1. This is an appeal against the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge of Coimbatore (West) Division by which the learned Sessions Judge convicted the appellant of the offence of the murder of his wife under Section 302 I.P.C. in that he stabbed her to death on 3.11.1970 about 10-30 a m in Udumalpet. The learned Sessions Judge has sentenced him to imprisonment for life.
2. The appellant and his wife were married about two years before. They had two children. P. W. 1 is the husband of the appellant's sister and the appellant's wife (deceased) was also the mother's sister's daughter of P. W. 1. The evidence of P. W. 1 shows that some two or three months before the occurrence! the appellant was insane and was kept in chains in his house in Periakulam in Madurai District. P. W. 1 went Over there.
3. After some time, about three days prior to the occurrence, the appellant and his wife came to the house of P. W. 1 in Udumalpet. On a Sunday two days prior to the occurrence, they went to the temple and offered worship for the complete cure of the mental condition of the appellant.
4. On the day of occurrence, a Tuesday. P. W. 1's wife had gone to work and P. W. 1's children had gone to school. P. W. 1 himself had gone to the adjacent house of P. W. 2. a few yards to the south. The only inmates of the house of P. W. 1. at that time were the appellant and his wife Saroja. Nobody knows what exactly transpired between the husband and the wife. But P. W. 1 and P. W. 2 heard the cries of distress of Saroja the deceased, that she was being stabbed, P. Ws. 1 and 2 went there and saw the appellant mercilessly stabbing his wife with a chisel M.O. 1 in the courtyard in front of the house of P. W. 1. They caught hold of the appellant. The victim Saroia breathed her last almost instantaneously.
5. Another passerby. P. W. 3, who was living in the adjacent street about 150 yard away, happened to go along that way and he too came in time to hear the cries of the deceased and he saw the accused stabbing his wife. He too assisted P. Ws. 1 and 2 in catching hold of the appellant.
6. P. Ws. 1. 2 and 3 took the appellant to the police station and produced him there. The Head Constable, P. W. 8. recorded a statement. Ex. P. 1 from P. W. 1 at 11 a.m.. It sets out the above version substantially, P. W. 8 arrested the appellant. He recovered M.O. 1. which was bloodstained, and also the bloodstained clothes M. Os. 2 to 5 of the appellant. He registered a case of murder and sent express reports to his superiors and gave a phone message to the Sub Inspector P. W. 10 who was at Pollachi at that time. P. W. 10 came to the scene. He prepared the observation mahazar Ex. P. 8. He held the Inquest at which he examined P. Ws. 1 to 3 and others.
7. After the Inquest the autopsy was done by the doctor P. W. 4 who found as many as 25 injuries. Injuries Nos. 11, 14 and 16 to 22 were necessarily fatal and had injured the left ventricle left lung, right lung, the stomach, the liver, the ilium, and the kidney.
8. Another doctor P. W. 7 examined the appellant on 3.11.1970 at 5-30 p. m. and found on him an incised wound ' ' ' near the tip of the left thumb on the outer aspect. The evidence of P. Ws. 1, 2 and 3 is that, when they wrested the chisel M.O. 1 from the appellant, this injury was caused to the appellant.
9. The appellant was sent to the Sub Magistrate, P. W. 6 for his confessional statement being recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C. After giving him time for reflection and giving the necessary warnings, P. W. 5 recorded his statement Ex. P. 6 on 13.11.1970.
10. In Ex. P. 6 the appellant states as follows:
I belong to Periakulam. I and my wife and my male child came to Udumalpet to my sister Mahalakshmi's house. It was two weeks before. Some misunderstanding arose between me and my wife there. About 10 a.m. my wife Saroja was cutting vegetables with the vegetable-cutter. It was three days after we came down from Periakulam. My sister had gone to the shop. My sister's husband (P. W. 1) had gone for work. I and my wife alone were there in the house. The woman who was cutting vegetables (wife) abused me. Frequent quarrels used to arise between us. That day also we quarrelled orally. She cut me with the vegetable-cutter. I warded it off with my left hand. I sustained an injury on my left thumb. I was chiselling a piece of wood with a chisel. Out of anger, I stabbed my wife with the chisel. The neighbours came and tied me and took me to the police station I do not know what happened later. Nobody else is concerned in this case.
11. Chemical examination revealed blood in MOs. 1 to 5.
12. On the remand report of the police praying that the appellant may be kept under observation for his alleged Insanity, the Civil Assistant Surgeon attached to the Central Jail. Coimbatore P. W. 11, kept him under observation from 24.11.1970 to 7.11.1971. During that period he was quite normal and did not exhibit any signs or symptoms of lunacy. P. W. 11 issued the certificate Ex. P. 14.
13. Both in the committal court and in the Court of Session the appellant pleaded that he had a black-out at the time of the alleged murder of his wife and that he did not know what he did during that period. He explained that he made the statement Ex. P. 6 at the instance of police. He did not adduce any defence evidence.
14. The learned Sessions Judge found that it was the appellant who inflicted the fatal injuries on his wife and that he was quite sane at that time. He consequently convicted him under Section 302 I.P.C.
15. We agree with the learned Sessions Judge in his finding that it was the appellant who inflicted the numerous injuries which resulted in the death of his wife Saroja. There is the evidence of P. Ws. 1 to 3 who actually saw the appellant attacking his wife with the chisel M.O. 1. He was caught at once and was produced at the police station where within a short time after the occurrence P. W. 1 made a report Ex. P. 1 implicating the appellant as the assailant of his wife. The clothes of the appellant were blood-stained. On this evidence, we find that it was the appellant who inflicted the stabs in question on his wife Saroja.
16. The real question for determination is what was the mental condition of the appellant at the time when he stabbed his wife, whether in particular he is entitled to the benefit of Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code which says.
Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.
17-19. As pointed out by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Dahya Bhai v. State of Gujarat : 1964CriLJ472 the crucial question for determination by the Court is the mental condition of the accused at the time of the commission of the offence. But in coming to a decision on this question, it is necessary to have regard to the previous mental condition of the accused, the circumstances surrounding the commission of the attack, the subsequent condition, the motive or the absence of motive for the attack, whether it was done in secrecy, the nature of the attack, whether he made any attempt to escape and so on. Now applying these criteria in the present case, we have no doubt that the appellant was not of sound mind at the time when he stabbed his wife and that he did not know the nature of the act that he was doing. Our reasons are these: (1) The evidence of P. W. 1 shows that there was absolutely no misunderstanding between the appellant and his wife. Their relationship was quite cordial. (2) The attack was merciless and it was needless to inflict so many injuries on vital parts. (3) Such a merciless attack if committed by a sane person would require very strong motive, for instance the wife was immoral or had offered very grave provocation to the husband. But there is absolutely no such evidence In this case. The want of motive coupled with the merciless nature of the attack shows very clearly that the appellant was not of sound mind at the time. (4) The evidence of P. W. 1 shows that some three months prior to the occurrence, the appellant was insane and was kept in chains. His actual evidence is that he received a letter from his mother-in-law that the appellant's brain was in disorder. P. W. 1 and his wife went to Periakulam. There he saw the appellant kept tied in chains and some native doctor was attending on the appellant. P. W. 1 and his wife returned to Udumalpet after a period of ten days.
(5) Again when the appellant came with his wife, the deceased told P. W. 1 that the mental disorder had been somewhat cured and that they believed that by visiting several places he would be completely cured. P. W. 1 talked to the appellant and he no doubt answered the questions properly. But then he would not talk much and would be sitting morose in a place. Because he was not completely cured, they offered worship at the temple for his complete cure.
(6) Again, the attack was in broad day light in an open courtyard and there was no attempt at secrecy. Even after P. Ws. 1 to 3 arrived, the appellant persisted in his attack and did not attempt to escape. According to the evidence, he does not seem to have offered any resistance when they caught him.
20. As against these circumstances there are no doubt three circumstances; (1) At the time of the attack, there was nobody else present in the house. (2) Ex. P. 6 proceeds on the footing that the appellant was quite sane at the time of the commission of the offence. But he puts forward a plea of self-defence of grave and sudden provocation. (3) The evidence of P. W. 11. We have no doubt, however, that the circumstances which we have listed in favour of the appellant's insanity far outweigh the three circumstances just mentioned. We think that the statement Ex. P. 6 must have been given under some wrong advice that such a statement would help the appellant to get the offence reduced to one under Section 304 I.P.C. by invoking Exceptions 1 and 2 to Section 300 I.P.C. The counsel who cross-examined the witnesses in the lower Court also no doubt put some questions on the lines of confession, but he cannot be blamed for that because he was evidently trying to do his best for his client. But it may be noted that he also adopted the line of the defence of total insanity. In the last resort, it is for the Court to examine all the circumstances and come to the correct conclusion There is no doubt the evidence of P. W. 11 that he found the appellant normal. But we know instances of a person who was insane at the time of the commission of the offence becoming normal later and P. W. 11 himself concedes such a possibility. The fact that at the time of the commission of the offence, nobody else was there would not necessarily militate against our conclusion of insanity, which we believe is the correct inference from all the circumstances of the case. Accordingly, we set aside the conviction and sentence.
21. The present mental condition of the appellant is apparently normal. But we think in the interests of his own safety and the safety of those with whom he comes into contact it is necessary to keep him under observation in the Mental Hospital for at least a month. If he is found normal, it will be open to the authorities to release him and in fact they should release him. Accordingly, we find that it was the appellant who committed the act alleged, but that he was of unsound mind and did not know the nature of the act, as provided in Section 84 I.P.C. and therefore, under Section 471 Cr.P.C., we order him to be detained in safe custody in the Mental Hospital, Madras, with a direction that he should be kept under observation for a month and suitable action taken thereafter as a result of the observation. This action will be reported to the State Government to whom a copy of this judgment will be forwarded.