1. The appellant (Subramaniam alias Allabaksh) is a young man of 23 years, described as a Hindu converted to Islam, generally living by mendicancy. He has been convicted of the very brutal murder of a girl named Syed Sultan Beevi, aged about 7 years, within the premises of the Nagore Durga, at about 9-30 a.m. on 19th March 1951. The case for the prosecution is that the accused suddenly caught hold of this girl, gagged her, and cut her neck with a razor almost severing the head from the trunk. About the facts themselves, there is no dispute, and they are established beyond challenge, though, at the trial, the accused asserted his innocence. The real question is whether the accused was of such unsound mind at the time of committing this murder as would entitle him to the benefit of the exception enacted in Section 84, I. P. C.
2. We shall first set forth the brief and indisputable facts of the occurrence. On that day, Mohideen (P. W. 1) was proceeding near the 'peer mandapam'. Thangachi Ummani (P.W. 2) a girl aged about 9, was then going along with the deceased girl, and both took a few steps to proceed inside the Durga, after purchasing fruits. At that time the' accused, who was there, first tried to catch hold Sultan Beevi, gagged her mouth with one hand, and, wielding the razor (M. O. 1) with the other hand, cut her neck. As this was in broad day-light, and on the immediate alarm raised by P.W. 2, several persons gathered. P.W. 1 swears that he saw the murderous assault from a distance of about 40 feet or less, and was the first to rush up to the spot. These persons caught hold of the accused, and there can be no doubt that the accused was tied up, and was manhandled and beaten by the crowd that gathered. The girl (deceased) died practically instantaneously, and the medical evidence proves that she could not have survived, more than a few moments.
3. The village headman (P.W. 7) came later to the Durga, and recorded a complaint from P.W. 1, Ex. P-1, upon which the usual reports were sent. When the accused was examined by the Woman Assistant Surgeon, later that, day, he was found to have some superficial injuries, and the accused admitted that they were caused by his having been beaten at 10 a.m. that day with sticks and hands. The accused originally adhered to the plea that he was of unsound mind, and did not know what happened. Later, in his memorandum of appeal, he has suggested that there was a faction and that the case is a fabrication by the police.
4. There can be no doubt concerning the actual murderous assault or the fact that the accused did wield the razor (M.O. 1) and cut the neck of the unfortunate victim, after gagging her with the other hand. The only question before us is whether the accused is entitled to the benefit of Section 84, I. P. C.
5. In dealing with this question, learned counsel for the appellant rightly points out that, sometime after this incident of murder, the accused was proved to be of unsound mind. He was under medical treatment first from. 30-4-19S1 to 20-54961, and later from 12-6-1961 onwards. Ho was held completely cured of his mental illness only on 1-9-1961, and it was thereafter that he took part in the trial. The accused was found to be suffering from schizophrenia or delusionary insanity, subsequent to the offence, and he underwent treatment for this disease and was completely cured. But, unfortunately, there is no evidence to prove the state of the mind of the accused at about the time of the murder, or prior to it. There is absolutely no evidence to show that he was of unsound mind at anytime prior to the murder, and the evidence is merely to the effect that he was a man from Gudur, that he spoke Urdu and Telugu, with a few words of Tamil, and that he was living by mendicancy. There is not a scrap of evidence indicating mental imbalance or insanity, earlier to the offence.
6. There are no circumstances from which we are able to come to any clear conclusion that the criteria enacted in S. 84 I.P.C. are satisfied, in the present case. It is true that the murder was apparently unmotivated. P.W. 2 was wearing some jewels, and the deceased herself was wearing more costly jewels (M. 0. 2 series). The learned Sessions Judge observed that, if robbery was the motive the accused need not have first caught hold of P.W. 2, who was wearing less costly jewellery. But, in the circumstances of this case, it is impossible to hold that there was no motive whatever. The two girls were then unprotected at that particular spot, though the accused must have been indeed a dangerously reckless person if he had imagined that persons in the locality would not be immediately roused by the cries of the victim or her companion. But it is significant that the accused tried to gag the mouth of the deceased. It is significant that he already had the razor (M. O. 1) in his possession, and it was not merely some weapon which came to his hand at the spat A sadist sexual assault, an attempt towards one, cannot be wholly excluded; nor, as the learned Sessions Judge has shown, can we exclude the possible motive of a homicidal crime, prompted by some perverse religious frenzy.
7. The fact that the accused did not try to run away from the scene, is not necessarily indicative of insanity in the legal sense. It does not show that he was incapable of knowing the nature of his act, or that what he was doing was wrong, or contrary to law. It has to be noticed that the accused gave a perfectly rational explanation for his own injuries. It was also a true one. The subsequent mental history of the accused does show that he is an abnormal person, prone to mental unsoundness but it does not show that he was mentally unsound at the time of this offence. Nor does it show that his mental unsoundness was such as to satisfy the criteria laid down Under Section 84, I. P. C.
8. We do not think it necessary to refer to the numerous decisions that are available in the Law Reports, with regard to the principles of Section 84, I. P. C. in relation to the facts of several cases. Each case has necessarily to be judged upon its own totality of facts and probabilities. The latest decision of. the Supreme Court in the State of Madhya Pradesh v. Ahmadulla, : 3SCR583 , reiterates the central principle that the crucial point of time at which the unsoundness of mind has to be established is the time of the actual act of offence, and that the burden of proving that the accused is entitled to the benefit of the exemption, is upon the accused. Taking every circumstance in favour of the accused, and regarding these circumstances together, we are nevertheless unable to hold, on the facts of the present case, that the accused has established that he is entitled to the benefit of Section 84, I. P. C. or that the criteria enacted therein apply here. Accordingly, we have no alternative but to confirm the conviction and the sentence, which is the lesser one of imprisonment for life.