Assault: Assault, Criminal Force And Battery-Indian Penal Code, 1860



  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of assault
  3. Difference between assault and criminal force
  4. Different sections defining assault.
  5. Punishment for assault
  6. Differentiating between assault and battery
  7. Case laws.
  8. Conclusion




  1. Define assault and also give case laws ?

  2. What is the difference between assault and battery , explain through illustrations ?

  3. What kind of punishments are there for assault on minors?



Assault is an integral part of any criminal activity. Assault is the basis for an act to be considered as criminal.

Many times it happens that assault is misinterpreted or misunderstood leading to confusion. Thereafter it becomes difficult to comprehend exactly what act committed was. So, It’s important to clearly know its meaning to avoid confusion.

The act of assault clearly tells us the legality of the act and also the mindset of the person who is harming and having wrong intentions.



  • Section 351 of IPC

    -When anyone makes any gesture or preparing to make any gesture will cause another person who is present there to comprehend that, he who is making the gesture or preparing for that gesture is about to use criminal force to the other person, then it is said that an assault has been committed.


  • Definition of assault in the law of tort

  •    Assault is an act where a wrong consists in an attempt to harm the other person. When that intention exist and that intention is recognized/sensed by a person who is going to be harmed.


There are 3 elements which are essential to prove an act of assault –


  1. Intention:-  The intention of the person is the first and the foremost thing that is considered regarding an assault. When the act has been done intentionally like scaring, threatening or harming the other person which causes the other person to be harmed immediately then it is to be considered as an assault.Whereas when an act has been done unintentionally or by the way of an accident then it is not considered as an assault.


  1. Reasonable Apprehension:- Reasonable apprehension means that when the person who is going to get hurt perceives or gets an idea that he is going to get harmed. If there is no reasonable apprehension then it becomes difficult to prove assault.  If the person who is going to get hurt has no idea that he is going get hurt then its difficult to prove an assault.


Example If A attacks B with a weapon by standing in front of him then A has committed assault. But if A attacks B  with the weapon from his back, then it does not suffice to prove assault as the person being attacked wasn’t aware of the attack.


  1. Harm:-  The harm can be physical harm, harm out of threat or by offensive contact.


A mere verbal threat cannot be considered as an assault unless the person to whom verbal threat is made assumes that the person is going to use force.

When proving assault, the aspect of reasonableness is also very important.

Unless there is no reasonableness of the action, it is difficult to prove assault.

The essence of the offense lies in the effect that is created in the mind of the person who has or going is to get hurt.



Assault is an act that is less than the use of criminal force.

In an assault, the force is actually cut short before the victim gets hurt. It basically consists of an attempt by a person who is having the capacity to use force and cause hurt or violence to the other person.

In criminal force, the assault has already taken place and the force is actually used on the person.

In an assault, the person who is going to harm has enough means and ability to carry forward his threat and also should create an apprehension in the mind of another person that he is going to be harmed and that person is about to use criminal force but actually has not used it yet.

Every criminal force includes assault but in assault, it’s a comprehension that criminal force is going to be used but actually criminal force has not been used.


Example:- If A threatens B that he is going to hit him then A can be accused of assault as B has an apprehension that A is going to harm him but there is no criminal force yet. But when A actually hits B then there is a use of criminal force and becomes an act of criminal force.




Assault to deter public servant from discharge of his duties (Section 353 of IPC) When a person assaults another person being a public servant while executing his duty as a public servant or with an intent to prevent that person from discharging his duties in a lawful discharge of the duties such as a public servant can be punished and shall be punished up to 2 years or fine or both.
Assault to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty (Section 354 of IPC)


When a person assaults a woman with an intention to outrage her modesty and knows that the act will outrage her modesty, he shall be punished for a term up to 2 years, or fine or both.
Assault with intent to dishonor a person, otherwise than on grave provocation (Section 355 of IPC) When a person assaults another person with an intention to dishonor him/her other than on grave or sudden provocation given by that person shall be punished up to 2 years or fine or both.
Assault in attempt to commit theft of property carried by a person (Section 356 of IPC) When a person assaults another person with an attempt to commit theft of any property which that person is having or carrying, shall be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years or with fine or both.
Assault or criminal force in attempt wrongfully to confine a person(Section 357 of IPC) When a person assaults another person in wrongfully attempting to confine another person shall be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both.
Assault or criminal force on grave provocation(Section358 of IPC) When a person assaults another person on the grounds of grave or sudden provocation to the other person shall be punished with imprisonment up to 1 year or fine which can be extended to 200 rupees or both.





When a person commits assault on another person other than on grave and sudden provocation given by that person, he shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 3 months or fine extending to 500 rupees or both. This is the punishment of assault when there are no aggravating circumstances.


Grave and sudden provocation causing assault will not lead to punishment under this section.

The punishment also depends upon what were the conditions under which the assault had taken place and what are its consequences and the condition of the victim after the commission of the offense.


Difference between Battery and Assault  

In law of Tort the difference between battery and assault is stated:

Battery basically means an intentional application of force to another person with an unlawful intent. The major 2 essentials of a battery are:-

  1. Use of force:- Use of force is an essential element to commit a battery. Here force doesn’t mean heavy force, it basically means a wrong act in which force is being used. Least touching of another person also amounts to battery. Examples of use of force are:- use of sticks, bullets, any other missiles, throwing water or spitting on someone’s face.Use of heat, light, gas or order will be taken as assault when it results in causing physical harm or personal discomfort to the other person. The use of force can also be justified when it is used to help the other person.
  2. Without Lawful Justification:– It is important that use of force is essential but another important factor is that the act should be unlawful, the assault committed should be punishable under the law. The harm which is unintentional or caused purely by accident also is not punishable.




  1. Kader v. K.A. Alagarswami A.I.R. 1965 Mad.438

The Madras High court Held that for an undertrial prisoner if he is put on handcuffs or chained like a dangerous animal with a neighboring window in the hospital during his treatment is an unjustifiable way of use of force and the concerned police officer will be responsible for the commission of the act.


  1. Cherubin v. State of BiharAIR 1964 S.C. 205

In this case, it was held that if a naked electric wire is fixed without giving any warning, across the passage of a latrine to keep the trespassers away from the latrine, which can cause the death of a trespasser, it would be punishable.



Assault is basically an apprehension that he is going to be harmed. The person basically feels that he is going to get hurt by the actions or gestures of the other person. It is basically a stage before a battery is committed.




  1. Stephens v. Myers (1830) 4Cand P:172 E.R. 735

Both the plaintiff and defendant sat at the same table. They were in a meeting and a discussion was going on which took an ugly turn, The defendant held the chairman’s hand and clenched his fist saying that he would pull the chairman and throw him out of the room. He was held liable to assault.

  1. Rupabati v. Shyam AIR 1958 Cut 710

In this case, it was held that causing of hurt doesn’t necessarily become an Assault. Threating a person also becomes an Assault.

  1. AIR 1932, All. 524

It was held that a medical examination of a woman without her consent leads to the committing of Assault.



Assault is basically an apprehension that a person has that he is going to get hurt, and the other person causing such apprehension in the mind of other can be held liable for assault. The apprehension of the person is a very important factor in an Assault.



Photo by Sofia Sforza







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