Calcutta HC commutes life sentence of main convict in Garacharma’s 1995 shooting incident

Report by: 
M SURESH KUMAR
Port Blair
2 Jul 2017

The Calcutta High Court has commuted the life sentence of the prime accused in the horrifying and macabre firing incident of Garacharma village way back in the year 1995. Nagesh Ram took out a 12 bore double barrel breech loading gun, popularly known as a shotgun, and fired at point blank range at the victim, Inder Nath, after some dispute with the latter and his relatives. Inder Nath was rushed to GB Pant Hospital at around 5.55 pm and gave his dying declaration before the then Tehsildar before passing away at about 6.50 pm. After hearing the review petition filed against the life sentence imposed by the lower Court, the High Court bench of Justice I.P. Mukerji and Justice Samapti Chatterjee held the appellant guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and commuted the sentence to three years of simple imprisonment. The Court set aside the conviction under section 307 IPC, besides upholding that the rest of the sentence passed by the lower Court will remain intact, except that the sentences will run concurrently against the convicts and the right under Section 428 Cr.P.C will remain available to all the convicts.
Referring to some judgments of the Apex Court, the High Court bench observed that there was reasonable cause for Nagesh and his family members to apprehend that Inder Nath and his family members might cause death or grievous bodily harm to each of them. So Nagesh Ram and each of his family members had the right to fatally shoot Inder Nath or any of his family members. “But then there is a slight difference in the case. The gun was not in the possession of Nagesh when all these violent acts were being committed or threatened. He was asked by one of the family members to get the gun. He got the gun and fired the fatal shot at Inder Nath. When he had time to get the gun he could have first made a blank fire before shooting him down. He could have fired towards his legs, but Inder Nath’s medical report suggests that all the 14 pellets were recovered from the chest area. In the 12 bore double barrel breech loading gun that was used by Nagesh Ram where 25 to 30 bullets are discharged on the pull of the trigger, in our opinion the gun had to be brought very close to the victim’s body, to discharge the pellets into the said small area. Under such circumstances, Nagesh Ram had to some extent exceeded the power given to him by law for his private or self defence while causing death to Inder Nath, but he is not guilty of culpable homicide amounting to murder,” noted the judges.
The shooting incident was part of a sequence of events that took place on 11th August, 1995. The setting for the acts was an alley, 2.80 meters wide, in Garacharma Basthi having a row of small houses. Over some dispute, the family members of both Inder Nath and Nagesh Ram attacked each other. One of them caught hold of Pramod Ram and Hardeep Ram and struck them with daw and ballies. Then the convict was asked by family members to bring his gun to protect his family. Nagesh took out his 12 bore double barrel breech loading gun and shot at Inder Nath. Another version of the incident presented before the Court was that Inder Nath reached the alley in front of Balwant’s house on a scooter when he was attacked by Nagesh and the members of his family with lathis, ballies, daw etc. The scooter over turned and he fell on the ground. Then Nagesh came and fired from his gun.