“Insanity Defence” is a criminal law tool in the Indian legal system that protects a person from being responsible for a crime. It is based on the hypothesis that the person was mentally ill at the time of the crime and was thus unable to understand what he or she was doing. This should be noted here that this is a statutory term, which makes this clearly not enough to prove insanity to have a mental disorder.

The burden of proof to show foolishness rests with the accused individual and the court needs to offer facts comparable to that of “preponderance of the evidence.” This article focuses on the notion of lawlessness . and how the current justice system has become a loophole.

The defence of insanity refers to an assault in which a suspect acknowledges the crime but claims that his mental condition is unknown. This is why it is more of an excuse rather than a justification of what he/she has done.

Section 84 of The Indian Penal Code,1860 defines the defence of Insanity. Section 84 provides protection to an unhealthy person from criminal liability, also known as insanity law, and offers him/her defence. The principle behind this law is that when a folly committed an offence in a suitable form of insanity, a guilty heart of what he/she is doing is not understandable and the law forbids the act. Of these purposes, insanity rule proved very relevant.


In this case, a man named McNaughton murdered Edward Drummond, rendering him a wrong guy. The British Courts of R c. McNaughton established the McNaughton Test on the basis of the current insane law and the Indian Penal Code. The mind was not safe, and the court ordered the acquittal. Nevertheless, the jury found him insane and sentenced him to metaphysical asylum. After this decision in 1843, the House of Lords made a five-point plan. Such five ideas were perceived as the laws of McNaughton. The following recommendations were made:

  1. It would be considered that the prisoner is well unless proved otherwise in the court of law.
  2. A fool would be punished if he/she knew what he/she is doing during the execution of the crime.
  3. That the perpetrator would not be able to recognize the essence and consequences of his acts in defence of stupidity by way of his insanity.
  4. The hallucination the accused is enduring should be genuine.
  5. The jury decides whether someone is insane or not as per the English Law.

The rule on the preservation of insanity set forth certain propositions. The rule on the preservation of insanity set forth certain propositions. The rules emphasize the recognition of an accused’s “comprehensibility” whether he/she has done anything wrong. It’s a check that determines what is wrong and what is right.


The insanity defence is attributed to Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, which states that nothing is an offence if performed by a person who, due to unhealthy mind, was unable to understand the result of that act and also did not realize that it is prohibited by law at the time of the commission.

The insanity defence is attributed to Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, which states that nothing is an offence if performed by a person who, due to unhealthy mind, was unable to understand the result of that act and also did not realize that it is prohibited by law at the time of the commission.

The results are as follows:

  1. The individual does not know the essence of the act.
  2. If he/she did not understand that his acts were mistaken.
  3. The individual did not know that the act committed by him was against law.

The ignorance is legal willful ignorance under all these conditions and thus the accused should be convicted if proved.

It is also noted here that the fundamental principles of Section 84 of the IPC are based upon,

  • Actus reum nisi mens sit rea says nothing is wrong unless something is incorrect and the intention is guilty
  • Furiosi nulla voluntas est, which means that a person who is mentally ill has no free will and can not make mistakes. Section 84 discharges a person with mental health from his or her obligations in the absence of morality or purpose.

Case Laws:

In Bapu Gajraj Singh vs State of Rajasthan[1], The Supreme Court held that a psychopath may not afford immunity based on section 84 IPC merely because of an abnormal mental or a partial illusion, excessive desire or compulsive conduct.

In Surendra Mishra v. The State of Jharkhand[2], the noble Supreme Court held that section 84 is only legal folly and not medical folly and that a person with a mental disorder is not excluded from criminal responsibility.

Hence, it is not only that the person suffered from a mental disorder, under Section 84, of the Indian Penal Code, but also the facts based on the proof that prove him or her incapacitated to commit an offence.


As per the law, every man is assumed to be safe and is expected to have a reasonable amount of justification for his conduct, unless proven otherwise. An insanity defence is more like a disconnect from general law and therefore certain provisions are prescribed in law to demonstrate and prove insanity defence. The offender who will without reasonable doubt prove him/her to be “legally” insane at the time of the crime also carries the burden of justifying his / her protection against insanity.

For example, The accused must prove that he is unable to understand the nature of the event or that the actions of the accused contravened the law, through evidence such as oral and written documentaries. In the case of Anandrao Bhosale v. State of Maharashtra Supreme Court held that the time of evidence is when the crime has been committed in fact and that the evidence duty rests with the party seeking the benefit of Section 84. In T.N. Lakshmaiah v. State of Karnataka[3], The honourable Supreme Court observed that only the preponderance of probability that makes it close to the prevailing probability in civil cases is the burden upon the defendant.


  1. It is a remedy where the convicted party is already a party with other mental issues and is thus supported, although there are still real examples of this problem in a minority.
  2. This shield avoids the death penalty when a fool confesses his crime and cannot grasp the severity of what he/she has done and thus the death penalty is not legal.
  3. This protection gives comfort to a mentally challenged person in a country like India that finds an accused less individual of any crime. The convicted can be officially disqualified and acquitted because they have been harmed by it.
  4. This defence is almost of a “life-giver” to a mentally ill adult because he/she has a similar condition to a kid who doesn’t know what he/she does and doesn’t know the consequences. It would, therefore, be contrary to morality to place burdensome charges on such an individual.


  1. In view of the current abuse of such a defence, the insanity law in many countries has been abolished. Such protections had already been dismantled in countries like USA, Germany, Argentina and Thailand. The misconception that this defence was misused in countless cases in which violent criminals obtain acquittal because of insanity actually demeans the premise that the statute was based on is an analogical example.
  2. As stated in the article, the accused must demonstrate insanity to take advantage of this defence and to prove this is a great challenge. While medical insanity can easily be confirmed, legally the procedure is daunting because the party needs to explain the insanity in concrete terms. It is exceedingly difficult to explain legal irony to the basics of Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Thus, in many legal cases of madness, the perpetrator is convicted and fined.
  3. Ignorance defence is abuse to avoid acquittal or fine. During the time that the crime was committed, it is very difficult to determine whether the individual had a safe or unhealthy mind. This relies on the prudence of the judge and, in one way or another, the law loses its fundamental meaning.


We can now accept that the Insanity Defence has become the most common criminal defence. It is almost difficult to assert the mental state of someone at the time of the crime. The Indian judiciary is also responsible for its failure as the only fuel added to the fire caused this protection to be lost, and all that is relevant are word games.

Such cases are complicated as an accused here decides to commit a crime but avoids the repercussions and that gives an eye to the right individual. Such cases are more complicated. Of these basic factors, it may be argued that insanity law has lost its original purpose and is now a criminal weapon to escape legal repercussions. Now, these limitations can be solved by the development of simplified laws and tests.

The first step towards reforms may be to separate crime criminals from insane criminals, while former offenders are the main culprits. Reforms in this region cannot be made until states enact new legislation to regulate these issues, and it is about time that these rules were reformed.


mihika swaroop Mihika Swaroop | ICFAI, Dehradun


[1] Bapu Gajraj Singh vs State of Rajasthan, appeal (crl) 1313 of 2006

[2] Surendra Mishra vs  State of Jharkhand, 2011

[3] T.N Lakshmaiah vs State of Karnataka. (2002) 1 SCC 219.


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