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Temporary Insanity

Death Sentence

Conviction for murder of wife, three minor children and two neighbors. Question is about Death Sentence. Defence of temporary psychotic disorder was not accepted by court due to manner of commission of crime which disclosed premeditation and absence of any immediate provocation:

It has been clearly revealed from the evidences adduced in the case that the appellant was in his house with his wife, mother and three minor children. There is no evidence that there was any altercation between the husband and wife either immediately or shortly before the commission of murder of wife and three innocent minor children of the appellant. From the evidence it clearly transpires that the appellant in a cool and calculated manner wanted to kill the wife and three minor children while they were asleep and had no occasions to give any resistance whatsoever. It is also revealed from the evidence that he was fully determined to commit the crime of murder and was conscious of the nature of the crime being committed by him. Precisely for the said reason, when his mother wanted to prevent him from committing such heinous crime he even did not spare his mother and also injured her with the axe in an attempt to kill her also. There is no evidence that the appellant was found in a confused state of mind. On the contrary, it transpires from the evidence that he silently went to the neighbour’s house and attempted to kill Smt. Galal who was also asleep. It appears to us that in a cool and calculated manner the appellant wanted to kill Smt. Galal who being asleep was not capable of giving any resistance. It is also quite apparent that the appellant being conscious of the enormity of the crime committed by him, wanted to flee away from the place of occurrence and when the poor old man Gulabji came on his way and enquired as to what had happened, he immediately hacked Gulabji to death in an extremely brutal manner and thereafter fled away from the place of occurrence and tried to hide himself. Such facts, in our view, clearly indicate that the appellant committed all the said heinous crimes in a conscious state of mind and in a calculated manner. Hence, case of temporary psychic disorder  cannot be accepted in the facts and circumstances of the case.
In our view, in the facts of the case, it has been very clearly established that the appellant has committed one of the most heinous crimes by killing his poor wife who was in advanced stage of pregnancy and three minor children for no fault on their part. The appellant had a solemn duty to protect them and to maintain them but he has betrayed the trust reposed on him in a very cruel and calculated manner without any provocation whatsoever. The appellant did not even spare his mother who very rightly tried to prevent him from committing such unpardonable crime. The appellant also attacked his mother with the axe which he had used to kill his wife and minor children and caused injuries on her person with an intention to kill her. The brutality and cruelty with which the crimes have been perpetrated cannot but shock the conscience of the society. After killing the wife and three minor children and injuring the mother he did not become remorseful and desist from committing any further crime. But like a blood thirsty demon, in a cool and calculated manner he went to one of the neighbour’s house and attempted to kill the wife of the neighbour while she was asleep and as such utterly helpless to give any resistance. When in his attempt to flee away from the place of occurrence, the poor old Gulabji came on his way, the appellant did not hesitate to kill him in extremely brutal manner before the eyes of his wife. All the said heinous crimes were committed without any provocation. The appellant was not even remorseful after the said incident of successive five murders and attempt to kill two others including the appellant’s mother. The appellant did not go to see the ailing mother injured by him and did not also attend the funeral of his wife and even his three innocent minor children. The crimes had been committed with utmost cruelty and brutality without any provocation, in a calculated manner. It is the nature and gravity of the crime but not the criminal, which are germane for consideration of appropriate punishment in a criminal trial. The Court will be failing in its duty if appropriate punishment is not awarded for a crime which has been committed not only against the individual victim but also against the society to which the criminal and victim belong. The punishment to be awarded for a crime must not be irrelevant but it should conform to end be consistent with the atrocity and brutality with which the crime has been perpetrated, the enormity of the crime warranting public abhorrence and it should respond to the society’s cry for justice against the criminal. In our view, if for such heinous crimes the most deterrent punishment for wanton and brutal murders is not given, the case of deterrent punishment will lose its relevance. We, therefore, do not find any justification to commute the death penalty to imprisonment for life.

Full Judgement:  [Ravji @ Ram Chandra vs State Of Rajasthan, 1996 AIR SC 787, 1996 SCC (2) 175 (on 5 December, 1995)]

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About Sandeep Bhalla

A lawyer, thinker, author, Linux/Ubuntu power user but often an economist or gardener or philosopher or cook or photographer depending upon the current thought and environment. View all posts by Sandeep Bhalla

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