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HomeBare ActsSection Of IPCSection 81 Of IPC - Indian Penal Code.

Section 81 Of IPC – Indian Penal Code.

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81. Act likely to cause harm, but done without criminal intent, and to prevent other harm —

Nothing is an offence merely by reason of its being done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause harm, if it be done without any criminal intention to cause harm, and in good faith for the purpose of preventing or avoiding other harm to person or property.

Explanation -—It is question of fact in such a case whether the harm to be prevented or avoided was of such a nature and so imminent as to justify or excuse the risk of doing the act with the knowledge that it was likely to cause harm.

Illustrations

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(a) A, the captain of a steam vessel, suddenly and without any fault or negligence on his part, finds himself in such a position that, before he can stop his vessel, he must inevitably run down to boat B, with twenty or thirty passengers on board, unless he changes the course of his vessel, and that, by changing his course, he must incur risk of running down a boat C with only two passengers on board, which he may possibly clear. Here, if A alters his course without any intention to run down the boat C and in good faith for the purpose of avoiding the danger to the passengers in the boat B, he is not guilty of an offence, though he may run down the boat C by doing an act which he knew was likely to cause that effect, if it be found as a matter of fact that the danger which he intended to avoid was such as to excuse him in incurring the risk of running down the boat C.

(b) A, in a great fire, pulls down houses in order to prevent the conflagration from spreading. He does this with the intention in good faith of saving human life or property. Here, if it be found that the harm to be prevented was of such a nature and so imminent as to excuse A’s act. A is not guilty of the offence.

Explain –

Chapter IV of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as the ‘IPC’) provides the General Exceptions in which Section 81 states that –

Act likely to cause harm, but done without criminal intent, and to prevent other harm.—Nothing is an offence merely by reason of its being done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause harm, if it be done without any criminal intention to cause harm, and in good faith for the purpose of preventing or avoiding other harm to person or property.

Explanation.—It is question of fact in such a case whether the harm to be prevented or avoided was of such a nature and so imminent as to justify or excuse the risk of doing the act with the knowledge that it was likely to cause harm.

The person who has been accused of committing a criminal act, should have done that act in good faith in order to prevent a greater harm, without having the intention of causing harm and merely with the knowledge that his act is likely to ensue and he will not be held responsible for the result of his act. But, where the positive evidence against the accused is clear, cogent and reliable, the question of motive is of no importance.

In the prevention of harm, the accused is faced with two choices both resulting in some harm and of sheer necessity to avoid a greater harm he has to commit an act which would otherwise be an offence. The test really is like this: there must be a situation in which the accused is confronted with a grave danger and he has no choice but to commit the lesser harm, may be even to an innocent person, in order to avoid the greater harm. Here the choice is between two evils and the accused rightly chooses the lesser one. Thus, where a Chief Constable not in his uniform came to a fire and wished to force his way past the military sentries placed around it, was kicked be a sentry, it was held that as the sentry did not know who he was, the kick was justifiable for the purpose of preventing much greater harm under this sections and as a means of acting up to the military order. Similarly, where a village magistrate arrested a drunken person whose conduct was at the time a grave danger to the public, it was held that he was not guilty of an offence by reason of the provisions of this section or section 96 or 105.

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