State the general principles of criminal liability which are relevant to criminal proceedings in general.

Criminal liability is explains the logical structure of the criminal law. The prosecutors need to prove each element of the crime, is principle of criminal liabilities. All criminal charge needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Liability needs to be distinguished;

  • Culpability- infers intent,
  • Capacity – capacity defense,
  • Responsibility – presumptions

General principle                                                         

  • Principle of Actus Reus

The fundamental principle of liability is actus Reus. The common element of homicide is Actus Reus. It defined as such result of human conduct as the law seeks prevent.

In the given case; there are illegal commissions from both sides. The Actus reus of villagers is clearly shown; the villagers encircle and attack upon them. They liable for homicide, grievous hurt, captured detained, disappearance and create situation to death. There strict liability in all offenses.

In other, A side have come with intention of illegal act, like motive of child marriage.

  • Principle of Mens rea

Any action or conduct itself is not criminal offense until attend by a guilty mind. Mens rea must enlarge to all three element of an act;

  • The physical doing or not doing,
  • The circumstances, and
  • The consequences.

The mental element in the wrongdoing of homicide used to be called ‘Malice aforethought’. The mens rea show the thought process and goal. Point is something which prompts an individual to frame a goal.

In other words, it is mysterious intention. But intention is immediate mental condition. Thought process however not a sine qua non for bringing the offense home to the blamed is pertinent on the topic of goal. Thought process is fundamentally a sign to the expectation.

If the mens rea does not cover to any part of the act, there will be no guilty mind or intention behind the act.

Therefore, the mens rea component also find of A’s family and villagers. They have many legal option or way than the killing. For instance, they can call the police, or catch them and take to the police office.

When rejecting the marriage proposal, Z calls A to take away from her home. The possible incident should be her knowledge, because of previous act. Her family has intention for that commission, or let’s says planning for criminal act.

Another (A) side, they break lockdown rule and their intention also to do unlawful activities such as child marriage, because the girl age only 17 years. The law of marriage allow after completion age of 20 years.

Mens rea when Not Essential: Strict Liability

Although mens rea is a sacred principle of criminal law, it can be waived in certain circumstances.

Principle of Causation

The principle of causation is a supplementary element. Some offense need such type of element to complete the crime, such as;

Orderly condition – Some wrongdoing have extra component that should go with the criminal demonstration and the criminal mind; e.g. rape, the perpetrators should be connected or associated with the victims. But not with your wife

Vicarious liability – Sometimes, under rules, the guilty party would not be the person who committed the act but the person who intended the act, involve in planning; e.g. supervisors of employees. Only he/she in not present or engaged physically.

  • Principle of Resulting Harm

Presumptions are court ordered assumptions. The most widely recognized assumption is updates that the charged is viewed as honest until demonstrated blameworthy and the denounced is to be considered rational, typical and able.

Principle and law

Basically, there are three factors of proving criminal liability:

  • Origin in some mental or bodily activity,
  • Its circumstances, and
  • Its consequences.

From the legal point of view, Criminal liability has to be established by the proof of some act, which is dangerous. But at the same time, the proof of actual damage, then it’s difficult to prove the crime.

The result of villagers act, A suffers death, it means unlawful killing or homicide. So, the actus reus include in A’s death. This act is under section 177(1) of National Penal Code, 2074 (NPC), they should punish for imprisonment for life.

In case of B; the liability of actus reus govern under section 192(2) of NPC for grievous hurt. Similarly, for C they liable under section 212 and 213 of NPC. For D; they are liable under clause (2) (b) of Section 206 of NPC.

Likewise for E, govern under section 178 of NPC, they act (terror), with the knowledge that likely to cause the death of the E.


The Actus reus and Mens rea are the most common element of criminal liability. At least one element is compulsory to completion the crime.  Actus reus has defined as such result of human conduct as the law seeks to prevent. The act may be positive (commission) or negative (omission). Mens rea is flexible sense and covers a wide range of mental states and conditions, the existence of which would give a criminal hue to actual reus.

The element of Actus reus and Mens rea of the perpetrators is unblemished in the given case, Therefore, they are punishable as per described above.



Allen, Michael J. 2001. Case and Materials or Criminal Law (Eight Edition). London: Sweet and Maxwell.

Aslam, Mohb Aqib. …….. General principles of criminal liability: mens rea and actus reus, mens rea in statutory offences, Joint And Constructive Liability. Accessed on 19 July 2020.

National Penal Code, 2074.


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