INTOXICATION AS A DEFENCE IN IPC

Section 85 protects a person from criminal liability, if, at the time of committing the offence that person was incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that person was doing something wrong or contrary to law by reason of intoxication provided that the intoxicant was administered to them without their knowledge or against their will. For the defence of intoxication to be available, it must not only be established that the intoxicant was administered without his knowledge or against his will but by reason of such intoxication, the person concerned was incapable of understanding the nature of the act or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.

Section 86 deals with immunity of a self-intoxicated person when he commits an offence requiring particular knowledge or intention as a definitional ingredient on the part of the accused. If such an offence is committed by an involuntary intoxicated person, neither knowledge nor intention in committing it is to be presumed on the part of the doer. A person who gets into the state of intoxication voluntarily is presumed to have the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been intoxicated. This section makes a distinction between intent & knowledge.

As far as knowledge is concerned, law attributes to the intoxicated man the same knowledge as he would have if he had not been intoxicated. On the other hand, intent must be gathered from attending general circumstances of the case, paying due regard to the degree of intoxication.  In the case of BASUDEO V. STATE OF PEPSU[1], the accused was a retired Jamedar, attended a marriage party, in which he drank liquor heavily. He wanted to sit in a chair, in which a boy already sat. The accused asked him to stand so that he would sit in it. On being refused by the boy, the accused became annoyed, and shot the boy with his pistol who died on the spot. Thereafter, the accused walked to the police station and surrendered himself pleading of heavy intoxication. The trial Court held that standing, arguing and shooting at the time of incidence, and walking to the police station himself without the help of any body, and surrendering himself to the police show that the accused did not loose his state of mind[2].   In the case of BHAGWAN TUKARAM DANGE V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA ( 2014), the husband and father-in-law of a deceased woman beat her and burnt her in the influence of intoxication. They pleaded for intoxication as a defence for the murder. The Supreme Court held that voluntary intoxication is not the excuse and the accuse is liable under section 300 of IPC. In the case of BABU ALIAS MUBARIK HUSSAIN V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN ( 2006), the SC held that a person would not get any defence if they voluntarily intoxicated themselves and committed crime, as it does not mean that due to intoxication the person does not know the nature of the act he is committing[3].

Burden of proof to establish the essential ingredients to claim protection under General Exception is on the accused[4]. The accused has to prove that he was incapable of framing the specific intention to commit crime due to intoxication[5]. In the case of Dasa Kandha v. State of Orissa, it was laid down that mere proof of drinking some amount of liquor will not prove his acquittal[6].

Looking at a larger picture, defence under section 85 & 86 of IPC not have a major significance while deciding a case. In fact, the crux of criminal law is guilty mind. The court has to look the circumstances and facts of each case to decide whether a particular defence is available to the accused or not[7]. Alcohol slows down the functioning of our nervous system. It defers or delays the messages that should reach your mind and causes dizziness and fatalness. Any act or crime done under the effect of being intoxicated can cause harm to us or to someone.


[1] A.I.R. 1956 S C. 488.

[2] Prajwal Poojary- Legal Provisions regarding intoxication; section 85 & 86 IPC, Legal Provisions Regarding “Intoxication” in India – Section 85 and 86 of IPC (shareyouressays.com), visited on 15-08-2021 at 17:00hrs.

[3] Shipra Gupta- CRIMINAL LIABILITY UNDER INTOXICATION AND INSANITY, Criminal Liablity under Intoxication and Insanity – Indian Legal Solution, visited on 15-08-2021 at 16:48hrs.

[4] Hema Modi- General Exceptions under IPC, General Exceptions Under Indian Penal Code: Section 76 to 106 (ipleaders.in), visited on 15-08-2021 at 17:09hrs.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Kiranpreet Kaur-General Criminal Defences: Insanity, Infancy And Intoxication. Part-1, General Criminal Defences: Insanity, Infancy And Intoxication. Part-1 – Criminal Law – India (mondaq.com), visited on 15-08-2021 at 17:22hrs.

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