Mental illness of death row convicts ground to spare them from gallows: SC

To prevent misuse, the top court says the burden will be on the accused to prove “by a preponderance of clear evidence” that he is suffering with severe mental illness

In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court has given a ray of hope to people on death row who develop “severe mental illness” post-conviction, saying their health condition would now be a “mitigating” factor for appellate courts for sparing them from the gallows.

An accused could till now take the plea of “legal insanity” under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to avoid criminal prosecution and the defence was “made relatable to the moment when the crime is committed“.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana spared a condemned prisoner, who has not been identified in the verdict owing to his mental condition.

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