Plea of insanity as a defense in criminal cases: an update.

Sayeed Akhtar, MD, DNB (Psy), Chief Medical Officer, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi.
Indian Journal of Psychiatry 01/1994; 36(1):25-9.
Source: PubMed


Mc'Naughten Rule is die commonest formulation for plea of insanity in most countries. Although assessment of the mental state at the time of offence is difficult, few instruments have been devised for this purpose. In the USA, efforts are being made to abolish the insanity defense and in the United Kingdom, amendments in the provisions of insanity defense have been proposed. The authors have stressed the need for some changes in the relevant sections of Indian Penal Code to increase the credibility of Psychiatric testimony in such cases.

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    ABSTRACT: Insanity defense is primarily used in criminal prosecutions. It is based on the assumption that at the time of the crime, the defendant was not suffering from severe mental illness and therefore, was incapable of appreciating the nature of the crime and differentiating right from wrong behavior, hence making them not legally accountable for crime. Insanity defense is a legal concept, not a clinical one (medical one). This means that just suffering from a mental disorder is not sufficient to prove insanity. The defendant has the burden of proving the defense of insanity by a “preponderance of the evidence” which is similar to a civil case. It is hard to determine legal insanity, and even harder to successfully defend it in court. This article focuses on the recent Supreme Court decision on insanity defense and standards employed in Indian court. Researchers present a model for evaluating a defendant’s mental status examination and briefly discuss the legal standards and procedures for the assessment of insanity defense evaluations. There is an urgent need to initiate formal graduation course, setup Forensic Psychiatric Training and Clinical Services Providing Centers across the country to increase the manpower resources and to provide fair and speedy trail.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine