In the second place, abetment may be committed in evil ways mentioned in section 107, viz., instigating any person, engaging with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of a thing, or intentionally aiding, by any act or illegal omissions, the doing of that thing. An attempt is, however, made by doing any act towards the commission of the offence.
In the third place, in abetment the abettor need not be present at the time of the commission of the offence, but in an attempt the presence of the offender is necessary at the time of the commission of the offence. In the fourth place, abetment of an offence is more severely punished than attempt to commit the same offence.
Attempt to commit a crime:
Attempt to commit a crime means a direct movement towards the commission of it. It is something more than a mere preparation and short of actual commission. It consists in intent to commit a crime coupled with the doing of some act adapted to but falling short of, its actual commission.
It is an act which, if not prevented, results in the consummation of the act at- substance which was harmless and which could not in any circumstance bring about his death but which she believed to be poison.
(ii) A takes a thumb impression of B on a blank piece of paper.
(iii) A, a woman, ran to a well stating that she would jump into it, but she was caught before she could reach it.
(i) In this case there is the intention to bring about death by poisoning, but the substance administered was such which was harmless and which could not in any circumstance, bring about death with the result that her husband did not die of this substance.
Death not ensuing, A could not be held guilty of murder, nor even of attempt to murder. A is also not guilty of causing hurt by means of poison with the intent to commit an offence under Sec. 328, I.P.C. Therefore, A committed no offence in this case. Mere belief of A that the substance was poison is immaterial.
(ii) No offence is committed in this case also, because mere obtaining a thumb impression on a blank paper is no offence. At most it may amount to preparation to commit an offence of forgery, but it cannot be called an attempt to commit forgery because A could have changed his mind at any time.
(iii) A is not guilty of attempt to commit suicide or any other offence. Merely running towards the well saying that she would jump into it was not an act which could have resulted in suicide had it been prevented, or had she not been caught. Since she was caught before she could have reached the well, there was every likelihood of her changing her mind by the time she actually reached the well. She was caught before she did anything which could be regarded as commencement of an offence.
The liability of the accused A in the following cases:
(i) A puts his hand into the pocket of B in a crowded street in order to pick B’s pocket of. But he finds that B’s pocket is empty.
(ii) A enters the house of B at night and quietly creeps into his bedroom. He fired two shots into the pillow and one at the long coat hanging nearby. He is apprehended on the spot it turns out that B was not on the bed, but was in the other room or close by.
(iii) With the intention to kill B, A purchases a gun, loads it and stands in front of B’s house while B is inside. Has A made a criminal attempt?
(i) A is guilty of the attempt to commit theft, vide illustration (b) to section 511, I.P.C. In order to prove that an attempt to commit an offence has been made, it is not necessary to prove that the attempt did or did not materialise or that it was frustrated; all that is necessary to prove is that an attempt was made and but for the frustration, it would have matured in the consummation of the act of theft. The fact that the pocket was empty, therefore, is not relevant and A is liable notwithstanding this.
(ii) A is guilty of the attempt to commit murder under section 307, I.P.C. It must be held that when A fired at the pillow-case he must have known that his act was likely to cause the death of B. The fact that B was in another room and thus avoided the fatal result should not be held to reduce the offence to one of “criminal trespass”, or “lurking house-trespass”.
In Nidha’s case, 14 All. 38, it was observed that “a person is criminally responsible for attempt to commit murder when with the intention or knowledge requisite to its commission, he has done the last proximate act necessary to constitute the completed offence, and when the completion of the offence is only prevented by some cause independent of his volition.”
The murder of B was only prevented because of his being in a different room, a fact independent of A’s volition, and A had done the last proximate act necessary to constitute the completed offence, viz., that of shooting at the pillow-case of B at that hour of the night when he must be expecting B to be fast asleep thereon.
(iii) A has not made a criminal attempt in this case. Merely purchasing a gun, loading it and standing in front of B’s house while B is inside, amounts to preparation only. Until and unless A does some act towards the commission of the offence, he cannot be said to have made any attempt.