The Madras High Court has set aside a lower court order awarding life term to a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawan for gunning down three of his colleagues and injuring two others in 2014 at the Kalpakkam nuclear power plant, after invoking Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with the ''act of a person of unsound mind."
A bench of Justice PN Prakash and Justice RN Manjula set aside the lower court order of 2018 and directed the transfer of the appellant, Vijay Pratap Singh to Government Mental Hospital in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, forthwith.
The judges also ordered an additional Rs three lakh compensation, besides the already paid compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the victims and Rs 2 lakh each to the injured persons.
It also made a recommendation to Union Finance and Home Ministries to sanction extraordinary family pension to the families of the three victims.
"We find that the case of the appellant, Vijay Pratap Singh, falls within the exception contained in Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, though we hold on facts, that he had opened fire and caused the death of three jawans and injuries to two others," the bench said in its October 28 order.
Consequently, the judgment and order of conviction and sentence dated April 9, 2018 passed by the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Chengalpat "is set aside," the judges said.
Doctors who had treated the appellant, indicated he was suffering from Schizophrenia.
The Tamil Nadu Home Secretary should ensure safe transmission of the appellant to the Government Mental Hospital, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. The departments concerned of the Government of Uttar Pradesh and the jurisdictional District & Sessions Judge and Chief Judicial Magistrate shall be notified, and necessary instructions shall, thereafter, be issued by them to ensure smooth implementation of this order.
"It will, thereafter, be open to the family members of the appellant to approach the competent authorities at Uttar Pradesh for appropriate orders as to custody of the appellant under Section 335 Cr.P.C.," the court ruled.
Challenging the lower court conviction and sentences, the accused filed the instant appeal.
"While he was an inpatient in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Kilpauk, Mental State Examination was conducted and it revealed that he suffers from delusion of persecution that everyone is scolding him, they are using magic system and walkie-talkie to scold him and hiding everything from his vision."
"He also had auditory hallucinations as if he was hearing male and female voices scolding him. Based upon the history and the findings in the Mental State Examination, he was diagnosed as a case of paranoid schizophrenia (major mental illness) and appropriate treatment was started," the bench said.
"Our research shows that even in Kautilya's Arthasastra, there is an exemption from punishment for a mentally ill offender," the judges added.
Thus, from the totality of the proved circumstances, the court are able to clearly discern that the appellant was suffering from schizophrenia, which manifested itself as auditory hallucinations and hearing of voices of people abusing him, the court said.
"Since he was required to report to duty at various shifts, he was probably not taking the medicines regularly as those medicines were sedative in character and even inhibited him from reporting to duty on time during the early shifts. On the fateful day, the appellant was in the 4.30 am shift, for which, he would have woken up at least half an hour earlier. He possibly did not take medicines which must have resulted in relapse of auditory hallucinations and consequently, he must have opened fire at his colleagues believing that they were abusing him," the bench said.
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