threatening, dark, grim-1541063.jpg


According to the IPC, man’s relics are an integral part of the crime. However, these offenses fall under the general exceptions set out in Articles 76 to 106 of the Indian Penal Code, where there is no personal reason and the act is committed under clearly persuasive circumstances. As a result, perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions in court. Waivers are granted if the defense is successfully defended in court.  The insanity defense in a criminal case helps prove that the perpetrator was suffering from a serious mental disorder at the time of the examination. Because of this, the person may not be paying attention to their actions. Non-psychotics may, in certain circumstances1, attempt to invoke the insanity defense to avoid paying a fine, but this is rare. Although the insanity defense was intended to improve justice, most people use it to avoid fines and other punishments. Such situations have no deterrent and are serious as people become more and more involved in such activities causing problems. 


Insanity is the inability of a person to understand the meaning of his actions or to realize that he is wrong or illegal. This alludes to mental illness, in which a person’s mental faculties are severely impaired and he is unable to comprehend the consequences of his actions. Insanity is difficult to define in a way that meets legal standards. For ordinary people, insanity is usually associated with mental illness or some kind of mental illness. 

According to Black’s Law Dictionary2, any mental illness serious enough to deprive a person of legal capacity and exempt them from criminal or civil liability is considered insanity. “Mental illness,” “mental condition,” and “mental disorder” refer to illnesses that require psychiatric or psychological help, while insanity is a legal term. As a result, one can have a mental illness, illness, or disability without being legally considered insane. However, the reverse is also true.


The defendant, who is defending himself on the charge of insanity, admits to having committed the crime but claims that his insanity absolves him of responsibility. It’s more of an explanation for what the person did than an apology. A defendant may raise this defense during a criminal trial in court. It has become necessary to determine the psychology of criminals. While criminal law focuses on the suspect’s “state of mind,” it also deals with “men’s rea.” Men’s rea is a legal term that focuses on a person’s mental health. It is necessary to consider not only the physical behavior of the offender but also the emotional state. The mental state of the mentally ill person prevents him from having criminal intentions, 

In the Indian criminal justice system, the ‘insanity defense is a strategy used to acquit criminal suspects. It is based on the idea that the person was suffering from a mental illness and could not understand his actions.

There are two kinds of reasons for him: 

Permanent Insanity: The condition in which a person is permanently insane. Past actions and experiences can indicate that a person is permanently insane and obscure the seriousness of the situation. 

Temporary Insanity: Occasional or temporary loss of consciousness. Examples of temporary insanity include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and other temporary mental illnesses. There are two possible consequences of this transient madness: he is “insane and therefore innocent” and “guilty but insane and therefore not a crime”.3

To qualify for an exception under Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, the suspect must have engaged in an illegal or unlawful act at the time the offense was suspected or he had a mentally ill comprehension and must indicate that when there is suspicion of a crime. No one is allowed to cite mental illness as a valid reason for committing a crime. The suspect’s mental state is so bad that he cannot fully comprehend the nature of the crime.4


Insanity Defense has been misused time and time again, releasing guilty people under various scenarios of insanity and undermining the effectiveness of the rule of law. Due to the prevalence of misuse, many countries have eliminated this defense including Germany, Argentina, Thailand, and much of the United Kingdom. It is difficult to prove insanity legally and requires concrete evidence, but it is easy to prove insanity medically. It is difficult to meet all the requirements of Section 84 to avoid criminal liability. Therefore, most insanity defense cases end with the defendant being criminally detained and punished. Mental illness defenses are commonly misused because it is difficult to determine whether a person was “healthy or unhealthy” at the time the crime was committed.


Although rarely used in criminal cases, the defense of insanity remains controversial. The question of whether the defense of insanity is necessary often comes to our minds. Due to evidence of insanity, defendants charged with more gruesome and serious crimes cannot be found guilty of committing such crimes. If the defense alleges insanity, the suspect pleads guilty and demands a plea of ​​not guilty based on his mental state. Criminals sometimes pretend to be insane to avoid punishment. In reality, claiming an insanity defense is a dangerous defense at best. A basic rule of criminal law seems to be at stake. The insanity defense is based on the idea that punitive action is acceptable only if the accused deserves it. As a prerequisite for punishment, the perpetrator of the crime must bear the moral responsibility of being a moral agent. When a person’s mental illness is so severe that he can no longer control his irrational or compulsive behavior, he can no longer act as a moral agent would be unfair. 

Section 84 considers mental illness a cognitive impairment. Other types of mental illness are not admissible in court. Various mental illnesses can affect your ability to work to the point where you lose control of your activities. Many crimes are committed out of anger and emotion. A person can understand what he has done only after he has performed the act. However, his actions were governed by the emotions of the time. His cognitive abilities can be fairly normal.5

Although Section 84 seeks to provide appropriate treatment for mentally ill offenders, there are circumstances in which false acquittals or convictions are made. Therefore, broader ideas such as emotions, pre-action states, etc. should be included. The definition of legal insanity has been expanded to include other features of medical insanity. Instead of focusing on criminals, we need to focus on eliminating crime.  On the contrary, in the general interest of society, these criminals should not be released, given proper mental health evaluations to avoid false acquittals or convictions, and placed in psychiatric facilities. In all these situations, a psychiatrist should be consulted and an individual’s fate should not be left to the discretion of a single judge. Judges may be required by law to make certain decisions. He should get a medical opinion.


Ashirudeen Ahmed v. The King6 was intended to create a new test. It has been determined that to be eligible for protection under Section 84 of the IPC, 

  1. a defendant must produce evidence of one of the following: 
  2.  did not know that the act was illegal; 
  3.  did not know that the act was illegal; 

Dayabhai ChhaganBhai Thakkar v State of Gujarat7 found that consideration of the defendant’s mental state depends on the period during which the crime was committed. If the suspect was in a  state of mind eligible for protection under Section 84 of the  IPC, only the events before, during, and after the crime can be used to make that determination.

The Supreme Court has indicated which diseases are covered by this defense and which are not included in her Bapu Gajraj Singh v State of Rajasthan8. By law, this defense does not apply to bizarre, selfish, or impatient behavior or illnesses that impair the intellect and affect emotions and willpower. Also, it is not enough for the defendant to experience occasional insanity or epileptic seizures but otherwise behave normally. 

In Hari Singh Gond v. State of Madhya Pradesh9 case, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 84 of the IPC is the legal standard of accountability in cases of suspected mental illness. Courts, on the other hand, have largely associated the phrase with insanity. But the definition of “madness” is vague. It is a term used to describe varying degrees of mental illness severity. Therefore, people with mental illness are not always exempt from criminal responsibility. A distinction must be made between medical insanity and legal insanity. Medical insanity is not a matter of court. It’s legal madness. 

In Surendra Mishra v. State of Jharkhand10, the Supreme Court held that “legal insanity,” not “medical insanity,” must be proven to acquit a suspect of criminal liability under section 84 of the IPC. 


The section on insanity deals with all forms of insanity, such as “temporary or permanent,” “natural or consequential,” and “caused by disease or birth,” and treats the suspect as the sole criterion for establishing criminal liability. completely dependent on the behavior of the person. As it is difficult to determine whether someone is mentally unstable at the time of a crime, it is also difficult to determine their mental health status. Also, defending oneself is quite a challenge for an insane person. In addition, rational individuals use this defense to avoid punishment. This state makes it difficult for the law to achieve its main purpose, turning it into a loophole. The fact that a court must determine a person’s truthfulness in itself a very difficult situation makes this rule an additional loophole.  Only legitimate entities should be allowed to use insanity defenses. Ultimately it is left to the discretion of the courts, but laws made in the public interest must be applied fairly. It is reasonable to assume that the laws on insanity no longer serve their original purpose and is being used by criminals as a defense against law enforcement. Indian courts have often sought a more progressive approach to enforcing the concept of “mental insanity” in criminal law in the light of advances in medicine, and psychiatry in particular.


  1. Parthasarathy Ramamurthy & Vijay Chatoth, How does India decides Insanity Plies? A review of the High Court judgements in the past decades, (Visited on May 29, 2021).
  2. Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th Ed., p.810.
  3. Russell Covey, “Temporary Insanity: The Strange Life and Times of the perfect defense”, Available at: (Visited on May 28, 2021).
  4. Manas Shrivastava & Adatsa Hota, “Privacy and Legal Rights of People with Mental Illness”, available at: (Visited on May 30, 2021).
  5. Ashiruddin Ahmed v The King, 1949 CriLJ 255.
  6. Dayabhai Chhaganbhai Thakkar v. State of Gujarat AIR 1964 SC 1563.
  7. Bapu Gajraj Singh v. State of Rajasthan (2007) 3 SCC Cri.509.
  8. Hari Singh Gond v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2008) 16 SCC 109
  9. Surendra Mishra v State of Jharkhand, AIR 2011 SC 627

This article is written by Jay Kumar Gupta, a second-year BBA LL.B.(Hons.) student at the School of Law, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *