Is Insanity As A Defence Insane?
The concept of “responsibility” becomes known with most of the cases
involving human conduct and existence of guilt, knowledge of the act and its
consequences. A person thoroughly oblivious about its surrounding, or unaware of
the excellence between right and wrong, isn’t the one to punish. According to
the legal maxim ‘actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea,’ for an act to be
considered illegal, the person accused should do it with a guilty mind and not
just a physical act. Under the Constitution of India, it is a violation of basic
human and fundamental rights if a person is punished for an act for which he is
Also, if the person is not able to protect/defend himself in court of law, it
naturally evokes the principle of natural justice. The incapacity of person to
commit a crime exempts him from getting punished by the court. Under Indian
constitution, Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with “act of a
person of unsound mind” along with discussing Insanity as a defence.
Historical Perspective Of Insanity In India
The insanity defence law, also known as mental disorder defence in some
countries, has been present in India since ages; however, the topic took a legal
position in the last three centuries. Earlier many tests were done to declare a
person legally insane such as the Wild Beast test, The Insane Delusion Test and
“test of capacity to distinguish between right and wrong. These three tests were
in fact the foundation for the landmark Mc Naughten rule.
The Mc Naughten is a legendary precedent for the law concerning the defence of
insanity. Even in India, the section 84 IPC was solely based on this rule, since
then no changes were made, but there was an attempt in 1971 by the Law
commission of India to revisit the Section 84 but no changes were made.
For analysis of the Section 84 IPC, the essential ingredients can be listed such
as it can be easily divided into two broad categories that is major and minor
criteria. The major criteria includes medical requirement of mental illness
which means that the accused should suffering from a mental illness during the
commission of the act and in minor criteria, loss of reasoning requirement which
means the accused is incapable to understand the nature of the act or incapable
of knowing that his act is wrong or incapable of knowing that his act is
contrary to law.
Distinction Between Medical And Legal Insanity
Section 84 of the IPC sets out the liability test as distinguished from the
medical test. It is often observed that the absence of will arises not only from
the absence of understanding maturity but also from a morbid state of mind. This
morbid mind condition, which provides an exemption from criminal responsibility,
differs from the medical and legal point of view. consistent with the medical
point of view, it's probably correct to mention that each person, when
committing a criminal act, is insane and thus needs an exemption from criminal
responsibility; while it's a legal point of view, an individual must be held to
be an equivalent as long as he's ready to distinguish between right and wrong;
as long as he knows that the act administered is contrary to the law.
It has been ruled by the Supreme Court that “mentally ill” people and
psychopaths are unable to hunt immunity from a criminal case, because it is
their responsibility to demonstrate insanity at the time the crime was
committed. So, in practice, not everyone who is unsound is exempt from criminal
liability. There has got to be a distinction between legal insanity and medical
insanity. “Arijit Pasayat and therefore the Bench of Justices, DK Jain, stated
while upholding the life conviction of a person who stop his wife’s head.
The mere abnormality of mind, partial delusion, compulsion, or compulsive
behaviour of a psychopath doesn't provide protection from prosecution as
provided by the apex court held Section 84 of the Indian legal code (IPC). The
Bench stated that Section 84 of the IPC, which provides immunity from
prosecution to persons of unsound mind, wouldn't be available to an accused,
because the burden of proving insanity would roll in the hay them, as provided
in Section 105 of the Indian Evidence.
There are usually two types of insanity, first, Temporary Insanity, where a
person is insane for a specific period. This type of insanity usually includes
depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorder, or any kind of addictive
disorder. In this case there are usually two possible outcomes, that is ‘not
guilty because insane’ or ‘guilty but cannot be tried because insane.’ The
second type of insanity is Permanent Insanity, where a person has suffered from
a mental disorder continuously. Usually the accused doesn’t understand the
gravity of the situation ad commits the crime.
The insanity defence law does have some positive aspect as it does not allow the
death penalty to the accused. In some cases, accused may even be exempted from
any from suffering any Jail- term as everything depends upon his status of mind.
As the accused is unable to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong,
this might end up becoming a supporting or opposing factor in his defence of
insanity. So, calling this law insane completely is wrong.
But, many times to escape the acquittal or punishment the accused might misuse
this law as sometimes it becomes difficult to prove the accused is insane or
not. Also, the law seems to be quite expensive since to prove the innocence of
the accused, it is important for the court to hire a specialist.
Case Of Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy was a smart and attractive one that had a future in the politics, but
he was also one of the most prime serial killers within the U.S history. When he
was tried for his crimes, him and his attorney decided on an insanity plea but
it did not work. Ted Bundy was electrocuted by the state of Florida on 24
Kamala Bhuniya V. State Of West Bengal
The Kamala Bhuniya was tried for her husband’s murder with an axis. A suit was
filed against the accused, she claimed to be insane at the time of the incident,
the investigating officer recorded at the initial stage about the accused’s
mental insanity. The prosecution’s duty was to organise for the accused’s
medical examination, it was held that there was no motive for murder. The was no
attempt to flee by the accused, nor she made any attempt to remove the
Failure on the part of the prosecution was to discharge his initial
responsibility for the presence of mens-rea in the accused at the time of the
commission of the offence. The accused was authorised to benefit from Section
84. And hence, the accused was proved insane at the time of the commission of
the offence and was held guilty of Culpable Homicide and not of Murder.
According to me, I think there should be a well-defined definition for this law
to avoid the confusion and the controversies that arises with it. Also, the
Insanity Defence law is indeed Insane because it is the most powerful weapon for
the criminals to escape the punishment and it is almost impossible to prove the
mental status of a human being while committing the offence. This law is not
only based on mental insanity but also Legal Insanity.
Law Article in India
You May Like
Legal Question & Answers