The Supreme Court case of  X v. State of Maharashtra laid down definite directions to be followed in the cases where the accused suffers from mental illnesses. In this case the Petitioner is convicted under sections 201, 363, 376 and 302 of the Indian Penal Code. He has been sentenced to 2 years’ of rigorous imprisonment each under Section 201 and 363, 10 years’ of rigorous imprisonment under Section 376 and sentenced to death under Section 302.

The aforementioned petition raises complex questions concerning mental illness and crime. The Petitioner claims to be suffering from a severe mental illness and thus, seeks relief from the death penalty.  The Petitioner filed a plea in pursuance of commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment, in order to mitigate his mental illness

The Apex Court furnished directions that need to be complied with. Therefore the court must –

  • Consider mental illness of the accused while giving a death sentence.
  • Conduct an evaluation of such mental illnesses, performed by experienced mental practitioners, criminologists etc. and professionals in the field of accused’s mental illness.
  • Look into the fact that burden of proving the mental illness lies on the accused. The accused must demonstrate active or residual or initial stage of the mental illness.
  • Give the State an opportunity to rebut the contentions of the petitioners by providing requisite evidences.
  • In cases, if required could set up a panel to submit an export report.
  • Undertake the ‘text of severity’ envisaged in the directions which states that offender must have a severe mental illness or disability.

These directions will not only help in right deciding such cases, but will also appropriately make the courts to consider the Accused’s mental health and well-being without any bias.

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