Case Comment: How to Get Away with Murder: Rajasthan High Court Equating Pre-Menstrual Syndrome with Insanity, by Vivek Krishnani

Regrettably, the purpose behind admitting the defence of insanity is often overlooked by the courts and even insanity, that falls way short of the standard of legal insanity results in the acquittal of the accused. This is precisely what has happened in the judgment by the Rajasthan High Court wherein the court has allowed the accused to misuse the defence under Sec. 84 of Indian Penal Code (hereinafter “IPC”) as a tool to avoid the consequences of her wrongful act.

Pre-Menstrual Stress syndrome (hereinafter “PMS”), which has been accepted as a valid defence in this case, is not only incapable of affecting the “cognitive faculties” but also is very common in women. Additionally, the facts and circumstances of the case are far from suggesting lack of knowledge or even intention on part of the accused person. In light of the relaxed standard of proof that the Indian Evidence Act provides in case of defences, this will go on to set a bad precedent for the upcoming cases.

Although criminal jurisprudence, generally, is based on the age old Blackstone’s ratio, what is noteworthy is that it often renders justice sterile.Notwithstanding the importance of protecting the innocent, ensuring that the guilty does not escape is an equally important public duty for the observance of which a judge presides. The author opines that the Rajasthan High Court has erred in acquitting the accused person in breach of such duty. Arguments supporting this claim have been made in this comment.