Defence of Juvenility and Unsoundness of Mind Must be Raised During Trial

A three-judge bench of Supreme Court in Mohd. Anwar v. NCT of Delhi held that “a plea of unsoundness of mind as under section 84 of the Indian Penal [C]ode along with attempts to mitigate the punishment by raising the defense of juvenility must be raised during the trial as opposed to [during] a later stage”.

This Order was passed against an appeal made against a judgment of Delhi High Court where the Court convicted the accused under Section 394 of the IPC read with Section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959 for voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery. The accused had presented fresh claims in the Delhi High Court appeal citing juvenility and mental illness. The accused received mental illness treatment and was reportedly just fifteen years old when the crime was committed. Stating that, “[i]n Order to successfully claim [the] defence of mental unsoundness under Section 84 of the 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 dismissed this argument.

The Supreme Court upheld the conviction and noted that there was no reason for intervening with the challenged Order with the credible testimony of twelve witnesses of the prosecution and in the leniency shown in the sentencing of the accused.

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Kirit P. Mehta School of Law Publications