The Delhi High Court has reduced to 10 years jail term the life imprisonment awarded to a constable in the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) of Sikkim Police for gunning down five of his colleagues, saying the act was unintentional and he had taken the extreme step after they tried to sodomise him.
A bench of justices Sunil Gaur and A K Chawla said the instant case was one where in a fit of anger the man had "exceeded his right of self defence" as he knew that his action would lead to death of his colleagues.
The court was of the view that when the colleagues of the constable tried to sodomise him, "he could have reacted in a milder way".
"Instead thereof, appellant (constable) had, in a fit of anger, reacted violently by indiscriminately firing at his five colleagues, who had attempted to sodomise appellant," the bench said.
The decision and observations by the court came on the constable's appeal against his conviction and life imprisonment awarded to him for the murder of his colleagues.
The constable, represented by advocate Ajay Verma, had taken the defence that he was falsely implicated and someone else had committed the crime. He had later contended that he was sodomised by his five colleagues.
On reaching the spot, the police found the appellant in an injured condition and the bodies of his five colleagues inside the Dena Bank treasury chest.
Disregarding the man's claim of private defence, the bench said the circumstances leading to the incident have to be considered in a broad perspective and "the right of self defence is not required to be weighed in golden scales".
".. we hold that the offence committed by appellant (constable) is not culpable homicide amounting to murder, but culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Appellant had the knowledge that by firing at his five colleagues, he is likely to cause their death but had not intended to cause their death.
"Since the incident took place on a grave and sudden provocation and due to appellant losing his self-control, therefore, the instant case is covered by the second exception to section 300 of IPC. Thus, the offence committed by appellant comes within the ambit of section 304 part-I of IPC, which is punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten year with fine," the court said.
The bench said as the prosecution case stands proved, conviction of appellant is altered from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and modified his sentence to 10 years jail term with fine of Rs 50,000.
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