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Defence Of Insanity & Juvenility Ordinarily Ought To Be Raised During Trial: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
19 Aug 2020 1:13 PM GMT
Defence Of Insanity & Juvenility Ordinarily Ought To Be Raised During Trial: SC [Read Judgment]
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"Belated claims not only prevent proper production and appreciation of evidence, but they also undermine the genuineness of the defence’s case."
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Pleas of unsoundness of mind under Section 84 of Indian Penal Code or mitigating circumstances like juvenility of age, ordinarily ought to be raised during trial itself, the Supreme Court has observed.

The bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant observed that, in order to successfully claim defence of mental unsoundness under Section 84 of IPC, the accused must show by preponderance of probabilities that he/she suffered from a serious-enough mental disease or infirmity which would affect the individual's ability to distinguish right from wrong.

The court observed thus while dismissing the appeal filed by a person who was convicted  under Section 394 of the Indian Penal Cod (Robbery) and Section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959.

In this case, the statement recorded under Section 313 CrPC shows that the accused was above 18 years around the time of the incident. In appeal before the High Court, the accused raised new arguments of juvenility and insanity. He claimed that he was merely 15 years at the time of occurrence and was undergoing treatment for a mental disorder at a government hospital. This was supported through a copy of an OPD card and the testimony of the appellant's mother who stated that he sometimes had to be kept chained at home to prevent harm to himself and others. The High Court, while dismissing the appeal, took notice of the Section 313 Cr.P.C. statement and concluded that he was major.

While upholding the concurrent conviction, the Apex Court bench observed that the instant case is not a fit case for re-appraisal of evidence. The court observed:

"Pleas of unsoundness of mind under Section 84 of IPC or mitigating circumstances like juvenility of age, ordinarily ought to be raised during trial itself. Belated claims not only prevent proper production and appreciation of evidence, but they also undermine the genuineness of the defence's case. . As noted by the High Court, no evidence in the form of a birth certificate, school record or medical test was brought forth; nor any expert examination has been sought by the appellant. Instead, the statement recorded under Section 313 CrPC shows that the appellant was above 18 years around the time of the incident, which is a far departure from the claimed age of 15 years."

The court also observed that the production of photocopy of an OPD card and statement of mother on affidavit have little  evidentiary value. The bench observed:

"Mere production of photocopy of an OPD card and statement of mother on affidavit have little, if any, evidentiary value. In order to successfully claim defence of mental unsoundness under Section 84 of IPC, the accused must show by preponderance of probabilities that he/she suffered from a serious-enough mental disease or infirmity which would affect the individual's ability to distinguish right from wrong. Further, it must be established that the accused was afflicted by such disability particularly at the time of the crime and that but for such impairment, the crime would not have been committed."

Dismissing his appeal, the bench directed the state to take the accused to custody.

Case details
Case name: Mohd. Anwar vs. The State (N.C.T. of Delhi) 
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1551 of 2010 
Coram: Justices NV Ramana, S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant 

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