Mumbai: A Pune-based man, who strangulated a friend to death just because he didn't want to "chitchat" with him, received a major relief from the Bombay High Court as he had himself reported the crime to the police. The HC commuted his lifetime imprisonment to eight years and quashed the murder charges to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
A bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and Nizamoodin Jamadar noted that the incident took place at spur of the moment and that the convict had no intention to kill the deceased.
As per the prosecution, Rajesh Sindhe (name changed), a businessman, had been chilling with one of his friends and was consuming beer on October 28, 2013 and just then another friend came to him. The other friend asked Sindhe for tobacco, however, the accused refused to give and asked him to go away since he wasn't willing to chitchat with him.
However, the deceased friend taunted Sindhe over his "weakness" for not taking any action against the thieves, who had stolen some articles from his house.
With this taunt, the prosecution claimed, Sindhe strangulated his deceased friend to death and then pushed him into a pit and threw a stone over him.
Soon after the incident, Sindhe rushed to the nearest police station and narrated the entire incident to the cops on duty. The police later registered an FIR against him after the deceased's brother lodged a complaint against Sindhe under charges of murder.
The sessions court after going through the testimonies of various witnesses as well as that of Sindhe, convicted him for murder and sentenced him to a life time jail term.
Sindhe, however, challenged the sessions court's verdict before the bench led by Justice Jadhav and sought reducing the jail term.
Having gone through the material on record, the judges concluded, "It is more than clear that Sindhe had no intention to kill the deceased but he had the knowledge that his act of strangulation would result in death."
"His act of pushing the deceased in a pit and throwing a stone over him cannot necessarily be termed as a cruel act and neither it can be said that the accused had taken undue advantage of the situation for the simple reason that strangulation and pushing the deceased in the pit is a part and parcel of the same transaction as there was no time for cooling the passions," the judges opined.
The bench further noted that there was no enmity between the accused. It said that the taunt by the deceased to Sindhe over his failure in taking any concrete steps in respect of the theft in his house must have signalled a strong stimulus or provocation to him.
"There cannot be any hard and fast rule to determine as to whether a particular act or a gesture or words would be sufficient to provoke a person. It depends on the psyche of a person which indicates a mental or psychological structure of a person especially as a motivation to act in an aggressive manner," reads the judgment penned down by Justice Jadhav.
The bench accordingly held that Sindhe cannot be convicted for murder charges but for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
"His of reporting to the police soon after the incident can be considered under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act to arrive at a conclusion that the accused repented for his own act and, therefore, has set the law into motion," the court opined while commuting the life sentence to eight years.