IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


24th November, 2023 Polity


Copyright infringement not intended

Picture Courtesy: ylcube.com

Context: The Supreme Court ruling establishes that under the 'doctrine of transfer of malice,' a person can be convicted of murder if the intended target is mistakenly killed; transferring the offender's intent and motive to the actual victim.

About Doctrine of transfer of malice

  • The Supreme Court ruled that a person can be held guilty of murder even if he kills someone other than his intended target by mistake. This is based on the legal principle known as the 'doctrine of transfer of malice', which means that the intention and motive of the offender are transferred from the original victim to the actual victim.
  • The doctrine is applicable when the offender commits an act with a specific intention to harm one person, but by mistake or accident harms another person. In such cases, the law considers that the offender's malice is transferred from the intended victim to the actual victim, and he is liable for the same offence as if he had harmed the intended victim.
  • The court explained that the intention of an offender is not affected by his anger or fear and that he is responsible for the consequences of his act, regardless of whom he harms.
  • The court also cited several precedents from Indian and English law, where the doctrine of transfer of malice was applied in similar cases. The court noted that the doctrine is well established in criminal jurisprudence and that it serves the purpose of justice and deterrence.


Q. In which scenario does the Doctrine of Transfer of Malice apply?

A) When an offender accidentally causes harm while trying to help someone

B) When an offender harms someone out of self-defense

C) When an offender intends to harm one person but inadvertently harms another

D) When an offender commits a crime under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Answer: C

Explanation: The doctrine applies when an individual intends harm toward a specific person but, inadvertently or accidentally, causes harm to someone else instead.