INSANITY UNDER IPC, 1860

Section 76-106 under Chapter IV of Indian Penal Code, 1860 the general exceptions are mentioned as a defence under Indian Law. An act will be called crime when it constitutes both the essential elements of a crime i.e., Mens Rea (guilty mind) and Actus Reus (guilty act). If any act is done without both the essential elements then that act can be backed up by justification or excuses. The general exceptions under IPC, 1860 is divided into two parts. They are:

Excusable Act

Excusable Act are those exceptions to a wrongful act which has been committed without any bad intention and which should be excused because the person who has committed cannot be blamed for the act. Mistake (Section 76 and 79), Infancy (Section 82 and 83), Accident (Section 80), Insanity (Section 84), Intoxication (Section 85) are included in Excusable Act.

Justifiable Act

Justifiable Act are those act in which the accused actions are legally justified. The act maybe wrongful in normal circumstances, but the same act under certain conditions is considered non-punishable. Justifiable Act includes Necessity (Section 81), Consent (Section 87-89 and 92), Trifles9Section 95), An act of Judge and act performed in pursuance of an order (Section 77 and 78), Communication (section 93), Private Defence (Section 96-106), Duress (Section 94).

Section 84 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 states that an act done by an individual who is of unsound mind at the time of doing that act and is incapable of knowing the nature of the act done by him and the person does not know that the act done by him is wrong or contrary to law. The origin of unsoundness of mind is from the McNaughton Rule under English Law.

Essential Ingredients of Section 84 of IPC

  • The person committing the act must be of unsound mind
  • Such person was unsound at the time of committing the act
  • Such incapacity should be of unsoundness of mind of the accused
  • Such person was not capable to know the nature of the act or the act he was doing was either wrong or contrary to law

Burden Of Proof in the cases of Insanity

Under Insanity the burden of proof is always on the prosecution. The offence has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. The onus of proving the elements mentioned in section 84 of the IPC are on the accused (section 105 of the Evidence act).

To claim the defense of insanity defense have to prove that at the time of the occurrence of the incident accused was unsound mind and the rules for burden of proof in cases of insanity are as follows:

Prosecution has to be prove beyond the reasonable doubt that the offence was committed by accused with mens rea

Insanity is a rebuttable presumption

The accused can bring oral, circumstantial or documentary evidence to rebut the presumption of sanity at a time and claim defense of section 84 of IPC and accused do not have to prove elements of section 84 IPC beyond reasonable doubt

Even if accused is not able to establish the ingredients of section 84 as to the acts committed by him but still creates a doubt in the minds of the Court. Then the Court would be entitled to acquit the accused on the ground that the general burden of proof resting on the prosecution was not discharged

Material circumstances which help to draw interference regarding mental condition

From case to case the question whether accused was unsound at the time of occurrence of crime varies and it has to be decided by the facts of case. The circumstances which help to draw the interference regarding mental condition of the accused at the time of the offence are:

  • Motive
  • Preparation
  • Desire for concealment
  • Making statements which are false
  • Conduct before, at the time and after the commission of the offence
  • Conduct after the commission of the offence, showing guilt and trying to avoid detention

Aishwarya Says:

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