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Intoxication As A Defence Under IPC

Intoxication is a condition in which a person's mental and physical state is demonic due to the consumption of alcohol or a narcotic substance. It is commonly known as state of being intoxicated. In this state of intoxication, the person is not able to understand whether what he or she is doing is right or wrong and he is unable to understand consequences of his or her actions. He is neither able to control his actions and he is not able to react in a particular way.

Legally, alcohol intoxication is often defined as a concentration of alcohol in the blood greater than 5.4-17.4 mmol/L.A constant blood alcohol of more than 0.80% is a life threatening as well as it can result in the death of a person.

The concept of intoxication under IPC:
Intoxication is covered by general exceptions, i.e. Chapter IV of the CPI. As a general rule, a person is excluded from criminal liability for specific reasons such as intoxication, insanity, consent, etc. The burden of proof rests with the accused to prove the point of exception. Normally, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution to convict the accused of a criminal offence. But in this case, the accused must prove that the reason why he should be exempt from criminal liability.

This is based on the concept that an innocent man should not be held responsible for an offence that is guilty only if it is not proven. Section 85 and 86 deal with general exception of intoxication.
  1. Section 85, Indian penal code:
    'Act of a person who is unable to judge against his will for any reason of poisoning: nothing is an offence committed by a person who, at the time of the offence, is the result of poisoning, is unable to know the nature of the act, or who is doing the wrong thing or is in breach of the law, provided that the that what intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge or according to his will."

    This section refers to offences in which the person is involuntarily intoxicated, which means that the intoxicating substance is administered against his own will or has no knowledge of the intoxicating substances. This suggests that the substance should be forcibly administered to him, or he should either not know that the substance given to him is intoxicating. The person should be intoxicated at the time of that act or before the commission of such an offence.He should not be aware of the consequences of the such an act that act he is doing is wrong or contrary to law.
  2. Section 86, Indian Penal Code:
    An offence that requires some intent or knowledge committed by someone who is drunk. In cases where the act is a criminal offence, unless there is some knowledge or intent, a person who is intoxicated may be treated as if he had the same knowledge as he would have ,if he hadn't been intoxicated, unless the thing that intoxicated him was administered to him without knowledge or against his will.

    In the cases where the person is intoxicated but if act is done with a particular knowledge or intention that he will be prosecuted for the same offence which he would have done without intake of any intoxicating substance. In this case , both the knowledge and intention are taken as an important factors. If the person is capable of understanding what he has done or he has caused injury to other person knowingly or he is in his full senses & then, he will be prosecuted for the offence as 'normal person'.
  3. Foreseeability Test:
    This test is laid down to see if a person can be held liable for an offence. A person loses control over his actions as soon as he consumes an intoxicating substance. But when a person voluntarily takes alcohol then this shows that he has been acting negligently and he wants to lose the control. If he wanted to be in the control then he has the option to stop consumption if he knows that the further consumption will lead to the loss of control & this evidently shows the intention of a person. But this is not so in case of the involuntary intoxication, so it is taken into account as a general defence under IPC.

    A person will not be liable for an offence only when he is not understand the foreseeable events that will lead him in the commission of the offence. If the intoxicated person has committed the offence of murder & he tries to run away from that place as soon as the offence is committed then only we can understand that person is able to walk properly & he foresees that he will be held guilty of murder & he will be held liable for the offence of murder.
  4. Involuntary intoxication:
    Section 86 refers to both the knowledge and intent of a person who commits the act when the accused is intoxicated. This section talks about the state of involuntary intoxication. The defence of wilful intoxication cannot be taken in the commission of a crime. But there are two cases where voluntary intoxication can be said to act at least as a mitigating factor. The first is a crime where a specific intent is required.

    If the accused has consumed alcohol a lot, he is not in a position to do the act, he will be exempted from the offence. In the event that, if a particular person is not there and has committed the act in the influence of alcohol, then the offence is not murder, but culpable homicide that does not constitute murder. But under high intoxication also the person is able to form the intention then he will be responsible for the murder.

    Involuntary intoxication excludes mens rea:
    In case of Director of Public Prosecutions vs. Beard [1], the accused raped & murdered a thirteen year old girl & took the plea of intoxication. It was held by the hon'ble court that the intoxication may only be a basis for defence ,only if the accused was not able to form the mens rea.It means that involuntarily intoxication excludes the mental element i.e., mens rea.

    The example in the case of:
    Mavari Surya Satyanarayana vs state of Andhra Pradesh[2] :
    In this case, the accused suspected that his wife had had an extramarital affair & he fought with his wife. That day he consumed alcohol in a huge amount that he poured kerosene on his wife and tried to set her on fire. In a way his wife escaped, but the accused grabbed her and poured kerosene on her again and set her on fire. She died on the given these injuries and he defended the intoxication. But the Supreme Court rejected his defence, stating that he had failed to burn his wife and he was able enough to run behind her and catch her to perform her heinous act.

    The Supreme Court found him guilty and converted his punishment sec.304 Part II i.e. the 10-year sentence to sec. 302 death or life imprisonment. The second is that sometimes the accused's mind is in a diseased state where the person is unable to take care of his actions and even think anything Properly. M'Naughton's rules were invoked in this case, which states that the a person's intention must be taken into account at the time of the Crime.

    And this point is well explained in the case of:
    DPP V. Beard [3]:
    In this case, the accused was intoxicated and raped an underage girl. He placed his hand on the girl's mouth and the other on her throat. As a result, the girl death by suffocation & he made a plea that he was unable to understand the consequences of the act. But the court found him guilty of the offence of murder under the Section 300 because this act of suffocation was different from the act of rape and it intending to kill the girl.

    So we can say that voluntary intoxication is a mitigation factor and, in some cases, this is an aggravating factor. In cases where the person is heavily drunk and he will not be able to form an intention for the commission of the act and then voluntary intoxication can be a mitigating factor.

    But in most cases, it will be a aggravating factor because people will be encouraged to commit a crime & escape punishment by taking plea of voluntary intoxication. In the case of regular offenders voluntary intoxication is aggravating factor & also mean that increased alcohol consumption and finally increase the crime rate.
  5. Ingredients of section 86 of the Indian Penal code:
    The ingredients of section 86 of the IPC are as follows:
    • The Presence of the element of particular intention or knowledge
    • It should be influenced by the use of an intoxicating substance
    • The intoxicating substance must be administered without knowledge or against his will.
    This section deals with cases where knowledge and intent are important. An intoxicated person has same level of knowledge as a sober person. Knowledge of person will not be affected by intoxication & can be seen as a constant point in the case of a person's intoxication.

    The thing that will vary is the the person's intention. The facts of the case must be presumed in order to determine a person's intention. Most of the time, the presumption is taken when a person has knowledge, then he will obviously intend to do a particular act. But the intention is a complicated factor & depends on different cases.

    In the case of R v kingston[4]; the facts are that the respondent was in conflict with a couple on a business matter. The couple wanted to ruin the respondent's image& they employed a boy named Penn. The couple knew that the respondent had Paedophiliac tendencies, that is, he had sexual tendencies among men. According to the plan, he called a boy in a secluded room.

    Penn administered some drugs to the boy because of which he became unconscious. The respondent went into the room and was intoxicated as a result. The respondent committed sexual acts with the boy and photographs were also taken.

    According to the boy, he doesn't remember anything after the the drug was administered to him. The court found the accused guilty of the offence of because he was not so intoxicated that he was unable to form required intention to do this particular act, even if there was involuntary intoxication. Mens rea which was necessary in this case. The accused pleaded that he was not possible to form an intention in these circumstances but the court rejected his defence.
  6. Ingredients of section 85 of the Indian penal code:
    According to IPC Section 85, nothing is an offence that includes:
    • There should be the presence of an act of the person
    • The person must be unable to know the nature of the act
    • Disability must be the result of a person's intoxication
    • Intoxication must be administered without one's will or even without one's Knowledge
    • Such incapacity should be there at the time of the act
    Based on the ingredients , it can be seen that an offence or an act of should be committed at a time ,when the effect of the intoxicating substance is there on the accused. The accused should not have the knowledge or should be unaware of the fact that the thing administered to him was an intoxicating substance or substance mixed with an intoxicant. The defence of intoxication can only be taken when the person has no intention of doing the act.

    The proof of quantity and the circumstances of drunkenness must be taken into action while holding the accused guilty of the crime. The nature of the crime & the harm caused must also be taken into account. The force that was implicit, that is, the the extent of the brutality committed by the accused at the time of the commission of the offence may also be be considered an important factor.
  7. Burden of proof:
    This article is in i.p.c is covered in Part IV which are the general defenses to Offences. The onus is on the accused & not on prosecution. It must prove that the intoxication was by involuntary means & intoxicating substance was not consumed by his voluntarily. He must also prove that he had not any knowledge or intention to do this particular act. The facts and circumstances have also to be proved by the accused who led him to commit such an offence.
  8. Dutch courage rule:
    This is based on the theory that people consume not only alcohol for pleasure, but also to tackle depression & forget pain or pain and to escape this worldly pain and depression. In this imagination, he imagines himself as overcoming these problems courageously. Thus, people often also consume alcohol to develop courage. Drinking causes a feeling of self-resistance and also takes away the ability to think this it does is illegal. The person before drinking, i.e. voluntary intoxication, plans what he or she must do and also builds the courage to do this thing. This rule is known as rule of courage. This rule governs only the principle of voluntary intoxication. This shows that that a person intends & also earlier plan to do the act.

    Role of Judiciary:
    • Basudev v state of pepsu[5]:
      In this case, the accused, who is a retired military officer & the deceased attend a wedding ceremony in the village & mid day meal was going on. Some have been sat in the chair and some were sitting on the floor. The deceased who is a 13-year-old boy years, sat in a chair. The accused came and asked this boy to get up from his place that the boy refused. The accused, who was intoxicated, pulled a pistol out of his pocket & shot the boy. The injuries were fatal and the boy died at the scene. In court, the accused defended the influence of high intoxication and has not been able to understand the circumstances his act. The court rejected his plea, stating that the accused himself house and he was able to walk so that he would have had the ability to predict the consequences of the act. The court found him guilty under section 300 of the IPC i.e. is murder.
    • ShankarJV. state of west Bengal[6]:
      In this case, the defendant was under the effect of intoxication & he began to abuse the victim. The victim asked accuded to leave. But he got angry & stabbed him seven times which resulted in the death of the victim. Then he took the defense of intoxication. The court responded to his plea that just because a person is drunk he cannot be excused from the crime of murder.
    • Venkappa v. state of Karnataka[7]:
      In this case the accused's son died in an accident & there was a compensation of 1 lakhs in the name of of accused's wife. The accused's wife refused to withdraw the money. Then accused got angry & under the influence of intoxication burnt his wife. And she died because of the injuries. Then the accused took the defence of intoxiocation. But his plea was rejected by the court stating that intoxication was a voluntary intoxication.
    • Bablu mubarik Hussain v. state of Rajasthan [8]:
      In this case, the Supreme Court examined Sec. 85 of IPC & held that evidence of drunkenness, proof that the accused was incapable of wrongful intent should also be considered, along with the other facts & then the the accused person has the intention to commit the crime.Just proving that his mind was affected by the intoxication that led to violent behaviour doesn't disapprove of a man's natural consequences of that action. The court rejected the defendant's plea because it was a very brutal and diabolical act.
    • Bhagwan Tukaram Dange v. state of Maharashtra[9]:
      In this case, the accused along with his father burned his wife to death for the dowry, under the influence of intoxication & was also charged along with his father under section 302, 498A . Both accused & the father came to the house completely drunk also demanded rupees two hundred from the victim but he victim refused and was beaten up by both. The court had no reason to take into account the counsel's contention that the case will be covered by Article 304, Part I or II because the suspect was under the influence of alcohol. The court ruled that the accused was correctly depressed under section 302 of the IPC.

Indian Penal Code dealt with the subject of intoxication as part of general exceptions. There are two sections dealing with the intoxication laws in India that include Section 85 and Section 86 of the IPC. The test has been set to see if a person is liable for the violation or not, i.e. a pre-trial test. In the case of voluntary drunkenness knowledge factor is taken the same as when he was not drunk. The Dutch Courage Rule is used to describe the way the case will be handled.

The cases show the the fact that a person cannot be exempted from serious criminal offences, even if the defence of intoxication is taken. The burden of proof lies with the defendant before the commission of the offence. In some cases, intoxication can be both as a mitigating aggregating factor. Recent developments also suggest that even if the person involuntarily intoxicated the seriousness of the offence is very serious ,then he will be held liable for the offence.

  1. [1920] 2 All ER 479 (HL).
  2. Mavari Surya Satyanarayana v. S tate of A.P, (1995) 1 CrLJ 689).
  3. DPP v. Beard ,[1920] AC 479.
  4. R v Kingston [1994] 3 WLR 519.
  5. Basudev v. State of Pepsu ,1954 SC 722.
  6. Shankar Jaiswara v. State of West Bengal ,006 (2) CHN 210.
  7. Shankar Jaiswara v. State of West Bengal ,006 (2) CHN 210.
  8. Shankar Jaiswara v. State of West Bengal ,006 (2) CHN 210.
  9. Shankar Jaiswara v. State of West Bengal ,006 (2) CHN 210.

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