There are four stages of crime as defined in the penal code of India these stages are as follows:  

  • Intention
  • Preparation
  • Attempt
  • Accomplishment of crime.

The first two stages are not considered as punishable under the Indian penal code, intention is constituted when there is presence of both Mens rea and Actus reus i.e. guilty mind and guilty act and the stage of intention under IPC is not punishable as there is always a possibility for a person having the intention to commit a crime to drop the idea of its commission. In the same way, preparation to commit a crime is also not punishable under law the reason behind preparation not punishable under the penal law is that it is difficult to prove the fact that preparation made by an accused is for the execution of crime or for some other purpose. The next stage is attempt; Attempts are punishable under the Indian penal code. Hence, it becomes important to distinguish between preparation and attempt as there is a very thin line between these two.

Below are the explanations of all the four stages in commission of crime to make it easier to understand.

INTENTION- The First Stage in commission of crime

The fundamental objects that are required to constitute an intention as to commit a crime are Actus Reus and mens rea. The liability of Commission of crime can be decided if the accused has a mala fide or a guilty  intention to commit crime; the fact has been established that mere intention shall not constitute an offence under the Indian penal code Mens rea is an important component to constitute any crime.

Actus Reus is defined as an act or omission on part of the accused. It is a bodily movement which injures the other person. It is very difficult to find the intention of a person to constitute a crime. Though intention is the first stage to crime but mere presence of intention cannot constitute an offense other stages are equally important to constitute a crime.

PREPARATION- The Second Stage in commission of crime

The second stage in commission of crime is the stage of preparation. Preparation is defined as the arrangement of resources that are required for executing any criminal offense or to establish the aim of crime.  Preparation with intention to any wrongful act is still not a punishable stage by law, this fact has been established by law but as every law has some exceptions, this fact also has some exceptions, the reason behind preparation not punishable under law is that it is difficult to prove the fact that preparation made by an accused is for the execution of crime or for some other purpose and that is why the person who has completed the stage of preparation of any crime cannot be made liable and cannot be either punished for the same.

As mentioned above, every established rule has some exception and the rule that preparation is not punishable under law also has some exceptions and they are

  • Preparation to waging of war against the central government is punishable by law
  • Preparation to commit dacoity is punishable by law
  • Counterfeiting government stamps is punishable by law
  • Possession of forged documents is punishable by law
  • Counterfeiting coins is punishable by law
  • Manipulating the weight of coins is punishable by law

 These offenses are punishable by law even at the stage of preparation itself. Other offences are not punishable under Indian Penal Code at the stage of preparation.

ATTEMPT The third Stage in commission of crime

There is a very little distinction between the preparation to commit a crime and attempt to commit a crime. Attempt to commit a crime is the next stage after intention and preparation but has really different affect under IPC than the preparation stage. Attempts are punishable under the Indian penal code, some attempt to commit crime includes

  • Attempt as to waging war.
  • Attempt to seduce any airman, sailor or soldier from his duty.
  • Attempt to murder, culpable homicide, and suicide, throw suicide, commit theft, and wrongfully confine a person, robbery and dacoity.

All these attempts to commit an offence of crime are punishable under Indian penal code. The very difference between preparation to commit crime and attempt to crime is that preparation is not punishable whereas attempt to crime is punishable later both the stages are to be differentiated very well.

ACCOMPLISHMENT The fourth Stage in commission of crime

Accomplishment is the last stage has to Commission of any offence. Successful attempt of the crime leads to accomplishment of the that crime, every person should be made liable for any act or offence that he commits and accomplishes it at its fullest it is the last stage of the crime after accomplishing all the four stages of person will be set to commit a crime and he can be made liable for the same and will be punished under law.


Supreme Court in this case held that Commission of crime involves four stages first is the stage of intention, second is the stage preparation, third is the attempt stage and fourth is the accomplishment of crime which is regarded as the commission of crime. the first two stages are not punishable under the Indian penal code whereas the other two are punishable, in this case the respondent were trying to export fertilizer without the permission of the state government and later this act was considered as an attempt to offence rather than preparation and hence punishable and the accused were made liable for the same.


Attempt as a Term has not been defined in the Indian penal code but the term in general language is one which has necessary elements as follows.

  • Mens Rea to commit the offence
  • Any such act which constitute Actus reus of a criminal attempt
  • And the last essential is that there should be failure of accomplishment or the person should fall short in completion of the intended crime


Under Indian Penal code an amendment bill has been passed which added a new section 120 C according to this section a person can be said in the stage of attempt to a crime when

  • Someone with the intention for committing an offence does any act towards its Commission.
  • The act so done should be connected and proximate to the Commission of an offence.
  • The act must fail in the Commission because of facts not known to him or circumstances beyond his control.

Distinction in the stage of preparation and attempt to commit a crime

Preparation is a mental act with follow up of some action to do a particular thing. Whereas preparation is related to arrangement of the measures necessary for the Commission of the offence, on the other hand attempt to commit the offence is a direct movement to the Commission of a crime which falls short to its Commission and desired result.

In a leading case of Fagnu Bhoi vs state of Orissa It was made clear that a person will be convicted of attempt if he has been shown to have an intention to commit offence and have done an act which constitutes the Actus reus of criminal attempt.

The stage of preparation is generally not punishable whereas the stage of attempt is punishable under law. The stage of preparation is punishable only in exceptional cases for illustration. In a case where contempt offence is so grave in nature that it would be necessary to stop it at its earliest stage or where the preparation are peculiar in nature.


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