In our day to day life, we always get to listen to terms like force, criminal force and assault. People often get mistaken to believe that all these words have the same meaning, and we don’t care to know the difference between them. But Indian penal Code has a different outlook at these words.It views them in a different light.
Let us try to understand, each of these terms in the lens of IPC.
Section 349 of IPC defines The term ‘use of force’
“A person is said to use force to another person,if he causes motion,or change of motion,or cessation of the motion to that other, or if he causes to any substance such motion, change of motion, or cessation of motion, as brings that substance into contact
a) with any part of that or other’s body, or
b) with anything which that other is wearing or carrying, or
c) with anything so situated that such contact affects sense of feeling, provided that the person causing the motion, or change of motion , or cessation of motion, causes that motion, change of motion,or cessation of motion in any of the three ways provided here
- by his own bodily power,
- by disposing any substance in such a manner that the motion or change of motion, or cessation of motion takes without any further act on his part,or on the part of any other person or on the part of any other person,
- by inducing any animal to move.
In Simple words,a person is said to use force when he causes motion,change of motion or cessation of motion to the other person’s body or to something that he is wearing or carrying or it may be done by causing motion, change of motion or cessation of motion to any substance that comes in contact with the body of such other person or with anything that he is wearing or carrying or by using animals such motions are brought about.
How can such motions be caused?
The motion, change of motion or cessation of motion can be caused either by offender’s own bodily power or it can be caused by disposing any substance in such manner so as to bring about such motions, change of motions etc ,or by using animals.
Force itself is not an offence.It ammounts to an offence when from Force it becomes Criminal Force.
When Force becomes Crimin Force
Section 350 of IPC defines Criminal Force. Criminal Force is also known as Battery in English Law. According to this section,when Force is used without the consent of the other person and with the intention of causing him injury, fear or annoyance or with the intention of commission of an offence against such person, it can be said that a criminal Force has been caused. Sometimes criminal force can take a form of cognizable offence resulting into registering of an F.I.R and Punishment along with fine.
1. A is walking down the stairs and B throws a banana peel before his footstep and thereby causes him to slip down. B has caused a change of motion to A by disposing a substance in such manner that a change of motion is produced without any other action on any person’s part.( Any further action is not needed to be done by him or any other person to cause such change of motion).In this case B has used Force against A. But if B has done this without the consent of A and with the intention to cause injury, fear or annoyance to A, then B has used criminal force against A.(Change of motion).
2. A is driving a car on a silent highway. B with the intention of loot, by using his own bodily power places a big piece of log in the middle of the way and thereby causes a cessation of motion to A. Here, B has used Force against A. And if B has caused this cessation of motion without A’s consent and with the intention of committing the crime, then, it may be said that B has used Criminal Force upon A.(Cessation motion).
3. A intentionally hits B in his face.Here,A by his own bodily power moved his own person,so that he comes in contact with B.Therefore, A has used Force against B; and if A has used this Force without the consent of B with the knowledge and intention that such motion would cause injury, fear or annoyance to B.It shall be said that a has used criminal force against B. (Causing motion by his own bodily power).
4. A rouses a dog to run after Z who was sitting on a chair. Z on seeing the dog coming towards him, stands and starts running in fear.Here, A has caused motion to Z by inducing the animal therefore A has used force against Z.And if A has used this Force without the consent of Z, and with the knowledge and intention of causing injury fear or annoyance to Z, then A has used criminal force against Z.(Causing motion by inducing an animal).
5.Turban is a matter of respect and pride. Knowing this if A pulls the turban of B with the intention of causing injury, fear or annoyance to him ,
then, A has used criminal force against Z.(Causing motion to something that was worn).
Section 350 of IPC defines ‘ assault ‘
“Whoever, makes any gesture, or any preparation intending or knowing it to be likely that such gesture or preparation will cause any person present to apprehend that, he who makes such gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault”.
Explanaition: Just words cannot be called as an assault. But the words should be accompanied by such body language or gesture that a sense of feeling should be caused in the mind of the other person as if he is about to get hit by the person committing assault. For example- A and Z have indulged into an argument and A tells Z that he would beat Z and gets up from his chair and walks towards Z thereby making an apprehension or suspicion in the mind of Z that he is likely to get beaten up by A. Here A has committed an assault.
Key factors related to the offence of Assault.
1.Gestures should be made in the presence of a person.
2. Apprehension or doubt must be caused in the mind of the other person.
3.Just verbal threats does not ammount to assault , there should be a gesture causing apprehension that the person is about to use criminal force.
4. In the case of assault actual hurt may not be caused.
5.Only preparing to commit a crime is not punishable.
6. An act can ammount to assault only when it has created an apprehension on the mind of the victim and such apprehension must be created by the offender with knowledge and intention and not reckless.Even words may not be necessary and just gesture can be enough to ammount as Assault if it has created an impression in the mind of the victim that he will be subjected to criminal force.
7. Just gesture and words unaccompanied by other circumstances may not ammount to Assault. For eg.humourously if a person points a stick to the other person and laughingly says that I will beat you, doesn’t ammount to Assault.
Punishment for assault and criminal force otherwise than on grave provocations is imprisonment upto 3 months,or fine upto Rs 500 or both.
Punishment for aggravated forms of assault or criminal force.
Assault or use of criminal force to stop a public servant from performing his duties-Imprisonment upto 2 years, or with fine or both as per section 353.
Commiting assault or criminal force against a woman to outrage her modesty knowingly and intentionally-Imprisonment upto 2 years, or fine or both as per section 354.
Committing ssault or criminal force with the intention to dishonor a person-Imprisonment upto 2 years, or with fine or with both (355).
Committing ssault or criminal force with intention to commit robbery of what that person is wearing or carrying-Imprisonment upto 2 years,or with fine or both (356).
Assault or criminal force in an attempt of wrongful confinement is imprisonment with 1 year , or a fine of 1000 Rs ,or both as per section 357.
6.When assault or criminal force is used by the offender as a result of provocation caused by the other person then the punishment shall mitigate ( reduce) upto 1 month of imprisonment or a fine of Rs 200 or both as per section 357.
Difference between criminal force and Assault.
Punishment for both the offences is prescribed same under section 352 of IPC ,but criminal force is a degree higher than assault.
2.In the case of assault there is no physical touch between the offender and the victim ,but just the impression is caused that the criminal force is about to be used. Whereas, in the case of criminal force there is a cause, change or cessation of motion either by the offender bodily power directly or by using animals or substances indirectly.
3.The angle of assault is a present in every criminal force ,but criminal force is not present in every assault.
4. Assault means just preparing to commit an offence whereas criminal force means the actual comitting of the offence.
5.In the case of assault,motion may not be caused to the victim but in the case of criminal force causing some kind of motion is a must to the victim.
Difference between criminal force and hurt.(View is personal).Going out of the topic ,but people often get confused between hurt and criminal force also. Criminal force means to cause, change or cease,motions of the victim without his consent and with the knowledge and intention of causing injury ,fear or annoyance. Now here even if the injury is actually not caused, still the offender can be held guilty for using criminal force. And if the injury is caused then it becomes the case of simple or grevious hurt depending upon the level of the injury. For example If A hits B using a stick on the leg with the intention of causing him hurt /injury ,but fortunately B did not receive any hurt despite the strike.A can’t walk away saying that he cannot be held guilty for causing hurt because no injury was caused, he can still be held guilty for using criminal force.And if the injury was caused to B ,then, it would be a case of causing hurt (simple or grevious)to B. Criminal Force is a degree ahead of Assault and Hurt is a degree ahead of criminal force.
Hurt may be unintentional, but use of criminal force is always intentional.
Disclaimer-The above article is only for informatory purpose, is provided with the best of knowledge and all attempts are made to avoid inaccurate information.Verification recommended.