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Force And Criminal Force

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 described.
  1. By his own bodily power
  2. 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.
  3. By inducing any animal to move, to change its motion, or to cease to move.

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:

  • Intentionally
  • Consent
  • Offence
  • Injury

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 force.

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.

Judicial Approach
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 person.

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 force.

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.

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