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Written by: Prashant Jaiswal (Intern)

Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)

The Apex Court in a recent judgment held that Kirpan – a religious weapon of the Sikh community is a part of religious belief that can be used as a weapon of offence but does not ipso facto make it a weapon of offence against anyone. Supreme Court recently released a person in charge of murder on the grounds that the religious weapon in need can be used as a weapon of offence but not considered as a weapon of offence.

The kirpan is one of the five articles (5Ks) of faith in the Sikh religion which is carried by Amritdhari (Initiated) Sikhs forever. It is a small dagger or sword, worn in a sheath on a strap (Gatra) which is carried by Sikhs on their shoulders. The word Kirpan denotes the act of kindness, mercy and honour. The 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh declared kirpan as an essential article of faith for all baptised Sikhs. It obligates a Sikh to defend the weak, suppressed ones or needy and promote justice and righteousness for all. A kirpan is used only as a weapon of defence for Sikhs.

Facts of the Case

In the year 1999, Om Prakash Singh (Appellant) and a co-accused were playing cricket and suddenly they engaged in a fight with each other. To pacify both persons, the Deceased tried to intervene in the fight. But later on the same night, both the accused attacked the deceased in which the first accused assaulted with the kirpan while the appellant hold the deceased.

The appellant was convicted under Sections 302, 34 of IPC whereas the other accused was convicted under Section 302 of IPC. The issue before the court is that the appellant doesn’t know about the first accused carrying a kirpan and using it during the attack. The Appellant further states that a kirpan is not a weapon of attack but used by persons of a particular community as part of religious belief. The State responded to the appellant by saying that the Appellant did hold the deceased when the co-accused attacked the deceased with a kirpan and if he didn’t hold the deceased maybe he could have run to protect his life.

Observation of Court

Keeping in view the submissions of both the parties, the Court held that no evidence is there to prove that the appellant knows about the first accused was carrying the kirpan and using it during the assault. Hence no inference was made from the act of appellant that he intended to murder the deceased and hold him to do the same.

Court further added that a kirpan is usually carried by the persons of a particular community as a part of religious belief. The Bench also said that “it can be used as a weapon of offence but does not ipso facto make it a weapon of offence”. The facts of the present case are similar to the case of Ajay Sharma and Matadin. The Court observed that the conviction of the Appellant under Section 34, 302 of IPC is not maintainable as there is no intention to slay the deceased. Hence, the Court altered the conviction of the appellant to under Section 324, 110 IPC and sentence him to the period already served.

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