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An Analysis Of Section 72 Of Indian Penal Code, 1860

Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 is a thorough code planning to cover considerable part of criminal law in India. It was prepared in mid- 19th century under the chairmanship of Lord Thomas Macaulay on the recommendation of first law commission of India in 1834. The Penal Code came into effect in 1862 and since then there have been several amendments.

Section 72 Of Indian Penal Code, 1860

The given Section mentions that in circumstances where a person is accused of several offences and it cannot be surely said as to which offence, he/she has constituted, he/she would be charged under the offence with the minimum punishment out of all the doubtful offences.

Section 72 of IPC falls under the ambit of Chapter 3, which deals with punishments. The Indian Penal Code of 1860 is based on the �presumption of innocence� which is a legal principle meaning, an accused is innocent until proven guilty. This actually gives the accused a benefit of doubt that he/she cannot be said to have done the act until the evidences prove it.

However, there are times when it is hard to prove a crime due to lack of evidence. So, in that case the offence becomes doubtful and it cannot be surely said as to which offence has been committed. Often it has been seen that in case the crime of murder (Sec. 300 of IPC) cannot be proved due to whatever reason, the judges� resort to Section 299 of IPC, i.e., Culpable Homicide and give them a punishment accordingly as the punishment is comparatively less in the latter.

  • Illustration 1:
    Facts: A, B, C, D and E with the intention of Robbery entered into a XYZ Bank. All the five of them had their face covered and wore gloves in their hands so as to not leave finger prints anywhere. While A, B, C and D went inside, E waited outside in the car. All of them carried revolvers but only A and B had bullets in their Revolvers and the rest were only for causing fear. Once they held everybody captive, they destroyed the CCTV recordings and start filling the bags with money. Meanwhile, F, an employee of the bank, called the police and told them about the situation. As a result, the police came and gave warnings that if they would not surrender, the officials would take strict actions against them. Robbers tried to escape using one of the employees. However, in the course A started firing and a bullet hit a lady, G, and when police reverted A, B and C were shot dead while D and E survived, who were arrested.

When the case went to the court, there were following issues:
  • Since all the five robbers were masked, who shot G? Was it D?
  • Under what sections should D and E be liable?

Since there are no clear evidence in favour or against D as firstly, they were all masked so people can�t clearly say who shot. Secondly, it is also not clear as to who destroyed to CCTV recordings. In accordance with Section 72 of Indian Penal Code, D and E both will be only liable under Section 390 of IPC, i.e., Robbery due to common intention.

Illustration 2.
A and B were friends turned into foes. A at several events had said that he so wishes to kill B and if he ever gets the chance to do so he will surely do it. One day, A went on a hunting expenditure to a village and co incidentally B had also gone to that very village for a medical camp. Both of them were not aware of the fact that they were in the same village. While A was out hunting, he fired and the bullet hit the tree and bounced in another direction. Sadly, the bullet came and hit B on his neck and he died on spot. Nobody was present there at the moment when the bullet bounced. When the police arrived and investigated, they found that the bullet was fired from A�s gun he was arrested and presented in front of the Judge.

The issues that arose was that:
  • Was there element of Mens Rea present?
  • Was it mere co incident or planed death?
Due to absence of clear evidence, A cannot be charged for the crime of Murder as in Section 300 of IPC. However, he can be punished under Section 304, i.e., Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Divyanshi Singh
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