Criminal Force and Assault

This article will define Force, Criminal Force and Assault.

Sec 349 of IPC defines force. It does not constitute an offence but it merely explains the word force. It states that a person is said to use force to another if he causes motion, change of motion, or cessation of motion to that other. Also the person causing the motion uses one of the three ways as described:

  • First- -By his own bodily power.
  • Secondly- By disposing any substance in such a manner that the motion or change or cessation of motion takes place without any further act on his part, or on the part of any other person.
  • Thirdly- By inducing any animal to move, to change its motion, or to cease to move.

Force can be defined as the exertion of energy or strength producing a movement or change in the external world. The term force defined under this section contemplates force used by a human being on another human being. It does not contemplate the use of force against inanimate objects. This is clear from the use of the word ‘another’ in the section. So, a motion or change of motion or cessation of motion caused to property without affecting the human being is not the ‘use of the force to another’ within the meaning of this section.

Sec 350 defines criminal force as:

whoever intentionally uses force to any person, without that person’s consent, in order to the committing of any offence, or intending by the use of such force to cause, or knowing it to be likely that by the use of such force he will cause injury, fear or annoyance to the person to whom the force is used, is said to use criminal force to that other.

The ingredients of sec 350 which defines criminal force are:

  • There must be use of force as defined u/s 349 of IPC.
  • Such force should be used intentionally.
  • Force have been used without the consent of the person against whom it is used.
  • The force have been used-

:- In order to commit an offence; or

:- With the intention to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will cause injury , fear or annoyance to the person to whom it is used.

Sec 351 of IPC defines assault as whoever makes any gesture, or any preparation intending or knowing. it to be likely that such gesture or preparation will cause any person present to apprehend that he who makes that gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault.

Mere words do not amount to an assault. But the words which a person uses may give to his gestures or preparation such a meaning as may make those gestures or preparations amount to an assault. Eg: A shakes his fist at Z, intending or knowing it to be likely that he may thereby cause Z to believe that A is about to strike Z, A has committed an assault. Ingredients of sec 351:

  • That the accused should make gesture or preparation to use criminal force.
  • Such gesture or preparation should be made in the presence of the person in respect of whom it is made.
  • There should be intention or knowledge on the part of the accused.
  • Such gesture or preparation causes apprehension in the mind of the victim, of use of criminal force against him.

Gesture or Preparation:

The explanation to the section provides that mere words do not amount to assault, unless the words are used in aid of the gesture or preparation which amounts to assault.The following are the instances of assault:

  • Pointing a gun.
  • Fetching a sword and advancing with it towards the victim.
  • Lifting lathi.
  • Advancing with a threatening attitude to strike blows.

Apprehension of Assault:

One of the ingredient of assault is that the person threatened should be present and should apprehend danger in order to constitute assault. Eg: If A pointed a gun at B, which B knew to be unloaded, then B could not have been under fear of any harm. In order to constitute the offence of assault, it is essential that the person apprehends that there will be use of criminal force against him.

Punishment for Assault or Criminal Force:

Sec 352 of IPC states that whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person otherwise than on grave and sudden provocation given by that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.

Sec 358 of IPC states that whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person on grave and sudden provocation given by that person, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both.

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