Mathai v. State of Kerala: (2005) 3 SCC 260 and drew the attention of this Court to the following observations made by the Supreme Court: "The facts involved in a particular case, depending upon various factors like size, sharpness, would throw light on the question whether the weapon was a dangerous or deadly weapon or not."
Supreme Court of India
Ashfaq vs State (Govt. Of Nct Of Delhi) on 10 December, 2003
Section 398 uses the expression "armed with any deadly weapon" and the minimum punishment provided therein is also 7 years if at the time of attempting to commit robbery the offender is armed with any deadly weapon. this has created an anomaly. It is unreasonable to think that if the offender who merely attempted to commit robbery but did not succeed in committing it attracts the minimum punishment of 7 years under Section 398, if he is merely armed with any deadly weapon, while an offender so armed will not incur the liability to the minimum punishment under section 397 if he succeeded in committing the robbery. But then, what was the purport behind the use of the different words by the Legislature in the two sections, viz. "Uses" in Section 397 and "is armed" in Section 398. In our judgment the anomaly is resolved if the two terms are given the identical meaning. There seems to be a reasonable explanation for the use of the two different expressions in the sections. When the offence of robbery is committed by an offender being armed with a deadly weapon which was within the vision of the victim so as to be capable of creating a terror in his mind, the offender must be deemed to have used that deadly weapon in the commission of the robbery. On the other hand, if an offender was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of attempting to commit a robbery, then the weapon was not put to any fruitful use because it would have been of use only when the offender succeeded in committing the robbery."
DELHI HIGH COURT :
VINAY versus STATE decided on 18.11.2019
Even if the knife is not recovered, the same will not be fatal to the prosecution in getting a conviction of accused for an offence under Section 397 IPC.
(RELIED ON in Phool Kumar v. Delhi Administration: 1975 (1) SCC 797 where a knife is held to be a
deadly weapon and once its use is established, it is not necessary to categorize the same and, therefore, non-recovery of the same does not frustrate the prosecution’s case.)
In Ashfaq v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) (supra), the
Supreme Court had sustained the conviction under Section 397 of the IPC notwithstanding that the weapon had not been recovered. After noticing the divergent views, the Court had observed as under:
“the fact that the knife was not recovered at all, or that the recovered weapon was not shown during the course of trial of the victim, would not matter as long as the
eye witnesses to the crime are able to convincingly and consistently recount the fact that they were threatened by the sight of the accused wielding the knife into parting with their belongings.”
Phool Kumar vs Delhi Administration: AIR 1975 SC 905, held that knife irrespective of the size or description would qualify to be a deadly weapon for the purposes of Section 397 of the IPC. It held : -
"We all understand what a knife means and to categorise it or to fix its size for it to be a deadly weapon may not be appropriate. A knife has also been' described as a pocket knife, pen knife, table knife, kitchen knife, etc. It cannot be denied that a knife can be used as a weapon of offence. It can cut, it can pierce, it can be deadly. To say that a knife to be a deadly weapon should be of a particular size would perhaps be not a correct statement. In the present case, the evidence shows that the injury was caused to Singh Ram witness by a sharp-edged weapon and there is a statement that the accused Salim was carrying a knife and it was with that knife that the injury was caused to the witness. It would not be necessary for the witness to further state as to that was the size of the knife to attract the provisions of Section 397 Indian Penal Code as was contended by Mrs. Ahlawat. This contention that case under Section 397 Indian Penal Code is not made out fails."
Delhi High Court
Gulfam @ Zahoor vs State on 3 February, 2020
Accused contended that a paper cutter could not be equated with a knife, as it was stationery item. He submitted that the blade of a paper cutter is not robust and usually breaks if it is met with any resistance. He submitted that therefore, a paper cutter could not be equated with a knife.
Next, he relied on the decision of this Court in Bishan v. The State: (1984) 6 DRJ 78, wherein the Coordinate Bench of this Court has held that a vegetable knife could not be considered as a deadly weapon. A paper cutter is also a species of knife inasmuch as, it has a handle and a blade. Although it is meant for a specific purpose of cutting paper, there is no denying the fact that its blade is very sharp and is capable of delivering a fatal injury.
In the present case, the paper cutter had been placed on the complainant's neck. Undeniably, a deep cut on the neck - which could be easily inflicted by the said instrument - could be fatal. Indisputably, such an instrument used as a weapon and placed on the neck of a victim is sufficient to terrorize a victim into yielding under fear of an injury. In the given circumstances, this Court is not persuaded to accept that that use of a paper cutter in committing robbery did not invite a punition under Section 397 of the IPC.
Delhi High Court
Murlidhar vs State on 1 June, 2018
The resultant position that emerges is that Section 397 would be attracted even if the accused, who possessed a knife during the robbery, does not actually use it to threaten the victim. A victim who has noticed the knife in the hand of the accused would undoubtedly feel threatened. It is possible that the victim may not have noticed what type of knife it is and whether it is capable of causing actually harm. In other words, the actual size or length of the knife would not matter. In Phool Kumar, the Supreme Court noticed the observations of the Bombay High Court in Govind Dipaji More v. State, MANU/MH/0204/1956 that if the knife "was used for the purpose of producing such an impression upon the mind of a person that he would be compelled to part with his property, that would amount to using the weapon within the meaning of Section 397". Therefore, the fact that the knife was not recovered at all, or that the recovered weapon was not shown during the course of trial to the victim, would not matter as long as the eye witnesses to the crime are able to convincingly and consistently recount the fact that they were threatened by the sight of the accused wielding the knife into parting with their belongings." Supreme Court in Ashfaq v. state (supra) is clear and categorical that recovery of the weapon is not a necessary ingredient for a conviction under Section 397 IPC. Hence , recovery of the weapon is irrelevant so long as there is evidence to show that the same was used to threaten or terrorise the victims.