Gujarat HC quashes death sentence awarded to supposed mentally-ill murderer
(Sourced from PTI)
The Gujarat High Court yesterday quashed the death sentence awarded to a man in a triple murder case by a court in Mehsana, noting the trial judge did not take into account his mental illness while delivering the verdict. A division bench of justices J B Pardiwala and A C Rao quashed the death sentence against the accused, Nagjiji Thakore. Read the details here.
Ordering a re-trial in the case, the division bench observed that charges were framed by the trial court at Visnagar in Mehsana district against Thakore without taking into account the fact that he suffered from bipolar disorder. It asked the trial court to verify his mental condition before conducting the trial afresh as per the provisions under section 329 of the CrPC.
Considering medical officer's reports, the HC said "more than prima facie" it appeared the accused was suffering from bipolar disorder and was still under medication. A resident of Malarural village in Mehsana, Thakore had in April 2015 allegedly hacked to death his parents, his three-year-old daughter and also injured his wife and a police officer. A case was subsequently registered against Thakore.
The case was registered in the Kheralu police station under IPC sections pertaining to murder and attempt to murder, among others. The trial court found him guilty of offense of triple murder and attempt to murder and awarded him capital punishment in September 2016.
No plea of insanity was raised during the trial under IPC section 84 (act of a person of unsound mind) even when documents suggested that he might be mentally ill, the high court observed in its order. During the trial, in-charge superintendent of Mehsana district jail dispatched a letter to the judicial magistrate informing him about Thakore's course of treatment for the disorder.
In the letter, it was stated that Thakore was sent to an expert at the General Hospital, Mehsana for treatment of the mental disease when he was lodged in the jail there. The expert advised admission of the accused to a mental health hospital in Ahmedabad for further treatment. It was at the mental hospital that Thakore was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Charges were framed against him by the trial court over two months after he was kept under observation for the mental disorder, but this fact was not considered during the proceedings, the HC noted. The high court, thus, set aside the order of conviction.
"This (re-trial) can be done only after verifying presently whether the accused is of sound mind and consequently capable of making his defense. Such inquiry shall have to be done as provided under section 329 of the CrPC," the bench said in its order. "On the basis of the outcome thereof, the trial court shall have to proceed further," it said.
People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings, from depression and sadness to elation and excitement. Between these mood swings, they feel absolutely normal. These extreme feeling can result in reckless decision-making and the affected one can also experience delusions or hallucinations.