Rakesh Bhatnagar, Sunday, April 23, 2006 23:50 IST
It is quite interesting to note that the term “inferiority complex” is seldom invoked in criminal cases. But there are matrimonial disputes in which one spouse has charged the other for causing mental agony due to inferiority complex he or she was suffering from.
A wife succeeded in getting divorce from her husband, who perceived himself as ‘ugly’ in comparison to his “fair and beautiful” wife. Since the husband suffered from inferiority complex, he repeatedly harassed her, the wife told the court.
In another instance, a businessman’s wife couldn’t stand her husband’s new-found success. She started harassing him and also attempted to harm his business. The husband got the divorce as the court noted that the wife was suffering from an inferiority complex and their relationship was beyond repair.
Inferiority complex, a term that recently hit the headlines after BJP leader Pramod Mahajan was shot by his younger brother Pravin, is not always viewed as a liability for someone afflicted by it.
When Maharashtra’s senior IAS officer Vijay Kumar was denied promotion on the grounds that his annual confidential report suggested he was suffering from an “inferiority” complex, the Supreme Court rushed to his rescue.
In a brief judgment in 1988, Judges G L Oza and K J Shetty said “we do not find anything adverse in these remarks. Kumar has been assessed as a serious and intelligent officer. The inferiority complex attributed to him cannot outweigh his good qualities. It is more often a superiority complex that causes harm to the public”.
However, when an accused claims to be of unsound mind due to inferiority complex he had developed due to jealousy for his victim, section 84 of the Indian Penal Code comes into play.
This provision was incorporated in the 135-year old law to offer a mitigating ground for lenient punishment. In fact, if deemed insane, the accused can’t be convicted for the offence committed by him in that peculiar mental frame.
If a person commits an offence out of extreme anger and not as a result of an unsound mind, he would not be entitled to the benefit of 84 IPC. If by nature he’s an angry person and in a fit of rage commits an offence, he can’t claim he was suffering from an attack of paranoid schizophrenia.
The existing sentences undoubtedly favour the convicts as much as the justice delivery system. If the benefit of section 84 is allowed to every accused, the existing acquittal rate of 90 per cent will only go up.