AN OVERVIEW OF THE GENERAL EXCEPTIONS UNDER THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860

ABSTRACT

Indian Penal Code was established by the colonial government in 1860. It was the only statute of that time that was sought to handle the criminal matter. Even during the present scenario criminal matters are dealt under the provisions of IPC. This law was made to prevent the criminal activities and maintain the peace and harmony in the society. But, there arises certain circumstances where involuntarily a person has to commit some small crimes in order to prevent a greater crime. So, in this article, we will see what types of crime or better to say steps we can take to prevent some major criminal incidents and which all sections under IPC allows a person to take the laws in hand.

INTRODUCTION

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) was drafted in 1860 by the recommendation of First Law Commission of India. At present IPC is the official criminal code of India. It is divided into 23 chapters including 511 sections. Out of these 23 chapters chapter 4 talks about The General Exceptions spanning from section 76 to 106 .If an individual commits an offence, he can be exempted from criminal liability if his act is being covered under any of the General Exceptions mentioned in chapter 4. The general exceptions are divided into two categories

  1. Excusable exceptions
  2. Justifiable exceptions.

EXCUSABLE DEFENCE

Excusable defence cover those criminal acts in which Mens Rea is absent. In this crime there is no specific criminal intent or guilty mind. As accused don’t have a guilty mind during the commission of crime. So his acts are not punishable under any of the excusable defence.

INSANITY

Section 84[1] of the IPC says that act done by a person of unsound mind will not be considered as an offence. During the commission of the act the person should not be capable of knowing the nature of the act, or the act is either wrong or contrary to law. A person who is not sane from his birth, a person who is not of sound mind due to some disease or a lunatic person who became unsound for a certain period of time can plead for the defence of Insanity.

  • Example – If a person throws his child from the terrace thinking that the child is an Angel so he will fly but child died instantly after hitting the ground. The person can get the defence of insanity as he was mentally not fit and unable to think that his child is a normal child and can’t fly. 

In the case of Surendra Mishra v. State of Jharkhand (2011)[2], it was said that every person suffering from mental illness cannot be ipso facto exempted from criminal liability. Further in Rattan Lal v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2002)[3], it was considered that a person should be of unsound mind during the commission of the offence. For getting the defence under Section 84[4] the state of mind of accused will be determined by the acts preceded, attended and followed the crime.

INTOXICATION (SECTION 85 – 86)

If an Intoxicated person commit an offence he will not be liable for that offence if the intoxicant administered to him is against his will or without his knowledge. For example if a person ‘A’ mixes alcohol in person ‘B’ cold drinks without his knowledge and after drinking, A  punched the face of another person C he will not be liable for the crime as intoxicant administered to him is without his knowledge.

In Mirza Ghani Baig v. State of Andhra Pradesh(1997)[5] it was said that voluntary drinking is not an excuse for commission of crime. Further in Basdev v. State of Pepsu(1956)[6], when an intoxicated person shot a boy in the abdomen and killed him on the spot because he asked the boy to move a little and boy refused to that. Courts considered the person sober and for intention it was consider that the reason behind it was the degree of intoxication and the general circumstances of the case

JUSTIFIABLE DEFENCE

If the act of an accused will be justified under the law he can plead for justifiable defences. In normal conditions these acts will be wrongful but in some special circumstances same act will be considered tolerable and non-punishable

JUDICIAL ACT (SECTION 77-78)

Section 77[7] of the IPC says that any act of a judge will not amount to offence if the act is done judicially in good faith by exercising the power given or believed to be given to him by law.S.78 provides exemption to the acts done in a pursuance of a judgment or order of a court by a person in good faith believing that court has such jurisdiction.

Example – A judge will not be held liable for murder after giving death penalty to a convict

In the case of MeghRaj v. Zakir (1876)[8], it was held that a person who is acting judicially will not be liable for an act done or ordered to be done in the discharge of his official duty but within the limits of jurisdiction. He will get a defense under section 78[9] of the IPC.

NECESSITY (SECTION- 81)

Section 81[10] says that if an act likely to cause harm done without criminal intent, and to prevent another harm in good faith to a person or property will not amount to offence. If a person do a harm to avoid greater harm without any criminal intent in good faith will get the defense of Necessity.

Example – A the captain of a ship,suddenly and without any fault or negligence on his part, finds himself in such a position that, before he can stop his ship, he is going to run down a boat B with twenty passengers, if he changes the direction of his ship he is going to run down another boat C with five passenger, having knowledge to avoid greater harm in good faith he change the direction of his ship and ran down boat C causing the harm to boat C. Here he will get the defense of Necessity as he has committed the act in good faith and to avoid greater harm.

PRIVATE DEFENSE (SECTION 96 –106)

Under the private defense of the IPC a man is given authority to use necessary force against wrong doer for the purpose of protecting one’s own body and property and also another’s body and property when immediate aid from the state machinery is not readily available and in so doing he is not answerable in law for his deeds and he will be not held guilty for an offence. Section 99[11] says there is no right to private defense against an act which does not cause reasonable apprehension of death or of grievous hurt or if there is a reasonable time to have recourse to the protection of public authority or  inflicting of more harm than it is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defense.

Example –

1) A dog attacks a child in order to protect the child a men shoots the dog, here he will not held liable as he is exercising the right to private’s defense to protect the body of the child.

2)A men with a knife broke into a house at night, but owner of the house somehow came to know, so he took out his gun and fire a shot hearing to that the man ran out of the house but owner chase him and shot him. Here the owner will not get right to private defense. 

In Mohinder pal Jolly v. State of Punjab (1978)[12], some workers were shouting slogans for demands outside the factory. Some brickbats were also thrown by them which damaged the property of the owner after that owner fired two shots from outside his office room, one of which killed a worker. The court held that it was a case of mischief and the accused will not get the defense ofright to private defense.

REFERENCES

[1] ‘Insanity under IPC: An analysis of section 84’, RACOLB LEGAL, <http://racolblegal.com/insanity-under-ipc-an-analysis-of-section-84/>Accessed 7June, 2020.

[2] ‘Insanity defense: Past, Present, and Future’, INDIAN JOURNAL OF PSYCOLOGICAL MEDICINE, <http://www.ijpm.info/article.asp?issn=0253-7176;year=2015;volume=37;issue=4;spage=381;epage=387;aulast=Math;type=3> Accessed 7 June, 2020.

[3] ‘IPC- Section 86- Liability when there is intention’, LEAD INDIA, <https://www.thelila.in/ipc-section-86> Accessed 7 June, 2020.

[4] ‘Right to Private defense’, ACADEMIKE, <https://www.lawctopus.com/academike/right-private-defence/> Accessed 7 June, 2020.

[5] ‘Private Defence: A Right Available To All People in India’, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA.COM, <http://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l470-Private-Defence.html> Accessed 7 June, 2020.


[1]Indian penal Code, section 84, (1860)

[2]Surendra Mishra vs. State of Jharkhand, (2011), (11) SCC 495

[3]Rattan Lal vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2002), (7) SCC 627

[4]Supra Note (1)

[5]Mirza Ghani Baig v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1997) (2) Crimes (AP)(DB)

[6]Basdev v. State of Pepsu, (1956) SCR 363

[7]Indian Penal Code, Section 77, (1860)

[8] Megh Raj v. Zakir, (1876) ILR 1 All 280

[9]Indian Penal Code, Section 78, (1860)

[10]Indian Penal Code, Section 81, (1860)

[11]India Penal Code, Section 99, (1860)

[12] Mohinder pal Jolly v. State of Punjab, AIR 1979 SC 577

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