Search
  • Legis Scriptor

Shrikant Bhosale vs. the State of Maharashtra


Authored by Sulakshana Pawar


Keywords: Criminal responsibility, Indian Penal Code-84, insanity defense, legal insanity, medical insanity.


Shrikant Bhosale vs. the State of Maharashtra

Citation: AIR 2002 SC 3399, 2002 (7) SCC 748.

Petitioner: Shrikant Anandrao Bhosale

Respondent: State of Maharashtra

Bench: Y.K. Sabharwal & H.K. Sema

Date of judgment: 26/09/2002


Abstract:

The insanity defense is used in criminal prosecutions. It is supported the idea that at the time of the crime, the defendant was affected by severe mental disease and thus, was incapable of appreciating the character of the crime and differentiating right from wrong behavior, hence making them not legally in charge of crime. Insanity defense may be a legal concept, not a clinical one (medical one). This means that just affected by a mental disturbance isn't sufficient to prove insanity. This case focuses on the grounds of the insanity defense and its prosecution.


Introduction:

The concept of responsibility connects with our most fundamental convictions about attribute and dignity and everyday experience of guilt and innocence and blame and punishment. Punishing a person, who is not responsible for the crime, is a violation of the basic human rights and fundamental rights under the Constitution of India. It also brings the due process of law, if that person is not in a position to defend himself in the court of law, evoking the principle of natural justice. The affirmative defense of legal insanity applies to the present fundamentals by excusing those mentally disordered offenders of their conduct at the time of the crime. Hence, it's generally admitted that incapacity to commit crimes exempts the individual from punishment. This is studies and recognized by the legislation of most of the civilized nations. Section 84 of the Indian legal code (IPC) deals with the “act of an individual of unsound mind” and discusses the insanity defense.


Concerned Provisions of law:

  1. Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 - Punishment for murder

  2. Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 - Act of a person of unsound mind

  3. Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 - Burden of proving that case of accused come within the exception.

Facts:

The prosecution case is that the appellant was a constable. He and Surekha were married within the year 1987. On the date of the incident, they were living in police quarters alongside their daughter. On the morning of 24th April 1994, there was a quarrel between husband and wife. While Surekha was washing clothes within the bathroom, the appellant hit her with a grinding stone on her head. The appellant was immediately taken by the police to the quarter guard for further information. Surekha was taken to the hospital. She was found dead. After the usual investigation, the appellant was charged for the offense of murder of his wife under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.


The appellant was found guilty by the Sessions Court. The evidence was again appreciated by the High Court. The judgment of the Sessions Court was affirmed. We have heard the learned counsel and have perused the record. In our opinion also, there is enough cogent evidence to prove that the appellant killed his wife.


The case history and other proved medical record shows that the appellant was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He was an indoor patient at a Government hospital from 28th October 1993 to 5th November 1993 for getting treatment for the said ailment. It further stands established that he was suffering from this disease at least from 20th April 1992. He was examined by DW3 on 20th April 1992 having visited the said doctor with his wife.


It also stands established that 25 times he was taken to the hospital for treatment of his mental ailment from 27th June 1994 to 5th December 1994. DW2 deposed that the appellant was examined by him on 27th October 1993. He suffered from suspicious idea persecutory delusions, loss of sleep, and excitement and was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. The appellant was intermittently becoming apprehensive and excited. DW3 deposed that on 20th April 1992, he examined the appellant brought by his wife.


There was a history of psychiatric illness in his father at the age of 65 years and in 1989 his father ran away from the house. People used to take advantage of his mental condition and cheat him. After marriage, his mental condition worsened. On examination, he was found suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. The patient had visual hallucinations (seeing images of wife and children). He was brought to the hospital 25 times as above. Paranoid schizophrenia is a mental disease. It can recur. When a person is under a paranoid delusion, he is not fully aware of his activities and its consequences.


Issues arose:

1. Was the commission of offense a result of extreme anger or whether it was the result of the unsoundness of the mind?

2. Whether the circumstances of the case come purview of section 84 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with the exception? In Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker v. State of Gujarat [1]


Circumstances that stand proved in the case in hand are these:

The appellant has a family history his father was suffering from psychiatric illness.

Cause of ailment not known - hereditary plays a part.

The Appellant was being treated for unsoundness of the mind since 1992 Diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

Within a short span, soon after the incident from 27th June to 5th December 1994, he had to be taken for the treatment of ailment 25 times to hospital.

The Appellant was undergoing regular treatment for the mental ailment.

The weak motive of killing his wife is that she was opposing the idea of the appellant resigning the job of a Police Constable.

Killing in daylight no attempt to hide or run away. Mr. Arun Pednekar relies upon Sheralli Wali Mohammed v. The State of Maharashtra [2]


Judgment:

Having regard to the nature of the burden on the appellant, the view of judges was that the appellant has proved the existence of circumstances as required by Section105 of the Evidence Act, to get the benefit of Section 84 of IPC. They were unable to hold that the crime was committed as a result of an extreme fit of anger. There is a reasonable doubt that at the time of the commission of the crime, the appellant was incapable of knowing the nature of the act because of the unsoundness of mind and, thus, he is entitled to the benefit of Section 84 IPC.

Hence, the conviction and sentence of the appellant cannot be sustained. Appeal allowed.


Cases referred:

1. Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker v. State of Gujarat [(1964) 7 SCR 361]

2. Sheralli Wali Mohammed v. The State of Maharashtra [(1973) 4 SCC 79]


Conclusion:

"When a plea of legal insanity is set up, the court has to consider whether at the time of the commission of the offense the accused, because of unsoundness of mind, was incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that he was doing what was either wrong or contrary to law. The crucial point of time for ascertaining the state of mind of the accused is the time when the offense was committed. Whether the accused was in such a state of mind as to be entitled to the benefit of s.84 of the Indian Penal Code can only be established from the circumstances which preceded, attended, and followed the crime. "Undoubtedly, the state of mind of the accused at the time of the commission of the offense is to be proved to get the benefit of the exception.


References:

https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1923024/#:~:text=The%20appellant%20has%20been%20found,filed%20on%20grant%20of%20leave.

https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5609adb0e4b0149711411fbb#16