GENERAL EXCEPTIONS (76 – 106) except 91, 93, 94
The criminal law covers various punishments for offences which vary from case to case. But it is not always necessary that a person gets punished for a crime which he/she had committed. The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 recognized certain defences in Chapter IV under “General Exceptions.”Section 76 to 106 covers these defences which are based on the presumption that a person is not liable for the crime committed.By tendering a legally recognized defence to a criminal conduct person can escape criminal liability. Some common defences of criminal law, such as insanity, infancy and intoxication are based on the defendant’s lack of capacity to be held legally responsible. These defences depend upon the circumstances prevailing at that point of time, mensrea of person and reasonability of action of that accused. Read more here
Chapter IV of the Indian Penal Code deals with the general exceptions to criminal liability. There are various kinds of acts (exceptions) done under the circumstances mentioned in Secs. 76 to 106 which will not amount to offences under the Code.
These exceptions are:
- Mistake of fact (Secs. 76, 79).
- Judicial acts (Secs. 77-78).
- Accident (Sec. 80).
- Absence of criminal intention (Secs. 81-86, 92-94).
- Act done by consent (Secs. 87-91).
- Trifling act (Sec. 95).
- Private defence (Secs. 96-106).
Mistake of Facts
Section 76 excuses a person from criminal liability who is bound by law to do something and thereby executes it, or who in good faith, due to a mistake of fact believes that he is bound by law and so does it. However, Section 79 exempts a person who owing to a mistake of fact and not a mistake of law, believes that his actions are justified by law.
Section 52, IPC, defines the term ‘good faith’ as: “Nothing is said to be done or believed in ‘good faith’ which is done or believed without due care and attention.” Due care refers to the degree of reasonableness in the care exercised. The enquiry must be of such depth that any prudent and reasonable man would do with the intent to know the truth.
Judicial Acts: S. 77-78
2. Judicial Act (Section 77 & 78) – Mistake of courts & Judges
Section 77 & 78 provides exemption/defences from criminal liability on the basis of judicial acts.
Section 77: Section 77 protects judges from criminal liability. i.e. Mistake by Judges
Section 77 (Ingredients)
- He judge must be acting judicially
- Act must be within his/her jurisdiction
- The act must be performed in good faith.
Section 78: Section 78 protects people who act on the order/judgement of court from criminal liability.
Accident under Section 80
Includes an Accident committed while doing a lawful act. Nothing is an offence which is done by accident or misfortune, without any criminal intention or knowledge in the doing of a lawful act in a lawful manner by lawful means and with proper care and caution.
- Example: Suppose M is trying to shoot a bird with a gun but unfortunately the bullet reflected from the oak tree causing harm to N, then, M will not be liable.
Necessity (Section 81)
Act done in necessity, means Act likely to cause harm, but done without criminal intent and to prevent other harm
- JUS NECESSITATES
- NECESSITAS NON-HABET LEGEM (Means necessity knows no law).
Section 81 defines that if a person is put into two situations i.e. less dangerous & more dangerous and then that person have to select one situation from the two & if a person selects less dangerous situation , in that case he/she can use section 81 to his/her defense to minimize criminal liability. This is the defense of necessity.
- The act must be done under good faith.
- There must be no Mens Rea.
R vs. Dudley & Stephens
Infancy is a legal incapacity to be held responsible for a crime due to the age of the perpetrator. There is a legal incapacity for the crime under seven years of age. DoliIncapaxis a presumption of law which provides that child has no discretion to distinguish right from wrong, thus criminal intention does not arise. The defence of infancy was first time raised before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in GopinathGhosh V. State of West Bengal. The Sections 82 and 83 of Indian Penal Code deals with the criminal liability under infancy.
Section 82: Act of a child under seven years of age.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a child under seven years of age.
Section 83: Act of a child above seven and under twelve of immature understanding.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge of the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion.
The essential ingredients of Sections 82 and 83 are that children under seven years of age is doliincapax, i.e. he is incapable of committing a crime and cannot be guilty of any offence. In Krishna Bhagwan V. State of Bihar, Patna High Court upheld that if a child who is accused of an offence during the trial, has attained the age of seven years or at the time of decision the child has attained the age of seven years can be convicted if he has the understanding an knowledge of the offence committed by him.
Insanity (Section 84)
To use insanity as a legal excuse, the defendant has to show that he/she lacked the capacity to understand that the act was wrong, or the capacity to understand the nature of the act. The logic of the insanity as a defence goes back to the idea of mensrea and culpability. We as a society usually only want to punish those people who knew that any act against the fabric of the society, was wrong. The foundation of this law was first laid in the M’Naughton case by the House of Lords in 1843. The basis of the M’Naughtoncase is the inability to distinguish right from wrong. The basic idea is that some people, under the duress of a mental disorder, cannot control their actions despite understanding that the action is wrong. This general defence is explained under Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 84: Act of a person of unsound mind.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.
So it falls upon the accused to prove his insanity at the time of offence. It needs to be proved by the accused that because of the accused’s unsoundness of mind, he was incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that the act was contrary to provisions of law, or was wrong. In ShrikantAnandraoBhosale V. State of Maharashtra, where a husband killed his wife while he was suffering from paranoia schizophrenia. The Court allowed him the defence of insanity as he was not fully aware of his conduct and its consequence
–> Act of a person of unsound mind
–> Mental Abnormality
Insane Person ——> Crime——-> Exemption
Landmark case: MC Naughten
Ingredients of Section 84:
a. Acts must be done by a person of unsound mind.
b. Such a person must be incapable of knowing the nature of the act.
c. Such incapacity must be by reason of unsoundness of mind.
d. Incapacity should exist at the time of doing the act.
Tests For Insanity:
–> ‘Wild Beast Test’
–> ‘Insane Delusion Test’
–> ‘MC Naughten’s Rules’
Intoxication: S. 85 – 86
Section 85 accords immunity from criminal liability to a person who was intoxicated involuntarily and Section provides for a limited exemption wherein the person was voluntarily intoxicated, however for certain cases. To avail exemption under Section 85 the following have to be established:
- The inebriated state rendered him incapable of knowing the nature of his acts
- The act was wrong or contrary to law
- The intoxication was administered either without his will or without his knowledge
Normal persuasion acting as an incentive is out of the scope of the expression “against his will”, unless there exists an element of compulsion to consume the intoxicant against his will.[
who consumes the intoxicant voluntarily is not absolved of criminal liabilities due to self administration even if he is rendered incapable of knowing the nature of his acts which is either contrary to law or wrong. However, Section 86 exculpates a person who due to self administered intoxicant is rendered incapable of forming the specific intent or knowledge which is essential to constitute that particular crime committed by him.