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Attempts To Commit Offences

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Commit Offences

CHAPTER XXIII OF ATTEMPTS TO COMMIT OFFENCES

511. Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment.

511. Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment.–Whoever attempts to commit an offence punishable by this Code with 1*[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 2*[imprisonment o f 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.

Illustrations

(a) A makes an attempt to steal some jewels by breaking open a box, and finds after so opening the box, that there is no jewel in it. He has done an act towards the commission of theft, and therefore is guilty under this section.

(b) A makes an attempt to pick the pocket of Z by thrusting his hand into Z’s pocket. A fails in the attempt in consequence of Z’s having nothing in his pocket. A is guilty under this section.


  1. Subs. by Act 26 of 1955, s. 117 and Sch., for “transportation”.
  2. Subs. by s. 117 and Sch., ibid., for certain words.

CASE NOTES

In every crime, there is first, 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 punishes the person attempting the act. Section 511 is a general provision dealing with attempts to commit offences not made punishable by other specific sections. It makes punishable all attempts to commit offences punishable with imprisonment and not only those punishable with death. An attempt is made punishable, because every attempt, although it falls short of success, must create alarm, which by itself is an injury, and the moral guilt of the offender is the same as if he had succeeded. Moral guilt must be united to injury in order to justify punishment. As the injury is not as great as if the act had been committed, only half the punishment is awarded. {Koppula Venkat Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2004) 3 SCC 602}

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