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Equivalent Citation(1952) Cr LJ 1212
Date of Judgment19th February, 1952
CourtBombay High Court
Case TypeCriminal appeal
Petitioner/ AppellantChirangi Lohar
Respondent State of Madhya Pradesh
BenchHon’ble Justice Hemeon, Hon’ble Justice V.R. Sen
Statutes ReferredThe Indian Penal Code, 1860Sections: 79, 84, 302, 304, 304A


Mr. Chirangi Lohar, aged 45 years, lived with his only son Ghudsai, aged 12 years, his unwed daughter and nephew Khotla at Idnar, Bastar. They had pleasant and warm relations amongst each other.  Physically, Chirangi was ailed by abscess in his leg. 

On the afternoon of 3rd April, 1951 while Chirangi’s nephew Khotla was working on the field, Chirangi, along with his son Ghudsai went to ‘Budra Meta’, a mound nearby for the purpose of collecting ‘saidi’ leaves and carried an ‘axe’ along with them for that purpose. When Khotla returned home, it came to his notice that Ghudsai was missing and his uncle was sleeping with a blood-stained axe placed near him. 

During the night, when Chirangi woke up, Khotla questioned him about the whereabouts of Ghudsai. Chirangi then confessed that he went insane in Budra Meta and killed his son on the misconception that it was a magic tiger. He was unable to recollect the entire incident because he lost his senses at the time of the incident but remembered that he fell down on the stones there. 

Chirangi sustained two superficial abrasions on the front of his shoulders and a ½” × ½” superficial abrasion on the outside of his left eyebrow, which may have resulted from the fall on the stones at Budra Meta or from coming into contact with anything hard and abrasive.


  1. Whether the petitioner can use the defense of a mistake of fact? 


The counsel for the appellant argued that there was no reason whatsoever for Chirangi to kill his son. His son was his beloved. It was a ‘bona fide’ mistake of fact which was caused due to his mental state. The accessors of the case also stated that his fall had possibly resulted in his temporary insanity which was the source of the killing of his son. 

While on the other hand, the counsel for the defendant argued that there was no evidence that could prove that the appellant was insane at any time, before or after the occurrence of this incident. Neither was there any affirmation that could possibly suggest that he was peculiar or weird by nature. And thus, in no way conceivable, it could be said that the appellant was justified in killing his son on the grounds of mistake of fact under Section 79 of IPC. 


It was held by the collective bench of Justice Hemeon and Justice V.R. Sen that the mental state of the appellant was an effect of his physical ailments, as was testified by Dr. K.C. Dube, M.B.B.S. (Bombay). They were of the opinion that since the relation between the father and the son were pleasant, if at any point the appellant had the slightest idea that it was his son, he wouldn’t have made such a move. But because Chirangi was affected by the fall on the stones and his already existing ailment of abscess in his leg, had possibly resulted in the delusions faced by him. Also, he was suffering from bilateral cataract since a few days before this incident took place. Adding to it was the injury suffered by him on his eyebrows and all this collectively, resulted in confusion that caused him to falsely believe that it was a magic tiger and not his son and killed him. 

The bench then referred to the judgment given in Waryam Singh v. The Emperor, stating that the accused was not held guilty under section 302, section 304 and section 304A of the Indian Penal Code for causing the death of a man by brutally beating him through stick because he was in ‘bona fide’ mistake of fact that it was ghost and not a human being. The divisional bench while passing this judgment clearly stated that the most important element for the constitution of a crime is ‘mens rea’ or a guilty mind which means that there must be some intention of committing the crime. However, in the present case this essential element was missing. Further the hon’ble bench cited Bonda Kui v. Emperor, a case where a woman witnessed a shape in the middle of the night that appeared to be human dancing completely nude, with a ripped mat around her waist and a broomstick knotted on one side. The woman disrobed, assuming the shape of a demonic spirit or something that devours people, and used a hatchet to repeatedly strike the object until it was on the ground. However, an examination revealed that she had murdered a person who was the wife of the brother of her spouse. The court held that she was protected by the provisions of Section 79 of IPC. 

The hon’ble bench then collectively passed the judgment that the element of intention was missing in this case and a state of misapprehension caused him to murder his son. There existed no reason justifiable enough to contend that Chirangi would kill his son intentionally. Thus, the court held that Chirangi was not guilty under section 302, section 304, and section 304A. The conviction order of Chirangi was overturned and he was respectfully acquitted for all the charges.  


  1. IndianKanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/540621/#:~:text=Chirangi%20in%20exam-


  1. Law Insider, https://www.lawinsider.in/judgment/chirangi-vs-state

This article is written by Richa Mehta of Thakur Ramnarayan College of Law, Intern at Legal Vidhiya.


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