IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
JUDGES: H.K. Choudhuri, J.
APPELLANTS: Abhayanand Mishra
RESPONDENT: The State of Bihar
DECIDED ON: 21.04.1961
Facts of the Case
The case involves a matter relating to cheating according to Section 420 read with section 511 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The appellant applied to Patna University to appear in the M.A. examination in English of 1954. He represented himself as being a graduate of B.A. and obtaining the degree for the same in 1951. He also represented to the University as being working as a teacher in certain school. He also attached certain certificates claiming to be from the Headmaster of the school and from the Inspector of Schools to back his application. The same was accepted by the University authorities along with the granting him of permission of the same and the University authorities asked the appellant for his photographs along with certain fees to be paid for appearing in the examination.
The Headmaster of the school received the admission card for the same after the appellant furnished the requisite details. Information regarding the appellant not being a teacher was reported to the University along with the information that the appellant was not a graduate and the certificated attached were forged. Also, the appellant was debarred from taking any University examinations for a certain no. of years because of him having resorted to such practices. The appellant was prosecuted after the matter was reported to the police for having resorted to attempt of cheating and was acquitted for the charge of forgery of the mentioned certificates.
- Whether the appellant was still in the process of preparing to commit the offence under section 420 of the IPC?
- Whether the appellant had attempted to commit the offence under section 420 of the IPC?
- What constitutes as an attempt to commit an offence under Section 511 of the IPC?
- Whether the Admission Card issued by the University comes under the word “Property” as per Section 415 of the IPC?
- Whether Deception is a step involved in the commission of the offence of Cheating?
The appellant’s counsel argued that he was merely in the process of making preparations to commit the offence of cheating and not had attempted to commit the same. Learned counsel for the appellant also argued that the admission card issued by the University in his favor is not covered under the word “Property” as per Section 415 of the IPC. So, if he had attempted to commit the offence of cheating the only criteria which would be affected if the University would be its reputation as per section 415 of the IPC as the admission card was not property. Appellant’s counsel also argued that the idea of University suffering in reputation is too remote and that is why even if the appellant had obtained the admission card and appeared for the M.A. examination of 1954 if would not harm the reputation of the University and so it would not constitute as Cheating under Section 420 of the IPC. Appellant’s counsel argued that he had not taken any step towards the commission of the offence as he was still in the preparation process and that commission of an offence is when preparation for the same is complete.
Respondent’s counsel argued that an offence is not inclusive of only a single act/event but consists of a series of acts/events. Also, as per section 511 the offence does not mean only the penultimate act done towards the offence but an attempt to commit an offence consists of any act out of the series of acts done with the intention to commit that offence. The petition of R. MAcCrea was cited to back the same. Further reference was also laid on Mayne’s Commentaries and the case of Regina v. Padala Venkatasami to differentiate between preparation and attempt to an offence.
Observations of the Court
- The court observed that the appellant had already completed the preparations to commit the offence as he had reached to the University Authorities for application to appear for the M.A. Examination with the intention to deceive them as he was neither a graduate nor a teacher. Also subsequently he arranged for the requisite details and certificated to be represented to the University authorities. He would be in the stage of preparation to commit the offence of cheating if he would be still preparing his application.
- The court observed that the appellant has attempted to commit the offence of cheating under section 420 of the IPC as he had already decepted the University authorities and they had issued the admission card in his favor for his appearance in the examination though it could not be handed over to the appellant as the university got the information of him being not a graduate and having forded the requisite certificates.
- An offence does not contain only one activity but it consists of a series of activities/ events. An offence is said to have been attempted when a person does any act with the intention of committing the offence (not necessarily successful commission of the offence) after the preparations out of the series of act/events involved in an offence.
- The appellant had decepted the University Authorities of him being a graduate and a teacher so as to being able to appear for the M.A. examination and without him having the Admission Card, he wouldn’t be allowed to sit in the examination for the same. So the court observed that the Admission card holds immense value to the appellant as without it he couldn’t appear for the examination. So, the admission card is a property as per section 415 of the IPC as the appellant tried to get it delivered to him through the University authorities by way of deception.
- The court observed that Deception is a step involved out of the series of steps in the offence of cheating. Hence if a person decepts another with the intention to do so he/she is said to have attempted the offence of cheating. In the given case the appellant had decepted the University authorities and thereby he had attempted the offence of cheating under section 420 of the IPC.
The court dismissed the appeal of the appellant and held that the appellant had been rightfully convicted of the offence of Cheating under section 420 read with section 511 of the IPC.