In the field of criminal law, crimes are classified as a unit with two elements or essentials: Actus Reus and Mens Rea. When Actus Reusis is physically or explicitly done, Mens Rea is the mental state of the person who committed the offense. He must have been aware of the nature of his action and the consequences. To prove a crime and to have criminal liability established, both elements are required to be present.

Defenses like insanity, minority, provocation, etc., are used to prove the guilt-ridden mental state was not present in the person. Suppose a person who commits a crime does not recognize the seriousness of his conduct nor is capable of assessing his mental state to judge the severity of his act. In that case, he is not able to be held completely accountable for his “crime.” In addition, punishing someone who is not responsible for the crime violates the fundamental right to human dignity and rights fundamentally guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Therefore, it is commonly accepted that the incapacity of committing crimes is not a reason to exempt a person from being punished. [i]

The purpose of this essay is to examine the defense against insanity, its definition, as well as its development and consequences. The term “insanity” is used to describe mental illness or insanity, an abnormality in the mind, or a mental disorder. That means that an insane person is unable to think and behave like an average human being. They lack the mental clarity and rationality that is found in normal people. It is referred to as “noncomposement mentis.’ (possessed of an intelligent mind.)

As we all know, to judge the mental state of the person in question is not an easy feat. The degree to which he was able to comprehend the character of his character was not sound in real life, which would determine his legal position.


One of the main duties of the defense granted is the identification of the person, which is accomplished through testing. There were a variety of tests utilized to determine if a person is legally insane, like the Wild Beast test, The Insane Delusion test, and the “test of capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.” The three tests that were used to determine if someone is insane laid the foundation for the iconic McNaughtenrule. This is how the McNaughten rule has become an iconic precedent for law regarding the defense of insaneness. In India, the law on the insanity defense, Section 84 IPC, is exclusively based on the McNaughten guidelines. Because it was being drafted, no major modifications have been implemented.

It is believed that the McNaughten rules, which are the enduring measurement of insaneness, are based on the classical, academic mentality that is a century old. They were developed following an investigation into Daniel Mc Naughten in 1843 and acquitted from the murder conviction of Edward Drummond, whom he killed believing to be a Prime Minister Robert Peel. McNaughten was described as an “extreme paranoid schizophrenic” who was “entangled in an elaborate system of delusions,” which caused him to believe that the Prime Minister was responsible for all his personal and financial life problems. Schizophrenia is basically understood as an aberration inducing a kind of split personality. The rule or test is based on whether the person who committed the crime was aware of the nature of the offense or knew how to distinguish between right and wrong when the crime was committed. The rule says:

“Every person is assumed to be sane as well … to defend for insaneness, it must be proven that during the period of commission of the crime the being accused was suffering from an impairment of reason due to mental illness, and was unable to comprehend the nature or quality of the crime that he was performing or if he was able to realize it, was not aware that he was, in fact, doing something not right.

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