Tooth as Dangerous Weapon for IPC a Fallacious Concept

Tooth as Dangerous Weapon for IPC a Fallacious Concept 

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            This will be interesting. One can in his specific factual situation bite the other on his body parts causing injury. The same can be treated as hurt or grievous hurt as may be the occasion according to definition given under the IPC in respect of “hurt” and “grievous hurt”. Till this point there is no problem at all. The problem starts with the introduction of Section-324 for hurt and 326 for grievous hurt. This paper will attempt to ascertain if tooth bite can fall within the ambit of Section-324/326 IPC.

 

            What is noteworthy is that both the sections are worded on same pattern except for the fact that the former punishes the hurt and the later punishes the grievous hurt. In the present paper we are not discussion the difference between hurt and grievous hurt and therefore for our purpose, both the sections are similarly worded. Causing of hurt or grievous hurt is necessary but here the action is important. How the action is done for the purpose of aforesaid provisions may be summarized as under:

                        by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or

                        by any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or

                        by means of fire or any heated substance, or

                        by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or

                        by means of any explosive substance, or

                        by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or

                        by means of any animal.

 

            It shows that 7 categories are available to define the action. In relation to human tooth, last 6 categories are out of question and therefore are to be summarily rejected. Then remains only the first category which reads as “by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting”. Shooting is again out of question for a human tooth. What remains? Stabbing and Cutting.

 

            Meaning thereby that if hurt or grievous hurt is caused by the use of any instrument for stabbing or cutting, the resultant scenario will fall within the ambit of Section-324 or 326 IPC as the case may be. Our focus therefore will be on understanding the issue if human tooth can be described as an instrument for stabbing or cutting.

            A division bench of Hon'ble High Court of Delhi[1] has taken the view “We are of the view that tooth is an instrument for cutting within the meaning of S. 324 of the Penal Code. P.W. 10 Dr. Bajaj has described the injury on the ear to be a grievous injury. The Doctor opined the injury to be grievous because it had caused disfiguration of the face of Lal Chand. We are of the view that the offence committed by Suresh would fall under S. 326 of the Indian Penal Code.

 

            Hon'ble High Court Rajasthan[2], Chhatisgarh[3], Patna[4], Allahabad[5], have taken the same view.

 

            Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat[6] has however taken a contrary view “A hurt caused voluntarily by means of teeth bite cannot be said to have been caused by any instrument for shooting stabbing or cutting or any instrument which used as a weapon of offence is likely to cause death. The rest of the means mentioned in sec. 324 also cannot apply to human teeth used for the purpose of voluntarily causing hurt.

 

            It appears that most of the High Courts are of the view that human teeth is an instrument of cutting and the result will fall under Section-324 or 326 IPC as the case may be. The only exception appears to be that of Gujarat High Court.

 

            We have therefore to see which of the aforesaid judgments needs to be followed.

 

            Though the word "instrument" has not been defined in Indian Penal Code, but we can take assistance from the dictionary. The dictionary meaning of teeth/tooth may be summarized as one of the hard, dense structures in the mouth of a vertebrate, used for seizing and chewing food, as offensive and defensive weapons, etc. It consists chiefly of dentine or ivory, invested on the outer surface and crown with enamel, and a root embedded in the gum, with a small opening leading into a pulp cavity richly supplied with blood vessels and nerves. Also means, the hard processes within the mouth, attached (usually in sockets) in a row to each jaw in most vertebrates except birds (but also in some extinct birds) having points, edges or grinding surfaces and serving primarily for biting, tearing or titration of solid food and secondarily as weapons of attack or defence, and for other purposes in singular each of these individually. Thus primarily an instrument has been defined as something by which something is done. Now, undoubtedly, the primary function of human teeth is to bite food, to cut it by the incisors, canine, the premolar and the molar and to reduce it into pieces and to render it into pulp, masticate and then let the system swallow it for easy digestion. The purpose of the tooth is thus biting or cutting. It cannot be denied that human teeth can be and are used as a weapon of attack or defence. In sum and substance the instrument does not mean only some mechanical device wholly apart from the human anatomy. Human hands and legs can also be used as an instrument for causing grievous hurt. Having thus had a comprehensive meaning of word "instrument", it would be very difficult to find reason in not including the "human tooth" in the category of instrument.

 

            We may find some guidance in the judgments o Hon'ble Supreme Court. It[7] observed “The expression "an instrument, which used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death" should be construed with reference to the nature of the instrument and not the manner of its use. The expression "any instrument which used as a weapon of offence is likely to cause death" when read in the light of marginal note to Section 324 means dangerous weapon which if used by the offender is likely to cause death.

 

            Though the observation aforesaid appears to have been used in the context of instrument likely to cause death, there is no reason why the same should not be applied to other categories mentioned in the section. Therefore, for any instrument mentioned in Section-324 or for that matter in Section 326, we have to consult the marginal note of the section which says “dangerous weapon” and further we cannot rely on the manner of use of such instrument and should only rely on the nature of the instrument.

 

            In view of the judgment of Supreme Court in Anwarul Haq (supra), it is clear that the heading of Section 326 IPC is important. The heading talks about causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means. In view of the text and context, in which the words "any instrument" are employed in Sec. 326 it cannot be treated as body part. The language used in the said section is "voluntarily causes grievous hurt" by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting or any instrument which is used as a weapon of offence. The grievous hurt is the result of blow given by an instrument. The nature and gravity of injury alone is not sufficient to attract Sec. 326 unless it is shown that such grievous hurt is by means of any instrument or weapon mentioned in the section. Precisely, for this reason, the Apex Court in Anwarul Haq and Mathai (supra) has taken assistance from marginal note and heading.

 

            Relying upon the aforesaid, Hon'ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh[8] held that body part cannot be treated as an instrument for Section-326 IPC.

 

            It is however the Hon'ble Supreme Court itself that pronounced a judgment[9] which concludes the matter beyond doubt. It has clearly taken a view that human teeth cannot be treated as a dangerous weapon for Section-326 IPC observing “The appellant stands convicted under Section 326 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Injuries, no doubt, are grievous as the phalanx of the index finger has been snipped off. But the allegation is that the assailant had bitten the index finger and caused the said injury. Teeth of a human being cannot be considered as deadly weapon as per the description of deadly weapon enumerated under Section 326 IPC. Hence the offence cannot escalate to Section 326. It can best remain only at Section 325 IPC. We, therefore, alter the conviction to Section 325 IPC read with Section 34 IPC.

 

            The authority of the Hon'ble Supreme Court therefore will be binding throughout India and override all views taken by different Hon'ble High Courts including that of Delhi.

 

            Later on Hon'ble High Court of Rajasthan[10] has relied upon Shakeel Ahmed (supra) and has held “but in view of the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Shakeel (supra), it can be said that the offence cannot escalate to Section 326 IPC. In the above judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the phalanx of the index finger was snipped off by the teeth and the Hon'ble apex court held that the teeth of the human being cannot be considered as a deadly weapon, as per the description of the deadly weapon enumerated under Section 326 IPC and the Hon'ble Supreme Court altered the conviction from Section 326 to Section 325 IPC.

 

            Now, we can say with certainty that human tooth cannot be considered as instrument falling within the ambit of dangerous weapon and therefore even if hurt or grievous hurt is caused by human tooth, it cannot attract Section-324 or 326 IPC but will remain in the confines of hurt and grievous hurt envisaged in Section-323 or 325 as the case may be.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  prepared by Rakesh Kumar Singh

 

 

[1]               Jagat Singh vs State 1984 Cri LJ 1551

[2]                Rameshwar vs State Of Rajasthan 1990 WLN UC 59

[3]                Harichandra vs State Of Madhya Pradesh (2011) 104 AIC 755

[4]                Chaurasi Manjhi vs State Of Bihar AIR 1970 PATNA 322

[5]                Jamil Hassan vs State 1974 CriLJ 867

[6]                Gopalbhai Chhaganlal Soni v. State of Gujarat (1972) 13 Guj LR 848

[7]                Anwarul Haq vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh (2005) 10 SCC 581

[8]                Kamla Bai vs Naresh (2016) 160 AIC 501

[9]               Shakeel Ahmed v. State, Delhi, (2004) 10 SCC 103

[10]             Mst.Chandraee vs State dated 15.02.2011

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