Bombay High Court Upholding Life Sentence: Farmer Murdered While Trying to Draw Water from Neighbour’s Tank Due to Water Shortage.

The Bombay High Court in the case Murlidhar Waman Bombale & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra observed while upholding the life sentence of a man who struck his neighbour with a sickle in 2012, wherein the single deathly blow does not warrant commuting a murder conviction to culpable homicide.
The division bench comprising of Justice Sunil Shukre and Justice Abhay Waghwase in the case observed and has refused to commute 25-year-old Murlidhar Bombale’s conviction for section 302 (murder) to section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. However, the said court acquitted Bombale’s brother and father of the murder charge and merely held them guilty under section 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons) and section 325 (grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code.
The bench observed while taking into consideration nature of weapon, site of the body targeted, the court is of the considered opinion that said blow though single, has turned out to be fatal.
Facts of the Case:
The complainant, who being his son and the accused are all agriculturists and also relatives of each other. Their lands were adjoining to each other and due to the shortage of water, complainant fetched/drew water from Pazar Talav (Percolation Tank) but the accused would prevent the same resulting in bitter relations.
On very fine evening, Duttu and his wife went to fetch water. After the complaint was not being return and second son went looking for them. Thus, they were also beaten with a stick and sickle. Dattu succumbed the same day to his injuries.
Therefore, the additional session judge while following a trial against the three accused, in 2015 in Nashik sentenced them to life imprisonment under section 302, section 324 and section 323. An appeal has been filed by the accused against this in this High Court.
It has been argued by the accused that the witness testimonies were inconsistent, there being no such evidence to show whether the accused were armed at the time of the offence. It was not a homicidal death, since it being a single blow to the deceased.
Adding to it, it has also been argued by the prosecutor that were injured eye witness accounts and medical evidence suggested Dattu’s death was homicidal.
The court noted that the family members of the accused only assaulted the deceased’s brother and wife. Further, the recovery of the sickle on Bombale’s behest along with statements of other witnesses showed Dattu died due to the single blow to his abdomen.
The court was not impressed with such submissions, it being a settled law that mere fact that there was single blow, this being not a circumstance which would warrant conviction under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, which is being altered to one punishable under 304(Part II) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Accordingly, the court rejected the defence’s argument that since there is single blow on deceased Dattu, Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code is not attracted.

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