Nuisance came into our language from the French word nuire, which means ‘to annoy’ or ‘to cause harm’. Literally, nuisance means irritation or annoyance. It is a noun that has been used in English since the 15th century. The law guarantees everyone the right to enjoy and use their property. There is a tort of nuisance when someone unlawfully enters into a property in order to use or enjoy it. It is a private nuisance if the inconvenience is experienced alone or by a small group of individuals, while it is a public nuisance if it disturbs the general public.
Small or insignificant nuisances should be handled by the people, since they cannot be avoided, and the law needs not to be taken too seriously. Under normal circumstances, a person is entitled to full enjoyment and use of his property and his legal right cannot be removed without legal justification. If someone unlawfully enters into that property, the plaintiff’s legal right is violated and he can claim damages to his injury.
Definition of nuisance
The word nuisance has been used in English since the 15th century and the word came into our language from the French word nuire which means ‘to cause harm’ or ‘to annoy’.Nuisance literally means irritation or annoyance.
Winfeild defines nuisance as “an unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land or of some right or in connection with it.”
Salmond defines nuisance as ‘the wrong of nuisance consists in causing or allowing without lawful justification the escape of any deleterious thing from his land or from elsewhere into land in possession of the plaintiff, such as water, smoke, gas, heat, electricity etc.
Speaking simply nuisance is when a person interferes unlawfully with the other person’s use and enjoyment of land, he is liable for nuisance. Under tort ,nuisance is based on the principle ‘sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas’ which means everyone has the right to use his property but not to damage another. One of the essential elements of nuisance is to cause an inconvenience or damage to the plaintiff . Such an act should be uncooperative. ‘De minimis non curat lex’ which means the law refuses to consider minor problems.
Nuisances can be classified into two types:
- Private nuisance
- Public nuisance
Damage caused by a private nuisance can be suffered by an individual or a class of individuals. Private nuisance occurs when a defendant illegally interferes with the plaintiff’s enjoyment of the land. Unlawful encroachment on private property is a violation of the right of people to enjoy the comfort and privacy of their own property. A person is liable for a private nuisance when they are annoyed, prejudiced, or disturbed by an act or omission which results in a nuisance or interference with their enjoyment of the land. In some cases, the disturbance is manifested through physical damage to the land, but most of the time it is characterised by discomfort for the occupier.
Essentials of private nuisance
- Plaintiff should have the possession of the property
- Defendant must unlawfully enter with the use and enjoyment of the plaintiff’s property .
- Such interference must cause damage or inconvenience to the plaintiff
Nuisances in the public space are crimes. It is an act or omission which causes annoyance or irritation to the general public.
Sec 268 of Indian Penal Code defines public nuisance as ‘A person is guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.’
Sec 269 to 291 of Indian Penal Code deals with punishment for public nuisance.
Simply speaking, public nuisance affects the public generally. Under this any person may file a suit to prevent it. This section is to protect the public, neighbours as visible from the public and persons own a public right.
Essential elements of public nuisance
- There must be an illegal act or omission
- This act or omission must cause common injury to the public or a group of persons
Table of cases
Christie v. davey (1893) 1 CH 316
At home, Christie was taking music lessons. It is the defendant who is living next to the plaintiff who becomes annoyed by the music. And in return for it, the defendant irritates the plaintiff.
The plaintiff claimed here that the defendant tried to destroy the consolation of her family. The defendant counterclaimed by arguing against her music which created nuisance to the defendant.
Whether the defendant is liable for nuisance or not?
The court ordered the defendant to stop making unreasonable sounds to disturb the plaintiff. The court held that the defendant is liable for nuisance.
Campbell v. Paddington Corporation (1911)
The plaintiff has a house in london. From the house, there is a steady view of the procession of King Edward VII which was passing from a highway. To watch the procession some of the persons made payment to the plaintiff in order to reserve the seats in the first and second floor of the house.before the march, the defendants, a metropolitan borough built a stand for the persons to enable the members of the corporation on the highway. This stand was in front of plaintiff ‘s house, it caused interruption in the view from his house.
It is alleged that the plaintiff filed suit against the defendants, and that they built a stand on the highway that caused her special loss. The defendants claim that the stand was built for the benefit of their members.
Whether the stand built by the corporation constitutes a nuisance ?
It was held that the defendant is liable for nuisances, and the plaintiff is entitled to compensation.
Remedies for nuisance
There are different types of remedies provided to the aggrieved party , let me briefly explain all those:
- INJUNCTION: It is a judicial order which restrain a person from doing an act which conquers the legal rights of another. Injunction may be permanent and temporary .if this restrain is given for a limited period then it is temporary injunction while it holds to then it is permanent in nature.
- DAMAGES: Plaintiff has the right to claim damage and it may be in the terms of compensation. The nature and amount of the damage is fixed by the statute.
- ABATEMENT: Abatement of nuisance means subsiding or removing the nuisance caused by the plaintiff, without any lawsuit. This remedy is not supported by law but to some extent it is available. There is a reasonable time and action for this remedy; the plaintiff will be liable if his activity goes far off the logic.
- DISTRESS DAMAGE FEASANT : It is a self help legal cure. In order to secure the compensation for damage the defendant may seize the belongings which are wrongfully on his land.
Indian law has adopted various concepts from English principles. Still it is uncodified, yet the Indian judicial system makes it better through interpretations. In our day today the concept of nuisance is common, hence Indian law is making the decisions and creating precedents to create a fair law environment by making the defendant punishable and the plaintiff to get compensated.
IPC 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 294A of Indian Penal Code| Offences relating to Public Health, Safety, Convenience
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