DAHYABHAI CHHAGANBHAI THAKKER V. STATE OF GUJARAT

INTRODUCTION

Name of Appellant – Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker

Name of Petitioner – State of Gujarat

Equivalent Citation – 1964 SCR (7) 361

Bench – Subbarao, K. Gupta, K.C. Dasdayal, Raghubar

Date of Judgment – 19 March 1964[1]

FACTS OF THE CASE

In the said case, the appellant Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker was accused of killing his wife. It was presented that Dahyabhai, who was the son of Chhaganbhai Thakker and husband of Kalavati, killed his wife by pushing a knife in her body several times. It was reported that Dahyabhai and Kalavati were married in the year 1958 and shared a cordial relationship like a normal husband and wife. However, it was also highlighted that there was some difference existing between them. The said incident happened during the night of 9th of April, 1959 when both the husband and the wife were sleeping peacefully in their room. However, during the period of 3-4 A.M., the neighbours heard the voice of Kalavati, who was shouting for help and was also shouting that her husband is trying to kill her and pleaded for help. When the neighbours broke into the room, they found Kalavati lying dead sustaining several injuries on her body.

It was also seen that the only person who was present in that room when the incident took place was Dahyabhai and he surrendered also. When the trial began, the accused pleaded that he was insane and when the incident took place he was unaware of his actions. However, due to the lack of shreds of evidence, his plea of insanity got rejected and the then Additional Sessions Judge convicted Dahyabhai and he was punished under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.[2]Getting aggrieved by the decision, the Accused moved to the High Court, however, the High Court also supported the decision of the Additional Session Judge and confirmed the decision of Rigorous Life imprisonment. Following this, the Accused and his learned Counsel moved to the Supreme Court and filed a Special Leave Petition challenging the decision of the High Court.  

ISSUES RAISED BEFORE SUPREME COURT

  • What led Dahyabhai to such an extent that he killed his wife? In short, the intention of killing his wife was questioned before the Apex Court.
  • Also, if Dahyabhai was seriously insane, he must have some existing background. So, the previous mental condition and health of Dahyabhai were questioned.

ARGUMENTS PRESENTED BY APPELLANT

Before the Supreme Court, it was argued that Dahyabhai, who was the Accused was having the attacks of insanity from the last 3 days before the incident. Adding to this, it was presented that similarly on the night of the incident also, Dahyabhai had an attack of insanity and during that attack, he not only killed his wife but also accused her wife of killing his mother and burning his father’s house. The Counsel appearing for the Appellant stated that in the heat of the moment, Dahyabhai also threw mud on the people, and during that whole incident, sometimes he was really angry, and sometimes he was laughing out too loud.

Talking about the decision of the High court, the counsel appearing for the Appellant argued that however, they were unable to prove that the Accused was unsound when the offence took place, the High Court didn’t consider the fact that there was no mens rea while committing the offence. They argued that there was no existing Criminal Intention behind the said murder and it was enough to create a reasonable doubt in the mind of the Judge but this doubt was not considered by the High Court while pronouncing the verdict. 

ARGUMENTS PRESENTED BY RESPONDENT

It was argued by the State of Gujarat why the family members of the accused left him with his wife and had gone to Ahmedabad if the accused was facing the attack of insanity from 3 days of the incident. It was questioned that if someone had gone insane, why would his parent left. Questioning the statement of the family members, wherein they mentioned that they visited Ahmedabad to buy medicines for the accused, the Respondents argued that if there was any medical treatment going on, why that was not presented before the Court of Law. The Respondent also highlighted the point that if the attacks of insanity were so high, why both of his parents left him alone, and why his wife slept with him in a locked room. Why the accused was left alone with the victim when he used to believe that the victim was the reason for the death of his mother, was added by the Respondents.

JUDGEMENT

After listening to both sides and considering all the facts, the Apex Court observed that in the medical certificate of the accused it was mentioned that the accused was not insane and the said certificate was issued by the medical officer. Also in the other medical report which was issued by the superintendent of the mental hospital, Baroda it was mentioned that the accused was able to understand the court proceedings and was also capable of presenting his defence in the court. The facts that were presented were not able to prove that the accused has had insanity from the last 4-5 years and the reason why he suffered an attack of insanity at the time of the incident was that he wanted to avail the benefit of section 84 of IPC. Hence, the Apex Court found that the murder that took place was not because of insanity instead it was a planned murder.

Concluding it all, the Court found that the accused didn’t like his wife, and because of this when he was in Ahmedabad for his employment he didn’t take his wife with him. He wrote a letter to his father-in-law in which he mentioned that he didn’t like his daughter and he should take her daughter with him to her paternal house. In the reply his father-in-law said that he will come on 09/04/1959 and take his daughter to him, but, he didn’t come and because of the frustration caused by his non-arrival, the accused killed his wife. The proofs that were presented in the Court failed to establish that either the Accused was insane for the last 4-5 years or he was insane on the incident night. Hence, the court agreed with the decision of the High Court and hence the appeal is dismissed.

CONCLUSION

This case is related to Culpable Homicide amounting to Murder and Plea of Insanity. In such critical cases where there is the application of theories such as the burden of proof and reasonable doubts, it is very important as well as difficult for the Courts to recognize all the facts and shreds of evidence properly like whether one was unsound to such a level that the person was unable to know the nature and consequences of his act. In this case, while the Plea of insanity was filed by the Accused – Petitioner, there was no solid evidence to prove that the Accused was an unsound person. However, on the other hand, the pieces of evidence present at the site of the murder as well as the reports of the Accused were enough to prove that he was fit mentally as well as physically when the murder was committed and hence the decision was taken accordingly.

Author(s) Name: Alka Verma (Savitribai Phule Pune University)

References:

[1] ‘Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakker v. State of Gujarat’ (Law Insider 16 August 2021) <https://www.lawinsider.in/judgment/dahyabhai-chhaganbhai-thakker-vs-state-of-gujarat> accessed 12 February 2022

[2] Indian Penal Code, 1860, s 302