Intoxication as a Defence in Indian Penal Code



Any illegal act or breaking or any law or rule is considered to be an offence. For every offence there are some defences available. One such defence is intoxication. 

A person is said to be intoxicated when he is not aware and is unable to understand anything around him because of the effects of alcohol or drugs. When a person is intoxicated he/she loses self - control and the ability to reason and judge what is right and what is wrong.

Section 85 of the IPC deals with the offences committed under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


In order to claim intoxication as a defence, there are few essentials –

The consumption of alcohol or drugs must be involuntary i.e., without having any knowledge about it.

The intoxication must be either by the use of force or by coercion.

The person must not be aware about the nature of the act done by him.

The person should be incapable of acting and thinking in a reasonable manner.

The person is not aware that his act is forbidden by law.

In delirium tremens, a form of insanity arising out of habitual drinking which makes a person reach degree of madness whereby he is incapable of distinguishing between right or wrong, the disease is perceived as insanity and the person’s case is given same treatment as that of case of involuntary drunkenness.

Section 86 of the IPC deals with the cases where the intoxication is self-induced. In such cases the person is liable when he is sober i.e. when the effect of alcohol is reduced.


In case of director of public prosecution v. Beard  the accused raped a 13 year old girl and murdered here. He took the defence of intoxication. The court stated that the mere fact that the accused was drunk does not work as a defence in such a case. The burden of proof lies on the defendant. He has to prove that he was so much intoxicated that he lacked mens rea.

In the case of Jatroo Oraon v. state of West Bengal The victim, Jatroo Oraon was killed in front of his house. The accused and victim both were drunk. In the heat of some argument, the plaintiff was killed. Though, murder was committed but it was considered that the accused was somewhere intoxicated. So, the accused was not punished under section 302 which is life imprisonment but under section 304 where he is punished with the imprisonment of 10 years and rupee 5000 for 6 months.


One can definitely claim the defence of intoxication if it is done involuntarily. Without this defence can't be taken, anyone can simply intoxicate a person and can push him in doing something illegal like murder, rape etc. But, for this defence certain essentials are there which are discussed above.

Judges of the court use these provisions to punish a culprit. Sometimes, the judges also take reference if past cases. A couple of them are included here.