The Supreme Court stated that the prosecution has to first prove negligence and then establish a direct nexus between negligence of the accused and the death of the victim.
Prosecution case is that Uday Shankar was watching TV in his house at Molakalmuru Town, New Police Quarter, when there was a sudden sound on the TV. Noticing the sound, the deceased got up to separate the dish wire, the TV connection wire and the telephone wire, which were entwined together. At this point, he felt an electric shock and his right hand was burnt and as a result of this shock he succumbed to death. Upon enquiry, during the course of investigation, it was found that Appellant, who was a daily wage worker working under the supervision of Appellant, an employee in the telephone department, had, while working on the DP Pole, pulled the telephone wire. The telephone wire got detached and fell on the 11 KV Power line and electricity passed into the telephone wire. At this time, there was a sound in the TV at PW2’s house and as the deceased went to separate the telephone wire and cable wire, there was a short circuit and thereby, the right hand of the deceased was burnt and he died because of electrocution. It is further alleged that the said incident took place because of the negligent act on the part of Appellant/accused.
The Appellants/accused contended that on the day of the incident, they had not attended any telephone wire repair at the place of the incident and death of the deceased was not due to their carelessness and negligence.
The three judge bench of the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli said that the Appellants/accused were in fact working on the DP pole on the day of the incident.
The court found it difficult to believe that with the alleged 11KV current running through Telephone wire, the wires did not melt; rather with the alleged volts of current passing through the telephone instruments Prosecution witnesses were able to throw the telephone instruments away upon contact and lived to tell the tale unharmed.
The court said that even assuming that the deceased and the Prosecution witnesses who received the shock were wearing slippers at the time of contact causing resistance in the current, 11KV is still too strong and any contact with such a high voltage current in all probability should have left any person who came in contact dead and his/her body charred.
The court viewed that the Court below were not justified in convicting the Appellants of negligence under Section 304A read with Section 34 IPC.
The court stated that for bringing home the guilt of the accused, prosecution has to firstly prove negligence and then establish a direct nexus between negligence of the accused and the death of the victim. Perusal of the record reveals that out of various witnesses arrayed by the prosecution, there are no eye witnesses. Any evidence brought on record is merely circumstantial in nature.
The court said that it is constrained to repeat its observation that it sounds completely preposterous that a telephone wire carried 11KV current without melting on contact and when such current passed through the Television set, it did not blast and melt the wiring of the entire house. It is even more unbelievable that Appellant came in contact with the same voltage and managed to get away with a few abrasions.
The court set aside the impugned judgment of conviction and sentence of the appellants. The Appellants are on bail.
Case title: Nanjundappa & Anr. v/s The State of Karnataka
Citation: Criminal appeal no. 900 of 2017