A crime is a act which doesn’t occur automatically. At whatever point a crime occurs and that too intentionally, there is an undeniable cycle before it arrives at the limit of being named as a crime. In the event of each crime, Firstly there is an intention to commit it, Secondly, preparation to commit it, Thirdly, attempt to commit it and Lastly the accomplishment.
The intention is the first and beginning stage in the commission of a crime and this stage has not been penalized under the Indian Penal Code. Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea is a latin maxim which converts into ‘an act doesn’t make a defendant liable without a guilty mind’.
It translates into that ‘an act doesn’t itself become guilty’. Actus Reus is the actual act which an individual does and mens rea is the ‘guilty mind’ with which a crime is committed. It is pertinent to take note of that an act which isn’t gone before with an evil intention isn’t punishable. It is significant that Mens rea is present in a specific act, which means that an act may be named as a crime if there is an evil intention to do wrong. The mere act without the evil intention isn’t punishable.
The obligation to conviction of an individual relies not just upon his having done some outward demonstrations which the law precludes, but on his having done them in a specific frame of mind or with a specific will. It is the blend of the demonstration and the intent which makes a crime. The intent and the act both should agree to constitute a crime.
ATLEY VS STATE OF U.P, AIR 1955 SC 807
This case dealt with the question of intention and motive. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that it is not necessary to prove as to what motivated the act. The commission of the act needs to be proved and the motive is immaterial.
RAVULA HARIPRASADA VS THE STATE, 1951 SCR 322
In this case, it was held that that a person should not be held guilty of an offence if there was no guilty mind to commit the offence.
KARTAR SINGH VS STATE OF PUNJAB,1994 (3) SCC 569
In this case, it was held that the doctrine of mens rea must be read as a part of the statute except if and until it has been specifically ruled out of the statute by words or by vital implications.
The second stage is named as preparation. It is at this stage that the individual gets ready or does acts which will help him in carrying out the criminal act. It should be remembered that the criminal act has not been carried out yet and along these lines this stage isn’t punishable.
In the event that A buys a gun and keeps the same in his pocket duly loaded in order to kill his enemy B, yet does nothing more. A has not submitted any offense as still he is at the phase of preparation and it will be impossible for the prosecution to demonstrate that A was carrying the loaded gun just to kill B.
Anyway there are sure acts which the IPC criminalizes even at the preparation stage. These acts are:-
Waging war against the Government of India (Sec.122) – Sec 122: This section criminalizes the acts of an individual when the individual is associated with gathering arms and ammunition with an intention to wage a war against the State i.e., the Government of India. This act has been punished with an imprisonment upto life or for a term not surpassing ten years. An individual found guilty of this offense will likewise be at risk to pay fine.
Committing depredation on the spaces of any country which is at peace with the government of India (Sec. 126) – Sec 126: This section criminalizes the acts of an individual when the person in question commits acts like plundering or attacking any nation or country which is at peace with the Indian State.
The code has punished this act with the discipline of detainment as long as seven years and the individual doing such an act will likewise be at risk for fine. The penal arrangement doesn’t stop there; the discipline additionally incorporates the relinquishment of any property that was utilized during the commission of this offense or was even planned to be utilized for the commission of this offense.
To submit Dacoity (Sec 399) – Sec 399: Making preparation to commit dacoity: Whoever makes any preparation for committing dacoity, will be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which might stretch out to ten years, and will likewise be at risk to fine.
Preparation for counterfeiting of coins or Government stamps-Sections 233-235, S. 255 and S. 257 – Possessing counterfeit coins, false weight or measurement and forged documents. Simple possession of these is a wrongdoing and no holder can argue that he is currently at the phase of preparation – Sections 242, 243, 259, 266 and 474.
MALKIAT SINGH VS STATE OF PUNJAB, 1968
In this case, a truck conveying paddy from Punjab was halted by a sub-inspector and was taken into possession 18 miles from Delhi. He was accused for violating the Punjab Paddy order. The driver admitted he was transporting the paddy towards Delhi. The court held the driver was not at fault for violating Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act and Paddy Export Control Order as he has not crossed the phase of preparation and still had the opportunity to change his mind.
The court remarked that preparation comprises of arranging the means essential for the commencement of the offence. Then again, attempt is an immediate movement towards the commission after arrangements have been made. The test that the court put down to differentiate the two is that if the act being referred to is to such an extent that if the offender alters his mind, the act and the past acts would be rendered harmless.
An attempt to commit an offense starts when the preparation closes and a step towards the commission of an offense is made anyway such step ought to be indicative of the intention to carry out a actual crime there should be a general connection between the two i.e. if the interference was not caused because of outer factor, crime would have been the only outcome.
An attempt is made punishable in light of the fact that each attempt however it falls flat, should make or cause alert which of itself is an injury to the general public. It is important to demonstrate for an offense of attempt is that the accused had gone past the stage of preparation. An act will add up to simple preparation if the individual on his understanding, gives it up before the criminal act is completed.
To decide if a given arrangement of acts establish attempt or preparation, the test is that whether the overt acts previously done are to such an extent that if the individual alters his perspective and doesn’t continue further the acts previously done would be totally harmless. In the event that they would be in this way, it would add up to preparation only but where the thing done is such if not forestalled by any extraneous cause would fructify into the commission of the offense, it would add up to an attempt to commit the offense.
An act which is impossible to commit can’t be attempted and so is not culpable. Anyway such impossibility should be outright and not relative. For instance if an individual shoots a shadow, it will not be attempt on the grounds that the commission of such act is impossible however in the event that an individual attempts to steal from a empty pocket it is an attempt since it is an act towards the commission of the offense and failure of accused isn’t because of his own act.
Criminal law considers attempts to carry out culpable wrongs and rebuffs them as per the nature and gravity of the offense attempted. In spite of the fact that IPC has not defined attempt anywhere in the IPC, it has managed attempt in different areas, for example-
Sec 511 – This section explains the imprisonment which is to be forced on an individual in the event that the person is found attempting to commit an offense. It should be noticed that this specific section is a general section. The IPC has included within its ambit, sections which criminalize an offence and furthermore gives the punishment for the attempts in those particular sections or parts.
But there are certain offences whose punishment isn’t given explicitly by the IPC. This section makes up for that shortfall and covers up for such offences by prescribing a punishment in sec 511. The section imposes a punishment of description which is proved for that specific offence and the maximum would be half of the imprisonment for life or a half of the longest period of imprisonment which is prescribed for that offence. An individual may likewise be fined for such an attempt.
Attempt under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 – The Indian Penal Code has dealt with attempt in the following four distinct ways-
Completed offences and attempts have been dealt with in the same section and same punishment is prescribed for both. Such provisions are contained in Sections 121, 124, 124-A, 125, 130, 131, 152, 153-A, 161, 162, 163, 165, 196, 198, 200, 213, 240, 241, 251, 385, 387, 389, 391, 394, 395, 397, 459 and 460.
Secondly, attempts to submit offences and commission of specific offences have been managed independently and separate punishments have been given for attempt to commit such offences from those of the offences committed. Examples are-murder is punished under section 302 and attempt to murder to kill under section 307; culpable homicide is punished under section 304 and attempt to commit culpable homicide under section 308; Robbery is punished under section 392 and attempt to commit robbery under segment 393.
Thirdly, attempt to commit suicide is punished under section 309. Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence shall be punished under IPC.
Fourthly, any other cases [where no specific provisions regarding attempt are made] are covered under area 511 which gives that the accused will be punished with one-half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for the offence or with prescribed fine or with both.
SAGAYAM VS STATE OF KARNATAKA 2000 4 SCC 454
In this case, the Apex court put away the conviction of the accused who was charged with sections under the IPC and TADA. The prosecution failed to establish that the accused had committed an offence under sec 307 of the IPC and TADA.
The court while giving its decision reiterated that there are various stages in a crime. The court clearly spelled out that the first stage is the very intention to commit a crime. The first stage is followed by the second stage of preparation and the third stage is the attempt to commit the offence. It was held by the court that if the third stage fails, then the crime is not complete, however the same is punishable under the IPC. It was held that an attempt must be distinguished from the intention to commit it and the preparation for the commission of the crime.
AMAN KUMAR VS STATE OF HARYANA, 2004 (4) SCC 379
In this case, the apex court observed that an attempt is made punishable because it creates alarm in the minds and the moral guilt of the individual omitting an act is the same had he succeeded in his actions.
ABHYANAND MISHRA VS STATE OF BIHAR, 1961
Abhayanand Mishra wanted to pursue M.A. (English) from Patna University as a private candidate. He attached the forged documents with his application that demonstrates that he has done his graduation in the year 1951 and is also a teacher at a school.
University comes to know that the document attached by the candidate were forged as he was neither a graduate nor a teacher and therefore, University recorded a case under section 420 and 511 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Abhayanand Mishra contended that since he has not given the examination yet, so he has committed no offences, this is just a part of preparation. So the issue raised was that whether it was only a preparation or an attempt at cheating?
Court held that Petitioner has already done his preparation when he has gone through the application process, the moment he dispatched the documents is an attempt. Therefore, the petitioner will be held liable for an attempt at cheating.
It is the last phase of the commission of a crime. This is the stage where the offender has crossed all the three initial stages i.e., intention, preparation, and attempt. At this stage, the individual completes the actus reus. In the event that the accused prevails in his attempt to commit the crime, he will be guilty for the complete offence and if his attempt is unsuccessful he will be guilty of an attempt only.
A fires at B with the intention to kill him, if B dies, A will be guilty for committing the offence of murder and in case B is just injured, it will be a case of attempt to murder.
Thus it tends to be inferred that a crime isn’t only an act or omission which is a standalone act however there are a few stages which are engaged with the commission of an offence. Law doesn’t criminalize all the stages of the crime but it punishes when the offense is finished.
We have as of now seen the special cases where certain acts become offences and are culpable under the Indian Penal Code. One needs to remember the thin contrasts between the concepts of preparation and attempt, knowledge and intention and so forth.
The intention is vital in seeing that if a crime has been committed or not and one can clearly never overlook the actus reus, yet actus reus without the mens rea isn’t punishable and won’t establish a crime except if the act falls in the exceptions.
RATANLAL AND DHIRAJLAL, INDIAN PENAL CODE (LEXISNEXIS, 36th Edition, 2020).
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