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An Analysis Of The Majewski Test And Its Applicability To India

Kuvam Verma, National Law University, Delhi


Generally voluntary intoxication is no excuse for any offense, however there are exceptions to this rule in those cases where a person is intoxicated to such a degree that he is unable to form the requisite intent to commit that offense (the “specific intent”). However, in cases where intent is not an essential element of the offense, the defence of voluntary intoxication does not apply (the “basic intent”). This principle has been variously interpreted by legal jurisdictions around the world, under English law, DPP v Majewski is considered the most authoritative case on the defence of voluntary intoxication, Herein, the House of Lords made a distinction between “crimes of specific intent” and those of “basic intent”. Voluntary intoxication so far as it negated specific intent was recognised as a defence for the former but not for the latter.

This decision was riddled with inconsistencies, primarily because the court failed to definitively categorise all offenses as either crimes of basic intent or of specific intent. When such categorization was attempted it was found to be faulty to the effect that many crimes, historically consider to be of specific could be interpreted as being of basic intent by applying this test.

The Indian approach has not been guided by the Majewski test, instead the Indian courts have chosen to determine the extent of intention from the “attending general facts” of the case. Hence, the Indian courts have treated intention as an evidentiary factor that has to specifically determined from the facts of each case.


Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research

Abbreviation: IJLLR

ISSN: 2582-8878


Accessibility: Open Access

License: Creative Commons 4.0

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​All research articles published in The Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research are fully open access. i.e. immediately freely available to read, download and share. Articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons license which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IJLLR or its members. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the IJLLR.

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