Accident as an Exception under IPC

ACCIDENT AS AN EXCEPTION UNDER IPC

INTRODUCTION

In contemporary culture, the number of crimes and illegal activities is skyrocketing. All of this is governed by the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which includes the regulations and mandates relating to crime and offense in India. It also specifies the nature and severity of the punishment that will be imposed.

The degree of the punishments is mentioned in the IPC according to the nature of the offense committed, which includes both simple and severe punishments. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as in the case of accidents and other cases where the conduct was performed without any illegal or criminal intent.

The accident is described as an act that causes harm to others without having the purpose to do so. The person’s loss should be unintentional, and proper precautions should be taken in normal situations. It is neither rational nor justifiable to penalize someone who does not intend to commit a crime. As a result, the law of the IPC treats this as an exceptional situation, acquitting the person whose act was the outcome of a lawful act, as well as an act committed without criminal purpose or knowledge.

SECTION 80 OF IPC

The legal stance of considering the accident as an exception is mentioned under section 80 of IPC. The section is explained as,

Accident in doing a lawful act.—Nothing is an offense which is done by accident or misfortune, and 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.” [1]

ESSENTIALS INGREDIENTS

The essentials of an act to determine its validity under section 80 includes:

  • The act committed should be the result of an accident.
  • There should not be any unlawful or criminal intention towards the act.
  • It should not include any sort of unlawful activities or conduct of lawful means.
  • The person should have taken due care and caution of a reasonable person.
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Example:

X is a person who works at a machine that cuts huge logs of timber into pieces. Person Y was standing near the machine and was hit by a piece of hardwood, due to which he died. X cannot be held accountable in this case if he had taken reasonable precautions.

In this situation, section 80 can be applied to treat the act as an accident that was not intended.

REASONABILITY OF CONSIDERING ACCIDENT AS AN EXCEPTION UNDER IPC

According to the provision of section 80 IPC, an act committed accidentally without any sort of unlawful or criminal intention cannot be treated as an offense.

To consider an act as a crime or offense, it should satisfy both the elements of ‘Actus Rea’ and ‘Mens Rea’. The term Mens Rea includes the criminal intention and the guilty mind to commit the offense. But in the case of the accident, the act is done without any kind of intention to cause harm or the death of a person. Here the second condition of Mens Rea is not satisfied.

Hence, an accident cannot be treated as a crime under the Indian Penal Code, due to which it is re asonable and justified to consider an accident as an exception under IPC.

CASE LAWS RELATED TO SECTION 80 OF IPC

In the State of Orissa v. Khora Ghasi (1978) Cri LJ 1305 case, the accused had shot an arrow towards the movement along with his crop, which was believed to be a bear that came to destroy the field and the crop. But it hit the victim due to which he was dead.[2]

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In this situation, the accused cannot be held liable for the death as he did not have any intention of killing the victim and it is considered an exception under section 80 of IPC.

In Jogeshwar V. Emperor (24 Cri LJ 789) case, the essentials of section 80 IPC were not satisfied where the accused was hitting the victim by giving the first blow. Later the wife of the victim with her 2-month-old baby comes in between to save her husband. In course of this, the baby gets the blow as the accused hits his head which further resulted in the death of the baby.[3]

As per the essential conditions of Section 80, the act committed should be lawful and carried out lawfully, but here hitting a person is not a lawful act. Due to which the exception of the accident is not applicable in this case.

BURDEN OF PROOF

Generally, the burden of proof lies on the person or party who seeks some sort of relief or wishes the court to grant or believe some fact which proves his point of fact.

In this case of claiming the exception of Accident under section 80 of IPC, it is the duty and responsibility of the accused person to prove that the act was committed without any criminal intention or unlawful means.

Hence, the accused has to prove that, he had no negative intention to commit the act and that he was not negligent.

CONCLUSION

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides various provisions and rules regarding the crimes, type of punishments, and exceptions to the crimes.

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There are various general exceptions in IPC, one such exception is ‘Accident as an Exception Under IPC’ which is mentioned under section 80. This provision mentions that when a person commits an act by accident or misfortune without any sort of criminal intent to harm the person, he is not liable for punishment under IPC. But the main and important condition is that the person should not commit any unlawful act or follow any kind of unlawful means to do an act. This exception provides relief to the person who had no guilty mind or criminal intent to commit because a person cannot be punished for an act which he never intended.

REFERENCES:

[1] Section 80 in The Indian Penal code, Indian Kanoon, <Section 80 in The Indian Penal Code (indiankanoon.org)>.

[2] State of Orissa v. Khora Ghasi (1978) Cri LJ 1305, Case Mine, < State Of Orissa v. Khora Ghasi . | Orissa High Court | Judgment | Law | CaseMine>

[3] General Exceptions : Accident, Law Times Journal, < General Exceptions: Accident – Law Times Journal>

 

Author: Kadimi Lakshmi Harshitha,
Alliance University and 2nd Year / Student

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