The Three-Judge Bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah, JJ has held that there is no hard and fast rule that in a case of single injury Murder (Section 302 IPC) would not be attracted and that the same depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case.

The bench further stated,  it is held by this Court in a catena of decisions that the number of injuries is irrelevant; it is not always the determining factor for ascertaining the intention. It is submitted that as held by this court, it is the nature of injury; the part of the body where it is caused; the weapon used in causing such injury which are the indicators of the fact whether the accused caused the death of the deceased within the intention of causing death or not.

the State relied on the following precedents of the Hon’ble Supreme Court

on the single injury and, in such a case, whether Section 302 IPC (Murder) would be attracted or not:

(i)Mahesh Balmiki v. State of M.P. (2000) 1 SCC 319;

(ii)Dhirajbhai Gorakhbhai Nayak v. State of Gujarat(2003) 9SCC 322;

(iii)Pulicherla Nagaraju v. State of A.P. (2006) 11 SCC 444;

(iv)Bavisetti Kameswara Rao v. State of A.P.(2008) 15 SCC725;

(v)Arun Raj v. Union of India. (2010) 6 SCC 457;

(vi)Singapagu Anjaiah v. State of A.P. (2010) 9 SCC 799;

(vii)Ashokkumar Nagabhai Vankar v. State of Gujarat (2011)10 SCC 604;

(viii)Vijay Ramkrishan Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra(2012) 11 SCC 592;

(ix)Som Raj v. State of H.P. (2013) 14 SCC 246;

(x)State of Madhya Pradesh v. Kalicharan (2019) 6 SCC 809;

(xi)State of Rajasthan v. Leela Ram (2019) 13 SCC 131;

(xii)Ananta Kamilya v. State of West Bengal (2020) 2 SCC 511

In the case before the Court, it was argued that s it is a case of a single blow, Section 302 IPC (Murder) shall not be attracted. Rejecting the contention, the Court said that it cannot be laid down as a rule of universal application that whenever the death occurs on account of a single blow, Section 302 IPC (Murder) is ruled out.

The fact situation has to be considered in each case, the events which precede will also have a bearing on the issue whether the act by which the death was caused was done with an intention of causing death or knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without intention to cause death. It is the totality of the circumstances which will decide the nature of offence.

It was further argued that the motive alleged for the incident is prior to four months of the incident in question and, therefore, as such, the prosecution has failed to establish and prove the motive for the accused to kill (Murder) the deceased.

The Court rejected this contention as well and said that

“motive is not an explicit requirement under the Penal Code, though “motive” may be helpful in proving the case of the prosecution in a case of circumstantial evidence.”

Considering that in the case at hand there were three eye­witnesses to the incident and the prosecution has been successful in proving the case against the accused by examining those three eye­witnesses and therefore, as rightly observed by the High Court, assuming that the alleged motive is the incident which had taken place prior to four months or the prosecution has failed to prove the motive beyond doubt, the same shall not be fatal to the case of the prosecution.

Considering the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case and more particularly that the accused inflicted the blow with a weapon like a knife and he inflicted the injury on the deceased on the vital part of the body, the Court held that it is to be presumed that causing such bodily injury was likely to cause the death.  Therefore, the case would fall under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and not under Section 304 Part II of the IPC.

[Stalin v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 723, decided on 09.09.2020]

check out the actual Judgement from the court website – here