The word ‘Tort’ is a Latin term ‘Tortum’ which means ‘twisting out’, implying conduct which is twisted or unlawful. This term was used in due course of time in English Courts for those special wrongs which allowed action in tort to give remedies. Thus, it consists of those wrongs or unlawful acts which violate legal rights of a person for which law provides remedy of unliquidated damages. Law of Tort in India is based on English Law and modified by the Acts of Indian Legislature.
Who cannot be sued?
A suit for tort cannot be brought against following persons –
- The State and the Acts of State
The State or the Crown in England followed the principle of King can do no wrong which meant that king can do no wrong, no action can be brought against him in a court of law. There is no such law in India like Crown Proceedings Act, 1947 in England regulating the liability of the state for the tortious acts committed by its servants. Thus, the common-law maxim mentioned above has never been applied in India.
An act is done in exercise of sovereign power in relation to another State or subjects of another State is an act of State and the validity of those acts cannot be questioned by municipal courts. If the government of India acquires a foreign territory and annexes it to the Indian territory, the residents of that territory or that State cannot take any action against the Indian Government. In India, the English Law relating to act of State is followed. An Act of state is not available against a citizen. Acts of state are based on policy considerations and not on law and therefore they are not justifiable by the municipal courts.
- Foreign Sovereign and Ambassadors
According to English law, no suit can be filed against an independent foreign sovereign or a sovereign state in municipal courts, unless they submit to the jurisdiction of the courts. The privileges available to the sovereign of other states are called legal immunities. The law regarding privileges and immunities of diplomatic envoys is contained in the Diplomatic Privileges Act, 1964.
In India, as provided in S. 86 of the CPC, no suit can be brought in a court against foreign sovereigns like Ambassadors, or diplomatic envoys without the prior permission of the Government of India.
- Public Officials
Since Public officials of State derive their power and authority from the State they cannot be sued in their representative capacity for torts committed by them or by their subordinates. But if they cause injury to others in the exercise of their personal powers, they can be sued and cannot plead the defense of sovereign’s authority.
- Minors & Lunatics
The liability of lunatic is similar to the liability of a minor. Generally, these two are not defense in tort, but in cases where required mental element is lacking, for e.g., intention, knowledge and malice may be good defense. A man is only liable for those acts which he does with full sense.
Similarly, a minor may sue for wrongful acts in the same way as an adult but the condition is that a minor can sue only by his next friend. Thus, a minor can be held liable for assault, nuisance, libel and slander, trespass and false imprisonment.
- Trade Unions
Under the Indian trade union act, 1926, a trade union may be registered and it may not be registered. If a trade union is registered, a suit can be brought against it in its registered name and if it is unregistered, a representative suit from one or more members can be filed in the court. But in the circumstances which are specified in section 18 of the act, no action can be brought against the office bearers of a registered trade union. According to section 18 of the act, no action can be brought against the members of a trade union in respect of a labor dispute.
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.
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