Mumbai: A man sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a labourer in Mumbai ten years ago has been acquitted by the Bombay High Court on the ground that he was suffering from a mental disorder. Tikaram Pandey was awarded life term by a Sessions Court for killing a labourer, Murugan, who was sleeping on a footpath at Carter Road in suburban Bandra on the intervening night of January 18-19, 2003.
He was also convicted for seriously injuring Murugun`s wife. Pandey filed an appeal in the High Court against the twin convictions. After his arrest, Pandey told police that he used to kill people as he believed them to be "spies of the country".
Pandey was sent for medical examination to ascertain his mental condition. He told the doctors too that he had killed people as he felt they were "spies" and on account of this he thought that he had done a good deed.
Acquitting him, an HC Bench said, "The evidence on record shows that on the day of the incident, when the appellant was examined by the doctors, he was found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He had delusions and persecutory ideas with no insight in his illness.
"He even told the doctors they were restraining him from killing other spies. Thus, Pandey`s conduct immediately after the incident shows, that in all probability, his mental condition was not sane at the time of the incident," observed a bench of justices Sadhna Jadhav and V K Tahilramani in a recent order.
Paranoid schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness in which the patient suffers from false beliefs (delusions), among other things.
In this case, the Judges observed that no motive for the murder has been brought on record by the prosecution. None of the witnesses have said Murugan was killed by the appellant due to personal enmity or due to grudge nursed by the killer.
Motive is not the only aspect but its absence assumes importance in the totality of the circumstances seen in the light of the evidence on record which shows that the appellant was suffering from `paranoid schizophrenia` on the day of the incident, the bench remarked.
"There is enough evidence to assume that at the time of the incident, the appellant was incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that it was wrong or contrary to law by reason of unsoundness of mind. Thus, he is entitled to get benefit of Section 84 of IPC (act of a person of unsound mind)," the Judges noted.
Accordingly, the Bench set aside the conviction of Pandey and acquitted him from murder and assault charges. The High Court ordered his release from Pune`s Yerwada prison unless he was wanted in other cases.