'Killing of grandfather by man suffering insanity,' Supreme Court sets aside High Court's reversal of acquittal

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The trial court considered the matter within the ambit of Section 84 of IPC and on the basis of material on record concluded that the appellant-accused was incapable of knowing the nature of his acts by reason of unsoundness of mind and it is highly probable that he was unaware of what he was doing was wrong and contrary to law

The Supreme Court has said that an appellate court can't reverse the trial court's verdict on reappreciation of evidence by merely taking a different view.

With this view, court has set aside the Sikkim High Court's judgement which held a man guilty of killing his 81-year-old grandfather even though he suffered from insanity.

A bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Prashant Kumar Mishra noted, in the instant case, the High Court had reversed the finding of acquittal and convicted the appellant mainly on reappreciation of evidence by holding that the trial court erred in extending the benefit of Section 84 of IPC, without even recording a conclusion that the view is perverse. 

"It is settled that the judgment of acquittal can be reversed by the appellate court only when there is perversity and not by taking a different view on reappreciation of evidence. If the conclusion of the trial court is plausible one, merely because another view is possible on reappreciation of evidence, the appellate court should not disturb the findings of acquittal and substitute its own findings to convict the accused," the bench said.

Maintaining that it is also settled that the standard of proof to prove the lunacy or insanity is only ‘reasonable doubt’, the bench said apart from the medical evidence, the abnormal/insane behaviour of the appellant-accused at the time of the assault and immediately thereafter is worth notice. 

The matter related to an appeal filed by Rupesh Manger (Thapa) questioning the validity of the High Court's judgement reversing his acquittal by a trial court and awarding him life imprisonment for committing murder of his grandfather Krishna Bahadur Rai on October 15, 2016.

The bench noted since the inception accused had taken the plea of insanity. The medical evidence was adduced showing that he suffered from depressive disorder with psychotic feature. The doctor who prescribed medicines to him deposed that the appellant-accused was found to have partially impaired judgment due to perceptive auditory hallucinations. His psychiatric ailments were relapseable and there is every chance of attack anytime.

Court further pointed out star witnesses of the prosecution namely, Reeta Rai, daughter of the deceased stated that the appellant-accused was fond of the deceased and he loved him a lot. 

Similarly, another witness said that when she was leaving the spot after the incident, the appellant-accused came near her and asked what I have done to my grandfather. The other villagers who reached at the spot soon after the incident have stated that when they arrived at the spot the appellant-accused was present and was not trying to flee from there. "This behaviour of the appellant accused was not of a normal person," it said.

"After the appellant-accused attacked the deceased by a sharp-edged weapon which was later snatched, he was trying to take out the windpipe from the neck of the deceased which was already cut. This action of the appellant-accused was weird and abnormal. This is clearly indicative of the fact that he was suffering from insanity at the time of incident," the bench further recorded.