Aim:- The article is to summarize the crime by minor & the defences for the crime by minor as specified in Indian Law. Explanation under section 82 and 83 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines the Legal maxim of Doli Incapax. This article also explains similar laws in other civilized societies.
Table of Contents
Crime By Minor: Section 82 & 83 I.P.C:-
Section 82 and section 83 of the Indian Penal Code provides immunity from criminal liability to children up to 12 years of age. It is divided into two further classes on the basis of the age factor. That is one group of children below 7 years. This group gets a complete defense from criminal liability. Whereas, the second age group of 7-12 years of age. The immunity provided to these age groups of society depends on mental capacity. The maturity of understanding during the commission of the crime as an important aspect. Because Mens rea can’t be completed without actual knowledge by the person committing it.
I.P.C. Bare Act Section 82: It defined it as Act of a child under seven years of age.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a child under seven years of age.
Section 83: Act of a child above seven and under twelve of immature understanding.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge of the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion.
Essential Elements under Section 82
Act of a child under 7 years of age
According to section 82 of the IPC, a child below 7 years of age gets complete protection from any type of criminal liability. Here we applied the principle of ‘doli incapax’. That is a child below the age of 7 cannot be held guilty for any offense. Because it is to be assumed that his age doesn’t allow him to distinctions between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. It is a general exception that a child below 7 years doesn’t have that mental capacity to understand the nature and consequences of his act. Therefore he cannot be included under the required element of crime i.e. men’s rea. This is a complete defense and cannot be taken away in any circumstances. There is no such evidence that proves that the child could understand the nature or after-effects of his act. Neither does he knows that his actions will cause such rebuttal.
Explaining the Legal Maxim:- “Doli Incapax”
This is a Legal Maxim, which means that ‘Incapable of Doing Harm’. We applied this principle in Section 82 I.P.C.,1860. It means here that the child below the age of 7 years of age, without any doubt is not in its capacity (mental) to understand the crime. He
Essential elements under Section 83 :-
A child above 7 years of age but below 12. Between the age group of 7-12.
This section of part IV of India Penal Code provides the partial defense to a person lies between this age group. This partial defense from criminal liability conferred on children above the age of 7 but below the age of 12. This is based on the principle of “doli incapax”; that is; a child between 7 to 12 years is capable of understanding the nature and consequences of his act. However, in order to hold a child liable, the prosecution needs to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt that the element of ‘men’s rea’ was present along with the actus reus. In other words, the prosecution needs to establish the fact that the child in question knew that his act was wrong and would have the consequences. The liability depends on his understanding and not the age.
Maturity of understanding
When a child is above 7 and below 12, the liability is totally dependent on the maturity of the child. It does not depend on age, but rather the mental capacity. For example; the crime by a minor of 11 years of age with no understanding of the nature of his actions can be free from the liability. But a child of 8 years who has enough maturity and understanding of the after-effects, can be held liable. The maturity or understanding of the child can be concluded from the circumstances and it varies from crime to crime. As every crime is different and has different methodologies.
Although there are some generalized factors that can demonstrate the essentials for the child’s guilt are:
- The immediate actions of the child after the commission of the act.
- The conduct of the child during the investigation process.
- The nature of the act done by the child
- Other similar factors.
Therefore, we can summarize that:
In case the child belonging to the 1st age group i.e below 7 years of age, will get a complete defense.
But the child belonging to the second age group, i.e. between 7 to 12. In that case, we have to prove that the child has not attained enough maturity to understand the nature or consequences of his act.
Now, let’s discuss the case when a child crosses the age of 12 years.
In this case, he will be governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection Act, 2000). It is to be noted that no such defense on the grounds of age will be entertained.
Law in Canada
Under section 13 of the Criminal Code of Canada, builds up that the equivalent. It says that the minimum age of criminal liability is to be 12. The YCJA (Youth Criminal Justice Act) oversees the use of criminal and law to those kids who are 12 years of age or more, but younger than 18 at the time of committing the offense. The act portrays that under some conditions, Youth aged 14 to 17 may be tried and/or sentenced as adults as described in the act. As it satisfies the necessity of complete mental development and men’s rea while committing the crime.
Position In England and Wales
The minimum age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is ten years. Those beneath this age are considered doli incapax i.e. not in capacity to form a criminal plan.
Various Acts, going back to 1933, (Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (as revised by section 16(1) Children and Young Persons Act 1963) provide for the system of juvenile justice in England and Wales. The juvenile justice system then functions in the form of a Youth Court, which hears cases of age ten to eighteen-year-olds.
Position in Ireland (Republic of Ireland)
In Ireland, the minimum age to commits the crime by a minor is 7. Such wrongdoings are governed by the Children Act 2001. There is an assumption of doli incapax for the kids aged 7 to 14. This can, in any case, be countered by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the child was capable of understanding the nature of his/her actions.
The minimum age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland is 10 years old.
Position in Sri Lanka
The minimum age to commit the crime by minor in Sri Lanka was set at eight years. But, after some years it has been increased to 12. The judge has discretionary powers to hold a child aged 12 to 14 years, criminally responsible. Youngsters over 12 years old can be considered responsible regardless of their capacity to comprehend the seriousness of the crime. Children somewhere in the range of 16 and 18 can be treated as grown-ups adults by the criminal equity system.
# Krishna Bhagwan v. State of Bihar
In case of Krishna Bhagwan v. State of Bihar, Patna High Court upheld that if the accused of an offence during the trial, has attained the age of 7 years or at the time of the decision the child has attained the age of 7 years can be convicted if he is able to understand the nature of the offence.
# Marsh v. Loader
A child was caught stealing a piece of wood from the premises of the litigant but was released on the premise that he was under 7 years old.
# Partap Singh v. State of Jharkhand
For this situation, the essential question emerges what date ought to be considered in deciding the Liability of offense. So the court cleared that the date on which the offence is committed should be considered not the date on which the accused is brought before the court. Because mental capacity at the time of committing offence is the material fact.
# Hirelal Mallick v. State of Bihar
For this situation, there were shreds of proof that demonstrate that the necessary men’s rea is available for this case. A 12-year-old kid alongside two others was indicted for killing an individual.
As the boy has a maturity as he had struck the deceased with a sword. Moreover, he knows the consequences of his actions because he ran away after his act. So, the Hon’ble High court convicted the child under section 326 of IPC based on the circumstances spinning around the crime.
Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility in India
As per IPC, the age of criminal responsibility is at 12 years. An offence committed by a child under the age of 7 years is not punishable under IPC, 1860. Also, an offence committed by a child between the age of 7-12 years shall not be punishable if it seems that he does not possess sufficient maturity to understand the consequence of his actions.
The basis of this supposition lies in the theory of Criminal Responsibility. The theory says that an individual ought to be considered criminally mindful just when he has the aim behind doing this act. There should be the presence of Mens Rea.
Endorsed and Published – By Ishani Goyal
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