In the last two months two people were attacked in South Bangalore. The first incident took place in BTM layout 1st stage where a woman was attacked by an intoxicated person and the recent attack in Jayanagar 4th T block by a man, suspected to be mentally unsound. In both cases, lodging FIRs was an uphill task.
Family members of both the victims are concerned the way the cases were handled and fear that these incidents might repeat in the near future.
On 18th July midnight, Suman’s (name changed upon request) family in Jayanagar woke up to loud screams of her father-in-law. It turned out that the elderly gentleman had heard some noise outside their house and stepped out to investigate.
If you are attacked by a mentally unsound or drunken person, here is what you need to know:
1. Most important, find a lawyer before you go to police because cases become really complicated.
2. IPC sections applicable 84, 85, 308, 325 and sometimes 307
When is the attacker liable to be punished
If the accused is not able to prove that at the time of committing crime that there was a temporary insanity caused by illness, or s/he was intoxicated due to voluntary alcohol or drug use.
When is the attacker not liable to be punished
If he/she is proved an ‘idiot’ or mentally challenged, or a lunatic (permanent), or a proven case of temporary insanity caused by illness, or a proven case of temporary intoxication due to alcohol or drug administered to him/her without his/her knowledge or against his/her will.
Compiled from the inputs from Vijay Kumar, Independent Lawyer, Karnataka High Court.
Suman says, “My father-in-law mistook him (the intruder) for a thief and went outside his room. Upon confrontation, the culprit hit my father-in-law with a wooden club on his right ear.”
The culprit then tried to run away. When Suman telephoned the police for help, she says, they told her that the culprit is mentally deranged and simply scaring him away would do. Suman had to persuade the police to come down.
The residents claim that the police initially told them that they cannot hold him criminally liable for the act because of his mental state.
The family was initially reluctant to file a complaint but when the police insisted on it, they agreed. But they say that the constable who took down the details, made it sound like the victim confronted the accused without any provocation and hence the scuffle.
The family objected to this and rephrased the complaint. The police claim that they have filed an FIR. But Suman’s family does not have a copy of this.
Citizen Matters spoke to S K Umesh, Inspector, Jayanagar Police Station, about the case. He says that the case has been booked under IPC section 324 on 24th July and says that the delay was caused by victim’s family.
He also denies that the police knew the culprit. He adds, “the accused has been kept under supervision in an NGO, as he is not in a position to even talk. We will present him to magistrate within a week’s time.”
He did however agree that cases like these are time consuming.
What happens post apprehension?
After apprehension the person is brought in front of the judicial magistrate. If investigating officer has found the suspect unsound then s/he could bring it to the notice of the Magistrate.
If the Magistrate finds him lunatic he can either stay the criminal proceeding or refer to an institution for an expertise handling of such issues.
If the accused is under the influence of alcohol/drugs then the Magistrate could refer him to state government appointed Medical Officer
But if defense of insanity is taken (a) at the stage of trial & (b) the said trial is before the Sessions Court, then::
(a) The fact of unsoundness and incapacity are to be tried in the first instance by the Court.
(b) The trial of the ‘fact of insanity’ how even, forms part of the trial before the Court; and
(c) The Court would ordinarily take the necessary evidence before proceeding to a finding.
Another attack, another delay in FIR
Dr Amrita Karnik, a Mumbai resident, was in Bangalore on June 27th. In the evening, while she was out shopping with her mother-in-law, a man attacked her with a knife, without any provocation. Amritha’s arm was badly injured in the attack and the attacker fled.
She was rushed to Sagar Apollo Hospital. Amrita says, a constable from Tilak Nagar Police Station limits dropped in at midnight to persuade her to not to register a complaint. She says, “The police asked my husband not to lodge a complaint as it would attract lot of trouble.”
Under pressure, from her family and friends, the FIR was eventually lodged at MICO Layout police station, under whose jurisdiction the crime was committed.
The criminal was eventually caught and booked under IPC section 324. Amrita is unhappy about this. She adds, “That was surely an attempt to murder under IPC 307. The man wanted to stab me on my neck but somehow I blocked it and my right arm was stabbed.”
The police say, “Sometimes the intention and gravity of injury also matters. We have to investigate further to book a case under 307.”
He also said that since the attacker was inebriated and was not of sound mind at the time, he could easily file for bail, under the IPC section 84. Under this section, a person who was under the influence of any intoxicating substance at the time of crime may not be held responsible for it.
What the law says
Legal professionals in the city says that the police ought to register a case at the first instance and follow the strict guidelines to deal with mentally ill suspects.
Bangalore based high court lawyer, Vijay Kumar Y H, who handles criminal cases, suggests two options if the police is reluctant to do so. He says, “People may approach magistrate court and lodge a private complaint. This will enable them to get an update on the status of investigation or one can file a writ petition in the high court for a proper investigation.”⊕