The mental condition known as “insanity” is characterised by irrational behaviour brought on by mental instability. According to the judicial system, a person who has been diagnosed as crazy is incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong. A person who is insane is said to have a mental illness that causes them to lose their ability to reason to the point where others can hardly predict their conduct. An insane individual has a special status in society, according to the Indian judicial system. An insane person is frequently shielded from suffering repercussions because it is known that an insane person lacks reason, in contrast to a maniac who is prohibited from committing many acts in society.

The right to be free from cruel or degrading treatment was first recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, though not precisely. The establishment of international minimum standards for the treatment of people with mental disabilities began with later resolutions such as the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (1971) and the Declaration on the Rights of the Disabled Persons (1975). Two conventions that specifically addressed the protection of the rights of people with mental illness were the Declaration of Hawaii (1992) and the ICSER (1996). Many laws dealing with mental illness were passed during the British era. Among these was The Lunacy (Supreme Courts) Acts of 1858, The Lunacy (District Courts) Act of 1858, The Indian Lunatic Asylum Act of 1858, and The Military Lunatics Acts of 1877, which primarily dealt with the building of mental asylums and the procedures to deal with such persons. The Mental Health Care Law was created by the WHO in 1996 with 10 fundamental principles to safeguard or control the rights of those with mental disabilities.

Rights, restrictions and privileges bestowed upon an insane person by the Law:

To the degree that their impairment does not preclude them from enjoying those rights or that their enjoyment is not expressly or impliedly prohibited by the Constitution or by any other statute provisions, people with mental illnesses are entitled to the fundamental rights that are guaranteed to every citizen under the Indian Constitution. Under the purview of Article 21, the right to life encompasses more than just human survival. The Supreme Court has emphasised the right to health and the right to live in humane conditions in a number of landmark decisions.  All of these rights, as well as the right to live in society alongside other citizens, work as much as practicable, and also to conduct a normal family life, are granted in the context of mentally ill people, while also safeguarding them against exploitation.

According to the Mental Health Care Act of 2017, a mental condition is any significant disturbance of thought, mood, perception, orientation, or memory that seriously limits one’s ability to make decisions, act appropriately, recognise reality, or cope with day-to-day obligations. It also encompasses mental illnesses linked to drug and alcohol misuse.[1] An initiative taken by legislators to focus on the many rights of a mentally challenged person in India is the Mental Health Care Act of 2017. One significant right granted by this Act is the ability to designate a nominee to carry out the duty of making decisions on his behalf or to issue an advanced directive regarding how the person should be treated. The Act upholds the right of the poor and other those in need to free access to healthcare services.

In the very recent judgment of Accused X vs State of Maharashtra[2], The Mental Health Care Act of 2007 was interpreted by the Honorable Supreme Court, which has a three-judge bench, that stated that “every individual with mental illness shall have a right to live with dignity.” In this scenario, the defendant was found guilty of raping and killing two young girls. The register was ordered by the court to hide the accused’s name. The death sentence imposed on the petitioner was converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole when the Apex Court granted the petition in part. Additionally, the Apex Court ruled that the Accused X’s mental illness could not be disregarded and that he could not be left to wallow in jail without receiving treatment.

According to the Representation of People Act, 1950, a person with a mental disability is not allowed to vote or hold public office under the Indian Constitution, provided that their mental disability has been recognised by a court of competent jurisdiction.

A person with a mental illness is unable to provide legal consent to marry under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the Special Marriage Act of 1954, and comparable provisions in laws of other religions. Under all these personal laws, such a marriage is voidable but not void.

According to the Indian Succession Act of 1925, a mentally ill individual is unable to comprehend the nature of a testamentary instrument and cannot, therefore, create a valid will, barring during periods of lucidity.

The Insanity Defense:

The insanity defence is an affirmative justification offered by an accused person who has been deemed legally insane in court. A 1581 English legal treatise asserting that “If a lunatic or a born fool, or a lunatic in the time of his insanity” murders someone, they can’t be held liable for their actions is the earliest documented instance of insanity being recognised as a defence to criminal proceedings. Through the M’ Naghten case, the first legal definition of insanity was codified in British law in 1843. The presumption of sanity is utilised in the test unless the accused can show they have a severe enough mental disorder to be unable to comprehend what they are doing. The Durham Rule, which states that an accused is not criminally liable if his unlawful act was the result of mental disease or mental defect, and the irresistible impulse test, which focuses on the accused’s inability of self-control due to a mental disease, are the other widely used tests of insanity.

No modifications have been made to Section 84 IPC, India’s insanity defence law since it was first drafted; it is purely based on the Mc Naughten guidelines. The IPC’s Section 84 addresses “acts of a person of unsound mind.”[3] Actus nonfacit reum nisi mens sit rea (an act does not constitute guilt unless done with a guilty intention) and Furiosi nulla voluntas est (a person with mental illness has no free will) are essential principles of criminal law that are explicitly embodied in Section 84 IPC. In its ruling, the Apex Court stated that even though the accused had mental instability both before and after the incident, it was not possible to prove that he was insane when he committed the crime because the nature of his act was either wrong or illegal. As a result, the Apex Court rejected the insanity defence.[4] In the context of burden of proof the court in State of M.P. v. Ahmadulla[5], According to the law, “until the contrary is demonstrated, every individual is deemed to be sane and presumed to possess a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his activities”

Principles in Mc’naghten case[6]

1. Unless the contrary is proven, everyone is assumed to be sane.
2. To enter the defence of insanity, it must be demonstrated that the defendant was so insane at the time of the crime that he was unable to comprehend the nature of the act or to recognise that it was criminal in character.
3. The capacity to discriminate between right and wrong in relation to the specific activity performed, rather than in general, is the test of the wrongness of the act.

 Law of Contract provisions for a drunken person

Typically, one who has reached majority age is considered to be competent of signing a contract. Contrarily, there are several exceptions to the rule that, in some situations, a drunk person is incapable of entering into a legally binding contract. Generally speaking, an intoxicated person’s contractual capacity is equated to that of a lunatic.[7] As a result, the individual making the claim must provide evidence to support it. This suggests that a person who is intoxicated may approve the agreement they made while they were unable to comprehend the terms of the agreement. Therefore, a drunk or insane person must pay for products not only when they are sold to them but also when they are delivered and for necessities. The Sale of Commodities Act states that any goods delivered to a drunk person must be appropriate for his lifestyle.

[1] See: Section 2(s), Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

[2] The review petition (criminal) no. 301 of 2008 in Criminal Appeal No. 680 of 2007; decided on 12.04.2019

[3] Hari Singh Gond v. State of Madhya Pradesh. 2008, 16 SCC 

[4] Surendra Mishra v. the State of Jharkhand. 2011, 11 SCC 495.

[5] AIR 1961 SC 998

[6] (1843) 8 E.R. 718

[7] Compare Molton. V Camaroux (1884)

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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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 secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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