Author : Md. Arshad (Galgotias university)

Co-Author : Nancy Kesarwani (Galgotias university)


The insanity is one of the unfavorable ranges of the law of crime. It is the war between the medical and legal profession, the insanity as a defense draws a deduction from the scant evidence, insanity is apparently a question of fact not gauged by inflexible legal test. A mentally ill person is not punished for his/her crime as she/he is devoid free will, it does not mean that the prosecution responsibilities were over the burden of proof must be reasonable doubt and then only the plea of unsoundness of mind is entertained.

The insanity defense is considered as the primary used in criminal prosecutions. It is based on the practical or unseen assumption that during the time of any sort or major crime which were attempted, the defendant was suffering from severe mental disorder and was unfit for appreciating the nature of the crime and comparing right to wrong behavior, hence making them not legally accountable for crime. The insanity defense hereby is considered a legal concept of crime.  Therefore, it means that just suffering from a mental disorder is not sufficient enough to prove insanity. The defendant has the burden of proving the defense victim of insanity by a “preponderance of the evidence” which is similar to a civil case.It is hard to determine and prove legal insanity, and even harder to successful evidence in court room or on the day of court trial.


The M’Naghten Rule – In 1843 came an historical and landmark ruling that will dominate the legal landscape for a number over a decade. Daniel McNaughten shot and killed Edward Drummond mistaking him for Sir Robert Peel.  This defence of Insanity was presented as his defence and his family narrated the history of his mental illness and evidence of being assessed whilst he was in prison. The judge directed the jury by saying that “the question to be determined is, whether at the time the act in question was committed, the prisoner had or had not the use of his understanding, so as to know that he was doing a wrong or wicked act.”The jury in this case acquitted Mr. M’Naghten and sent him to Bethlem Hospital. There was a big public outcry from the members of the House of Parliament and consequently prompted Lord Lyndhurst who was the Lord Chancellor to instigate a debate at the House of Lord about the Criminal responsibility of people with mental illness, though at the time refers to it as insanity. This led to the promulgation of the Lunacy Act of 1845. Through the act was the establishment of Lunacy commission which was charged with the responsibility of transfer of people from prison to the asylums regulated under the act.

This changed the status of people transferred into asylums. Prisoners became patients under the supervision of medical personnel and could be discharged on the advice of the doctors.

This marked a precedent for the court in establishing a defence on the ground of insanity. This could only be used after the defendant has managed to prove that he or she was not of a sound mind or suffering from a disease of mind as to not be able to know the nature and quality of his or her action, or he or she was not able to distinguish its wrongfulness.

This McNaughten rule became a wide legendary precedent for the law concerning the defence of insanity crimes. In India, insanity defence law, as per Section 84 IPC is only solely based upon the McNaughten rules.

Section 84 of IPC deals and faces the trial with the “act of a person of unsound minded.” “Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, during the time of making an attempt of crime it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.


  1. Temporary Insanity: In a criminal prosecution, a defense by the accused that he/she was briefly insane at the time the crime was committed or attempted and therefore was incapable of presuming the nature of his/her alleged criminal act. Temporary insanity is claimed as a defense took charge whether or not the accused is mentally stable at the time of trial court. One issue with a temporary insanity defense is the burden of proof, since any examination conducted by psychiatrists had to be after the fact, therefore only evidence must be the conduct of the accused instantly before or after the crime.
  2. Permanent insanity: A character with permanent insanity may be reduced to a raving lunatic or may be outwardly indistinguishable from a normal person’s behavior; either way, she/he is inwardly corrupted insane. Few of the most disaster cultists in the world are characters who have become permanently insane through losing their mind orders, been corrupted by forbidden knowledge, and gone over to the other side.


  • The case of the insanity defense has a slight difference as compared to other cases. In such cases, the accused has to be in stage attention and further required to confess that he/she has committed the crime but in reality ground the accused had no knowledge about what he/she has done on stage, conscious or unconscious. He/She is incapable to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. Here, the mental state of the accused may become a supporting or opposing factor for his/her defense of insanity.
  • In a democratic law of a country like India where an accused of some crimes are considered a part of a lesser human, this defence provides a stage of relief to a mentally challenged person. If availed the accused by this can be formally discharged and acquitted.
  • In some cases, where the mental illness condition of the accused has been proved to the court of law, he is neither charged with any penalties nor any acquittal. It all depends upon the mental status he is possessed by.
  • For a mentally challenged person, this defence is more like a “life-giver”  it is because his/her stage of mind is similar to that of a newborn child who does not know about what he/she is doing and is unacquainted with the real consequences. Therefore, imposing such burden charges on such a person would be against morality or an act of a human.


  • Considering the present-day misuse of this law defence, the Law of Insanity has been abolished in many countries. Such as Germany, Argentina, Thailand and many countries in England have already abolished such defences. An analogical example would be wrong to draw out line between accused or real attempted criminals here but considering the misuse of this defence in multitudinous cases wherein, brutal criminals gets acquittal easily on the ground of insanity simply demeans the very notion the law was built upon across the country or world.
  • As already been dealt with within the article of law, proving Insanity and availing this defence is upon the accused and it became a very big challenge to prove the same. Though Medically examined insanity could easily be proven, legally it’s a cumbersome task because the party has to collect and submit concrete evidence to prove the insanity crimes. It is extremely difficult to fulfil the essentials phase of Section 84 IPC to show legal insanity. It is for this reason that in many legitimate cases of insanity the accused is charged and punished.
  • One of the most vital points here is that it increases the trail amount. Further to prove the insanity defense will definitely hire a specialist lawyer to prove their point in the court. Also, the prosecution will do the same. In this process, a significant amount of money would be charged. And among all these only the least number of cases goes to success in taking the defense of insanity.

Judgments passed:-

In the case of Hari Singh Gond v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court noticed that Section 84 of IPC sets out the legal test of responsibility in cases of alleged mental insanity. There is no definition of ‘mind soundness’. But the term ‘insanity’ itself does not have any definition. It is a word used to describe various mental disorders, where the judgment is the person is totally liable to recurring fits of insanity.

In Kamala Bunya v. West Bengal State, the accused was tried for her husband’s murder with an axis. A suit was filed against her alleged to be insane at the time of the incident, the investigating officer recorded at the initial stage about the accused’s mental insanity. The accused made no attempt to flee, nor made any attempt to remove the incriminating weapon. She was entitled to benefit from Section 84. And hence she was proved insane at the time of the commission of the offence and was held guilty of Culpable Homicide and not of Murder.


The cases of insanity defence or other party holding are subject to critical offense as well tools. Today democratic countries like India several criminals committed crimes are being easily acquainted while showing strong evidence in the courtroom. If we talk about the cases which are happening underground of insanity subjects are more disasters in comparison to others to some extent crime reached to the peak legal discussion or agenda in order to sustain precise judgment.

Once under the stage of unconsciousness / insanity crimes committed it become widely difficult to prove in trial or court for the defence team or other  party because it directly indicates crimes committed by the person are insane or were found unconscious. Thus we must examine such case through fast availability of team such as experts in the field of medical science and specialized with lawyer.


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