Criminal Liablity under Intoxication and Insanity

CRIMINAL LIABILITY UNDER INTOXICATION AND INSANITY

Author: Shipra Gupta

INTRODUCTION

Crime is something which is against the morals of society and humanity. Every crime consists of two components that is Actus rea ( wrongful act ) and Mens rea ( guilty mind ) and this concept is determined by a maxim that is “ Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea”, means that an act is not guilty unless it is done with a guilty mind. But there can be many situations in which a person has committed a crime but the act does not include a guilty mind. As there were many situations in which a person does not have any capacity to judge whether the act he is doing is a crime or not.  So, there are many provisions given under Indian Penal Code, 1860 to provide the defence to a person who is incapable to know the nature of the act done by him and these provisions are known as General Defence ( Section 76 – Section 106 of IPC, 1860 ). But the question arises that whether general defence provides absolute defence from criminal liability and what will happens in the situation if it is misused by anyone. So, this article throws some light on the criminal liability of a person under intoxication and insanity. The article reveals about various situations in which criminal liability imposed on the intoxicated person and insane person and also reveals about defences and exceptions provided to a person.  The article uses different illustrations,  case laws, authorities cited,  judgments and facts to analyse the effectiveness of criminal liability under intoxication and insanity.

INSANITY

To constitute a crime it is very much important that a person who does a crime must have a guilty mind. But if there is a situation in which a person who is insane or his mental condition is very much disturbed that he is incapable to know that the act which he is doing is contrary to law or a serious offence. So, the question arises that what would happen in the situation where a mentally ill person commits a serious offence would be punished or not?

Section 84 of India Penal Code, 1860 clears the above question that whether an insane person would be punished for an offence or not. Section 84 of IPC provides that if any person who is of unsound mind and is incapable to judge the nature of the act he is doing and who is incapable to distinguish between good or crime, such person would not be punishable by law. As due to mental illness and insanity an accused does not have any guilty motive to commit such offence.

INGREDIENTS OF THE SECTION- 84

  1. To get a defence under section 84 of IPC it is necessary that an act must be done by a person who is of unsound mind and is incapable to judge the nature of the act committed by him.
  2. A person must be insane to the extent that he is unable to judge the nature of the act committed by him, he should be incapable to distinguish between good and evil and to know that the offence is contrary to law or not.
  3. The person should be incapable to know the nature of the act and their unsoundness of mind should exist at the time of the commission of the crime not before or after the commission of a crime.

KINDS OF PERSONS WHO COME IN CATEGORY OF UNSOUND MIND

  1. IDIOT

Any person who is of insane mind from his birth. One who did not have any capacity to know that whether the act is contrary to law or not.

  • LUNATIC

A lunatic person is the one who gets fits of madness or insanity in the time intervals. It is not continuous insanity.

  • NON- COMPOS MENTIS

If a person has become non- compos mentis due to regular illness he is exempted from criminal liability. 

  • DISEASE OF MIND

The person who is suffering from a mental disease and due to that disease he is unable to judge the nature of the offence.

CRIMINAL LIABILITY

Criminal liability of any act done by an insane person can be determined by the famous case that is QUEEN V. MC. NAUGHTEN [1] in this case the accused Mc Naughten who was a patient of persecution mania ( disease of the mind) who believes that all the problems which he is facing is due to British Prime Minister Robert Peel due to which Mc. Naughten misbelieves that Mr. Drummond is Sir Robert Peel and murdered Mr. Drummond. In the court Mc. Naughten pleaded that due to insanity he committed such offence, after all the investigation the court acquitted Mc. Naughten on the ground of insanity.

But after the judgment of acquisition various questions arise in against and favour of the acquittal of the accused.  Further the bench of 15 bench sets basic principles which is also known as Mc. Naughten’s principles.  These principles reveal the criminal liability of an insane person who has done the offence.

  1. The court believes that every man who has committed any offence is sane. And if they accuse proves that he has committed the crime due to insanity he will be not liable for the offence.  But if the accuse fails to prove that he is insane then the criminal liability would be imposed on him.
  2. To prove the defence the burden of proof lies on the defendant. And the accuse have to prove that he was incapable to judge the nature of the offence because of insanity and if he fails to prove that then the accused would be liable for the offence.
  3. At the time of the commission of a crime if the person knows the nature of the act he is doing and he also knows that the act is contrary to the law would be liable for punishment.
  4. Any medical witness who was not present in the previous proceedings the court will not take his opinion for evidence as in the first proceeding he can think that the accused is insane. 

In a case the accused murdered the deceased and also caused some injuries to the other person and pleaded that was not sane at the time of the commission of a crime, he did not know the nature of the offence which he was committing.  But later it was proved that the accused was sane at the time of the commission of crime then the accused was held liable under the offence of committing murder and also for causing grievous injuries to the other person present there.[2]

In this case, the accused committed the murder of a person and escape from the location and on the very next day the accused also confesses his crime, but later on he pleaded that he was insane at the time of the commission of a crime. [3]

INTOXICATION

Intoxication is a state of mind of a person in which a person losses all his mental control and loses all his sense to distinguish between what is wrong and what is right. Intoxication is an act to intake some substances by which a person loses his senses and he becomes incapable to judge the nature of the act he is doing and also incapable to distinguish between the good and contrary to law. So, here a question arises that if an intoxicated person who has committed an offence would be liable for committing an offence or not. Section 85 and 86 of Indian Penal Code talks about the criminal liability of an intoxicated accused and also it talks about the defence provided by the law to the intoxicated accuse.

Section 85 of the Indian Penal Code provides that if any person who is intoxicated and committed an offence and such intoxication is administered to him without his knowledge and will, such a person if committed an offence in the state of intoxication in which he is incapable to judge the nature of the act and distinguish between the good and evil would not be liable under any offence.

As in the commission of a crime, it is necessary that behind the commission of crime there is a guilty mind but in the state of intoxication, a person is incapable to think anything so there is very fewer chances that there is the guilty mind behind the act. But the defense of intoxication would be provided only when there is involuntary intoxication and in the case of voluntary intoxication the person would be liable to be punishable for committing such offence.

INGREDIENTS OF THE SECTION 85

  1. The person should be incapable to judge the nature of the act which he is doing and also unable to know that the act which they are committing is contrary to law or not by the reason of intoxication.
  2. It is necessary that the act in which substance is intoxicated in the body of the person is without his knowledge and will.

Section 86 of India Penal Code provides that if a person commits an offence by the reason of intoxication of any substance and such intoxication is with his will and knowledge,  then the person would be liable for punishment under the offence committed by him. As the courts believe that a person who is voluntarily intoxicated himself and committed a crime is equal to a person who is not intoxicated and committed a crime with the guilty mind.  So in the case of voluntary intoxication the criminal liability would be imposed on the accused.

In a case there was a retired military jamadar who went in a party and there he asks a boy to shift aside so that he can sit properly but the boy denies him due to which his anger burst out and he shot the boy by his gun. In the court he pleaded that he was voluntarily intoxicated at the time of the commission of a crime. The Supreme Court of India held that in case of voluntary intoxication no defense would be provided to the accused and they would be liable for the offense committed by them.  [4]

In a case the husband and father-in-law of a deceased woman beat her and burnt her in the influence of intoxication. Further in the court they pleaded for the defense that they were in the state of intoxication and by the influence of which they committed the murder. The Supreme Court held that voluntary intoxication is not the excuse and the accuse is liable under section 300 of IPC. [5]

In a case, Supreme Court held that a person would not get any defense 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. [6]

CONCLUSION

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides various defences such as insanity and intoxication but it is clear that every insane and intoxication person would not get any defence before the proper investigation and proper evidence. As the law cannot provide a defence to anyone if the evidence proves that there was the guilty mind behind the commission of crime they would be surely punishable no matter the accused is insane or intoxicated.


[1] CASE: QUEEN V. MC NAUGHTEN ( ( 1843 ) 8 E.R. 718 )

[2] CASE: S.K. NAIR V. STATE OF PUNJAB ( 1997 Cri.L.J 772 ( S.C.) )

[3] CASE: SOMESHWAR BORA V. STATE OF ASSAM (( 1981 Cri.L.J ( N.O.C.) 51 Guwahati )

[4] CASE: BASUDEO V. STATE OF PEPSU ( A.I.R. 1956 S C. 488 )

[5] CASE: BHAGWAN TUKARAM DANGE V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA ( 2014)

[6] CASE: BABU ALIAS MUBARIK HUSSAIN V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN ( 2006)

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