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Sec 84- IPC

Dr Nandini CP
Criminal Law I

Sec 84

embodies two different mental
conditions to claim exemption from
criminal liability :

The accused was incapable of knowing the nature of t

What will be considered?

The first talks about the involuntary

actions and mistake of fact

The second says

situations where a
delusion is unable
right and wrong

man by reason of
to appreciate b/w


Insanity found as a possible defence

as early as 1313- even
absolute liability was prevailing
Two ways... where accused persons
sanity may be relevant to study
Accused claims
insanity as a
defence , when he
committed the
crime--This is a matter of
substantive law

Claims insanity as a
defence at the time of
trial--This category is more
of procedural in nature

How does it survive?

The defence largely acts as a restrictions

on what might otherwise be a complete
defence based on lack of mens rea or
In such cases the special verdict would
be Not Guilty by reason of insanity
The Trial of Lunatics Act, 1883..
Procedure .. Criminal Procedure
( Insanity) Act 1964 ... Substituted by
the Cr Pro ( Insanity and Unfitness to
Plead ) Act, 1991.

Procedure and verdict

The Secretary of state , the accused was

to be treated ... And subject to Mental
Health Act, 1983

Based on the above laws the orders that

can be passed are:
Admission to Hospital
Guardianship Order
Supervision and Treatment order
Absolute Discharge

R. V. Mc Naughten. ( 1843)

Daniel M .. Charged of Murder of Edward

Drummond ( Sec to PM Sir Robert Peel) by
shooting him in his back.. While walking
The accused suffering from insane delusion
that Sir Robert Peel had injured him
Pleaded not guilty due to insanity
Jury returned the verdict..... Not Guilty on
ground of insanity
Led to debate in parliament and the House
of Lords were asked to clarify the law

About the Defence

Presumption of sanity and burden

of proof: Sanity is a rebuttable
presumption and the burden of proof
is on the party denying it; the
standard of proof is on a balance of
probabilities, that is to say that mental
incapacity is more likely than not.

Disease of the mind


Nature and quality of the act:

This phrase refers to the physical nature and quality of the act,
rather than the moral quality. It covers the situation where the
defendant does not know what he is physically doing.
Two common examples used are:

The defendant cuts a woman's throat under the delusion that

he is cutting a loaf of bread,

The defendant chops off a sleeping

has the deluded idea that it would be
looking for it when he wakes up.

Knowledge that the act was wrong

man's head because he

great fun to see the man

Range of conditions treated in law

as a disease of the mind

Kemp, R v
(1957) Devlin J
D an elderly man suffered with arteriosclerosis caused
attacked wife with hammer during the night.

Held: Hardening of the arteries may cause damage to the brain cells which
may be a "disease of the mind" but the physical state of brain irrelevant, it is
whether the mental faculties of reason, memory and understanding are
impaired or absent; in this case it was the flow of blood that affected the
mind, not destruction of brain cells.

Devlin J "That may be a matter of importance medically, but it is of no

importance to the law, which merely has to consider the state of mind in
which the accused is, not how he got there. ...mind in the MNaghten
Rules is used in the ordinary sense of the mental faculties of reason,
memory and understanding....

D was unaware of his actions during a 'blackout' caused by a disease of the

body that affected the mind.

Per curium: The condition of the brain, whether the defect of reason is
transient or permanent or whether it is curable, is irrelevant.

Guilty but insane (the old special verdict)

Bailey V. R 1983
Insanity - automatism - self-induced - available
for specific or basic intent in some circumstances

seriously injured his ex-girlfriends new partner with an iron bar. He

said assaulted the partner to teach him a lesson for associating with
the girl
D, a diabetic took insulin and drank some sugared water but he had
nothing to eat. D claimed he acted in a state of automatism caused by
hypoglycaemia. He did not complicate the issue with alcohol or

Held: Automatism, even if self-induced could provide a defence to a

crime of basic intent crime (unless caused by intoxication).

What must be considered is whether D, in view of his knowledge of

the likely results of his actions, was sufficiently reckless. It was not
necessarily reckless to fail to take food after a dose of insulin.

Guilty although non-insane (self-induced) automatism, no

injustice at trial.

Hennessy, R v (1989)

Insanity - distinguishing between insanity and

automatism - internal factors caused by external
influences are insanity

D, a diabetic, took a car without consent and drove whilst

disqualified. Had not taken insulin because of stress anxiety
and depression.

Held: Not taking insulin - leading to hyperglycaemia is

insanity. And it is insanity either alone or together with the
stress anxiety and depression. It is not automatism.

Stress and anxiety are neither unique nor accidental factors

but constituted a state of mind which was prone to recur.
D was not suffering from automatism.


Quick (1973) CA

Insanity - automatism - an external factor is required

D, a nurse, assaulted a patient. He was a diabetic, had taken insulin and

eaten sufficient food. He drank whisky and rum he could not remember
assault. He pleaded automatism.

Held: D was suffering from automatism, which is a mental abnormality

caused by an external factor. He was not suffering from insanity caused by
hypoglycaemia (low sugar in the blood) by taking insulin prescribed by his
doctor. [Distinguished from hyperglycaemia high blood sugar occurring
naturally, which would be insanity]

Lawton LJ: 'a self-induced incapacity will not excuse ... nor will one which
could have been reasonably foreseen as a result of either doing or
omitting to do something, for example, taking alcohol against medical
advice after using certain prescribed drugs or failing to have regular meals
while taking insulin.

Not guilty


Sullivan V R 1983

Insanity - epilepsy is insanity, not automatism]

D kicked an 86 yr old neighbour for whom he customarily did acts of
kindness - in the head and body while having epileptic fit.

Held: Epilepsy is insanity, (not automatism) it affects the mind, not an

external cause such as drugs or alcohol.

A defence of non-insane automatism, for which the proper verdict would be

a verdict of not guilty, might be available in cases where temporary
impairment of the mental faculties, not being self-induced by drink or drugs,
results from some external factor such as a blow to the head causing

Comment: On his conviction, a probation order, with medical supervision,
represented an altogether more advantageous outcome than the order
which the court would have been obliged to make if the defence of insanity
had been established

Windle, R v (1952) CA

Insanity - doing wrong means legally, not morally wrong]

D killed his insane wife who was always threatening suicide. He killed
her with 100 aspirin. He said I suppose they will hang me for this?
indicating he knew it was legally wrong, whereas he thought it was
morally right.

Held: Knowledge that an act is wrong means legally not morally

wrong. Killing terminally ill spouse may be morally justified but is
criminal offence. Claimed he had communicative insanity (folie a deux).

Guilty (sentence of death upheld)

Comment: Diminished responsibility could now be argued in such
The ratio in Windle has been doubted in R v Dean Johnson (2007)
EWCA Crim 1978. The High Court of Australia in R v Stapleton
(1952) 86 CLR 358 refused to follow Windle.

List of Cases in India

Lakshmi V
V State
State 1963

Murder of step brother- A drug

The step brother opposed the
life style
Later the victim was attacked
with ( Pharasa) .. When he
raised alarm.. He ran away..
After 2 hrs the victim died..
Accuse d surrendered after two
Whether the defence of
insanity applies ?
There was motive.. But there
was evidence of short intervals
of recurring fits insanity ..
The word incapable was
interpreted.. Difference of Legal
and Medical Insanity--Appeal Dismissed

Dayabhai Chhaganbahi
Chhaganbahi Thannkar
Thannkar V
V Guj
(( 1964)

Wife killed
killed by
by husband
husband ..
.. Did
Did not
not take
her to
to her
her workplace
Did not
not like
like her
her and
and wanted
wanted his
his FIL
FIL to
take her
her away
When the
the FIL
FIL did
did not
not take
take her
her on
on the
promised day
day ....The
....The victim
victim was
was killed

Proof of
of insanity
insanity not
not sufficient
sufficient to
convince the
the court
court about
about insanity
The Appeal dismissed

Sheralli Wali
Wali Mohd
Mohd V
V St
St of
of Mahratra
(( 1972)

Killed his
his wife
wife and
and female
female child..
Though the
the accused
accused brothers
brothers pleaded
insanity ....
.... It
It could
could not
not be
be inferred
from the
the way
way the
the act
act was
was committed
The appeal
appeal was
was dismissed

Irresistible Impulse

Irresistible impulse is used to exclude from criminal

culpability those individuals knowing the difference
between right and wrong but who are none the less
driven to commit a crime by an irresistible impulse
resulting from a mental condition. In other words, a
person may understand what they are doing is
wrong, but they are unable to conform their
behavior to what is considered to be right or
correct based upon a deficit in will or volition.

Thus, the MNaghten rule is concerned with

cognitive abilities whereas irresistible impulse as a
test of insanity is not the sole test utilized; other
tests are also used.


In R v Burgess (1991) 2 WLR 1206 the Court

of Appeal ruled that the defendant who
wounded a woman by hitting her with a video
recorder while sleepwalking, was insane
under the M'Naghten Rules.

Lord Lane said, "We accept that sleep is a

normal condition, but the evidence in the
instant case indicates that sleepwalking, and
particularly violence in sleep, is not normal.
After Homicide Act, 1957 Can claimed
Diminished Responsibility