Conviction of Meghalaya murder accused found medically unfit to stand trial overturned

The Meghalaya High Court is calling on the state government to review the capacity of district council judges before granting them power to deal with serious cases.

The Meghalaya High Court is calling on the state government to review the capacity of district council judges before granting them power to deal with serious cases.

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The Meghalaya High Court has overturned the judgment of a local court that found a man guilty of triple murder and sentenced him to 14 years simple imprisonment despite a medical report stating he was psychotic and medically unfit to be judge.

The High Court also criticized District Council judges and asked the state government to consider their quality and capacity before granting them power to deal with serious cases.

Meghalaya has three district councils covering areas dominated by as many matrilineal tribes. Each of these councils has courts authorized by the governor of the state.

On Tuesday, a divisional bench consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh observed that the District Council Court had “disregarded and deliberately ignored” medical reports while making the accused of the triple murder be judged.

The bench said “it appears the appellant is insane” as he was charged with committing the murder of his parents and a sibling. He said several documents revealed that the trial could not have taken place because there was a firm medical opinion that he was unfit to stand trial and required treatment.

“Despite the health report dated March 7, 2012, issued by the Senior Medical Officer, Psychiatrist, Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (MIMHANS), Shillong, forwarded to the Magistrate’s Court by the Superintendent of the District Jail, Shillong, under cover of a letter dated 14th March 2012, the Magistrate’s Court entered the Appellant’s statement without reference to his mental state or notice medical report to the court,” the court order said.

The FIR against the Appellant was filed on August 2, 2011 and he was arrested the following day. After an initial observation of his state of health, he was admitted to MIMHANS on September 20 of the same year.

“His medical condition report dated March 7, 2012 clearly stated that he was psychotic with no idea of ​​his own illness and was unfit to stand trial as he required long-term treatment to prevent further recurrence. deterioration,” the bench said.

The court said the conviction and sentencing of the man by the District Council Court on September 15, 2014, “without reference to applicable law and the relevant provision of the Criminal Code” cannot stand as they do not resemble not the result of a meaningful decision. or a reasonable decision-making process or indicate the most remote application of the spirit.

The court ordered the release of the man, sentenced in September 2014, and asked the authorities to admit him to a “genuine medical facility” run by the state.

“The case is sent back to the trial court to be dealt with in accordance with the law, taking into account in particular the requirements of section 329 of the Code. The trial court will not resume the trial…until an opinion of expert will not have been rendered in accordance with the law as to the fitness of the appellant to stand trial. In any event, even if the appellant is found fit to stand trial and repeats the confessions or confessions made previously, the trial court must review the evidence and use the confession as another piece of evidence and not as the only piece of evidence to convict the appellant,” says the Order.

The trial court was asked to respect the legal mandate and not arbitrarily invent a form of punishment for a particular offense unknown to the law.

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