Bombay HC Gives Benefit Of Doubt To Schizophrenic Man, Acquits Him Of Murder
The Logical Indian Crew Maharashtra
December 11th, 2018 / 1:10 PM
Image Credits: Local Press
In a country where mental illness is mostly overlooked, Bombay High court recently acquitted a man for murder as he was suffering from ‘paranoid schizophrenia’.
Sagar Patil was in prison for six years for killing his 82-year-old grandmother, Parvati Pisekar in 2009. He will soon be released from Kolhapur central prison, where he has been lodged since 2012, the year he was convicted.
A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice AS Gadkari set aside the conviction and the charges against the man after observing his “unsound mind” before and after the crime was committed. The report submitted by the prison authority stated, “The condition of the appellant is stable with medication (anti-psychotic drugs). The case of the appellant is a known case of paranoid schizophrenia, and he is on regular treatment.” Patil’s mother had also told the police about his illness. The HC considered these testimonies while acquitting him, reported DNA.
Reportedly, Patil’s grandmother had sold a self-owned property for Rs. 60 lakh and decided to not share with her children. Thus, Patil on February 2, 2009, stabbed his grandmother with a knife and ran away. Later, Sagar went and surrendered himself for the crime he committed to a local crime branch of Alibag police, Raigad.
According to Patil’s mother’s statement to the police, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia two years ago but was not given proper treatment as they could not afford an expert’s help.
Reports proved his “unsound mind”
According to a report by Livelaw, police had found a discharge card from a hospital indicating that he was under treatment for his mental condition. Dr Sandeep Divekar also confirmed in his testimony that Sagar had been battling with paranoid schizophrenia for quite a long duration. The victim’s son also corroborated the same. He siad that Sagar’s sister suffered from mental illness too and she died.
His cross-examination done with a psychiatrist proved that the statements given by his mother and doctor are true. Even his investigation officer said that he should be given the benefit of the doubt under section 84 of India Penal Code. However, reportedly, opposing council didn’t support the appeal. While opposing, he said that Patil was in sound mind when he committed the offence as he changed his clothes after the murder and changed many buses to reach the police station.
After carefully scrutinising all the reports which confirmed that Patil was mentally unsound during and after the offence, the court declared that the appellant should be given the benefit of the doubt.
The Logical Indian take
This is not the first case where judges had to face such a dilemma. In June, Bombay High court had to deal with a similar trial, where a man was acquitted for killing his watchmen who forgot to water his plants. He too was given the benefit of the doubt for being mentally ill under section 84 of IPC, reported The Times of India.
Legally speaking, section 84 of India Penal code, – Act of a person of unsound mind, says—”Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason 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.”
But the question arises here- is it okay to let go a man who has committed such hideous offence and jeopardize people’s life? Paranoid Schizophrenia is a mental condition where a person is a threat not only to people around him but also to himself. The Logical Indian believes that the person should be given professional help and proper treatment by the government to ensure no one else is at risk due to lack of psychiatric help.
Written by : Anukriti Ganesh (Student, IIJNM)
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi