CASE ANALYSIS: Basdev Vs. State of Pepsu, AIR 1956 SC 488, 1956() ALT 593 (SC), 1956C ri LJ 919, [1956] 1 SC R 363

 

Name of the parties: Appellants- Basdev; Respondents- The State of Pepsu

Bench: N. Chandrasekhara Aiyar and N.H. Bhagwati, JJ.

Court: Supreme Court of India

Introduction

Basdev v. State of Pepsu is a major precedent-setting decision. In this case, the Supreme Court considers the elements of culpable homicide amounting to murder and how they are used to invoke the Indian Penal Code’s provisions.

The Case’s Background

The Supreme Court of India ruled the present case on April 17, 1956. In this case, the appellant shot a young boy while inebriated, and the injury proved fatal, resulting in his death. The inability to develop a murderous intent due to extreme intoxication was used as a defense. Under the second portion of Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, the crime was not changed from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder as the case progressed. The appeal was turned down.

Facts

(1.) Basdev, a former military Jamadar from Harigarh village, is the appellant. Under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, he is charged with the murder of a young boy named Maghar Singh, who was around 15 or 16 years old at the time. People from the same village had traveled to another village to attend a wedding. On the 12th of March, 1954, they all went to the bride’s house for midday dinner. Few people had taken their seats, while others had not. The appellant requested that Maghar Singh, the young boy, take a step to the side so that he could take a seat of his choosing. Maghar Singh, on the other hand, remained motionless. The appellant pulled out a gun and fired a shot into the boy’s abdomen.

(2.) The crowd that had gathered at the bride’s house for the wedding was merry and there was a lot of drinking. Jamadar, the appellant, drank a lot of alcohol and got very drunk and intoxicated. “He was excessively intoxicated,” the learned Sessions Judge claims, adding that “according to the testimony of one witness Wazir Singh Lambardar, he was almost unconscious.” The Sessions Judge considered the conditions, as well as the lack of any intent or premeditation to murder, and the appellant was given the lighter punishment of life imprisonment.

(3) An appeal to the Patiala High Court of the PEPSU was unsuccessful. This Court issued special leave to consider whether the petitioner’s offense falls under S. 302 or S. 304 of the Indian Penal Code, taking into account the terms of S. 86 of the Penal Code. “In cases where an act is not an offense unless done with a particular knowledge or intent, a person who does the act in a state of intoxication shall be liable to be dealt with as though he had the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been intoxicated unless the thing which intoxicated him was administered, to him without his knowledge or against his will”.

Issues

The main issue of the case was whether the offense committed fell under Section 302 or 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) with concern to Section 86 of the IPC. 

Ratio Decidendi

Actus reus and mens rea are the two main components of a felony. The first is the actual act of committing a crime, and the second is the desire to commit a crime or knowledge that the action would affect someone. In this situation, the question was addressed about what happens if the offense is committed when inebriated. “An individual committing a crime while intoxicated shall be dealt with as if he had the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been intoxicated,” says Section 86 of the IPC.  As a result, the question arose: “If information is believed in voluntary drunkenness in the same way as if there was no drunkenness, what about situations where mens rea is required?” Is it permissible to put purpose on the same basis as intent, and if so, why has intentionally been left out of the section’s final section?”

Summary of the judgment

Whether being intoxicated leaves an individual incapable of forming a clear motive for the offence should be included alongside other facts in determining whether or not he had this intent. If the proof of the incapacity of forming intent does not indicate incapacity of forming intent but instead reveals that his mind was affected sufficiently by the drink to give in to an aggressive passion, it may be assumed that the man expected the natural effects of his act. In cases where there is a lack of proof to show that the crime was committed due to insanity resulting from intoxication, the presence of motive should be concluded by considering other facts proven in the case, according to the ruling. Proof, in this case, showed that the accused was capable of travelling freely and speaking coherently. He also came to the ‘Darwaza’ of Nath Singh himself. He managed to flee after shooting the deceased, demonstrating that he was aware of the repercussions of his conduct.

As a result, according to the Supreme Court, “Because the criminal had refused to provide such incapacity as a defence, the statute presumes that he meant the normal and likely effects of his conduct, in other terms, that he intended to inflict physical harm on the deceased and that the bodily injury intended to be caused was adequate in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.”
The sentence and verdict were upheld, and the appeal was rejected.

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