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The Public Prosecutor Vs. Budipiti Devasikamani - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1928)55MLJ228
AppellantThe Public Prosecutor
RespondentBudipiti Devasikamani
Cases ReferredEmpress v. Sakharam Valad Ramji I.L.R.
Excerpt:
- - 5. the onus of proving the defence afforded by section 84 of the indian penal code clearly rests upon the accused. the civil surgeon found 'no case to pronounce him insane';but according to his evidence the accused looked 'more sad than insane'.though smoking ganja might account for the queer things which the accused used to do, we do not think that the facts in this case, viewed in. the light of well-known judicial decisions, such as queen-empress v. 564, are strong enough to give him exemption from the criminality of his conduct under section 84 of the indian penal code. further, the evidence shows that the accused himself was a school master in the same school for about a year and that, when his father who had retired from the school found that his son was behaving badly he (the..........at gurtedu, with intent to destroy the same, an offence punishable under section 436 of the indian penal code. the prosecution case is that the accused took a torch from the kitchen, ran to the building, put it to the thatch and then threw it on the roof of the kitchen and ran away. the thatch caught fire and the school building was completely destroyed. the learned sessions judge found that the accused set fire to the school building but acquitted him on the ground that he was insane at the time when he did it and was therefore incapable of forming the intention or of having the knowledge which forms an essential ingredient of the offence. against this acquittal the crown has presented this appeal.2. the accused is a smoker of ganja. there is evidence to show that, as a result of this.....
Judgment:

Madhavan Nair, J.

1. The accused in this case was charged before the learned Agency Sessions Judge, East Godavari, that he, on the 19th of June, 1926, committed mischief by setting fire to the thatched building of the Board Elementary School at Gurtedu, with intent to destroy the same, an offence punishable under Section 436 of the Indian Penal Code. The prosecution case is that the accused took a torch from the kitchen, ran to the building, put it to the thatch and then threw it on the roof of the kitchen and ran away. The thatch caught fire and the school building was completely destroyed. The learned Sessions Judge found that the accused set fire to the school building but acquitted him on the ground that he was insane at the time when he did it and was therefore incapable of forming the intention or of having the knowledge which forms an essential ingredient of the offence. Against this acquittal the Crown has presented this appeal.

2. The accused is a smoker of ganja. There is evidence to show that, as a result of this vicious habit, he used to threaten to beat his father and children, and used to beat his wife and run away into the forest; he would not take his food properly and when he was given it he would throw it away. The evidence also shows that he used to tear his cloth and wander about in the forest. He was kept under observation in the Central Tail at Rajahmundry for a fortnight. The Medical Officer who examined him found no reason to pronounce him insane at that time.

3. The learned Public Prosecutor contends that the plea of insanity is not borne out by these facts, that at the most the evidence would only show that the accused used to get voluntarily intoxicated by smoking ganja off and on and that voluntary intoxication is no defence to a criminal act.

4. The learned vakil for the accused argues that the evidence is to the effect that ganja smoking has induced in the accused incapacity to understand the quality or nature of his wrongful act and has produced in him a condition akin to that of delirium tremens in the case of a drunken man and that, even if this is not the case, under Section 86 of the Indian Penal Code the accused can rely upon voluntary intoxication in defence when he is charged as in this case with an offence of which 'intent' is a necessary ingredient.

5. The onus of proving the defence afforded by Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code clearly rests upon the accused. See Queen Empress v. Irappa (Ratan Lal's Unreported Criminal Cases of the Bombay High High Court, p. 818. As regards the first contention, we have no doubt that the evidence does not warrant a finding that the accused's habit of smoking ganja had induced in him a diseased state of mind so as to make him incapable of understanding the wrongfulness of his act. The Civil Surgeon found 'no case to pronounce him insane'; but according to his evidence the accused looked 'more sad than insane'. Though smoking ganja might account for the queer things which the accused used to do, we do not think that the facts in this case, viewed in. the light of well-known judicial decisions, such as Queen-Empress v. Venkataswami I.L.R. (1889) M. 459, Queen-Empress v. Lakshman Dagdu I.L.R. (1886) B. 512 and Queen-Empress v. Sakharam Valad Ramji I.L.R. (1890) B. 564, are strong enough to give him exemption from the criminality of his conduct under Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code. The fact that he ran away after putting the torch to the thatch shows that at the time he committed the offence he was conscious that what he was doing was wrongful.

6. As regards the second contention, the wording of Section 86 of the Indian Penal Code lends some support to the argument advanced before us. That section lays down that, in certain classes of cases, the intoxicated person shall be liable to be dealt with as if he had not been intoxicated; but it does not provide that an intoxicated person shall be dealt with as if he had the same intent. The second part of the section speaks of knowledge only and omits any reference to intent. Whether this omission is intentional or not, as pointed out by Mr. Mayne, it may be due to the fact that in the majority of cases the question of intention is merely the question of knowledge. If the accused knew what the natural consequences of his acts were, ordinarily he must be deemed to have intended to cause them. See Re Mandru Gadaba I.L.R. (1914) Mad. 479 per Ayling, J. Though ordinarily intention is to be inferred from knowledge, there may be cases where intent must be found as a fact and cannot be assumed in which cases voluntary drunkenness may be relied on to show that the required 'intent' is absent. In England it will be a question in such cases for the Jury to decide whether having regard to the mental condition of the prisoner, the general inference of intention from knowledge can reasonably be drawn. This, we think, is the utmost that could be said in favour of this contention. Even according to this restricted interpretation in this case, the evidence makes it clear that, in spite of the ganja smoking, the accused had the requisite criminal intent, because as soon as he put the torch to the thatch he ran away. He knew that the act he was doing was a wrongful one and from this knowledge we can assume that he must have had the criminal 'intent' requisite for the offence. Further, the evidence shows that the accused himself was a school master in the same school for about a year and that, when his father who had retired from the school found that his son was behaving badly he (the father) made a report asking for his son six months' leave. The accused must have apprehended that the result of the report would be the termination of his connection with the school and therefore he must have deliberately set fire to the building to show his annoyance.

7. In view of the evidence, the gist of which we have set forth above, we do not think that the plea of insanity has been established in this case.

8. We must, therefore, set aside the acquittal of the accused and convict him of the offence under Section 436 of the Indian Penal Code with which he was charged and sentence him to undergo one year's rigorous imprisonment. We order accordingly.


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