This article has been written by Ayush Tiwari, a student of Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article aims to provide you with all the information regarding criminal force and assault on public servants and its punishment which is given under Section 353 of the Indian Penal Code.

This article has been published by Shoronya Banerjee.

Introduction

In a country like India, we always come across news about crimes like battery, assault, discharge, and so on; such crimes are very common in our country and occur almost every single day. Nowadays the same is the case with public officers, public servants are frequently exposed to significant hazards in the performance of their official responsibilities, and the law provides them with particular protection by imposing highly deterrent sanctions on those who violate the law. Section 353 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) deals with this problem and this article elucidates the same, before understanding Section 353 we should understand what is force and assault due to which public servants are not able to carry out their duty.

Force

Force is defined under Section 349 of the IPC. It does not constitute an offence; rather, it clarifies the meaning of the term force. It indicates that whenever a person causes motion, change of motion, or cessation of motion to another, that person is considered to use force. In addition, the individual who initiates the motion use one of the three methods described below:

  1. First,  must be with his own physical strength.
  2. Second, by disposing of any material in such a way that motion, change, or cessation of motion occurs without any additional action on his or any other person’s part.
  3. Finally, by causing an animal to move, adjust its motion, or stop moving.

A person is said to use force in any of the three methods listed above, even if a person inspires an animal to move or influences the other person’s feelings. The accused would be the one who induces the animal. It is not required to make direct contact with the individual who is doing the crime; it may be done without it.

The exertion of energy or power that causes a movement or change in the external environment is known as force. The term “force” as defined in this section refers to force exerted by a person on another human. It excludes the use of violence against inanimate objects. The usage of the term another throughout the section demonstrates this. As a result, a motion, change of motion, or cessation of motion-induced to property without harming a human being is not considered the use of force under this provision.

Criminal force

When a person uses force on another individual without their permission in order to conduct an offence and with the aim of inflicting harm to that individual in the form of injury, fear, or irritation, that person is said to be employing criminal force on the other person. It is punishable under Section 350 of IPC.

Essentials of criminal force

The force that has been specified in Section 349 changes into a criminal force when the essentials of Section 350 are satisfied, which are as follows:

  • Intentional use of force against anyone : Use of force must be deliberate.
  • Without consent : A person who does not understand the nature of the act being performed cannot be regarded to have agreed simply by submitting. When the claimed assault involves illegal conduct, consent cannot be used as a defence. There are a few exceptions to this law, such as strikes delivered during friendly sporting competitions, but these are not recognised under the exceptions.
  • The force has to be utilised in order to conduct an offence or to cause hurt, fear, or irritation to another person.

Assault

Assault is defined in Section 351 of the Indian Penal Code as anyone who makes any gesture or preparation with the intent or knowledge that such gesture or preparation would then cause any person present to suspect that the person making the gesture or preparation might be about to use criminal force against that person.

According to the Oxford Dictionary assault is “An act that threatens bodily damage to a person (whether or not actual harm is done)”. It’s a word that’s simple to grasp yet complex to define. A simple threat might be seen as an attack. The essence of the crime is the psychological effect that the threat has on the victim.

Words alone do not constitute an attack. However, the words a person says might give his actions or preparations such a meaning that they become an assault.

Ingredients of assault

  • Gestures or planning: the accused must make a gesture or plan to use unlawful force.
  • Such preparations or gestures should be done in the presence of the person in whose respect it is made.
  • The conduct was done with the goal of causing fear of damage or injury;
  • The conduct made the victim fearful that he might be hurt as a result of another person’s actions.

Assault is a non-cognizable offence that can be charged, bailed, and compounded. Any Magistrate can hear the case.

Punishment for assault and criminal force

When there are no aggravating circumstances such as specified in Sections 353 to 358 of the IPC, assault or use of criminal force is punishable under Section 352.

When someone assaults or uses criminal force on another without being provoked, then that person may be punished to three months in jail, a fine of up to INR 500, or both. Section 352 defines it.

Section 353 IPC

This Section applies when public workers are assaulted while conducting their legally mandated official duties.

Who is a public servant

While executing any function or executing any duty under this Act, the competent authority, every arbitrator, and any officer authorised by the Central Government or the competent authority will be regarded to be a public servant within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code.

What is Section 353 IPC

Section 353 tells us that, anyone who assaults or uses criminal force against a public servant in the performance of his or her duties as a public servant, or with the intent to prevent or deter that person from performing his or her duties as a public servant, or as a result of something done or attempted to be done by these people in the lawful discharge of his or her duties as a public servant, shall be punished.

A public employee is frequently exposed to significant dangers in the performance of his official tasks, and the law protects him by providing exceptionally deterrent punishments for those who violate the majesty of law, of which he is a minister. However, only an officer who is obliged to perform official tasks is entitled to protection. A commissioner seeking to surrender possession under a time-expired warrant also does not have the jurisdiction to enter land owned by the party resisting the execution. This clause exempts those who offer resistance from prosecution. A public worker cannot plead Section 353 while operating under an unlawful instruction from a superior, although he is unaware of the illegality.

Essentials of Section 353 IPC

To use this Section, one must meet the following requirements:-

  1. A public servant must be assaulted or subjected to criminal force; and
  2. It had to have been made on a public servant –
  1. when he was carrying out his responsibilities, or
  2. with the goal of preventing or discouraging him from doing his duties, or
  3. as a result of anything he has done in the course of his duties.

Punishment under Section 353 IPC

It is a non-cognizable, bailable, and non-compoundable offence and can be tried by any magistrate. An accused who is found guilty under this provision faces a sentence of up to two years of imprisonment, a fine, or both.

Procedure for trial under Section 353 IPC

If an offence under Section 353 is committed, the trial will proceed in the same way as any other criminal offence specified in the IPC. There are various phases to the procedure for the trial of an offence under Section 353, beginning with the filing of an FIR under Section 353 and ending with the court’s judgment. Let’s have a look at how a case brought under this section is handled in court by following the stages outlined below.

Filing of the FIR

An FIR must be filed once the accused is apprehended by the police, and the accused must be produced before a Magistrate within 24 hours of his or her arrest.

Final report by the police

Under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1974, the police are required to file a final report with the court when they have completed their investigation of the crime (CrPC). This report serves as the investigative agency’s final submission of the investigation. If a case is brought under Section 353 of the IPC, the final report will include all on-the-spot evidence acquired by the police, which will aid the court in determining whether the offence’s elements have been met or not.

The charge sheet contains the facts of the case as well as all of the specifics of the police investigation. Any comments made by the accused during the inquiry are also included in it, and a copy of the FIR is attached to the charge sheet. The Magistrate takes cognizance of the issue under Section 190 of the CrPC when the charge sheet is filed. The court has the option of rejecting the charge sheet and discharging the accused or accepting it and framing the charges in order to set the case for trial.

Actions to be taken by the prosecution

To begin, the prosecution will declare that the allegations against the accused in the charge sheet include verbal abuse and deliberate insult as defined by Section 353 of the IPC. The prosecutor is required to back up his comments with evidence obtained against the accused and testimonies recorded from witnesses in order to establish the accused guilty of the act under the relevant rule. However, under Section 227 of the CrPC, a person arrested under Section 353 has the right to request for discharge by establishing that the accusations leveled against him are false and/or extremely weak in order to continue the trial.

Final arguments

According to Section 314 of the CrPC, any party in a proceeding could address concise oral arguments after the close of his proof, and then before he wraps up the oral arguments, he may submit a memorandum to the court declaring the arguments in support of his case clearly and under distinct headings, and each such memorandum shall form part of the record. The opposite party must be given a copy of the same right away.

The judgment

After considering both sides’ arguments, the judge rules on the case and issues a verdict of conviction or acquittal, as the case may be.

Case laws

Durgacharan Naik and Others v. the State Of Orissa, (1966)

In this case, a decree against the accused had been secured by the complainants. They acquired an attachment of the movable property in execution of that order in the event that the decretal sum of Rs 952.10 was not paid. When the court peon arrived with the attachment warrant and was going to seize a few of the movable property, the accused resisted with lathis.

Following that, the complainants sought an order for police protection and went to the accused’s home on the same day. The accused was not there. The accused’s father, who was also a judgment debtor, paid Rs 952.10 in restitution. When the complainant’s entire group returned, the accused arrived with ten or twelve persons and asked that the money be given over to him. The accused then departed the scene when some others intervened. The accused was found guilty under Section 353, IPC, but acquitted under Section 186, IPC, due to the lack of a written complaint under Section 195, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC). The charge under Section 353, IPC was founded on the identical facts as the charge under Section 186, IPC, it was argued on behalf of the accused.

Since no cognizance of crime under Section 186 may be obtained without first completing the procedure set forth in Section 195 of the CrPC, a conviction under Section 353, IPC, based on the identical circumstances, would constitute an attempt to get around the restrictions of Section 195, CrPC. This argument was rejected by the Supreme Court. It was decided that the offences under Sections 186 and 353 of the Indian Penal Code constitute two separate offences. Section 353 is a criminal offence, while Section 186 is not. In a case when the accused willfully obstructs a public servant in the exercise of his official responsibilities, Section 186 applies. However, the element of attack or use of criminal force while the public official is doing his duties is required under Section 353, IPC. The Supreme Court determined that the two offences were of a significantly different character. As a result, Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code does not preclude an accused from being tried for a separate offence based on the same circumstances but beyond the scope of that provision. As a result, the accused was found guilty under Section 353 of the IPC.

P. Rama Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1983)

The core of Section 353 is the attack aimed against a public official in order to dissuade him, according to the Andhra Pradesh High Court. In this case, a sub-inspector requested the accused to pull over to the side of the road. He rushed away while appearing to halt the automobile, colliding with the mudguard of the motorbike on which the sub-inspector was a pillion. The court determined that the facts of the case did not justify the application of Section 353 of the IPC. It isn’t necessary for the assault to take place while the public worker is doing his official duties. Even if he is injured “in consequence” of whatever he does in the course of his responsibilities as a public worker, Section 353 may apply.

Conclusion 

Assault is defined as the fear that the other person may be injured. It is committed to another person with the intent to damage the other person by using criminal force. People, including public officials, confront plenty of issues as a result of this. As a result, it was unavoidable that stringent regulations surrounding assault and criminal force be enacted and adequately executed, so that anybody who faces criminal force while doing official duties is protected by the law. According to the Indian Penal Code, anybody who assaults another person with criminal force may be punished or fined, or both.

References


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