Written by:Adv. Pooja Gupta

IPC India – Crime and Its essential elements under IPC 1860

Introduction of the Crime and its essential elements under IPC India, 1860: In every organized society certain action on the pain of punishment are prohibited. Where one person injured another and the injury could be compensated with money. The wrong person needs to pay damages or compensation to the injured person. But in some cases, the state punishes the wrongdoers with the aim of maintaining peace in the society and promoting good behavior towards each other and towards the community at large.

Definition: Essential Elements of Crime

Different jurists have defined the word crime as follows: – Whatever is injurious to public welfare is an offence.” According to stephen “a crime is said to be an act which is prohibited/forbidden by law and against the moral morality of the society”. 

Acc. To kenny “crimes/offences are wrong whose sanction (approval or penalty). Is punitive (Intended as a punishment) and in no way unacceptable by any private person, but permissible by the crown alone, if unacceptable at all.”

IPC India Crime and Its essential elements under IPC, 1860

Human being:

The act must have been done by a human being before it can constitute a crime punishable at law. Only a human being is under obligation and capable of being published is subject of criminal law.

Mens rea (evil intent):

Mens rea is an essential ingredient of a criminal offence. Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea” is well known maxim of criminal law.it means the act does not make a man guilty unless his intention were so”.

From this maxim follows another preposition “Actus me invito actus non est mens actusmeans an act done by me against my will is not my act at all. This means an act in order to be punishable at law must be voluntary act and at the same time must have done with a criminal intent.

The various offences defined in the indian penal code have a guilty intention or knowledge as an essential ingredient. The words like voluntary (under sec.39 of I.P.C), reason to believe (sec.26 of I.P.C), dishonestly (sec.24 of I.P.C), fraudulently (sec.25 of I.P.C) used in the various provisions of the code incorporate the principle of mens rea.

As stated above, in the absence of guilt mind, a person is not guilty, yet there are many offences which do not require guilty mind as a necessary ingredient.

Actus reus:

The actus rea represent the physical aspect of the crime. According to kenng “Actus reus” is such result of human conduct as the law seeks to prevent.

A human being and an evil intent are not enough to constitute a crime unless it is visible though some voluntary act or omission. Actus reus is such result of human conduct as the law seeks to intent. In other words- actus reus is the physical result of human conduct. The act done or omitted must be an act forbidden or commanded by some law.


Under Indian penal code of section 44 “Injury” is defined: According to sec.44 of IPC, the word injury denotes any harm whatsoever illegally caused to any person in body, mind, reputation or property.

Thus, we have seen that there are four elements which constitute a crime. However, there are few exception (someone or something that is not included) to this rule. Sometimes what constitutes an offence, even if the act is not accompanied by a guilty mind.

These are the cases of strict liability, for example, the offence of ‘bigamy’ under section 494 (Bigamy) is a crime even though the act is not accompanied with guilty mind. Section 399 of the Indian penal code (Making Preparation to Dacoity), sec. 402 of I.P.C. (Assembling for the Purpose of Committing Dacoity), attempt of abetment or conspiracy are crimes, but still no injury has been caused to any person.

Stages of Crime

In Indian penal code,1860 intention to commit crime is not solely punishable, because intention alone cannot constitute a crime. For the completion of a crime the following four stages has to be crossed: –

IPC India Crime and Its essential elements under IPC, 1860


It’s a first stage of crime. The motive for an act is not a sufficiency test to determine its criminal character. Motive denotes anything that gives birth to any kind of action. An act which is unlawful cannot be excused in law on the ground, that it was committed with a good motive. Though it is not essential to prove motive but it may be considered in determining the guilt of the accused. But in the case, where the case is based on circumstantial evidence motive is relevant factor.

Intention to commit crime

The second stage of crime is intention of the wrong-doer. Any act is punishable only if it has done with mens rea for achieving a particular purpose. Also, such intention must be visible through some over act otherwise sole intention is not punishable.

Motive/Purpose and Intention are not the same thing.

Mere intention to commit crime without doing any act in furtherance of such intention is not punishable.

Preparation of Crime

Preparation consists in arranging all such means which are necessary for the commission of an offence. Under indian law generally preparation to commit a crime is not punishable except in following four circumstances: –

  1. Collecting arms etc. With the intention of waging war against the government of India (sec.122 of I.P.C)
  2. Preparation of committing depredation on territories of power at peace with the government of india(sec. 126 of I.P.C)
  3. Preparation of making instrument for counterfeiting Indian coin and stamp (sec.233,234,253,256 and 257 of I.P.C)
  4. Preparation of committing dacoity (section 399 of I.P.C)

Commission of Crime

The fourth stage of the crime is attempt for its commission. Successful attempt is actual commission of crime. It is not essential that every attempt for the commission of crime should be successful. But as it is an attempt towards the commission of crime, therefore every attempt crime is punishable under indian penal code.

So, preparation and effort are not the same thing. Preparation to commit a crime is different from attempt to commit it.


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