392 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
Persons of extreme age and feeble health with defective memory and
mental sluggishness are capable of making a will, unless their mind has
become so impaired that they are incapable of understanding the business
in which they are engaged when in the act of making their will.
Persons suffering from motor aphasia, agraphia, or any other nervous
disease not affecting the brain may be able to make perfectly valid wills,
provided they are able to signify by gestures that they understand the mean-
ing of the questions put to them in connection with the disposition of their
The plea of insanity is generally brought forward in charges of murder
in order to escape capital punishment. If insanity is established, the accused
person is found " not guilty ", and is ordered to be kept in a mental hospital,
jail or other suitable place of safe custody.21 An insane person is not
punished for his crime, as he is devoid of free will, intelligence and know-
ledge of the act, but society must be protected against the attacks of an
The law presumes every individual at the age of discretion to be sane
and to possess a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his criminal
acts, unless the contrary is proved to the satisfaction of the court. In
criminal cases where insanity is raised as a plea of irresponsibility the
burden of proving it lies on the defence. Insanity may be proved from facts
alleged or proved by the prosecution or independently by the defence.
When a person accused of murder is alleged to be insane, the presiding
officer of the court generally asks the medical officer to keep the accused
under observation and to certify whether he is insane or not. The medical
officer takes the following points into consideration before deciding whether
the murder was the result of insanity : —
1. The Personal History of the Murderer.—The murderer may be
eccentric, melancholic, degenerate, neurasthenic, etc.
2. The Absence of Motive.—Not only does an insane person commit
murder without any motive but he often kills his nearest and dearest rela-
tions, e.g. his wife and children. It must, however, be remembered that in
cases of homicide by sane persons it may at times be difficult to trace a
motive, though there may be one. On the other hand, insane persons are
known to have committed murders with a motive, however trifling it may
be. Again, a sane person may commit murder on a very trivial excuse. I
know of a case in which a young Pasi murdered his sister-in-law with a
gandasa (chopper) lying near on the mere ground that she asked him in
joke to drink urine in place of water.
In ,an appeal at the High Court of. Allahabad of one Lokmani, who had been con-
victed of murdering his wife and sentenced to death under section 302, I.P.C., by the
Sessions Judge of Kamaun, Their Lordships set aside the conviction and the sentence,
as there was no motive for committing the murder. The accused admitted the crime
before the Magistrate, and when asked why he did it he said it was the will of God.
Their Lordships came to the conclusion that, by reason of unsoundness of mind, he was
incapable of knowing the nature of the act.22 On the other hand, in a case where one
Inayat picked up a carpenter's adze that was lying near and killed his nephew, 9 years
old, by giving with it two blows on the neck, it was held that the circumstance of an
act being ^apparently motiveless is not a ground from which the existence of a power-
ful and irresistible influence or homicidal tendency can be safely inferred; he was
convicted of murder, and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of death.23 In another case
where one Jalal killed a young woman of 26 years with a tofcct, it was held "that the
21. For procedure of trial of insane persons see sees. 464-75, Cr.P.CM Appendix HI.
22. Leader, Sep. 17, 1925.
23. 29 Crim. Law Jour., Nov. 1928, p. 1006.