In the eyes of society, committing a crime is a disgraceful act that shocks the public conscience. For the most part, criminal law is concerned with protecting and preserving specific essential societal values and institutions. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) specifies a set of standards for human behavior. It prohibits conduct that inexcusably shows contempt to another person or causes or threatens to cause severe damage to that person. Regardless of what occurs in our lives, it’s a gradual process. For example, we all get bad grades from time to time. An out-of-control lifestyle leads to laziness, leading to a lack of study, which leads to a bad grade. Likewise, a crime occurs in the same manner.
A crime is defined as an act that does not occur by chance. Instead, it is an act or omission that must go through a series of steps before it can be classified as a criminal offense and punished accordingly.
Let’s take a closer look at these steps or stages of crime in IPC and study the core principles behind them.
Intention – First Stage of Crime
The Indian Penal Code does not punish the intention stage of committing a crime since it is the first step. There must be bad intent for an act to be classified as a crime, which is referred to as Mens rea, for it to be deemed a crime. The act itself is not unlawful if there is no harmful intent behind it. To be a crime, both the intention and the conduct must be present. Intention, knowledge, motive, recklessness, and negligence all fall under the umbrella of Mens Rea.
Intention – Intention is a person’s will focused on a certain action. E.g., A stabs B, then the intention is clear that A wanted to kill B
Motive – When a person acts, he is motivated to accomplish a goal. E.g., My friend stole my ice cream, so I killed him. When I took action, I was motivated by the need to reclaim my ice cream.
Knowledge – If a person is aware of the consequences of their behavior yet does not seem to care. E.g., I was unable to slay my friend and reclaim my ice cream, so I decided to try something different. I was completely aware of my friend’s cardiovascular issue. So, I disguised myself as a ghost and frightened him at night, causing him to have a heart attack and passing away.
Recklessness is the State of mind in which a person anticipates the possibility of carrying out an act, but fails to consider the risk that may result from that act.
Negligence – It is the failure to carry on an obligation or responsibility. There is no universal punishment for carelessness in criminal law, unlike in torts. There are just a few circumstances when criminal liability is established under the IPC.
Preparation – Second Stage of Crime
The second step or stage in committing a crime is to plan and organize. To carry out the criminal act involves putting together all the resources required for it. There has not yet been an offense, and as a result, there is no punishment for the offense at this point.
There are specific activities, however, that are prohibited under the IPC from beginning to end, even if they are just being planned.
|Sec. Under IPC||
Name of the Section
Waging war against the Government of India
|This provision makes it a crime for a person to engage in gathering weapons and ammunition to wage war against the State, i.e., the Government of India.
An individual found guilty of this crime faces a sentence of life in prison or a sentence of not more than ten years imprisonment. A fine is also levied on those found guilty of this offense.
Committing depredation on the areas of any country which is at peace with the government of India
|The act of robbing or assaulting a country or nation at peace with the Indian State is criminalized under this provision.
The act of robbing or assaulting a country or nation that is at peace with the Indian State is criminalized under this provision.
This clause criminalizes a person’s actions when he plunders or attacks another country or nation that is at peace with the Indian State.
Making or selling instruments for counterfeiting coin
|Anybody who is engaged in manufacturing or repairing, or executing any procedure linked to making or mending, or purchasing, selling, or disposing of any die or tool to duplicate coins is punished by this law.
In the case of Kashi Prasad vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Court ruled that the mere possession of any tool or material for counterfeiting is enough to deem the accused guilty.
|399||To commit dacoity||Anyone who makes any preparations for committing dacoity will be punished with hard Imprisonment for a period that may be as long as 10 years, as well as a fine.|
There are numerous situations where the prosecution fails to establish that preparations for a specific crime were actually used to carry it out.
Attempt – Third Stage of Crime
After the preparations have been completed, an attempt is a continuous step toward executing a crime. There are no exceptions to this rule, and even if the circumstances are such that committing the crime would be impossible, someone might be found guilty of trying to do so under English law by doing an act that goes beyond simple preparation.
Narayandas vs. State of West Bengal, the defendant, had undeclared notes sewed into his pants and was detected by the customs official. The Court ruled that it had passed the point of preparation. According to the Sea Customs Act, attempting to smuggle cash notes out of the country is a crime.
Even though the IPC does not define attempt, it has dealt with it in several parts, such as:
|Part – I|
|Making or trying to make war against the Indian government or aiding in the making of war||Fine + Death or Imprisonment for Life|
|124||Attacking the President, Governor, or other elected official with the goal to compel or limit the exercise of any legitimate power||Fine + 7 years|
|124-A||Sedition||Imprisonment for Life + Fine or 3 Years + Fine or Fine|
|125||Conducting hostilities against any Asiatic nation that is allied with or at peace with the Government of India or aiding in the conduct of such hostilities||Fine + Imprisonment for Life or Fine + 7 years or Fine|
|130||Assisting in the escape, rescue, or sheltering of such prisoner, or presenting an obstacle to the prisoner’s recapture||Fine + 10 years or Imprisonment for life|
|131||Facilitating revolt or attempting to persuade an officer, soldier, sailor, or airman away from his loyalty or duty||Fine + 10 years or Imprisonment for life|
|152||Assaulting or disrupting a public official in the course of putting down a riot, etc.||Fine + 3 years or Both|
|153-A||Promoting hatred between diverse groups based on religion, ethnicity, place of origin, residency, or language, and other factors, and acting in ways that jeopardize the preservation of peace||3 years or Fine or Both or Fine + 5 years|
|Utilizing evidence that is known to be false or manipulated in a court process|
|Presenting a certificate that is known to be fake is a vital moment as a genuine certificate|
|Taking any such assertion that is known to be false and treating it as true|
|Taking a gift, or other kinds of compensation, to shield a criminal from punishment||Fine + 7 years|
|Delivery of an Indian coin with the understanding that it is a counterfeit||Fine + 10 years|
|Knowingly sending a counterfeit coin to another as accurate, notwithstanding the fact that the deliverer was unaware of the counterfeit coin’s existence when the coin was first possessed||2 Years or Fine or 10 x Value of Coin or Both|
|Delivery of Indian currency with the knowledge that it has been changed with||Fine + 10 years|
|Creating or trying to create fear of bodily harm in order to commit extortion||2 years or Fine or Fine + 2 years|
|Instilling or trying to instill fear of death or serious bodily harm in order to commit extortion||Fine + 7 years|
|To conduct extortion, a person is put at threat of being charged with a crime that carries a death penalty, life imprisonment, or a ten-year jail sentence.||Fine + 10 years|
|When five or more people conduct or try to commit a robbery, each individual participating, attempting, or helping is considered to commit “dacoity.”||Life imprisonment or Fine + 10 years|
|394||Any person intentionally injuring someone while committing or trying to commit robbery.||Life imprisonment or Fine + 10 years|
|PART – II|
|307||Attempt to murder||Fine + 10 years|
|308||Attempt to commit culpable homicide||Fine or Fine + 3 years|
|393||Attempt to commit robbery||Fine + 7 years|
|PART – III|
|309||Attempt to commit suicide||Fine or Fine + 1 years|
|PART – IV|
|511||This section prohibits the attempt to commit any crime other than those listed above or those classified as minor offenses punished solely by a fine.||
Accomplishment – Final Stage of Crime
It is the last step of the criminal act. In this stage, the offender has completed all three primary phases, i.e., the steps of intention, preparation, and attempted offense. At this point, the individual has completed the actus reus.
|Sec 32||In every section of this Code, unless when a contrary meaning seems to be intended by the context, terms that relate to actions performed include words that refer to unlawful omissions as well.|
|Sec 33||The term “act” may refer to both a single act and a series of acts, while the word “omission” can refer to both a single omission and a series of omissions.|
|Sec 44||The term “injury” refers to any unlawfully inflicted damage to a person’s body, mind, reputation, or property, regardless of the nature of the harm.|
Difference Between An Attempt And Preparing For An Attempt
The distinction between attempting something and preparing for it has long been debated. On the other hand, academic evaluations have defined the difference between attempt and preparation.
- The term “preparation” refers to acquiring the tools necessary to try the crime, while “attempt” refers to the actual action toward performing the crime after the initiation.
- The act of preparing is not a crime, but making an attempt is. It was noted by the Supreme Court in Aman Kumar v State of Haryana that an attempt is punished since it raises the specter of danger and that a person’s moral responsibility is the same whether he fails to carry out his objective.
- The Supreme Court ruled in Sagayam vs. the State of Karnataka that an attempt to commit a crime must be differentiated from the intention to do it and the preparations for its conduct.
There are various stages of crime involved in the conduct of an offense, which leads us to the conclusion that a crime is more than simply an act or omission. All phases of the crime are not criminalized, but only after the offense has been committed is punished.
The Indian Penal Code has several exceptions to the general rule that certain activities are criminal and punished. The thin line between preparation and attempt, knowledge and intention, etc., must be kept in mind.
According to Ravula Hariprasada Rao v State, a person cannot be held guilty for an offense if they had no intention to conduct it in the first place.
According to the ruling in Kartar Singh v State of Punjab, unless and until it is clearly excluded from the legislation by words or required implications, the notion of mens rea must be read into the statute.
The actus reus and the mens rea are critical in determining whether or not a crime has been committed. However, the actus reus without the mens rea is not punished and does not constitute a crime unless the conduct fits under the exclusions listed supra.
Also Read – General Exceptions in Indian Penal Code (IPC)
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