IPC Section 307- Attempt to Murder: An overview



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Introduction:

Murder is considered as one of the most ruthless offences, it basically means, to put an end to a human being’s life unlawfully and with premeditated malice. Even the attempt to commit a grave crime like murder is a punishable offence under IPC, section 307. 

IPC section 307 defines attempt to murder as any person who commits an act including two principles intention and knowledge in such circumstances, if he by this same act caused death, he would be guilty of murder, shall be punished for the same. In case of the act resulting into injury to any person the offender shall be liable to punishment. Proper analysis of facts and circumstances of the case do take place while convicting any person under this section. 

Ingredients:

a) The nature of the action.

b) Knowledge or intent to commit an offence.

c) Committing an act of offence against it.

d) Death is the final result from the action.

Nearly every criminal offense involves the two principles “mens rea” and “actus reus”

“Mens rea” refers to guilty mind or guilty intention on the other hand “actus reus” refers to guilty act. With every crime a question of “intention” does come along, intention plays a key role in the cases of attempting to commit a crime.

“What is material to attract offense under section 307 of the IPC is the intention or knowledge with which all the acts are done irrespective of its result” -The Gujarat High court. 

Nature of Section 307 IPC:

Criminal offences can either be bailable or in case of severity non-bailable. When the investigating authority can arrest the suspect or accused without a warrant it is said to be cognizable offence. 

Non-cognizable offences are those in which the investigating authority cannot arrest an accused without warrant. Section 307 is non bailable thus the judge has the authority to refuse to grant bail.

Thus, section 307 is classified as:

  • Non-bailable, 
  • Cognizable and
  •  Triable by court of sessions.

Meaning of ‘Attempt’ in Indian Penal Code:

To put it in simpler words the term ‘attempt’ in the given setting refers to, an actual effort to commit a crime but it does not result into whatever was intended in the first place. The very instance of putting the effort or trying to murder is what we call attempt to murder. 

Section 511 talks about the punishment relating to taking action towards a crime. When an attempt comes dangerously close to committing a criminal offence, it becomes a crime. It is the time where the criminal has finished the preparation and is actively working toward committing the crime.

There are two ingredients:

  1. Guilty mind
  2. Any activity that contributes to the commission of a crime

Stages of a Crime as per Indian Criminal Law:

A behavior or action that is not appropriate for the peaceful existence of a society is referred to as crime. Just like any other process or action there are various stages one usually goes through in order to ultimately commit a crime. Stages of crime comprise of intention, preparation, attempt, completion, or accomplishment. 

  • Intention/motive:

Mental stage, the intention describes about the readiness of the person to commit crime. The mere intention to commit a crime without any physical action or attempt does not constitute to crime. Here the guilty mind must be evident. 

  • Preparation for crime:

As the name suggested under preparation the arrangements to execute the plan are formed. No offence has been committed till this stage. 

  • Attempt: 

After the preparation to commit, the offence is done comes the stage of putting up the direct action towards committing the crime.

  • Completion or accomplishment:

In order to complete the offence or crime the final stage of completion takes place.

‘Intention’ under section 307 of IPC:

Section 34 of Indian penal code separately talks about the intention, the law always keeps it in mind that mere intention without any act is not punishable.

 Intention of the accused always plays an important role in any criminal case, to determine the accused's intention under this provision, a number of factors are taken into account, including the type of weapon used, how it was used, the reason for the crime, the force used, and the part of the body that was injured.

“Nobody can enter into the mind of the accused and his intention has to be ascertained from the weapon used, part of the body chosen for assault and the nature of the injury caused”: Supreme Court of India in the case of Sadakat Kotwar and Anr. vs. The State of Jharkhand, 2021. 

Difference between Section 307 IPC and Section 308 IPC:

Similar to culpable homicide and murder section 307 and section 308 also has a very thin line. The two acts are punished and handled in different ways because attempting to commit an offence differs from actually committing one. 

As they both punish attempts at crimes, Sections 307 and 308 of the IPC are similar in nature. The attempt to commit murder is covered by Section 307 of the IPC, and the attempted murder is covered by Section 308.

According to Section 308 of the Indian Penal Code, anyone who commits any kind of act with the intent or knowledge that, if the act resulted in death, they would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with either description of imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both; and, if the act results in injury to any person, shall be punished with either description of imprisonment.

Since the intent or knowledge to commit murder is more intensely associated with the act itself under Section 307 than it is under Section 308, the offence is graver under Section 307 than it is under Section 308.

 The element that such an act would likely result in the death of any person is included under Section 308 even though the ingredients of intention or knowledge are present, making the accused guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Procedure for the trial of a case filed under Section 307 IPC:

Just like any other criminal offence the procedure for trial under section 307 commences from a FIR, further there are various procedures and steps for trail. 

  • FIR:  It all starts with an FIR, as per section 154 of crpc FIR is registered for cognizable cases only. After the accused is arrested by the police. Within 24 hours of the arrest, the accused is required to appear before the court of magistrate.
  • Investigation and the final report by police:  After concluding its investigation of the matter, the police are required by Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code to submit a final report to the relevant court. The investigation conducted by the police or investigating agency is regarded to have ended with the filing of this report.
  • Arguments before the court:  Both the sides have free and fair chance to represent their sides, judge hears the arguments after analysing both the sides the court further frames the charges.
  • Plea of guilt: After framing of charge the accused is given an opportunity to plead guilty. It shall be made voluntarily. The accused if not plead guilty the trail proceeds ahead.
  • Evidence by prosecution: the burden of proof lies with the prosecution at initial stage, evidence is given by prosecution.  
  • Cross-examination of witnesses by both the parties: The accused side carries the cross-examination prosecution produces its witness to the court.
  • Final arguments: The argument made to the judge by both sides of a case after all the evidence has been presented.
  • Judgment: After the arguments by both the parties, the judge analysis and then decides the case. Judge decides the acquittal or conviction. As per the cases of Section 307, if the judge feels that the accused had motive and the intention to kill the victim also by the use of weapon or force. The person here is held guilty under Section 307. 
  • Quantum of sentence: After the accused is held guilty, looking at the facts and circumstances of the case the judge may reduce the sentence of punishment. 

In the case of Sri Chandan Adhikari v The State of Tripura, The Tripura High Court, reduced the sentence of the accused who was convicted for the offence of attempt to murder on the ground that it “Happened in A Spur of The Moment, No Intention to Kill”. 

  • Appeal to Higher Courts: Appeal to Higher Courts can be made. 
     

Punishment for Attempt to Murder under Section 307 IPC:

Section 307 IPC states that an attempt to commit murder is a punishable offence, 

  • Attempt to murder: 10 years of imprisonment + fine
  • If the act causes Hurt to that person - Imprisonment for Life or 10 Years + Fine
     

Relevant case law with respect to Section 307 IPC:

In the case of Bhagwan Singh vs. State of Uttarakhand: On 21st April, 2007,

  • The marriage ceremony of the Appellant’s son was taking place, as soon as the marriage procession reached the Appellant’s courtyard, he suddenly fired celebratory gunshots. 
  • The pellets struck 5 persons standing in the courtyard, injured were taken to the hospital where two of them succumbed to their injuries. 
  • The Appellant's convictions under Section 302 of the IPC and Section 307 of the IPC have been changed to Section 304 Part-2 and Section 308, respectively, as grounds for modification. Of course, the appellant cannot disassociate himself from the findings that he was in possession of a loaded firearm in a crowded area where his own guests had gathered to witness the wedding ceremony. Instead of exercising any reasonable precautions, such as firing the shot into the air or toward the sky, he took a full risk and pointed the gun at the roof and fired the shot. He was expected to be aware that pellets could result in numerous gunshot wounds to the
  • Even a single shot could have killed nearby people. Accordingly, the appellant is guilty. which could result in fatal injuries to those nearby, among other possible effects circuit, are owed to him. Consequently, the offence committed by the appellant would amount to "culpable homicide" as defined by Section 299, though it is still illegal and punishable by Section.

Conclusion:

Even section 307 of IPC incorporates the “intention” and “knowledge” as main ingredients the same making it uncomplicated to recognize the attempt to murder. Section 307 is non-bailable, the offense is serious misconduct. The considerations that appear to be essential here are the nature of the act's intention and knowledge and circumstances under which the act was done. When the punishment is being decided the learned court looks deeply into the facts and extent to which the crime is committed.