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Ingredients of Section 84 of IPC (Insanity) – Explained!

January 25, 2019 0 Comment

1. That the accused was of unsound mind;

2. That he was of unsound mind at the time he did the act and not merely before or after the act; and

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3. That as a result of unsoundness of mind he was incapable of knowing the nature of the act and that what he was doing was either wrong or contrary to law.

Persons of unsound mind:

These persons may be said as persons of unsound mind:

(i) Idiot— Idiot is such a person who cannot count upto twenty or cannot tell the name of days of week or his parents.

(ii) Lunatic.—It a person who is permanently mad without any interval is said as natural insanity.

(iii) Non compos mentis.—If a person has become non compos mentis due to regular illness he is exempted from criminal liability.

(iv) Disease of mind.—If the accused is suffering from disease of mind at the time of commission of offence, he is entitled to get the exemption of Section 84.

It is not enough to prove mere mental derangement or what is termed as medical insanity. The accused must show that his cognitive faculties were so impaired that he was deprived of the power of understanding the nature of the act or distinguishing right from wrong.

Conversely if his cognitive faculties are not so impaired as to make it impossible for him to know the nature of his act or that what he was doing was either wrong or contrary to law, he is not exempt from criminal liability. Besides this state of mind must be proved to exist at the time of the commission of the act.

On this question the state of his mind before and after the crucial time is relevant. If a person is, by reason of unsoundness of mind, incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law, he cannot be guilty to any criminal intent. Such a person lacks the requisite mens rea and is entitled to an acquittal.

Crucial Point of Time:

The crucial point of time for deciding whether the benefit of Section 84 should be given or not is the material time when the offence takes place. It is the state of the mind at the time of the offence, neither ‘before’ nor ‘after’ the commission of the offence, which is to be determined, although to arrive at the conclusion, the state of the mind, both antecedent and subsequent to the event would be relevant.

As yet there is no instrument to be proved to get knowledge with mathematical accuracy of the mental condition of the accused at the time of the commission of the offence. It has to be inferred on the appreciation of the evidence of the persons who had the occasion to observe the behaviour and conduct of the accused prior to, at the time of, and after the commission of the offence and the available medical evidence.

The antecedent and subsequent conduct of the accused is relevant only to show the state of his mind at the time the act was committed and the Court is only concerned with the state of the mind of the accused at the time of the act.

If at the time of commission of the offence the man is found to be labouring under such a defect of reason that he is not capable of knowing the nature of the act which he is doing or he knows the act but does not know that it was either wrong or contrary to law, application of Section 84 would be justified.

For the application of the section it would not be sufficient to show that the accused was mentally unsound at the time of the commission of the offence. Apart from this it must be clearly proved that his mental condition was so defective that he was not knowing the nature and quality of the act which he was doing or that he was knowing the act but he was not knowing that it was wrong.

Where at the time of the commission of the offence, the accused knew the nature of the act he was committing he could not be absolved of responsibility for the grave offence of murder. It has to be assumed that he was rightly convicted because he knew the nature of his act when he committed the offence with which he was charged.

Burden of Proof:

Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act throws the burden of proving the existence of the circumstances bringing the case under Section 84 on the accused and directs that the Court shall presume the absence of such circumstances.

The law presumes every person of the age of discretion to be sane unless the contrary is proved; and even if a lunatic has lucid intervals, the law presumes the offence to have been committed by him in a lucid interval, unless it appears to have been committed during derangement.

Although, the burden of proof of defence under Section 84 is on the accused, it is not as heavy on the accused as on the prosecution. The burden of proof of insanity lies on the accused. The prosecution has to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

The burden on the accused is analogous to that of the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil proceeding. The burden on the accused is discharged if the Court is satisfied that the version of the accused is reasonably probable or true though it might not have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Mere conjectural possibilities cannot, however, be sufficient to discharge the onus.

The Supreme Court has highlighted the provision of insanity as a benefit to the accused in the case of Shrikant Anand Rao Bhosale v. State of Maharashtra. The facts of the case were that a police constable killed his wife in day light and made no attempt to run away or hide.

It was held that keeping in view the totality of facts and circumstances in the light of evidence on record the accused was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. The unsoundness of mind before and after the incident would be a relevant fact.

From the circumstances of the case an inference can reasonably be drawn that the accused was under a delusion at the relevent time. He was under the attack of ailment. The accused was incapable to know, the nature of his act by reason of unsoundness of mind and that he would be entitled to the benefit of Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code.

In Pulu Mura v. State of Assam?- the facts were that four young kids were killed by their own father for late coming to the house after watching movie on the. T.V. which the accused father did not appreciate. The Court held that it cannot be said that the accused was of unsound mind or he did not understand the implication of what he was doing. The accused was not really unsound within the meaning of Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code.

There was no evidence as to how exactly the accused and her child fell into the well. It may be possible that she attempted to commit suicide by jumping along with her child but it is also possible that she was in such unsound state of the mind that she did not know what she was doing when she jumped into the well.

In the absence of any evidence clearly indicating as to how exactly they fell into the well, it would be wrong to play on the imagination and hold the accused guilty and exclude the operation of Section 84, I.P.C., the benefit whereof should have been given to the accused.

The burden can be discharged by the accused from the circumstances which preceded, attended and followed the crime.

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