Distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape

Distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape

Distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape

Distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape

#IPC #Rape #SupremeCourt #HighCourt #Section375 #Section511 #Law #Constitution #Judiciary #CivilService #LawOptional #AIBE


CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1827 OF 2011: 25-OCT-2021

Bench:  Surya Kant and Hima Kohli

Issue- Distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape.


The Supreme Court has explained the distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape in following manners.

It is a settled preposition of Criminal Jurisprudence that in every crime, there is first, Mens Rea (intention   to   commit), secondly, preparation   to   commit   it, and   thirdly, attempt to commit it. If the third stage, that is, ‘attempt’ is successful, then the crime   is complete.   If   the   attempt   fails, the   crime   is   not complete, but law still punishes the person for attempting the said act.   ‘Attempt’   is   punishable   because   even   an unsuccessful commission  of offence is preceded by mens rea, moral guilt, and  its depraving impact on the societal  values  is  no  less  than  the  actual commission. 

There   is   a   visible distinction   between ‘preparation’   and ‘attempt’ to commit an  offence  and  it  all  depends  on  the statutory

edict coupled with the nature of evidence produced in a case. The stage of ‘preparation’ consists of deliberation, devising or arranging the means or measures, which would be necessary for the commission of       the offence. Whereas an ‘attempt’ to commit the offence, starts immediately after the completion of preparation. ‘Attempt’ is the execution of mens rea after preparation. ‘Attempt’ starts where `preparation’ comes to an end, though it falls short of actual commission of the crime.

However, if the attributes are unambiguously beyond the stage of preparation, then the misdemeanours shall qualify to be  termed as an ‘attempt’ to commit the principal offence and such  ‘attempt’ in itself   is   a   punishable   offence   in   view   of   Section   511   IPC.    The ‘preparation’   or ‘attempt’   to   commit   the   offence   will   be predominantly  determined on evaluation of the act and conduct of an  accused; and as to whether or not the incident tantamounts to transgressing the thin space between `preparation’ and   ‘attempt’. If

 no overt act is attributed to the accused to commit the offence and only   elementary   exercise   was   undertaken   and   if   such preparatory  acts  cause  a  strong  inference  of  the  likelihood  of commission  of  the  actual  offence,  the  accused  will  be  guilty  of preparation   to   commit   the   crime,   which   may   or   may   not   be punishable, depending upon the intent and import of the penal laws. 

Section  511  IPC  is  a general provision dealing with attempts to commit  offences  which  are  not  made punishable by other specific sections  of  the  Code  and  it  provides, inter alia, that, “whoever attempts   to   commit   an   offence   punishable   by   this   Code  with imprisonment   for   life   or   imprisonment,   or   to   cause   such   an offence   to   be   committed,   and   in   such   attempt   does   any   act towards  the  commission  of  the  offence,  shall, where no express provision   is   made   by   this   Code   for   the   punishment   of   such attempt,   be   punished   with   imprisonment   of   any   description provided  for  the  offence, for a term which may extend to one half of the imprisonment for life or, as the case may be, one half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for that offence, or  with such   fine as is provided for the offence, or with both”. 

The Supreme Court further explained that what constitutes an `attempt’ is  a mixed question of law and facts. ‘Attempt’ is the Direct

movement towards   the   commission   after   the preparations   are   over.     It   is   essential   to   prove   that   the attempt   was   with   an   intent   to   commit   the   offence.     An attempt  is  possible  even  when  the  accused  is  unsuccessful in committing the principal offence. Similarly, if the attempt to commit a crime is accomplished, then the crime stands committed for all intents and purposes.

The  act   of   the   respondent   of luring the minor   girls, taking them

inside the room, closing the doors and taking  the  victims  to a  room

with  the  motive  of  carnal knowledge, was  the end of ‘preparation’ 

to commit the offence. His following  action  of  stripping  the prosecutrices  and  himself,  and rubbing his genitals against those of

the victims was indeed an endeavour  to  commit  sexual intercourse.

These  acts  of  the respondent   were   deliberately   done  with manifest   intention   to commit  the  offence  aimed  and were reasonably  proximate  to  the consummation  of  the  offence.   Since

the  acts  of  the  respondent exceeded  the  stage  beyond preparation  and  preceded  the  actual penetration,   the  Trial Court  rightly  held him guilty of attempting to  commit  rape as punishable within the ambit and scope of Section 511 read with Section 375 IPC as it stood in force at the time of occurrence.

CONCLUSION:   The findings   given   contrarily by the High Court In ignorance  of the  material  evidence  on  record,  are  perverse and untenable in the eyes of law. Thus, the appeal was allowed and set aside the judgment of the High Court and restored that of the Trial Court.