CONCEPT OF CRIME AND THE LAW OF CRIMES IN INDIA
MEANING OF CRIME Definition of ‘Crime’: The word ‘Crime’ is derived from Greek expression Krimcs’ which means social order and it is applied ‘to those acts that go against social order and are worthy of serious condemnation’. The word ‘Crime’ has not been defined in the Indian Penal Code’, Definitions given by eminent criminologists and sociologists are as given below:
As a Public Wrong: Sir William Blockstone defines crime in two ways : (i) Crime is “an act committed or omitted in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it”, (ii) “A crime is a violation of the public rights and duties due to the whole community, considered as a community. Sir James Stephen, while modifying the Biackstone’s definition, states, “A crime is a violation of a right, considered in reference to the evil tendency of such violation as regards the community at large”.
As a Moral Wrong: According to Raffeale Garafalo, “Crime is an immoral and harmful Act that is regarded as criminal by public opinion because it is an injury to so much of the moral sense as to community- a measure which is indispensable for the adaptation of the individual to society”.
As a Conventional Wrong: Edwin Sutherland says, “Criminal behaviour is behaviour in violation of the criminal law. No matter what the degree of immorality, reprehensibility, or indecency of an act, it is not a crime unless it is prohibited by the Criminal law. The Criminal
law, in turn, is defined conventionally as a body of specific rules regarding human conduct which have been promulgated by political authority, which apply uniformly to all members of the classes to which the rules refer, and which are enforced by punishment administered by the State. Characteristics, which distinguish this body of rules regarding human conduct from other rules, are therefore, politically, specificity, uniformity and penal sanction.”
As a Social Wrong: According to John Gillin, a sociologist, “Crime is an act that has been shown to be actually harmful to society, or that is believed to be socially harmful by a group of people that has the power to enforce its beliefs and that places such crimes under the ban of positive penalties.”
As a Procedural Wrong: Austin says, “A wrong which is pursued by the sovereign or his subordinates is a crime. A wrong which is pursued at the discretion of the injured party and his representatives is a civil injury.”
According to Kenny, “Crimes are wrongs whose sanction is punitive, and are in no way remissible by any private person, but are remissible by the crown alone, if remissible at all.” According to Paton, “In Crime we find that the normal modes are that the State has power to control the procedure to remit the penalty or to inflict punishment.”
Keeton has defined crime as, “A Crime today would seem to be any undesirable act, which the State finds it most convenient to correct by the institution of proceedings for infliction of penalty instead of leaving the remedy to the discretion of some injured person.”
Other Definitions: As per the Oxford English Dictionary, Crime is “an act punishable by law as forbidden by statute or injurious to the public welfare.”
Halsbury’s Laws of England provides, “A Crime is an unlawful act or default which is an offence against the public and renders the person guilty of the act or default liable to legal punishment.”
Michael and Adler state, “the most precise and least ambiguous definition of crime is that which defines it as behaviour which is prohibited by the Criminal Code.
According to B.A. Wrotley, “A Crime is an offence against the law, and is usually an offence against morality, against a man’s social duty to his fellow members of society, it renders the offender liable to punishment.
Osborn states, “Crime is an act or default which tends to the prejudice of the community, and forbidden by law on pain of punishment nflicted at the suit of the State.”
Donald Taft defines, “Crime is a social injury and an expression of subjective opinion varying in time and place.”
Miller defines crime “to be the commission or omission of an act stiich the law forbids or commands under pain of a punishment to oe imposed by the state by a proceeding in its own name.”
Paul W. Tappan defines crime as “an intentional act or in violation :f criminal law, committed without defence or justification and sanctioned of the law as felony or misdemeanour.”
Sellin defined the crime as “an act which offends the basic -;ral sentiments of pity, revulsion against the voluntary infliction suffering or/others and property in respect of the property rights others.”
Elener Hubert Johnson states that crime is “an act which the group rjards as sufficiently menacing to its fundamental interest to justify : ~sal reaction to restrain the violator.”
As per C. Jones, “Crime is a legal wrong the remedy for which s punishment of the offender at the instance of the State.”
Prof. Hart said that in order to term an act as Crime, the following **: questions must be answered in the affirmative:— i) Whether the activity which offends and moral feelings is harmless independently of its repercussion on the general moral code; and
ii) Whether the whole moral fabric of the society would go to pieces if the offending act is not made criminal.
J.W. Cecil Turner has given the following description of a crime:It is a broadly accurate description to say that nearly every instance of crime presents all of the three following characteristics :
(i) that it is a harm, brought about by human conduct, which the sovereign power in the State desires to prevent;
(ii) that among the measures of prevention selected is the threat of punishment;
(iii) that legal proceedings of a special kind are employed to decide whether the person accused did in fact cause the harm, and is, according to law, to be held legally punishable for doing so.”
We find that it is very difficult to get a definition of crime suitable to all countries for all the time. The following are, according to Jerome Hall, interrelated and overlapping differential of crime :
(i) There must be some external consequences or ‘harm’ to social interests.
(ii) The harm must be ‘prohibited’ by penal law. (iii) There must be ‘conduct’ i.e., intentional or reckless action or inaction that brings prohibited ‘harm’. (iv) There must be ‘mens rea’ or ‘criminal intent’. (v) There must be “concurrence’ of mens rea and conduct. (vi) There must be a ‘causal relation between the legally prohibited harm and the voluntary misconduct. (vii) There must be legally prescribed ‘punishment’ or threat of punishment.