“Act done by me against my will, is not act.” Examine in the light of legal provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Importance of this question : This concept has been asked several times in UPSC Law Optional Mains. QUESTION POSTED ON | 13.09.2021 MODEL ANSWER WILL BE POSTED ON | 14.09.2021 Answers can be written till 14.09.2021.
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· LEGAL MAXIM | “Actus me invito factus non est mens actus”
· MEANING | ‘an act done by me against my will is not my act”
which is incorporated under Section 94 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 94 provides defense of compulsion or force.
Example : I put a knife against your neck and ask you to post defaming Facebook post about someone, now you are not guilty of it.
Why such principle was coined | Its because
When a person is forced to do an act, it will not be his voluntary act. So he cannot be penalized for it.
Such cases involve no mens rea of the person as he is compelled to do such act and without mensrea there is no crime committed here.
Accused is infact a victim more than he is an accused because he is made to commit offences against his conscious.
WHEN SECTION 94 CAN BE CLAIMED ? In other to get the benefit of section 94 following essentials must be satisfied.
Accused must be threatened with a fear of instant death to himself at the time of committing the act ( treat must be active while committing the act ).
This defence is not available in the following circumstances even if there is threat of instant death-
· In case of offence of murder
· In case of offence against the state punishable with death
· Where the accused has put him into a situation either voluntary or
· under fear of any other harm other than instant death [Explanation 1 to 2 of Section 94]
There are two explanations to Section 94.
Explanation I excludes the person from taking defence of compulsion when the accused himself joins gang of dacoits, whereas,
Explanation II provides that when any person is seized by gang of dacoits and forced under threat of instant death, to do anything which is an offence, then benefit of defence under this section is available to him.
Illustration: A smith compelled to take his tools and to force the door of a house for dacoits to enter and plunder it, is entitled to the benefit under this Section.
CASE LAW : Bachan Singh v. State of U.P (1975)
FACTS | The accused was compelled at gunpoint to catch hold the legs of victim and other accused killed the victim. He as prosecuted for offence of abetment of murder and therefore he took defence under Section 94.
HELD | Court gave him defence under Section 94 and said that only offence of murder is excluded under Section 94 not offence of abetment of murder.
CONCLUSION | Section 94 has been meticulously drafted not to punish an innocent who was compelled to commit crime but at the same time it has restricted himself to commit murder and other crime against state that is punishable with dead, because others life and our nation is no less than his own life .
Yet this section has following drawbacks – it does not include putting someone dear to the accused in fear of instant death, for example, daughter’s life is more important to a father than his own life. If his daughter was threatened to be killed and father commits crime because of this he is not entitled to relief under section 94.
Further grievous hurt is also a major threat nearing death which can also be considered to be included as a plea to invoke section 94.