ACTUS NON FACIT REUM NISI MENS SIT REA PDF

Literal Meaning An act does not make anyone guilty unless there is a criminal intent or a guilty mind. Thus to convict the defendant, it must be proved that the criminal act was carried out with a criminal intend. Not only is the act of the accused important but the intention of the accused to do the specific act is equally important to prove the guilt of the accused. Thus it can be concluded that mere commission of a criminal act or breach of law is not sufficient to constitute a crime.

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The principle is actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea the intent and act must both concur to constitute the crime. Although prima facie there must be mind at fault before there can be a crime, it is not an inflexible rule, and a statute may relate to such a subject-matter and may be so framed as to make an act criminal whether there has been an intention to break the law or not. However, Sherras v. De Rutzen [1] holds that mens rea is an inseparable ingredient of any offence except in cases: 1 not criminal in nature in any real sense but which in public interest are prohibited under a penalty; 2 of public nuisance and 3 criminal in form but which are really only a summary mode of enforcing a civil right.

Main paper Introduction Crime is inevitable in any society since some or the other violation of any code of conduct prescribed for the members of a society is bound to occur. Its form changes; the acts thus characterized are not the same everywhere; but, everywhere and always, there have been men who have behaved in such a way as to draw upon themselves penal repression… No doubt it is possible that crime itself will have abnormal forms, as for example, when its rate is unusually high.

This excess is indeed undoubtedly morbid in nature. What is normal, simply, is the existence of criminality, provided that it attains and does not exceed, for each social type, a certain level… To classify crime among the phenomena of normal sociology is not to say merely that it is inevitable, although regrettable, phenomenon, due to incorrigible wickedness of men, it is to affirm that it is a factor in public health, an integral part of all healthy societies.

Be that as it may, the bottom-line is that crime is of primary concern to every member of the society. The significance and extent of the problem, and hence the utility of criminology, may be gauged by crime figures in India during the past few years for some of the most serious offences. During the year , the total reported numbers of cognizable crimes were 57,33,, of which a total of The crime rate declined by The total number of crimes under special and local laws reported during is 37,43, This shows a decline of 0.

The crimes under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, [4] has shown an increase of During the year a total of 4,30, cases were reported against body. Crimes against the body showed an increase of 0.

Similarly a total number of 3,92,, crimes against property were reported. A total of cases of molestation were reported during the year which showed an increase of 8.

A total of 63, cases were reported during the year for offences under the anti-dowry law, Section A of the IPC. Similarly 18, crimes against children were reported during English jurists give the name of mens rea to the volition which is the motive force behind the criminal act.

If there is no mens rea, no offence is committed although the act may prove detrimental to an individual or individuals. It is only voluntary acts which amount to offences. If a person is compelled by force of circumstances to perform an act forbidden by law, he cannot be said to do it voluntarily and therefore, he will not be held liable for the consequences of that act.

Sometimes it is used to refer to a foresight of the consequences of the act and at other times to act per se irrespective of its consequences.

In some cases it stands for a criminal intention of the deepest dye, such as is visible in a designed and premeditated murder committed with a full foresight of its fatal consequences.

In other cases, it connotes mental conditions of a weaker shade such as are indicated by words like knowledge, belief, criminal negligence or even rashness in disregard of consequences.

At other times, it is used to indicate a colourless consciousness of the act itself irrespective of the consequences of the act, or, in other words, a bare capacity to know what one is doing as contrasted, for example, with a condition of insanity or intoxication in which a man is unable to know the nature of the act.

The archetypal examples of criminal incapacity were accidental homicide and crimes committed by children or insane persons. Among the Greeks, the moral philosophers reflected the assumptions and practices of the courts by recognizing the different kinds of impulses which might motivate harmful acts.

In law, this concept is usually expressed in terms of freedom of will. Early English law reports very few cases of criminal incapacity but those who promulgated principles of law had no difficulty in finding religious concepts to justify and validate a unique role for children and the insane.

Children, especially, were the subject of great interest and concern. Augustine held that children, although capable of sin, are incapable of voluntary acknowledging and freely pursuing sin. This concept of mental element of crime was eventually adopted by the judges and jurists of England in the 14th century.

Criminal responsibility of the Insane Inquiry into the origins of criminal responsibility has been extremely limited and has relied, for the most part, on secondary sources. The culpability of the criminally insane in American jurisprudence during the 19th century was determined according to the traditional principles of English law, reinforced by the ideas and emerging expertise of medical jurisprudence. For instance, Section [15] of the Indian Penal Code, [16] punishes a person for the offence of murder with death or life imprisonment.

The definition of murder has been laid down under Section [17] thereby outlining the ingredients of the offence. The very first clause to the offence under Section emphasises on the principle of mens rea. Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.

State of Uttar Pradesh [21] , the Honourable Supreme Court of India held that common intention may develop suddenly during the course of an occurrence, but shall unless there is cogent evidence and clear proof of such common intention, an accused cannot be vicariously held guilty under Section In certain cases, however, the principle is not given consideration, while convicting the person for an offence.

Such as: Crimes of strict liability. Such offences are termed as offences of strict liability or absolute liability. In such a case it is no defence to an accused that he honestly believed on reasonable grounds and in good faith in the existence of facts which would have rendered his conduct innocent. Offences relating to hazardous establishments: Absolute liability.

Mehta v. Bhagwati, Justice R. Mishra, Oza, M. Singh XI. Allowing the petition for closure of the plant, P. Bhagwati, C. The enterprise……must be conducted with the highest standards of safety and if any harm results on account of such activity, the enterprise must be absolutely liable to compensate for such harm and it should be no answer to the enterprise to say that it had taken all reasonable care and that the harm occurred without any negligence on its part para Fletcher [27] , and subsequently developed has no application in India.

As regards the measure of damages the court said that the damages by way of compensation must have deterrent effect and must be correlated to the magnitude and capacity of the enterprise. The judgment is not confined only to enterprises which are engaged in hazardous or inherently dangerous activities, viz.

Offences relating to sale of prohibited drugs. Metropolitan Police Commissioner [28] , the House of Lords while dismissing the appeal held that the offence created by section 1 of the Drugs Prevention of Misuse Act, [29] is an absolute offence. The gravity of the evil and the dangers, which are presented by the passing of the drugs through informal or unauthorised channels even where some of the unauthorised persons have no improper motives or are merely careless or indifferent indicate the importance of closing them altogether.

The Act forbids them; and expressly excludes the requirement of mens rea as a necessary ingredient for conviction. The defendant accordingly is deemed to be in possession of a prohibited substance, but was never aware of its true nature.

Offences relating to river pollution: strict liability. Woodword [30] the offence of causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter a stream contrary to section 2 1 a of the River Prevention of Pollution Act, is of strict liability. The court said that it is of the utmost public importance that our rivers should not be polluted. The risk of pollution, particularly from the vast and increasing number of riparian industries, is very great.

Such offences are of strict liability. However, these are only few exceptions to the principle. By and large mens rea is the basis of conviction under the substantive criminal law of India. What the Code requires is not negation of mens rea but mens rea of a specific kind and this may differ from offence to offence.

Crime and punishment go hand-in-hand and in a democracy it is expected that nobody would be done wrong. Hence, mens rea becomes the sine qua non for any offence unless expressly mentioned otherwise with justified reasons. Punishment for murder- Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or [imprisonment for life], and shall also be liable to fine [16] Act 45 of [17] Murder- Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or- Secondly- If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused, or- Thirdly- If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or- Fourthly,- If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.

Exception 1- When culpable homicide is not murder- Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident.

The above exception is subject to the following provisos:- First- That the provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing. Secondly- That the provocation is not given by anything done in obedience to the law, or by a public servant in the lawful exercise of the powers of such public servant. Thirdly- That the provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defence.

Explanation- Whether the provocation was grave and sudden enough to prevent the offence from amounting to murder is a question of fact. Exception 2- Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, in the exercise in good faith of the right of private defence of person or property, exceeds the power given to him by law and causes the death of the person against whom he is exercising such right of defence without premeditation, and without any intention of doing more harm than is necessary for the purpose of such defence.

Exception 3- Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, being a public servant or aiding. Exception 4- Culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the offender having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.

Exception 5- Culpable homicide is not murder when the person whose death is caused, being above the age of eighteen years, suffers death or takes the risk of death with his own consent.

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Actus Reus & Mens Rea: The Inseparable Components of Crime

The principle is actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea the intent and act must both concur to constitute the crime. Although prima facie there must be mind at fault before there can be a crime, it is not an inflexible rule, and a statute may relate to such a subject-matter and may be so framed as to make an act criminal whether there has been an intention to break the law or not. However, Sherras v. De Rutzen [1] holds that mens rea is an inseparable ingredient of any offence except in cases: 1 not criminal in nature in any real sense but which in public interest are prohibited under a penalty; 2 of public nuisance and 3 criminal in form but which are really only a summary mode of enforcing a civil right.

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actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

Actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea: Latin an act does not make a defendant guilty without a guilty mind. And in Fowler v. Padget ER : "It is a principle of natural justice, and of our law, that actusfacit reum nisi mens sit rea. The intent and the Act must both concur to constitute the crime. In his History of the Criminal Law , James Stephen wrote: "The maxim is sometimes said to be a fundamental principle of the whole criminal law, but I think that, like many other Latin sentences supposed to form part of the Roman law, the maxim not only looks more instructive than it really is, but suggests fallacies which it does not precisely state.

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