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Delusional Gandhi-incarnate seeks relief in attempt to murder case

The Delhi high court has rejected the appeal of a person, Raj Ballabh, sentenced to seven years imprisonment for attempting to kill a man near Rajghat in 2003. Ballabh has sought acquittal and said that at the time of the incident, he was suffering from delusional disorder, which made he believe that he was  an incarnation of Mahatma Gandhi and that somebody was going to kill him. He said it was under this delusion that the offence might have been committed. He said that he is entitled to the benefit under the law and deserves to be acquitted of the offence for which he has already served his sentence.

Dismissing his plea, justice Sunita Gupta said, 'A person laboring 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 act or that he was not knowing that what he was doing was wrong or contrary to law'.
Raj Ballabh had also claimed that he had undergone treatment in the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences and remained an indoor patient in 1999.

The court said that he was not mentally fit to understand his action is not believable. 'Rather the action of the appellant in trying to run away after committing the crime itself is suggestive of the fact that he understood the consequences of his acts. That being so, he is not entitled to get the benefit of section 84 of IPC', said the court.

The defence of insanity is recognised in India by virtue of section 84 of the IPC which says that nothing is an offence which is done by a person who at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.

The court observed while dismissing Raj Ballabh's claims, 'There is a distinction between medical insanity and legal insanity. From a doctor's point of view a patient of schizophrenia would be treated as a mentally sick person. But for the purposes of section 84 IPC such a person would escape being classified as a normal person and to be trated insane vis-a-vis the offence only on proof of the cognitive faculties being impaired at the relevant time i.e. at the time the crime was committed'.

The court also observed that he 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.
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