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Criminal Liability and Disability


Under the Indian law, certain issues relating to persons with disability are dealt with differently from the ones which relate to a non-disabled person. One such instance is the transaction made by a person of unsound mind (including those with mental retardation and mental illness).

This law is based on the principle that any party to a transaction (involving money or property) is valid if both parties are able to give consent and are fully aware of the implication of the act. A person of unsound mind is, due to the nature of the disability, believed not to be in a position to understand the implications of any transaction. Therefore, all transactions made by such a person are not considered valid. Hence, the Court appoints a guardian in the absence of a natural guardian to represent such person to protect his interest. Usually, guardians are close relatives. However, in the absence of any such person or when the Court is not convinced that the relative in question is appropriate, is a third party appointed the guardian.

Courts have played a significant role in protecting the interests of such people.  In one such instance, where the court felt that the other party has taken advantage of a disabled person’s situation, the guardianship was transferred to another person. Similarly, any transfer of possession of land to the legal representatives through fraudulent means has been reversed.

Courts have played a similar role while dealing with cases relating to other disabilities. It needs to be remembered that not all disabled persons are appointed guardians. In an interesting case involving a deaf man, the court did not appoint a guardian as it was proved that the person was capable of taking care of his own interests.

In the above circumstances, the points taken into consideration include the family’s opinion of the person, independence in handling personal affairs, before granting guardianship to ensure that the individual indeed needs a person to take care of him.

Judgments related to "Guardianship"

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