MERE INTENTION NOT PUNISHABLE

MEANING OF CRIME

Crime refers to an act or omission that comprises an offence and is punishable under law. Activities which are not legal are covered under the ambit of crime.

Indian Penal Code:  The official Criminal Code of India is Indian penal code this code covers all the aspects of criminal law, this code was enacted in the year 1860 it was recommended by the first Law Commission of India which was established under the Charter Act in the year 1834. According to Indian penal code, two conditions are required to constitute crime and they are guilty act and guilty mind (Actus Reus and Mens rea, respectively)

The punishment covered under the Indian penal code is death sentence, life imprisonment, imprisonment, forfeiture of property and fine. Section 53 of IPC provides for the following punishment for crime

ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF CRIME

 There are four essential elements that are required to constitute a crime they are as follows

  1. A human being
  2. Mens Rea (guilty mind)
  3. Actus reus (guilty act)
  4. Injury

Human being: Section 11 of the Indian penal code defines the word person as any company, association or body of person which may or may not be incorporated.

Mens Rea: The second essential element is the existence of Mens Rea in the act or omission done by the person. Mens Rea can be defined as the Latin word for guilty mind. Mens Rea is the intention of a person to commit a crime, hence a person committing a crime should have knowledge that his act or omission will constitute an offence and knowingly he has committed the same. Presence of intention to commit a crime is a very important essential for crime.

A guilty act in absence of guilty mind is not covered under the category of crime. The landmark judgement in which the above provision was held that mens rea is essential for constituting crime was R vs. Prince

Actus Reus: the definition of crime begins with the term “Any act or Omission” which means there must be some physical act or omission of some act which has been done by a person. The word Actus reus means some criminal activity or any guilty act that has been done by voluntarily bodily movement, the physical movement may be such as to harm a person or damage of a  property, in conclusion there must be a human who has guilty intention to commit a crime for which he has done some voluntarily physical activity which can be characterised as a guilty act In maragatham alias lakshmi versus state of Madras: It was held that act or omission of an accused that indicate his intention to commit a certain definite crime, then he has performed Actus reus to support a charge to constitute crime. Actus reus not only covers the guilty act by a person but it also covers guilty omission, In case some duties imposed upon a person by law and he omits the Commission of such duty then he can be held liable for Actus reus keeping in mind that the omission must be some breach of a legal duty any duty of an individual which is not legal is not covered in the omission.

Injury:  the final requirement for constituting crime is injury to a person or the society at large by accused. Injury to a person may or may not be physical, an injury can be caused to any person any property or reputation of person as well

Stages of crime as defined in the Indian penal code

There are four stages of crime they are as follows:  

  • Intention
  • Preparation
  • Attempt
  • The last stage is accomplishment of crime.

INTENTION- First Stage to offence of crime

As discussed in the article before that the fundamental of a crime are Actus Reus and Mens rea. The liability of Commission of crime can be decided if the accused has a mala fide intention to commit crime; the fact has been established that mere intention shall not constitute an offence Mens rea is an important component to constitute crime, Mens Rea may be divided into four levels these four levels are

  • Negligence of accused: in this case the person is considered to be negligent of his act and does not fulfil the reasonable care which was required to be taken in order to avoid the crime. Example: a driver driving negligently after consuming alcohol hit a pedestrian walking on a road.
  • Recklessness of accused: the degree of such an act is higher than that of the negligence. In this case a person can predict the circumstances that can arise by his act or omission but he cannot reasonably preclude or intend the happening of the same.
  • Knowledge of accused: in this stage the person has proper knowledge of the risk which may arise out with his act or omission and knowing the same he continues to do such act or omission in this. In this stage the person is not negligent.
  • The intent of the accused: this is the last stage and the highest degree of intention in this stage the person does something to commit a crime.

Actus Reus is an act or omission on part of the accused. It is a physical body movement which injures other person. It is very difficult to find the intention of a person to constitute a crime. Though intension is the first stage to crime but the presence of intention cannot constitute an offense.

MERE INTENTION CANNOT BE PUNISHED

Intention as a word has not been defined anywhere in Indian penal code but the literal meaning of the word intention is objective to do something. In relevance with crime, it is the aim or the purpose of the accused. Intention is the first stage in the Commission of crime, but mere intention to commit a crime is no where punishable under law.

Mens Rea is a very important factor to determine that whether an act is culpable or not. It is necessary to prove that the accused has committed the crime with proper knowledge of the same. He must have complete knowledge of his actions and it is also necessary to prove that he had a malafide intention for the same.

There are situations where the crime has been committed involuntarily but the cause of such a crime was voluntarily:

  • For instance a driver being drunk harmed someone, in this case the crime committed was involuntary but the choice of consuming alcohol and driving on public roads was voluntary and hence the driver in this case would be held liable even if he has committed the crime without any intention
  • Another case is where a person with no health issues suddenly died while driving and injures other, in this case the driver cannot be made liable by illustrating these two different cases, it can be understood that mere intention cannot be considered while determining a crime.

Actus Reus: The word Actus reus means some criminal activity or any guilty act that has been done by voluntarily bodily movement, the physical movement may be such as to harm a person or damage of a property, in conclusion there must be a human who has guilty intention to commit a crime for which he has done some voluntarily physical activity which can be characterised as a guilty act. Neither Actus reus Nor Mens Rea alone forms crime without the Commission of guilty act there cannot be any crime but it is to be noted that an act alone does not make a crime both guilty mind and guilty act are needed to combined to form a crime.

Both Mens Rea and Actus reus together form intention and the stage of intention under law is not punishable as there is always a possibility for a person who has the intention to commit a crime to drop the idea of the same. there is a distinction between motive and intention there are situations where a person have a good motive for committing an offense but the mere fact that the motive behind the offence was not malice and for a good cause cannot be taken into consideration to determine whether an offence has been committed or not. Intention is distinct from motive, the constituents of intention i.e. Actus reus and Mens Rea are taken into consideration and the existence of both are necessary to constitute crime whereas, in case of motive it is immaterial that what was the motive of the accused behind the act he has committed.

EXCEPTIONS

There are some exceptions laid by the law where the existence of mens rea is not necessary such cases are

  • Cases are not covered under criminal law but which are prohibited under penalty in public interest
  • In the cases of public nuisance intention is not required
  • Cases of criminal nature but our summary mode of enforcing law

Other exceptions are as follows:

  • Waging war against the government (IPC section 121 and 123)
  • Sedition (section 124A)
  • Criminal conspiracy (section 128 A)

REFERENCES:

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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