SECTION 79 OF IPC, 1860 ​

ACT DONE BY A PERSON JUSTIFIED, OR BY MISTAKE OF FACT BELIEVING HIMSELF JUSTIFIED BY LAW.​

NOTHING IS AN OFFENCE WHICH IS DONE BY ANY PERSON WHO IS JUSTIFIED BY LAW, OR WHO BY REASON OF MISTAKE OF FACT AND NOT BY REASON OF A MISTAKE OF A LAW IN GOOD FAITHBELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE JUSTIFIED BY LAW, IN DOING IT.​

​ILLUSTRATION: A SEES Z COMMIT WHAT APPEARS TO A TO BE A MURDERER. A, IN THE EXERCISE, TO THE BEST OF HIS JUDGEMENT EXERTED IN GOOD FAITH, OF THE POWER WHICH THE LAW GIVES TO ALL THE PERSONS OF APPREHENDING MURDERS IN THE FACT, 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.​

1. Any person who is justified by law

In the case of Raj Kapoor v. Laxman J. Krishna Iyer stated that:​ Jurisprudentially viewed an act may be an offence , definitionally speaking but a forbidden act may not spell inevitable guilt if the law declares that in certain circumstances it is not be regarded as an offence.​

Section 79 makes an offence a non offence when the offending act is actually justified by law or is bona fide believed by a mistake of fact to be so justified.In the same case the court said the argument is irresistible that if the performance of the act which constitutes the offence is justified by the law, i.e. by some other provision, then Section 79 exonerates the doer because the act ceases to be an offence. ​
​Likewise, if the act were done by one ” who by reason of mistake of fact in good faith believes himself to be justified by law in doing it ”  then also exception operates and the bona fide belief, although mistaken, eliminates the culpability. ​
​If the offender can irrefutably establish that he is actually justified by law in doing the act or, alternatively, that he entertained a mistake of fact and in good faith believes himself to be justified by law in committing the act, then the weapon of section 79 demolishes the prosecution. ​

2. MISTAKE OF FACT

​Mistake is not mere forgetfulness. It is a slip “ made, not by design , but by mischance”.​ At common law an honest and reasonable belief in the existence of circumstances, which, if true, would make the act for which a prisoner is indicted an innocent act has always been held to be a good defence.​ Ignorantia facti doth excusat i.e. ignorance of fact is an excuse, for such an ignorance many times makes the act itself morally involuntary. 

​State of Orissa v. Khora Ghasi, 1978 CrLj 1305 (Ori)​

The accused while guarding the guarding his maize field shot an arrow moving object in the bona fide belief that it was a bear and in the process caused the death of a man who was hiding there.​It was held that he could not be held liable for murder as his case was fully covered by S. 79 as well as S. 80 of ipc.​

Keso Sahu v. Saligram 1977 CrLJ 1725(Ori)​

In this case the accused while helping the police stopped a cart which they in good faith believed to carrying smuggled rice but ultimately their suspicion proved to be incorrect.​It was held that they could not be prosecuted for the wrongful restraint S. 341 as their case was covered by S. 79 makes an offence a non offence.​

3. Mistake of Law

Mistake in point of law in a criminal case is no defense. Mistake of law ordinarily means mistake as to the existence or otherwise of any law on a relevant subject as well as mistake as to what law is.​ Ignorantia juris non excusat meaning thereby ignore of law is no excuse. In its application to criminal offences, admits of no exception, not even in the case of a foreigner who cannot reasonably be supposed in fact to know the law of the land. 

​In the case of Tustipada Mandal, 1950​ court stated that Whenever  the question of an offence either due to mistake of fact or mistake of law arises , the guiding rules laid down in Tustipada mandal, 1950 are:\n(i) That when an act is in itself plainly criminal, it is more severely punishable if certain circumstances co-exist, ignorance of the existence of such circumstances is no answer to a charge for the aggravated offence.​That where an act is prima facie innocent & proper, unless certain circumstances co-exist, then ignorance of such circumstances is an answer to the charge.​ That the state of the defendant’s mind must amount to absolute ignorance of the existence of the circumstance which alters the character of the act, or to a belief in its non-existence.​Where an act which is in itself wrong if, under certain circumstances, criminal, a person who does the wrong act cannot set up as a defense that he was ignorant of the facts which turned the wrong into a crime.​ Where a statute makes it penal to do an act under certain circumstances. It is a question upon the wording & object of the particular statute, whether the responsibility of ascertaining that the circumstances exist is thrown upon the person who does the act or not. In the former case his knowledge is immaterial.​

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.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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