"Me Lord! I have a delusion that I am Mahatma Gandhi and somebody is going to kill me. Under this delusion, I attempted to kill a man."
This is how a convict tried to hoodwink the Delhi high court to seek his acquittal.
The court dismissed the plea, stating he couldn’t be acquitted as it was not proved that he suffered from the delusion at the time of committing the crime.
Passing the order justice Sunita Gupta sentenced Raj Ballabh to seven years in jail and fined him Rs 500 for attempting to kill the man (he referred to) near Rajghat, New Delhi on February 18, 2003.
She observed, “A person labouring under a delusion or a psychological or a psychiatric ailment would not be entitled to be acquitted on the ground of insanity unless it is established that at the time when the crime was committed he was suffering from the delusion, psychological or psychiatric condition and was incapable of knowing the nature of his or her act. Or that he was not knowing that what he was doing was wrong or contrary to law."
Ballabh had also claimed he had undergone treatment at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences and remained an indoor patient in 1999.
However, the court said the accused took the plea of insanity belatedly only at the time of recording of testimonies of defence witnesses and not when prosecution witnesses were being examined during the trial.
It also said the failed attempt of accused to flee from the crime scene was "suggestive of the fact that he understood the consequences of his acts. That being so, he is not entitled to get benefit of Section 84 (insane or a person suffering any psychological disorder at the time of offence cannot be convicted) of the IPC."
There is a "distinction between medical insanity and legal insanity" and the legal protection can be accorded if there is proof that "the cognitive faculties" of accused were being impaired at the time of commission of offence, the court said.
The accused claimed he was suffering from delusional disorder, an uncommon psychiatric condition in which patients suffer from non-bizarre delusions, but with no accompanying prominent hallucinations, thought disorder, mood disorder or significant flattening of affect, it said.
The court added that the lack of motive for the crime was irrelevant as the testimonies of eye witnesses were cogent and reliable.
"It is settled law that when the testimony of eye witness is reliable, cogent and inspire confidence, absence of motive pales into insignificance. Absolutely no enmity, ill-will or grudge has been alleged either against Amit Goyal (victim) or Sushil Kumar (victim's driver) or the police officials for which reason they will falsely implicate the appellant in this case."
"Moreover, the appellant was apprehended at the spot and the weapon of offence was recovered from his possession," it said.