Ram Bahadur Thapa v. State of Orissa, AIR 1960 Ori 161, 1960 CriLJ 1349 is a historical case in which people used to trust in supernatural abilities. In this case, an occurrence occurred in which the accused took the defense based on the presence of supernatural objects such as ghosts. The court in this case considered whether the defense was valid or not.
The lawsuit focuses on an occurrence in which the respondent is accused of murdering one lady and causing grave harm to other women. Jagat bandhu chatterjee of the Calcutta firm Chatterjee Brothers paid a visit to Rasgovindpur, accompanied by his Nepali servant Ram bahadur thapa. They came in April 1958 with the intention of acquiring aeronautical. They stayed in a place where adivasis used to reside. Because those folks believed in ghosts and strange things a long time ago, there were reports that the airfield, or the area where they were staying, was haunted. Furthermore, they informed them that Tuesdays and Saturdays are the most dreadful days of the week. After hearing this, Jagat Bandhu (employer) and his servant, Ram Bahadur Thapa, became delighted since it was something new for them and they wanted to see the ghost. For this, they left on Tuesday, May 20, 1958, around midnight, escorted by their landlord Krishna Chandra Patro, who was from Rasgovindpur.
They were traveling when they noticed some flickering lights emerging out of the darkness in the distance. They thought it was a ghost signal because there were several moments when the wind was really rapid, giving them the sense of will o’ the wisp. The circumstances led them to assume that they were being watched by a ghost. Ram bahadur thapa, the respondent in this case, assaulted the woman in a hurry, mistaking her for a ghost. He was carrying ‘khurki,’ and he assaulted her with it, resulting in the woman’s death instantly.
During this episode, he assaulted and injured several ladies who were with the deceased woman. This event also caused harm to the landlord. He then discovered that there were girls’ majhis of the beauty, whom he assumed to be ghosts, and that they were collecting mahua flowers. Because of this occurrence, ram bahadur, the respondent, was charged with murder and severe bodily harm to others under sections 302, 324, and 326 of the Indian penal code. When this matter was initially presented to session court, the judge ordered the respondent’s acquittal. The victims then filed an appeal against the verdict, but the high court felt the session court’s conclusions were accurate and affirmed the acquittal order.
The following were the key issues in the case:
- Whether or whether the responder is protected by Section 79 of the IPC.
- Whether or whether the acquittal order was proper.
While determining the scope of “Good faith” and due care and attention, the court stated that it is dependent on the person’s intellectual attainments. There can be no universal norm of care and attention that applies to all people in all situations.
“The degree of care and caution must be determined according to the competence and intellect of the individual whose behavior is in issue,” the court said in the case of Emperor vs. Abdeol Wadood Ahmed. It is believed that a calm and philosophical mind will vary from a person enthralled by zeal and unskilled in thinking habits. The issue of good faith must be assessed in light of the accused’s position and the circumstances in which he acted. The law does not demand everyone to provide the same level of care and attention.”
The court determined that the act fell under the general exceptions to the criminal act set out in Chapter IV of the Indian Penal Code of 1860. The session judge felt that the facts and situation of the incident were as such, which is totally protected by the error of fact. Section 79 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 is a rescue clause that stipulates that if the conduct is committed due to a genuine misunderstanding of fact, there shall be no penalty. In this case, the error must be genuine, which implies it must be made in good faith. The advantage of section 79 IPC is only available to those who act in good faith when they make an error of fact. The court here is convinced that the scenario in which Nepali servant Mr. Ram Bahadur Thapa, i.e. the respondent, behaved cannot be described as negligence or mala fide, but that the act caused was done in good faith based on the facts and consideration of status.