Through a recent court decision, the Rajasthan High Court held that Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) can be called as Defense of Insanity.
- The accused in the Rajasthan High Court case is a woman from a village in Ajmer. In 1981, she was accused of kidnapping three children and pushing them into a well. Two of the children survived, while one died. In 1982, a trial court in Ajmer convicted her of murder and attempt to murder and sentenced her to life imprisonment. She then appealed to the High Court, which took 35 years to finally arrive at a verdict.
- Learned counsel for the accused argued 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.
-A large portion of the High Court’s judgement is dedicated to the question of whether severe PMS can be considered a form of temporary insanity that can lead a woman to inadvertently commit a crime. To arrive at an answer, the court relied on the statements of three doctors who had treated Lajnani on different occasions, and on a number of research papers it found online. The three doctors quoted in the judgement had similar observations – they stated that PMS can lead some women to become aggressive, irritated, violent and/or suicidal.
While the High Court held that Lajnani had indeed committed the offence, it decided to let her off on the grounds of insanity.
It stated that, "...The accused-appellant is acquitted of the charges levelled against her. Her sentence was suspended by this court during pendency of the appeal and thus she is out on bail. She needs not surrender..."
Read more about the high court judgement in the PDF attached below.