Introduction The criminal acts committed by a person are mentioned in the Indian Penal Code. This code is the substantive criminal law of the country. It defines crimes along with its punishment. The acts which violate the law are automatically considered a crime. However, there are some exceptions to it. The liability of a person is born as soon as he commits a crime and is confirmed by the law. There exists some general exception to such acts.
Section 76 to 106 of the code states the general exceptions in cases of criminal liability. It means that the act which is considered as a crime, will not be considered as the same when performed under mentioned conditions. It is not always the condition that someone murders a person with wrong intentions, it might be for the purpose of self-defence too. Many such exceptions are explained under sections of the Indian Penal Code.
General Exceptions The general exceptions fall under various categories. These sections improvise the conditions accordingly: 1.The mistake of fact (bound by law) -Section 76 A person is said to have not committed a crime when he or she does the same with the perceived thinking that they are bound by law to do that. The mistake of fact is an excuse but, mistake of law is not. For example, if a superintendent shoots a person when his senior asks him to do so, he will not be held liable for murder. According to him, he was bound by law to do that.
2.Judicial Act- Section 77
Nothing is considered an offence when a judge performs it as his duties and thinks it to be fit and in accordance with the law. For example - An order of death sentence given by a judge is not a crime.
3.Order of court or as per judgement- Section 78
Any act perpetrated according to the decision given by the court is not an offence. If the decision given by the court was not under its jurisdiction, it may lead to the commission of a crime. There is an exception to this that the person doing the act was of knowledge that the court had jurisdiction to pass such order.
4.The mistake of fact (justified by law)- Section 79
When a person commits an act believing that it is justified by law, it does not amount to a crime. For example - A person sees two people fighting on the road and suddenly one tries to hit the other with a knife. If a person takes action against the other with a knife, he will not be said to have committed a crime of violence.
5. Accident while doing a lawful act- Section 80
A person who does something accidentally while committing a lawful act which otherwise will be considered as a crime, will not be considered as a crime in this situation.
6.Harmful act with good intention- Section 81
Any act done with good faith, in spite of knowing that it can cause harm, will not be considered a crime. The act must do in good faith of preventing harm to another person or proper. Example- A person sees fire spreading in a house he breaks the gate of the house to enter and stop the fire from spreading, he’ll not be liable for causing any damage.
7.Infancy (age factor) – Section 82 and 83
According to Section 82, a child below the age of 7 cannot be held liable for committing a crime. According to Section 83, a child between the ages of 7 to 12 cannot be held liable for an act for which he or she does not have an understanding. The act committed by the child must be understandable by him to call it a crime.
8. Unsound mind- Section 84
An act perpetrated by a person while being unsound or not having the knowledge. Basically, a person must be sound enough to know the consequences of the act being committed by him to call it a crime.
9. Intoxication- Section 85 and 86
A person is not held liable for any act done by him when he’s intoxicated and is nor having knowledge of the nature of the act. The thing with which the person was intoxicated must have been to him without his knowledge.
According to Section 86, a person will be held liable for committing an act while being intoxicated if he or she has the knowledge that the same would be an offence while not being intoxicated. To avoid this, the intoxication must have been done without the person’s knowledge.
10. The act is done by consent- Section 87 and 88
According to Section 87, any act done by the person with the consent of others, when the other knew that the same would cause death or grievous hurt is not a crime.
According to Section 88, any act likely to cause death or grievous hurt is done in good faith and to lower the risk of hurt is not counted as a crime.
11. Consent of guardian- Section 89 and 90
Any act done with the good faith of a person under the age of 12 by his or her guardian is not an offence. The act committed which is likely to cause grievous hurt or death is not a crime if it is perpetrated by the guardian in good faith for the same. The exception does not extend to the condition like purposely causing death, abetment to such hurt, for any other purpose and intentional cause of death.
The consent will not be considered if the consent of it is given under pressure or fear of something. The consent must be voluntary to be valid. The consent of an individual with an unsound mind as well as of a child is not valid.
12. Act in good faith without consent - Section 92 and 93
If any act is done without the consent of a person but is done in good faith, is not a crime. Similarly, when communication is made to a person in good faith, it is not an offence if it is done to save a person from harm.
13. Slight harm – Section 95
If an act causes slight harm to a person, it will not be constituted as an offence if done to protect from the harm of high density. 14. Right to Private Defence – Section 96 to 106
The right to private defence is one's right to secure or save himself and his property against the unlawful aggression of others. As per Section 96 of the Act, nothing is an offence under the law which is done under the exercise of the right of private defence. It is an inherent right of a man, the principle says that one’s first duty is to save oneself, and these rights are recognized by almost every free country.
Certain conditions under while exercising the right to are as follows: - -If one’s life is in great danger or threatened by a grave danger, then that person can take his own steps to save himself and need not to wait for any help from the state.
-The right can only be exercised only when there is a real or immediate threat and real apprehension of such a threat. Mere imaginary threat can’t be justified.
-Right of self-defence commences as soon as the reasonable apprehension of danger to the body or property arises and this right continues until such apprehension continues. Such right of self-defence gets exhausted when such apprehension of threats gets over.
-There is no right to self- defence when there is a time to get any help from public authorities.
-While exercising rights of the private defence in no case it extends to the inflicting of more harm than it is necessary, it means no one in right to private defence can exercise the excessive use of force than required.
As per section 103 and 104 in several cases, the right to self-defence to property can be justified by causing the death of the wrongdoer
i. If there is a Robbery
ii. Housebreaking by night.
iii. Mischief by fire to any building, tent or vessel used as a human dwelling or as a
a place for the custody of property.
iv. Theft, mischief or house-trespass under the circumstances causing reasonable apprehension of death/grievous hurt. In other cases, the right extends to any harm other than death.