Assault and Battery

Assault and Battery under IPC

Criminal Law Indian Penal Code LAW EXPLAINED
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Introduction –

Assault and battery are closely linked words but significantly differ in their meaning. Generally, people mistake assault as use of physical force to hit or injure someone but that is not the case. Assault is considered as putting someone in apprehension of threat whereas battery is physically hurting someone. Both of them have been considered as criminal offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Assault –

Assault is considered as an essential part of any criminal offence. The act of assault reveals the intention of the offender who is about to commit a crime. It is basically an attempt to hurt another person by a person who has the ability to cause hurt. Section 351 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 reads about assault as –

“When anyone 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 that gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault.”[1]

Essentials to commit assault –

  • Intention –

Intention plays an integral role in determining whether the act committed was a criminal act or not. Similarly in assault, acts should be done with an intention to injure or hurt the other person. These acts can be gestures or a physical attempt. When the act happen accidently without the intention to cause harm then the following act is not considered as an assault.

  • Reasonable apprehension –

Reasonable apprehension refers to when the person who is about to get injure or hurt can feel that he is likely to get hurt or injured. On absence of reasonable apprehension it is difficult to determine whether the act was an assault or not.  

  • Imminent harm

The physical act or gesture should be likely to cause immediate harm to the other person. In other circumstances, the act should create a reasonable apprehension about the hurt or injury which is imminent to him. A fear should be created in the mind of the person who is likely to be hurt.

Case Laws related to Assault –

  • Stephens v. Myers [2]In the following case, the plaintiff and the defendant were attending a meeting and discussing about something. Soon the meeting took an ugly turn; the defendant held the plaintiff’s hand and clenched his fist saying that he will throw him out. The court decided that it was an act of assault.
  • Rupabati v. Shyam [3]In the following case, it was decided that causing of hurt doesn’t necessarily become an assault. Threatening a person also becomes an assault.

Battery –

Battery refers to the use of force against a person intentionally without any legal justification of it. It is clearly defined in Section 350 of the Indian Penal Code which reads as –

“Whoever intentionally uses force to any person, without that person’s consent, in order to the committing of any offence, or intending by the use of such force to cause, or knowing it to be likely that by the use of such force he will cause injury, fear or annoyance to the person to whom the force is sued, is said to use criminal force to that other.”[4]

The offence of battery is punishable under Section 352 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It provides imprisonment which is extendible to 3 months or fine of five hundred rupees or both.

Essentials of battery –

  • Use of force –

Battery is the use of criminal force against another individual. The amount of force does not determine whether the act was a battery or not. But the use of force is significant to commit the offence of battery. The criminal force does not need to every time cause bodily injury.

  • Without lawful justification –

The criminal force used to cause injury should be intentional. There should be no lawful justification behind the use of such criminal force. A lawful use of force does not amount to battery or an act in good faith.

Case Laws related to Battery –

  • P. Kader v. K.A. Alagarswami[5]In the following case, the plaintiff an under – trail criminal was chained liked an animal during his medical treatment. The court held that the above act was a battery and there was no need to prove his intention as he exceeded his authority. 
  • Stanley v. Powell[6]In this case, the defendant wounded the plaintiff assuming him to be a bird since he was a bird shooter. The court decided that the plaintiff was not liable as there was no intentional use of criminal force.

Sources:

[1] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/478590/

[2] Stephens v. Myers (1830) 4 Cand P:172 E.R. 735

[3] Rupabati v. Shyam AIR 1958 Cut 710

[4] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/179037/

[5] P. Kader v. K. A. Algarswami AIR 1965 Mad. 438

[6] Stanley v. Powell [(1891) 1 Q.B 86]

This blog is written by Jaya Singh, Amity University.

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