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Guided By Miss Pronami Dutt


Firstly, I would like to express my profound sense of gratitude towards the
Almighty ALLAH for providing me with the authentic circumstances which
were mandatory for the completion of my research work.
I am also thankful to Miss Pronami Dutt, for her invaluable support,
encouragement, supervision and useful suggestions throughout this project
work. Her moral support and continuous guidance enabled me to complete my
work successfully. Her intellectual thrust and blessings motivated me to work
rigorously on this study. In fact this study could not have seen the light of the
day if her contribution had not been available. It would be no exaggeration to
say that it is her unflinching faith and unquestioning support that has provided
the sustenance necessary to see it through to its present shape.
Among those who have sustained me over the years with their loyalty and
friendship. I express my deep sincere gratitude towards my parents for their
blessing, patience, and moral support in the successful pursuing the LL.B
course. I express my gratitude to my all teachers and friends who has supported
and encouraged me during my study at Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia,
New Delhi.
Ayesha Ali
B.A.LL.B (Hons) 3rdSemester


1. General Introduction.. 4
2. History ...6
3. Definition of Crime... 7
4. Stages of Crime.11
5. Conclusion ...15
6. Bibliography.16


WHAT IS A CRIME? We must answer this question at the outset. In order to

answer this question we must know first, what is law because the two questions
are closely interrelated? Traditionally, we know a law to be a command
enjoining a course of conduct. The command may be of a sovereign or of
political superiors to the political inferiors; or it may be the command of a
legally constituted body or a legislation emanating from a duly constituted
legislature to all the members of the society. A crime may, therefore, be an act of
disobedience to such a law forbidding or commanding it. But then disobedience
of all laws may not be a crime, for instance, disobedience of civil laws or laws
of inheritance or contracts. Therefore, a crime would mean something more than
a mere disobedience to a law, "it means an act which is both forbidden by law
and revolting to the moral sentiments of the society." Thus robbery or murder
would be a crime, because they are revolting to the moral sentiments of the
society, but a disobedience of the revenue laws or the laws of contract would not
constitute a crime. Then again, "the moral sentiments of a society" is a flexible
term, because they may change, and they do change from time to time with the
growth of the public opinion and the social necessities of the times. So also, the
moral values of one country may be and often are quite contrary to the moral
values of another country. To cite a few instances, heresy was a crime at one
time in most of the countries of the world, because in those days it offended the
moral sentiments of the society. It was punished with burning. But nobody is
punished nowadays for his religious beliefs, not even in a theocratic state. The
reason is obvious. Now it does not offend the moral sentiments of the society.
Adultery is another such instance. It is a crime punishable under our Penal
Code, but it is not so in some of the countries of the West. Then again sati, i.e.,
burning of a married woman on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband, was
for a long time considered to be a virtue in our own country, but now it is a
crime. Similarly, polygamy was not a crime in our country until it was made so
by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. This Act, it may be stated, does not apply to

Mohammedans or Christians. But Christians are forbidden to practice polygamy

under their law of marriage, while Mohammedans are yet immune from
punishment for polygamy. All these instances go to show that the content of
crime changes from time to time in the same country and from country to
country at the same time because it is conditioned by the moral value approved
of by a particular society in a particular age in a particular country. A crime of
yesterday may become a virtue tomorrow and so also a virtue of yesterday may
become acrime tomorrow. Such being the content of crime, all attempts made
from time to time beginning with Blackstone down to Kenny in modern times to
define it have proved abortive. Therefore, the present writer agrees with Russell
when he observes that "to define crime is a task which so far has not been
satisfactorily accomplished by any writer. In fact, criminal offences are
basically the creation of the criminal policy adopted from time to time by those
sections of the community who are powerful or astute enough to safeguard their
own security and comfort by causing the sovereign power in the state to repress
conduct which they feel may endanger their position". But a student embarking
on study of principles of criminal law must understand the chief characteristics
and the true attributes of a crime. Though a crime, as we have seen, is difficult
of a definition in the true sense of the term, a definition of a crime must give us
"the whole thing and the sole thing," telling us something that shall be true of
every crime and yet not be true of any other conceivable non-criminal breach of
law. We cannot produce such a definition of crime as might be flexible enough
to be true in all countries, in all ages and in all times. Nevertheless, a crime may
be described and its attributes and characteristics be clearly understood. In order
to achieve this object, we propose to adopt two ways, namely, first, we shall
distinguish crime from civil and moral wrongs, and secondly, we shall critically
examine all the definitions constructed by the eminent criminal jurists from time
to time.

Criminal law is a body of rules and statutes that defines conduct prohibited by
the state because it threatens and harms public safety and welfare and that
establishes punishment to be imposed for the commission of such acts. Criminal
law differs from civil law, whose emphasis is more on dispute resolution than in
The term criminal law generally refers to substantive criminal laws. Substantive
criminal laws define crimes and prescribe punishments. In contrast, Criminal
Procedure describes the process through which the criminal laws are enforced.
For example, the law prohibiting murder is a substantive criminal law. The
manner in which state enforces this substantive lawthrough the gathering of
evidence and prosecutionis generally considered a procedural matter.

The first civilizations generally did not distinguish between civil law and
criminal law. The first written codes of law were designed by the Sumerians
around 2100-2050 BC. Another important early code was the Code Hammurabi,
which formed the core of Babylonian law. These early legal codes did not
separate penal and civil laws. Of the early criminal laws of Ancient Greece only
fragments survive, e.g. those of Solon and Draco.
After the revival of Roman law in the 12th century, sixth-century Roman
classifications and jurisprudence provided the foundations of the distinction
between criminal and civil law in European law from then until the present
time. The first signs of the modern distinction between crimes and civil matters
emerged during the Norman invasion of England. The special notion of criminal
penalty, at least concerning Europe, arose in Spanish Late Scolasticism, when

the theological notion of God's penalty (poenaaeterna) that was inflicted solely
for a guilty mind, became transfused into canon law first and, finally, to secular
criminal law. The development of the state dispensing justice in a court clearly
emerged in the eighteenth century when European countries began maintaining
police services. From this point, criminal law had formalized the mechanisms
for enforcement, which allowed for its development as a discernible entity.

Definition of Crime
Many jurists have defined crime in their own ways some of which are as under:
Blackstone defined crime as an act committed or omitted in violation of a
public law either forbidding or commanding it.
Stephen observed a crime is a violation of a right considered in reference
to the evil tendency of such violation as regards the community at large.
Oxford Dictionary defines crime as an act punishable by law as forbidden
by statute or injurious to the public welfare.
Many prominent jurists have made attempts to define Crime: Sir William
Blackstone in his classical work, Commentaries on the Laws of England,
Volume IV, which is devoted to Public Wrongs or Crimes, attempted to define
crime at two different places in his work. We shall examine both these
definitions given by him. At one place, he states that crime is an act committed
or omitted in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Here in
defining crime Blackstone uses "public law." Now what is meant by public law?
It has several accepted meanings. For instance, Austin takes public law as
identical with constitutional law. In that sense, the definition given by him
would cover only political offences which are only a very small portion of the
whole field of crime. If we were to follow Austin and interpret the definition
given by Blackstone as violation of our constitutional law, namely, Articles 21
and 31, which guarantee protection of one's life, liberty and property, even then

the definition of crime would remain too narrow. The Germans, on the other
hand, interpret "public law" to mean both constitutional law and criminal law. In
this sense, thedefinition given by Blackstone ceases to define because we shall
be using criminal law in defining a crime. Then again, some take "public law"
to mean positive law or municipal law, which would mean all laws made by the
state. In that sense, the definition given by Blackstone obviously become too
wide, for the crime will include every legal wrong or violation of law.
Therefore, this definition given by Blackstone is not satisfactory.
Now we pass on to the second definition given by the same jurist, Blackstone.
He defines crime as a violation of the public rights and duties due to the
whole community considered as a community. This definition has been slightly
altered by the learned editor of Blackstone, Serjeant Stephen, who expresses it
thus: A crime is a violation of a right considered in reference to the evil
tendency of such violation as regards the community at large.
As regards the reconstructed definition, it might be observed that it introduces a
new error, namely, it limits crimes to violations of rights only, whereas
Blackstone applied it to a violation of both a right and a duty. Instances of a
violation of a duty amounting to crimes are numerous, for example, being in
possession of house-breaking tools by night or possession of counterfeit coins.
Undoubtedly the idea incorporated in the definition given by Blackstone as well
as by his learned editor Stephen is very important, namely, that crimes are
breaches of those laws which injure the community. The same was the idea
which was noted by the Roman jurists as well. Therefore they called crimes
delictapublica and the criminal trials judiciapublica. Indeed, if only a rough,
general description of crime were to be given then public mischief could be
made the salient feature of the crime, but this alone would not suffice for a
definition. It would be a vague fact for a definition of a crime. There are many
things which are only breaches of contract and are injurious to the community

but they are not crimes, for example, the negligent management of the affairs of
a company, which may bring about a calamity to the community greater than
that produced by a thief stealing an article. The latter is a crime, while the
former is only a wrong and not a crime. On the other hand, a conduct may
amount to a crime, though instead of bringing an evil to the community it may
bring some good to the community. For instance, constructing a sloping
causeway, though it might facilitate the landing of passengers and goods, is an
offence of common nuisance. Therefore, the definition of crime that it is a legal
wrong, if it tends to cause evil to the community, is not correct. It is, of course,
an instructive general description of it.
Fundamental Elements of Crime: There are four elements which go to constitute
a crime, these are:

Human being
Mensrea or guilty intention
Actus reus or illegal act or omission
Injury to another human being

Human Being
The first element requires that the wrongful act must be committed by a human
being. In ancient times, when criminal law was largely dominated by the idea of
retribution, punishments were inflicted on animals also for the injury caused by
them, for example, a pig was burnt in Paris for having devoured a child, a horse
was killed for having kicked a man. But now, if an animal causes an injury we
hold not the animal liable but its owner liable for such injury.
So the first element of crime is a human being who- must be under the legal
obligation to act in a particular manner and should be a fit subject for awarding
appropriate punishment.

Section 11 of the Indian Penal Code provides that word person includes a
company or association or body of persons whether incorporated or not. The
word person includes artificial or juridical persons.
Mens Rea
The second important essential element of a crime is mensrea or evil intent or
guilty mind. There can be no crime of any nature without mensrea or an evil
mind. Every crime requires a mental element and that is considered as the
fundamental principle of criminal liability. The basic requirement of the
principle mensrea is that the accused must have been aware of those elements in
his act which make the crime with which he is charged.
There is a well-known maxim in this regard, i.e. actus non facitreum nisi mens
sit rea which means that, the guilty intention and guilty act together constitute
a crime. It comes from the maxim that no person can be punished in a
proceeding of criminal nature unless it can be showed that he had a guilty mind.
Actus Reus [Guilty Act Or Omission]
The third essential element of a crime is actus reus. In other words, some overt
act or illegal omission must take place in pursuance of the guilty intention.
Actus reus is the manifestation of mens rea in the external world. Prof. Kenny
was the first writer to use the term actus reus. He has defined the term thussuch result of human conduct as the law seeks to prevent.

The fourth requirement of a crime is injury to another person or to the society at
large. The injury should be illegally caused to any person in body, mind,

reputation or property as according to Section 44 of IPC, 1860 the injury

denotes any harm whatever illegally caused to any person in body, mind,
reputation or property.

Stages of Crime
There are four stages in commission of a Crime. If a person commits a crime
voluntarily or after preparation the doing of it involves four different stages. In
every crime, there is first intention to commit it, secondly, preparation to
commit it, thirdly, attempt to commit it and fourthly the accomplishment. The
stages can be explained as underIntention to Commit a Crime
Intention is the direction of conduct towards the object chosen upon considering
the motives which suggest the choice. But the law does not take notice of an
intention, mere intention to commit an offence not followed by an act, cannot
constitute an offence. The obvious reason for not prosecuting the accused at this
stage is that it is very difficult for the prosecution to prove the guilty mind of a
person. Intention to commit a crime is not punishable unless it is made known
to others either by words or conduct. Example: Waging a War against the This
is the first stage in commission of a crime and known as mental stage.
Government is punishable. In this case, mere intention to commit is punishable.
Similarly, mere assembly of persons to commit a dacoity is punishable even
though there is no preparation to it.
Preparation is the second stage in the commission of a crime. It means to
arrange the necessary measures for the commission of the intended criminal act.
Intention alone or the intention followed by a preparation is not enough to
constitute the crime. It is difficult for the prosecution to prove that necessary
preparation has been made for the commission of the offence. That is why
preparation has not been made punishable because in most of the cases the
prosecution has failed to prove that the preparations in the question were made
for the commission of the particular crime. For example: If A purchases a pistol

and keeps the same in his pocket duly loaded in order to kill his bitter enemy B,
but does nothing more. A has not committed any offence as still he is at the
stage of preparation and it will be impossible for the prosecution to prove that A
was carrying the loaded pistol only for the purpose of killing B.
Preparation When Punishable- Generally, preparation to commit any offence
is not punishable but in some exceptional cases preparation is punishable;
following are some examples of such exceptional circumstances Preparation to wage war against the Government - Section 122, IPC
Preparation to commit depredation on territories of a power at peace with
Government of India- Section 126, IPC 1860;
Preparation to commit dacoity- Section 399, IPC 1860;
Preparation for counterfeiting of coins or Government stamps- Sections
233-235, S. 255 and S. 257;
Possessing counterfeit coins, false weight or measurement and forged
documents. Mere possession of these is a crime and no possessor can
plead that he is still at the stage of preparation- Sections 242, 243, 259,
266 and 474.
It is also known as the 'Preliminary Crime'.
Section XXIII of the IPC, 1860 deals with 'of Attempt to Commit Offences'
and provides the punishment for attempt.
Attempt is the direct movement towards the commission of a crime after the
preparation is made. According to English law, a person may be guilty of an
attempt to commit an offence if he does an act which is more than merely
preparatory to the commission of the offence; and a person will be guilty of
attempting to commit an offence even though the facts are such that the
commission of the offence is impossible.

There are three essentials of an attempt:-

Guilty intention to commit an offence;

Some act done towards the commission of the offence;
The act must fall short of the completed offence.
Attempt Under The Indian Penal Code, 1860- The Indian Penal Code has
dealt with attempt in the following four different ways Completed offences and attempts have been dealt with in the same section and
same punishment is prescribed for both. Such provisions are contained in
Sections 121, 124, 124-A, 125, 130, 131, 152, 153-A, 161, 162, 163, 165, 196,
198, 200, 213, 240, 241, 251, 385, 387, 389, 391, 394, 395, 397, 459 and 460.
Secondly, attempts to commit offences and commission of specific offences
have been dealt with separately and separate punishments have been provided
for attempt to commit such offences from those of the offences committed.
Examples are- murder is punished under section 302 and attempt to murder to
murder under section 307; culpable homicide is punished under section 304 and
attempt to commit culpable homicide under section 308; Robbery is punished
under section 392 and attempt to commit robbery under section 393.
Thirdly, attempt to commit suicide is punished under section 309;
Fourthly, all other cases [where no specific provisions regarding attempt are
made] are covered under section 511 which provides that the accused shall be
punished with one-half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for the
offence or with prescribed fine or with both.
Prescribed Punishments in the Indian Penal Code

1. Completed offences and attempts have been dealt in the same Section and
same punishment is prescribed. Eg: Waging War and Attempting to Wage
War (Sec. 121)
2. In certain cases, punishments for attempt to offences and completed
offences are dealt separately. Eg: Punishment for murder is dealt in
Section 302, while attempt to murder is dealt in Sec. 307.
3. In other cases, of attempt, are covered under Section 511 which
prescribes the longest term of imprisonment or with fine or both.

Crimes can be complex, but we can break them down into simpler features.
Each offense can be broken down into three stages. Very different crimes can be
described with the same sentence structure and diagram techniques. Stages of
crime does not find any mention in the Indian Penal Code but is an virtual
concept to apprehend crime. These stages are essential to understand the very
nature of any crime. It helps the court of law to decide a new act which has not
been distinguished as an unique crime, if it falls under the broad term like
Crime. Stages help make the concept of crime scientific and logical.
Intention to commit a crime is not punishable unless it is made known to others
either by words or conduct.
Preparation means to arrange the necessary measures for the commission of the
intended criminal act. Attempt is the direct movement towards the commission
of a crime after the preparation is made.

1. Websites
2. Books
1. Kaur, K.D, Textbook of Indian Penal Code, 2015
2. Pillai, PSA, Criminal Law, 12th Ed., 2015