Killing in a Fit of Anger is Not Premeditated Murder, Warrants a Different Punishment

by Medindia Content Team on Nov 6 2007 2:51 PM

New Delhi: In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court has clarified that punishment for killing in the throes of rage cannot be called as ‘preplanned murder’, and will warrant a punishment of lesser intensity. This ruling is in the wake of an offence committed in Tamilnadu by a tea shop worker who was accused of killing a rag picker in a fit of anger.

The rag picker, Shiva, had apparently made a habit of throwing waste into an adjoining tea shop, despite repeated warnings from the worker in the shop. Caught in a furious scrap, the worker had picked up a knife from the shop and killed the rag picker. The worker, Muthu was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court which was seconded by the Madras High court, which dismissed his appeal.

The Supreme Court, labeling his offence as a ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’, accepted his plea and reduced the sentence to 5 years. The presiding bench clarified that Muthu was unable to gather his wits and remain calm in the face of provocation, which caused him to kill the rag picker in a fit of anger. There was no motive to kill since the accused was not even possessing a weapon at the time of murder.

Justice Katju while pronouncing the judgment said, "In the heat of the moment, people sometimes do acts which aren't premeditated. Hence, the law provides that while those who commit acts in a fit of anger should also be punished, their punishment should be lesser than that of premeditated offences."

Muthu has already competed five years in prison, his release has been ordered by the Supreme Court.