It's not murder but culpable homicide if woman kills husband for calling her and daughter prostitutes: SC

The judgment is based on an appeal filed in a murder case from Tamil Nadu

January 27, 2019 09:20 pm | Updated December 01, 2021 06:34 am IST - NEW DELHI

It's not murder but culpable homicide if a woman killed her husband for calling her and their daughter ‘prostitutes,’ the Supreme Court has held.

A woman in Indian society does not like to be provoked by being called a ‘prostitute.’ It is not murder but culpable homicide if she reacts to such a slur with deadly force, the Supreme Court said in a judgment, which is based on an appeal filed in a murder case from Tamil Nadu.

The woman in question was having an extramarital affair. On the day of the incident, her husband called her and their elder daughter "prostitutes". Her lover, who is also their neighbour, intervened on the women's behalf, which enraged the husband even more. The lover slapped the husband, and helped by the woman, strangled him. They burnt the body and disposed it off in a friend's car. The body was found 40 days later. The woman made an extra-judicial confession to the teacher of their village. Both the trial court and the Madras High Court found the woman and her lover guilty of murder.

Hearing the appeal against the conviction, a Bench of Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Dinesh Maheshwari said the verbal insult amounted to a "sudden provocation", which led the woman lose the power of self-control. The husband was attacked and killed in the "fraction of a minute".

"The deceased [husband] provoked the accused [woman] by uttering the word ‘prostitute’. In our society, no lady would like to hear such a word from her husband. Most importantly, she would not be ready to hear such a word against her daughters. The incident is a result of a sudden and grave provocation by the deceased," Justice Shantanagoudar observed in the judgment.

The court modified the verdict to culpable homocide and reduced the sentence to 10 years in prison.

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