Author: Ms. Gayatri sahu, ITM University, Raipur.

“Criminal Liability”

Liability is the obligation for against the law and for the penalty society exacts for the crime. Any other phrase for liability is responsibility. This explains the cliché that a person who has committed a crime should “pay her debt to society.” A criminal offense is regarded as harm to the society that has fee it something (no longer necessarily in dollar terms) and the criminal incurred the debt for that price. Society accounts for the debt through implementing a penalty upon the criminal, along with prison time.

A person can be observed answerable for a crime if the prosecution proves that he:-

A) dedicated the criminal act (including taking property that became no longer hers), and

B) had the specified intent to keep her responsible (which includes, for robbery, the motive to deprive the owner of the belongings).

An act that may be prosecuted by using the state according to the state’s criminal code. Someone is in charge, or responsible, for a criminal offense while he or she has acted with criminal cause, in place of performing by chance or missing the ability to act intentionally.

A crime is an offense towards the state, as defined by way of each state’s criminal legal guidelines. No act is a criminal offense until it’s far diagnosed as such by way of society and written into the states’ and federal criminal codes. We may think certain acts have usually been crimes or are treated as crimes anywhere, however that isn’t always the case. So, a crime is an issue of definition by using the society wherein someone commits an act; an act is a criminal offense only if a nation or the federal government defines it as one. In most states, crimes are defined as both felonies (more severe crimes) or misdemeanors (much less severe crimes, which includes vandalism).

“Civil Liability”

As used within the term “civil liability,” the word liability means responsibility for the harm alleged by way of the plaintiff and the damages suffered. A person determined liable in a civil action, upon a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, has to pay anything financial damages the jury (or sometimes the judge) awards to the plaintiff.

If you intentionally or maybe simply mistakenly injure a person or harm a person’s property, you may come to be being accountable for paying the other person’s losses. This is called “civil liability.”

Liability not based totally on a state criminal code; may additionally encompass personal fits between people or company and suits towards the government. Notice that the identical conduct may additionally cause each civil and criminal liability. A civil action is a lawsuit filed through a person (not the government) towards some other private man or woman. Commonly those court cases are trying to find economic damages for injury or loss that the party suing (the plaintiff) alleges the party sued (the defendant) brought about. A defendant who loses in a civil action does now not face the hazard of jail or fines. A classic civil lawsuit could be a lawsuit through a homeowner in opposition to his neighbor,  seeking damages (cash) for the ruination of his car due to the neighbor’s falling tree.



Section 415 of IPC (Cheating). – Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”.

Illustration Section 415 (g) of IPC – A intentionally deceives Z into a belief that A means to deliver to Z a certain quantity of indigo plant which he does not intend to deliver, and thereby dishonestly induces Z to advance money upon the faith of such delivery. A cheats, but if A, at the time of obtaining the money, intends to deliver the indigo plant, and breaks his contract and does not deliver it, he does not cheat but is liable only to a civil action for breach of contract.

Scope Of The Study :

The crucial aspect to be noted in the law relating to cheating is the intention of the person accused of cheating. Most often, especially in issues relating to commercial transactions, disputes are difficult to separate in terms of their civil and criminal liabilities. As stated earlier, the crucial difference between a criminal cause of action as against a purely civil transaction is the intention of the person at the time when the cause of action arose or the alleged offense commenced.

Issue :

The important aspect is to examine whether at that stage, the accused deliberately or intentionally induced the other person to part with property or to do an act or desist from doing an act, or whether it was only subsequently that the dispute arose.


In Nageshwar Prasad Sinha vs. Narayan Singh Air 1999 SC 1480 the respondent-complaint, Narayan Singh, an advocate, had entered into an agreement of sale of certain properties with the accused in Patna city. Part of the consideration had been paid as earnest money. Possession had also been delivered to the complainants as per the sale deed. However, the complainant had not made the full payment as agreed upon, resulting in delay in completing the legal formalities of the sale. The complainant had also filed a civil suit for specific performance against the accused. Thereafter, the complainant filed a criminal complaint alleging committing of an offense under section 420 IPC.

The Supreme Court considered illustration (g) to section 415 IPC and stated that the latter part of the illustration showed that:

At the time when the agreement for sale was executed, it could have in no event been termed dishonest so as to hold that the complaint was cheated of the earnest money, which they passed to the appellants as part consideration, when possession of the total land involved in the bargain was passed over to the complainant-respondent, and which remains in their possession. Now, it is left to imagine who would be interested in delaying the matter and completing the bargain when admittedly the complainant has not performed their part in making full payment.

Thus, the court held that the liability, if any, was only civil in nature and not criminal.

Breach Of Contract And Cheating: the distinction between mere breach of contract and the offense of cheating is a fine one. It depends upon the intention of the accused at the time of inducement which may be judged by his subsequent conduct, but for which the subsequent conduct is not the sole test. Mere breach of contract cannot give rise to criminal prosecution under Section – 420, IPC., unless the fraudulent or dishonest intention is shown right at the beginning of the transaction, that is the time when the offense is said to have been committed.

Cheating And Extortion: the offense of cheating must, like that of extortion be committed by the wrongful obtaining of consent. The difference is that the extortion obtains the consent by intimidation and cheating by deception.

Cheating, Criminal Breach Of Trust, And Criminal Misappropriation: cheating differs from the last two offenses in the fact the cheat takes possession of the property by deception. There is a wrongful gain or lose in both cases and in both cases, there is an inducement to deliver property. In the case of cheating the dishonest intention starts with the very inception of the transaction. But in the case of criminal breach of trust, the person who came into possession of movable property receives it legally but retains it or converts it to his own use against the terms of the contract.

Comparison with English Law:

Dishonestly obtaining another’s property by deception with the intention of permanently depriving that person of his property is an offense under section -15(1) of the theft act, 1968. This intent to deprive permanently is not an ingredient of the Indian law. There is no deception unless a person is induced to believe as true what in fact is false. (an operation cause of obtaining the property ). In this case, a certain person comes to an elderly widow representing that they were tree surgeons and that they could provide her the “service for certain money of felling her three deceased trees. She went to withdraw the money and also informed the police. They were arrested and held guilty of attempted deception. Director of public. Prosecution vs. Ray, (1973) 3 AH ER.131. Deception can also be in an implied form. The most common example of this is a bouncing cheque. English court has held that when a man issues a cheque in favor of another would be honored as he impliedly represents that he has an account at the bank, to his credit or he has an overdraft facility’ or will immediately arrange it so that the cheque does not bounce. If things turn out to be otherwise, the accused will have – cheated the other party by impliedly inducing him to accept a valueless cheque which he would not have accepted if he had been aware of the true state of facts is not free from difficulty on this score as decisions are conflicting and in some cases it has been held that if no express representations are made that he has the requisite amount in the bank or if no allegations are made in the complaint that bouncing off the cheque resulted in harm to the complainant in his body-mind, reputation or property, the mere fact that the cheque was dishonored would not make the accused liable for cheating. A contrary view appears to have been taken in Bholanath Arora case 1982 Cr LJ 1482  (Delhi) which is more in accordance with the views taken in English decision than with the Indian cases cited above. It is felt that the view taken by the English courts on this point is more reasonable for even a fool would not accept a valueless cheque but for the implied representation that the cheque would be honored. It is hoped that law on this point would be brought a par with that of England if necessarily, by suitable legislation. (necessary legislation was passed in 1988 by amending the negotiable instrument act by providing that a dishonored cheque is a punishable crime.)



  1. This one is good to know the difference between Civil liability vs Criminal liability so this post is good to the complete difference between both.

    Thanks for making aware of Civil liability vs Criminal liability.

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