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‘What Is Not An Offence Does Not Require A Defence’: Madras HC Explains Procedure For Inquiry/ Trial Against An Accused Of Unsound Mind

In a recent verdict, the Single Bench of Justice PN Prakash of the Madras High Court extensively explained the procedure to be adopted by the Courts during Inquiry/ Trial for an offence, allegedly committed by a person of unsound mind. The order has come in a petition filed by the father of a murder accused, apprehending that a trial against his son shall be commenced without ascertaining the mental state of schizophrenia. Upon a finding submitted by the Medical Board of a Government Hospital, the High Court was satisfied that the accused was not fit to face the trial due to his mental illness and hence dropped the proceedings against him in terms of Section 84 of IPC. The Court noted that despite raising of plea of insanity at the outset, the Magistrate commenced the proceedings under Sections 207 and 209 CrPC and committed the case to the Court of Sessions. Even during the committal proceedings, the Magistrate did not take any steps to satisfy himself as to whether the accused was in a sound state of mind to understand the proceedings.

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