The life sentence of a man from Oros tehsil of Sindhudurg district was set aside by the Bombay high court recently, on the ground that he was insane when he murdered his wife in February 2004.
A division bench of justice Vijaya Kapse-Tahilramani and justice Sadhana Jadhav set Ravindra Gawas free primarily on the plea of insanity.
The bench found, that the man had a history of insanity and was incapable of understanding the consequences of his acts. Thus, Gawas was entitled to the benefit of exception under section 84 of the Indian Penal Code.
According to the prosecution, the victim was speaking to a neighbour on February 4, 2004, at Zolambe in Oros tehsil, when Gawas came out of the house and wanted to know what they were talking about.
He then dragged her into the house, and asked her to lie down in the courtyard and assaulted her with a log. The woman, a mother of two, died on the spot.
On April 8, 2005, a trial court in Sindhudurg held him guilty of murdering his wife over a petty issue and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Gawas went on to appeal in the high court where his counsel, Yug Mohit Choudhary, contended that the convict was entitled to benefit of exemption as envisaged under section 84 of the IPC on the ground of insanity.
Choudhary pointed to evidence from the superintendent of Regional Mental Hospital, Ratnagiri, that Gawas was being treated at the hospital from 1998 and probably had an attack of insanity when he murdered his wife.
Apart from this evidence, the bench also noted the conduct of the convict after the incident when he stood there for nine hours instead of trying to flee.
“An accused person would either run away from the scene of crime or at least attempt to run. But, in this case, the appellant continued to stand in the house from 12.30pm to 09.30pm. This shows that mental condition of the appellant was not stable at the time,” the bench observed.