Monday, December 17, 2012

Attempts to commit Offences : Section 511, IPC.

The word 'attempt' is not defined in the Indian Penal Code. According to Oxford Dictionary 'attempt' means 'earnest and conscientious activity intended to do' or 'accomplish something'.

Every commission of a crime has three stages
  1. Intention to commit it;
  2. Preparation for its commission; and
  3. A successful attempt.
If the attempt to commit a crime is successful, then the crime itself is committed; but where the attempt is not followed by the intended consequences, Section 511 of the Indian Penal Code ( in short IPC ) applies which is read as follows:

Section 511. Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment.- Whoever attempts to commit an offence punishable by this Code with imprisonment for life or imprisonment, or to cause such an offence to be committed, and in such attempt does any act towards the commission of the offence, shall, where no express provision is made by this Code for the punishment of such attempt, be punished with imprisonment of any description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-half of the imprisonment for life or, as the case may be, one-half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for that offence, or with such fine as is provided for the offence, or with both. 

Ingredient of Section 511  
The ingredient of Section 511 are
  1. Offence punishable with imprisonment for life or imprisonment;
  2. Does any act towards the commission of the offence;
  3. No express provision is made by the Code for the punishment of such attempt.
Attempt is the direct movement towards the commission after the preparation are made. Mere intention to commit a crime, not followed by any act, does not constitute an offence. Only such attempts are punishable under Section 511 for which no express provision is made by the Code.

Section 511 of the Indian Penal Code is a general section that makes punishable all attempts to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or imprisonment excepting those punishable with death or with fine only. Section 511, IPC provides for punishment for an attempt to commit an offence under the Penal Code. The very policy underlying in Section 511, IPC seems to be for providing it as a residuary provision. It does not apply to offence under special or local laws.

In Satvir Singh vs. State of Punjab AIR 2001 SC 2828, it was observed that Section 511 of the Indian Penal Code makes attempt to commit an offence punishable. The offence attempted should be one punishable by the Code with imprisonment. The conditions stipulated in the provision for completion of the said offence are- (i) the offender should have done some act towards commission of the main offence; (ii) such attempt is not expressly covered as a penal provision elsewhere in the Code. Thus attempt on the part of the accused is sine qua non for the offence under Section 511, IPC. If the act of the accused asking his wife/victim to go and commit suicide had driven her to proceed to the railway track for ending her life then it is expressly made punishable under Section 498A of the IPC. Section 498A, IPC makes cruelty as a punishable offence. One of the categories included in the Explanation to the said Section (by which the word cruelty is defined) is thus: (a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; when it is so expressly made punishable the act involved therein stands lifted out of the purview of Section 511, IPC.

In Abhayanand Mishra vs. State of Bihar AIR 1961 SC 1698, the appellant applied to the Patna University for permission to appear at the 1954 M.A. Examination in the English as a private candidate representing that he was a graduate having obtained his B.A. degree in 1951 and that he had been teaching in a certain school. He attached bogus certificates in this regard. The University gave the permission and issued admit-card. In the meantime, however, the University came to know about the forged application of the applicant.

The issue before the Court was whether appellant was guilty of an 'attempt to cheat' the University, under Section 415, IPC, in as much as he, by making false representation, deceived the University and induced the authorities to issue admit-card. The arguments on behalf of the appellant was that what he did was just a preparation and not an attempt to cheat; further, admit-card was not property and had no pecuniary value in itself.

The Apex Court observed that a personal commits the offence of 'attempt to commit a particular offence' when (i) he, intends to commit that particular offence; and (ii) he, having made preparations and with the intention to commit the offence, does an act towards its commission; such an act need not be the penultimate act towards the commission of that offence but must be an act during the course of committing that offence.

The Court held that appellant did deceived the University, as a dishonest concealment of facts is a deception and thus cheating under Section 415, IPC. Admit-card is a 'property' as it has immense value to a candidate. It is not true that appellant did not gone beyond the stage of preparation. The preparation was complete when he had prepared the application for the purpose of submission to the University. The moment he dispatched it, he entered the realm of attempting to commit the offence of cheating. He did succeed in deceiving the University and inducing it to issue the admit-card. He just failed to get it and sit for the examination because something beyond his control took place inasmuch as the University was informed about his being neither a graduate nor a teacher.

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