Understanding of mental elements such as Intention, Knowledge, Motive in IPC, is confusing for law students who reads this first time in IPC. Sometimes, language of the book makes it confusing and sometimes we do not find our IPC teacher as good who could explain these terms in simplest way. However, through the course of time when we develop a legal mind and use these elements in moot cases during law school and later during law practice, we start to understand and differentiate these elements.

But, for those students who are new at this and trying to learn the differences between these terms, it is better to understand through the example of a movie. As we hear that, we can forget what we read in books but we remember throughout life what we watched in a movie. Because movie shows the event visually and our mind fully concentrates during that time.

Therefore, to understand these mental elements, Salman Khan’s “Kyun ki…” movie could be the best. But If you did not watch the movie, this article will also help you.


To explains these elements, I am using the part of movie which tells us why hero became insane and was admitted to psychiatric hospital.  

Anand was deeply in love with Maya. Actually, both were in love with each other. During their love journey, Maya shared her wishes with Anand to learn horse-riding and driving, but every time she pranked with Anand, because, actually she already knew horse riding and driving. During horse riding and then driving, she shouted for help but when Anand reach for her, he found her laughing at him.  

At their pre-marriage party, she also made a wish to learn swimming, Raj thought she is again making fun and she know swimming. He threw her in the swimming pool and went away from there but Maya actually did not know swimming and as a result of that, she drowned and died.

After the death of Maya, Raj repented too much and became insane, doctor approved his insanity and court allowed him to admit to psychiatric hospital.

Now, learn the three mental elements “INTENTION”, “KNOWLEDGE”, AND “MOTIVE”.


Intention means when a person intends to do an act that is forbidden by law. Intention is immediately precedent to the prohibited act. For example, Aanand threw his friend to the swimming pool and went away from there without knowing that she does not know swimming.

So, at the time of throwing, he did not have intention to kill his friend but he had intention to throw her in swimming pool which caused her death. In this case, he just intended to throw her in swimming pool and not drowning.


Here comes the knowledge, when he threw her in the swimming pool, he did not know the consequence because he did know that she can’t swim, he was thinking of her previous pranks at that time. he threw her into swimming pool but he was unaware of the consequences. In other words, He did not have knowledge of what could happen with her friend.

Although he had intention to threw her but he did not have knowledge of the consequences.

But it is position of law that where a particular act is forbidden the question of knowledge becomes immaterial.


Motive is ulterior reason which induced a person to commit an act. There could be good motive or bad motive. By motive is meant anything that can contribute to, give birth to, or even to prevent, any kind of action. Motive is not immediate and it could be pre-thought. In this case, there was a good motive to push her into swimming pool because he was aware of her previous pranks and he did not mean to kill her by drowning.

Motive, though not a sine qua non for bringing the offence home to the accused, is relevant and important on the question of intention. if there is really no motive and the crime is completely motiveless then that circumstance can be taken into consideration along with the evidence of his insanity.


In this case,

  • he intended to threw her in swimming pool, which means he had intention to throw her. (Intention)
  • He did not know that she can’t swim so he did not have knowledge of consequences. (knowledge)
  • He did not have any motive to kill her because he just wanted to fail new prank of her. (Motive)

Thus, although he had intention to throw her in swimming pool he did not have knowledge of consequences because he was considering that she can swim, So, he did not have intention to kill her. Here is also, there was no bad motive behind this action, which could corroborate with his intention, because both were in love and there were previous occasions of such know-unknowing between them. His approved insanity after her death also proves that he did not mean to kill by throwing her.

It will be expedient to conclude this article with the definition of intention given by Sir james Stephen in his History of the Criminal law, Vol. II, p. 100,

“The direction of conduct towards the object chosen is called the intention or aim.”

(for the metaphor involved in the word is obviously taken from aiming with a bow and arrow)[1]

[1] S. Vullappa and Ors. vs S. Bheema Row, 43 Ind Cas 578, (1917) 33 MLJ 729

This article is written by Advocate A.H. Gangohi.