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Abhayanand Mishra V/S State Of Bihar

Law punishes when preparation to commit offence is completed and there has been an attempt to commit offence.

Case name:Abhayanand Mishra V/s State Of Bihar
Citation:1961 AIR 1698
Court:The Supreme Court Of India
Bench:Justice Raghubar Dayal, Justice K.Subbarao
Decided on:APRIL 24, 1961
Relevant Act/Sections:Section 420, 511 of IPC, 1860

BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

  • The appellant applied to the Patna University for permission to appear at the 1954 M.A Examination in English as a grad of B.A degree in 1951 and teaching in certain school.
  • Necessary permission was given to him and the appellant paid the fees and submitted the photograph as required for admission.
  • It was later found the appellant doesn’t have any degree or teaching anywhere and was barred for certain years because of corruption charges.
  • The appellant was prosecuted and convicted under s.420 read with s.511 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • The appellant has come before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

  • This appeal, by special leave, is against the order of the High Court at Patna dismissing  the appellant’s appeal against his conviction under section 420, read with section 511, of the Indian Penal Code.

ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:

  • Whether a certain act amounts to an attempt to commit a particular offence is a question of fact dependent on the nature of the offence and the steps necessary to take in order to commit it?
  • Whether the last act, if uninterrupted and successful, would constitute a crime?

RATIO OF THE COURT:

  • The court contended that in  Queen Empress v. Soshi Bhushan (2) it was held that  the term  ’property’ in s. 463, Indian Penal Code, included  the written  certificate  to  the effect that  the  accused  had attended, during a certain period, a course of law  lectures and had paid up his fees. We   need  not  therefore  consider  the  alternative   case regarding the possible commission of the offence of cheating by  the appellant, by his inducing the University to  permit him to sit for the examination, which it would not have done if  it  had known the true facts and the  appellant  causing damage  to its reputation due to its permitting him  to  sit for  the examination. 
  • The court need not also  therefore  consider the  further  question urged for  the  appellant  that  the question  of the University suffering in its  reputation  is not  immediately  connected with the  accused’s  conduct  in obtaining the necessary permission. Another  contention  for  the appellant is  that  the  facts proved  do  not go beyond the stage of  reparation  for  the commission of the offence of ‘cheating’ and do not make  out the  offence of attempting to cheat.  There is a  thin  line between  the  preparation for and an attempt  to  commit  an offence.  Undoubtedly, a culprit first intends to commit the offence,  then  makes  preparation  for  committing  it  and thereafter  attempts to commit the offence.  If the  attempt succeeds,  he has committed the offence; if it fails due  to reasons beyond his control, he is said to have attempted  to commit   the  offence.
  • The court referred to Queen  v.  Paterson  (1), Regina  v. Padala Venkatasami (1) whether the last  act, if  uninterrupted and successful, would constitute a  crime.
  • The court observed that their views about the construction of s. 511, Indian  Penal Code, thus: A personal commits the offence  of ’attempt to commit a particular offence’ when (i) he intends to commit that particular offence; and (ii) he, having  made preparations  and with the intention to commit the  offence, does an act towards its commission; such an act need not  be the  penultimate act towards the commission of that  offence but  must  be an act during the course  of  committing  that offence. In  the present case, the appellant intended to deceive  the University  and  obtain  the necessary  permission  and  the admission  card  and,  not  only  sent  an  application  for permission  to sit at the University examination,  but  also followed  it  up, on getting the  necessary  permission,  by remitting  the necessary fees and sending the copies of  his photograph, on the receipt of which the University did issue the admission card. 
  • There is therefore hardly any scope for saying  that  what the appellant had actually done  did  not amount  to his attempting to commit the offence and had  not gone  beyond the stage of preparation.  The preparation  was complete  when  he  had prepared  the  application  for  the purpose  of  submission to the University.
  • The  moment  he dispatched it, he entered the realm of attempting to  commit the offence of ’cheating’.  He did succeed in deceiving  the University and inducing it to issue the admission card.   He just  failed to get it and sit for the  examination  because something  beyond  his control took place  inasmuch  as  the University  was informed about his being neither a  graduate nor a teacher.

DECISION HELD BY COURT:

  • In this case the judgment was given by JUSTICE RAGHUBAR DAYAL We  therefore  hold  that the  appellant  has  been  rightly convicted of the offence under s. 420, read with  section 511, Indian Penal Code, and accordingly dismiss the  appeal. Appeal dismissed.

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