Indian Penal Code
Define crime, discuss its essential elements.
Ans- it is very difficult to give a correct and precise definition of crime, Glanville Williams, admitted the impossibility of having a workable content based definition of crime, points out that the definition of crime is one of the sharp intellectual problem of law.
Likewise Russell also admitted that – to define crime is a task which so far has not been satisfactorily accomplished by any writer.
Such a difficulty in ultimate analysis arises due to the changing nature of crime, an outcome of equally dynamic criminal and penal policy of a state. However some sociologists, perceiving crime as a social phenomenon feel that criminal law in a sense, protects certain social interests, and any act which threatens or poses threat to this interests is define as crime.
In general terms crime is defined as an act punishable by law as forbidden by statue or injurious to the public welfare. It is very wide definition, any thing which is injurious to public welfare is crime, in modern complex society there are many things which are injurious or against the public welfare for example selling contaminated food molestation of young children, etc.
Blackstone defines crime:
An act committed or omitted in violation of a public law either forbidding or commanding it. But in this definition we have to understand what public law is? According to Austinian public law is identical with constitutional law. That being so the crime would then mean an act done in violation of constitutional law. The definition thus would cover only the political offence leaving aside a vast area of other criminal behavior.
Blackstone also defines crime as violation of the public rights and duties due to the whole community considered as a community in its social aggregate capacity. Stephen slightly modifies this definition and presents it in the following form: A crime is a violation of a right considered in reference to the evil tendency of such violation as regards the community at large.
Blackstone defines crime only the violation of public rights, while Stephen includes the element of violation of public duties as well.
But for example a directors of a company fail to manage its affairs properly the mill is closed, workers are rendered unemployed, production of a commodity essential for the society is stopped. Will it not be an act which is injurious to public or the society? Can we prosecute the directors for any crimes? The answer certainly not then what is crime?
A crime is those forms of legal wrong which are regarded by the law as being especially injurious to the public at large.`
Stephen further defines crime is an act forbidden by law and which is at the same time revolting to the moral sentiments of the society.
If we look up to the penal codes of different countries we find that there are certainly some acts which though not immoral are highly criminal and at the same time there may be acts which are highly immoral but not criminal.
Austin: A wrong which is pursued at the discretion of the injured party and his representatives is a civil injury; a wrong which is pursued by the sovereign or his subordinates is a crime.
Thus according to Austin in case of civil wrong a State does not interfere until the wrong has been committed and proceedings are initiated by the injured party or by some other person acting on his behalf . in case of criminal wrong proceeding can be instituted by the sovereign or his subordinate along. There are many cases of crimes under the Indian Penal Code where prosecution cannot be launched unless a complaint is made by the aggrieved party. It is only in case of serious crimes that the State may on its own initiative take action to punish the wrong doer by initiation of criminal proceedings in its own name. for example in case of adultery under section 497 or criminal elopement under section 498 of the IPC a complaint by the...
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