Mere Misuse of Authority Without Mens Rea Is Not Crime

Misuse of authority in general means wrong and improper exercise of authority for the purpose not intended by law. In order to prove the charge or allegation of misuse of authority, at least two basic ingredients that are mens rea and actus rea of crime have to be necessarily established and in case anyone is found missing, the offense is not made out.

Mens rea in context to misuse of authority means to act in disregard of law with the conscious knowledge that act was being done without the authority of law and except in case of strict liability, the element of mens rea is a necessary constituent of crime.

The offense of corruption and corrupt practices within the meaning to section 9 (a) (vi) of national accountability ordinance 1999, is not an offense of strict liability, therefore the use of authority without the object of illegal gain or pecuniary benefit or undue favor to any other person with some ulterior motive, may not be a deliberate act to constitute an offense.

Mens rea for an offense under national accountability ordinance 1999, is found in two elements i.e. conscious misuse of authority and illegal gain or undue benefit. In absence of any one of such basic components of crime, misuse of authority is not culpable.

The prosecution must establish men’s rea and actus rea of crime to establish a charge. Without proof of such elements of crime, mere misuse of authority has no penal consequence.

This observation was given in a case which was decided by the supreme court of Pakistan between The State Vs M. Idrees Ghauri. The proper citation is 2008 SCMR 1118

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