General Exceptions under Indian Penal Code

GENERAL EXCEPTION UNDER IPC- PART 1

Chapter IV of IPC, comprising sec 76-106, exempts certain acts from criminal liability. Though the act of an accused prima facie falls within the terms of an offence, does not constitute an offence if it is covered by the exceptions given under this chapter. A wrongdoer, who has committed an offence may escape the liability because he has general exception to offer as an answer to prosecution. Every penal clause is subject to number of limitations and no offence can be absolute without any exceptions. An act committed by a child cannot be treated as same as committed by an adult person. In order to avoid repetition, all the exceptions are codified in a single chapter. This can be inferred from sec 6 of IPC.

Fundamental Principle of criminal law is that a person is innocent until proved guilty. The prosecution has to prove the guilt of accused beyond reasonable doubt. But if the accused claims any defence available under general exception than the burden shifts on the accused that his case falls under one of the section given under Chapter IV of IPC. This article will provide information from Section 76-80 of IPC.

Sec 40 para 2 of IPC defines the word “offence” as denoting a thing punishable under IPC as well as under a special or local law. By reading sec 40 along with sec 6 i.e. Sec 6 of IPC states that

Definitions in the Code to be understood subject to exceptions.—

Throughout this Code every definition of an offence, every penal provision, and every illustration of every such definition or penal provision, shall be understood subject to the exceptions contained in the Chapter entitled “General Exceptions”, though those exceptions are not repeated in such definition, penal provision, or illustration.

of IPC it is clear that the chapter of general exception is applicable not only to IPC but also to the penal provision in special and local laws.  The title “General Exceptions” is therefore adopted to convey that these exceptions are available to accused of all offences.

TYPES OF GENERAL EXCEPTIONS:-

1. Excusable Act:

This is the first category of general exceptions where the law excuses certain acts even though it constitutes an offence. Here the act is excused for want of requirement of mens rea. It treats the actus reus as non-criminal because of the absence of mens rea. Eg: Act of infant or insane person.

2. Justifiable Act:

This is the second category of General Exceptions where the acts committed, though are offences, are held to be justifiable under certain circumstances. Act done is justified on account of some other meritorious considerations neutralising the corresponding liability. Eg: Act done out of necessity, act done in private defence.

GENRAL EXCEPTIONS:-

1. MISTAKE OF LAW

Based on the maxim “Ignoratia facit doth excusat, ignoratia juris non excusat.” There are three ingredients for a mistake to be an excusable act.

  • The mistake must be of such a nature, that if the things as claimed is supposed to be true, it would excuse the act done.
  • Mistake must be a reasonable one.
  • Mistake must pertain to fact and not law.

Sec 76 (Bound by law) and sec 79 (Justified by law) of IPC deals with mistake of fact.

Sec 76 of IPC gives immunity from criminal liability to a person who is bound by law.

It states that nothing is an offence which is done by a person who is, or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law, in good faith believes himself to be, bound by law to do it.

Eg: A, a soldier, fires on a mob by the order of his superior officer, in conformity with the commands of the law. A has committed no offence. Ingredients of sec 76:

  • The person was bound by law or has the belief that he was bound by law to do the act.
  • Such belief must be by reason of mistake of fact and not by reason of mistake of law.
  • Such belief must be in good faith.

(Sec 52 defines good faith as nothing is said to be done or believed in “good faith” which is done or believe without due care and attention)

Sec 79 of IPC gives immunity from criminal liability to a person who is justified by law.

It states that nothing is an offence which is done by any person who is justified by law, or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law in good faith, believes himself to be justified by law, in doing it.

Eg: A sees Z committing murder. A acting in good faith seizes Z in order to bring Z before the proper authorities. A has committed no offence, though it may turn out that Z was acting in self-defense. Ingredients of sec 79:

  • The person was justified by law or has the belief that he was justified by law in doing it.
  • Such belief must be by reason of mistake of fact and not by reason of mistake of law.
  • Such belief must be in good faith.

GENERAL EXCEPTION UNDER IPC- PART 1

Chapter IV of IPC, comprising sec 76-106, exempts certain acts from criminal liability. Though the act of an accused prima facie falls within the terms of an offence, does not constitute an offence if it is covered by the exceptions given under this chapter. A wrongdoer, who has committed an offence may escape the liability because he has general exception to offer as an answer to prosecution. Every penal clause is subject to number of limitations and no offence can be absolute without any exceptions. An act committed by a child cannot be treated as same as committed by an adult person. In order to avoid repetition, all the exceptions are codified in a single chapter. This can be inferred from sec 6 of IPC.

Fundamental Principle of criminal law is that a person is innocent until proved guilty. The prosecution has to prove the guilt of accused beyond reasonable doubt. But if the accused claims any defence available under general exception than the burden shifts on the accused that his case falls under one of the section given under Chapter IV of IPC. This article will provide information from Section 76-80 of IPC.

Sec 40 para 2 of IPC defines the word “offence” as denoting a thing punishable under IPC as well as under a special or local law. By reading sec 40 along with sec 6 i.e. Sec 6 of IPC states that

Definitions in the Code to be understood subject to exceptions.—

Throughout this Code every definition of an offence, every penal provision, and every illustration of every such definition or penal provision, shall be understood subject to the exceptions contained in the Chapter entitled “General Exceptions”, though those exceptions are not repeated in such definition, penal provision, or illustration.

of IPC it is clear that the chapter of general exception is applicable not only to IPC but also to the penal provision in special and local laws.  The title “General Exceptions” is therefore adopted to convey that these exceptions are available to accused of all offences.

TYPES OF GENERAL EXCEPTIONS:-

1. Excusable Act:

This is the first category of general exceptions where the law excuses certain acts even though it constitutes an offence. Here the act is excused for want of requirement of mens rea. It treats the actus reus as non-criminal because of the absence of mens rea. Eg: Act of infant or insane person.

2. Justifiable Act:

This is the second category of General Exceptions where the acts committed, though are offences, are held to be justifiable under certain circumstances. Act done is justified on account of some other meritorious considerations neutralising the corresponding liability. Eg: Act done out of necessity, act done in private defence.

GENRAL EXCEPTIONS:-

1. MISTAKE OF LAW

Based on the maxim “Ignoratia facit doth excusat, ignoratia juris non excusat.” There are three ingredients for a mistake to be an excusable act.

  • The mistake must be of such a nature, that if the things as claimed is supposed to be true, it would excuse the act done.
  • Mistake must be a reasonable one.
  • Mistake must pertain to fact and not law.

Sec 76 (Bound by law) and sec 79 (Justified by law) of IPC deals with mistake of fact.

Sec 76 of IPC gives immunity from criminal liability to a person who is bound by law.

It states that nothing is an offence which is done by a person who is, or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law, in good faith believes himself to be, bound by law to do it.

Eg: A, a soldier, fires on a mob by the order of his superior officer, in conformity with the commands of the law. A has committed no offence. Ingredients of sec 76:

  • The person was bound by law or has the belief that he was bound by law to do the act.
  • Such belief must be by reason of mistake of fact and not by reason of mistake of law.
  • Such belief must be in good faith.

(Sec 52 defines good faith as nothing is said to be done or believed in “good faith” which is done or believe without due care and attention)

Sec 79 of IPC gives immunity from criminal liability to a person who is justified by law.

It states that nothing is an offence which is done by any person who is justified by law, or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law in good faith, believes himself to be justified by law, in doing it.

Eg: A sees Z committing murder. A acting in good faith seizes Z in order to bring Z before the proper authorities. A has committed no offence, though it may turn out that Z was acting in self-defense. Ingredients of sec 79:

  • The person was justified by law or has the belief that he was justified by law in doing it.
  • Such belief must be by reason of mistake of fact and not by reason of mistake of law.
  • Such belief must be in good faith.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

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