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Who is an idiot?

Well, in case we did not know the meaning of idiot, the Supreme Court has a new definition of the term.

The court was hearing a case from Madhya Pradesh where one Hari Singh Gond murdered his grandfather-in-law and then claimed innocence on the grounds of idiocy. Under Section 84 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), a person is not liable to be prosecuted if found to be of unsound mind, or incapable of comprehending the nature of the criminal act and the fact that it is against the law.

To be legally accepted as an idiot, one has to be so dumb as to be unable to count till 20, list the days of the week, or fail to remember the names of one’s parents, the court said, while identifying four kinds of people who could be classified as mentally unsound – idiots, the very ill, lunatics and drunks.

Seems ok, doesn’t it? However, it’s too simplistic and there would be millions in India who would qualify as ‘idiots’, simply because they are illiterate (so they cannot count to 20 or list days of the week) or have never really needed to ‘know’ their parents’ names, beyond referring to them as Dad and Mom in their local lingo.

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