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Citation(1971) 3 SCC 275 
Date of Judgement6 April 1971
AppellantGeorge Dominic Varkey
RespondentThe State of Kerala 
BenchA Ray, C Vaidialingam
ReferredSection 99 (Indian Penal Code)


The two brothers George and Dominic were not on good terms and had previous quarrels between them due to several property-related issues. One day due to some heated arguments between the two, both of them started quarreling and during this course, George drew out a dagger from his waist and Dominic bent down to pick up a large stone. Before Dominic could rise after picking up the stone, George rushed towards him with the dagger and tried to stab him but the stab was warded off by Dominic. George attacked Dominic again with the dagger and this time caused a grave wound on his left thigh due to which Dominic got severely injured and George ran away. While on the way to the hospital, Dominic died. 


  1. Who was the real aggressor here: Dominic or George?
  2. Can George plead the defence of private defence? Was there any excess in private defence?


The counsel for the state argued that the real aggressor in this case was not Dominic but Geroge because he was the one who first drew out the dagger from his waist. So, no defence of private defence will lie if it was George who attacked first. Dominic only bent down to pick up the stone because he was apprehensive of George’s drawing out of the dagger. Besides that, the counsel also argued that even if we suppose that Dominic was the aggressor then also the act of George cannot be deemed as private defence because the force applied was unproportionate to the apprehension.

 On the contrary, the learned counsel for the accused argued that the acts done by George were a result of private defence. He only drew out his dagger because he was apprehensive that Dominic would pick up a big stone and severely injure him. George’s actions were only a reaction to what Dominic intended to do with the stone, the counsel argued. The counsel also argued that. the act of Geroge was in proportion with the apprehension because the two brothers had been in quarrels before too so he knew that if Dominic picked up a stone he might also kill him.


  1. Regarding the first issue, the court held that it was Dominic who was the real aggressor because there was an eyewitness named Thomas Mathai who said that he saw Dominic bending down to pick up the stone but he didn’t see George drawing out the dagger so the courts after examining all the evidence held that the acts of Dominic and George were not simultaneous and it was Dominic who first picked up the stone and only in retaliation George attacked him with the dagger.
  2. For the second issue, the court held that because Dominic was the aggressor, George had the right to protect himself from the apprehended harm that Dominic might have caused him. The court also held that George did not commit anything in access to private defence because there was real apprehension in his mind to lose his life.


  1. “GEORGE DOMINIC VARKEY vs. STATE OF KERALA,” n.d., https://www.the-laws.com/Encyclopedia/Browse/Case?CaseId=001791332000
  2. Sahil Satarkar, “Dominic Varkey vs The State Of Kerala on 6 April 1971 – Lawfyi.Io,” lawfyi.io, n.d., https://lawfyi.io/tag/dominic-varkey-vs-the-state-of-kerala-on-6-april-1971/

This Article is written by Anmol Singh of the Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia, Intern at Legal Vidhiya.

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