Question: Discuss the tests to determine whether an act constitute an attempt or preparation.


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The term "attempt" is not explicitly defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, it is commonly understood as an unsuccessful effort to commit a crime.


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Test to determine whether an act constitute an attempt or preparation

1.      Doctrine of locus Poenitentiae (Time for Repentance):

In situations where a person has sufficient time to reconsider committing an illegal act, the act may not be classified as an attempt. This principle was established in the case of Malkiyat Singh vs. State of Punjab (1970 SC).

In this case, a person carrying prohibited articles in a truck was arrested 14 km away from state borders. The court held that the considerable distance provided ample opportunity for the person to change their mind, thus not constituting an attempt.


2.      Proximate test:

An act of attempt must be sufficiently proximate to the crime intended, it should not be remotely leading towards the commission of an offence. The act of the accused is proximate if, though it is not the last act that he intended to do, it is the last act that was legally necessary for him to do. The landmark case on this point is, Sudhir Kumar Banerji vs. state of west-Bengal, 1973 SC.


3.      Impossibility test:

Before 19th century, the courts does not recognize the impossible acts, or its attempt as an offence at all. Now, in cases of property related offences, the offence as well as its attempt, both are fully recognized, however, in cases of bodily offences, it remains to be unenforced.


4.      Social damage test

To determine whether an act of a person constitute offence of attempt, it is to be observed that acts of such person are sufficient to create a fear among the society, or a reasonable man.

Illustration: A gives some pills to a pregnant woman to procure abortion, but it had no effect because the drug turned out to be innocuous. A, would be guilty of attempt to cause miscarriage since the act would cause an alarm to society and will have social repercussions.


5.      ‘Equivocality test

To constitute an attempt, the act must be such as to clearly and unequivocally indicate the intention to commit the offence. It simply means; to determine whether an act constitutes an offence, or falls under the category of an attempt or preparation, it is observed that whether a person is about to commit an offence, or attempt of an offence. Whether his such act is sufficient for a reasonable man to believe that he is just about to do that particular act.


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