Law of Crimes

Voluntary and Involuntary Intoxication

Previous Year Question(s) –

Q. If a person, who voluntarily consumed intoxicating liquor, commits an offence, while under the influence of such intoxication, can he plead ‘voluntary intoxication’ as a defence? Discuss in the light of relevant provisions of the IPC. 

Important Provisions – Sections 85 and 86 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

Important Observations –

  • Intoxication presents problems in the theory of responsibility. 
  • Section 85 lays down the law relating to involuntary intoxication or drunkenness as a defence to a criminal charge.
  • Section 86 deals with criminal liability of a voluntarily intoxicated person when he commits an offence under the influence of self-administered intoxicant.
  • Section 85, which is couched in the phraseology similar to that of s 84, accords immunity from criminal liability to a person intoxicated involuntary as s 84 gives to a person of unsound mind. Section 86 provides for a limited exemption from criminal liability to a self-intoxicated person.

Important Case Laws –

  • Bablu @ Mubarik Hussain v State of Rajasthan – A person seeking protection of s 85 is required to establish that he was: (i) incapable of knowing the nature of the act committed, 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; Simply because his mind was so affected by the intoxicant that he readily gave way to some violent passion also does not bring him under the protective umbrella of the general exemption. 
  • Chet Ram v State of Himachal Pradesh –  A mere fact that an intoxicant was administered to him by another person without his knowledge or against his will does not qualify him for the exemption.
  • Jethuram v State of Madyha Pradesh – Normal persuasion acting as an incentive is not covered by the expression ‘against his will’, unless there is an element of compulsion to consume the intoxicant against his will. 
  • Dasa Kandha v State of Orissa – The state of intoxication, envisaged under s 86, must render the accused incapable of forming the specific intent essential to constitute the crime. 
  • Basdev v State of Pepsu – A person who gets into a state of intoxication voluntarily is presumed to have the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been intoxicated. If an accused does an act while in a state of voluntary intoxication, he will be presumed to have known that it was so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death and will be held guilty of murder; The demarcating line between knowledge and intention is no doubt thin, but it is not difficult to perceive that they connote different things.
  • Manindralal v Emperor – Under Section 86 the presumption of knowledge alone is provided for and not presumption of intention. So far as intent or intention is concerned, it must be gathered from the attending general circumstances of the case, paying due regard to the degree of intoxication. If a person, in spite of his drunkenness, knew the consequences of his act, it can safely be presumed that he intended the resultant consequences.

Categories: Law of Crimes

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