Insanity as a Defense under IPC – 5

Mere absence of motive for a crime, howsoever atrocious it may be, cannot, in the absence of plea and proof of legal insanity, bring the case within this section. The mere fact that an act of murder is committed by the accused on a sudden impulse and there is no discoverable motive for the act will not generally afford the Court sufficient basis for accepting the plea of insanity. Thus, in SW Mohammed’s case the Supreme Court held that the mere fact that no motive has been proved why the accused murdered his wife and child or the fact that he made no attempt to run away when the door was broken open would not indicate that he was insane or that he did not have the necessary mens rea for the offense.

In Madras case, however, the Madras High Court held that where the accused was insane for some months prior to occurrence and on cordial terms with his wife but suddenly killed the wife in the open courtyard without any ostensible motive and did not even attempt to run away or secret his crime, he had to be given benefit of Section 84, IPC 1860. This case can, of course be distinguished from the above mentioned Supreme Court case on the ground that in the instant case the accused had previous history coupled with the evidence of the doctor that the accused was schizophrenic would entitle the accused to the benefit of section 84 in a charge of murder. But where the doctor in his evidence was contradicted by evidence of close relations about sanity of the accused at 84, IPC, 1860

In Siddheswari’s Case where the accused killed her ailing child of three and there was also some evidence elicited in cross-examination to show that the accused had suffered from some mental derangement two years prior to the incident, it was held that the mere fact the murder was committed on a sudden impulse or as a “mercy killing” was no ground to give her the benefit of section 84 IPC, 1860, even though both euthanasia (mercy killing) and irresistible impulse would entitle the accused in England to get the benefit of diminished responsibility and her crime would be treated as manslaughter (i.e. culpable homicide not amounting to murder). In a latter case too the Gauhati High Court felt that where the accused has made out a prima facie case of irresistible impulse the plea has to be taken into consideration in deciding the question of giving benefit of Section 84, IPC, 1860 to the accused.

Section 84.6 CASES- Accused, who was a mentally challenged person before the incident, killed three persons and caused injuries to others with an axe. He did not know the implication of his act and indiscriminately went on wielding axe blows, be it a child or committing crime. He was found of unsound mind in his medical examination. Case of accused comes within the four corners of section 84 IPC, 1860. Where an accused, who was suffering from fever which caused him while suffering from its paroxysms to be bewildered and unconscious, killed his children at being annoyed at their crying, but he was not delirious then, and there was no evidence to show that he was not conscious of the nature of his act, it was held that he was not entitled to protection under this section.

In Kuttapan v State of Kerala accused chopped of his wife’s head, with a chopper. After the occurrence, in a very unusual and abnormal manner, holding the head and the chopper in each of his hands, he walked down the road and ultimately reached the police station. Though this, by itself would not be sufficient to come to any conclusion but taken along with the other circumstances of the case would clearly point to the validity of the defense put forward on behalf of the accused.

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