An Overview of Section 307 IPC (Attempt to Murder)

by  Adv. Rupa K.N  

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Section 307 IPC-min

Introduction

Crime should not happen; if someone commits it, he should be punished. In India, all criminal offences are mentioned under the Indian Penal Code, which explains the meaning and punishment of the crime and its main ingredients, like Mala Fide intention (Bad faith). The first question that will be asked if someone is ever discovered committing an offence is, “Was his act of committing the offence accompanied by bad faith intention?” as the intention is essential in every crime. 

Here, we will discuss Section 307, often referred to as ‘307 section’ or IPC 307, a critical legal provision dealing with the attempt to murder.

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What is Section 307 IPC?

The attempt to murder section, known as Section 307 IPC or IPC 307 Section, defines the act of attempting to murder and its corresponding punishments.

According to Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, anyone who commits an act with the intent or knowledge that, if he or she caused death by that act, he or she would be guilty of murder and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if they cause harm to any person by that act, they shall be subject to either life imprisonment or such other punishment as is deemed appropriate.

An attempt to commit a crime under Section 302 of the IPC is an offence of attempted murder. In accordance with Section 302, the criminal knowingly causes the death of any person, but in accordance with Section 307, the offender attempts to murder someone but is unsuccessful as long as they have the purpose of killing or knowledge that the conduct may cause death.

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Punishments for Attempt to Murder (Section 307 IPC)

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) takes a stringent view of the offence of attempting to commit murder, and Section 307 IPC prescribes the punishment for the attempt to murder, including imprisonment for up to ten years or life imprisonment, depending on the circumstances.

Here’s a detailed look at the different punishments:

  1. Imprisonment for up to Ten Years: If a person commits an act with the intent to murder but does not cause any harm, they may be imprisoned for a term that may extend to ten years. A fine may also be imposed.
  2. Life Imprisonment or Other Punishments: If the act committed causes harm to any person, the offender may be subject to life imprisonment or any other punishment deemed appropriate by the court.
  3. Special Provision for Life Convicts: In cases where the offender is already serving a life sentence and causing harm in an attempt to murder, the punishment can be as severe as the death penalty.
  4. Non-Bailable Offense: Section 307 IPC is a non-bailable offence, meaning the magistrate can deny bail.
  5. Non-Compoundable Offense: The offence under Section 307 IPC is non-compoundable, indicating that it cannot be settled out of court.
  6. Cognizable Offense: Section 307 IPC is a cognizable offence, meaning that the police are required by law to report and investigate the crime.

Understanding the Gravity of Punishments

The range of punishments under Section 307 IPC reflects the seriousness with which the law views an attempt to murder.

The gravity of the punishment is determined by factors such as the intent behind the act, the nature of the act, the harm caused, and the offender’s criminal history.

  • Intent to Kill: The prosecution must prove unequivocally and beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender intended to kill. The intent cannot be determined solely by the severity of the harm done to the victim.
  • Use of Deadly Weapons: The use of deadly weapons or an attack on vital parts of the victim’s body may be considered as evidence of intent.
  • Previous Convictions: If the offender has previous convictions, especially for violent crimes, this may influence the severity of the punishment.

Section 307 IPC provides a nuanced approach to punishing the grave offence of attempting to commit murder.

The law takes into consideration various factors to determine the appropriate punishment, ensuring that justice is served while recognizing the complexities of human behaviour and intent.

Whether it’s imprisonment, fines, life imprisonment, or even the death penalty in extreme cases, the law provides a structured framework to deal with this heinous crime.

Essential Elements of Section 307 IPC

The essential elements must be proven to fall under the Section. The elements are-

  • The intended act must be of a kind that, if not stopped in time, would result in the victim’s death.
  • The intent to kill must be proven unequivocally and beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • However, the purpose of killing cannot be determined just by the severity of the harm done to the victim. The prosecution may utilize circumstances like an attack with deadly weapons on the victim’s essential bodily parts to demonstrate this.
  • For a defendant to be found guilty under this clause, it must also be proven that they had the knowledge and purpose to commit the attempted murder.
  • In the normal order of things, the offender’s actions would result in death.

Mens Rea (Guilty Mind): A Crucial Element in Section 307 IPC

Mens Rea, often called the “guilty mind,” is a fundamental concept in criminal law that deals with the mental state of the accused at the time of committing the crime. In the context of Section 307 IPC (Attempt to Murder), Mens Rea plays a vital role in determining guilt.

Understanding Mens Rea

Mens Rea refers to the mental intention, knowledge, or recklessness that constitutes part of a crime. It’s not just about the act but the mental state accompanying it.

  1. Intention to Kill: In Section 307 IPC, the prosecution must prove that the accused clearly intended to cause death. Mere harm or injury is insufficient; the intent must be to kill.
  2. Knowledge of Consequences: The accused must know that the act could result in death. Even if the intention was not specifically to kill, knowledge of the potentially fatal consequence could constitute Mens Rea.
  3. Recklessness: Sometimes, recklessness or gross negligence, where the accused disregards the potentially fatal consequences, can also be considered as Mens Rea.

Importance in Section 307 IPC

In an attempt to murder case, proving Mens Rea is often the most challenging aspect. It requires careful examination of evidence, witness testimony, and sometimes expert psychological evaluation.

  • Differentiating Between Attempt and Preparation: Mens Rea helps distinguish between mere preparation to commit murder and an actual attempt. The presence of a guilty mind indicates a move from preparation to attempt.
  • Influencing Punishments: The degree of Mens Rea can influence the severity of the punishment. A clear and deliberate intention to kill may result in a more severe penalty than reckless behaviour.

The law recognizes that intention goes beyond mere thought or desire; it must be manifested in action and circumstances. A recent Supreme Court ruling has shed light on how intention is ascertained in attempt to murder cases:

  1. Weapon Used: The type of weapon used in the assault can indicate the level of intent. A deadly or sharp weapon may signify a clear intention to cause fatal harm.
  2. Targeted Body Part: The part of the body chosen for assault can reveal the accused’s intent. Targeting vital organs or areas likely to cause death may demonstrate a deliberate intention to kill.
  3. Nature of Injury: The severity and nature of the injury caused can also reflect the accused’s intention. Grievous injuries, particularly those inflicted on vital parts of the body, may indicate an intent to cause death.
  4. Legal Precedent: In the case of Sadakat Kotwar vs State of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court upheld a conviction under Section 307 IPC, emphasizing that intention must be ascertained from the above-mentioned factors.

Characteristics of an IPC Section 307 Offence

  • Offences are categorized into cognizable and non-cognizable categories. The police are required by law to report and look into a cognizable offence, and Section 307 of IPC is a cognizable offence.
  • Non-bailable offences: This indicates that the magistrate can deny bail and confine a person to court or police custody in a complaint brought under Section 307.
  • Non-Compoundable: The petitioner cannot unilaterally withdraw a non-compoundable lawsuit.

Phases of crime under criminal Law

  • Firstly, an intention to commit a crime is the first step. It might be characterized as a person’s readiness to engage in an action. But merely intending to do anything wrong is not a crime. The physical act has a significant role in advancing the criminal intent. There should be a physical manifestation of the guilty thought or malicious purpose.
  • The plans made by a person to carry out a crime are included in the preparation stage.
  • However, no offence has yet been committed, even at this point. The Indian Penal Code allows for specific activities to be punished at this stage, even though simple preparation for any purpose is not a crime. 
  • When preparing for a crime is made, the attempt takes place. Attempting to commit an offence is now a direct action.
  • The intended crime must be committed in its entirety to constitute a full offence. Once the crime has been committed, the person will be found guilty of it.
  • A person cannot be charged with a crime just for acting with malice. There must be a demonstrable bodily activity. In order to be considered a crime, an effort to conduct the crime must be made with the purpose of doing so. In order for Section 307 to be applicable, the conduct must ordinarily be capable of resulting in another person’s death.

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AttributeDetails
Section Number307
DescriptionAttempt to Murder
PunishmentImprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine. Life imprisonment if hurt.
Cognizable or Non-CognizableCognizable
Bailable or Non-BailableNon-Bailable
Triable ByCourt of Session
Offence TypeNon-Compoundable

Trial procedure for a case brought under Section 307 IPC

  • A police complaint or first information report is the initial step. Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to this. The entire case is initiated by filing an FIR.
  • The inquiry by the Investigation Officer is the next stage following filing the FIR. The officer concludes and prepares the investigation after reviewing the relevant facts and circumstances, gathering relevant evidence, examining relevant parties, and doing other required actions.
  • The police then provide the magistrate with the charge sheet. The accused is accused of every crime listed on the charge sheet.
  • The Magistrate hears the arguments from the parties on the charges that have been set on the scheduled date of hearing before finalizing framing the charges.
  • Following the formulation of the charges, the accused is given a chance to enter a plea of guilty, and it is the judge’s job to ensure that the plea of guilt was entered willingly. This is covered in Section 241 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The judge has the option to find the accused guilty.
  • The prosecution, who initially bears the burden of proof, presents the evidence after the allegations are stated, and the accused enters a “not guilty” plea. There can be both oral and written proof. Any individual may be summoned as a witness or required to present any document by the magistrate.
  • When presented before the court, witnesses for the prosecution are subjected to cross-examination by the accused or the accused’s attorney.
  • If the defence calls witnesses, the prosecution will cross-examine them.
  • The evidence is evaluated by the Court/Judge after both sides have submitted their respective evidence to the court.
  • The stage of closing arguments occurs as the verdict draws closer. Here, the judge hears the last oral arguments from each side in turn (first the prosecution, then the defence).
  • The Court renders its decision after considering the relevant facts and circumstances, as well as the arguments advanced and the supporting documentation. The Court issues its final ruling after providing its justifications for the accused’s acquittal or conviction.
  • If the accused is found guilty, he or she is sentenced to prison, but if the accused is found not guilty, they are freed from punishment.
  • If the accused is found guilty and sentenced to jail time, a hearing will determine the severity or length of the sentence.
  • If the circumstances allow it, an appeal can be taken to higher courts. An appeal may be brought from Sessions Court to the High Court and the High Court to the Supreme Court.

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Examples and Legal Precedents: Understanding Section 307 IPC

The interpretation and application of Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) can be best understood through real-life examples and legal precedents. This section explores some notable cases and scenarios that shed light on the complexities of the law related to attempting to commit murder.

Example 1: Intent Without Harm

  • Scenario: A person fires a gun at another with the intent to kill but misses the target.
  • Legal Interpretation: Even though no harm was caused, the intent to kill was clear, and the person can be charged under Section 307 IPC.

Example 2: Use of Deadly Weapons

  • Scenario: A person attacks another with a knife aiming at a vital part of the body.
  • Legal Interpretation: The use of a deadly weapon and the targeting of a vital part may be considered as evidence of intent to kill under Section 307 IPC.

Legal Precedent: State of Maharashtra vs. Balram Bama Patil & Others

  • Case Summary: In this case, the accused attacked the victim with a deadly weapon, causing severe injuries. The court examined the nature of the attack, the weapon used, and the injuries inflicted.
  • Judgment: The accused were found guilty under Section 307 IPC, and the court emphasized the importance of intent and the act itself in determining guilt.

Legal Precedent: Sarju Prasad vs. State of Bihar

  • Case Summary: The accused fired shots intending to kill but missed the intended victim. The court had to determine whether the act constituted an attempt to murder.
  • Judgment: The court held that firing with the intent to kill was sufficient to constitute an attempt to murder under Section 307 IPC, even though no harm was caused.

Legal Precedent: State of Andhra Pradesh vs. Rayavarapu Punnayya

  • Case Summary: This case involved an attack with a deadly weapon where the intent to kill was not immediately clear.
  • Judgment: The court ruled that the nature of the weapon, the manner of use, and the part of the body targeted were crucial in determining the intent to kill under Section 307 IPC.

The examples and legal precedents highlighted in this section provide valuable insights into the interpretation and application of Section 307 IPC.

They demonstrate the importance of intent, the nature of the act, the use of deadly weapons, and the targeting of vital body parts in determining guilt.

These real-life scenarios and legal judgments serve as practical guides for understanding the complexities of the law related to attempting to commit murder.

Theories of Attempt: Understanding When an Attempt Begins

The concept of “attempt” in criminal law, particularly under Section 307 IPC, is complex and multifaceted. Determining when an attempt begins is crucial for legal interpretation and application. Various theories and tests have been developed to understand and define the commencement of an attempt:

  1. Factual Impossibility Test: This test focuses on whether the act if carried out as intended, would have resulted in the crime. If the act was factually impossible to commit, it may not be considered an attempt.
  2. Theory of Repentance Test: This theory considers whether the accused voluntarily abandoned the attempt before it could be completed. Voluntary abandonment may negate the attempt.
  3. Social Danger Test: This test assesses the social danger posed by the act. If the act creates a real and immediate danger to society, it may be considered an attempt.
  4. Equivocality Test: This test examines whether the act is unequivocally related to the crime. If the act, by itself, clearly indicates the intention to commit the crime, it may be considered an attempt.

Understanding the attempt theories is essential for legal practitioners, scholars, and law enforcement. It provides a framework for interpreting and applying the law, particularly in complex cases where the line between preparation and attempt may be blurred.

These theories add depth to the understanding of Section 307 IPC and contribute to a more nuanced and comprehensive legal analysis.

Comparison with Other Offenses: Understanding Section 307 IPC in Context

Section 307 IPC, dealing with the attempt to commit murder, is a grave offence with severe penalties. However, it’s essential to understand how this section differs from other related offences, such as murder (Section 302 IPC) and culpable homicide (Section 299 IPC). This comparison helps delineate each offence’s boundaries and understand their unique characteristics.

Attempt to Murder (Section 307 IPC) vs. Murder (Section 302 IPC)

  • Nature of Offense: Section 307 deals with the attempt to commit murder, while Section 302 deals with the actual commission of murder.
  • Intent: Both require the intent to cause death, but Section 307 focuses on the attempt, not the result.
  • Punishment: Section 307 can lead to up to 10 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment, while Section 302 may result in the death penalty or life imprisonment.
  • Legal Complexity: Proving an attempt to murder may be more complex as it requires evidence of intent without the result of death.

Attempt to Murder (Section 307 IPC) vs. Culpable Homicide (Section 299 IPC)

  • Nature of Offense: Section 307 deals with the attempt to cause death, while Section 299 deals with causing death without premeditated intent.
  • Intent: Section 307 requires a clear intent to kill, while culpable homicide may involve an intent to cause bodily injury likely to cause death.
  • Punishment: The punishments under Section 307 are more severe, reflecting the gravity of the intent to kill.
  • Legal Complexity: Culpable homicide requires a nuanced understanding of the accused’s mental state and the nature of the act. At the same time, an attempt to murder focuses on the clear intent to cause death.

The comparison between an attempt to murder and other related offences like murder and culpable homicide highlights the unique legal characteristics and complexities of each.

Understanding these distinctions is crucial for legal practitioners, law enforcement, and the general public to navigate the legal landscape related to these serious offences.

Conclusion

Understanding the attempt to murder under IPC, specifically Section 307, is crucial as it is one of the heinous crimes with rigorous punishment. We have understood that the criminal will only be found guilty of attempting to murder under Section 307 if the criminal failed to kill the intended victim, and the essential ingredient of an Attempt to Murder is the intention.

Section 307 IPC is one of the heinous crimes, and rigorous punishment is given by the law for the same with the proper procedure to punish who commits it. Get Legal consultation to know more.

As the rates of criminal activity are increasing and Section 307 IPC or Attempt to Murder is one of them, so it’s important to understand it. To know more , get online legal advice here.

Adv. Rupa K.N

Adv. Rupa K.N

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Advocate Rupa K.N, with over 24 years of independent practice, specialises in providing legal expertise, advice and guidance to a broad range of customers. Having been practising law independently for several years after doing her B.A. LLB from Bangalore University and PGDM from the National Institute of Personnel Management.

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