Menu

Whether drunkenness is a valid defence in a criminal prosecution in India (Sec­tion 85)

January 7, 2019 0 Comment

The ingredients of this section are that a person will be exonerated from liability for an act done while in a state of intoxication if he at the time of doing it, by reason of intoxication, was (i) incapable of knowing the nature of the act; or (ii) that he was doing what was either wrong or contrary to law; and (iii) that the thing which intoxi­cated him was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will.

Voluntary drunkenness is no excuse for the commission of a crime. But if a man is made drunk through stratagem or the fraud of others, or through ignorance, or through any other means against his will, he is excused.

Section 86 of the Code further says that a person voluntarily drunk will be deemed to have the same knowledge and liable for the conse­quences as he would have if he had not been intoxicated.

The section attributes to a drunken man the knowledge of a sober man when judging of his action, unless the thing which intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will.

(b) The defence is not tenable, because, as stated above, volun­tary drunkenness is no excuse for the commission of an offence. In the given case the drunkenness is to be deemed to be voluntary unless it is shown or proved otherwise.

There are two different aspects of the case. If the thing which intoxicated X was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will and by reason of such intoxication he was incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he was doing what was either wrong or contrary to law, he will not be held guilty by virtue of the provisions of Section 85 of the Indian Penal Code.

On the other hand, if he was intoxicated of his own accord, he will be held guilty of the offence of murder, for voluntary drunkenness is no excuse for the commission of a crime.