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What is the Punishment for Attempt to Murder in India?

Attempt to murder—Ingredients:

A person shall be deemed to have committed an offence of attempt to murder if he does an act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of murder.

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The prosecution must show that the act done by the accused was done with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if by that act he caused death he would be convicted under Section 302, I.P.C.

Section 307, I.P.C., provides that a person shall be deemed to have committed an offence of attempt to murder if he does an act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if he by that act caused death he would be guilty of murder.

Thus, the prosecution has to show that the act done by the abused was done with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if by that act he caused death he would be convicted for the offence under Section 302, I.P.C.

To justify conviction under Section 307, it is not essential that bodily injury capable of causing death should have been inflicted. Where injuries are caused, their nature may often give considerable assistance in coming to a finding as to the intention of the accused. Such intention can also be deduced from other circumstances.

Where a person knows that a certain result will ensue from his act he must be deemed to intend such result by the act. In the instant case, the grievous injuries on the person of the injured were not on any vital part of the body.

Although, some injuries had been caused on the head, they were all simple. If actually the appellants intended to cause the death of the injured they could use their gandasas on some vital parts of the body. The mere fact that they caused simple injuries on the vital parts of the body shows that they even had no knowledge to cause his death.

Thus, the natures of the injuries show that the accused never intended or had any knowledge to cause his death. The offence falls under Section 326 read with Section 34 and not under Section 307 read with Section 34, I.P.C.

In order to constitute an offence under Section 307, I.P.C., two of the essential ingredients are: (i) an evil intention or knowledge, and (ii) the act done. Where the act done is catching hold of the neck, it does not establish that the accused had any such intention or knowledge as is required under Section 307.

If a person holds the neck of another and gets sufficient time and yet does not put much pressure thereon, he cannot be said to have an intention of causing death. The injuries were simple abrasions. There was no evidence that the accused held that parts of the necks which are the fatal parts of the neck.

An offence under these circumstances under Section 307, I.P.C., is not established.To bring a case under Section 307, there must be some overt act combined with evidence of mens reci. The onus lies on the prosecution to prove (i) the actus reus, and (ii) mens rea.

However, where four injuries sustained by the injured were of simple nature and the fourth one, though endangering life could not be deemed to be an injury which would have necessarily caused death but for formerly medical aid benefit of doubt to the accused causing the fourth injury must be given. It was held that he was only liable to be convicted under Section 326 and not under Section 307, I.P.C.

It depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case whether the accused had the intention to cause death or knew in the circumstances that his act was going to cause death. The nature of the weapon used, the intention expressed by the accused at the time of the act, the motive for the commission of the offence, the nature and size of the injuries, the parts of the body of the victim selected for causing the injuries and the severity of the blow or blows are important factors that may be taken into consideration in coming to a finding whether in a particular case the accused can be convicted of an attempt to murder.

Where the weapon used was a sharp-edged knife, the injury was grievous and was on a vital part of the body, the stomach, in which intestines came out and made the victim unconscious, and the injury was according to medical opinion, capable of causing death so that if the victim survived, it was by sheer luck, the intention of the accused was clearly to cause death.

Thus, in a Supreme Court case of Bhupendra Singh v: State of U.P. decided in 1991, the evidence only established that the accused shot at the deceased but it was not known where the bullet hit and whether that injury caused by the said bullet shot caused the death.

Even in the case of shooting by rifle unless the evidence shows that the particular injury was caused by the same and that injury is sufficient to cause death, the offence under Section 302 could not be said to have been made out.

In the circumstances, therefore, it could not be said that the accused was guilty of offence under Section 302 of causing death of the deceased. However, while the accused shot at the deceased there could be no doubt either he had the intention to kill him or at least he had the knowledge that the act could cause the death.

All the witnesses also say that the shot by the accused brought down the deceased to the ground. There could, therefore, be no doubt that the shot had caused some hurt or injury though the Court could not predicate what was the nature of the injury and whether that injury could have caused the death. In the circumstances, the offence would come under the second limb or second part of Section 307, I.P.C.

Intention or knowledge is not to be measured by the consequences. It has to be gathered from all the surrounding facts and circumstances. Thus, in Jagpal Singh v. State of Punjab, identical injuries were caused by the accused on the deceased as well as on a prosecution witness (i.e., one on the back of the chest and one in the groin region) but in case of the latter they did not prove to be fatal it was held that the injuries were caused wilfully and therefore as regards the witness the accused was rightly convicted under Section 307, I.P.C.

If an act is done with the intention or knowledge requisite for the commission of the offence of murder, and, if there are no circumstances introducing a defence to a charge of murder either by way of a general or special exception, the offence would be attempt to murder, if the act does not result in death, whatever be the nature of the injuries, and even if no injuries are caused.

The requisite intention or knowledge is not to be excluded from the mere fact that death is not the consequence of the act. Such an act may not result for a variety of reasons, such as, the ineffectiveness of the weapon, the ineffectiveness of the assailant, the movement of the victim, the intervention of a sudden obstruction, etc. It is true that the mere act of firing a gun need not necessarily lead to the inference of the requisite intention or knowledge necessary to make the offence one of murder.

In Sahebrao Kisan Jadhav v. State of Maharashtra, the High Court observed that the accused with four other persons will be liable under Section 307. Eight persons who were workers of Factory-Crompton Greeves Ltd., one of whom was the leader of trade union, stormed into the cabin of works manager armed with iron rod and assaulted him which resulted in multiple injuries.

Without intention or knowledge of accused, being established, there can be no offence of “attempt to murder”. Under Section 307 the intention precedes the act attributed to the accused. Therefore, the intention is to be gathered from all circumstances, and not merely from the consequences that ensue.

The nature of the weapon used, manner in which it is used, motive for the crime, for the blow, the part of the body where the injury is inflicted are some of the factors that may be taken into consideration to determine the intention.

In the instant case, two parties in the course of fight inflicted on each other injuries both serious and minor. The accused though armed with ballam never used the sharp edge of it. They used only the blunt side of it despite they being attacked by the other side.

They suffered injuries but were not provoked or tempted to use the cutting edge of the weapon. In these circumstances, the Supreme Court held that the accused had no intention to commit murder. They had no motive either.

Where the fight is accidental owing to a sudden quarrel, the conviction under Section 307 is generally not called for. The acquittal of the accused under Section 307 was, therefore, proper.

In case there was no evidence showing intention to kill and injuries inflicted were not dangerous to life, conviction under Section 307, I.P.C., was not correct.

All the injuries on the persons of the injured witnesses were simple injuries. The injured persons were not even admitted in the hospital and were discharged after medico-legal examination. The distance from which firing was done showed absence of any intention to murder. The offence could not be an attempt to murder.

The injuries were simple and had been caused by a weapon like a spear. These injuries were not sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. It cannot be said that the injuries were caused with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if he by that act caused death he would be guilty of murder. Therefore, no offence under Section 307, I.P.C. was made out.

A charge under Section 307, I.P.C., could have been framed if the injury was dangerous to life. None of the incised injuries was of a severe nature or in any way sufficient to endanger life. It did not appear from the dimensions and the nature of the injuries that the accused actually intended to inflict any such blow on the victim with either the intention to kill or knowledge to cause any such injury as would come within the three clauses of Section 100, I.P.C. So the conviction under Section 307, I.P.C., could not be sustained.

Where the deceased was shot at from such close quarters that if death had been caused thereby the accused would have been guilty of murder, an offence under Section 307, I.P.C., is on its plain language clearly established.

Where four or five persons attack a man with deadly weapons it may well be presumed that the intention is to cause death. There were six assailants, all members of one family, one of whom carried a farsa and another ballam or spear while the rest carried lathis.

In that situation the use of those weapons was a possibility of knowledge of every one of the assailants who were liable not only for the simple injuries they themselves caused but also for the dangerous injuries inflicted by others so as to make them liable for attempt to murder with the help of Section 149, I.P.C.

Even though five accused persons assaulted the victim at the place of occurrence when he was alone, excepting one injury on the left side of the head he did not sustain any other injury on any other vital parts of the body.

The accused persons assaulted the victim for about two or three minutes and immediately took to their heels when they found that the injured sat down on receiving the blows. If they really intended to cause his death or intended to inflict an injury of the nature referred to in Section 300, I.P.C., there was no hindrance or obstruction before them. It is thus evident they did not have the required intention or knowledge.

Similary, where the victim receives grievous injuries in a sudden quarrel between two sides (involving the victim too), the accused persons cannot be convicted for attempt to murder. They can be convicted only under Section 326 read with Section 34, I.P.C. and not under Section 307 read with Section 34, I.P.C.

In a case the accused was driving the vehicle rashly and negligently and the brakes were not in working order. The intensity and force of the impact of the vehicle with the injured was not such as could result in death.

The injured received only two minor fractures and some abrasions. There was no circumstance to inspire confidence that it was a deliberate and intentional accident caused by the accused-appellant with a view to murder the complainant. The offence under Section 307, I.P.C., was thus not committed. It was an offence under Section 338, I.P.C.

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