The Bombay High Court recently gave the benefit of doubt to a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and set aside his conviction and life sentence in murder of his 82-year-old grandmother in 2009.
A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice AS Gadkari was hearing an appeal filed by Sagar Patil, who was convicted under Section 302 of IPC by the Joint AdHoc Additional Sessions Judge, Thane, in an order dated April 30, 2012.
According to the prosecution, the appellant’s grandmother Parvatibai Govind Pisekar sold a piece of land owned by her for Rs. 60 lakh. She decided to keep the amount with herself and not distribute it amongst her children. On February 2, 2009, Sagar killed his grandmother with a knife and left her house.
Then, Vasanti Pisekar, who is the deceased’s daughter-in-law, saw Sagar leave the house in a frightened condition. She found the deceased lying in a pool of her own blood. Thereafter, Sagar went and surrendered himself at Local Crime Branch of Alibag, Raigad.
Sagar’s mother gave a statement to the police wherein she said that he had been suffering from a mental condition for the past 2 years and as she could not afford his treatment, he was not being treated by experts.
The police found a discharge card from District Hospital, Alibag, Raigad district, with Sagar when he surrendered. The card indicated that Sagar was being treated for his mental condition at the hospital. Dr. Sandeep Divekar stated in his testimony that Sagar had been suffering from a mental illness for a long time.
Even the IO in his cross-examination stated that he got Sagar examined by a psychiatrist and admitted that Sagar was mentally unsound when he committed the crime and should get the benefit of doubt under Section 84 of the IPC.
However, APP SV Sonawane opposed the appeal and submitted that the accused was of a sound mind at the time of the commission of offence. He further stated that the accused changed his clothes after the murder and changed various buses on his way to Alibag indicating that Sagar was fine mentally.
The court examined the decision of the Supreme Court in Devidas Loka Rathod Vs. State of Maharashtra, and noted that in the context of Section 84 of the IPC and getting benefit of doubt under it, the accused has only to establish his defence on a preponderance of probability.
The deceased’s son testified that Sagar had the same mental condition like his sister who died in that condition. But Sagar was not being treated, he said. Whereas, Dr. Sandeep Divekar deposed that the appellant was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was in need of institutional care and the appellant was being treated by him when he was in the judicial custody. He has further deposed that the said symptoms are not temporary in nature.
Finally, the court observed-
“After carefully and minutely scrutinizing the entire evidence available on record, the remarks of the Medical Officer of the concerned Jail, the admission given by the Investigating Officer and the statement of mother of the appellant on record, it clearly appears to us that the appellant was suffering from mental disorder prior to and after the commission of the crime. In the present case, though the 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. In view of ratio laid down by the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Bapu alias Gujraj Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan (supra), it creates serious infirmity in the prosecution case and the benefit of doubt has to be given to the appellant.”
Thus, the appeal was allowed and Sagar’s conviction was set aside.
Read the Judgment Here