Psychopaths and Sexual Offenders: Development in Indian Criminal Justice System
Author: Aman Khetwal,
(3rd Year Student),
Christ (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru.
This research paper is doctrinal research that aims to address the main issue of psychopaths and sexual offenders in India. The nature of crimes and the way to deal with them calls for a multi-disciplinary approach. The following research paper will analyse the lacunae in the current laws which deals with the offences committed by a person suffering from mental disease or psychopaths. Psychopathy, also known as Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD or ASPD), is a psychological personality disorder. As it has been criticized by various authors that the existing legislation in India is outdated since it does not protect behaviour out of abnormality of mind, or partial delusion, irresistible impulse or compulsive behaviour of a psychopath. The paper will emphasize on what measures could be adopted for addressing the existing ambiguity about the psychopathic behaviour. The author will prove the distinction existing between sexual offenders and psychopaths. The questions dealing with psychopaths and sexual offenders require special consideration but how they should be handled by the criminal law remains just as vexed as ever it was. As the existing law deals only with people affected with insanity and doesn’t delve in the subject of psychopaths and due to the lacunae prevailing in Indian Criminal law, psychopaths are more liable to be misjudged by prejudice and ignorance, perhaps, than the majority of criminals. The paper will analyse various judgements where it is prevalent that due to the unidentified and unrevealed area of psychopathic behaviour in our judicial system; severity of absurd, unjust and ineffectual sentences has been imposed on these offenders. The author also acknowledges that what steps can be taken in the field of psychopaths and how the Indian criminal justice system should be reformed.
Keywords: Antisocial Personality Disorder, mental disease, psychiatry, psychopathy, sexual offenders.
Psychopaths and Sexual Offenders: Development in Indian Criminal Justice System
Crime is inevitable in any human society since some violation or the other of any rules, regulations, code of conduct prescribed for the members of a society is bound to occur. Hart has defined crime as “conduct which, if duly shown to have taken place, will incur the formal and solemn pronouncement of the moral condemnation of the community”. There exists no society that is not confronted with the problem of criminality. Crimes “shock sentiments which, for a given social system, are found in all healthy consciences”. There are certain categories of crime which affect the public order, decency and state morality. Therefore the causes of crime are one of the important segments of the problem that require more discussion, investigation, research and call for more social, governmental and judicial action Criminal law of a country, in its quest to preserve social order and solidarity, not only prescribes a set of norms of human behaviour but also forbids the human conduct that exhibits disrespect to these norms. Moreover, in the criminal case, he is liable for bearing the consequences of criminal activity or leaving his responsibilities. Therefore it becomes an obligatory duty on the state to deter the crime as well as check that the punishment to the offenders doesn’t violate humanitarian grounds. Especially when the people who are prosecuted and convicted for offences have histories of mental illness. The offenders who are accused of horrendous crimes when under the influence of mental disorders or mental illness should not be categorized as ordinary offenders. The wide disparity in definitions of sex offences and the severity of sanctions reflects, in part, the differential judgment of the seriousness of all sex offences. There is a lot of indistinctness of mental diseases under the criminal justice system of Indian as they all are generally identified as same. There is a serious need to recognize and classify them properly and accordingly judgment should be given.
Issues raised by judges while deciding heinous sex offender cases cut across several problems that are of interest to law, psychiatry, and the social sciences. The author therefore attempts to explain in Chapter 1 the evolution of psychopathy and personality disorder over the years. It may further require comparing the background, the generative forces, and the influences from where law and psychiatry evolved. It is not easy, except as part of an intensive course in clinical interviewing techniques, to outline in detail exactly what procedure should be employed in questioning an arsonist or any other type of offender, and particularly the sex offender. The author in Chapter 2 explains how psychopathy is mostly confused with sociopathy, serial killing, incest, rape and other sexually violent crime. Three problems are selected for brief review under Chapter 3. According to the author one of the problem is with Section 84 of Indian Penal Code which deals with the law of insanity. The second problem is with the vagueness of the terminology defined under the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. Also due to the vagueness in the procedures explained under Chapter XXV of CrPC are inadequate to deal with the problem related to psychopaths. In the last problem, the author through certain judgements explains how judiciary plays an important role in filling the grey areas created by the legislature in the field of psychopaths.
EVOLUTION OF PSYCHOPATHY AND PERSONALITY DISORDER
Over the years many researchers have commonly identified criminality with emotional illness and lookup clinical therapy as a solution to crime. The historical perspective draws attention to the fact that centuries before societies began to work and develop systematic or ‘scientific’ understandings of mental illness, the idea which persisted at those times was that insane people should be treated as though they are not necessarily responsible for their acts or omissions. For an instance, mental disorder refers to a mental illness that manifests itself as behavioural or mental representations and causes considerable distress and discomfort or disrupts one’s performance due to biological, social, psychological, cognitive, genetic, chemical, physical, or medical disorders. Psychopathy which is also known as Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD or ASPD), is a psychological personality disorder. According to Hare, “Psychopathy is one of the best-validated constructs in the realm of psychopathology.” Not only do psychopaths lack emotions of conscience and empathy but over the years certain researches have shown that these individuals consistently display certain aspects of temperament which include lack of fear, lack of inhibition and a stimulus seeking behaviour. Psychopathy is a term which was used by a French doctor Philippe Pinel for the first time in the nineteenth century to show the character those who continuously commit anti-social acts without any special suffering from a specific mental illness. Prichard argues that it is possible for human’s thinking to be intact, but if their moral and emotional understanding is disordered then they deserve to be treated as insane. Later in the USA, Issac Ray while writing ‘A Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity’ in 1838, argues that cases of ‘moral mania’ and ‘partial moral mania’ should be recognized. He also points out that types of partial moral mania included compulsive stealing, lying, erotomania, and destructiveness, as well as ‘homicidal insanity’, whereby ‘[t]he criminal act… is the result of a strong and sudden impulse opposed to his natural habits and generally preceded or followed by some derangement of the healthy actions of the brain or other organs’. The nineteenth-century witnessed the birth of psychiatry and the mushrooming of asylums for the insane. The underlying idea of different authors was that the people can be excused if there could be shown to be an impairment in their ability to perceive or understand the world in a rational way.
PSYCHOPATHS CONFUSED WITH OTHER SEXUAL OFFENDERS
There exists a stereotype to the average person as well as the lawmakers when they hear the word “sex offender” or “child molester”. But in reality, there exists no kind of stereotypical offender. According to criminologists, offenders could have a wide range of individual characteristics as well as varied social situations in which they existed. As Sir Norwood East has remarked, that among, the flotsam of modern society sexual offenders require special consideration. But certain questions concerning how they should be handled by the criminal law, and whether and how far they should be regarded as amenable to treatment or fit subjects for imprisonment remain just as vexed as ever they were. There are certain types of sex offenders which are identified as sadistic persons and the consequence of their action is due to the manifestation of aggressive personality. In other words, the perpetrators of these crimes are regarded as more dangerous than passive offenders indulging in crimes like exhibitionism and non-coital sex play with children which do not involve physical harm. Generally, the criminal law applies two perceptions while dealing with sex offenders. The first is where the law treats them like other criminals by applying penal sanctions, most of them quite severe and rigorous. While the other perception is that sexual offenders are different from other offenders, mentally or constitutionally, and they must be treated differently. India and many other countries have the first perception reflected in their laws and judicial decisions. The belief is that these offenders lack in ethical or moral principles or a sense of social responsibility. Severe punishments have been prescribed for some of the sexual offences which are zealously applied by the courts. It justifies the deterrent theory applied by the state with the underlying utilitarian rationalization that the infliction of pain or its apprehension keeps people away from certain proscribed behaviour. There is, however no doubt that crime is on the increase of late. The higher incidence of the offence of rape and sexual offences is manifested in the statistics available by NCRB report. According to the data collected by NCRB from States/UTs rape cases have increased from 24206 cases in 2011 to 38947 cases in 2016 and similar cases of criminal assault to outrage the modesty of women have increased from 42968 cases in 2011 to 84746 cases in 2016 (excluding POCSO cases).
It has become a norm that many times, existing lacunae in the terminology of law; amounts to injustice and causes prejudice to the victims as well as innocent offenders. It is noted that psychopathy is mostly confused with sociopathy, serial killing, incest, rape and other sexually violent crime. Also, it is no wonder that many sane criminals who may be suffering from minor types of mental disorders or illnesses, which go undetected because these people never get examined by a competent psychiatrist. And the sentencing part in sexual offences cases quite often poses a serious dilemma. Therefore sexual offenders who suffer from sanity are more liable to be misjudged by prejudice and ignorance, perhaps, than the majority of criminals. Psychopathy is said to be one of the most severe of all mental diseases; because psychopaths are at a disproportionate risk for persistent criminal behaviour. Psychopaths may be serial killers but every serial killer is not a psychopath. Technically they are different from each other. Some of the patterns of killing are so similar that even experts get confused about the disease. Also, it poses a great challenge to the state as the stress of being in prison has an adverse effect on the mental health of those imprisoned. This might not be surprising since it can be argued that one of the chief purposes of the criminal justice system is to assert the value of reason over emotion; no matter how justifiably angry people are. But it is the biggest irony of our judicial system that on the basis of investigation and trial an offender is either convicted for life imprisonment or awarded death sentence or he is acquitted as a person with the insane or unsound mind.
LEGAL LACUNAE IN INDIAN CRIMINAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM
Defence of Insanity:
The law expects every normal and sane human being to possess some degree of reason to be responsible for his/her conduct and acts unless the contrary is proved. But the law absolves an insane person as he cannot develop ulterior motive or rational intention to commit a particular act. A person of unsound mind or a person suffering from a mental disorder cannot be said to possess thus basic norms of human behaviour. Hence, it’s typically admitted that incapacity to commit crimes exempts the individual from social control or criminal liability. In India, there are some provisions which are mentioned in different laws for a person suffering from a mental disease for e.g., in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), sec. 84 which deals with the law of insanity. It gives statutory recognition to the defence of insanity as developed by the Common Law of England in a decision of the House of Lords rendered in the case of Mc Naughten. The object of Section 84 of IPC is that accused while committing the crime was suffering from mental derangement or was incapable of knowing the nature of the act, as the accused didn’t have prior motive, secrecy, arrangement etc. Section 84 clearly lays down the legal test of responsibility in cases of alleged unsoundness of mind by providing defence to the idiot, one made non-compos mentis by illness, a lunatic or a madman, and one who is drunk. Therefore due to its concise nature and limitations, it has been criticized by various authors as it is outdated. Even Law Commission of India re-visited S.84 of the IPC in view of the criticism to the M’Naughten Rules in various countries including Britain but came to the conclusion that law of insanity under S.84 of the IPC needs no change in Indian Circumstances. S.84 doesn’t afford protection to such offenders who commit crime due to mere abnormality of mind or partial delusion, irresistible impulse or compulsive behaviour of a psychopath. The Court in Durga Domar held that if a person afflicted with insane delusion knowing that he was acting contrary to law acted under the influence of insane delusion will be made punishable according to the nature of the crime. The mere fact that the accused is conceited, odd, irascible, and his brain is not quite all right, or that the physical and mental ailments from which he suffered had rendered his intellectual weak and affected his emotions or indulges in certain usual acts, or had fits of insanity at short intervals or that he was subject to epileptic fits and there was abnormal behaviour or the behaviour is queer are not sufficient to attract the application of S. 84 of IPC. Even though the court held in Kesheorao that it is the duty of an honest investigator to subject the accused to a medical examination and place that evidence before the court and if this is not done, it creates a serious infirmity in the prosecution case and the benefit of doubt has to be given to the accused. In the case of Surendra Mishra v. State of Jharkhand, the Apex Court has expressed that defendant who seeks exoneration from liability of associated act beneath Section 84 of the IPC is to prove legal insanity and not medical insanity. Even with all these developments, it is difficult to precisely comment about the mental status of the offender at the time of committing the crime, because in India an offender is brought forward for a psychiatric evaluation years after the commission of his crime.
CrPC and Mental Healthcare Act, 2017:
Chapter XXV of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with provisions as to accused persons of unsound mind. According to the procedures laid down under Chapter XXV if it is proven that the accused is lunatic or incapable of making his defence at the time of inquiry or trial, it makes the Magistrate or Court, even if the case is not bailable, to release the accused on assurance that he will be cared for or is detained in safe custody. The trial of an offence without determining the insanity of the accused was held to be violative of the mandatory provision of S. 329 as stated in the case of Shivaswamy. Still, all these procedures are inadequate to deal with this problem related to psychopaths. The abnormal and inhuman anti-therapeutic state of mental hospitals in India poses a huge problem for mentally disordered patients. Also due to no specific procedures for the detention of the Criminal and non-criminal mentally ill leads to detaining them jointly in jail even after they have regained san
ity. It further aggravates the condition of mentally disordered patients.
ity. It further aggravates the condition of mentally disordered patients.
Also, the plea of insanity must first be determined by recording the medical evidence as per the procedures laid down under Chapter XXV of CrPC and the rules made under the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017. The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 replaced the Mental Health Act 1987, subsequent to India’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007. The Mental Health Act, 1987 had more of a paternalistic approach and gave a lot of decision‑making power to the judiciary, with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals allowed to make only recommendations. The object of the Act was to consolidate and amend the law relating to the treatment and care of mentally ill persons and address their issues with a more humane approach. In the definition clause, Section 2(l) of the Act, there was nowhere explanation of the mental disorder, psychopathy, delusional disorder, antisocial personality disorder etc. It simply defined mental illness as a person who is in need of treatment by reason of any mental disorder other than mental retardation. Also due to no legitimate guidelines or procedures, they were not varied from other ordinary offenders and therefore mental illness prisoners were misinterpreted as ogres and hardcore criminals and punished harshly with life imprisonment or the death penalty. The objectives of the Act bared no reflection of the government’s policies on mental health. The new law marks a major shift in the way mental healthcare is delivered, as it aims to protect and promote the rights of people during the delivery of mental healthcare. The Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA) 2017 upholds patient autonomy, dignity, rights and choices during mental healthcare and thus marks a bold step in India’s mental health legislation. Under Section 2(s) it defined “mental illness” but the Act doesn’t address objections put up by the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), as they alleged that such provisions are not in the best interest of the mentally ill patients. But still, the Act doesn’t identify the distinction between Psychopaths, Sexual offenders and various other definitions. Since the sex questioning of the most normal individuals in our society as Hamilton, Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin, and others have shown, is a difficult procedure, and since sex offenders, in particular, have an obvious incentive to give evasive, misleading, and downright dishonest information about their sexual proclivities and activities, one would imagine that the questioning of such offenders would be entrusted to professionally trained and experienced personnel who would at least have a fair chance of getting at some of the underlying facts regarding their offences.
Role of Judiciary towards Psychopaths:
In the case of psychopaths who have the tendency of candidly accepting their crime and desire to commit it again because of a strong urge to commit them which arises due to their disease; can affect their case at large. Also due to the whole investigative process, the role of the media and the curiosities of the public at large can affect the delivery of justice. And if any judge who have any notions of biases and prejudices against the psychopathic offenders, then it could affect the offenders as well as set a wrong precedent can be set for the future. For example in Nithari Case, Koli, the main accused, was sentenced to death as the case was classified as “rarest of rare” as it was proved that the accused was to lure small girls and later strangulate them and after killing them he tried to have sex with the body and would then cut off their body parts and eat them. But it was also prima facie concluded that “he was a psychopath who used to carry out the killings”. There was no mention about Koli’s disease i.e. psychopathy in the whole judgement due to the lacunae existing in the law. Many authors questioned the validity of the judgement in the Kothari case. Due to no specific modus operandi defined for the police to deal with psychopaths and even in law to identify the correct disease in the early stage; doesn’t give the discretion to the judiciary to set arbitrary precedents. In this process, the police often resort to short cut methods and exhibit negative traits of police sub-culture, namely, rudeness, use of third-degree methods, defensiveness in face of criticism, lack of innovativeness etc. Garland (2001), and Simon (2007), argue that states often turn to symbolic practices of punishment designed to express outrage over crime, rather than focusing on those practices likely to change the crime rate itself. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty actually acts as an effective deterrent to such heinous offences. David R. Crassey tried to answer that why people have the urge to punish offenders on the basis of the “scapegoat hypothesis”; the criminal is made a scapegoat to give relief or gratification to the members of the community. The Court has held, in Sunil Batra’s case and later that, constitutionally viewed, punitive deprivation of personal freedom must be goal-oriented and humanely restorative, apart from being deterrent. There is no overlooking of the fact that the realities within the prison walls may well compound and complicate these problems. According to Mantskiyo, “a judge is the speaker of law” and he cannot broadly interpret the criminal law, particularly in relation to mental illnesses and extend to items not foreseen in the law. Although the courts are altogether oblivious to the special nature of sexual offences and the inadequacy of ordinary punishments to deal with them or the relevance of the rehabilitative ideal in the context of sexual offences. In Phul Singh, Krishna Iyer, J. observed: “Sentencing efficacy in cases of lust-loaded criminality cannot be simplistically assumed by an award of long incarceration, for often that remedy aggravates the malady…A hyper-sexed homo sapiens cannot be habilitated by humiliating or harsh treatment… Given correctional courses through meditational therapy and other measures, his erotic aberration may wither away. A man like the appellant has a reasonable prospect of shaping into a balanced person, given propitious social environs, curative and congenial work and techniques of internal stress release or of reformatory self-expression”. The three-Judge Bench decision of the Court in Shatrughan Chauhan followed in a four-judge Bench decision of this Court in Navneet Kaur, which held that the execution of persons suffering from mental illness or insanity violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and that such mental illness or insanity would be a supervening circumstance meriting commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment. A solution to alleviate this problem is to have devoted forensic psychiatrists in prisons, who are going to conduct mandatory pre-trial observation in suspected offences by the mentally ill. By doing so, the offender can be screened as near to the event of crime as possible, and the necessary evaluations can be undertaken. Such system is in place in Norwegian legal system where the suspected mentally ill are screened and are labelled as either evaluation recommended, evaluation not recommended or as undecided. This screening system helps in saving money and time of procedure.
Chapter IV – CONCLUSION
The lawmakers are still not clear that which forms of mental abnormalities can be deemed to be acceptable ‘excuses’ for criminal behaviour or ‘defence’ under Chapter IV of I.P.C. It should be mandatory that such type of behaviour should be immediately taken into account and as a matter of standard procedure, such offenders should be subjected to a medical test involving a psycho-analysis. Actually, it is the duty of the legislators and lawmakers who should utilize the services of psychologists and psychiatrists in all important crimes for which there are still no distinguishing criteria in order for criminals to be immediately examined by a psychological specialist as soon as they commit crimes. Therefore it becomes an ardent duty of the judiciary to impersonate themselves as Judicial Spectator while dealing with the cases of psychopaths. It is essential that investigation should be made in order to address the existing ambiguity of psychopathic behaviour and this will help in drawing the distinction between psychopathy and other forms of crime, viz. sexual and violent crimes. Prior to crimes, proper training measures shall be established and to operationalize this purpose, continual and on-going cooperation shall be established among institutions and educational, training, scientific and academic agencies, on the one hand, and courts and criminal courts and prisons and criminal institutions, on the other hand, so that each of the institutions are aware of the measures and impacts of each other in the society. Different committees should be set up to discuss the methods of treatment designed to reduce the risk of reoffending i.e. psychotherapy, surgical interventions, pharmacotherapy etc. Specific training programs for these criminals should be centred in state prisons and their social reformation emphasis shall be on explaining their ethical responsibilities and analysis of their responsibility and their justification and on differentiating between good and bad deeds.
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