after a comprehensive examination of the statutory provisions, given evidence, and relatable precedents. The court has finally established an appropriate charge of grievous hurt rather than murder based on the severity and circumstances of the offence.

Conclusion

In its analysis, the high court took a nuanced and balanced approach in deciding this case. The Sessions Court first gave a decision imposing the punishment of imprisonment for life for the accused under Section 302 of the IPC, but later the High Court accepted the appeal of the respondent and altered the judgement to Section 326 of the IPC and imprisonment for 5 years. The evidence and facts were carefully analysed by the high court before taking this judgement of altering the conviction from Section 302 of the IPC to Section 326 of the IPC for causing grievous hurt and lack of facts meeting the requirements of Section 302. However, upholding the conviction of the accused, the high court has shown judicious wisdom in reducing the punishment of life imprisonment to a rigorous punishment of five years. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is culpable homicide amounting to murder?

Culpable homicide amounts to murder when “an act is done with the intention of causing death or if it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death or if there is knowledge involved that the act done is so fatal that in all probability it can cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death and commits such act without any excuse.

What is a grievous hurt?

Grievous hurt means serious physical injuries that have severe impacts on the bodies of victims. It includes emasculation, permanent injury to eyesight or either of the eyes, permanent deafness or injury to either of the eyes, privation of any member or joint, impairing of limb, permanent disfiguration of the head or face, fracture or dislocation of a bone or tooth, or any hurt which risks life or which causes the victim to be during the time of twenty days in severe bodily pain or unable to follow his ordinary pursuits.

What was held in the case of Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala by the Sessions Court?

The Sessions Court held the accused liable for punishment for culpable homicide amounting to murder under Section 302 IPC.

What was held in the case of Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala by the High Court?

The High Court has altered the conviction from Section 302 IPC to Section 326 IPC for causing grievous hurt.

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