Mens rea is required, to prove the crime under Section 304 IPC: High Court of Patna

The petitioner apprehended arrest under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, “Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.—Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of  description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.” The petition is in connection with Shahpur PS Case No. 210 of 2020 dated 04.07.2020.

In the High Court of Judicature at Patna, this judgement was given by Honorable Mr Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah on the 24th of September 2021 in the case of Chandra Prakash Gupta @ Bablu  Versus the State of Bihar, [Criminal Miscellaneous No. 97 of 2021] Mr Choubey Jawahar represented as the advocate for the petitioner, Ms Suman Kumari Singh represented the State of Bihar as the additional Public Prosecutor, Mr Nitya Nand Tiwary represented as the advocate for the informant, the proceedings of the court were held via video conference.

The case relates to the facts, wherein the petitioner who is the owner of a medicine shop was accused of administrating a wrong medicine which caused the death of the informant’s nephew who was ill and was administered an injection due to which the condition deteriorated but however he died.

The counsel representing the petitioner held that even since 2004 he has been the owner of the medicine shop and there has been no such complaint and he has been falsely implicated in the present allegation. The counsel further held that the petitioner in bona fide faith administered the medicine with regard to the illness and the petitioner while constituting his duty had no element of mens rea (guilty mind) and motive to cause the death of the informant’s nephew. The petitioner was the one who arranged to send the deceased to health care. The counsel held that there has been a compromise petition filed by the informant stating that there is no grievance against the petitioner and because he was not in a proper state of mind the name of the petitioner was given. Even after investigation, the witnesses have submitted that the petitioner is innocent.

The Court had directed the APP to obtain the up-to-date legible photocopy of the entire case diary of Shahpur PS Case No. 210 of 2020, from the Superintendent of Police, Bhojpur along with the post mortem report and the same was submitted. The Additional Public Prosecutor held that it is not controverted that the post-mortem does not disclose that the petitioner committed the crime, however, there has been allegation for the wrong injection.

The counsel for the informant held that the name of the petitioner was mentioned in the FIR due to some misconception and non-recognition of the petitioner and even the informant held that he does not hold the petitioner responsible for the death of his nephew and a compromise petition has been filed.

The Honourable Court held that since there does not appear any mens rea element in the crime. The petitioner administered the medicine in bona fide faith had he was only the proprietor of a medicine shop and later on, the informant himself filing a compromise petition before the Court stating that “due to misconception and being told by somebody present there, he had named the petitioner and alleged certain things against him but having realized that he has no role in the death of his nephew.” Therefore, the Court is inclined to allow the prayer for pre-arrest bail.

The Honourable Court concluded that “The petitioner will be released on bail upon furnishing bail bonds of Rs. 25,000/- (twenty-five thousand) with two sureties to Chief Judicial Magistrate, subject to the conditions laid down in Section 438(2) Cr.P.C., 1973, (i) that one of the bailors shall be a close relative of the petitioner and (ii) that the petitioner shall co-operate with the Court and police/prosecution The petition stands disposed of in the aforementioned terms.”

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Judgment reviewed by – A. Beryl Sugirtham 

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