EMPEROR vs MUSHNOORU SURYANARAYANA MURTHY Case Summary (1912 SC)

EMPEROR vs MUSHNOORU SURYANARAYANA MURTHY Case Summary (1912 SC)

EMPEROR vs MUSHNOORU SURYANARAYANA MURTHY Case clarifies the issue of cause and relationship – The act of the accused must be the causal factor or direct cause of death (read with section 301, IPC).

The Indian Penal code defines the difference between murder and culpable homicide, which amounts or not amounts to murder under its provisions. Culpable homicide is defined under section 301 of the Indian Penal Code.

BENCH

Honorable Justice Benson

Honorable Justice Sundara Aiyar

Honorable Justice J Abdur Rahim

RELEVANT SECTIONS

Section 26, 39, 299, 300, 301, 302, 303, 323 and 324 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

FACTS OF THE CASE

  • The accused, Suryanarayana murthy had given a piece of sweetmeat i.e. halva mixed with poison containing arsenic and mercury in soluble form to Appala narsimhulu intending to kill him for gaining the enormous sum of money insured in his name.
  • Appala ate a portion of it and threw away the rest halva. This whole incident was taken over the place of Murthy’s brother-in-law, where Appala was called to meet him.
  • The rest of threw away halva was found and ate by Murthy’s niece Rajalakshmi, who was aged about 8-9 years and she gave it to some other child who also eat it.
  • Murthy did not know about this incident. Appala was recovered from effect of poison but both the children died because of that sweetmeat.
  • The Accused was punished with transpiration for life for attempting to murder Appala narsimhulu.

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ISSUES PRESENTED BEFORE THE COURT

  • Whether the accused was guilty of murdering the girl named Rajalakshmi?
  • Whether the accused guilty under section 302 of IPC?
  • Whether the death of Rajalakshmi was caused by the accused within the meaning of section 299 of IPC?

RATIO DECIDENDI

  • Justice Benson is of the opinion that the accused cause the death of Rajalakshmi and is guilty of her murder. He further added that the accused did not have the intention to kill the girl but he clearly have the intention to kill Appala. That’s why he poisoned the sweetmeat for him.
  • It was the act of accused which caused the death of the girl by ignoring the act of picking up the thrown away halva by Appala. Neither it was the act of Appala by throwing it and neither was of girl by eating it, it was the act of Murthy who caused the death of girl. So, he is guilty of murder caused and backed up by section 301 of IPC.
  • Justice Sundara Aiyar drawn the conclusion against the appeal by Government against his acquittal on a charge of murdering the girl, Rajalakshmi that after several witnesses that Suryanarayana Murthy was no intention to kill the girl named Rajalakshmi because he had no reasons to believe that Appala would throw the halva and eventually it was pick up by girl and ate it which causes her death.
  • Hence, this case was not covered under section 301 of IPC and therefore he is not guilty of murder and dismissed the appeal of Government.

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DECISION

The accused undoubtedly intended to cause the death of Appala. The next point for consideration was whether the death of Rajalakshmi was caused by the accused’s act, within the meaning of Section 299 of the IPC. After examining the facts, there was no doubt that the act of the accused was one prominent cause in the chain of causes that brought about the girl’s death.

The next question then was whether this act of the accused was such a cause of the girl’s death as to justify in imputing it to such an act. Suppose Appala, finding girl standing near him and without suspecting that there was anything wrong with the Halwa, gave the portion of it to her and she ate it and was killed, could it be said that the accused who had given poisoned Halwa to Appala was not responsible for the death of the girl? I think not. And there is really no difference between such a case and the present case.

Accordingly, I set aside the order of the Sessions Judge acquitting the accused of the charge of murder and convict him of an offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

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Harry Rana

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