New Delhi: Thirty years after they killed a man, the Supreme Court on Thursday let off two accused holding that they were entitled to acquittal as the act was committed in exercise of self-defence which is permitted under the law.
A person can kill another when there exists a reasonable apprehension that his adversary is going to cause him/her grievous injury even though he might not have actually inflicted any, the Supreme Court ruled.
“In that event he can go the extent of causing the latter’s death in the exercise of the right of private (self) defence even though the latter may not have inflicted any blow or injury on him,” a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and H S Bedi observed.
The bench passed the ruling while dismissing an appeal filed by the UP Government challenging the acquittal of Gajey Singh and Rajpal Singh in a murder case that occurred on 27 January, 1979 in Meerut town following an old enmity.
In this case, Lakhi Ram along with a few others had gone to the place of Gajey and Rajpal where a scuffle took place and the duo was assaulted with sharp weapons.
In retaliation, Rajpal at Gajey fired a shot resulting in the death of Ram.
The trial court convicted the duo for murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment, but the accused were acquitted by the Allahabad High Court which held that they committed the act in self defence.
Aggrieved by the High Court’s verdict, the state government appealed in the apex court.
Interpreting Section 100 of the IPC, the apex court said the law justifies the killing of an assailant under the “right of private defence” which was rightly exercised by Gajey and Rajpal.
According to Section 100 of the IPC, killing of another person is not an offence, if the same was done in the exercise of self-defence.
In the instant case, the apex court said that there was sufficient evidence to indicate that Ram and his accomplices had come to the house of the accused and assaulted them with sharp weapons resulting in grievous injuries to both of them.
“In such a situation, accused persons could have a reasonable apprehension of death or at least of grievous hurt. It was a case of single gun shot which was not repeated. Therefore, it cannot be said that the accused persons had exceeded their right of private defence in any manner,” the bench observed.