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  • The Indian Penal Code is the most comprehensive law dealing with the different offences and their punishments.
  • It covers a wide range of offences, from murder to petty crimes. One of the offences is causing hurt by one person to another by various means.
  • Sections 319 to 338 deal with the different aspects of hurt. Section 324 provides punishment for causing hurt voluntarily to another with dangerous weapons.
  • This article makes a detailed analysis of Section 324, its importance and shortcomings, and with relevant case laws.


Crime, in simple words, means an illegal act which is punishable by law. A crime, or an offence, is termed as a “public wrong” because it either affects an individual, which would in turn become a harmful precedent within the society, or it is generally committed against the society at large. Combatting such unlawful acts is crucial for protecting the rights and interests of others. For this purpose, every state has enacted its own law of crimes. These criminal laws are important because it protects the society against criminals by imposing threats of punishment to these lawbreakers. Criminal laws are both substantive and procedural in nature. In general, substantive laws prescribe the rights and liabilities of persons whereas procedural laws deal with the practice and procedure of enforcing those rights and liabilities. In India, procedural laws are considered subordinate to substantive laws. So, in case of Law of Crimes, substantive laws provides on the different offences and the punishments prescribed for committing those offences, and procedural laws basically helps in the administration of the substantive criminal law. After understanding about the meaning of substantive and procedural laws, we can conclude that they both are two sides of the same coin. The absence of either of the laws would make the other worthless.

The Indian Penal Code, 45 of 1860 (IPC) is a substantive law. However, it is not the only law in this category, and we have many others including Juvenile Justice Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, etc. The most important procedural criminal law is the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 that provides the process of detecting, apprehending, or arresting an offender, and other procedures. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the most important statute governing the Law of Crimes as it is a comprehensive Code that covers almost all of the substantive aspects therein. The statute defines the criminal offences along with punishments. A person who commits an act that is covered under this Code is also liable to suffer the consequences. The Code was enacted in 1860, and came into force in 1862. It consists of 23 Chapters and 511 Sections. The Chapters are divided based on various categories. One such is the crimes that affect the human body.


Chapter XVI of the Indian Penal Code deals with offences affecting the human body. It consists of a total of 88 sections starting from Section 299 to Section 377, and is considered to be the largest chapter under the Code. These Sections are divided into six parts that includes offences affecting life, Hurt, Wrongful restraint, Wrongful confinement, Kidnapping, Abduction, Slavery, Forced Labor and Sexual Offences. The Chapter clearly indicates the importance of protecting Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees right to life and liberty.


Hurt, in general terms, means the causing of bodily pain to a person by another. Section 319 of IPC states that hurt is said to have been caused when a person causes bodily pain, disease or infirmity to other person. Further, Sections 319 to 338 covers the different aspects of hurt that includes both simple and grievous. Similarly, hurt can be caused voluntarily or involuntarily. This part of IPC primarily deals with hurt caused voluntarily. Section 39 of the Code defines the term “voluntarily” as that which is caused with intention or by such means that the person committing it knew or had reasons to believe that it is likely to be caused. In Shyam Lal v. State of UP (1962), the Supreme Court analysed the intention and knowledge in committing an offence, and held that it is to be determined based on the nature of the injury caused, the weapon (if any) used, how the victim has been attacked, and other related circumstances. The Apex Court’s observations manifests that the kinds of weapons used to cause hurt is an important ingredient in determining the intention of the offender. Sections 324 and 326 prescribe punishment for voluntarily causing hurt and grievous hurt, respectively, by dangerous weapons.


Section 324 reads as follows: “Whoever, except in the case provided for by Section 334, voluntarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to in­hale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”

Important Ingredients

1) The accused must cause bodily pain, disease, or infirmity

This ingredient is very important as the same is defined as hurt under the Code. Bodily pain means physical pain, that is, pain to the body of a person. Therefore, it doesn’t include mental pain. For instance, giving a blow with a stick or fisting or dragging a person by hair, etc. constitutes hurt, whereas giving some alarming news that causes mental pain is not hurt. Disease means any illness that a person communicates to another. Infirmity means impairment or a terror that causes weakness in the body.

2) The hurt must be caused intentionally

Hurt, under this Section, is assumed to be caused intentionally because of the presence of the words ‘voluntarily causes’. As explained earlier, the term has been defined in Section 39 of the Code however the Code has not explained the term “intention” anywhere, despite it having been used severally. Intention means the desire to bring about a result out of the act committed. There is a term well-used in criminal law, that is, mens rea. It commonly means a state of mind whereas under the Law of Crimes, it is defined as the “guilty intention” and is considered as one of the most important ingredients to constitute an offence. Similarly, in this case, the intention of the wrongdoer is the mens rea, that is, guilty intention.

3) The hurt must be caused by an instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting

This Section provides punishment for causing hurt by means of an instrument which may cause death if used as a weapon. What actually means a dangerous weapon, depends upon the facts and circumstances of the act, and may vary from case to case. As per the Section, it would include fire, any heated substance, poison, corrosive substance, explosive substance, or by means of any animal. However, the list is not exhaustive and generally, every hurt caused with a weapon or substance, that is considered deadly based on the case, would come within the ambit of this Section.

Main provisions of Section 324

1) Punishment

Any person who voluntarily causes hurt with any instrument, or weapon, or substance, sufficient enough to attract Section 324 shall be punished with imprisonment of either (simple or rigorous) description for a maximum period of three years, or shall be liable to pay fine, or both, depending on the gravity of the case.

2) Nature of Offence

The offence committed under this Section is cognizable in nature, that is, it is an offence wherein the police officer can arrest the accused without a warrant. Usually, all cognizable offences are non-bailable too. But Section 324 is considered bailable as per the 2006 notification that followed the 2005 Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The 2005 Amendment made this offence non-bailable, however, the same has not been implemented by the government yet, and therefore, the offence continues to be bailable. Similarly, earlier, the offence was compoundable, with the permission of the Court, by the person to whom the hurt was caused. But after December 2009, it became non-compoundable. The offence is triable by any Magistrate.

3) Exception- Section 334

According to the Section, all the cases of hurt caused voluntarily by dangerous weapons are punishable thereunder. However, it also provides an exception that if such hurt is caused due to a grave and sudden provocation, then that would not attract punishment under this Section. The same has been covered under Section 334. It provides punishment for voluntary hurt caused on provocation that is both grave and sudden. The punishment hereunder is imprisonment of either description for maximum one month, or with fine of maximum of Rs. 500, or both. The main reason of excluding Section 334 from Section 324 is that in the latter, the accused has no guilty intention and rather his acts were solely on provocation, and the intention is present only in the provoker whereas Section 324 contains “intention” to hurt as one of the essential condition.


  1. Koli Gator vs. State of Gujarat (1966): In this case, it was held that a stick in the top of which an iron knop is attached, is a dangerous weapon when that iron knob is used as an instrument to cause hurt which is likely to cause death.
  2. Keshub Mahindra vs State Of M.P. (1996): It was held that material reasons are necessary to make a person guilty under Sections 324 and 326 of the Code.
  3. Hanif Usmanbhai Kalva vs. State of Gujarat (2014): The Gujarat High Court held the following conditions to be essential for attracting Section 324: i) That the accused voluntarily caused hurt to another person; ii) that such hurt was in exception to cases provided under Section 334; and iii) that such hurt was caused.
  4. Chandra Kanjappa Kuchchikurwe vs. State of Maharashtra (2013): There has been a dispute as to whether Section 324 is bailable or non-bailable in nature. As already discussed, all cognizable offences are non-bailable in nature, and since this Section is cognizable, it is assumed that the same is also non-bailable in nature. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 2005 Amendment Act, under Section 42(f)(iii) had affirmed it, however, the same was not duly implemented. Later, in 2006, the Government released a notification that classified Section 324 as a bailable offence. When this question was raised before the Bombay High Court, in the concerned case, it observed that Section 324 continues to be a bailable offence in the absence of a notification, by the Government, giving effect to the 2005 Amendment.
  5. Roop Chand @ Lala vs. State (NCT) of Delhi (2020): In this case, the Supreme Court explained the distinction between Section 308 and Section 324 of IPC. Section 308 provides punishment for attempt to commit culpable homicide. The Supreme Court observed that to attract punishment under Section 308, it is important that injuries must be such as to likely cause death, whereas, for Section 324, the injuries may or may not endanger the person’s life.


We may often get confused on ascertaining the difference between hurt and assault. Many of the offences that fall under “hurt” also fall under “assault”. However, hurt is something that is more than assault. For instance, if a person raises his hands to beat another, the act amounts to assault and not hurt, however, if he actually beats that person, then the same would be classified as hurt. There are many other terms that are used as synonyms of hurt, such as battery and criminal force. There are very minor differences between each of them. However, the concept of “hurt” finds more place in the Code owing to its serious nature. The Code classifies hurt as simple and grievous, and further also states the different aspects therein. One such category is the hurt caused by the use of some instruments as weapon. Section 324 deals with and provides punishment for the same.

Section 324: Bailable or Not?

Section 324 punishes those offenders who voluntarily cause hurt to another with some weapons. The Section is clearly a blend of clarity and confusions. Clarity, of course, is the wordings thereunder. It clearly states the kinds of instruments that would supposedly cause hurt to another. The punishment prescribed is also not unjustified. It is also understandable that the Section cannot possibly cover every instrument that could be used as a weapon to attract punishment under this Section. Therefore, the Code did not make it exhaustive in nature, and courts, over the years, have added many instruments and substances to this list of dangerous weapons. For instance, in Habeeb Khan vs. State of Karnataka (1981), a wooden club and rapier, because of which the injured sustained bleeding injuries on head, was said to be deadly weapons. So, that makes the provisions under it clearer.

However, the main perplexity is in the classification of the offence under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Right in the beginning, we had understood about the procedural laws, and their importance in the operation of substantive laws. In this case, the substantive aspect of the concept of “causing hurt with weapons” is clear, but the procedural part is sceptical. As seen above, the major confusion lies in the bailable nature of the offence, and the same cannot be ignored as it greatly impacts the persons accused under the Section. It is visibly seen that the 2005 Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Act, that made the offence non-bailable, has not yet been enacted by the Government, and that it released another notification classifying it as bailable. Some of the courts are having knowledge about the 2006 notification, whereas many courts are still relying on the 2005 Amendment Act and are dismissing the bail pleas of the accused. As a result, most of the convicts are forced to remain in present. The main reason to highlight this point is that there has been no clarification regarding the matter by any of the authorities concerned. This needs an amendment so that people, especially those in the legal fraternity, would get a clearer picture of the same.

Difference between Sections 324 and 326

Another aspect of this Section is the difference between simple and grievous hurt. The IPC has made two provisions with respect to hurt by weapons, one under Section 324 and two, under Section 326. While the former covers simple hurt, the latter deals with grievous hurt. The Code distinguishes between hurt and grievous hurt in Sections 319 and 320 respectively, so there is no major ambiguity regarding it. However, there are possibilities where courts may have different interpretations. Provisions under grievous hurt is not easily slapped against a person, as it requires complete correspondence between the result and the intention or knowledge of the accused, as held in Rambaram Mohtaon vs. State of Bihar (1958). Therefore, the courts tend to make a precise distinction between hurt and grievous hurt. For example, in State vs. Jitendra Kumar & Anr. (2011), it was alleged that the accused had stabbed the complainant’s son with some sharp object on his back and chest for several times. A case was registered under Section 307, which was later amended that removed Section 307 and a charge was framed under Section 325. Section 325 prescribes punishment for grievous hurt. However, the Magistrate had classified this offence to be best suitable for punishment under Section 324. He opined that though the hurt was caused with a sharp object, there has been no visible record that shows that the son’s life was endangered by the hurt.

The above case law indicates that judges determine the applicability of the Sections on the sole basis of the wordings therein, as is required to be done in case of penal statutes. They cannot make their own interpretations. This is also because of the punishment prescribed. While Section 324 imprisons an accused for a maximum period of three years, under Section 326, it is either life improvement or ten years of imprisonment. Thus, it is crucial for courts to make a clear analysis while distinguishing between hurt and grievous hurt.


Guns, knifes, and other sharp objects can cause death to a person. Similarly, fire, iron rods, bombs, and a plethora of other substances are used by persons to cause to hurt to another. Even some people use their animals to hurt others. It is very much possible that hurt could be caused by any of the following ways mentioned above. Such act often causes irreparable loss to the victim. Therefore, the Indian Penal Code makes it an offence under Section 324 of the Code. An accused may be imprisoned for three years, and/or fined. Knowing this Section is important as it punishes a person who voluntarily hurts another with a weapon. The Section contains unambiguous wordings but has a minor imperfection with respect to its procedures with respect to bail which plays an important role in law. It is important for courts and Government authorities to clarify the same. It is better if the offence under Section 324 is classified as bailable owing to the leniency of the punishment as compared to Section 326. Since the latter is non-bailable, Section 324 can be conveniently made a bailable offence. This advocacy is based on the landmark observation of “bail, not jail” by Justice Krishna Iyer in State of Rajasthan vs. Balchand, 1977.

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