New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday ruled that “intoxication” of a person cannot be a ground for diluting the offence of murder in unintentional killing.
The apex court said it was “difficult to accept” the contention that the incident of burning his wife to death falls in the category of unintentional killing or culpable homicide not amounting to murder (with intention) since the accused was under the influence of liquor.
“We find it difficult to accept this contention. Assuming that the accused was fully drunk, he was fully conscious of the fact that if kerosene is poured and a match-stick lit and put on the body, a person might die due to burns.
“A fully drunk person is also sometimes aware of the consequences of his action. It cannot, therefore, be said that since the accused was fully drunk and under the influence of liquor, he had no intention to cause death of the deceased- wife,” a bench comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and Vikramajit Sen said.
Holding that “intoxication, as such, is not a defence to a criminal charge,” the bench said “at times, it can be considered to be a mitigating circumstance if the accused is not a habitual drinker, otherwise, it has to be considered as an aggravating circumstance.”
The bench upheld the conviction and life sentence awarded by the trial court and confirmed by the Bombay High Court to Bhagwan Tukaram Dange for burning to death his wife under the influence of liquor.
“In our view, the accused was correctly chargesheeted under Section 302 IPC and we find no reason to interfere with the conviction and sentence awarded by the trial court and affirmed by the High Court,” the bench said.
Dange, along with his father, was chargesheeted under Sections 302, 498A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty for dowry) read with Section 34 (common intention) of Indian Penal Code.
They had returned to their house on the evening of October 18, 1998 fully drunk and demanded Rs 200 to Rs 300 from the victim and on refusal, she was severely beaten up and asked to bring it from her parental house and later on burnt to death.