Section 320 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!
Under the first clause emasculation means deprivation of the properties of a male, or deprivation of masculine vigour, or castration.
Under the second clause, the privation of the sight of either eye must be permanent. Temporary privation of sight, therefore, does not amount to grievous hurt. Privation means state of being deprived of.
Under the third clause, privation, that is to say, state of being deprived of, of the hearing of either ear, must be permanent. Therefore, temporary privation of hearing does not amount to grievous hurt.
Under the fourth clause, privation of any member or joint is grievous hurt. Member means distinct part of a whole, especially a limb. Under this clause, the privation does not need to be permanent.
Under the fifth clause, destruction of the power of any member or joint, or permanent impairing of the powers of any member or joint amounts to grievous hurt. In case of not destruction but impairment only, the impairment must be permanent and, therefore, mere temporary impairment of powers of any member or joint does not amount to grievous hurt.
Under the sixth clause, permanent disfiguration of the head or face amounts to grievous hurt. Disfiguration means spoiling the figure, or changing to worse form, or spoiling the beauty, or deforming. Therefore, cutting off nose or ears, branding the cheeks with red-hot iron, cut inflicted by a sharp razor on the face are all grievous hurts under this section. The disfiguration must, however, be permanent and not temporary. A partial cut of skull vault is grievous hurt because it is a fracture.
Under the seventh clause, fracture or dislocation of a bone or tooth is grievous hurt. An important reason as to why fracture or dislocation has been designated as grievous hurt may perhaps be that the same causes great pain and suffering to the victim. Loosening of four teeth, or a scratch or cut not across the bone cannot be held to be grievous hurt. But where a bone is cut to a depth of half an inch, does amount to grievous hurt. Break by cutting or splintering of bone, or rupture or fissure in it, is a fracture and hence grievous hurt.
Under the eighth clause, any hurt which endangers life or which causes the victim to be during the space of twenty days in severe bodily pain, or unable to follow his ordinary pursuits amounts to grievous hurt. Where a doctor describes an injury as dangerous to life, he means that this is a hurt which endangers life, and so the injury is grievous hurt.
Throwing sulphuric acid causing severe acid burns, and inflicting a blow on the abdomen by a knife, are grievous hurts as they fall under this clause. But inflicting such injuries by a chain as were not endangering life and where the victim remained in the hospital for thirteen days, were not grievous hurts.
Where the accused in course of an altercation with the complainant on a dark night aimed a stick blow on his head, but the complainant’s wife with a child in her arms having intervened the blow fell on it resulting in its death, the accused was held guilty of causing simple hurt only, and not even grievous hurt, because had the blow fallen on the complainant on whom it was aimed, it would have caused him simple hurt only.
Similarly, where the accused gave violent blows on the head and shoulder of a woman carrying a child in her hands, and one of the blows fell on the head of the child resulting in its death, it was held that the circumstances made the act of the accused serious and consequently he was guilty of causing grievous hurt.
Where three accused persons attacked the deceased and one of the blows on his head fractured the skull and then a lathi was thrust in his anus which caused shock and contributed to the death, it was held that the accused were not guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder but of grievous hurt only.
Where the accused persons raped an eleven year old girl and then thrust a stick into her private part as a result of which she died, it was held that in absence of evidence that the injury caused was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death the accused were guilty of causing grievous hurt only.
Where the accused pulled out the deceased from a cot, kicked him and gave him stick blows in the region of his diseased spleen resulting in his death, he was held guilty of causing grievous hurt only because the accused did not know that the deceased was suffering from diseased spleen.
Where a lady and her nephew, allegedly along with the husband of the lady, tied the victim to an electric pole and gave him a sound thrashing because he had given publicity to an alleged love affair between the lady and her nephew, it was held that in the absence of proper evidence against the husband, he could not be held guilty of any offence but the lady and the nephew were liable for causing grievous hurt.
Where the accused thrashed the sixty year old deceased because he had impounded cattle belonging to the accused and had refused to surrender the same, and the deceased who was suffering from an enlarged heart which was not known to the accused died as a result, it was held that the accused had committed grievous hurt only.
Where the accused caused an injury on the forehead of the deceased by a lathi and not by an iron rod as alleged and the injury resulted in death, the accused was held guilty of causing grievous hurt only. Where the accused cut a part of the nose of the deceased woman with a view to steal the jewellary she was wearing in her nose but she died as a result of the same, it was held the accused had committed grievous hurt only as the death was not at all a likely result.
Where the accused all of a sudden squeezed the testicles of the deceased causing shock and cardiac arrest resulting in death, it was held that as the act of the accused endangered life, he was guilty of committing grievous hurt as described under the eighth clause of section 320.
In E. K. Chandrasenan v. State of Kerala twenty-four persons lost their eye sight permanently when they consumed arrack mixed with methyl alcohol. The Supreme Court held that the accused who were responsible for the same were guilty of causing grievous hurt as defined under clause (2) of section 320 of the Code.