Insanity as a Defense under IPC 4

Section 84.4 Lucid Intervals- A lucid interval of an insane person is not merely a cessation of the violent symptoms of the disorder, but a restoration of the faculties of the mind sufficiently to enable the person soundly to judge the act; but the expression does not necessarily mean complete or perfect restoration of the mental faculties to their original condition. So, if there is such a restoration, the person concerned can do the act with such reason, memory and judgment as to make it a legal act; merely a cessation of the violent symptoms of the disorder is not sufficient.

  1. ‘Unsoundness of mind’- Whether the want of capacity is temporary or permanent, natural or supervening, whether it arises from disease, or exists from the time of birth, it is included in this expression. It is only ‘unsoundness of mind’ which naturally impairs the cognitive faculties of the mind that can form a ground of exemption from criminal responsibility. The nature and extent of the unsoundness of mind required being such as would make the offender incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is wrong or contrary to law. Thus, as Stephen says that if a person cuts off the head of a sleeping man because ‘it would be great fun to see him looking for it when he woke up’, it would obviously be a case where the perpetrator of the act would be incapable of knowing the physical effects of his act. It was held that the accused was a man of unsound mind and his conviction under sections 302, 332 and 323 was set aside.

Section 84.5 Partial Delusion- Mere abnormality of mind or partial delusion affords no protection under section 84 IPC, 1860. Whether a person who, under an insane delusion as to the existing facts, commits an offence in consequence thereof, is to be, therefore, only, and is not in other respects insane, he must be considered in the same situation as to responsibility as if the facts, with respect to which the delusion exists, were real.[1]

If a person afflicted with insane delusion, in respect of one or more particular subjects or persons, commits a crime, knowing that he was acting contrary to law, bur did the act complained of with a view, under the influence of insane delusion, of redressing or is nevertheless punishable according to the nature of the crime committed. Where the accused after killing his daughter tried to commit suicide and there was no evidence of psychiatric treatment but only major depression, he was held liable to be convicted.

  • ‘Nature of the Act, or …. What is either wrong or contrary to law’- If the accused were conscious that an act was done which he ought not to do and if act was at the same time contrary to the law of the land, he is punishable. His liability will not be diminished if he did the act complained of with a view under the influence of insane delusion of redressing or revenging some supposed grievance or injury or of producing some public benefit, if he knew that he was acting contrary to law. Where the accused, a young man, took a girl of four years on a bicycle to a lonely place near canal, sexually assaulted her and threw her into the canal, it was held that it was a carefully thought out action and not an a ac ct of an insane person.


Aishwarya Says:

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Anti Defection Law in India – Aishwarya Sandeep

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