The Indian penal code, 1860, defines the crimes and gives punishment for them. In some instances, the crimes committed are done without the mens rea present. In these cases, the principle of general exceptions can be taken as a defense. General exceptions are mentioned from sections76 to 106.
General Exceptions Given Under the Indian Penal Code
Mistake of Fact (Section 76 & 79)
It means when a person does an act while being unaware of the existing fact and thinks that he is bound by the law to do that act. The ignorance must be of a fact, as ignorance of the law is not a defense. Section 79 talks about when a person does an act while mistaking the fact and thinking he is justified by the law to do such an act. Some essential ingredients for an act to be considered as a mistake of facts are
- If he genuinely thinks he was bounded by the law.
- There must be ignorance of fact and not law.
- He performed that action with good faith.
In Chirangi v state, the accused thought misinterpreted his son for a tiger and swung his axe at his son, which resulted in his death. The court held that it was a mistake of fact and acquitted the accused.
Judicial Act (Section 77 & 78)
When an act is done by a judge, who is acting in good faith and under the capacity of a judge, the act will not be considered an offense. Section 78 talks about an act done by a judge in the judgment, acting in good faith and believing the matter to be under court jurisdiction. Some essential ingredients for this are
- The person committing the act must be a judge
- The judgment must be given by the court, and the court must have jurisdiction to pass such an order
- The act or the judgment must be done in good faith
Accident (Section 80)
It means when a person commits an act without any criminal intent while doing a legal act with proper care and precaution.
In State of Orissa v Khora Ghasi, the accused was guarding his field when he saw something moving. Believing it was a bear, he shot an arrow towards it. It was discovered that it was a person and the arrow resulted in the person’s death. The court held that it was an accident, and the accused was acquitted.
Act Done To Prevent From Danger without The Criminal Intent (Section 81)
It means when an act, without the criminal intent in mind, is done for protecting the person or property. To take the defense under this section, some essentials are
- The person doing the act must know that it may cause harm to another person
- There must be an absence of criminal intent
- The act must be done in good faith
- The act must be done to prevent harm to property or person
Infancy (Section 82 & 83)
According to section 82, nothing is an offense if it is done by a child under seven years. Section 83 says that an act done by a child above the age of seven and under the age of twelve is not a crime because the child is yet to attain maturity to understand the consequence of the action committed.
Insanity (Section 84)
It means when an act done by a person of an unsound mind will not be considered an offense. The person must be incapable of understanding the nature of the act and its consequences. In the case of A. Ahmed v King, the accused murdered his son because he received a command from heaven to do such an act in his dream. He was acquitted by the court.
Intoxication (Section 85)
It says that if a person commits an offense while being intoxicated without his knowledge or will, such an act will not be considered a crime. Section 86 says that a person will be liable for the offense if it is done with the intent of committing the act while intoxicated willingly. The person will be assumed to have intoxicated voluntarily unless he can prove he was intoxicated without his knowledge and intent.
Act Done With Consent (Section 87 To 91)
It means acts done with the consent of the other party are not an offense. These include the following.
- When an act is done, with the other person’s consent known to cause death or grievous hurt. (section 87)
- When an act is done, with the consent of the other person, in good faith, for the betterment of the other person. (section 88)
- When an act is done, with the guardian’s consent, for the betterment of the minor child or a person of unsound mind. (section 89)
Here, consent is the essential factor. Section 90 defines the essence of consent
- It should be given without fear of injury or misrepresentation of fact
- The person giving consent must give it freely while understanding the gravity of this decision.
- The person should not be intoxicated while giving consent
- The person should not be minor or of an unsound mind.
This also includes any act done in good faith, without the consent of the person, or the guardian, for the betterment of the person’s life (section 92).
Communication (Section 93)
It means when harm is caused by information given to the person in good faith to better the person. This communication will not result in liability.
Coercion (Section 94)
This defense can be taken when a person is made to do an act without his consent and under the fear of instant death if the act is not performed. For example, if a security guard was made to open the safe and help the robbers to steal the money on the condition that, if he refused, they would kill him.
Act Causing Slight Harm (Section 95)
According to this section, an act will not be considered an offense if the harm caused is so minor that no person with the usual sense and temper would complain. For example, if someone took a piece of food from another person’s plate without his consent.
Private Defense (Section 96-106)
It means that every person has a right to defend their body and property. While exercising private defense, if a person commits murder, the defense can be taken under section 100. A voluntary death can be caused only when there is
- Apprehension of death
- Assault with the intention to commit rape, unnatural lust, kidnapping
- Wrongfully confining someone to so that he could not reach public authorities
- Attempt to throw acid
If the defense of property results in the person’s death, it will come under section 103. The private defense did when there is a possibility of harming an innocent person while having apprehension of death can also be taken as a defense under section 106.
These are significant provisions under the criminal code. It provides defenses to people whose intention may not be to commit murder, which provides reasonable exceptions to innocent persons.