Intoxication is one of the defenses which is available to the defendant from his criminal liability. It is one of the conditions of non-imputability.[1] Because of intoxication the person is not able to understand the nature of the act, is unaware that what he is doing is either right or wrong or is contrary to law. The defense is available under some circumstances of voluntarily or involuntarily intoxication and what level of intent is required to charge criminal liability.

In England the rule says that the only a habitual drunkard and involuntarily drunkenness is a defense. Voluntarily drunkenness is not a defense[2]. Involuntarily drunkenness is the one which is administered against the will or without the knowledge of the person then only the defense would be available to him. There must be ignorance of the fact that what is given to him is containing intoxicated substance. The act would be judged as per the mental condition at the time of the act.


SC-If a person to much drunk he is not having the intention to commit the offense is not an offense. A bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and M.R. Shah said intoxication is not a defense to criminal charge. The evidence that the person is too much drunken that he is not capable of forming the required intent for the crime

In Suraj JagathnathJadhav v. State of Maharashtra the bench held that intoxication is not a mitigating factor when the accused was not highly inebriated condition. In this very case the accused was under the influence of liquor while he poured kerosene on his deceased wife and set her to fire. He tried to protect her and poured water to save her and while doing so he himself was also injured. SC rejected his defense and held that he wasn’t too much drunk that he didn’t intent to kill his wife. While giving the judgement they took the reference of decision in Kalu Ram v. State of Rajasthan[3], Santosh v. State of Maharashtra[4] and BhagwanTukaraDange v. State of Maharashtra[5]


Voluntarily intoxication is that in which the person has consumed the alcohol on his own or with his consent. In such case if any act done by him in the state of intoxication which is voluntarily caused he won’t be given the defense under section 85 and 86 of Indian Penal code, 1860. Voluntarily drunkenness is no defense as intoxication is a voluntary species of madness which is in party’s power to abstain from, and he must answer for the same[6].

In case of Involuntarily intoxication the person is exempted from his liability as in this case the person is administered alcohol without his will or knowledge. It is a pure defense to the crime where there is requirement of specific intent to commit a particular crime, he can plead that he was capable of forming that particular intention required nor he was in a capacity to judge the nature and the consequence of his act. Though it can be a defense to general intent crime if it is being proved that he is incapable of knowing what he is doing is right or wrong.


People consume alcohol not only for fun or pleasure but also to forget pain, grief or escape from the world of reality. Due to drinking the person capacity to know what is right or wrong is not there nor is he knows the difference between legal and illegal act.

Mere intoxication is not a mitigating factor when the accused was not highly inebriated condition[7]. To plead intoxication as a defense the accused must accomply to the conditions under section 85 and 86 of Indian Penal Code 1860. The accused after intoxication is incapable of having the intention required to commit the murder.

Under England law above we saw that if the person is voluntarily consuming alcohol on daily basis in such a case he is exempted from his liability because in case of habitual drunkards there tissues are damaged and their capacity to know he nature of the act or its consequences is distracted. In such a it acts as a mitigating factor.

Under Indian Law under section 86 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 if the person is voluntarily intoxicated in such a case it is assumed that he is deemed to have same knowledge as a sober person, if not intoxicated. But under some crime knowledge or intent is required and the accused could be helped in reducing his punishment for the crime or the charges of his crime if it being proved that intoxication limited his intent of crime.


Intoxication is a state by which moth mental and psychical condition of a person is disabled due to intake of alcohol or any narcotic substance. It is the state of intoxication. This is covered under IPC,1860 under general exception chapter IV under section 85 and 86.

Conditions or the ingredient required for the purpose of section 86 are-

  • Presence of element of intention or knowledge
  • Influenced by consumption of alcohol
  • Intoxicated substances must be administered against will or knowledge

If the person is having the enough knowledge or intention as sober person while he is in the state of intoxication in such a case the person would be liable for the offense committed by him and he won’t be granted the defense. It is presumed that if the person is having the knowledge then he would be having the intention to do a act. Intention varies from fact to fact.

In R v. Kingston[8] held that if the person intoxicated even involuntarily also, if not intoxicated to such extent that he is unable to form the required intent for the act in such a case the person would be held guilty for his act.

Ingredients required for section 85 are-

  • An act must be there
  • The person must not know the nature of the act
  • The incapacity is due to intoxication
  • Intoxication must be against his will or knowledge
  • Act must be done in the state of intoxication

If the act is committed by the accused person in the state of intoxication and he is not aware nor have knowledge what is administered to him is intoxicated substance in such a case, he is exempted from his criminal liability till he is not capable of forming or having the knowledge or intention for the act.


Intoxication as a defense would now be available only if the person is highly inebriated. If the person’s state of mind at the time of the act is that he is unable to have the required mens rea in such a case he is protected from his criminal liability. If the person consumes alcohol voluntarily before he had planned a criminal act and then in the state of intoxication he commits the crime in such a case no defense is granted to him as he has build up the courage to do the act.

Now a day’s intoxication is taken as mitigating or aggregating factor.


[2] Rex v. Grindley

[3] (2000) 10 SCC 324

[4] (2015) 7 SCC 641

[5] (2014) 4 SCC 270

[6] IPC S.N. Mishra, 21st edition, central law Publication,216

[7]Suraj Jagathnath Jadhav v. State of Maharashtra

[8] 1994 3 WLR 519

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!