Criminal Law – Theory

Delhi Law Academy

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In this topic, we will be looking at Criminal Law. Each of the basic principles is illustrated by an example question.

Criminal Law deals with the acts of crime and also provides for punishments. It is contained mainly under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The IPC classifies certain acts to be crimes or offences and makes them punishable generally with imprisonment.

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) lays down the procedure of the court dealing with an offence under IPC.

Legal Reasoning of a law entrant is tested in the area of criminal law to appreciate his understanding of the principles of a criminal act. The legal principles generally come from some specific crimes like— cheating, theft, culpable homicide, murder, criminal trespass, extortion, kidnapping, rash and negligent act, etc. Students are advised to go through the following Legal Principles given with Legal Reasoning in order to find out a appropriate conclusion.

Jurisdiction
  1. Principle: If an Indian citizen commits an offence within the meaning of Indian Penal Code in any other country he will still be liable to be tried in India.

Facts: A, citizen of India, commits murder in USA which is not an offence in USA.

In the present case

  • A is guilty of murder & can be tried in India irrespective of the fact that murder is not an offence in USA.
  • A is not guiltv of murder in India because it is not an offence in USA
  • A is not guilty of murder because it was not committed in India.

The answer is (a).

Reasoning: A being an Indian citizen can be tried in India for murder committed by him because it is an offence under Indian Penal Code.

Mens rea
  1. Principle: ‘Mens Rea’ is one of the essential ingredients of criminal liability. A criminal offence is committed only when the act is done voluntarily. There must be a wrongful intention. The underlaying principle of mens rea is expressed in the familiar latin maxim “Actus nonfacit reum, nisi mens sit rea” the act does not make one guilty unless the mind is also guilty.

Facts: A, fires a revolver in the air. B, who is flying a parachute is hit and killed.

In the present case

  • A can be held guilty if he has done the act intentionally.
  • A can’t be liable if he can prove that B was killed accidentally.
  • A is not liable because he fired it into the air.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: A is not liable because he had no intention of killing B.

Common Intention (Section 34, Indian Penal Code)
  1. Principle: When a criminal act is done by one person in furtherance of the common intention of himself and some other persons, each of such persons is liable for the act in the same manner as if it were done by each one of them.

Facts: A, B, and C decided to commit burglary. They broke into a locked house. However, a domestic servant appeared from the out-house before they had finished, and started shouting. A, B and C left the house and started running away. They were pursued by a small crowd. A on being caught by X, one of the persons pursuing them, stabbed him and ran away. By that time B and C had disappeared. X died on account of the stab wounds. Later the police could arrest all the three. They were charged for attempted burglary and murder of X.

  • Alongwith A, the person who stabbed X, B and C are also guilty of murder because A stabbed X in furtherance of common intention to commit murder.
  • Alongwith A, B and C are also guilty of murder because A, at the time of stabbing X, was acting on behalf of B and C and he wanted to save not only himself but B and C as well.
  • A alone is guilty of murder because though there was common intention to commit the offence of burglary, there was no common intention to commit the offence of murder.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: To commit burglary was the common intention of all A, B and C but A committed murder to save himself and not in furtherance of committing burglary so A alone is liable for murder.

Intoxication (Section 85, I.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Section 85 say, “Nothing is an offence which is done by a person, who, at the time of doing it, is by reason of intoxication, incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that what he is doing is either wrong or contrary to law. Provided the thing which intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge cr against his will”.

Two important legal points comes out from this section to claim immunity from liability arising out of any act:

  1. Intoxication, must be involuntary or without knowledge, and
  2. The level of intoxication must be such as to make a person incapable of knowing the nature of his act.

Facts: Ravi got drunk of his own volition and on his way back home, he crushed a cyclist while driving negligently. He is prosecuted for negligent driving on a public place. Is Ravi liable for punishment?

Reasoning: Ravi would be liable for punishment for negligent driving on a public place. He has been intoxicated voluntarily and with full knowledge. He can’t take the defence of intoxication to avoid liability.

Private Defense (Section 97, I.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Every person has a right to defend his own body and the body of any other person, against any offence committed by anybody.

Facts: A, under the influence of madness, attempts to kill B. B defending himself against A’s attacks kills A.

In the present case

  • B, is guilty of murder.
  • B, is not guilty of murder because he has the right of private defence of body even against a mad person.
  • None of these

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: No act is an offence if it is done to defend ones own body or of any other person.

  1. Principle: As given above.

Facts: The robbers, armed with knives and crowbars, broke the access door of a house and entered into it. The owner of the house took out his gun and threatened to shoot them. The robbers ran out of the house and started pelting stones. The owner opened the, fire. Having heard the gun shot, the police rushed to the place and announced that the owner must stop firing. The owner, suspecting mischief continued to fire and a policeman was injured by a shot. The robbers meanwhile fled away. The owner was sued for attacking the public servant on duty.

  • The owner shall be liable for causing harm, in excess of what is necessary for self defence.
  • The owner shall not be liable for attacking the public servant as such, though he may be held liable otherwise.
  • The owner’s action is justified by the consideration of self defence.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: No act is an offence if it is done to defend ones own body or of any other person.

Criminal Conspiracy (Section 120A, I.P.C.)
  1. Principle: When two or more persons agree to do an illegal act, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy.

Facts: A conspires along with D to kill B.

In the present case

  • A is not guilty of conspiracy because, two or more persons are required.
  • A is guilty because he has conspired to kill B.
  • None of the above.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: Conspiracy to kill B is an illegal act so A is guilty of criminal conspiracy.

Sedition (Section, 124A)
  1. Principle: Whoever by words, signs or otherwise brings into hatred or contempt or excites disaffection towards the government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life.

Facts: In a public meeting, Yashpal Reddy, the leader of an opposition party thunders “This is a government of scoundrels, bootleggers and scamsters. They deserve to be unseated. Teach them a lesson in the coming elections by voting them out of power.” The government is contemplating to prosecute Yashpal Reddy.

  • Yashpal Reddy is guilty of sedition for having made irresponsible and inflammatory statements against the government.
  • Yashpal Reddy is not guilty of sedition as he is only exercising his freedom of speech in public.
  • Yashpal Reddy is guilty of sedition as his statement would incite people to violence leading to breakdown of law and order.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: Reddy is appealing the public to vote the government out of power. He talks of using democratic means and not violence. He cannot be held liable for sedition.

Culpable Homicide (Section 299, I.P.C.)
  1. Principle: A person is guilty of culpable homicide amounting to murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done without the intention of causing death.

Facts: A is suffering from jaundice and inflammation of the brain and B know this condition very well. Once they had a heated argument on some issue and A slapped B in anger. B lost his self-control and gave blow on A’s head. As a result, A died. The police sought to prosecute B for murder.

  • B was liable for murder, because he knew A’s delicate condition.
  • B was not liable for murder, because he acted in self defence.
  • B was not liable for murder, because he did not have the intention to kill A.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: A person is liable for murder only when he has the intention to kill and his act is sufficient to cause death. Although B had the knowledge of A’s condition, he had no intention of killing here.

  1. Principle: As given above.

Facts: A, gifts sweets mixed with poison to Z with an intention to cause death of Z. Z offers those sweets to A’s children in A’s absence, without knowing the fact that poison is mixed with sweets. Consquently, A’s children die. In the present case

  • Z is guilty of causing death of A’s children as he gave them the sweets.
  • A is not guilty because he did not intend to kill his own children.
  • A is guilty of committing culpable

homicide, in as much as he had the intention to cause death.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: A by mixing sweets with poison had the intention to cause death so he is guilty of committing culpable homicide. In the case of culpable homicide the intention to kill is sufficient and it does not matter whether the death of intended person is caused or not.

Murder (Section 300,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death.

Facts: ‘A’ shoots ‘Z’ with the intention of killing him. Z dies in consequence. ‘A’ is tried for the offence of murder.

  • ‘A’ is guilty of murder, as he has done the act with the intention and knowledge to kill Z.
  •  ‘ A’ is not guilty of murder as ‘Z’ did not die on the spot.
  • None of the above.

The answer is (a).

Reasoning: A with the intention by killing Z shoots at him thereby causing an act which is sufficient to cause death, thus A, is guilty of murder.

Wrongful Restraint (Section 339,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Whoever prevents any person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits, is said to have wrongfully confined the person.

Facts: A, places men with AK-47 at the outlets of a building and tells them, that they will fire at B if he attempts to leave the building.

In the present case

  • A, cannot be said to have wrongfully confined B, as B can freely move inside the house.
  • A, has wrongfully restrained B in as much as he is prevented from proceeding beyond the building.
  • None of the above.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: A by placing armed men at the outlets of B’s building with instructions to them to shoot at B if he attempted to leave the building, has wrongfully confined B.

Kidnapping (Section 359,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: If any person entices or allures any minor, out of the custody of the lawful guardian of such minor, without the consent of such lawful guardian, is said to have kidnapped such minor.

Facts: A, promises to give B, a minor, gold watch if he comes to another city. B goes to such other city for receiving the watch.

In the present case

  • A is not liable for any offence.
  • A is said to have kidnapped B, as B went to the other city because of the allurement of A.
  • A is not guilty because B came to the city on his own.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: A has allured the minor to leave the custody of his lawful guardian. A is liable for kidnapping.

Rape (Section 375,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: A man is said to commit ‘rape’ when he has sexual intercourse with a woman without her will or consent or consent obtained by fraud or she is under sixteen years of age.

Facts: Vikas has sexual intercourse with a 15 year old girl, with her consent. Now, Vikas is tried for the offence of rape.

  • Vikas is not guilty as there was consent from the girl.
  • Vikas is guilty of rape because due to age factor, her consent was no valid defence for him.
  • None of the above.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: Vikas is guilty of rape because the girl is under sixteen years of age. Her consent is not relevant.

Theft (Section 378,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Theft is the dishonest moving of property with the intention of taking it out of the person’s possession without his consent.

Facts: A gives the woollen coat to a dry cleaner alongwith his wife’s sarees for the purpose of dry cleaning. He is told to collect the clothes after two days. When he comes after two days, he finds that he does not have enough money to pay to the dry cleaner. But since due to winter, he needs the coat desperately, he surreptitiously placed the coat near his goods so that he can quietly take it without the knowledge of the dry cleaner.

  • A is guilty of theft.
  • A is not guilt of theft.
  • A is not guilty of theft but has to pay compensation to the dry cleaner.

The answer is (a).

Reasoning: A has moved a property from the lawful possession of other with a dishonest intention. He is liable for theft.

Extortion (Section 383,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Whoever, intentionally puts any person in fear of physical or mental injury and there by induces the person so put in fear to deliver any property to any person, commits extortion.

Facts: A, by putting Z in fear of causing death induces Z to deliver his Rolex watch to B. In the present case

  • A is not guilty of extortion, in as much as the watch was not delivered to him but was delivered to B.
  • A is not guilty of any offence.
  • A is guilty of extortion because the watch was delivered to B only because A put Z in fear of death.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: The principle says about delivery of any property to any person out of fear is extortion. A is guilty even if the property is delivered to B.

Robbery (Section 394,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Theft amounts to robbery if the offender for committing theft, voluntarily causes to any person death or hurt.

Facts: A pushes B on his face and thereafter removes B’s watch and wallet.

In the present case

  • A is guilt of committing robbery as he infected injuries on B for committing theft.
  • A is not guilty of any offence.
  • A is guilty of theft simply and not for robbery.

The answer is (a).

Reasoning: A has caused hurt to B. He is liable for robbery.

Misappropriation (Section 403,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Whoever dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use any movable property shall be punishable.

Facts: A and B are having a legal partnership firm and car at their registered office at Tis Hazari. Without telling B, A also uses firm’s car as a taxi after office hours. B being disgusted on the fact that A is using the car without his consent blamed A of misappropriation and lodged an FIR in Police Station. Decide.

  • A has committed the offence of misappropriation of property because he has not taken B’s consent.
  • A is guilty of theft because he has used the car without B’s consent.
  • A is not guilty of theft because he is also one of the owners of the car.

The answer is (a).

Reasoning: A has converted a joint property to his own use without the consent of other co-owner. He is guilty of misappropriation.

Cheating (Section 415-420, i.P.C.)
  1. Principle: A person is guilty of cheating, when he fraudulently induces another person to deliver the latter’s property to him.

Facts: ‘A’ falsely represented to ‘B’ a shop-owner that he was an officer of Commercial Tax Department. While examining the accounts of the shop ‘A’ showed

interest in buying a microwave oven on instalment basis. B readily agreed with the hope that he would get a favourable assessment from A with regard his tax liability. ‘A’ paid the first instalment, took the .microwave oven and disappeared from the scene. The police, however, managed to catch hold of A and prosecute him for cheating.

  • ‘A’ committed cheating, because he induced ‘B’ to part with the microwave oven, posing as though that he was from the Commercial Tax Department.
  • ‘A’ committed cheating, because he did not pay the subsequent instalment.
  • ‘A’ did not commit cheating, because ‘B’ handed over the article in order to get a favourable assessment from ‘A’.

The answer is (a).

Reasoning: ‘A’ has fraudulently induced shop- owner to deliver his property to ‘A’. It amounts to cheating.

  1. Principle: As given above.

Facts: ‘A’, by falsely representing that he is a goldsmith, induces ‘B’ to deliver gold on credit. In the present case

  • ‘A1 fs not liable for any offence.
  • ‘A’ is liable for cheating.
  • ‘A’ is guilty of cheating because he falsely represented that he is a goldsmith for obtaining the gold on credit.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: No reasoning.

Mischief (Section 425,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Whoever with the intent to cause, or knows that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property or in situation or destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits ‘mischief’.

Facts: ‘A’, knowing his assets are about to be taken in execution, in order to satisfy a debt due from him to ‘B’, destroys those assets, with the intention of thereby preventing ‘B’ from obtaining satisfaction of the debt and it caused damages to ‘B’. Decide whether ‘A’ has committed any mischief.

  • ‘A’ commits mischief because he knowingly caused the damages to ‘B’.
  • ‘A’ does not commit mischief because his act can’t be proved on the ground of law and evidence in its support.
  • ‘A’ can be prosecuted only if debt is good debt.

The answer is (a).

Reasoning: A committed mischief as he destroys his property to cause wrongful loss to ‘B’.

Defamation (Section 499,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Whoever, by words or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm or his act will harm, the reputation of such person, is said to defame that person.

Facts: ‘A’ says — ‘Z’ is an honest man; he never stole B’s watch. Now ‘A’ is tried for the offence to defame ‘Z’.

  • ‘A’ is not guilty as he is talking about ’Z’s’ honesty.
  • ‘A’ is guilty as he is intending to cause it to be believed that ‘Z’ may steal ‘B’s watch
  • None of the above.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: The statement though, appears to be simple and not defamatory but it intends to harm the reputation of ‘Z’ indirectly.

Attempt (Section 511,1.P.C.)
  1. Principle: After one has finished preparation to commit an offence, any act done towards committing the offence with intention to commit it, is an attempt to commit the offence which is by itself an offence.

Facts: ‘A’ wants to kill ‘B’. He buys a gun and cartridges for committing the murder. He then sets out searching ‘B’ and when he sees ‘B’, he loads his gun and takes aim at ‘B’ and pulls the trigger. The gun did not fire.

Which of the answers you will feel more appropriate?

  • ‘A’ is guilty of attempt to murder ‘B’ from the time he sets out in search of ‘B\
  • A is guilty of attempt to murder from the time he loads his gun.
  • A is guilty of attempt to murder from the moment he takes aims at B and fires at him.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: Preparation to commit an offence is different from attempt to do it. Attempt takes place only when A loads the gun and aims at B.

Juvenile Delinquency (Section 360, Cr.P.C.)
  1. Principle: Nothing is an offence which is done by a child who is below seven years of age.

Facts: ‘A’, a child of 6 years fires a revolver which results in the death of his father.

In the present case

  • ‘A’ will be guilty of murder because he has committed murder.
  • ‘ A’ wi 11 not be gui Ity of murder because he fired the revolver accidentally at his father.
  • ‘A’ will not be guilty because he is below 7 years and thus incapable of doing an offence.

The answer is (c).

Reasoning: No reasoning.

  1. Principle: An act done by a child between 7 and 12 years of age is not an offence, if he/she is not mature enough to understand the nature and consequences of the act.

Facts: ‘A’, child of 9 years, finds a gold chain in the house of his uncle and gives is to his brother ‘B’ aged 5 years asking him not to tell it to anyone. The uncle reported it to the police station and police conducted a search. During the search, the gold coin falls from the pocket of ‘B’ and when the police asks ‘B’ he says that it was given to him by his brother ‘A’.

  • Both A and B are guilty of theft.
  • Only A is guilty of theft because though he is of 9 years he was mature enough to un­derstands the consequence of his act.
  • None of the above.

The answer is (b).

Reasoning: When A asks B not to tell anyone, he is mature enough to understand the nature of the act. He is guilty of theft.