Z under the influence of madness attempts to kill A. A in order to save himself, shoots Z dead, with his revolver. Is A guilty of any offence?
In this case, though Z is not guilty of any offence, A has the same right of private defence which he would have if Z were sane.
Sec. 96 of the Indian Penal Code states ‘nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of the right of private defence’. Every person has a right to defend his body or the body of another, against all offences affecting the human body.
According to Sec. 98, private defence can be exercised against any aggressor, whether competent or incompetent, sane or insane, or acting under any misconception, and it does not depend upon their mental state.
If a person of unsound mind commits an act which would have been an offence if committed by a sane person, the other person has right of private defence against the insane person which he would have, if the person is sane.
In the given problem:
- Z is of unsound mind, and his act of killing A would amount to murder if committed by any sane person.
- So, A has a right of private defence against Z, even when Z is of unsound mind.
- As per Sec. 100 of the Indian Penal Code, the right of private defence of body extends to causing death of the aggressor in cases of assault likely to cause death, grievous hurt, rape, unnatural lust, kidnapping and abduction and wrongful confinement, and hence A has the right to cause death of Z when he attempted to kill A.
Thus the right of private defence is available to A irrespective of the mental status of Z and hence he is not guilty of any offence, as per the defence available in Sec. 98 of the Indian Penal Code.