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Insanity Defense Under Section 84 Of The Indian Penal Code, 1860

By Sanchitha G, Christ (Deemed to be) University, Bangalore*.


Criminal law in India has not yet found a solution to the issue of insanity as a defense. However, it poses several intriguing problems that demand serious examination. A well-known principle is "Actus Non-Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea," which, directly translated, implies that an act does not render a person accountable without a guilty mind. When committing a crime, the offender's intention or guilty mind (Mens Rea) plays a crucial role. A person who is unable to comprehend the nature of the conduct he has committed is protected by the legislation known as the defense of insanity. The level of insanity should be sufficient that the offender is incapable of understanding the nature of the conduct. The fact that the person has a mental condition does not, by itself, establish that he is insane. Chapter IV[1], Section 84[2] of the Indian Penal Code mentions insanity as a defense and an exception. There are two types of insanity, medical and legal insanity. Similar to a civil case, the defendant must establish the defense of insanity by a "preponderance of the facts." Legal insanity is difficult to define, and it is even more challenging to properly argue against it in court. However, in practice using insanity as a defense is more difficult than it appears on paper for a variety of complicated reasons, as well as because the burden of proof rests with the person making the claim.

Keywords: Insanity, Defence, Guilty Mind, Medical Insanity, Legal Insanity, Indian Penal Code


* The author is a third year student pursuing BBA. LL.B. from Christ (Deemed to be) University, Bangalore. [1] See, Chapter IV of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. [2] See, Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Insanity Defense Under Section 84 Of The Indian Penal Code, 1860-NLR
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Journal Details
Abbreviation: NLR 

ISSN:   2582-8479 (O)

Year of Starting: 2020

Place: New Delhi, India

Accessibility: Open Access

Peer Reviewer: Double Blind



​All research articles published in NLR and are fully open access. i.e. immediately freely available to read, download and share. Articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons license which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original work is properly cited.

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