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Interpretation Of Offences Affecting Life

In India, The Indian Penal Code, 1860 was introduced which contains various provisions to provide punishments for different offences committed within the scope of the Act.
The word offence includes any act committed outside India, if committed in India would be punishable.[1]

Under the Indian Penal Code,1860 there are various offences affecting life which includes [2]:
  • S. 299 of IPC - Culpable homicide
  • S. 300 of IPC - Murder
  • S. 301 of IPC - Culpable homicide by causing the death of a person
  • S. 302 of IPC- Punishment for Murder
  • S. 303 of IPC - Punishment for Murder by a life convict
  • S. 304 of IPC - Punishment for Culpable homicide not amounting to murder
  • S. 305 of IPC - Abetment of suicide of child or insane person
  • S. 306 of IPC - Abetment of suicide
  • S. 307 of IPC - Attempt to Murder
  • S. 308 of IPC - Attempt to commit culpable homicide
  • S. 309 of IPC - Attempt to commit suicide
  • S. 310 of IPC - Thug
  • S. 311 of IPC - Punishment

In the degradation of society, human beings often attempt or cause the death of the other human body for many reasons as they consider themselves to be superior among all so any
an act that affects the life of any human body is defined and punishable under this code.

In India, the judges have been provided wide discretion in interpreting various offences defined under this act and awarding appropriate punishment or sentences according to the given circumstances of the case provided.[3]

Interpretation Of Culpable Homicide And Murder

Section 299 of IPC,1860 defines that if any person by an act causes death with an intention to do so or does any bodily injury that likely to cause death or have the knowledge that such act can cause death, the person commits the offence of culpable homicide.

While section 300 of IPC,1860 defines murder as an act done with an intention of causing death.

The question raised in the court of law was that “ whether an offence is a murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder ?” so it was necessary to differentiate between the two provisions of the law.

While interpreting the judges stated that in both the provisions “ intention” is present to cause the death of a person so the degree of the intention is to be taken into consideration.[4] If a person is well-plotting plans in order to kill a person then it is said to be murder as the intention here is a high degree. On the other hand, if a person is killed in a heat of a moment or there is a lack of proper planning in the death then it is to be said as culpable homicide.[5]

The courts while deciding the case undertakes certain question:
  1. whether the accused caused the death
  2. whether the offence falls under the scope of section 299
  3. whether the case is within the ambit of four clauses of section 300
While determining these questions, if the outcome is is negative then it would be culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In a case, the accused knocked down his wife while putting one knee on her chest and stuck her head by giving a blow two to three-time with his fist causing a blood clot in her brain. While deciding the case it was held that due to lack of evidence she either died on the spot or afterward, leading to no intention of the accused to cause her death so it was culpable homicide not amounting to murder.[6]

Interpretation Of Section 301

Section 301 of IPC,1860 states that if a person does any act which is likely to cause the death of a person not intended to is the same as to if he had intended to do so.
Section 302 of IPC,1860 prescribed punishment for murder.

The doctrine of the transfer of malice was given a meaning under section 301 of IPC,1860.[7]

In the case, The Emperor v. Mushnoora Suryanarayana Murthy [8], the limelight was given to section 301. The accused with an intention of killing the victim added some poison to the food item. Later on, other persons consumed that food item given to the victim due to which he died instantly while the victim recovered from the poison. In the court, a question was raised whether the accused will be liable or not under the court of law?

It was ruled out that the language used in sections 299 and 300 is overlapping and since there is an involvement of the knowledge that could cause the death of the person, the accused was convicted under section 301.

Interpretation Of Section 302 And 303

Section 302 and 303, prescribed punishment for murder.
The court while interpreting the sections, stated that mitigating and aggravating factors are to taken into consideration while imposing punishment for murder.[9] The court also stated that due consideration should be given to the criminal also. For the offence of murder, the punishment usually is given life imprisonment which was later held out by the supreme court that the death penalty can also be awarded which depends on the gravity of the act caused by the accused.[10]

However, in the recent argument, it was opined that the punishment for murder to be given in accordance with the circumstances or facts of the case in conflict.[11]

Interpretation Of Section 304

The punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is life imprisonment or imprisonment for a term extending to 10 years and also liable to fine.[12]
If the act is done with the knowledge that such an act is likely to cause death but without any intention to cause death then the punishment is extended to 10 years and fine. In this section, the punishment depends on the presence of intention which is drawn from the circumstance of the case.

In a case, Shanmugam v. State of T.N[13]., the accused was charged under S.299, 300, and 304. The court while awarding the punishment held that the accused stabbed the deceased in his chest due to which he died so the intention and knowledge could be clearly established from the facts of the case. The accused was convicted under section 304 (1) of IPC.1860.

Interpretation Of Section 305, 306 And 309

Section 305 prescribes punishment for abetment of suicide of a child or insane person. If any person who is below the age of eighteen years or any insane person or any person who is intoxicated or not in a stable mind commits suicide, whoever abets such an act shall be punishable under this provision. The punishment may be awarded death sentence or life imprisonment or imprisonment extend to 10 years and also fine.

Section 306 prescribes punishment for abetment of suicide. Any person who abets the offence shall be imprisoned for an extension to 10 years and be liable for a fine by the court of law.
While interpreting the sections the court ruled out that there must be instigation or assistance to commit the offence.

It is necessary to prove the mens rea of the accused and that he has influenced the victim to take away his life. The abetment of suicide also violates the purview of the Indian Constitution.[14] It is a mental process and there is a presence of a chain of circumstances by one person who induces the other to take his life, which is to be established by the prosecution.

Section 309 prescribed that if any person attempts to commit suicide and does any act which would constitute the offence then he shall be punished with imprisonment for one year or fine or both. section 309 has always been under conflict because under the Art.21( right to life) of the Indian constitution doesn't include the right to die so the question of the validity of section 309 was raised in the court of law.

It is presumed that a person suffering from severe mental stress takes the huge step of committing the offence which would be considered and will not be taken into account for providing punishment.[15] However, the word “mental stress” is nowhere mentioned in the provisions but used subsequently in the place of “mental illness” so the courts while interpreting held that legislature intended to give the same meaning of two different words.[16]

Interpretation Of Section 307 And 308

Section 307 prescribed that any person with sufficient knowledge and intention, If does such an act would cause death shall be convicted under S.307 for an attempt to murder. The punishment prescribed may extend to ten years of imprisonment and also be liable for fine. If the hurt is caused to the victim then the punishment may extend to life imprisonment.

Section 308 prescribed that any person if does such an act which will constitute the death of a person with knowledge or an intention then such person shall be convicted under this section for an attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The punishment prescribed may extend to either three years or fine or with both. If the hurt is caused to the victim then it shall extend to seven years or fine or both.

The essential ingredients of this provision are intention, preparation, and attempt.
The court while interpreting sections 307 and 308 stated that any attempt to cause the death of a person is also punishable under the provisions of IPC,1860.[17]
The intention and knowledge are the essential elements to constitute the crime.[18] Courts while convicting accused under the offence for an attempt to murder and attempt to commit culpable homicide stated that irrespective of the gravity of the act, any injuries caused to the victim would come under the scope of S.307 and 308. The chain of circumstance and methods used by the accused is sufficient to prove the mens rea.

Interpretation Of 310 And 311

Section 310 defines thug as any person after the enactment of the act[19] if associates with others to commit robbery or child-stealing along with murder shall be dragged under this section.
While section 311 prescribed punishment for a thug for a term of life imprisonment and also be liable for fine.

With the development of society, Thug, now has disappeared in India.
It has now termed as kidnappers, robbers, or murderers.[20]

Conclusion
Indian Penal Code,1960 was enacted to define various offences and prescribe punishment according to the different circumstances. With the changing society, it is needed by the courts to interpret the language and phrases used in the act as the makers of the law made the act according to the society of that time.

Human beings are at the top of the life cycle so they consider themselves to be the most intelligent species. Law aims to prevent crimes committed by one person to the other so many offences against life were discussed in the Indian Penal Code,1860.

Courts while deciding a case, preferred many previous judgments given by different courts, and used the rules of interpretation to convict the accused. The most essential part of the fair trial is to understand the true nature of the act and prescribe the punishment according to it while interpreting the act.

To serve the proper justice and maintain law and order in the country it is necessary to understand the pure intention of the legislature while framing the laws.

End-Notes:
  1. IPC, 1860, S. 4(3)(a)
  2. Indian Penal Code, 1860, Chapter XVI
  3. State of MP v. Bablu Natt, AIR 2008
  4. State of A.P. v. R. Punnayya
  5. LEX Life India, https://lexlife.in, last visited ( 18th Oct,2020)
  6. Reg. v. Govinda, AIR 1876, Bom 342
  7. Jagpal Singh v. State of Punjab, (1991) Cr LJ 597 (SC)
  8. AIR 1912, 22 MLJ 333
  9. www.locgov.in, sentencing guidelines, https://www.loc.gov/law/help/sentencing-guidelines/india.php
  10. Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 S.C.C. 684, para. 165, http://indiankanoon.org/doc/909940/
  11. Sangeet & Anr. v. State of Haryana
  12. Schedule 1, crpc
  13. AIR 2003 SC 209
  14. INDIA CONST. art. 14, 21
  15. Smt. Gian Kaur vs The State Of Punjab, 1996 AIR 946
  16. Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, S.115
  17. Rambabu vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh on 1 April 2019
  18. Diva rai, Section 307 and 308, IPLEADERS, blog.ipleaders.in/section-307-308-of-ipc-attempt-to-commit-murder-and-culpable-homicide/
  19. Indian Penal Code,1860, 6th October (on this day the act came into enforcement)
  20. KD Gaur, The Indian Penal Code, pg.558

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