Discuss if there is any purpose to differentiate ‘Specific defences’ from ‘General defences’ under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Our Criminal Justice System has prescribed various kinds of offences and their punishments under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, just to deter the offenders from committing vicious activities and to preserve the situation of law and order in the society.
If any offender commits any offence, then to secure the punishment to the offender, initial burden of proof is always upon the prosecution and he has to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt and he can do so by proving the actus reus as well as mens rea which are the main ingredients of every offence. If the prosecution fails to prove any of the ingredient, then he cannot secure the punishment to the offender and the court will have to give benefit of doubt to the accused. But if the prosecution proves both the ingredients of the offence, then in such a case, the court will have to held the offender liable.
It is not always necessary that every time an offender shall be held liable for committing an offence even if all the abovesaid ingredients are proved by the prosecution and this is only because of the concept of general defences. Section 76 to 106 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with the provisions of general defences and the burden of proof to prove that the case of an accused falls under any of the general exceptions is upon the accused according to section 105 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
The chapter of ‘General Defences’ under Indian Penal Code, 1860, does not specifically bifurcate the chapter into any two parts i.e.,
• Justifiable defences
• Excusable defences
but it can be inferred from the sections itself. Justifiable defences are those defences according to which the act of an accused considered justifiable. According to these defences, if an accused commits an act even with the intention, the circumstances under which he has committed that particular act does not make him liable. On the other hand, excusable defences are those defences according to which if an accused commits an act, he can take an excuse that while committing the act he had no intention to commit that act.
Besides the concept of ‘General Defenses’ there is also a concept of ‘Specific Defences’. Specific defences deal with particular offences where the exception has been provided in the section itself. These defences cannot be taken by the accused in each and every case like the general defences. According to section 6 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, every section of Indian Penal Code, 1860, shall be read subject to the general defences but it does not mention that every section of Indian Penal Code, 1860, shall be read subject to the specific defences. The plea of Specific defense can be raised only in the case of commission that offence which specifically provides for the specific defences.
For example: – Section 300 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, provides various defences. These defences are Specific defences and these can be raised only in case of commission of murder. According to this section, if any person causes the death of another person only after taking consent of that person, then the offender can take the plea of Specific defense given under Exception 5 of section 300 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, and if the offender proves the facts mentioned by him then in such a case, the offender will not be held liable for murder but he will be held liable for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The main purpose to differentiate the ‘Specific Defences’ from ‘General Defences’ under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is that in case of General defences, an accused is escaped from the liability completely but in case of specific defences, an accused is not escaped from the liability completely but these defences can be used for mitigating the punishment.