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The Supreme Court Explains the Difference Between “Preparation” and “Attempt To Rape”


The Supreme Court clarified the difference between “preparation” and “effort” to commit rape when upholding a man’s conviction for attempted rape.

In this instance, the accused was found guilty under Indian Penal Code Sections 376(2)(f) and 511. In an appeal, the Madhya Pradesh High Court changed it to a conviction under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code and decreased his sentence. He did not make all efforts to commit rape with both prosecutrix, according to the High Court, and he had not progressed beyond the level of preparation.

The question submitted in the State’s appeal was whether the offence committed by the accused amounted to a “attempt” to commit rape within the meaning of Section 376(2)(f) read with Section 511 IPC, or; was it merely a “preparation” that resulted in the victim’s modesty being outraged.

Observations of Court

The court noted that the accused had taken the minor girls inside the room, shut the doors, and; transported the victims to a room, according to the evidence. After that, he stripped the girls and himself, rubbing his genitals on the victims’. It was also discovered that both victim children’s comments inspire complete trust, confirm their innocence, and evince a natural version devoid of any chance of instruction.

The court found that these acts were undertaken with the intent to engage in sexual activity. “These activities were carried out with the express intent to commit the crime and were reasonably close to the completion of the crime. The accused’s actions went beyond preparation and came before the actual penetration “.. The bench stated that the Trial Court correctly convicted him for attempting to commit rape as criminal under Section 511 read with Section 375 IPC as it was in place at the time of the incident.

On the distinction between penetration and attempt to rape, the court made these observations:


There is a clear contrast between “preparation” and “effort” to commit an offence, and; it all depends on the legislative mandate as well as the nature of the evidence presented in a case. The ‘preparation’ step entails deliberation, creating, or arranging the means or measures that will be required to carry out the crime. An ‘attempt’ to perform the offence, on the other hand, begins immediately once the preparation is completed. The term ‘attempt’ begins where ‘preparation’ ends, although it does not include the actual commission of the crime.


Every crime begins with Mens Rea (intention to commit), followed by preparation to commit it, and; finally, an attempt to commit it, according to established criminal law. If the third stage, namely the ‘attempt,’ succeeds, the crime is finished. The offence is not complete if the attempt fails, but the law nonetheless punishes the offender for trying the act. Even an unsuccessful committing of a crime is preceded by mens rea, moral guilt, and; its depraved impact on societal values is no less than that of the actual commission.


Section 511 IPC is a generic provision that deals with attempts to commit crimes that aren’t covered by other sections of the Code. It states, among other things, that; “Whoever attempts to commit or cause to be committed an offence punishable by this Code with imprisonment for life or imprisonment, and in so doing does any act towards the commission of the offence, shall, where this Code makes no express provision for the punishment of such attempt, be punished with imprisonment of any description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-half of the imprisonment for life or, as the case may be, with imprisonment of any description provided for the offence.


What defines a ‘attempt’ is a mix of legal and factual issues. After the preparations are completed, the ‘attempt’ is the direct movement towards the commission. It’s critical to show that the effort was made with the purpose to commit the crime. Even if the accused is unsuccessful in committing the main offence, an attempt is possible. Similarly, if a crime is attempted but not completed, the crime has been committed for all intents and purposes.

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