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Theft, Robbery and Extortion

Submitted by
Vishwajeet Singh

Division- Regular, Roll No-61-Class B.A.LL. B(Hons)of

Faculty of Law
Jamia Millia Islamia.
November, 2018

Under the guidance of

Dr. Sadiya
Assistant professor faculty of Law Jamia Millia Islamia

The project entitled “Theft, Robbery and Extortion” submitted to the Faculty of
Law, Jamia Millia Islamia for Law of Crimes I as part of Internal Assessment
is based on my original work carried out under the guidance of Dr. Sadiya
Ma’am. The Research work has not been submitted elsewhere for award of any

The material borrowed from other sources and incorporated in the research
paper has been duly acknowledged.

I understand that I myself would be held responsible and accountable for

plagiarism, if any, detected later on.

Signature of the Candidate

Dilshad Ahmed
Date: 7/11/2018
Causation in Crime
An event is very often the result of a number of factors. A factor is said to have
caused a particular event, if, without that factor, the event would not have
happened. Thus, a man is said to have caused the actus reus of a crime, if , that
actus would not have occurred without his participation in what was done.
Some causal relationship has to be criminally liable only for the consequences
of his conduct as he foresaw,(or in crimes of negligence, he ought to have
As stated earlier, the act must be the causa causans, i.e., the immediate cause of
the effect.when the facts are direct and simple, then establishing the causal
nexus between the act and the effect may not be difficult,1 as for instance, in a
case of a person shooting another person and thereby killing him. The causation
can also be without any direct physical act. If the victim asks his way on the
dark night and the accused with the intention of causing his death, directs
physical act. If the victim asks his way on a dark night and the accused with the
intention of causing his death, directs him to a path that he knows will bring
him to a cliff edge, and the victim suffers a fatal fall, this is clearly murder,
though the accused had nothing more than utter words.2 This can be true in
cases of abetment, incitement and conspiracy. In the instances stated above, it is
not difficult to establish the direct result between the cause and the effect. The
difficult arises only in cases of multiple causation, where it is difficult to
establish the imputability.
For Instance, A, intending to kill B, shoots at B but only wounds him very
slightly. A clearly has the requisite mens rea for murder, that is, he foresees and
desires B’s death. Now lets us assume that on his being taken to the hospital in
an ambulance, a piece of masonry from a building falls on the ambulance and
kills B; or, alternately, that B has a rare blood disease which prevents his blood
from coagulation so that the slight wound leads to his death, which it would not
have done if he had not been suffering from this disease; or, alternatively, that B
refuses to have the wound treated. In all these cases, a problem of causation
arises, i.e. did A cause B’s death for the purposes of the criminal law so that he
can be convicted of murder?

Glanville Williams, ‘Criminal Law- Causation’ Cambridge Law Journal,1976,p 15.
Glanville Williams, Textbook of Criminal Law, IInd edn, Stevens & Sons, 1983, p378.
If the result is too remote and accidental in its occurrence, then there is no
criminal liabilitity.
“Causation” in Criminal Law is concerned with wheather the defendant’s
conduct contributed sufficiently to the prohibited consequence to justify the
criminal liability, which would be assessed from two aspects, namely “factual”
and “legal” causation
Factual causation requires proof that the defendant’s conduct was a necessary
condition of the consequence, established by proving that the consequence
would not have occurred but for the defendant’s conduct.
The “but for” test was illustrated in the case R v Pagett where a question was
queston was asked that wheather the hostage would not have died but for the
defendant’s conduct. The factual causation was established as: If the accused
has not fired first, the police officers would not have fired their weapon, and
then the hostage would not have died.
However, as illustrated in R v White where the accused by putting cyanide in
his mother’s drink was not liable for murder on her death, if the prosecution
fails to prove that the defendant’s conduct was a factual cause of the prohibited
consequence, then the accused cannot be liable for an offence on that
consequence, although he may be still liable for an attempted offence, say
attempted murder in R v White.
Legal causation requires proof that the defendant’s conduct was sufficiently
connected to its occurrence. It could be merely established if the defendant’s
conduct was an operating and substantial conduct, but not necessarily the only
cause of the consequence when there are two or more legal causes of the same
But difficulties arise when there is something that happened after the
defendant’s conduct, i.e. an intervening factor. It should be noted that not every
intervening factors amounts to a novus actus interveniens which is “voluntary”
and independent thus breaking the chain od causation. Naturally occurring
events and reasonable foreseeable events are not generally treated as breaking
the chain of causation because of its predictable effect.
Causation and Negligence
The difficulty of causation arises very often in cases of negligence. It has to be
established that first, the conduct of the person was negligent and secondaly,
that but for the negligent act of the accused, the accident would not have
occurred. In other words, the actus reus should be causally connected to the act,
which should be proved to be negligent.
In order to impose criminal liability under sec. 304A, IPC, it is essential to
establish that death is direct result of rash or (and) negligent act of the accused.3
It must be causa causans – the immediate cause and not enough that it may be
causa sine qua non, i.e. proximate cause.4 There can be no convicted when
rashness or negligence of third party intervens. In Suleman Rahiman Mulani v
State of Maharastra5and Ambalal D Bhatt v State of Gujarat,6 the Supreme
Court has approved this rule.
In Suleman Rahiman Mulani the accussed who was driving a jeep struck the
deceased, as a result of which he sustained serious injuries. The accused put the
injured person in the jeep for medical treatment, but he died. Thereafter, the
accused cremated the body. The accused was charged under sec 304A and 201
of the IPC. As per sec 304A, there must be a direct nexus between the death of a
person and rash and negligent act of the accused that caused the death of the
deceased.7It was the case of the prosecution that the accused had possessed only
a learner’s licence and hence was guilty of causing the death of the deceased.
The court held that there was no presumption in law that a person who
possesses only a learner’s license or possesses no licence at all, does not know
driving. A person could for various reasons, including sheer indifference, might
not have taken a regular licence. There was evidence to show that the accused
had driven the jeep to various places on the previous day of the occurrence. So
before the accused is convicted under sec 304A, there must be proof that the
accused drove in a rash and negligent driving. In the instant case, there was
absolutely no evidence that the accused had driven in a rash and negligent
manner. In the absence of such evidence, no offence under sec 304A was made
out. The accused was acquitted of the charges.
In Ambalal D Bhatt the accused was a chemist ain charge of the injection
department of Sanitax Chemical Industries Limited, Baroda. The company
prepared glucose in normal saline, a solution containing dextrose, distilled water
and sodium chloride. The sodium chloride sometimes contains quantities of lead
nitrate, with a permissible limit (for lead nitrate) of five parts in one million.
The saline solution which was supplied by this company was found to have lead
nitrate, very much over the permissible limits and hence was dangerous to
human life. The bottles which were sold by the company were purchased by
different hospitals, nursing homes, etc., and were administered to several
patients of whom twelve patients died. As per the Drugs Act 1940 and the rules
made thereunder, a chemist of a chemical company has to give a batch number

S N Hussain v State of Andhra Pradesh AIR 1972 SC 685
Md Rangawalla v State of Maharastra AIR 1965 SC 1616
AIR 1968 SC 829, (1968) Cr LJ 1013 (SC).
AIR 1972 SC 1150
Pyarejan v State (1972) Cr LJ 404 (Mys).
to every lot of bottles containing preparation of glucose in normal saline. The
accused who was responsible for giving the batch number failed to do so. He
gave a single batch number to four lots of saline. It was the contention of the
prosecution that had the appellant given separate batch numbers to each lots as
required under the rules, the chief analyst would have separately analysed each
lot and the lot which contained heavy deposits of lead nitrate would have been
rejected. As the accused had been negligence. The Supreme Court held that for
an offence under sec 304A, the mere fact that an accused contravened certain
rules or regulations in the doing of an act which caused death of another, does
not establish that the death was the result of a rash or negligent act or that any
such act was a proximate and efficient cause of death. This practise was in the
knowledge pf the drug inspector and the production superintendent, who did
nothing to prohibit the practice and instead turned a blind eye to a serious
contravention of the rule, would be to make an attempt to somehow find the
scapegoat for the death of twelve persons. Accordingly, the conviction of the
accused under sec 304A was set aside.

The doctrine of causation is based on the simple premise that ‘a man can
only be held liable for the consequence of his own actions’. The entire
doctrine is effectively based on the interpretation of a single word:
‘consequence’. A liberal definition of the word consequence extends not to
only direct acts of a person but also to the acts done through innocent agents
like cases of duress, or use of infants or insane people to commit crime. This
principle of causation is best illustrated by Illustration (b) under section 299
of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”): “A knows Z to be behind a bush. B
does not know it. A, intending to cause or knowing it to be likely to cause
Z’s death, induces B to fire at the bush. B fires and kills Z. Here B may be
guilty of no offence, but A has committed the offence of culpable
homicide.”8 Due to this broad and liberal nature of the doctrine of causation,
it often overlaps with actus reus and mens rea, and deals with cases of the
coincidence of the mens rea and the actus reus and the doctrine of
transferred malice. In other words, as in the aforementioned illustration,
causation is also used to establish the link between the mens rea and the final
actus reus.

According to the 5th edition of Black's Law Dictionary, “cause of an injury is


Illustration (b), §299, Indian Penal Code, 1860
primary or moving cause, or that which in a natural and continuous sequence,
unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury and without
which the accident could not have happened [Causa sine qua non], if the injury
be one which might be reasonably anticipated or foreseen as a natural
consequence of the wrongful act. "

The causation must therefore be a sequence of reasonable anticipated or

foreseeable natural consequence from the first link to the consequence in the
form of an unbroken chain. A person can be held responsible for all the
consequences of his act that can be reasonably expected from the same. This
test of ‘reasonable expectation’ is an exclusionary test9 , that is, each
consequence has to be ruled out based on the individual circumstances. In a
complete chain of causation, every link is a direct and reasonably expected
consequence of the previous link. For example, A fires a bullet at a very
close range with the intention to kill B. The initial act of A i.e. pulling the
trigger is the first link of the chain of causation. As a result of pulling the
trigger (Link 1), the bullet leaves gun (Link 2) and hits B’s heart (Link 3).
The walls of the heart collapse (Link 4) and B’s heart stops pumping blood
to the brain (Link 5) leading to B’s death (Result). The chain of causation
here is complete for it was a natural unbroken sequence. Pulling the trigger
by A was therefore the cause of the final result, actus reus, the death of B.
In R v Le Brun10, a man punched his wife and she fell down unconscious.
While attempting to lift and drag his wife, she slipped from his grasp leading
to a fracture to her skull and subsequent death. The man was convicted for
manslaughter. In this appeal, the court discussed the remoteness between the
initial blow and the resultant death, that is, from the first link to the final
result. Despite the absence of the mens

rea to kill his wife, the court held the original unlawful act was a causa sine
qua non for the resultant death of his wife and since the actions of the
husband were self-serving, the chain of causation remains unbroken. The
court upheld the conviction. A similar Indian case is King Emperor v Sree
Narayan & Ors, where the accused after a quarrel with the victim knocks her

Jeremy Horder & Andrew Ashworth, Principles of Criminal Law 103 (7th ed.
[1991] 4 All ER 673; See also, Thabo Meli v R [1954] 1 All ER 373, Privy
unconscious. Believing the victim to be dead, he later burns her “body”,
killing the victim.11

In the aforementioned cases, the accused is convicted despite the lack of

mens rea and the absence of a direct act resulting into death. The doctrine of
causation thus cannot be completely separated from other elements of crime
and encroaches upon the domain of both actus reus and mens rea. However,
analyzing the doctrine of causation as broad phenomenon overlapping with
mens rea and actus reus yields no information regarding about the
characteristics of the doctrine and is beyond scope of this paper. Therefore,
we must limit the definition of causation to simply analyzing the
consequence as ‘a chain starting from the initial act to the final consequence,
actus reus' Simply put, a person is liable for all consequences of his act as
long as the chain of causation remains unbroken.

There are cases where the chain of causation may not be complete. This can
happen due to an external act, Novus Actus Interveniens, or the chain may
just cease to exist. An example of the latter is the case where X fires a bullet
at Y, but the bullet misses Y. Eventually, Y dies due to old age, here the
chain of causation ceases to exist after the bullet missed Y and therefore X
cannot be held liable for the death of Y. Therefore, in applying the doctrine
of causation, first a chain of causation has to be established and then the
continuity of the chain is ensured.


Causa Sine Qua Non

According to the theory of causal determinism, every future event is caused

due to the existence of the requisite conditions in the status quo. Therefore,
any consequence is a result of several specific causes. However, it is
impractical to explore each and every cause behind a consequence.
Therefore, only the causa sine qua non of each result is considered.
According to the ‘but for’ test used in UK, for a cause to qualify as causa
sine qua non, the final consequence should not be possible but for the cause.

AIR 1949 Ori 48

However, it also required that the cause be a substantial cause to prevent
over-inclusiveness. For example, X dies in a road accident in Edinburg.
According to the ‘but for’ test the car hitting X is a causa sine qua non but
so is his employer transferring X from London to Edinburgh. However, the
latter is not a substantial cause while the former is. Without the existence of
a causa sine qua non, no chain of causation will come into existence in the
first place.
Novus Actus Interveniens
The Latin term, Novus Actus Interveniens, refers to an intervening act, which
breaks the chain of causation. The act could be a natural act, an act of the
third party or an act of the victim. However, not every intervening act
qualifies as novus actus interveniens. The intervening act must be such that it
is not foreseeable or intended but in some cases, when the intervening act is
a ‘free deliberate and informed act’12 of another agent, the original causation
breaks despite the consequence being an intended consequence. For
example, X hits Y with a wooden stick and leaves him unconscious in the
forest. Now, if a wild animal kills Y, X will be liable for it being a
foreseeable consequence. However, if another person, Z, comes along and
kills Y, the chain of causation will break and X will no longer be liable for
Y’s death even if it was foreseeable that Z might kill Y. Novus Actus
Interveniens therefore breaks the chain of causation rendering the accused
free from liability of the consequence.
Unlike its counterpart in UK or USA, the Indian criminal law does not have
a separate doctrine of causation. The provision for causation has been
integrated into different sections of the IPC. According to Explanation 2 of
section 299, IPC “Where death is caused by bodily injury, the person who
causes such bodily injury shall be deemed to have caused the death,
although by resorting to proper remedies and skilful treatment the death
might have been prevented.” This provision is equivalent to the common law
rule that negligence on the part of doctors (as long as it does not qualify as
gross negligence) or lack of medical infrastructure does not break the chain
of causation. Much like this section, many section in the IPC ingrain the
common law doctrine of causation. However, as a consequence of not have a
separate doctrine of causation, different provisions in IPC have different
approaches to causation i.e. the causation required for conviction under
Section 304A of IPC is different for that required for conviction under
Section 302.

Jeremty Horder & Andrew Ashworth, Principles of Criminal Law 104 (7th ed.

The courts have clearly distinguished between these approaches unique to
each provision. In Ranganathan S/o Kaliyappan Manager, KPR Processing
Company, Erode and others v State of Tamil Nadu13, the Madras high court
refused to apply the theory of causation propounded by the Supreme Court
for rash and negligent act for a case of culpable homicide not amounting to
Since almost every consequence based provision listed in the IPC has its
own approach, analyzing each of them is beyond the scope of this paper.
This paper therefore, only explores the theories of causation to that of rash
and negligent act under Section 304A and causation of murder under Section
302 of the IPC.
Section 304A
Causation under Section 304A for rash and negligent act has a slightly
different approach than the general theory of causation. For conviction under
Section 304A, in addition to the act being causa sine qua non, it also has to
be causa causans.14 Black’s Dictionary, 5th Ed. defines causa causans as
"the immediate cause; the last link in the chain of causation." Therefore, the
consequence has to be an immediate result of the rash or negligent act.

In Sushil Ansal v State Through CBI15, where the negligent handling of a

DVB transformer lead to a fire in a cinema hall which in turn lead to the
death of 59 people while injuring scores of others. The Supreme Court
following the ratio laid down in Emperor v. Omkar Rampratap16 held that
despite the gross negligence in maintenance of the DVB transformers, it was
not the causa causans and does not attract conviction under Section 304A. In
this case, the owner of cinema hall had allowed only one exit as opposed of
the statutorily requirement that all the exits be open. Therefore, while the
Supreme Court awarded the conviction under Section 304A to the owners of
the cinema hall for gross negligence, the court refused to convict the DVB
employee responsible for the shabby state of affairs under the same.
Therefore, the law of the land remains that for conviction under Section
304A, the act must not only be the causa sine qua non but also the causa

2014 Indlaw MAD 739
Kurban Hussein Mohamedalli Bangawalla v State of Maharashtra AIR

1965 SC 1616; Ambalal D. Bhatt v The State of Gujarat 1972 Indlaw SC

618; B.P.Ram and Another v State OF M.P. 1989 Indlaw MP 4
2014 Indlaw SC 151
(1902) 4 Bom LR 679
Section 302
Courts generally apply a strict rule of causation to merit conviction under
Section 302 The consequence must be a direct result of the initial act for
conviction under this section and any form of unintended link breaks the chain
of causation. In Re: Maragatham and Another17, the Madras High Court
explored causation required to attract conviction under Section 302. In this case,
a family was attempting to commit suicide with a two-year old infant by
jumping into the well. However, before they could throw the infant into the
well, she slipped out of the mother’s hand and fell into the well. The parents
jumped too however, they were rescued. Unfortunately, the infant died.
Therefore, despite having the requisite mens rea, to kill the infant, and the
existence of a consequence, the death of the infant, the High Court held that the
chain of causation was disrupted and refused conviction under Section 302.
Instead they were convicted for attempt to murder under Section 307.
In case of the offence of murder, a person is liable for the direct
consequences of his actions in terms of causal relationship and not in terms
time and space. For the purpose of determining causation, as long
as a causal relationship exists, the time passed between the act and the
consequence is irrelevant. In Subhash v State18, where the accused threw
acid on the victim leading to her demise, the court held that the fact that the
victim died 20 days after the attack as a result of septicemia is irrelevant.
The septicemia was due to infection of the injury caused by the acid burns
and therefore, a direct cause of the accused’s actions. The Delhi High court
convicted the accused under Section 302 for murder. Even in cases where
there is a substantial delay between the death and the act, the accused may
still be held liable. For example, X
poisons Y with a special poison, which causes Y’s organ system to shut
down slowly over time. Y dies after a period of six months. X is still liable
for Y’s death.
However, the chain of causation in case of murder is strictly scrutinized and
the benefit of doubt is given to the accused. In M.B. Suresh v State of
Karnataka, the accused fired indiscriminately at the deceased causing nine
injuries. The doctor stated the cause of death to be shock. The Supreme
Court held the reason behind the shock was unknown and cannot be
attributed to the injuries caused by the accused. The Supreme Court hence

AIR 1961 MAD 498


2012 IndLaw DEL 3634
refused to convict the accused for murder. Instead, he was convicted under
Section 307 for attempt to murder.