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Legal provisions regarding Force under section 349 of Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 349 of the Indian Penal Code provides that: “A person is said to use force to another if he causes motion, change of motion, or cessation of motion to that other, or if he causes to any substance such motion, or change of motion, or cessation of motion as brings that substance into contact with any part of that other’s body, or with anything which that other is wearing or carrying, or with anything so situated that such contact affects that other’s sense of feeling:

Provided that the person causing the motion, or change of motion, or cessation of motion, causes that motion, change of motion, or cessation of motion in one of the three ways hereinafter described,-

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Firstly:-

By his own bodily power.

Secondly:-

By disposing any substance in such a manner that the motion or change or cessation of motion takes place without any further act on his part, or on the part of any other person.

Thirdly:-

By inducing any animal to move, to change its motion, or to cease to move.”

Section 349 of the Code merely explains what amounts to ‘force’ but it does not constitute any offence. An understanding of the term ‘force’ is necessary to understand the definition of ‘criminal force’ and ‘assault’.

The term ‘force’ contemplates force used by a human being on another human being. It does not contemplate the use of force against inanimate object. ‘Force’ as defined in clause (i) of Section 349 of the Code contemplates the presence of the person to whom it is used that is to say, it contemplates the presence of the person the force and of the person to whom the force is used. Thus, a motion or change of motion or cessation of motion caused to property without affecting a human being is not the ‘use of force to another; within the meaning of Section 349.

The term ‘force’ has been defined in minute detail in this section. To put the entire first paragraph in one sentence: force is the exertion of energy or strength producing a movement or change in the external world. The second paragraph merely deals with a situation, where some other body is interposed between the person using the force and the person on whom the force is used.

In Chandrika Sao v. State of Bihar [AIR 1967 SC 170], the accused snatched the account books from the hands of officer which were being inspected. The Supreme Court observed it would be clear from a bare perusal of the section that one person can be said to have used force against another if he causes motion, change of motion or cessation of motion to that other.

By snatching away the books which the official was holding the accused necessarily caused a jerk to the hand or hands. Further, the natural effect of snatching the books from the hand or hands of the official would be to affect the sense of feeling of the hands of the official. The Court therefore held that the action of the accused amounts to use of force as contemplated by Section 349 of the Code.

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