NATIONAL

Insanity can’t be sole ground for bail: SC

Insanity cannot be the sole ground for release of a murder convict from jail as he may use the leeway given to him to commit another murder, the Supreme Court observed while hearing a bail plea.

A Bench led by Justice T.S. Thakur on Friday orally observed that rather than letting out such a person, he should be placed in a mental hospital for treatment.

The court made the observation while dealing with an application for bail filed by the mother of Ramesh Babu, a murder convict from Tamil Nadu sentenced to life imprisonment, on the ground of unsoundness of mind.

“Insanity cannot be the sole ground for release. Who will take care of him? He committed the murder when he was insane, he is still insane and if he will be released then he may commit another murder,” Justice Thakur said.

M. Shanthi, the mother, relied on Section 335 of the Prisoners Act to submit that her son suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and required bail for treatment. The provision mandated keeping an insane person in safe custody. The application for bail came in the backdrop of a pending appeal challenging the Madras High Court of September 2009, confirming his life term.

“We may acquit him [in future] but he should be kept in a mental hospital. How can he be released? Who will take care of him? His mother is an old lady, somebody has to take care of him,” the Bench observed.

The court, however, has sought a response from the Tamil Nadu police within four weeks.

Ramesh, a mechanical engineer, chopped a man to death at a church in St. Thomas Mount, Chennai, on November 26, 2006. He had entered a book stall in the church and attacked the manager, Jacob Fernando, with a knife and killed him.

According to his mother, Ramesh studied B.E. Mechanical at Anna University and got employment at Tamil Nadu Petrochemicals Limited. However, he developed some mental problem.

The Madras High Court had confirmed the conviction and sentence of Ramesh, rejecting the plea of unsoundness of mind, saying “he had ventured to attack the victim to death, actuated by religious fanaticism”.

“Mere abnormality of mind or partial delusion affords no protection under Section 84 IPC. The accused had abnormal behaviour and was under treatment till the beginning of the year 2005 and thereafter remained mentally fit,” the HC said.



‘We may acquit him in future but he should be kept in a mental hospital’



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