Author: Advait Shukla.


Sagar Dwarkanath Patil v. The State of Maharashtra

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1357 OF 2012 (Bombay High Court)

Date of Reserving Judgment: 24th October 2018.

Date of Pronouncing Judgment: 4th December 2018.

Coram:  S.S. SHINDE AND A.S. GADKARI, JJ.

Judgment Per: Per A.S. GADKARI J.

PRINCIPLES OF LAW DISCUSSED:

  1. ­­­S.84 of Indian Penal Code,1860 – The issue of Legal Insanity discussed Onus of proof in cases of defence of insanity prima facie n accused.
  2. Mere absence of motive for a crime, howsoever atrocious it may be, cannot in the absence of plea and proof of legal insanity, bring the case within this section.
  3. Section 105 of the Evidence Act is not as stringent as on the prosecution to be established beyond all reasonable doubts. The accused has only to establish his defence on a preponderance of probability.
  4. The duty of the Investigating Officer to subject the appellant to medical examination immediately place that evidence before the Court and if that is not done, it creates serious doubt and therefore the benefit of Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code may be given.

DECISION & DISCUSSION:

The present case is an appeal against the decision of Sessions Court convicting an accused claiming defense u/s.84 of IPC. The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay has extensively dealt with this issue of the legal insanity. The instant case deals with whether Accused is suffering from Paranoid Schizophrenia.

The Hon’ble Court, has extensively dealt with the law on the said issue. Reliance has been made on various judgments of Apex Court dealing with the issue of Legal Insanity.

Issue in this instant case can be summarized as: Whether Appellant can claim defense u/s. 84 of Indian Penal Code?

High Court referred to the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of Bapu @ Gujraj Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan[1] where it was held that

…The onus of proving unsoundness of mind is on the accused. But where during the investigation previous history of insanity is revealed, it is the duty of an honest investigator to subject the accused to a medical examination and place that evidence before the Court and if this is not done, it creates a serious infirmity in the prosecution case and the benefit of doubt has to be given to the accused…

…onus, however, has to be discharged by producing evidence as to the conduct of the accused shortly prior to the offence and his conduct at the time or immediately afterwards, also by evidence of his mental condition and other relevant factors. Every person is presumed to know the natural consequences of his act. Similarly, every person is also presumed to know the law. The prosecution has not to establish these facts.

…Mere absence of motive for a crime, howsoever atrocious it may be, cannot in the absence of plea and proof of legal insanity, bring the case within this section…

…This Court in Sherall Walli Mohammed v. State of Maharashtra: (1972 Cr.LJ 1523 (SC)), held that: (SCC p.79)

“The mere fact that no motive has been proved why the accused murdered his wife and children or the fact that he made no attempt to run away when the door was broken open, would not indicate that he was insane or that he did not have necessary mens rea for the commission of the offence”

…12. Mere abnormality of mind or partial delusion, irresistible impulse or compulsive behaviour of a psychopath affords no protection under Section 84 as the law contained in that section is still squarely based on the outdated M’Naughton rules of 19th Century England…Behaviour, antecedent, attendant and subsequent to the event, may be relevant in finding the mental condition of the accused at the time of the event, but not that remote in time.”

Further, the reliance was made on judgment of Devidas Loka Rathod Vs. State of Maharashtra

“The doctrine of burden of proof in the context of the plea of insanity was stated as follows in Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakkar V. State of Gujarat[2]

(1) The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the offence with the requisite Mens-rea, and the burden of proving that always rests on the prosecution from the beginning to the end of trial.

(2) There is a rebuttable presumption that the accused was not insane, when he committed crime, in the sense laid down by Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code: the accused may rebut it by placing before the court all the relevant evidence oral, documentary or circumstantial, but the burden of proof upon him is no higher than that rests upon a party to civil proceedings.

(3) Even if the accused was not able to establish conclusively that he was insane at the time he committed the offence, the evidence placed before the court by the accused or by the prosecution may raise a reasonable doubt in the mind of the court as regards one or more of the ingredients of the offence, including mens rea of the accused and in that case the court would be entitled to acquit the accused on the ground that the general burden of proof resting on the prosecution was not discharged.”

Further it was held that, this onus on the accused, under Section 105 of the Evidence Act is not as stringent as on the prosecution to be established beyond all reasonable doubts. The accused has only to establish his defence on a preponderance of probability, as observed in Surendra Mishra vs. State of Jharkhand[3], after which the onus shall shift on the prosecution to establish the inapplicability of the exception. The standard of test to be applied shall be of legal insanity and not medical insanity, as observed in Stat of Rajasthan Vs. Shera Ram, (2012) 1 SCC 602 : (AIR 2012 SC 1, para 21), as follows:

“19 ………Once, a person is found to be suffering from mental disorder or mental deficiency, which takes within its ambit hallucinations, dementia, loss of memory and self control, at all relevant times by way of appropriate documentary and oral evidence, the person concerned would be entitled to seek resort to the general exceptions from criminal liability”

It is thus clear from the aforesaid decision that, the accused has only to establish his defence on a preponderance of probability.

Investigating Officer has got the appellant examined through a psychiatrist he has failed to produce on record the result of the same and therefore it creates serious infirmity in the prosecution case and the benefit of doubt has to be given to the appellant. This, it creates serious infirmity in the prosecution case and the benefit of doubt has to be given to the appellant.”

Therefore, Appellant was acquitted on the grounds of insanity.


[1] [(2007) 3 SCC Cri. 509].

[2] (1964) 7 SCR 361: (AIR 1964 SC 1563).

[3] (2011) 11 SCC 495 : (AIR 2011 SC 627).


About the Author: Advait is a 2016-19 Batch student at ILS Law College, Pune. 


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