Meaning of Mens rea 

         It is a cardinal principle of law.  it means "Mental element or Evil intent or Guilty mind".  It may be defined as the mental element is necessary to constitute a criminal liability. Mens rea is not defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

      Mere commitment of offense is not enough but it has to be proved that the offense was committed with "guilty mind".  for example -if a while playing cricket a person is hit by a ball and dies, a person hitting the ball cannot be charged with murder as there was no mens rea.

     In criminal offenses generally, Mens rea has to be proved by prosecution and quality of proof required is heavy i.E. It should be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

       Thus in criminal offences heavy burden is cast on government authorities regarding proof and hence many people are released by the court as a proof of mens rea (culpable mental state) " is not enough.

  • It is expressed in the Latin Maxim " actus non facit reum nisi mens sit Rea"  as a fundamental principle for penal liability.

  •   It means, "intent and act both must concur to constitute a crime.  in other words and act itself is no crime, unless it is coupled with an evil intent. for a person to be held guilty of the crime it is necessary that he had an intention to do it. for a person to be held guilty of theft, it should be established that he had an intention to steal.

No man should be a convicted of a crime unless the two requirements of mental element are satisfied in every crime that requirements are as follows-

(i) Actus Reus (Physical Element)

(ii) Mens Rea (Mental Element)

(i) Actus Reus (Physical Element) -

            To constitute a crime at common law there must always be result brought by human conduct, a physical event, which the law prohibits, for example,  Killing of a man Raping a woman etc.  It has long been the custom to employ the term Actus Reus to denote a deed so prohibited. A result of human conduct is an event which, for the present for purposes must be carefully distinguished from the line of conduct which produced that event.

No man can pursue a line of conduct without producing containing series of events, any one of which may, or may not constitute an event Forbidden by law. Thus a man who intends to murder another may lawfully purchase a revolver for the purpose, or he may secretly take and carry away the revolver without the consent of the owner, thus performing the actus reus of theft. He may then break and enter victims dwelling house during the night thereby performing the acts reus of another crime, viz., burglary.

(ii) Mens Rea (Mental Element) - Mens rea is a technical term, generally taken to mean some blameworthy mental condition whether constituted by intention or knowledge or otherwise the absence of which on any particular occasion negatives and intentions of a crime.


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