New Delhi: A person committing a crime,
including murder, under a state of illness cannot be convicted
for murder, the Supreme Court has held upholding the acquittal
of an epilepsy-afflicted man who stoned to death a temple
priest in 1999 in Rajasthan.
A bench of justices Swatanter Kumar and Ranjana Prakash
Desai said in a judgement that persons suffering from such
mental disorders cannot be convicted as they enjoy immunity
from Section 84 of IPC.
"Once a person is found to be suffering from mental
disorder or mental deficiency, which takes within its ambit
hallucinations, dementia, loss of memory and self-control, at
all relevant times by way of appropriate documentary and oral
evidence, the person concerned would be entitled to seek
resort to the general exceptions from criminal liability.
The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing an
appeal filed by Rajasthan government challenging the February
21, 2004 acquittal of Shera Ram by the State High Court which
had overturned the life imprisonment imposed by a sessions
court for stoning to death priest Tulsi Das.
"The respondent not only in his statement under Section
313 CrPC took up the defence of mental disorder seeking
benefit of Section 84 IPC but even led evidence, both
documentary as well as oral, in support of his claim," Justice
Swatanter Kumar, writing the judgement, said.
In this case, on March 10, 1999 at about 7.15 a.m., while
Tulsi Das was in Raghunathji?s temple, Shera Ram suddenly
hurled a stone at the victim`s head resulting in his
instantaneous death. He also damaged the idol and other
properties of the temple without any provocation.
The apex court said medical records in the present case
clearly indicated that Shera Ram was suffering from epilepsy
and that after an epileptic attack, a patient behaves like an
insane person and is unable to recognise even the known
persons and relatives.
"During this time, there is a memory loss and the patient
can commit any offence. Oral and documentary evidence clearly
shows that the respondent was suffering from epileptic attacks
just prior to the incident.
"Immediately prior to the occurrence, he had behaved
violently and had caused injuries to his own family members.
After committing the crime, he was arrested by the police and
even thereafter, he was treated for insanity, while in jail.
"Thus, there is evidence to show continuous mental
sickness of the respondent. He not only caused death of the
deceased but also on the very same day injured and caused
hurt to his family members," the bench said.