Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the offence of hurt can be found in the ‘offences affecting the human body’ chapter. Physical assault is one of the main offences that finds mention in the IPC. On the basis of seriousness of the offence, it is divided into the following four categories:
1. Assault (section 351, IPC);
2. Hurt and Grievous Hurt (sections 319, 338, IPC);
3. Culpable Homicide, (sections 299, 304, IPC) and
4. Murder (sections 300, 302, IPC)
The offence of hurt has been defined in Section 319 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The bare provision relating to hurt reads as follows –
“Whoever causes bodily pain, disease or infirmity to any person is said to cause hurt.”
It is interesting to note that hurt is referred to as battery under English Law. As is evident from the above definition of hurt, in order to constitute hurt, it is essential to cause
1. Bodily pain,
2. Disease, or
3. Infirmity to another
Let us understand each of the ingredients mentioned above in detail in order to get into the depth of the offence of hurt.
The first thing that needs to be noted here is that it is hurt only if it is bodily pain and not mental pain. There is a difference between hurt and pain. A person might be in a lot of emotional pain due to the acts of another, however, under IPC since there is no bodily pain, the other person cannot be charged with hurt.
The second thing that should be underscored here is that while bodily pain is necessary for hurt, physical contact is not. In other words, if an act does not involve any physical contact but results in the causing of bodily pain, it is still hurt.
The last important point to be referred to here is the situation where hurt leads to death.
Dhani Ram v. Emperor
If the injury is not serious and there was no intention to cause death, nor had the accused knowledge that it was likely to cause death, or grievous hurt, the accused would be guilty of causing hurt only, even though death is caused.
Hurt is not just restricted to bodily pain. Even communication or transfer of a particular disease by one person to another can be subsumed within the definition of hurt under the IPC. But it is fascinating to note here there are contradictory orders passed by various courts on this issue.
R v. Clarence
This case related to the transfer of sexual disease from husband to wife. The Court held that the husband was not guilty of hurt even though he had infected his wife with gonorrhoea inspite of knowing his condition and being aware that she would not have had sexual intercourse with him had she known his condition.
The general sense of the word ‘infirmity’ refers to some sort of weakness. However, in the present context infirmity refers to a temporary mental impairment, hysteria or terror. A case law will help understand this provision better.
Jashanmal Jhamatmal v. Brahmanand Sarupananda
The essence of this case is as follows. The accused landlord, in order to frighten the tenant’s wife, uttered a violent scream in the middle of the night and waved a pistol in front of the woman. The woman was shocked, hence collapsed, and was seriously ill for considerable time. It was held that this was within the meaning of temporary impairment or hysteria and hence the accused had caused infirmity and in turn, hurt.
From the above discussion, it follows that while hurt is caused when there is bodily pain, it can also be caused by transfer of a disease or infirmity. It is crucial to understand hurt and its essential ingredients for us to ascertain whether the offence of hurt is made out in a particular case or not.
 The Indian Penal Code, 1860, S.319
 Gaur K.D, Textbook on Indian Penal Code (6th Edition, 2016), Universal Law Publishing, Gurgaon.
 Jashanmal Jhamatmal v. Brahmanand Sarupananda, AIR 1944 Sind 19.
 Dhani Ram v. Emperor, (1913) 14 Cr. LJ 104
 (1888) 22 QBD 23 (42-43) (HL)
 AIR 1944 Sind 19