Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Section 110 – Attempt to Commit Culpable Homicide

by  Adv. Praneeth GN  

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section 110

Introduction

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Overview of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS)

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) is a comprehensive legal code introduced to modernize and consolidate criminal laws in India. As a replacement for the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the BNS aims to address contemporary legal challenges and streamline the legal framework in line with current societal needs. The BNS introduces several new provisions and reforms existing ones to ensure a more efficient and effective justice system. This new code reflects India’s commitment to updating its legal infrastructure to serve its citizens in the 21st century better​​.

Brief Introduction to BNS and Its Role in Modernizing the Indian Legal System

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita represents a significant shift in India’s approach to criminal law. It incorporates advancements in legal thought, international best practices, and feedback from various stakeholders in the legal community. By replacing the outdated IPC, which had been in force since 1860, the BNS addresses the gaps and ambiguities that had emerged over time. This modernization effort includes clear definitions, streamlined processes, and enhanced provisions to tackle new forms of crime, thereby ensuring that the legal system remains robust and responsive to the evolving needs of society​ 

Purpose of the Blog

Significance of Legal Provisions Related to Culpable Homicide and Its Attempts

This blog aims to shed light on Section 110 of the BNS, which deals with the attempt to commit culpable homicide. Understanding this legal provision is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Clarity on Legal Definitions: It helps in distinguishing between culpable homicide and murder, which are often confused in common parlance.
  2. Legal Accountability: Knowing the legal consequences of attempting such a serious crime underscores the gravity of the offense and serves as a deterrent.
  3. Judicial Precedents: Analyzing court interpretations and case laws provides insight into how the judiciary views and handles such cases.
  4. Public Awareness: Increasing awareness about these legal provisions empowers individuals to understand their rights and responsibilities under the law.
  5. Reforms and Updates: Highlighting the changes from the IPC to the BNS helps in appreciating the progress and modernization of the Indian legal system​ 

What is Culpable Homicide?

Definition and Explanation

Culpable homicide is a legal term used to describe an act that results in the death of a person but does not amount to murder. Under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), culpable homicide is defined as causing death by an act with the intention of causing death or with the knowledge that such an act is likely to cause death. The key elements include the intention or knowledge of the perpetrator and the resulting death of the victim​.

Culpable homicide is classified into two categories:

  1. Culpable Homicide Amounting to Murder: This occurs when the act satisfies the conditions of murder but with specific mitigating circumstances that reduce its severity.
  2. Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder: This involves an act that causes death without the intention or circumstances that would categorize it as murder.

The BNS clearly outlines the distinctions and provides appropriate punishments for each category based on the severity and circumstances of the act​.

Difference Between Culpable Homicide and Murder

While both culpable homicide and murder involve the unlawful taking of life, the primary difference lies in the intention and circumstances surrounding the act.

Culpable Homicide:

  • Intention or Knowledge: The perpetrator may have the intention to cause death or knowledge that their actions are likely to cause death, but without premeditation or extreme recklessness.
  • Mitigating Circumstances: Situations like grave and sudden provocation, diminished capacity, or self-defense can mitigate the charge to culpable homicide instead of murder.
  • Legal Consequences: Typically, the punishment for culpable homicide is less severe compared to murder, reflecting the lower degree of moral blameworthiness.

Murder:

  • Premeditation and Malice: Murder involves a higher degree of intention, including premeditation and malice aforethought, or extreme recklessness showing a blatant disregard for human life.
  • Aggravating Factors: Factors such as cruelty, heinous motives, or the killing of vulnerable individuals can elevate culpable homicide to murder.
  • Legal Consequences: The punishment for murder is more severe, often including life imprisonment or the death penalty, reflecting the higher degree of moral culpability​.

Section 110: Attempt to Commit Culpable Homicide

Text of Section 110

Here is the exact legal wording of Section 110 from the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS):

“Whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both; and, if hurt is caused to any person by such act, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.”

This section essentially criminalizes the attempt to commit culpable homicide, even if the actual death does not occur, by focusing on the intention and knowledge behind the act and the circumstances under which it is carried out​​.

Key Elements of the Section

To fully understand Section 110, it is important to break down its essential components:

  1. Intention or Knowledge:
    • Intention: The perpetrator must have the intent to cause death. This means the person acts with a conscious objective to bring about a particular result.
    • Knowledge: Alternatively, the perpetrator acts with the knowledge that their actions are likely to cause death. This implies awareness of the consequences of their actions.
  2. Circumstances:
    • The circumstances under which the act is committed are crucial. These circumstances should be such that, if death had occurred, the act would have been considered culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
    • This includes situations where there may be mitigating factors, such as acting under grave and sudden provocation, which differentiate it from murder.
  3. Result of the Act:
    • Even if the act does not result in death, the attempt itself is punishable. The law recognizes the dangerous potential of such actions and seeks to deter them by imposing penalties.
    • If the act causes hurt, the punishment is more severe, reflecting the actual harm inflicted.
  4. Punishments:
    • Without Resulting in Death: Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
    • If Hurt is Caused: Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

Legal Interpretation and Application

Interpretation by Courts

Historical Interpretation by Courts: Courts in India have consistently interpreted attempts to commit culpable homicide with a focus on the intention and knowledge of the perpetrator, as well as the circumstances surrounding the act. Historically, similar provisions under Section 308 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) have been used as a reference point for understanding Section 110 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS).

  1. Intention and Knowledge:
    • The courts have emphasized that for an act to fall under this section, there must be clear evidence of the perpetrator’s intention to cause death or the knowledge that their actions are likely to cause death. Mere preparation without any overt act is not sufficient to constitute an attempt.
    • In State of Maharashtra v. Kashirao, the Supreme Court held that the intention or knowledge must be inferred from the circumstances, including the nature of the weapon used and the part of the body targeted.
  2. Circumstances:
    • The context and surrounding circumstances are critical in determining whether the act constitutes an attempt. Acts done in sudden provocation or self-defense may mitigate the severity.
    • In Kesar Singh v. State of Haryana, the court observed that sudden and grave provocation leading to an act that would otherwise be culpable homicide not amounting to murder can be considered under this section.
  3. Actual Harm:
    • Courts also consider whether any harm or injury was caused during the attempt. If the act results in harm, the punishment is more severe.
    • In Malkiat Singh v. State of Punjab, the court examined the degree of harm inflicted to determine the appropriate punishment under the attempt provision.

Case Studies

Notable Case Laws:

  1. State of Maharashtra v. Kashirao (1983):
    • The Supreme Court interpreted the intention behind the act, emphasizing that the specific intent to cause death must be evident for it to qualify as an attempt to commit culpable homicide.
    • This case highlighted the importance of contextual evidence in determining the perpetrator’s state of mind.
  2. Kesar Singh v. State of Haryana (2008):
    • The court focused on the circumstances under which the act was committed, such as provocation or self-defense, to decide if it qualified as an attempt under Section 308 IPC, which is comparable to Section 110 BNS.
    • This case underscored how mitigating circumstances can influence the legal interpretation of attempts to commit culpable homicide.
  3. Malkiat Singh v. State of Punjab (1991):
    • The court examined the extent of harm caused by the act to determine the severity of the punishment.
    • The case illustrated the link between the harm inflicted and the legal consequences under the attempt provisions.

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Punishment and Penalties

Legal Consequences:

  1. Without Resulting in Death:
    • If the act does not result in death, the punishment can be imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
    • This reflects the law’s intention to penalize the dangerous potential of the act while considering that no actual death occurred.
  2. If Hurt is Caused:
    • If the act causes hurt, the punishment is more severe: imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.
    • This increased penalty acknowledges the physical harm inflicted during the attempt, emphasizing the need for a deterrent.

Case Examples:

  • In cases where the act was committed with a deadly weapon or under circumstances suggesting a high likelihood of causing death, courts have imposed harsher penalties to reflect the seriousness of the attempt.
  • In State of Maharashtra v. Kashirao, the use of a firearm with intent to kill, even though death did not result, led to significant imprisonment terms, illustrating the court’s strict stance on such attempts.

Analysis of Intent and Act

Mens Rea (Mental Element)

Importance of Intent or Knowledge in Establishing the Crime

Mens Rea, or the mental element, is a fundamental component in establishing the crime of attempting to commit culpable homicide under Section 110 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS). The mental state of the accused at the time of the act is crucial for determining guilt. There are two primary aspects of mens rea considered in this context:

  1. Intent (Dolus Directus):
    • The perpetrator must have the direct intention to cause death. This means the act was performed with a conscious objective to bring about the victim’s death.
    • Courts often look for evidence such as prior threats, planning, or expressed desires to harm the victim to establish intent. For instance, in State of Maharashtra v. Kashirao, the Supreme Court examined the circumstances to infer intent based on the actions and statements of the accused​.
  2. Knowledge (Dolus Eventualis):
    • Even if the direct intention to cause death is absent, the accused may still be held liable if they acted with the knowledge that their actions were likely to cause death.
    • This includes cases where the accused foresaw the possibility of death resulting from their actions but proceeded regardless. The degree of recklessness or disregard for human life is often scrutinized to determine knowledge.

Significance:

  • Distinguishing Factors: The presence of intent or knowledge helps distinguish between different types of homicides, such as murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
  • Determining Punishment: The degree of mens rea influences the severity of the punishment. Higher degrees of intent or knowledge typically result in harsher penalties.

Actus Reus (Physical Element)

Necessity of an Overt Act Towards Committing the Crime

Actus Reus, or the physical element, refers to the actual act performed by the accused towards committing the crime. For an attempt to commit culpable homicide, mere intention or knowledge is insufficient; there must be a clear and overt act that demonstrates the perpetrator’s resolve to execute their plan.

  1. Overt Act:
    • The act must go beyond mere preparation and constitute a direct move towards the commission of the crime. This includes actions like attacking the victim, using a weapon, or any other physical manifestation of the intent to cause harm.
    • In Malkiat Singh v. State of Punjab, the court emphasized the necessity of an overt act that unequivocally demonstrates the perpetrator’s intent to cause death or serious injury​​.
  2. Proximity to Crime:
    • The act must be proximate to the intended crime, meaning it should be closely connected in time and space to the ultimate criminal objective. The closer the act is to the completion of the crime, the more likely it is to be considered an attempt.
    • Courts often use the “last act” test, assessing whether the accused had done everything possible to complete the crime, barring any interruptions or unforeseen circumstances.

Significance:

  • Legal Threshold: Establishing actus reus ensures that only those who have made a tangible move towards committing a crime are held liable, preventing the penalization of mere thoughts or unexecuted plans.
  • Evidence of Criminal Intent: The physical act provides concrete evidence of the accused’s criminal intent, making it easier to establish guilt in a court of law.

Challenges in Proving Attempt

Burden of Proof

Difficulties Faced by the Prosecution in Proving an Attempt

Proving an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) involves several challenges for the prosecution. These challenges primarily stem from the need to establish both the mens rea (intent or knowledge) and the actus reus (overt act) beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are some key difficulties:

  1. Establishing Mens Rea:
    • Intent and Knowledge: Proving the perpetrator’s intent or knowledge can be challenging as it involves demonstrating the mental state of the accused. The prosecution must rely on circumstantial evidence, witness testimonies, and the behavior of the accused before, during, and after the act.
    • Inference of Intent: Courts require clear and convincing evidence that the accused intended to cause death or had knowledge that their actions were likely to cause death. This inference must be drawn from the nature of the act, the circumstances, and any preparatory steps taken by the accused​​.
  2. Proving Actus Reus:
    • Overt Act Requirement: The prosecution must show that the accused took a substantial step towards committing the crime. This involves proving that the actions went beyond mere preparation and constituted a direct move towards the commission of the offense.
    • Proximity and Preparation: Differentiating between preparatory acts and attempts is often complex. The prosecution must establish that the accused’s actions were proximate to the completion of the crime and not merely preparatory​​.
  3. Circumstantial Evidence:
    • Reliability and Interpretation: Much of the evidence in such cases is circumstantial. The prosecution must ensure that this evidence is reliable and convincingly interpreted to support the charge of attempt.
    • Witness Testimonies: Dependence on witness testimonies can be problematic due to issues of reliability, consistency, and the potential for witness tampering or intimidation​​.

Defenses Available

Potential Defenses That Can Be Used by the Accused

The accused has several potential defenses that can be employed to counter the charges of attempting to commit culpable homicide. These defenses often focus on disproving the elements of mens rea and actus reus or providing justifications for the actions. Here are some common defenses:

  1. Lack of Intent or Knowledge:
    • Absence of Mens Rea: The accused can argue that there was no intention or knowledge to cause death. This defense relies on showing that the accused did not have the requisite mental state at the time of the act.
    • Mistake or Accident: The accused may claim that the act was a mistake or accidental, thus lacking the intentional element required for an attempt​.
  2. Insufficient Actus Reus:
    • Mere Preparation: The defense can argue that the actions of the accused were merely preparatory and did not constitute a substantial step towards committing the crime. This involves demonstrating that the actus reus requirement of an overt act was not met.
    • Abandonment: If the accused voluntarily abandoned the criminal attempt before completion, this can be used as a defense. The abandonment must be voluntary and not due to external factors such as apprehension by law enforcement​​.
  3. Justification and Excuse:
    • Self-Defense: The accused may claim that the act was in self-defense or defense of others, thus justified under the law. This requires proving that the response was proportionate to the threat faced.
    • Provocation: The accused can argue that the act was committed under grave and sudden provocation, which can mitigate the charge from attempt to commit murder to attempt to commit culpable homicide​.
  4. Insanity or Mental Incapacity:
    • Mental State: The defense of insanity or mental incapacity can be used to argue that the accused was not in a sound state of mind at the time of the act, thus incapable of forming the requisite intent or knowledge​.

Comparative Analysis

Comparison with Other Jurisdictions

United States: In the United States, attempts to commit culpable homicide are generally prosecuted under the broader category of “attempt crimes,” which cover attempts to commit any felony, including homicide. The Model Penal Code (MPC) provides a framework for these offenses, requiring proof of intent and a substantial step towards the commission of the crime. Penalties can be severe, often mirroring those for the completed offense, reflecting the high degree of moral blameworthiness attributed to attempts.

United Kingdom: Under English law, attempts are governed by the Criminal Attempts Act 1981. To secure a conviction for an attempt, the prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to commit the offense and performed an act that was more than merely preparatory. The punishment for an attempted crime can be as severe as for the actual crime, emphasizing the deterrent effect.

Canada: In Canada, attempts to commit culpable homicide are addressed under Section 24 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates that an individual who intends to commit an offense and takes substantial steps toward its completion can be charged with an attempt. The penalties for attempts can be significant, though they are typically less severe than for the completed offense.

Australia: Australian law treats attempts similarly to other common law jurisdictions. Under the Criminal Code, an attempt requires proof of intent and a substantial step towards committing the crime. The penalties are generally proportionate to the severity of the intended offense, but attempts usually carry a lesser sentence than the completed crime.

South Africa: In South Africa, attempts to commit culpable homicide fall under the general category of attempt crimes. The law requires proof of intent and a direct move towards committing the offense. The penalties can vary but are typically less severe than those for completed crimes.

Impact of Legal Reforms

Recent or Proposed Reforms in BNS that Might Affect Section 110:

  1. Modernization and Clarity:
    • The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) aims to modernize the legal framework by providing clearer definitions and streamlined processes. This includes more precise language regarding the mental and physical elements required for establishing an attempt, which could lead to more consistent judicial interpretations and applications​​.
  2. Enhanced Penalties and Provisions:
    • Recent reforms have proposed enhanced penalties for attempts that result in significant harm, reflecting the seriousness with which such acts are viewed. These changes aim to deter potential offenders by imposing stricter consequences for attempts that demonstrate a clear intent to cause severe harm or death.
  3. Integration of Technological Advances:
    • The BNS incorporates provisions to address crimes facilitated by technology, such as cyber-related offenses. This modernization ensures that attempts to commit culpable homicide using digital means are adequately covered and penalized, aligning the legal framework with contemporary challenges​​.
  4. Judicial Discretion and Sentencing Guidelines:
    • Proposed reforms include more structured sentencing guidelines to ensure uniformity in the punishment of attempt crimes. These guidelines provide judges with a framework to determine appropriate penalties based on the severity of the attempt and the specific circumstances of each case​.
  5. Focus on Rehabilitation and Restorative Justice:
    • The BNS emphasizes rehabilitation and restorative justice, particularly for lesser offenses or first-time offenders. This approach seeks to balance punitive measures with opportunities for reform and reintegration, potentially influencing how attempts to commit culpable homicide are treated in terms of sentencing and post-conviction processes​.

Illustrations and Examples

Hypothetical Scenarios

Scenario 1: Intent to Cause Death with a Deadly Weapon

  • Description: A, in a fit of rage, intends to kill B. A procures a knife and waits outside B’s house. As soon as B steps out, A lunges at B with the knife but misses as B manages to dodge.
  • Application of Section 110: Even though A did not succeed in harming B, A’s clear intention to kill and the act of attacking with a deadly weapon constitute an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110. The overt act of attacking with a knife demonstrates the necessary mens rea and actus reus.

Scenario 2: Knowledge of Likely Death

  • Description: C, aware that D is highly allergic to peanuts, intentionally adds peanuts to D’s food, hoping to cause a severe allergic reaction. However, D recognizes the peanuts in time and does not consume the food.
  • Application of Section 110: C’s knowledge that their actions could likely cause D’s death (due to the severe allergy) and the act of adding peanuts to D’s food are sufficient to be considered an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The necessary elements of intent (knowledge) and an overt act are present.

Scenario 3: Provocation Leading to an Attempt

  • Description: E, provoked by F’s taunts, picks up a heavy object and throws it at F’s head, intending to seriously harm or kill F. The object misses F and causes no harm.
  • Application of Section 110: The sudden and grave provocation may mitigate E’s intent from murder to culpable homicide. However, the act of throwing the heavy object with the intent to cause serious harm still qualifies as an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110.

Real-life Examples

Example 1: State of Maharashtra v. Kashirao

  • Case Summary: In this case, the Supreme Court dealt with an individual who, after an argument, fired a gun at the victim. The bullet missed, and no harm was caused.
  • Application of Section 110: The court found that the act of firing a gun with the intent to kill constituted an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The overt act (firing the gun) and the clear intent to cause death fulfilled the requirements of Section 308 IPC, analogous to Section 110 BNS​.

Example 2: Kesar Singh v. State of Haryana

  • Case Summary: The accused, during a heated confrontation, inflicted injuries on the victim with a sharp weapon, intending to cause serious harm but not death. The injuries were severe but not fatal.
  • Application of Section 110: The court ruled that the actions of the accused, coupled with the intent to cause significant harm, amounted to an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The case highlighted how intent and the degree of harm inflicted are evaluated in such scenarios​.

Example 3: Malkiat Singh v. State of Punjab

  • Case Summary: The accused attacked the victim with a rod, intending to inflict fatal injuries. The victim survived with serious injuries.
  • Application of Section 110: The court held that the accused’s actions, demonstrating a clear intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, constituted an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The severity of the injuries inflicted played a significant role in this determination​.

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Illustrations and Examples

Hypothetical Scenarios

Scenario 1: Intent to Cause Death with a Deadly Weapon

  • Description: A, in a fit of rage, intends to kill B. A procures a knife and waits outside B’s house. As soon as B steps out, A lunges at B with the knife but misses as B manages to dodge.
  • Application of Section 110: Even though A did not succeed in harming B, A’s clear intention to kill and the act of attacking with a deadly weapon constitute an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110. The overt act of attacking with a knife demonstrates the necessary mens rea and actus reus.

Scenario 2: Knowledge of Likely Death

  • Description: C, aware that D is highly allergic to peanuts, intentionally adds peanuts to D’s food, hoping to cause a severe allergic reaction. However, D recognizes the peanuts in time and does not consume the food.
  • Application of Section 110: C’s knowledge that their actions could likely cause D’s death (due to the severe allergy) and the act of adding peanuts to D’s food are sufficient to be considered an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The necessary elements of intent (knowledge) and an overt act are present.

Scenario 3: Provocation Leading to an Attempt

  • Description: E, provoked by F’s taunts, picks up a heavy object and throws it at F’s head, intending to seriously harm or kill F. The object misses F and causes no harm.
  • Application of Section 110: The sudden and grave provocation may mitigate E’s intent from murder to culpable homicide. However, the act of throwing the heavy object with the intent to cause serious harm still qualifies as an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110.

Real-life Examples

Example 1: State of Maharashtra v. Kashirao

  • Case Summary: In this case, the Supreme Court dealt with an individual who, after an argument, fired a gun at the victim. The bullet missed, and no harm was caused.
  • Application of Section 110: The court found that the act of firing a gun with the intent to kill constituted an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The overt act (firing the gun) and the clear intent to cause death fulfilled the requirements of Section 308 IPC, analogous to Section 110 BNS​.

Example 2: Kesar Singh v. State of Haryana

  • Case Summary: The accused, during a heated confrontation, inflicted injuries on the victim with a sharp weapon, intending to cause serious harm but not death. The injuries were severe but not fatal.
  • Application of Section 110: The court ruled that the actions of the accused, coupled with the intent to cause significant harm, amounted to an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The case highlighted how intent and the degree of harm inflicted are evaluated in such scenarios​.

Example 3: Malkiat Singh v. State of Punjab

  • Case Summary: The accused attacked the victim with a rod, intending to inflict fatal injuries. The victim survived with serious injuries.
  • Application of Section 110: The court held that the accused’s actions, demonstrating a clear intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, constituted an attempt to commit culpable homicide. The severity of the injuries inflicted played a significant role in this determination​.

Relationship with Other Sections

Link to IPC and Other Relevant Sections

Comparison with IPC Section 308:

  • Section 308 of the IPC: This section deals with the attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The language and elements of this section are very similar to Section 110 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS). Both sections require proof of intention or knowledge to cause death and an overt act towards committing the crime.
    • Text of IPC Section 308: “Whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both; and, if hurt is caused to any person by such act, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.”
    • Similarity: The provisions under BNS Section 110 closely mirror the IPC Section 308, indicating a continuity in the legal approach towards attempts to commit culpable homicide.

Other Related Sections in BNS:

  1. Section 109 (Attempt to Murder):
    • This section addresses attempts to commit murder, requiring a higher degree of intent and premeditation compared to culpable homicide. The penalties are more severe, reflecting the greater moral culpability associated with attempted murder.
    • Comparison: While both sections deal with attempts, Section 109 requires a clear intent to kill, whereas Section 110 includes cases where the intent or knowledge is to cause death without the premeditation typical of murder​.
  2. Section 106 (Culpable Homicide by Causing Death of a Person Other than the Person Whose Death Was Intended):
    • This section deals with situations where the intended victim is not the actual victim, emphasizing the intention and knowledge of the perpetrator.
    • Interaction: Section 110 can interact with Section 106 in cases where the attempt results in the death of an unintended victim. The legal principles of intent and knowledge apply similarly in determining culpability​​.
  3. Section 111 (Organized Crime):
    • Organized crime sections can overlap with attempts to commit culpable homicide when such attempts are part of broader criminal activities. The organized nature of the crime can lead to enhanced penalties and different procedural considerations.
    • Link: Understanding Section 110 within the context of organized crime highlights the additional complexities and legal implications of attempts within structured criminal enterprises​​.

Cross-references within BNS

Interactions with Other Provisions:

  1. General Exceptions (Chapter III):
    • Self-defense and Provocation: Sections under Chapter III provide general exceptions such as self-defense and grave and sudden provocation, which can mitigate the severity of charges under Section 110. These defenses are crucial in determining the applicability and severity of the charge.
    • Example: An attempt under grave and sudden provocation might be treated more leniently, with the courts considering these exceptions during sentencing​​.
  2. Offences Against Human Body (Chapter VI):
    • Section 105 (Punishment for Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder): This section outlines the punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and provides context for understanding attempts. It delineates the circumstances under which different punishments apply, directly influencing how attempts are treated.
    • Example: If an attempt results in severe injury, the interplay between Sections 105 and 110 determines the applicable punishment, considering both the nature of the act and the resulting harm​.
  3. Abetment and Criminal Conspiracy (Chapter IV):
    • Section 120 (Punishment for Abetment if the Act Abetted is Committed in Consequence and Where no Express Provision is Made for its Punishment): This section deals with abetment and its consequences. When an attempt to commit culpable homicide involves abetment or conspiracy, the provisions under Chapter IV become relevant.
    • Example: If a person abets another in attempting culpable homicide, both the abettor and the principal offender can be charged under relevant sections, showcasing the interconnectedness of these provisions​.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Section 110 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) is a critical legal provision that addresses attempts to commit culpable homicide, emphasizing both the intent and actions of the perpetrator. This section aligns closely with similar provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), ensuring continuity and clarity in the legal framework. Understanding the intricacies of mens rea and actus reus is essential for accurately interpreting and applying this section. 

The challenges in proving attempts and the potential defenses highlight the complexity of these cases. By examining hypothetical and real-life examples, along with the relationship to other sections within the BNS and IPC, we gain a comprehensive understanding of how this law operates and its significance in the Indian legal system.

FAQs on Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Section 110

Q1. What is Section 110 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS)?

Ans1. Section 110 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) addresses the attempt to commit culpable homicide, focusing on acts done with the intention or knowledge that, if successful, would result in death, but do not amount to murder. It prescribes penalties for such attempts, including imprisonment and fines.

Q2. How does Section 110 of the BNS differ from Section 308 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)?

Ans2. Section 110 of the BNS and Section 308 of the IPC are similar in addressing attempts to commit culpable homicide. Both require intent or knowledge to cause death and an overt act towards committing the crime. The key difference lies in the updated language and framework of the BNS to reflect modern legal standards.

Q3. What are the key elements required to prove an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110?

Ans3. To prove an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110, the prosecution must establish mens rea (intent or knowledge) and actus reus (an overt act). The act must go beyond preparation, showing a direct move towards committing the crime with intent or knowledge that it could cause death.

Q4. What are the challenges in proving an attempt to commit culpable homicide?

Ans4. The challenges in proving an attempt to commit culpable homicide include demonstrating the accused’s intent or knowledge and establishing that their actions constituted a substantial step towards committing the crime. Reliance on circumstantial evidence and witness testimonies can also complicate the prosecution’s case.

Q5. What defenses can be used against charges of attempting to commit culpable homicide?

Ans5. Defenses against charges of attempting to commit culpable homicide include arguing a lack of intent or knowledge, showing that actions were merely preparatory, claiming self-defense, or proving that the act was a mistake or accident. Additionally, demonstrating voluntary abandonment of the criminal attempt can be a defense.

Q6. How are attempts to commit culpable homicide treated in other jurisdictions?

Ans6. In other jurisdictions, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, attempts to commit culpable homicide are treated under general attempt laws. These laws require intent and a substantial step towards the crime, with penalties often mirroring those for the completed offense.

Q7. What recent or proposed reforms in the BNS might affect Section 110?

Ans7. Recent or proposed reforms in the BNS aim to modernize the legal framework, provide clearer definitions, and integrate contemporary issues like cybercrime. Enhanced penalties for severe attempts and structured sentencing guidelines are also proposed to ensure uniformity and effective deterrence.

Q8. Can you provide a hypothetical scenario illustrating an attempt to commit culpable homicide under Section 110?

Ans8. A hypothetical scenario for Section 110: A person, intending to kill another, waits with a knife outside the victim’s house and attacks when the victim steps out. Even if the attack misses, the intent to kill and the act of attacking with a knife qualify as an attempt to commit culpable homicide.

Q9. What are some real-life cases illustrating the application of Section 110 or similar provisions?

Ans9. Real-life cases like State of Maharashtra v. Kashirao and Kesar Singh v. State of Haryana illustrate the application of Section 110 or similar provisions. These cases involved clear intent to cause harm and significant actions towards committing the crime, leading to convictions under attempt provisions.

Q10. How does Section 110 interact with other sections of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita?

Ans10. Section 110 interacts with other sections of the BNS by providing context and definitions for attempts. It relates to sections on self-defense, provocation, and organized crime, affecting how attempts are interpreted and penalized. Cross-references within the BNS ensure a comprehensive legal framework for addressing various aspects of culpable homicide attempts.

Adv. Praneeth GN

Adv. Praneeth GN

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Praneeth GN is a legal consultant who prioritises ethical and professional conduct. He graduated with (B.A. and LL.B) from the K.L.E. Society Law College. With more than 8 years of experience in handling legal cases independently. He has the potential to understand and explain complicated legal words in simple terms to clients.

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