Indian penal code is a substantive law that has all the offences and punishments
stated in it. Indian penal code has 511 sections which are divided into 23
chapters, each chapter dealing with a different category of crime. Force is
mentioned under India Penal Code in chapter XVI i.e. offences affecting the
human body, Force is mentioned in Section 349 and comes under the category of
criminal force and assault.
People are often mistaken by two sections i.e. force and criminal force, which
are both differently mentioned under Indian Penal Code though they come in the
same category. Criminal force comes under Section 350 of Indian Penal Code and
is different from Force. On the other hand section 349 provides the definition
of force, which is later used in understanding criminal force.
In India every day there is news of someone committing the crime of battery or
assault or criminal force, there is a possibility that it happens every hour or
even minutes, though they are less serious offence than rape or murder but still
affects the human body in one way or other. A person hitting another person is
still committing a crime. As these crimes increased there came the need to make
it an offence and make law so that the number of these crimes decreased.
Force under Indian penal code is:
A person is said to use force to another if he causes motion, change of
motion, or cessation of motion to that other, of 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 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
- By his own bodily power
- By disposing of 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
any part of any other person.
- By inducing any animal to move, to change its motion, or to cease to
Force can be better understood through illustrations but if put in simple words,
a person is said to use force when he cause a motion, or change of motion, or
cessation (process of ending) of motion and bring that motion into contact with
another body, or belonging or even affects the other sense of feeling, then the
person is said to use force. There can be three ways in which force can be
used, first can be his own bodily power, or by disposing of any substance i.e.
applying its bodily power in a substance and the substance moving forward, or by
inducing any animal.
In any of the three ways mentioned above, a person is said to use force, even if
a person induces an animal to move or affects the change of feeling of the other
person the accused will be the person who induced an animal in the first place.
It is not necessary to come into the direct contact of the person of commit
force, it can be done without coming into direct contact.
To better understand what force is, the difference between Criminal force and
assault must be clear. Criminal force is intentionally using the force without
the other person's consent and to cause any criminal offence or knowing that
such force will cause an injury to the person, then the person is said to commit
Criminal Force. Whereas a person is said to commit Assault when he makes
gestures or any preparation and makes the other person think that he is about to
use criminal force against him.
In force there are words that are not mentioned that are:
These words are thus used in the section after force that is Section 350, force
does not mention intentions, or consent, or injury. To be clear section 349 is
not an offence itself but used in later sections, this section thus misses the
words like intention, or consent, or injury as this section is to give a better
understanding of what is force and how it can be used and as discussed above it
can be used in three ways. So when force is used it can be criminal force or
even an assault.
Force can also be understood through few illustrations and connecting it through
real life examples:
B intentionally pushes H in the market. B has used his own bodily power to push
H and bring in with contact to H. B has used force.
Q throws a stone, knowing it will come under the contact of M, or with M’s
clothes, or M’s belongings, or carried something by, now if the stone came into
contact with M, then Q has used force.
S is using the washroom. K brings boiling water and K’s intention was that the
boiling water comes in contact with S or affects his feelings, K has used
This section clearly states the word person thus concluding that it can be
committed by only human beings not inanimate objects or the ways are mentioned
in which it can be used.
To understand the judicial approach of force or how it is exactly related to
Criminal Force and Assault, we need to study a few case laws which will give us
a judicial approach to force.
Chandrika Sao v. State of Bihar
Mr. Bhupendra Narain Sinha, Assistant superintendent of commercial taxes paid a
surprise visit to the shop Hazari Lal& Co., on 29th October 1957. He paid the
surprise visit in order to check the book of accounts maintained by the shop,
when he arrived at the shop the appellant was present at the shop and the
respondent saw two sets of account books are kept in the shop, he took them up
and started looking at them.
While the respondent was doing so the appellant
snatched away the books from the hands of the respondent and passed on the books
to the servant which was passed on the next servant who was on the upper floor.
The respondent then delegates the duty to his peon and asks him to get the
possession of the books, but the appellant did not give the possession of the
books and got into a fight in which the shirt of the peon was torn.
In section 349 it is clearly mentioned that force is said to be used when a
person causes motion, or change of motion, or cessation of motion of the other
person. Thus snatching away the books from the hands of the respondent causes a
motion of the hand or hands and thus affects the sense of feelings of the
respondent. The respondent was in lawful possession of the books, he has the
right to pay the surprise visit and check the account books, thus its legality
cannot be questioned.
Though mere use of force is not enough to charge Section 353 of Indian Penal
Code i.e. Assault on a public officer while disposing of his duty, further it
was to be proven that the appellant used force intentionally without the
person's consent which he knew will cause fear of injury, or annoyance to the
Thus court held guilty the appellant under section 353, as the respondent was
lawful in possessing the accounts book the appellant had no right to snatch it
away from the officer, thus it is in basic human nature that this act will cause
annoyance to the respondent as he was just disposing his duty. The appellant
committed criminal force by causing annoyance and fear or injury when he
snatched away the books from the respondents hands.
State of Bihar v. Musa Ansari
Around 9 AM the accused came into the first informant house and there he was
requested to sing a song but after singing the song, the son of the first
informant and her daughter both went to the school. The eldest daughter went
outside for some work too but the youngest daughter of the first informant was
present inside the house.
The accused still continued to sing and showed the
pictures to the youngest daughter ( called as ‘X’ in the trail ) but after a
while the accused caught her hold and made her ( 5 year old ) hold his penis and
further told that he was feeling good because of it then he forcibly started
having sexual intercourse with her and caused bleeding in her vagina.
When the first informant came to the house and found her youngest daughter
weeping and sacred she further enquired and found out that the accused made an
attempt to insert his penis inside the daughter’s vagina and witnessed blood
from the vagina. Thus the First Informant Report was filed and the further
enquiry was made.
The accused denied his doing and said that he was Sarpanch and was building a
boundary wall of the burial ground, thus the Hindus have made these false
accusations. The accused was charged with Section 376 but the judgement of
session court held him not guilty and acquitted the accused but convicted the
accused with 253 and 354 in the session court. The session court made guilty of
Section 253 and 354 of Indian Penal Code.
In the judgement the court removed the
charge of 253 by seeing the evidence and seeing all the ingredients were not
fulfilled in the facts of the case. While more concentration was put on the
Section 354 of Indian Penal Code as it deals with outraging a woman's modesty.
Section 354 cannot come into the picture without Criminal Force’ and ‘Assault’
and these cannot be in picture without ‘Force’. Thus to see the charges of
section 354, section 349, 350 and 351 needs to come into the picture as well.
Section 354 reads as:
Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty—Whoever
assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it
to be likely that he will there by outrage her modesty, 1 (shall be punished
with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than
one year but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine)
Th court held the accused guilty with Section 349 i.e. Force, as to use of force
there must be motion, or change of motion, or cessation of the motion and must
come in the contact of another person or affect the sense of feelings. With the
facts of the case, the accused did hold her 5 years old hand and put it on his
penis, to do so he used his ‘own bodily power’ and changed the motion of X. thus
the could held that the accused did use ‘Force’ but the it was yet to be seen
that the force used was criminal or not.
Further, while examining Section 350 i.e. Criminal Force, court also held the
accused guilty with the section as when the force is used to any person without
that the person consent and cause annoyance or fear of injury to the other
person, the person is said to use criminal force and as the facts of the case,
the accused did not have the consent of her parents as it she was minor and he
was well aware that such and such will cause annoyance of fear to X, thus was
guilty under Section 350.
Court in the final judgement dismissed the charges of Section 253 but held the
accused guilty with section 354, which further clears that he was guilty with
Section 349, 350 and 351.
Dr. Rajkumar Satyabroth Pal v. State of Maharashtra
The applicant seeks the quashment of the first information report and a charge
sheet filed against the criminal case before the Judicial Magistrate. The
applicant was accused of various sections under Indian Penal Code, the Sections
were, 365, 366, 354 and 511.
The facts of the case were the applicant used to call the complainant in the
night and asked her either pay the college fees or maintain sexual relations
with him. The applicant even used obscene language and call at odd times in the
nights constantly disturbing her and her focus from the studies. The applicant
paid 9000/- from her 15,000 fees, still he used to phone her at nights.
Though there was no single evidence of kidnapping or anything which covers the
section 365 and 366, the ingredients that were needed to fulfill these sections
were not fulfilled with the facts or even the evidence.
The applicant also argues that there is not a possible way in which he can use
criminal force or assault as it requires force which is mentioned in 349 of
Indian Penal Code but all the contact was made through SMS or telephone call,
there is no possible way to use force.
Court held that seeing the facts it is clear that assault was committed, as
assault cannot be just made by gestures or preparation, it can be through words
too. The court did not hold the accused guilty on section 349 or 350.
By reading all the above mentioned cases, few things can be concluded about
force, in section 349 the definition of force is given, only the definition ;
what is force and in what ways it can be used but if force is used without the
consent of the other person and cause any harm to the person then till be
account for criminal force. Whereas assault is concerned, criminal force always
have assault in it but in assault that’s not the case.
When any crime related to the human body or any crime that affects the human
body, there will be some amount of force or criminal force or assault. If a
person rapes a girl, he must have fulfilled all the conditions of force and
criminal force or assault. Though it is quite clear for force there is a need of
physical contact but necessary in assault.
These case laws give the view how the judiciary sees force and what are the
important ingredients of it and how it can be used. While reading these cases,
one must think that force is connected with criminal force and further
sections, which is true in a way.
Criminal force or Assault are very common crimes that are committed in India,
they are even neglected many times or just ignored for example, a person is
standing on the road and the next person standing with him makes a fits and make
a gesture of punch, this will surely cause fear in one's person, thus committing
assault but this petty thing will never be reported in the police stations. As
we have already concluded, section 349 defines the word ‘force’ and thus it is
followed by the other sections mentioned in Indian Penal Code such as criminal
We need to understand that even if offence is not major as rape or murder but
still affects the human body, and the seriousness of it as these crimes are
often neglected or even reported. Force and criminal force are two different
things, both are often mistaken as the same. In section 349 there is the
definition of force and while in section 350 it is mentioned how force can be
used in a criminal way.