Is the defence of Insanity a loophole?

“No act is a crime if the person who does it, is at the same time when it is done prevented either by defective mental power or by any disease affecting his mind (a) from knowing the nature and quality of the act, or (b) from knowing that the act is wrong.”

Stephen in his Digest of Criminal Law.

In medical terms, unsoundness of mind. commonly termed as insanity, is a disorder of the mind which impairs the mental faculties of a man. This mental abnormality is caused due to various factors and exists in various degrees. However, insanity in law has a distinct difference from its medical concept. “Legal insanity” is a mental disorder where a person has a loss of his cognitive capability, i.e., his reasoning power. It is the “mental state” of a person at the time of committing crime. This is a purely legal term and has nothing to do with the diagnosis of mental illness.

Law of Insanity under IPC

Under the Indian Penal Code insanity is discussed in Section 84. It states that “Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at time of doing it, by the reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.”

Section 84 is based on two prnciples:

  • “Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea” is common well-known principle which means an offender can be held guilty only when there is a presence of guilty mind. One of the most essential ingredients while committing a crime is Mens Rea, i.e., guilty mind.
  • “Furiosi nulla voluntas est” which means a person with mental illness has no free will.

So, the insanity defense is used in criminal proceedings to prove that the offender had a mental disorder at the time of crime. So that person may not be in a situation of knowing what they had been doing of their aware mind. Even though they carried out it for higher judgment, maximum humans use the insanity defense to prevent prison punishments and end up a loophole, which causes more criminals to devote crimes. Such a scenario brings an extreme problem wherein humans may be extra concerned in such crimes without worry of law.  

For this defence, a verified psychiatrist should provide mental illness requirements. The following elements are also to be established-

  • He must also show that he was unable to know the nature of the crime.
  • He must also show that he was unable to know his act was wrong.
  • He must also show that he was unable to know it was contrary to law.

If a person fails to establish any one of these, he cannot claim the defense of insanity.

It is a really massive challenge for the defendant to prove the plea of insanity. psychological state is tested by having it checked by a professional who as per his knowledge, check and skill provides proof of the particular mental standing of the accused. Even once that, it’s upon the judges to simply accept or reject the defense of insanity therefore produced. It doesn’t offer any guarantee of relief or answer to the accused.

In the present, this defense is misused to get away from the acquittal or punishment. It could be very tough to take a look at whether or not the individual became of sound mind or unsound mind at that factor in time. In the end, all of it relies upon on how the judge is familiar with the problem and offers his judgment. As an end result of this, the defense of insanity is abolished in certain countries. Countries which include Germany, Argentina, Thailand and few counties in England have already abolished such defenses.

It is not simply involved with the mental insanity however with the legal insanity. Mere arguments aren’t sufficient to determine that the accused deserves the defense, it relies upon the circumstances. The case of insanity defense turns into greater complex compared to others because it now no longer shows that the accused has accomplished the crime or now no longer about the accuse confessing his crime and mentioning that he has no concept about what he has done.

In India

One way to reduce crime in India is to pass strict laws. If people know that they will suffer after committing a crime, they will think twice before taking on such duties. However, we cannot guarantee that everyone who commits a crime is sane and perfectly minded. There may be rare cases when the person has had increased mental disorders. For such people, they can use the existing defense under more stringent conditions. Passing this test should be. one of the most difficult tests in jurisprudence. People must have a solid history of mental disorders or situations leading to such a state; out of nowhere you will have no brain problems. So, the defendant will have to prove that he has had a long-term mental illness. To prove this an uncorrupted judicial system and investigators are required, but unfortunately this is what India lacks.

For these essential reasons it can accurately be concluded that Insanity Defense Law has misplaced its authentic zeal and has now grown to be a device for criminals to stay away from prison consequences. Now the treatments available to manage up with these gaps are the formation of greater truthful legal guidelines and tests. The preliminary step closer to reforms may be a mechanism to distinguish among Violent criminals and Insane criminals, wherein the former are the actual culprits. Reforms right here can simplest be feasible whilst states could make stricter legal guidelines to manipulate such subjects and it is time now for foremost reforms in these provisions.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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