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Premenstrual Stress Syndrome can be claimed as Defense of Insanity: Rajasthan High Court

Premenstrual Stress Syndrome can be claimed as Defense of Insanity: Rajasthan High Court

After going through the evidence the court concluded that PMS brings great behavioral changes in a woman like depression, aggression, irritability, mood-swings and such changes force woman even to commit crimes.

Through a recent court decision, the Rajasthan High Court held that Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) can be called as Defense of Insanity.- A case setting up stepping stone for law onan important subject.

Facts in Short :

1. The Case goes back to August 1981. A Case of Abysmal delay- Udhavdas, Omprakash and Deoki 3 kids between 8-9 years started to their School and they met Sati Buva (Aunt). She took all the three pretending to cause them to show a Temple as well as the Well of Nasia also. She took all of them to well and pushed them into the Well. Unfortunately, Omprakash was drowned to death and Udhavdas and Deoki were saved.

2. A case was filed U/Sec. 302, 307 and 364 of IPC. The Prosecution examined total 28 witnesses. Defense examined 8 witensees. The Sessions Court convicted the accused of all the offenses on 12/01/1987 and sentenced her to Life Imprisonment alognwith fine. This judgment was challanged in the High Court.

3. It was argued on part of the Appellant that the prosecution had miserably failed to establish the guilt of the appellant and moreover the alleged case of kidnapping 3 children with an intention to kill them was never established. The entire case of the prosecution was based on 2 child witnesses Udhavdas and Deoki and such evidence was not enough and reliable to convict the accused.

4. The Main limb of defense was that at the time of the incident, the Accused was suffering from a mental disease known as Premenstrual Stress Syndrome (PMS). It was pointed out that she became aggressive few days prior to her menstrual cyle. As she was found so suffering from PMS at the time of the incident, the Accused ought to have been given benefit of Sec.84 of IPC which provides that nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that what he is doing is either wrong or contrary to law. The trial court has erred in not relying on the defense evidence which fully proved about the mental ailment of the accused-appellant, which also found place in prosecution evidence.

5. The Ld. Council for the appellant also submitted and relied upon the Medical Literature on the point of PMS. It was also pointed out that one of the Prosecution Witness Dr. Mahesh Chandra Agarwal also admitted in his cross examination during pre-menstruation period few women may not be normal and may become aggressive and violent and may commit suicide. This testimony was supported by another defense witness Dr. Shri. Gopal Kabra. Factually, 3 independent defense witnesses also admitted that the Accused was suffering from said problem. The Prosecution failed to prove any motive of the Accused.

6. The Prosecution supported the judgment of Sessions court and held that the guilt of the accused was proved as per law. The defense of insanity was not raised earlier. Moreover, Menstrual cycle is a natural phenomena for every woman and it cannot affect her mental condition. If the accused was taking medical treatment from the Doctor, then she ought to have produce the medical certificates.

Held :

1. In its 23 pages judgment, their Lordships have considered various factual aspects of the case, law on the point and especially the medical literature and then acquitted the accused.

2. The father of the deceased Omprakash, Mr. Jeewat Ram deposed that he otherwise had good relationship with the accused, but he used to reprimand the accused whenever she came late home at night and this fact was brought to the notice of her father too. But this fact was not mentioned in the Police Statement. Similarly Smt. Kamla, mother of the deceased deposed that they had no enmity per se with the accused, but the accused was a woman of bad character, but she also could not give proper answers as to why this did not find a place in the police statement.

3. The Core defense of the Accused was that at the relevant time, she used to be under symptoms of an unusual mental ailment of PMS, in which she would be out of control over her emotions and would become violent. This fact was supported by her sister-in-law too in her evidence. In her testimony she deposed that she had no enmity with the children and she had no motive to harm them. Rather before marriage during PMS she almost went mad and she strated having treatment from one Dr. Mahesh Chandra Agarwal.

4. One of the prosecution witness also deposed that when she used to have fits, she could push anybody come near her and her parents used to take her to some Baba/Tantric who used to black magic. !!

5.Dr. Shri Gopal Kabra (DW-2) has stated that very few women suffer from premenstrual syndrome, which has two kinds of symptoms – bodily and mental, which are beyond the control of such woman. While in bodily symptoms, there may be swelling in the breasts, depression, swelling of stomach, swelling on the hands and feet, headache etc., but in mental symptoms there may be irritation, depression, abnormal behaviour, tendency of suicide, tendency of violence, tendency of causing beating to children etc.

6. Most comprehensive output was given by DR. G.B. Advani, Prof. and HOD Psychiatric Dept, S.P. Medical College, Bikaner. He stated on oath that he treated the accused for 6 months and he had been to her house, where he could see that during PMS, the Accused was quiet aggressive and he gave her tranquilizer. Part of his Testimony was recorded by the Hon. Court. He also deposed that all over the world. P.M.S. is a definite medical entity and is dealt in every book of gynaecology and psychiatry. He said that Premenstrual syndrome is a condition seen in female before the onset of menstruation. It is reported in 70 to 90 percent of the cases, but more so it is evident in symptoms are of mild nature in about 40 per cent, cases, rest are severe to moderate. It is characterized by two types of symptoms bodily symptoms and psychological symptoms. In psychological symptoms,there are two types of manifestations, either the patient has depression and lethargy, or changes in the personality and emotional outbursts. In this state, they are irritable and can be violent. They can inflict injuries to self a wells as to others.

7. The Hon. Court further relied on various medical literature including

a) the report titled ‘Premenstrual Stress Syndrome as a Defense in Criminal Cases’ by Marc P. Press published in the Dukes Law Journal,

b) ‘Defense in Criminal Cases’ by Marc P. Press published in the ‘Menstruation and Crime’ available online.

c) a report under the heading ‘Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) the Malady and the Law’, by Dr. Harinder Singh.

d) A paper prepared Prof. (Dr.) Patricia Easteal, Senior Criminologist, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, in her paper on the by subject ‘Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) in the Courtroom’.

e) A Lecture delivered by Mr. Christopher Boorse of Department of Philosophy, University of Delaware, Newark, USA,

f) An essay ‘Exploring Premenstrual Syndrome in Criminal Law’ published on 23/03/2015 in UK Essays.

From these reports, it could be concluded that PMS brings great behavioral changes in a woman like depression, aggression, irritability, mood-swings and such changes force woman even to commit crimes.

8. Their Lordships further observed that law has not yet developed in India so that Premenstrual Stress Syndrome being set up as the defense of insanity. Nevertheless, the accused can plead and probabilize such defense with the help of aforesaid Sec.84 of IPC. The Prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts, whereas the accused has to probabilize his/her defense on the preponderance of probability.

9 The Court relied upon the well known Mc’Naughten Rule for deciding the criminal liability of the person of unsound mind, somewhat similar to Sec.84, according to which such person as incapable of knowing the repercussions of his/her act or omissions, should not be regarded as responsible for his her acts. This is a question of facts, which is to be decided on its own merits in each case. The Court also relied on various judgments of Hon. Apex Court on Sec.84.

10. In the last it observed that the Defense has been able to probabilize her defense that at the time of the incident she was suffering from unsoundness of mind and was laboring under a defect of reason triggered by premenstrual stress syndrome.

Conclusion :

Its a path-breaking judgment. Though its applicability as the precedent would be restricted to State of Rajasthan only, still its persuasive value cannot be denied.

First and foremost, this judgment is the fine example of “justice delayed is justice denied”. From August 1981 till August 2018. 37 years of legal battle.

If one would see, even today Menstruation is regarded as “social taboo”. Slowly the society mindset is changing. But One would imagine what would have been the position in 37 years back. Its said that almost every menstruating woman goes through PMS, the degree of symptoms may vary.

The judgment in hand also throws light on another aspect of misconceptions about psychiatric diseases and their treatments.

Last but not the least, the applicability of ratio of this judgment will depend upon the facts of each case. No doubt a good judgment to be perused by the experts in Law and Medicines.

Thanks and regards

Adv. Rohit Erande


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the author/agency in his/her private capacity and do not represent the views of Medical Dialogues.

Source: Self
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