DEFENCE OF INTOXICATION (PROBLEM)
Vineet was the student of national institute of Epidemiology. One day after completing the exam, he decided to go to a pub and have a drink. By the time, he returned from the pub, he was highly intoxicated and in that state of intoxication, he entered the room of his neighbour in the hostel and set his mattresses on fire. He was charged for offence under section 436 and 447 of Indian penal code. He wants to plead intoxication as a defence. Decide.
Whenever any person commits an offence, the initial burden of proof is always upon the prosecution to prove the guilt of an accused person beyond reasonable doubt and to secure the punishment to an offender, the prosecution has to prove the actus reus as well as the mens rea which are the two main ingredients of an offence. If the prosecution proves the consequences of an act i.e., actus reus but fails to prove the mens rea i.e., guilty mind, then the accused cannot be held liable for the offence.
Sometimes, even if the prosecution proves both the elements, then also the accused can get the acquittal if his case falls under any of the general exceptions. If the case of an accused falls under any of the general exceptions then the law excuses the act of an accused and gives him acquittal. Section 85 of the Indian penal code, 1860, deals with one of the general exceptions given under Indian penal code 1860.
According to Section 85, if a person commits any offence and because of intoxication at the time of committing the offence he did not know the nature of his act or he didn’t know that what he is doing is wrong or contrary to law, then such person will not be held liable for his act.
But the condition is that, the intoxicated substance must be administered to him without his knowledge or against his will. If the person at the time of taking the intoxicated substance knew that the substance is intoxicated one, then he cannot claim the benefit of this general exception and the court will presume under section 86 of the Indian penal code, 1860, that he had knowledge at the time of commission of an offence which is required for committing that offence even he had been intoxicated.
Under section 86 of the Indian penal code, 1860, the court can presume the knowledge if the accused is in a stage of highly intoxication that he cannot frame an intention to commit an offence. But if he is in a condition to frame an intention even after intoxication, then he will be held liable as if he has not been intoxicated.
According to this section, if court raises the presumption of knowledge, then in such a case, the court can punish a person only for that offence which includes knowledge as an ingredient. If a person can be held liable for an offence only if intention is required to commit that offence, then in such a case, even after presuming the knowledge under this section, the court cannot held the person liable.
The main object of this section is to stop the person from committing an offence after administering the intoxicated substance. Because if the law considers the intoxication as an absolute defense, then in such a case, it will be very easy for a person to escape from the liability after committing the offence. That is why, voluntary intoxication is not an offence.
In the present case, an accused after voluntarily administering the alcohol entered into the room of his neighbour and set the mattresses on fire. In this case, he can be held liable for having committed the offence of mischief under section 436 because the knowledge is one of the main ingredients under this section and due to the voluntary intoxication court can raise the presumption of knowledge under section 86 of the Indian penal code, 1860.
But, he cannot be held liable under Section 447 of the Indian penal code, 1860, because knowledge is not one of the main ingredients under this section and only intention is required to commit an offence. If he was in a condition to frame an intention to commit the criminal trespass, then only he could be held liable under Section 447 of the Indian Penal Code otherwise he cannot be held liable only on the basis of knowledge.
Hence, it is evident that, he cannot take up intoxication as a defence because of voluntarily intoxication.