True Court CopyTM English


Criminal Appeal No. 814 of 2017

Decided On: 02.07.2018

Appellants: Devidas Loka Rathod Vs. Respondent: State of Maharashtra

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
A.M. Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha


Navin Sinha, J.

1. The Appellant assails his conviction Under Section 302 and 324 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), rejecting his defence that he was of unsound mind.

2. In the morning of 26.09.2006, the Appellant suddenly picked up a sickle from the shop floor of the iron smith and attempted to assault Gulab Pawar (P.W. 11), but which injured Santosh Jadhav (P.W. 5) on the jaw and cheek and gave a further blow on his shoulder. The same day, he later assaulted Ulhas Rathor (P.W. 3) on his back and neck and rained blows on the back and stomach of the deceased Harish Chandra Chauhan, when the latter tried to intervene. The Appellant then tried to flee, throwing the sickle en route, when he was apprehended by the villagers and handed over to the police.

3. The Additional Sessions Judge, Akola rejected the defence plea for unsoundness of mind, citing insufficient evidence relying on the evidence of Dr. Sagar Srikant Chiddalwar (C.W. 1) that the Appellant was not mentally sick and fit to face trial. The subsequent conduct of the Appellant while in custody, his demeanour during the trial, were further relied upon to conclude that the Appellant was conscious of his wrongful acts which were deliberate in nature, evident from the repeated assaults and running away from the place of occurrence after throwing the sickle. The High Court declined to interfere with the conviction.

4. Ms. Aparna Jha appearing on behalf of the Appellant urged that in absence of any mens rea, conviction Under Section 302 Indian Penal Code was unsustainable, relying upon Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker v. State of Gujarat,   MANU/SC/0068/1964 : 1964 (7) SCR 361. It was next contended that the evidence of Mankarna Chavan (D.W. 1) and Gograbai Rathod (D.W. 2), with regard to the unsoundness of mind of the Appellant has not been properly appreciated and wrongly rejected as insufficient. The Appellant belonged to a very poor family and they could not be expected to keep his medical records and prescriptions meticulously. The defence witnesses had deposed that the Appellant was under the treatment of Dr. Kelkar at Akola. There existed sufficient evidence for a plausible defence for unsoundness of mind Under Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 105 of the Evidence Act on a preponderance of the probability. The prosecution failed to lead any evidence in rebuttal, for which reliance was placed on Elavarasan v. State represented by Inspector of Police,   MANU/SC/0730/2011 : 2011 (7) SCC 110. The conviction was, therefore, unjustified and the Appellant was entitled to acquittal.

5. Learned Counsel for the State, Shri Katneshwarkar, opposing the appeal, su........