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Killer’s knife small, HC reduces sentence

Every act of causing the death of a person with a knife cannot be termed a “murder”, and punishment depends on the length of the knife used and the number of stabs, the Delhi High Court has said.

delhi Updated: Apr 30, 2010 23:29 IST
Harish V Nair

Every act of causing the death of a person with a knife cannot be termed a “murder”, and punishment depends on the length of the knife used and the number of stabs, the Delhi High Court has said.

A Bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog made the ruling while reducing the life sentence awarded to auto driver Mukesh Singh by a trial court in June 2009 for murder to 10 years in jail, convicting him under a lighter culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Singh had stabbed Satish, another auto driver, with a 9.5cm knife following a row over parking. Drawing strength from five Supreme Court judgments, the Bench said : “Noting that knife used in the instant case is of 9.5 cm, it being an ordinary kitchen knife, we modify the conviction of the appellant to offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder”.

“Solitary stab injuries have troubled the courts in determinatively recording findings... as to what degree of bodily injury was intended to be inflicted by the offender,” the court said.

It was not just the length of the knife he used, which brought to relief to Singh, but also the fact that he was uneducated and underprivileged.

“In an unequal society where the underprivileged are denied even the right of basic sustenance what else would be expected from them, other than animal behavior?” the Bench said.