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The complainant was a 20-year-old woman who was married but divorced by consent. While
she lived in her father’s house, the appellant (the accused) had sexual intercourse with her on
the pretext of marriage. The Appellant was already a married man with children. When the
complainant conceived in furtherance of their intercourse, the appellant refused to marry her
and instead suggested her to take drugs to procure a miscarriage. Later, he brought to her some
powder, later identified as copper sulphate and a bottle of some red liquid. The Complainant
tasted the powder but spat it immediately. The Appellant, later that night, after finding out that
the Complainant had not taken the powder, forcibly tried to make her take the mix even though
the Complainant protested saying she was afraid for her own life. She cried out loudly due to
which neighbours and her father came and the appellant fled.
Later, the case revolves around the offence of attempt to cause miscarriage.

Whether or not the facts suggest the offence of ‘Attempt to cause miscarriage’?


The Defence had suggested that the Complainant was of loose character and had complained
due to enmity. The court rejected this argument. The defence further suggested that the
Complainant was an accomplice to the act. The court rejected this too.
Defence suggested that there is no evidence to show that either the liquid or the powder was
capable of causing a miscarriage, thus the appellant cannot be convicted of the same.
The Complainant had suggested that an attempt to cause miscarriage.


The Court delved into the English as well as the corresponding Indian jurisprudence around
the definition of ‘Attempt’.
The Court relied and discussed a number if cases in its judgement.
In the case of R v. McPherson, the prisoner was charged with breaking and entering the
prosecutor's house and stealing therein certain specified chattels, and was convicted of
attempting to steal those chattels. Unknown to him those chattels had been stolen-already.
Justice Cockburn held him innocent and said that the idea of ‘attempt’ means mean that if it
had succeeded, the attempt would have resulted in a crime. In the case of R v. Cheeseman too
the same idea was echoed. In R v. Collins case, following McPherson’s case, an example was
cited, that if a person puts his hand into the pocket of another, with an intent to steal, not
knowing that the pocket is empty, he cannot be convicted of attempt.
However, the way the Indian Penal Code has elaborated on Attempt is not as the cases
discussed above. All the English cases discussed above were reconsidered and overturned in
the cases of R vs. Brown and R. vs Ring by English courts itself.
The judgement said that McPherson as well as Collins definitions were no longer any good law
in India as well as England.
In the context of Indian Law, the four stages of crime are intention, preparation, attempt and
commission. The Act done towards the commission of the offence must be ‘sufficient’. Thus,
the in the pocket example, the man should be convicted of attempt to steal. In another example,
if a person puts a spall on another through witchcraft, and burns the effigy of that person, the
act is not ‘sufficient’ to cause any harm.
While applying this reasoning to the present case, the substance administered was harmless
and not sufficient enough to cause a miscarriage.
In Queen-Empress vs Luxman Narayan Joshi, Sir Lawrence Jenkins, C.J., defined attempt
being an Act that a person does but fails to accomplish because of an alien circumstance, not
in his own hands.
The Court finally placed reliance in Russell on Crimes, stating that in the present case, the act
done was not ‘done towards the commission of the offence’. The court further said that neither
the liquid nor the powder was sufficient or harmful enough to have caused a miscarriage.

After a reading of this judgement, the student was able to strengthen her concept on ‘attempt’
to commit a crime and the historical background around the same. The English jurisprudence
and the Indian jurisprudence were brought to light and the underlying principles of IPC 1860
surrounding attempt were made clear and evolution of the said concept was illustrated.

Submitted by –
Srishti Verma