What are the differences between Intention and Motive?

This article describes the differences between Intention and Motive.


  1. Intention is divisible into immediate act and ulterior object.
  2. Example: a robber robs a person to purchase liquor for himself.
  3. “Robbing” is the “immediate act” and this immediate act is called “intention”.
  4. Intention is criminal law is always bad and evil.
  5. MISTY'S MORNINGS: My Word of the Year 2014


    Intention is relevant in determining the question of criminal liability.

  6. The act is the result of intention. Intention is the immediate act. Therefore, the criminal law concerns with the intention.
  7. The court did not consider their motive to protect the cows from slaughter. It considered that the Hindus were guilty of offence, as their “immediate act” i.e. removal of cows from the possession of the owner was bad in law according to sec. 146 IPC.
  8. Salmond said: “the point will judge a man by what he does……
  9. Intention is relevant in criminal and civil liability.


  1. The ulterior object is called motive.
  2. “To purchase wine” is the “ulterior object”. This ulterior object is called “motive”.
  3. Motive may be good or bad.
  4. It is a general rule; man’s motive is irrelevant in determining the criminal liability.
  5. The criminal law does not concern with good motives. End cannot justify the intention.
  6. Case-law: Emperor vs. Raghunatha Rai 1892; some Hindus forcibly removed two cows from a Mohammedan to save them from slaughter, in view of their religion.
  7. The point of asking for his motive is to find out what personal advantage he is seeking to gain; and a motive-fewer act is one aimed at no such personal advantage”.
  8. Not by the reasons for which he does it”.
  9. In exceptional cases, in civil liability, sometimes motive is relevant, e.g. defamation; malicious prosecution; cheque dishonor, etc.
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