Legal Maxim

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What an attempt is, is not defined in the law




The maxim can be defined as an attempt is nowhere defined in the law. A person commits the offense of ‘attempt to commit a particular offense’ when he intends to commit that particular offense, and he, having made preparations and with the intention to commit the offense, does an act towards the commission; such an act need not be second last act towards the commission of that offense nut must be an act during the course of committing that offense.

This is an old maxim which is used in modern times. This maxim is interpreted by many jurists. This maxim is being interpreted in many cases and precedents as well.


The Police Officer arrested a person after gathering enough evidence against him for an attempt to murder; after being produced in the Court, the Judge claimed that it is non definitur in jure quid sit conatus.


In the case of State of Maharashtra vs. Mohd. Yakub S/O Abdul Hamid & Ors, it was held that ‘what constitutes as an “attempt” is a mixed question of law and fact, depending largely on the circumstances of the particular case. “Attempt” defies a precise and exact definition. Broadly speaking, all crimes which consist of the commission of affirmative acts are preceded by some covert or overt conducted which may be divided into three stages.

This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Vishakha Bhardwaj during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Vishakha is a third-year law student at the Army Institute of Law, Mohali.


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