The Gujarat High Court Wednesday quashed the death sentence awarded to a man in a triple murder case by a court in Mehsana, noting the trial judge did not take into account his mental illness while delivering the verdict.
Ordering a re-trial in the case, a division bench of justices J B Pardiwala and A C Rao observed that charges were framed by the trial court at Visnagar in Mehsana district against the accused, Nagjiji Thakore, without taking into account the fact that he suffered from bipolar disorder.
It asked the trial court to verify his mental condition before conducting the trial afresh as per the provisions under section 329 of the CrPC.
Considering reports of the medical officer, the high court said “more than prima facie” it appeared the accused was suffering from bipolar disorder and was still under medication.
A resident of Malarural village in Kheralu taluka of the district, Thakore had in April 2015 allegedly hacked to death his parents, his three-year-old daughter and also injured his wife and a police officer.
A case was registered in the Kheralu police station against him under sections of the IPC pertaining to murder and attempt to murder, among others.
The trial court found him guilty of offence of triple murder and attempt to murder and awarded him capital punishment in September 2016.
No plea of insanity was raised during the trial under IPC section 84 (act of a person of unsound mind) even when documents suggested that he might be mentally ill, the high court observed in its order.
During the trial, in-charge superintendent of Mehsana district jail dispatched a letter to the judicial magistrate informing him that Thakore was sent to an expert at the General Hospital, Mehsana for treatment of mental disease when he was lodged in the jail there.
The expert advised hospitalisation of the accused at a mental health hospital in Ahmedabad for further treatment. There, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Charges were framed against him by the trial court over two months after he was kept under observation for mental disorder, but this fact was not considered during the proceedings, the HC noted.
The high court, thus, set aside the order of conviction and death sentence and ordered a re-trial.
“This (re-trial) can be done only after verifying presently whether the accused is of sound mind and consequently capable of making his defence. Such inquiry shall have to be done as provided under section 329 of the CrPC. On the basis of the outcome thereof, the trial court shall have to proceed further,” the bench said in its order.
People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings, from depression and sadness to elation and excitement.