Surinder Singh v. State Union Territory of Chandigarh

Penal Code, 1860 – Section 307 – Attempt to Murder Whether the requirement of ‘motive’ is indispensable for proving the charge of attempt to murder under Section 307 IPC ? Held, Absence of motive alone cannot abjure the guilt of the accused.

It is significant to note that ‘motive’ is distinct from ‘object and means’ which innervates or provokes an action. Unlike ‘intention’, ‘motive’ is not the yardstick of a crime. A lawful act with an ill motive would not constitute an offence but it may not be true when an unlawful act is committed with best of the motive. Unearthing ‘motive’ is akin to an exercise of manual brain­mapping. At times, it becomes herculean task to ascertain the traces of a ‘motive’. Whilst motive is infallibly a crucial factor, and is a substantial aid for evincing the commission of an offence but the absence thereof is, however, not such a quintessential component which can be construed as fatal to the case of the prosecution, especially when all other factors point towards the guilt of the accused and testaments of eye­witnesses to the occurrence of a malfeasance are on record. [Paras 22 – 25]

Penal Code, 1860 – Section 307 – Attempt to Murder Ingredients of.

It is by now a lucid dictum that for the purpose of constituting an offence under Section 307 IPC, there are two ingredients that a Court must consider, first, whether there was any intention or knowledge on the part of accused to cause death of the victim, and, second, such intent or knowledge was followed by some overt actus rea in execution thereof, irrespective of the consequential result as to whether or not any injury is inflicted upon the victim. The Courts may deduce such intent from the conduct of the accused and surrounding circumstances of the offence, including the nature of weapon used or the nature of injury, if any. The manner in which occurrence took place may enlighten more than the prudential escape of a victim. It is thus not necessary that a victim shall have to suffer an injury dangerous to his life, for attracting Section 307 IPC. [Para 20]

Arms Act, 1959 – Section 27 – Punishment for using arms – illegal use of a licensed or sanctioned weapon per se does not constitute an offence under Section 27, without proving the misdemeanour under Section 5 or 7 of the Arms Act. At best, it could be a ‘misconduct’ under the service rules, the determination of which was not the subject of the trial.

The Appellant was admittedly a police official at the time of the incidence and the arms and ammunitions used for the commission of the offence, were placed in his possession under the sanction accorded by the Competent Authority. The Appellant being in authorised possession of the weapon, cannot be said to have used an unlicensed weapon, as prohibited under Section 5 of the Arms Act. It appears that the Trial Court was swayed by irrelevant considerations such as illegal use of the weapon, and lost track of the objective of the Statute, which has been enacted to provide a licensing/regulatory regime, to enable law­abiding citizens to carry arms, and also to prohibit the possession, acquisition, manufacture, etc. of certain categories of firearms, unless authorized by the Central Government. [Para 30]

Case Law Reference

  1. State of M.P. v. Kanha @ Om Prakash, (2019) 3 SCC 605
  2. Jage Ram v. State of Haryana, (2015) 11 SCC 366
  3. State of M.P. v. Kashiram, (2009) 4 SCC 26
  4. State of Madhya Pradesh v. Saleem @ Chamaru, (2005) 5 SCC 554