Review of Death Penalty XIII

My Lord, Mental Illness and Crime? Post-Conviction Mental Illness?

It is well acknowledged fact throughout the world that, prisons are difficult places to be in. Piare Dusadh v. King 
Emperor, AIR 1944 FC 1 has already recognized post-conviction mental illness as a mitigating factor. It must be recognized that insanity recognized under IPC and the mental illness we are considering in the present case arise at a different stage and time. Section 84, IPC relates to the mens rea at the time of commission of the crime, whereas the plea of post-conviction mental illness is based on appreciation of punishment and right to dignity [Refer, Amrit Bhushan Gupta, AIR 1977 SC 608].

We note that there appear to be no set disorders/disabilities for evaluating ‘severe mental illness’ [Section 3, The Mental Health Care Act, 2017] however a ‘test of severity’ can be a guiding factor for recognizing those mental illness which qualify for an exemption. Therefore, the test envisaged herein predicates that the offender needs to have a severe mental illness or disability, which simply means that a medical professional would objectively consider the illness to be most serious so that he cannot understand or comprehend the nature and purpose behind the imposition of such punishment. These disorders generally include schizophrenia, other serious psychotic disorders, and dissociative disorders-with schizophrenia. That the post-conviction severe mental illness will be a mitigating factor that Appellate Courts, in appropriate cases, needs to consider while sentencing an accused to Death Penalty.

Life Imprisonment; No Remission.”

Hon’ble Justice N.V. Ramana, X v. State of Maharashtra, [Criminal Appeal No. 680 of 2007].