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In Re: Rajagopala Aiyangar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberRef. Trial No. 35 of 1951 and Criminal Appeal No. 249 of 1951
Reported inAIR1952Mad289; (1951)2MLJ593
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 367 and 401; Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 84 and 302
AppellantIn Re: Rajagopala Aiyangar
Appellant AdvocateK.S. Naidu, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateAssistant Public Prosecutor
Cases ReferredR. v. Kopsch
.....and the fact that he murderedpersons in his own family in cold blood can, in ouropinion, furnish no extenuating circumstanceswhich we can take into consideration in mitigationof the..........on a representation led by a doctor of that day. we have looked into the 6th edn. of taylor's medical jurisprudence which came out in the year 1910 and can find no reference there to the case of 'reg. v. greensmith', med. chir. rev. vol. 28, p 84, at all. the 6th edn., of taylor referred to in the bombay decision appears to be the 6th edn., of a manual of medical jurisprudence by dr. taylor which ran into at any rate 12 editions. we have been able to obtain a copy of the 12th edn., of this manual published in 1891. even in this edition there is no reference to greensmith's case and the opinion of dr. taylor on which the bombay decision was founded, it is obvious that the bombay case of 1886 referred to the 6th edn., of taylor's manual of medical jurisprudence, and that even by 1891.....

1. This is a most tragic case in which the appellant, one Rajagopala Aiyangar aged 30, has been found guilty of clubbing his wife and four children shortly after midnight in their house in Kivalur. The four children clubbed murderously on their heads with an iron pestle succumbed to their injuries, but his wife Mathura-valli survived. She had eight injuries mainly on the head and face with suspected fracture of the skull. After sometime in hospital she was discharged with the wounds healed, but her mental faculties impaired, and, according to Dr. Mrs. Mathew, unable to say anything about her family or what happened to her children. She was not examined as a witness in this case. The learned Sessions Judge of East Tanjore has found the appellant guilty of the quadruple murder of his four children and sentenced him to death. He also found him guilty under Section 307, I.P.C., of attempting to murder his wife and sentenced him to transportation for life.

2. The facts of this distressing case are perfectly clear. Two neighbours, P. Ws. 1 and 2, were awakened after midnight by noises and grons from this house and came out to find appellant standing at the threshold or his house with an iron pestle, M. O. 1. in his hand. They both say he told them 'I have closed all, but I cannot bring myself to kill the small child' and pointed to his youngest daughter aged 2 standing near him. P.Ws. 1 and 2 immediately went to the police station. The Sub-Inspector, P.w. 12, found one of the children dead and sent Mathuravalli and the three other children who were alive to the Nega-pattinam hospital, where the children succcumbed to their injuries. Their heads were all crushed by blows from this pestle.

3. Appellant made no attempt to deny hisguilt. In the lower Court he merely said that allthe evidence against him was true. At the Sessions trial he also said he had nothing to say andmade no attempt to explain his horrifying conduct.

4. Appellant was a clerk in the Indian Bankdrawing Rs. 120 a month. He also had some property -- lands and a house said to be worth aboutRs. 25,000. The evidence shows that he was to alloutward appearances happily married to his wifeby whom he had no less than six children. Theeldest daughter was fortunately staying with arelation. The other five children, a son aged 10and four daughters aged 8, 6, 4 and 2 were sleeping in their house that night. Not a vestige ofsuspicion in the evidence attaches to Mathura-valli's chastity. Absolutely no motive is disclosedas to why the appellant should have suddenly atmidnight set about clubbing his wife and all hischildren with the obvious intention of doing awaywith them. The evidence of P. Ws. 1 and 2, we seeno grounds for rejecting in any single particular,that when they saw him standing outside histhreshold with this pestle he told them words tothe effect that he had killed them all, but couldnot bring himself to kill his youngest daughter.This conduct by itself clearly shows that appellantknew what he was doing and it makes any pleaof insanity under Section 84, I.P.C., out of the question.The conviction of the appellant under Section 302, I.P.C.,is correct and is confirmed.

5. As regards motive we have laboured in this case to find- anything suggestive of any motive for these ghastly and apparently inexplicable murders. We have even searched the case diary and we find there this record of what the accused said to the police when first examined to see if it contains anything which could be used in his favour. The case diary extracts reads as follows:

'The accused was examined in detail. He stated that he is living in Kivalur for the last two years and he was originally godown keeper at Kivalur and he is now transferred to Tiruvarur and he handed over charge of the keys of the godowns and there was some shortage and so he was in trouble over the shortage of keys and he stopped there and did not speak anything coherently afterwards. He is not communicative and he does not speak properly.'

Further investigation brought nothing to light as regards any irregularity in his Bank work. We are even prepared to assume that he was worried over some bank affairs, but we cannot find in this anything by way of extenuating circumstances.

6. The learned Advocate for the appellant has drawn our attention to a series of decisions in not dissimilar cases on the basis of which in cases of multiple murders of this kind the most lenient treatment has been accorded to them on the basis of an inference of temporary mental derangement from the motiveless nature of the crime committed. As we were unable to agree with this treatment accorded to such cases we have traced them to their source which appears to be a judgment of 1886 in 'Queen Empress v. Lakshman Dagdu', 10 Bom 612 by Birdwood and Jardine, JJ., of the Bombay High Court. That was a case in which an accused person brutally killed his two young children with a hatchet after having been ill with fever for several days. His wife who gave evidence said he became bewildered and unconscious when fever came on. The Sessions Judge sentenced him to death. In appeal the learned Bombay Bench referred to a case in 'Reg v. Greensmith', Med Chir. Rev. Vol. 28 p. 84, in which Greensmith was charged with the murder of four of his children. Reference was made to 'Taylor's Jurisprudence, 6th Edition, page 926', as authority for Greensmith being subsequently respited on the ground of insanity on the active interference of a Dr. Blake and others. There was reference in that judgment to an observation by Dr. Taylor to the following effect:

'It may be a dangerous doctrine to adduce the 'crime' or the mode of perpetrating it, as 'evidence' of insanity; but such cases as these in-eontestably prove that there are some instances in which this is almost the only procurable evidence.'

Holding that the case before them was similar to that in Greensmith's case the learned Judges made a recommendation to Government for commutation while passing the lesser sentence of transportation for life. This decision was followed with approval in 1896 in Queen Empress v. Kadar Nasyer Shah' 23 Cal 604 in the case of a man who had strangled a boy aged 8 whom he was bringing up. In a case decided by a learned Bench of the Patna High Court in 1937 in 'Emperor v. Gedka Goala', 16 Pat 333 Goala attacked his own family with a knife, and killed his wife, two daughters and a son. In that case he was acquitted by the Sessions Judge in agreement with the assessors who accepted his plea of insanity. In appeal he was found guilty of murder and transported for life with a recommendation made under Section 401, Criminal P. C. Rowland, J., in his judgment followed 'Queen Empress v. Kadar Nasyer Shah' N 23 Cal 604 describing it as a leading case which has been repeatedly followed. With the greatest respect we are in complete agreement, so far as the question of the plea of insanity is concerned. The next decision placed before us in 'Kulandai Thevar v. Emperor' 1950 Mad W N Cr. 95, a learned Bench of our own High Court in which an accused person who was described as tired and hungry suddenly and without any cause or motive attacked a Muslim who accosted him, with an aruval and when pursued ran amock and slaughtered four innocent children. The learned Judges referred to the three decisions to which we have adverted and following those precedents reduced the sentence to transportation for life and made a recommendation to Government under Section 401, Criminal P. C.

7. With the greatest respect we are unable to follow this trend of judicial decision, but have not thought it fit to make any reference to a Full Bench as it relates only to the Question of sentence which is one which must rest on the facts of each case. We have examined the decision 'Queen Empress v. Lakshman Dagdu', 10 Bom 512 of the year 1886 and find that it was based on the decision in Greensmith's case reported in the 6th Edn., of Taylor on the basis of which on tha alleged ground of insanity a reprieve was granted on a representation led by a doctor of that day. We have looked into the 6th Edn. of Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence which came out in the year 1910 and can find no reference there to the case of 'Reg. v. Greensmith', Med. Chir. Rev. Vol. 28, p 84, at all. The 6th Edn., of Taylor referred to in the Bombay decision appears to be the 6th Edn., of a Manual of Medical Jurisprudence by Dr. Taylor which ran into at any rate 12 editions. We have been able to obtain a copy of the 12th Edn., of this Manual published in 1891. Even in this edition there is no reference to Greensmith's case and the opinion of Dr. Taylor on which the Bombay decision was founded, it is obvious that the Bombay case of 1886 referred to the 6th Edn., of Taylor's Manual of Medical Jurisprudence, and that even by 1891 It was thought fit to exclude Greensmith's case and the opinions expressed in the 6th Edn., altogether. Dr. Taylor himself had died in 1880 after being for 40 years Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in- Guy's Hospital Medical School. In the 9th Edn., of Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence published In 1934 with a complete revision of the legal aspect by Mr. W. G. H. Cook, L.L.D., London, we find some scathing judicial references to the doctrines of irresistible impulse, impulsive insanity and temporary mental derangement on medical theories. There is reference at page 817 to Mr. Justice Wightman's reference in 'R v. Burton', to the doctrine of uncontrollableo impulse as a most dangerous doctrine fatal to the interests of the society and the security of life. We think it only necessary to quote this paragraph from this Edition of Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence at pages 817-818:

'This defence has been raised in several cases in recent years, and in R. v. Holt' (1920) 15 Crl A R 10 the Court of Criminal Appeal declined to extend the test laid down in 'M'Naughten's case', so as to include 'uncontrollable impulse.' The Lord Chief Justice said: 'It is not enough for a medical expert to come to the Court and to say generally that in his opinion the criminal is insane. There must be some evidence of insanity within the meaning of the rule in M'Naughten's case'. In 'R. v. Kopsch', (1925) 19 Crl AR 50 the Court of Criminal Appeal laid) down that the defence of uncontrollable impulse: is unknown to English law. The Court expressed the view that 'the defence of insanity in this case, as in so many cases was 'the merest nonsense' and that 'if the fantastic theory of uncontrollable impulse were to become part of our, criminal law, it would be merely subversive.' 'If the law were to be relaxed in the way suggested by some medical men, it is the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice of England that the result might be to transfer to a section of the medical profession the question whether a great number of ordinary criminals should be held responsible by the law.'

With great respect we are in complete agreement with this summary contained in Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence itself as to what should be the correct law in multipue murders of this kind and to the extreme difficulty in passing sentence for Courts to infer temporary derangement or hallucination or some uncontrollable impulse from the fact that multiple murders are brutally and senselessly committed by a person without any apparent motive conscious of what he was doing and to take this into consideration as an extenuating circumstance which would protect him from the extreme penalty of the law. In the tenth and the most recent edition of Taylor's Principles of Jurisprudence, Vol. I, in considering the question of insanity, there is at page 665 the following observation:

'In some respects medical opinion has seemed for many years to Have ranged itself on the side of the criminal; but this is due not so much to a desire to preserve the criminal from punishment as from a fundamentally different view in regard to the results obtained from punishment as contrasted with the results which might be obtained from a different form of treatment.'

Much has been written in this about the difference of opinion as between the medical and legal approach to the criminal.

8. We have embarked on this analysis of thehistory of the trend of Indian decisions in thematter of sentence, widely divergent as, it is inEnglish law, as we find it based on a medical opinion which appears to have been expressed by Dr.Taylor some years prior to 1886 which has receivedthe strongest discouragement and criticism fromthe English Courts so much so that the decisionon which he relied, the Greensmith case in whichthe Court passed the death sentence, has not beencited in any of his subsequent editions. In casesof multiple murders of this kind where an accusedis clearly not insane in the sense that he did notknow what he was doing, but in the present casewhere he clearly knew what he was, about, themere absence of motive, the apparent senselessnessof the murders and the fact that he murderedpersons in his own family in cold blood can, In ouropinion, furnish no extenuating circumstanceswhich we can take into consideration in mitigationof the setence. We cannot take upon ourselves theresponsibility of recommending for a comparativelyshort period of Imprisonment a man who hasonce been a victim to homicidal frenzy of this description and expose other innocent persons to asimilar attack after his release from prison. Incases of this kind, as it appears to us the lawmust take its course, and the only sentence thata criminal Court can pass Is the extreme penalty.The learned Sessions Judge has done we considerhis painful duty in this case. We are unable toreduce the sentence to transportation for life, farless to make any recommendation to Governmentunder Section 401, Criminal P.C. We have no optionin the view we have taken but to dismiss theappeal and to confirm the sentence of death passedon the appellant.

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