Person Who Is Of Unsound Mind

Maria Johnson
• Monday, 08 March, 2021
• 11 min read

Spouse of a person with unsound mind can claim divorce under the ground of insanity. Wills can be contested if there is ample proof that the testator was of unsound mind.

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A person of unsound mind is an adult who from infirmity of mind is incapable of managing himself or his affairs. The term, therefore, includes insane persons, idiots, and Imbeciles.

Introduction Provisions as to the Accused person of Unsound Mind Case laws Conclusion References The main intention of including these provisions is to give a humane approach to the manner in which court proceedings are to be conducted.

The provisions are for the best interest of the individual who is of unsound mind and great care has been taken that the approach which is taken by the courts is a therapeutic one. Sec 328 of the Code provides a general procedure as to what a magistrate has to do when he gets an idea that a person is of unsound mind.

During the above inquiry, the magistrate may deal with the person in accordance with sec 330 m of the code. As we read above that if a person is found of unsoundness or incapacity then the magistrate or court shall proceed as per provisions of sec 330.

The magistrate shall further keep into picture the offense that has been committed and the nature of unsoundness/retardation inquire whether the accused can be released. If in case they think that the accused person still cannot make his defense then again the provisions of sec 330 will come into play.

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When the magistrate or court is of the opinion that the person appears of sound mind and there is proof that the act was done by the accused and that act would have been an offense had it been done with a sound mind, then the magistrate shall proceed with the case or send it to the sessions judge if required by law. This section contemplates that when a person is acquitted due to the ground of unsoundness then the findings need to specifically record whether the act was committed by the accuse or not.

This section contemplates that when a person is acquitted by the magistrate or court then it is to be ordered that the accused be kept in safe place or be delivered to a friend or relative. This section contemplates that whenever any friend or a relative of a person who is kept in custody in view of provisions of sec 330 or sec 335 of the code, wants that such a person be released to him shall make an application to the state government for his release.

23, it was held that the provisions in this chapter have been incorporated for the protecting the interests of a person who is of insane mind. It is imperative upon the Magistrate to find out if the person is of unsound mind by taking the help of the medical practitioners.

In the case of Grit Singh v. State of Punjab, 1986 Cr.LA 1505 (P&H) it was held that there should be medical evidence that proves and shows that the plea of insanity can be successfully given. In the case of V. Shivaswamy v. State, (1971) 3 SCC 220, it was held that the provisions require that an inquiry shall be conducted only if it appears that the accused was insane.

The first step that the magistrate or the court has to do is to ascertain that the person whom it is dealing with appears of unsound mind or not. Till the time this exercise is on the proceedings which are pending before the court are suspended and kept on hold.

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In simple words, an act done by an unsound mind will not be considered as an offence, and it falls under the category of General Exception. If the person cannot give his defense then the magistrate shall hear the prosecution and examine the records.

On the basis of medical evidence the Magistrate shall postpone the proceeding for temporary period until the person’s unsoundness is treated. During trial, if the magistrate satisfies that the person whose trial is taking place is of unsound mind and not capable to defend himself, the magistrate ensures the same by getting the person examined by a medical practitioner.

If the person cannot give his defense then the magistrate shall hear the prosecution and examine the records. On the basis of medical evidence the magistrate shall record such finding and shall postpone the hearing.

Whenever necessary, the relative or friend should present that person for inspection as the state Government directs. State Government shall empower the officer-in-charge of the jail where a person has been lodged under section 330 to discharge all the functions.

When it is to be found that the lunatic person is now can defend himself then the magistrate shall proceed with section 332. Commission is to be constituted in case the person is transferred to public lunatic, such commission is required to make formal inquiry of the soundness of that person and accordingly make report and have to send it to the State Government.

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The State Government will accept such application or allow the request only if that person delivered. It is held by the court that if the person is of unsound mind after the evidence produced by the Medical Practitioner.

It was further held that- when a person is unable to defend himself then the magistrate shall hear prosecution and make record of that accordingly. The magistrate has power to postpone the trial or inquiry if it prima facie found that the person is of unsound mind.

It was held under the case that since the accused fully knew the nature of criminal acts he had committed and the proceedings against him, it could not be said that he was incapable of making his defense. The High Court meticulously Considered their evidence and thereafter recorded its own findings on the crucial issues.

It was held by the court that the inquiry will be done only when the magistrate is satisfied with the fact that the accused is of unsound mind or insane. It can be concluded that such provisions are with the better interest of the persons who are of unsound mind and is not capable to defend himself.

After recovery of his health or when he will be capable to defend himself the court will start the proceedings as a sound mind of that person. This article has been written by Seal Kanji Shire, 3rd Year LL.B course at Late Paraíba Mondale Women’s Law College, S.N.D.T.

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According to Section 12: A person is said to be of sound mind for the purpose of making a contract if, at the time when he makes it, he is capable of understanding it and of forming a rational judgment as to its effect upon his interests. (b): A sane man, who is delirious from fever, or who is so drunk that he cannot understand the terms of a contract, or form a rational judgment as to its effect on his interests, cannot contract whilst such delirium or drunkenness lasts.

His mother proved that he was a born idiot incapable of understanding the transaction. The crucial point, therefore, is to find out whether he is entering into the contract after he has understood it and in regard to his interest… It does not necessarily mean that a man must be suffering from lunacy to disable him from entering into a contract.

An agreement by a person of unsound mind is absolutely void as against him, but he can derive benefit under it. Further, the property of an insane person is always liable for necessaries supplied to him or to anyone whom he is legally bound to support.

12 further defines the term sound mind in these words, “A person is said to be of sound mind for the purpose of making a contract if, at the time when he makes it, he is capable of understanding it and of forming a rational judgment as to its effect upon his interest…”. 12 further defines the term sound mind in these words, “A person is said to be of sound mind for the purpose of making a contract if, at the time when he makes it, he is capable of understanding it and of forming a rational judgment as to its effect upon his interest…”.

Thus, two essentials of ‘Sound Mind emerge from this definition:(1) Capacity to understand: and (2)Capacity to make a rational judgmentThere must be free and full consent of the parties to bind them to the contract. It is due to the absence of rational and deliberate consent that conveyance and contracts of persons of unsound mind are deemed to be invalid.

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Idiots: An Idiot is one who has lost mental powers completely, i.e., his brain has not developed enough to enable him, at all to understand the contract or of forming a rational judgment of its effects upon his interest. Lunatic: Lunacy arises from the illness of the brain or mental or bodies distress.

An agreement made with a person who is suffering from lunacy at the time of entering into the contract, is void (Sec. Foreign sovereign sand their Ambassadors in India can enter into contracts with Indian citizens and can sue them in Indian courts, but no suit can be filed against them in local courts unless the permission of the Central Government to this effect has been obtained.

Convicts: A person against whom a sentence of imprisonment is passed loses the capacity to contract. A woman, married or single, in Indian Law, is under no disability as regard, entering into contracts with regard to the property that belongs to her (e.g. Stridden of a married woman).

The purpose of the article is to derive and establish the legal purview through which unsoundness of mind is identified and, the rights that accrue hereinafter. The article explores the principles that the judiciary has relied on, and their evolution, or lack thereof.

Section 84 of the IPC reads, “Nothing is an offense which is done by a person who, at the time of doing 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.” If the accused is a person of unsound mind ; if he, at the time of doing it, does not know the nature of the act; or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.

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For uniformity, the author finds it pertinent to mention that the terms ‘unsoundness’ and ‘insanity’ have been used interchangeably, as has been the trend in recent judgments. The Constitution of India explicitly disqualifies a person from being a Member of Parliament or Legislative Assembly of States “if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court”.

Every man is presumed to be sane and to possess a sufficient degree of rationality in order to take responsibility for their crime until the contrary is proved. The IPC is of particular importance in this regard as it sets down the procedures to ascertain unsoundness, and penal consequences arising thereof if any.

The Code stipulates that if at the time of the inquiry or trial, a person is deemed incapable of making his or her defense due to unsoundness of mind, the concerned authority must ascertain whether the person is of unsound mind based on the available medical evidence. The accused is exempted from being detained in judicial custody if he is determined to be of unsound mind, provided that there is sufficient security that said person will be taken adequate care of, will not be of harm to themselves or others, and will make an appearance before the Court when asked.

However, if the bail does not come through due to a lack of satisfactory measures or adequate security, then the person may be detained in a mental asylum. The two elements that Section 84 mentions that are of great importance are: Firstly, that the accused must display characteristics of an unsound mind at the time of doing the wrongful act.

This dual principle was exemplified in 1950, in Ashiruddin Ahmed v The King, where the Court held that the accused would still benefit under Section 84 even if he was not entirely unsound at the time of the commission of the offense as he did not comprehend that the act was wrong. However, in 1981, in the case of Paras Ram v State of Punjab, an inconsistency arose wherein the accused pleaded insanity, but his claim was declined considering that there existed a selfish motive behind his act.

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In both cases, the act was same, both allegedly driven by divine intervention, but one supposedly had a selfish motive, and one did not, and therefore, the verdict varied. In Ashok Dattatraya vs State of Maharashtra, the accused pleaded insanity proving that before the commission of the offense, he had suffered mental derangement.

However, taking into due consideration the corroborating facts and evidence, the Supreme Court held that the accused would not be entitled to the benefit under Section 84 as he had to prove his unsoundness of mind at the time of the commission of the offense. In an early case decided by the Privy Council, Amina Bib v. Said Yusuf, it was held that the agreement of a person of unsound mind is void.

The Court held for the first time in Manual Madangopal Mar wadi v Smashed Sonar, that in case a person is usually of unsound mind, the burden of proving that he was of sound mind at that time of making an agreement lies with the person who asserts this. In case of intoxication, the onus lies on party who claims unsoundness to prove that it existed at the time of contracting.

The proof must ensure that the party in question was so intoxicated as to be unable to comprehend the meaning and effects of an agreement is made. The Court discussed the Doctrine of Burden of Proof in the context of the plea of insanity, stating that the prosecution is to fulfil the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the offense with the requisite mens rea.

This would occur given that there arose a reasonable doubt as regards to the soundness of mind of the accused and/or, the requisite mens rea for the commission of the offense. Secondly, the judgment assumed that comprehending that one would be punished for one offense by law would automatically register as a realization that the act itself was wrong and unjustified.

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In Under Singh v Parmeshwardhari Singh, the Supreme Court held that the dilemma at hand was to ascertain whether the person so concerned was entering into the contract after he had understood it and, that he had decided to enter into that contract after forming a rational judgment regarding his personal interest. That did not necessitate that the accused be suffering from lunacy, and only such a situation would disable him from entering into a contract.

A person may behave in a normal fashion and despite this, be incapable of forming a judgment of his own insofar as his interest is concerned. However, the Court also stated that insanity is a term used to describe “varying degrees of mental disorder”.

The Hard Singh judgment encountered widespread criticism because the Supreme Court collapsed legal insanity into medical insanity, thereby rescinding the repeated efforts made by the drafters of various statutes to distinguish between mental illness and unsoundness of mind, in 1872 and in 1950. In contrast, the Kanhaiyalal and the Under Sing judgments reasserted the distinction between unsoundness and insanity in much clearer terms.

Through the precedents enlisted above, one recognizes that civil and contract law are much more well-versed with the changing trends in the rights of those who are of unsound mind. The judgments offer deliberations that are in sync with novel and politically progressive ideas of mental illness and disability.

By definition used by the Supreme Court in Hard Singh, all these people would classify as that of having an unsound mind, subject to perhaps individual scrutiny. Despite the existence of the Mental Health Act, 2017, the trend in deciding unsoundness, and the rights and agency of those with an unsound mind remains unchanged.

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