W, a woman, intentionally put poison into the food of her husband H for causing the death of H. H died sometimes afterwards from inflammation of the brain. During the trial, the prosecution could adduce…

By | July 20, 2021
ipc mains

Question: W, a woman, intentionally put poison into the food of her husband H for causing the death of H. H died sometimes afterwards from inflammation of the brain. During the trial, the prosecution could adduce no evidence that the poison was even the secondary cause of the death of H. Is W guilty of ‘murder’ or ‘attempt to murder’ of H under Section 302 or under Section 307? Give reasons and also refer to the case law, if any, on the point. [W.B.J.S. 1973]

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Answer

Section 307 deals with the offence of an attempt to commit murder. In order to constitute an offence under this section, two elements are essential.

  • First, the intention or knowledge to commit murder.
  • Secondly, the actual act of trying to commit the murder.

Thus, it must have both the necessary mens rea and actus reus. In other words, for offences under this section, all the elements of murder exist, except for the fact that death has not occurred.

However, the death of H in the present case has occurred due to intentional administration of poison by W. Death of H occurred because his wife administers poison in the food, resulting in inflammation of the brain. There was clear intention and knowledge on the part of W that she acted to give her husband poison in order to kill him.

Even though during the trial, the prosecution could not adduce any evidence that the poison was a secondary cause of the death, W will still be held to be liable for an attempt to murder under Section 307, IPC. The words ‘such intention’ found in Section 307, refer to the intention referred to in Section 300.

It means:

(i) intention to cause death;

(ii) intention to cause such bodily injury, which the offender knows is likely to cause death;

(iii) intention to cause such bodily injury, which is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.

Thus, the intention to cause death is the essence of the offence of an attempt to murder. If the intention is not proved, then the accused cannot be convicted under this section. Here in the case intention of W is clear to kill H and has knowledge of her conduct that it will cause the death of H.

Therefore, W is liable for the attempt to murder H under Section 307, IPC.


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