VOLUNTARY VS INVOLUNTARY INTOXICATION UNDER IPC

Both voluntary and involuntary intoxication fall under excusable offences under general exceptions (Section 6 IPC).

Involuntary intoxication (Section 85) occurs when at the time of commission of the act-

  • The person is incapable of knowing the nature of the act
  • Did not have knowledge that what they are doing is wrong and contrary to the law
  • The intoxicating substance was administered to them without their knowledge/against their will.

Here, it is assumed that the person was rendered dementia offenctatia, when the function of the mind is temporarily suspended, and the accused cannot form necessary mens rea to commit the crime. If they were not involuntarily drunk, it is assumed that they would not have committed the crime.

In the case of Bablu alias Mubarik Hussain V. State of Rajasthan[1], the SC examined Section 85 and held that the evidence which proves that the accused is incapable of forming the intent has to be considered along with the other facts. It should be proved that the accused had the intention to commit crime. Here, it was also held that voluntarily intoxicating oneself to commit a crime does not mean that the person does not know the nature of the act.

Voluntary intoxication (section 86), as the name suggests, is when the person has voluntarily taken the intoxicating substances. Here, the fact that the person had knowledge about the act shall be presumed, but not the intention. The intention has to be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case. They shall be treated as though they had the same knowledge as they would have had, had they not been intoxicated. To use this defense, there is a need to show that the degree of intoxication made them incapable of forming the specific intent essential to constitute a crime.

In Basudev v State of Pepsu[2], it was held that

  • ‘…evidence of drunkenness which renders the accused incapable of forming the specific intent essential to constitute the crime should be taken into consideration with the other facts proved in order to determine whether or not he had this intent;
  • ‘ evidence of drunkenness falling short of a proved incapacity in the accused to form the intent necessary to constitute the crime, and merely establishing that his mind was affected by drink so that he more readily gave way to some violent passion, does not rebut the presumption that a man intends the natural consequences of his acts.

Nevertheless, the inability to understand the nature and consequences of an act during voluntary intoxication is a not defence to offences requiring specific intention.

  • Specific intent hasn’t been defined, but crimes such as murder, intentionally causing grievous hurt, rape, etc. require specific intention. Crimes like culpable homicide, assault and battery, unintentionally causing hurt, etc. do not require specific intent.
    • So for the former category of offences, the intoxicated accused will still be convicted even if he was in a state of automatism.

Mere establishment of the fact that the accused was so drunk that he more readily gave way to some violent passion is no excuse.

If A gets voluntarily drunk at a party, and in that inebriated state starts playing with a gun and wants to hear its sound because he finds it amusing, thereby shooting someone, he will be liable for this act. As stated above, knowledge that him shooting someone was wrong, is presumed. However, if in this case the intoxicating substance was added to his drink without his knowledge, because of which he was incapable of knowing the nature of his act and could not understand that his act of shooting someone was contrary to law, he will be held liable.


[1] Bablu alias Mubarik Hussain V. State of Rajasthan RLW 2006 (4) Raj 2686

[2] Basudev v State of Pepsu 1956 AIR 488

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.

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