Compulsion as a Defence

Introduction

Section 94 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) is very important, it states the VIIth to prove that there is no intention of crime. Nothing is an offence committed by a person by threatening him except murder and offences against state punishable with death. So the section 94 of IPC has been altered as, the defence of compulsion can take when there is a duress. Except in the case of :

i) murder

ii) waging war against the Government of India, which is punishable with death.

Defence of compulsion can be taken by a person where he does an offence without his own will or from a reasonable apprehension of harm or instant death. Therefore Section 94 clearly says that an offence committed by a person under compulsion/duress, that person will enjoy this defence only when the compulsion or threat for causing instant death, not for future death. Neverthless, the offence committed should not be a murder and also offence against state punishable with death. Here, murder under this section will not includes abetment of murder, such abetment will get excuse here. 

Illustration 1

If a person, either of his own decision or as a result of threat, joins a dacoits gang and also he knows about their disposition or mentality, he is not allowed to grant this exception on the ground that he is forcefully doing an act which is an offence.

Illustration 2

A person takes hold of a dacoits gang and menaces him to do an act which becomes an offence. For example: If a watchman is seized by a gang and forced to take the tools and break the door, to help the gang enter and loot.

In the 1st illustration, defence of compulsion is not available because there we cannot find any fear of instant death. While in the 2nd illustration where this benefit can be included and there is a fear of instant death.

Doctrine of compulsion and necessity

If a man forcefully enters into a wrongful act, law allows him free for such acts, but if he does the same act without any compulsion, he is liable and punished. This is called doctrine of necessity and compulsion or jus necessitates. A person of unsound mind can prove or if a real fear of instant death is proved, they will get these benefits. It is to be noted that the pressure of urge is not an excuse for making the law fracture. 

In the case of Umadasi v Emperor, it was held that, the abetment of murder and murder is different. A person is charged to abeted a murder, he will not be entilted the exemption but a person compelled to abet murder is entilted with this defence.. In some cases, when the accused give false evidences, that he did the murder by threatning him or because of the fear of torture of police who compells him to provide statement against the person hanged.

In the case Sonu v Emperor, the court rejected the defences and held that the alleged fear of death was not instant. If there is only a mere intimidation before the offence committed, the person would not be entitled to have the defence. Section 94 clearly states that the person is covered under the defence of compulsion, when he commits an offence by threatening instant death, not future death.

In the case of Abbot v R, the accused abet for a criminal offence that he buried alive a physically wounded girl but he contended this before the court that he did not assist, he was compelled to assist the crime otherwise he would have certainly killed him and his mom.

 The privy council held here that he is liable and guilty for culpable homicide. Hence the court has rejected the defence of compulsion. 

Abetment of murder

A person is not entitled to get the benefit of section 94, when the act done is a murder or an offence against the state punishable with death. By threatening or making fear of grievous hurt even instant death—-is not a enough justification. Murder which have committed by a person by threatening him of instant death is not justifiable but abetment of murder will be a defend. In short a man has no right to make himself part of committing mischief in society due to fear of consequences. Hence, breaking the law is not justified by temptation.

English cases

 Under English law defence of compulsion and duress is not only available for such cases having the fear of instant death but also in the cases of instant serious bodily injury.In an It is also not necessary that the threat should always be against the accused, it may be against any person whom the accused has an interest in, for example,The murderers compelled A to kill B, by threatning him that if he refuses this act his wife will be get raped by the gang. Now it is clear that defence of compulsion or necessity under English law have wider scope than Indian law.

Conclusion

Section 94 frees a man from a criminal liability. The basic maxim applied here was ACTUS ME INVITO FACTUS EST NISI ACTUS. To plea the defence of compulsion, following aspects should be satisfied;

i) the accused must show, the act was done by compulsion of instant death, but it excepts murder and offences against state punishable with death.

ii) there is no other option for the accused, but to die or to commit the crime. 

This defence supports a man who is innocent but commits a crime by fear of instant death. Sometimes some false statements and criminals may get escaped but we should keep in mind that even if a thousand criminals escape, not a single innocent will be punished. 

References

LexisNexis ,Textbook on INDIAN PENAL CODE by K D Gaur, pgno 285,286,287,288,289,290

Law of Crimes, The Academy of Legal Publications,pgno 48,49

Aishwarya Says:

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