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Indian Case Summary

State Of Andhra Pradesh vs Rayavarapu Punnayya & Another on 15 September, 1976 – Case Summary

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In the case of State Of Andhra Pradesh vs Rayavarapu Punnayya & Another on 15 September 1976, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a complex issue of distinguishing between ‘murder’ and ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’. The case was presided over by Justice Ranjit Singh Sarkaria and Justice Syed Murtaza Fazalali.

Facts of the Case

The case revolved around the political feuds in Rompicherla village, where factions belonging to three major communities, namely Reddys, Kammas, and Bhatrajus, were at odds. Rayavarapu Punnayya, the first respondent, was the leader of the Kamma faction, while Chopparapu Subbareddi led the Reddys. The deceased, Sarikonda Kotamraju, was the leader of the Bhatrajus.

On July 23, 1968, the deceased and two others boarded a bus to Nekarikal. The accused also got into the same bus. When the bus stopped at Nekarikal Cross Roads, the deceased and his companions alighted for going to the Police Station. The accused also got down and followed the deceased into a Choultry, where they indiscriminately pounded the legs and arms of the deceased with heavy sticks. The victim succumbed to his injuries the following morning.


The primary issue before the court was to determine whether the offence committed by the accused was ‘murder’ or ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’. This required a careful interpretation and application of the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, specifically sections 299 and 300, which define ‘culpable homicide’ and ‘murder’, respectively.

Court’s Observations and Judgment

The court observed that in the scheme of the Penal Code, ‘culpable homicide’ is the genus and ‘murder’ its species. All ‘murder’ is ‘culpable homicide’ but not vice-versa. The court further noted that the distinction between ‘murder’ and ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ lies in the degree of probability of death resulting from the intended bodily injury.

In this case, the court found that the formidable weapons used by the accused, the savage manner of the assault, the helpless state of the unarmed victim, the intensity of the violence caused, and the callous conduct of the accused in persisting in the assault even against the protest of bystanders, all pointed to the conclusion that the injuries caused by the accused to the deceased were intentionally inflicted.

The court also noted that the medical evidence clearly established that the cause of death was shock and haemorrhage due to multiple injuries, which were cumulatively sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.

Based on these observations, the court concluded that the offence committed by the accused was ‘murder’, as defined under section 300 of the Indian Penal Code. The court allowed the appeal by the State, set aside the High Court’s judgment, and restored the trial court’s conviction of the accused under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.