|Equivalent Citation||(2003) 7 SCC 748|
|Date of Judgment||26th September, 2002|
|Court||Supreme Court of India|
|Case Type||Criminal appeal|
|Petitioner/ Appellant||Shrikant Anandrao Bhosale|
|Respondent||State of Maharashtra|
|Bench||Hon’ble Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Hon’ble Justice H.K. Sema|
|Statutes Referred||The Indian Penal Code, 1860The Indian Evidence Act, 1872|
- The appellant Shrikant Anandrao Bhosale, a Police constable, commenced his marriage with Surekha in the year 1987. Since then, both have been living together in the Police quarters. They had one daughter out of wedlock.
- On the morning of 24th April 1994, Surekha quarreled with her husband because he expressed that he wanted to quit his job. As a result, the appellant hit her head with the grinding stone while she was washing clothes in the bathroom. Surekha was injured and was immediately taken to the hospital and his husband was taken to the quarter guard by the police.
- Later, it was found that Surekha was dead. After investigation, the appellant was charged with murdering her under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The Sessions Court affirmed the charges and convicted the accused. The charges were further affirmed and confirmed in the High Court. As a result, this appeal was filed in the Supreme Court under a special leave petition.
Appellant’s argument: The counsel for the appellant argued that on 20th April 1992, the appellant visited Dr. Pramod (DW3) for examination when it came to their knowledge that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Dr. Arun (DW2) examined him on 27th October 1993 and stated that he was suffering from suspicious ideas persecutory delusions, and insomnia, which was resulting in his apprehensive behavior. He was under treatment at the Government hospital from 28th October 1993 to 5th November 1993 for the same ailment. Also, from 27th June 1994 to 5th December 1994, he was taken to the hospital about 25 times for his treatment. The appellant even had a family history of mental illness as his father too suffered from the same ailment and consequently ran away from their house in 1989. Thus, as stated by the counsel, the appellant should not be convicted for the murder of his wife because he was protected by the general defense of insanity as provided in Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code.
Defendant’s argument: The defense counsel argued that the appellant-accused was a drunkard with extreme anger issues and used to frequently quarrel with his wife on trivial matters. Also, the accused has failed to prove that he was mentally ill when he committed the offense. Thus, it was due to his rage and not mental illness that he killed his wife.
- Whether it could be established without a doubt, that Shrikant Bhosale was insane at the time of the commission of the offense.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court bench, after hearing and understanding the entire matter, contended that in a plea of mental insanity, the general defense can be established, under Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, only when it is proved that the accused was not mentally stable at the time of the commission of the offense due to which he was unable to understand the nature of his act. Also, the burden of proving unsoundness of mind falls upon the accused as mentioned in Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act.
In the present case, the accused has failed to establish beyond doubt that he was suffering from an unstable mind at the time of the commission of the offense. However, it has been proved from the pieces of evidence and the testimonies given by the witnesses that he was mentally ill for a long time before the date of action and even after the commission of the offense.
The Bench then referred to Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker v. State of Gujarat in which the Supreme Court held that it may acquit an accused if evidence raises a reasonable doubt about the accused’s insanity, including mens rea, and the general burden of proof on the prosecution was not discharged. The court ruled that the burden of proof in the plea of insanity is as follows: the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense with the requisite mens rea, which remains on the prosecution throughout the trial. The accused can rebut this presumption by providing all relevant evidence, but the burden of proof is no higher than that of a civil proceedings party. Even if the accused cannot definitively prove their insanity, evidence may raise a reasonable doubt about the offense’s ingredients, including the accused’s mens rea, and the court may acquit the accused if the general burden of proof on the prosecution is not discharged.
Sheralli Wali Mohammed v. The State of Maharashtra was referred to argue that the mere fact that the accused killed his wife out of weak motivation in daylight without attempting to hide it, or that he had no mens rea at the time of the act would not prove that he was mentally ill or lacked the necessary mental capacity. It’s true that alone, these facts would not prove someone is insane.
The appellant’s case relies on the circumstances, including paranoid schizophrenia, unsoundness of mind before and after the incident, and a reasonable inference that he was under delusion and attacked by the ailment. The anger theory is not ruled out under schizophrenia attacks. The appellant has proven the existence of circumstances as required by Section 105 of the Evidence Act to get the benefit of Section 84 IPC. Also, the Court believes that the crime was not committed due to anger, and there is a reasonable doubt that the appellant was unable to know the nature of the act due to unsoundness of mind at the time of the crime. Therefore, the conviction and sentence of the appellant cannot be sustained.
- Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1923024/ (Last Visited: Nov. 16, 2023)
This article is written by Richa Mehta of Thakur Ramnarayan College of Law, Intern at Legal Vidhiya.
Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are intended solely for informational purposes. Accessing or using the site or the materials does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The information presented on this site is not to be construed as legal or professional advice, and it should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Additionally, the viewpoint presented by the author is of a personal nature.