This case summary is submitted by –
- Raja Kumar
In the Supreme Court of India 1964 AIR SC 1563 Petitioner Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker Respondent State of Gujarat Date of Judgement 19th March 1964 Bench K.C. Das Gupta, J; K. Subbarao J; Raghu bar Dayal, J
To live a free and happy life a person should have at least his Personal safety, especially the protection of life, liberty and property, is of ultimate importance to any person and the law does not allow to harm anyone’s safety. But if anyone harm or does any wrongful act that causes harm to any person shall be held for crime and, he will be convicted according to the Penal Code. And how can be a crime described on this point Serjeant Stephen expresses that, “A crime is a violation of a perceived right in the context of the evil tendency of such right the breach is related to the community at large”. And also Austin, in defining crime, observed: “A wrong that is pursued at the discretion of the injured party and its representative’s Civil injury: A wrong that is pursued by the sovereign or his subordinates is a crime”.
While entire Indian Penal Code talks about different types of crime, it also talks about some exceptions that can be taken as a defence, like, Insanity, Good Faith, etc. Here, we will discuss the defence of insanity.
According to the Black Law Dictionary, insanity means severe enough to cause any mental disorder, which prevents a person from having legal capacity and excuses the person of criminal or civil liability.
It is a fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that an accused is presumed innocent and therefore, this burden on the prosecution lies to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. And the present case Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker vs State of Gujarat based on some similar things.
Statutory Provisions Discussed:
- Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act
Principle of the burden of proof regarding the argument of insanity can be said to be proved beyond prosecution when there is reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime with requisite Mens rea And the burden of proving it always rests on the prosecution from the beginning to the end of trial[i].
Fact of the case
Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker hereinafter called the Plaintiff was the son of Chhaganbhai and the husband of the deceased Kalavati. She was married to the appellant in the year 1958. But the marital relationship between him and his wife was under strain because of the indifference among them. On the night of April 9, 1959, the appellant and his wife slept in their bedroom and the doors leading to that room were bolted from inside. Around 3 to 4 a.m., suddenly Kalavati shouted that she was being killed. On hearing the neighbours gathered in front of the said room and called upon the accused to unlock the door. When the door was opened, they saw Kalavati dead with several wounds on her body. The accused was sent up for a trial to the sessions on the charge of murder. Before the Additional Sessions Judge, Kaira, a defence was set up that the accused was insane when the incident was alleged to have taken place and was not capable of understanding the nature of his act[ii].
The learned Additional Sessions Judge considered all the evidence laid before him, and concluded that the accused failed to satisfy him that he was not able to know the nature of the act when he murdered his wife. And what he was doing was either wrong or contrary to the law. Having rejected his argument of insanity, the learned Additional Sessions Judge convicted him under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code[iii] and sentenced him to life imprisonment for rigorous imprisonment. On appeal, the High Court agreed with that finding for different reasons and affirmed the convictions of the accused. Against the order passed by the High Court, this appeal was preferred by special leave petition.
- What was the motive for the appellant to kill his wife in the dreadful manner he did by causing 44 knives injuries on her body?
- what was the previous history of the mental condition of the accused?
Arguments by the Appellant-
The appellant claimed that the accused was insane 2 or 3 days before the incident, even on the night of the incident, the accused opened the door and came out of the room carrying a blood-stained knife; The accused was starting to talk irrelevantly and was saying why did you kill my mother? Why did you burn my father’s house?
The accused then sat there and started throwing dust and mud at the people who had gathered there, and he too was laughing without any reason. In short, the accused was under a hallucination that the deceased had murdered his mother and burnt his father’s house and therefore, he killed him in that state of mind unknowing what he was doing.
Arguments by the Respondents-
Respondents argued that if the accused had gone mad 2 or 3 days before the incident, then why accused’s father and his wife had gone to Ahmedabad on the date of the incident?
If the accused were a victim of insanity a day or two before the incident, is it likely that both parents would have left him? He also said that he said that he went to Ahmedabad to see a groom for his daughter and also took medicines for the accused.
But he did not say which doctor he consulted and whether or not he bought medicines. If the accused had fit insanity. Is it likely that the wife slept with him in the same room? Also, they had not described the condition of the accused immediately when he came out of the room.
After seeing the certificate issued by the Medical Officer stated that Nothing about the mental condition of the accused was noted in that certificate and also Superintendent of Mental Hospital, Baroda sent his report saying that the accused was capable of understanding the proceedings of the court and of making his defence in the court. On questioning, the court considered that the accused could understand the proceedings of the case and is capable of defending himself. At the commencement of the trial, the petitioner for the accused stated that the accused could understand the proceedings. The proceedings before the Sessions Judge only show that for a short time after the case had commenced before him the accused was insane.
But that fact would not establish that the accused was having fits of insanity for 4 or 5 years before the incident and that at the time he killed his wife he had such a fit of insanity as to give him the benefit of Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code[iv].
The Court, therefore, do not see any evidence of insanity from the materials found in the room, on the other hand, they support the case of a planned murder. To summarize this case in the conclusion the Court find that the accused did not like his wife, indeed though he was employed in Ahmedabad and stayed there for about 10 months, he did not take his wife with him, he wrote a letter to his father-in-law to the force that the accused did not like her and that he should take her away to his house, the father-in-law promised to come on Chaitra Sudhi 1, the accused expected him to come on April 9, 1959, and tolerated the presence of his wife in his house till then, as his father-in-law did not come on or before April 9, 1959, the accused in anger or frustration killed his wife. It has not been proved that he was insane, nor the evidence is satisfactory even to throw a reasonable doubt in our mind that the act might have been done when the accused was in a fit of insanity. The Court, therefore, though for different reasons, agree with the conclusion arrived at by the High Court and dismiss the appeal[v].
When a plea of legal insanity is made, the court has to consider whether at the time of the commission of the offence the accused, because of unsoundness of mind, was incapable of knowing the nature of the actor that he was doing what was either wrong or contrary to law. The critical time to ascertain the state of mind of the accused is the time when the crime was committed. Whether the accused was in a position to be entitled to the benefit of section 84 of the Indian Penal Code can only be established from the circumstances that preceded, participated in, and followed the crime.
“The views of the authors are personal“
[ii] https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5609ab38e4b014971140be90 (Last visited November 4,2020,6:oo pm)
[iii] Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or [imprisonment for life], and shall also be liable to fine.
[iv] Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, because of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.
[v] https://www.legalcrystal.com/case/641970/dahyabhai-chhaganbhai-thakker-vs-state-gujarat (Last visited November 4,2020,5:oo pm)