The Penal Code 1860 is a substantive law which governs several offences in Bangladesh. It came into force on the 1st of January 1862 and has 511 sections. There are five forms of punishments according to the Penal Code, namely, Death Penalty, Life Imprisonment, Imprisonment, Forfeiture of Property and Fine.
The aim of the law is to make people be aware about crimes and keep them away from doing it. However, it also contains few exemptions from punishments even if it’s a crime described in other sections. Following is a list of situations where you won’t be liable for any crime, given that you specifically satisfy the requirements. (Remember ‘The Purge Movie’?!)
- When you are bound by the Law (s.76)
Suppose you are a soldier and by the order of your superior officer you fired on a mob killing hundreds. Since you were just following legal orders, you have not committed any offence. [Case Reference: Satter vs. Stat  and Jahir vs. State]
- You are a judge and acting judicially (s.77)
Nothing is an offence which is done by a Judge when acting judicially in the exercise of any power which is, or which in good faith he believes to be, given to him by law.
- You did not have a criminal intention and tried to prevent a greater harm (s.81)
There’s a fire and you destroy surrounding houses made of hay to prevent the fire spreading. If you had done this with good faith, you are not guilty of any offence.
- If you are under 9 years old (s.82)
[Case Reference: Md. Rahamatullah vs. State]
- If you over 9 and under 12 years of age (s.83)
- If you are mentally unsound (s.84)
While committing the act if you had a diminished sense of reasoning and were incapable of knowing the nature of the act, then you are free from any charge. [Case Reference: State vs. Nazmul Islam, Nikhil Chandra vs. State and State vs. Abdus Samad]
- Act done with consent of the victim not intended to cause death or grievous hurt (s.87, s.88)
You are your friend agree to play with swords. At one point if your friend suffers serious harm and you did not have the intention do so, you are not liable for it.
- Good Faith (s. 88, s.89, s.92 and s.93)
Being a doctor, you know that the operation would kill the patient who is constantly complaining of the pain. However, not intending to cause his death, and for his own benefit, you perform the operation with his consent. You have not committed an offence in this situation.
- Whatever you do if you are threatened (s.94)
You won’t be liable for an offence except killing someone if you are under threat. For example, you are compelled to join a gang of robbers and help them rob a bank.
- Self Defence (s.97-s.106, except s.103-105)
Nothing is an offence if you are doing it to protect yourself. Section 100 lays down few situations when you can actually kill or cause serious bodily harm to the person who attacks you:
- The attack made you think you won’t escape alive from it.
- You thought if you dont fight back, you will be seriously harmed physically.
- If the attacker tried to rape you.
- The attacker tried to execute his unnatural lust on you
- The attack was made to kidnap you
- The attacker had the intention of wrongfully confining you and you feared you won’t be able to inform the police about it.
Section 100 explicitly mentions when a person is eligible to murder another person for exercising the right of Private Defence. An important case reference is Hasan Rony vs. State . Section 102 states that this right starts the very moment you fear physical danger and continues all throughout the attack.
- Private Defence as to saving your property (s.103- s.105)
Did you know that you can kill someone for the sake of your belongings? According to section 103, there are four situations where you can exercise your right to defend your property, as follows:
- When someone breaks into your house at night
- When someone sets fire to your house, tent or vessel where you live and where all your belongings are
- Theft, Mischief or House Trespass, whichever causes you to fear death or grievous hurt.
The Penal Code 1860, read along with the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 is the ultimate manual for law enforcers. It enlightens them about their rights to ensure justice is duly served. The sections mentioned above acquire a very small percentage of the entire law. This however does not give you the right to exercise your free will in acting illegally. The movie ‘Purge’ is a fictional story. In reality, person needs to fulfil the criteria very specifically to get their right. In order to ensure fairness, the exemptions are a last resort so that you do not get charged for something you didn’t want to do.
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