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Absar Alam @ Afsar Alam Vs State of Bihar

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Citations: Absar Alam @ Afsar Alam Vs State of Bihar, AIR 2012 SC 968

Date of Judgement: 07/02/2012

Equivalent citations:  AIR 2012 SC 968

Case No.: Criminal Appeal No. 1436 of 2010

Case Type: Criminal Appeal

Petitioner/Appellant: Absar Alam @ Afsar Alam

Defendant/Respondent: State of Bihar

Bench: Hon’ble Justice A.K. Patnaik, Hon’ble Justice Swatanter Kumar

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statutes Referred:

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 84, 201, 302
  • The Constitution of India; Article 136
  • Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 354(3)

Cases referred:

  • Md. Gyasuddin Khan Vs State of Bihar [(2003) 12 SCC 516]
  • Lehna Vs State of Haryana [(2002) 3 SCC 76]
  • Om Prakash Vs State of Haryana [(1999) 3 SCC 19]
  • Shamshul Kanwar Vs State of U.P. [(1995) 4 SCC 430]
  • Machhi Singh and others Vs State of Punjab [(1983) 3 SCC 470]
  • Murali Manohar Mishra Vs State of Karnataka [(2008) 13 SCC 767]
  • Prajeet Kumar Singh Vs State of Bihar [(2008) 4 SCC 434]
  • Surja Ram Vs State of Rajasthan [(1996) 6 SCC 271]
  • Atbir Vs Government of NCT of Delhi [(2010) 9 SCC 1]
  •  

Facts:

  • Appeal under Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution against Patna High Court’s order dated 16.07.2009. Earlier, the Court had decided on the maintainability of Sentence only in the order dated 18.01.2010 wherein the Court granted leave to the parties.
  • The Appellant murdered his mother on midnight of 14/15.02.2007 by cutting her neck and separating the head from the body. The Appellant ran away from the spot with the head. Convinced by the facts, the Trial Court awarded the appellant Death Sentence under the Rarest of Rare principle by applying Section 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • The High Court further supported the decision of the Trial Court stating that Death Sentence has been rightly awarded since the Appeleant killed his mother who gave him birth. The High Court also took note of Machhi Singh and others Vs State of Punjab [(1983) 3 SCC 470] stating that the victim of murder and the manner of commission of the murder be taken into account while deciding the punishment.
  • The Apex Court had allowed the Special Leave Petition to confirm the death sentence imposed on the appellant.

Issues:

  • Whether the High Court was right in confirming the death sentence of the appellant imposed by the trial court?

Contention of the Appellant:

The Petitioner contended that:

  • The Death Penalty has been wrongly imposed as this case doesn’t fit in the Rarest of Rare Principal as the Appellant had killed his mother in the fit of passion and not after any sort of pre-meditation and referred the case of Murali Manohar Mishra Vs State of Karnataka [(2008) 13 SCC 767].
  • The Appellant was illiterate and his wife had flown to her maternal household. The Appellant accused his mother to be the reason behind his wife fleeing to her maternal household and out of passion severed her neck and ran away with it. In such a circumstance, the Appellant should have been awarded Life Imprisonment.

Contention of the Respondent:

The Respondent maintained that:

  • Beheading of the mother’s head as well as fleeing away with it constitutes a brutal act thus the murder of the mother by the Appellant correctly fits into the Rarest of Rare Principle. Thus, Death Sentence must be maintained.
  • The Counsel also quoted the following cases to support the contention
    • Prajeet Kumar Singh Vs State of Bihar [(2008) 4 SCC 434],
    • Surja Ram Vs State of Rajasthan [(1996) 6 SCC 271]
    • Atbir Vs Government of NCT of Delhi [(2010) 9 SCC 1]

Judgement:

The Appeal was allowed in part.

The Bench for the contentions mentioned by the Appellant decided to reduce the punishment to Life Imprisonment from Death Sentence for the offence under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and allowed the appeal in part.

Ratio Decidendi:

The Court agreed to the contentions made by the Counsel of Appellant stating that:

  • Under Lehna Vs State of Haryana [(2002) 3 SCC 76], the accused killed his mother, his brother and sister-in-law after having a heated argument and the Court had ruled that the mental capacity of the Accused must certainly be a factor considering his culpability and didn’t sentence him to Death Award.
  • Gyasuddin Khan alias Md. Gyasuddin Khan Vs State of Bihar [(2003) 12 SCC 516], the Policeman killed three of his colleagues but the court ruled that such act was under panic and the accused didn’t have any pre-planned motive to kill his colleagues. Thus, the mental situation at the commission of the time should be considered while deciding the culpability of the Accused.

Conclusion:

The High Court and the Trial Court had ruled in this instance that the murder was exceptionally violent and one of the Rarest of the Rare Cases. The Appellant’s wife fled, and he blamed it on his mother, whom he murdered. The Supreme Court maintained the Life Imprisonment defying Death Sentence in the particular case under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code by taking into consideration the counsel’s contention of considering the mental condition of the accused at the time of commission of the act. The Apex Court made its decision after considering his history as an illiterate rustic and his mental state with little control over his emotions.

Drafted by: Sachika Vij, Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University

Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider

Published On: October 13, 2021 at 11:34 IST