Stick is not a deadly weapon: Supreme Court reduces jail term of wife accused of beating husband to death

The Court took into consideration the fact that the incident took place during an altercation, and the wife may have been provoked to attack her husband.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified a murder conviction to that of culpable homicide not amounting to murder after noting that the weapon of attack was a stick, which the Court opined was not a deadly weapon[Nirmala Devi vs State of Himachal Pradesh]

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and JB Pardiwala was dealing with a case where a woman was accused of beating her husband to death during a quarrel.

The weapon used in the crime is a stick which was lying in the house, and which, by no means, can be called a deadly weapon. Therefore, the possibility of the appellant causing the death of the deceased while being deprived of the power of self-control, due to the provocation on account of the deceased not agreeing to pay Rs.500/- to PW-1, cannot be ruled out,” the top court observed.

The Court proceeded to reduce the jail sentence of the wife from life imprisonment to the period of imprisonment already undergone (nine years).

In May 2022, the Himachal Pradesh High Court order had upheld her murder conviction. This verdict was challenged by the woman (appellant) before the Supreme Court.

The appellant was stated to have beat her husband with a stick after her daughter complained that he did not give her ₹500 to join a National Cadet Corps (NCC) camp.

The Court noted that the relations in the family were not cordial, and that the couple often quarreled, sometimes violently. On one such occasion, the Court observed that the deceased man had fractured the leg of the appellant-wife.

As such, the Court concluded that there was a possibility that the appellant had been provoked before she attacked her husband with a stick, leading to his death.

There used to be persistent quarrels between the deceased and the appellant. In one of such incidents, the leg of the appellant was fractured by the deceased, and a case was already pending against him for the said offence. In our considered view, the appellant is entitled to benefit of doubt, inasmuch as the offence committed shall fall under Exception I of Section 300 IPC. Thus, the conviction under Section 302 IPC needs to be altered into Part-I of Section 304 IPC,” the top court stated.



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