Citations- AIR 1960 Ori 161
Bench- R.L. Narasimham, C.J. and S.Barman, J.
Appellant- State of Orissa
Respondent- Ram Bahadur Thapa
Court- Orissa High Court
This is an appeal brought by the State of Orissa against an order of acquittal made by the Sessions Judge of Mayurbhanj in a case brought against the respondent under sections 302, 324, and 326 I.P.C. named Rum Bahadur Thapa.
The Respondent was charged under Sec. 302 I.P.C. for the murder of Gelhi Majhiani, under Sec. 326 I.P.C. for having caused grievous hurt to P.Ws 27 and 28 and under Sec. 324 I.P.C. for having caused hurt to P.W. 26. The learned Sessions Judge decided to acquit the defendant based on Section 79 of the I.P.C. because he believed that the respondent committed the alleged crimes while acting in the mistaken belief that he was attacking ghosts rather than people.
● One Jagat Bandhu Chatterjee (P.W. 29) came to Rasgovindpur in Balasore district accompanied by his servant named Ram Bahadur Thapa in April 1958 for the purpose of purchasing the abandoned aerodrome’s aeroscrap.
The area around it is infamous for being infested with ghosts. They both stayed in the house of Krishna Chandra Patro (P.W. 26), who was keeping a tea stall in the village.
● Jagat Bandhu Chatterji and his servant(Respondent) were anxious to see the ghosts. Hence at midnight, they persuaded Krishna Chandra Patro to accompany them to see the ghosts. They observed a flickering light in the distance as they were moving through camp No. IV.
● There was a strong wind blowing, and the movement of the light in that breeze created in them an impression that it was not an ordinary light. They discovered some specters roaming around the flickering light as well.
● The Respondent reached there first and began to attack the ghost with his his’Khurki’. Krishna Chandra Patro arrived there sometime later, but the respondent did not notice him, and one of his Khurki blows caused a severe injury to Krishna Chandra Patro, who screamed aloud.
● Other injured people began to scream out in pain at the same time, and the respondent ceased hitting the victims after that. It was found that the people he attacked and hurt were some local female Majhis who had gathered under a "Mohua" tree. hurricane lantern for the purpose of collecting ‘Mohua’ flowers.
● One Gelhi Majhiani was killed as a result of the respondent's indiscriminate attack, and two other women, Ganga Majhiani (P.W. 28) and Saunri Majhiani (P.W. 27), suffered severe injuries. Krishna Chandra Patro also sustained injuries.
● Whether the respondent acted without due care and attention.
● Is the respondent protected under Sec. 79 of I.P.C.
● Whether the question of good faith be considered with reference to the position of the accused and the circumstances under which he acts.
● The High Court ruled that the defendant was protected by Section 79 I.P.C. since it could be reasonably inferred from the circumstances of how the apparition appeared before him and his predisposition that he thought he was fighting a ghost and not a person.
● It is clear that the respondent is protected by Section 79 I.P.C. based on the testimony of the prosecution witnesses.
● The fact that the incident may have been avoided if he had taken further precautions is not enough to disqualify him from the protection provided by that clause. As a result, the judgement of acquittal is upheld, and the appeal is dismissed.
According to the capability and intelligence of the individual whose action is under scrutiny, the appropriate level of care and caution must be determined. Regarding the accused's position and the circumstances surrounding his actions, the issue of good faith must be taken into account. No matter what position a person holds, the law does not seek the same level of care and attention from everyone.
This article is written by Kanishk Chopra of National Law University, Delhi.