INSANITY AS A DEFENCE IN IPC

In order to seek protection of section 84 it is necessary for an accused to prove that because of unsoundness of mind, he was incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that act was ‘contrary to law’ or that the act was ‘wrong’. ‘unsoundness of mind’ means a state of mind in which an accused is incapable of knowing the nature of his act or that he is incapable of knowing what he is doing wrong or contrary to law. English law treats insanity as a legitimate defence. Hallucination or delusion in which state of mind of a person may be perfectly sane in respect of everything, but, may be under a delusion in respect of one particular idea. The Madras & Bombay HC have held that a person who is insane but is merely suffering from some kind of obsession cannot invoke section 84 in favour.

On the other hand, somnambulism or walking in sleep if proved will constitute unsoundness of mind and the accused will get the benefit. In the case of Ratan Lal vs State of Madhya Pradesh , 1971, the accused was in the habit of setting fire to his own clothes & house. It was held that this could hardly be called rational and was more likely verging on insanity. SC accepted the plea of insanity raised by the accused and absolved him from criminal liability. In the case of Shrikant Anandrao Bhosale v. The State of Maharashtra, the accused was a police constable who struck his wife on the head with a grinding hammer. Following an investigation, the appellant was charged with murder. The appellant pleaded for insanity as a defence and told the court that he had a family background where mental illness had influenced his father. There was no known explanation for such an ailment. For this psychiatric illness, the appellant was seeking therapy. It was held, on the basis of the above-mentioned evidence, that the accused suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was unable to grasp the essence of the act perpetrated by him. He was also not guilty of murder and would be given the advantage under Section 84 of IPC. The burden of proving the offence is always on the prosecution, the prosecution has to prove the offense beyond reasonable doubt. But onus of proving the elements mentioned in Section 84 of the IPC are on the accused (Section 105 of the Evidence Act).

A Court is always concerned with legal insanity, and not with medical insanity. What Section 84, IPC, 1860 provides is defense of legal insanity as distinguished from medical insanity. Every person who is suffering from mental disease is not ipso facto exempted from criminal liability. The mere fact that the accused is conceited, odd, irascible and his brain is not quite all right, or that the physical and mental ailments from which he suffered had rendered his intellect weak and affected his emotions or indulges in certain unusual acts, or had fits of insanity at short intervals or that he was subject to attract the application of SECTION 84 of the IPC, 1860[1]. In a Recent (2020) appeal ,by ex army officer accused of involving in physical fight with senior official, dismissed by the Hon’ble Supreme court “Depression was discarded to be listed as Insanity u/s 84 of IPC,1860”[2].

In the case of Ashiruddin Ahmed v The King, the accused was commanded by someone in paradise, took his 5-year-old-son into a mosque and thrust a knife in his throat, afterwards he went to his uncle and quietly told him what he has done. The court allowed the accused to take the defence of Section 84 of the Act, as it is shown by very actions of the accused that he was not aware, whether the act he was doing was contrary to the law.

Once Unsoundness of mind has been determined, it is essential to be construed that this unsoundness of the mind led to the cognitive destruction of the accused in knowing that the nature of the act that he is doing is contrary to the Law.


[1] Rohan Priyam-INSANITY AS A DEFENSE UNDER IPC 3, Insanity as a Defense under IPC 3 – Aishwarya Sandeep, visited on 14-08-2021 at 18:50hrs.

[2] Mumalshekhawant-INSANITY AS A DEFENSE, Insanity as a Defense – Aishwarya Sandeep, visited on 14-08-2021 at 19:19hrs.

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.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.