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Causing hurt or grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means (Section 324 & 326 of IPC)

1. Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means (Sec. 324)

“Whoever, except in the case provided for by Section 334, voluntarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”

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2. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means (Sec. 326):

“Whoever, except in the case provided for by Section 335, voluntarily, causes grievous hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance, or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Where a dangerous weapon has been used to cause a simple hurt, then Section 324 will apply and where a dangerous weapon has been used to cause a grievous hurt as defined in Section 320, then Section 326 will apply.

Under both the Sections of 324 and 326, it is not the actual nature of the injury caused namely whether simple hurt or grievous hurt, but the manner in which it is caused, which is relevant. Though the end result or nature of injuries may be the same in these and previous sections i.e., 319 and 320, the legislature has provided for enhanced punishments when hurt or grievous hurt is caused by dangerous weapons or by dangerous means.

The expression “dangerous weapons” represents the weapons such as ‘instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting or any instrument which, used as weapon of offence is likely to cause death’. This description covers even instruments which are not designed for use as weapons such as spear but are capable of being used as weapons such as crowbars, spades, etc.

The following are the dangerous weapons within the meaning of Sections 323 and 326: (a) axe; (b) dao or chavi or sharp weapon; (c) knife; (d) razor blade; (e) revolver or gun; (f) hot ladle; (g) arrow; (h) jumper or cudgel or iron, shod stick; (i) a thick lathi; (j) a broken soda bottle.

Sections 324 and 326 also include causing of hurt by ‘dangerous means’. The ‘dangerous means’ contemplated under the sections are fire or any heated substance, poison, corrosive substance, explosive substance or deleterious substance.

These sections contain the expression of instruments for shooting, stabbing or cutting. An instrument for shooting may be a gun or revolver, or it may be a bow and arrow, for, the word ‘shooting’ is not necessarily confined to its modern usage, but includes anything driven with force, whether it be a dart or bullet.

An instrument for stabbing need not be so sui generis. For it includes not only instruments specially designed and made for stabbing such as a dagger, a bayonet or a kukri, but all sharp-edged or pointed instruments which are capable of stabbing such, for instance, as a sword or a knife which are not ordinarily instruments for stabbing but which may be put to that use. Such instruments would be more appropriately termed instruments for ‘cutting’.

A hatcher, or an adze, a small penknife or a spear and a pointed stick are instruments for cutting. The instrument for cutting must be a sharp instrument with an edge, which will cut, or a point which will stab; any instrument which answers this description will be within the definition whether made of metal or not.

Tooth is also an instrument for cutting within the meaning of Sections 324 and 326. If hurt or simple injury is caused by tooth bite the offender will be guilty under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code and if grievous injury is caused by such bite, he will be guilty under Section 326 of IPC.

The meaning of the words ‘dangerous to life’ carries haemorrage, shock or damage to a vital organ. Injuries which only cause remote danger to life cannot be treated as dangerous to life.

Hurt caused by means of fire or a heated substance is subject to penalty irrespective of the degree of heat or the extent of the injury thereby occasioned. Injury caused by a heated substance is not necessarily caused by fire. Such injury may be caused by branding one with a red hot poker or a scythe, or even a glass bangle.

The term ‘poison’ is used here to denote any poisonous substance i.e., a substance which when administered is injurious to health or life. A thing may vary in its poisonous strength and property and the offence committed will be hurt when it causes ‘bodily pain, disease or infirmity’.

The causing of hurt by means of a poison or a corrosive substance or by means of any substance deleterious to the human body to inhale, swallow or receive into blood falls into the same category of substances noxious to life.

A corrosive substance is a substance which irritates the system such as corrosive sublimate, which is compound of chlorine and mercury, forming a white crystalline solid, an acrid poison of great virulence. Such are the acids which corrode the system if taken internally and in an undiluted state.

The offence of committing hurt or grievous hurt may be committed through the agency of an animal. Such would be the case if one sets one’s dog to bite another, and it then bites him, in which case he who sets the dog will be criminally liable for the bite. Hurt caused by other animals, such as horses and cattle would fall within this category if that animal causes hurt in obedience to the order of the accused.

Offence under Sections 324 and 326 is cognizable, but summons should ordinarily issue in the first instance. Offence under Section 324 is a bailable and compoundable and is triable by any Magistrate. Offence under Section 326 is non-bailable and non-compoundable and is triable by any Magistrate.

The punishment for offence of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means under Section 324 is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine or with both.

The punishment for offence of voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

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