Celebratory Gunshots

On 21.04.2007, around 5:30 PM, as soon as the marriage procession reached the courtyard, Bhagwan Singh fired celebratory gunshots from a licensed gun. The pellets struck 5; 2 succumbed to their injuries. The shots were fired towards the roof and were not aimed at any of the victims.

Trial Court as well as the High Court proceeded on the premise that, the act of firing from the gun, which was pointed towards the roof, was as bad as firing into a crowd of persons. One ought to have known, the act of gun­shot firing was so imminently dangerous that it would, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as was likely to cause death.

The facts and circumstances of the instant case, however, do not permit to draw such a conclusion. It was an unfortunate case of mis­firing. Bhagwan, of course, cannot absolve himself of the conclusion that he carried a loaded gun at a crowded place where his own guests had gathered to attend the marriage ceremony. He did not take any reasonable safety measure like to fire the shot in the air or towards the sky, rather he invited full risk and aimed the gun towards the roof and fired the shot. He was expected to know that pellets could cause multiple gun­shot injuries to the nearby persons even if a single shot was fired.

Incidents of celebratory firing are regretfully rising, for they are seen as a status symbol. A gun licensed for self-­protection or safety and security of crops and cattle cannot be fired in celebratory events, it being a potential cause of fatal accidents. Such like misuse of fire arms convert a happy event to a pall of gloom.

Bhagwan cannot escape the consequences of carrying the gun with live cartridges with the knowledge that firing at a marriage ceremony with people present there was imminently dangerous and was likely to cause death. Bhagwan had the requisite knowledge essential for constituting the offence of ‘culpable homicide’ under Section 299 and punishable under Section 304 Part­ 2 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860. On the same analogy, Bhagwan is liable to be punished for ‘attempt to commit culpable homicide’ not amounting to murder under Section 308, for the injuries caused to the other 3 victims.

– Bhagwan Singh v. State of Uttarakhand, [Criminal Appeal No. 407 of 2020].Gunshot