15 November 2020

Absence of proof of motive creates a doubt regarding the mens rea entitling the accused for an acquittal

Mens rea of the accused has much relevance in a case when the benefit under Section 84 IPC has been pleaded by an accused. So when the prosecution in this case failed to prove any motive behind the incident it would also raise a reasonable doubt of mens rea in doing the act. So as per the proposition of law laid down above, it would be a fact which creates a reasonable doubt entitling the accused to get the benefit of the exception.
Absence of proof of motive creates a doubt regarding the mens rea entitling the accused for an acquittal
In other words absence of proof of motive from the side of the prosecution creates a doubt in the mind of the court regarding the mens rea entitling the accused for an acquittal.[Para No.44]

    Though the contention of the learned counsel for the accused that medical evidence adduced from the side of the prosecution would not prove the unsoundness of mind at the time of the commission of the offence even if accepted the attending circumstances brought out during the oral evidence of the witnesses coupled with the medical evidence would create a reasonable suspicion about the soundness of the mind of the accused at the time of commission of the act. That also would enable the accused for benefit of doubt entitling for an acquittal on the ground that the general burden of proof resting on the prosecution is not discharged.[Para No.45]

    In this context, the decision cited by the learned counsel for the appellant in Joseph Mathai @ Jose v. State of Kerala [2019 KHC 934] is relevant to be quoted. In that case while dealing with Section 84 of IPC, 1860 it has been held that if previous history of insanity of accused is revealed during investigation, investigating officer has a duty to subject the accused to a medical examination and place that evidence before court and if it is not done, it creates a serious infirmity in prosecution case and benefit of doubt has to be given to accused.[Para No.47]

    Only because of the inaction of the investigating officer that the treatment records at Nakkada Medical Mission Hospital, Thiruvalla could not be brought in evidence. The investigating officers are very well aware that he had been undergoing treatment at Nakkada Medical Mission Hospital and also Medical College Hospital, Kottayam, Psychiatry Wing. But no attempt was made from the side of the prosecution to probe into that matter and bring the materials with regard to the treatment undergone by the accused in the hospitals for his illness before the court. So that is a serious infirmity and benefit of doubt on that account as held in the above decision has to be given to the accused.[Para No.53]

Kerala High Court

E.P.Paul @ Roy
State Of Kerala

Decided on 11/11/2020

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